Chicago: The (very) Windy City!

My family’s next stop was Illinois! And not surprisingly, Chicago was home to the top attraction in the state!

We had a basically non stop trip of tourist activities and sampling the city’s foods!

Will I ever go back? No.

Why you ask?

Traffic. The traffic was horrendous. I learned very quickly the difference between a city and country mile. My patience wore thin with the traffic by the second day of our trip.

Also, parking downtown is hard to find and when you do find it, it is very expensive!

Luckily, my group is pretty laid back during vacation and we didn’t let the traffic or parking issues put too much of a burden on our trip.

So. What did we do?

1. Cloud gate

Or more popularly known as “The Bean”. The Bean was really interesting to experience in person. The Bean was a lot bigger than what I had expected. It was fun to take pictures of your reflection in its seamless surface. And once you make the walk to The Bean then everything else in downtown is centrally located so this made our last day a little easier.

2. Museum campus

As you drive into downtown you will start to see numerous signs saying “Museum Campus” and this is basically all of Chicago’s museums located on one street. We visited the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Alder Planetarium.

The Shedd Aquarium was a lot more impressive than what I had imagined it would be. After seeing the Georgia Aquarium, I figured all other aquariums would pale in comparison. But, Shedd definitely held its own and was worth the trip.

The Adler Planetarium was a waste of time and money. Nothing positive to report about this museum other than the show they have in their dome. The narrator was energetic and the graphics were great. If you plan to go to Chicago, skip this place.

The Field Museum is humongous!!! Go prepared to stay there for a few hours. My oldest son loved it, especially the dinosaurs! There was a mummy and ancient Egypt exhibit while we were there and it showed real mummies which was fascinating.

3. The dish on the Deep Dish!

There are two rivalry pizza places in Chicago that have many chain restaurants within the city: Giordano’s and Lou Malantis. Therefore, I had to try both. I ordered the dish deep at both places, both veggie style to make the comparison fair. AND! Giordano’s won by a landslide. Lou Malanti’s had a really good salad, but the food was overpriced and just wasn’t as good.

This is the deep dish from Giordano’s and it tastes even better than it looks!

4. Gallagher at heart.

Any Shameless fans out there? Of course there is, it’s only the BEST show on television. Well, if you are a fan then no trip to Chicago is complete without stopping by the real life Gallagher house! The show depicts the family in the south side of Chicago, but the house is truly located in the west side. The area is a little more “rough” than being downtown or in the loop of Chicago, but I still felt safe. Maybe, I was just blinded by the fact that I was sharing some front porch steps with Lip Gallagher, but either way. The family that lives in the home has been living there since the show aired and they are no strangers to fan wanting to come and have their picture taken!

We stopped by Vee and Kevin’s and the Jackson house too, just for good measure.

5. We are going up there?!

Chicago has a large number of extremely tall buildings. Two of those buildings come equipped with its very own tourist trap: 360 Chicago and the Skydeck. Both of these are essentially the same thing. You go to the top floor of both Sky scrapers and have a view of the entire city. I enjoyed 360 Chicago more because it was more spacious and you had more time to take in the view. At the skydeck you are herded into the glass boxes like cattle just long enough to take a photo and then leave. I was not impressed. There is no denying that you can’t beat the views at either place, however. I think it would be fun to go at night also and see the city lit up!

That’s one more state in the books guys!

Happy travels!!

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Things you lose while loving a good man.

After a long string of shitty relationships, you have finally stumbled upon a good man and have an actual really successful and happy relationship. Then, oddly, you lose out on things you never realized that you enjoyed so much before.

Like a good cry. How dare this new man love you and treat you like fine china that now you don’t have any reasons to cry on a Wednesday night over tub of Neapolitan ice cream?!

Or, you can’t really put on some man hatin’ or heart breakin’ country songs and relate to them like you could have before. You can’t belt out with Miranda or Shania about how men aren’t worth a shit when you come home to a loyal and loving man.

Sad status updates for social media are a thing of the past.

No one advertises the “happy weight” you are going to put on. Girl, when you know your man loves you just the way you are, that new muffin top will pop up out of no where!

Women are born with a gut instinct. But, when you find a man that is trustworthy and you don’t have to check up on him or second guess his actions, then your FBI investigations skills tend to get a little dusty!

Girl talk will also change. You can’t sit and bitch with all your girlfriends about how all men are dogs when you know how good you got it at home.

You haven’t been able to pout or give someone the cold shoulder in months because your man is so perfect that he actually asks if something is wrong and attempts to make everything better for you.

Just like everything in life, you have to take the good with the bad. And, as much as I really truly do enjoy a good cry, I hope readers can pick up on the humor behind this blog. Trust me, nothing compares to a healthy relationship. And I am one lucky girl ❤️

Even when he does me like this 🙄😳

Drinkin’ Around the World Spreadsheet

So, as a self proclaimed traveling nerd, I took time out of my day to research the most popular drinks in every country inside Epcot at Disney World.

For my Disney bloggers and enthusiasts, this spreadsheet should help you when you attempt to “drink around the world”!

Good Luck! Let me know how it goes and any favorites you have that I might have missed.

 

And be rest assured that I will blog about my experience also! 🙂

COUNTRY DRINK LOCATION
CANDA Magical Star Le Cellier
CANDA Moosehead Beer Cart
CANDA Torontopolitan Cart
UK Welsh Dragon Rose & Crown
UK Cider and Fireball Rose & Crown
FRANCE Grand Marnier Slush Les Vins des Chefs
FRANCE Ice Cream Martini L’Artisan des Glaces
FRANCE Grey Goose Orange Slush Les Vins des Chefs
MOROCCO Tangier’s Breeze Spice Road Table
MOROCCO Moroccorita Spice Road Table/Cart
MOROCCO Spice Road Signature Sangria Spice Road Table
JAPAN Tokyo Sunset Sake Bar-Mitsukoshi Dept Store
JAPAN Kirin Frozen Cart
JAPAN Sake Tasting Flight Sake Bar-Mitsukoshi Dept Store
JAPAN Sake Mist Kabuke Café
United States Buffalo Trace Frozen Coke Liberty Tree
United States Whiskey-spiked frozen lemonade The Smokehouse
ITALY Limoncello or Bellini Donkey Cart
ITALY Rose Regale La Bottega Italiana
GERMANY Altenmünster Oktoberfest Sommerfest
NORWAY Viking Coffee Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
NORWAY Linie Aquavit Glacier Akershus
MEXICO Lime Frozen Margarita La Cantina de San Angel
MEXICO Jalapeño Margarita La Cava del Tequila
MEXICO Fiesta Frozen Margarita Choza de Margarita
CHINA Canto Loopy Joy of Tea
CHINA Tipsy Ducks In Love Joy of Tea

Liebster award

Somehow I was nominated for an award. Just which strange to me, because I never really catch too many eyes with my writing and I definitely never win at anything.

So, I’m honored. And humbled.

From what I am gathering is it’s a way to engage with other bloggers and meet new people in he blogging world! Pretty neat, huh?

The steps are as follows:

  1. Acknowledge the person who nominated you! Thanks Shanetta I am completely floored that you took the time to read my blog, a million thank you’s.
  2. Answer the 11 questions Shanetta asked me about blogging.
  3. 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5-11 bloggers.
  5. Ask nominated bloggers 11 questions.

Here’s goes nothing!

My questions from Shanetta:

1. Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog mainly a way to document my travels with my family. And also as an outlet for when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

2. What are your goals for your blog?

I don’t really have any. I enjoy blogging. I love to write, I always have. I guess my only goal is that people can learn or gain something from my blogs.

3. Who or what is your motivation to continte blogging?

Myself because I enjoy it. My family, traveling, motherhood, and people who struggle with mental health.

4. What is something you’ve learned about yourself since you have start blogging?

That I do have original ideas that people would want to read and can relate to.

5. What was the time frame from the moment you got the idea to start a blog to the second you published your first post?

I would say an hour tops. When I am in the blogging or writing mood the words flow out of me like water. If I ever find something searched for what or how to write then I just stop till I am in the right mood to produce something worthwhile.

6. What is your favorite compliment you’ve received from a reader?

That I was a good mother ❤️

7. How do you market your blog to get the word out and gain readers?

Since I am so new I don’t really know how. Besides linking my other social media accounts to my blog and sharing on those sites as well.

8. Are there any bloggers that you follow who inspire you?

A lot of the other mom bloggers that I follow inspire me daily.

9. Do you only write blog posts or do you also vide blog?

I am wayyyy to shy to video blog. I wish though!

10. Do you plan your blog topics ahead of time or write a post as something comes to mind?

My traveling posts are based solely off when and where I travel to. Other topics are just stuff that comes to mind.

11. What feeling do you get after you’ve worked hard on a post then hit publish?

Relief because its emotional for me to write. And happiness.

Random facts about me.

1. All my names are super common.

2. I have two tattoos, but I still cry when I get my blood drawn or a shot.

3. My mother is a lesbian.

4. I had a goldfish that lived over 5 years.

5. I’m the first person to graduate college in my family in the last 80 years.

6. I have social anxiety.

7. I used to be a model.

8. I have been on tv.

9. I identify more with the male gender.

10. I have cold weather. There’s nothing good about it.

11. The happy birthday song makes me cry.

I nominate:

1. bookbeachbunny.com

2. rosieculture.com

3.katpersephone.wordpress.com

4.surrealistique.com

5. thatanxiousmom.com

My questions:

How long have you been blogging?

What made you want to start blogging?

Who is your blogging inspiration?

What’s the biggest con, frustrations, etc to blogging?

Where’s your perfect place to blog at?

Do you want a career in blogging? And if so, what kind?

Have you ever been nervous to post a blog and if so, why?

Do you have any fears about your blogs?

How does it make you feel to get positive feed back from other readers?

Do you encourage your family to read your blog? If not, why?

Do you participate in any Blogger meets up or hang out with other bloggers outside of the internet?

Thanks 😘😘

Tennessee

I have had the opportunity to travel to Tennessee twice in the last year. I went once for a family trip and then again for a well deserved couples getaway.

Tennessee is a state where I fully embrace being a tourist. With so many things to do and see, it’s really hard not to.

First, it’s important to note that I stay in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge when I visit Tennessee. Most people get the two of these confused. So let me explain a few of the differences.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are only about 15 minutes (depending completely on traffic) from each other and run along the same road.

Gatlinburg is more of a place where you park and walk around to visit their shops and attractions. You won’t find AS many rides, go carts, etc here. Gatlinburg does have two sky lifts and the Ripley’s aquarium. Gatlinburg has a variety of stores, old timey photo, restaurants, and walk through attractions that are all accessible by walking their “strip”. Gatlinburg has more of a young/party vibe than Pigeon Forge especially the closer you get to nighttime but is still completely family friendly. Gatlinburg would be the perfect location to bar hop.

Pigeon Forge is better traveled by car. While there are some places you can get to on foot like the Island and the outlet mall. Most of their activities are spaced out and include it’s own parking lot. In Pigeon Forge you will find the dinner shows, thrill rides, ferries wheel, more go carts than you can count, and the bigger chain restaurants.

So what I did I do on my trips?

1. Well, Dollywood, of course!

Most people don’t visit Tennessee without spending at least one day at Dollywood. Tickets are extremely over priced ($75) so try to find some discounted before you go!

2. Old Timey Photo

Did you even go to Tennessee if you didn’t have your Old Timey Photo taken? Personally, I think not. Don’t get suckered into the bigger photo businesses in Tennessee that want to charge $100 for a picture. Go to the strip at Gatlinburg and have the same quality picture taken for $20!

3. Mountain Coasters

There are a few mountain coasters to choose from in Tennessee. We went with the Rowdy Bear because they offer two different types of coasters. Honestly, my boyfriend and I were a little disappointed because neither of the coasters lasted very long. They do offer to let you ride again for another $8 per person.

4. FOOD.

I would spend hours blogging about all the food options in Tennessee. There are literally miles of restaurants in Pigeon Forge. This is not a place for the indecisive (me). I stick with one place during every visit because you can never go wrong here: PAULA DEAN’S FAMILY KITCHEN!

5. Dinner shows

My family and I are not the best at change. Therefore, I ended up at the Dixie stampede again. It’s always a great show and food is amazing. But, next trip I am going to visit one of the other dinner shows like Hatfield and McCoy or a murder mystery! Spend the extra $20 to have your kid dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl! It’s super cute!

7. PUTT-PUTT

Once again, putt putts are a dime a dozen in Tennessee. Most options are in Pigeon Forge. We went with a Ripley owned putt putt just due to the proximity to our cabin! My son even got a hole in one on the last hole and one a free game!

8. Road trip!

On our couples getaway we took the scenic route and stopped to take in the view on the parkway. It was the warmest and sunniest day in April and the views did not disappoint.

8. The strip

On the strip in Gatlinburg there are walk through attractions like mirror mazes, escape rooms, virtual reality seated rides, and a haunted house. Sweet treats and ice cream are everywhere. And you are never more than 10 steps from a variety shop. On our couples trip we choose to go on the skylift also! I was surprised to see that you cannot get off on the top of the mountain yet, but they have started construction to make that possible.

If I ever venture out of the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area while in Tennessee then these are the places I believe would be worth the drive:

  • Ruby Falls
  • Graceland (duh!)
  • Cades Cove
  • Everything in Nashville
  • Country Music Hall of Fame

Happy travels!

And, as always, if you have any suggestions for my next trip please leave a comment below!

Take a break!

Taking a break from social media has been weighing on my heart heavily the past week or more. I started to think of all the ways I could benefit from boycotting all apps and outlets for a while.

1. I notice myself checking my social media platforms NUMEROUS times throughout the day. The amount of time I spend looking at what is really, for the majority, pointless information I could use that time more productively. I used to LOVE to read before kids and daily living took over. Maybe I’ll pick up a book this week instead of my phone.

2. Too much social media affects your creativity. I have been wanting to blog but everything I thought I wanted to talk about has already been covered, multiple times. But I wouldn’t have known that if I would have stayed off social media. You can’t have a creative thought when thoughts are been given to you freely on the media. I am going to challenge myself this week to write anyways about whatever I choose to because my thoughts and ideas are different from others.

3. Social media is a breeding ground for insecurities. Insecurities in relationships, careers, parenting, lifestyles, etc. You literally log in and can compare your life to everyone else’s instantaneously. Just because Ashley from high school got extensions and lost ten pounds doesn’t make you any less pretty. Just because Mark from the 3rd floor got a promotion doesn’t make you any less successful. Just because Jen from yoga got engaged doesn’t make you any less desirable. Just because Kari from soccer practice monograms everything and only feeds her kids organic snacks doesn’t make you any less of an involved parent. This week I am going to remember how hard I have worked to get to where I am and my path doesn’t have to be the same as other people’s.

4. Mother’s Guilt, which I have already covered in a previous blog, is rampant on social media. I refuse to join any of the “mom groups” on Facebook that are set up for other moms to give each other “advice” on parenting. When, in reality, it’s just a way for some moms to showcase and then criticize the way other moms choose to parent. AND if I see one more mom share a meme or a quote about “my house is dirty because my kids are making memories” or “the housework can wait, they are only small for a little while”, I am going to scream. Yes, all of that may be true, BUT! Do you know how that made a mom feel that HAD to clean that day instead of playing with her toddler? Do you know now she is spending an extra ten minutes beating herself up about washing the dishes and folding the baby’s clothes because of that meme? Do you know that sometimes you have to clean up in order to give your children a safe and healthy place to live?! Rant over. This week I will stay away from any and all media that could make me feel like I am not enough.

5. Statistically speaking, social media is also affecting society’s mental health as a whole. There has been a raise in depression, body issues disorders, and anxiety. There’s many articles online that can showcase my point even better. But, the point I want to make is, social media is shaping our mental health and we are allowing it to. There has been a large number of suicides linked to social media as well. This week I am going to do my brain and body a favor and take a break from social media.

6. There is something to be said for privacy. No ones life is a private anymore. We know anytime someone gets married or divorced, gets pregnant, gets fired, get arrested, buys a house or a new car, etc. We know every move that a lot of people make and all the places that they go. We no longer have anything to talk about at our 10 year high school reunions because we have already seen it all on Facebook or instagram. This week I will remind myself that the pretty cupcake I ate or the cute thing my kid did STILL happened even if I didn’t post it on social media.

7.  We have lost the personal touch of communicating with others. We use memes, tags, and status updates to connect with the outside world now. The Internet itself has taken away a lot of the necessity of human interaction. Why shop in stores or leave the house when Amazon Prime will ship it to you for free?! Because its healthy to. Its healthy to get out and experience life outside of that small touchscreen. The convenience of a text over a phone call is valid, but very impersonal compared to being able to hear someone’s voice. AND when we do force ourselves to have face to face interaction with people, we stay on our phones the entire time. Social media has invaded every aspect of our lives and shaped how we interact with each other. This week I will make it a point to put down my phone during dinner or any other activity I have with the people I care about and want to spend time with.

I really do feel like there are some positives to social media, especially as a way to expand your business, network, or stay in touch with friends/relatives that do not live close by. There has to be some good to the whole idea or we wouldn’t ALL flock to it like sheep. However, it has became too relied upon, too vital, and too central in many of our lives.  And I also want to say that I am guilty of all the fore mentioned things above. Hopefully, this puts a few things into perspective for people.

 

 

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

Featured image from this link

Apology letter to my first born

Dear son,

Aside from the occasional “would you like to have a brother or a sister?” or “are you gonna be able to share your toys with a new baby?” Your vote wasn’t really taken into consideration when I decided to have another baby.

And you didn’t realize that a new baby meant not only sharing your toys but also mommy’s lap.

So I am sorry.

More sorry than a letter could ever say. I love our life together as a whole family but I still remember what it was like to just be us. Me and the child who made me a mother.

I am sorry that you have to wait now for extra hugs and kisses because sometimes the baby takes a little longer to finish his bottle.

I am sorry that our weekends together now revolve around what the baby can or can’t do. I hate having to tell you no to activities we have always enjoyed before.

I am sorry that I have to redirect you or at times punish you when you act out because I know you are being bad to get my attention.

I am sorry the baby takes a lot of my focus. I promise he won’t always need me as much as he does right now.

I am sorry I hover over you when you are wanting to play and connect with your brother. I just want to make sure you know how fragile he is.

I am sorry that it doesn’t make sense to you that the baby gets praised for something as simple as getting a new tooth and you learning to write your name gets overshadowed.

I am sorry that I can be more snappy than usual with you (and everyone else). The baby doesn’t understand sleep schedules yet and mommy is just so tired.

I am sorry that our loud tickle fights and playing airplane now has to happen before 7pm so we don’t wake your brother. Just know that I love hearing your laugh.

But.

Your brother lights up everytime you walk into the room. There is no one more funny, interesting, or cool as you. He is going to learn how to walk, talk, and sneak snacks from the pantry all from you. He will always be your biggest fan and one day when mommy isn’t around anymore he will be your family.

I know you can’t see it now but you are the most loved member of the family. I love both of y’all equally but your brother loves you with such a pure love that trumps anything else you can imagine.

So, be easy on me and use a little bit of the patience that I know you didn’t inherit from me. And know more than anything that I see you.

My lap will always be big enough for both of you.