“You’re taking a baby to Disney World?”

“But he/she won’t even remember it…”

That was me. My husband and I had this very discussion while our peanut was still just a-cookin’ in the oven. We vowed we would never do that.

That’s the funny thing about parenthood. You end up doing a lot of things you said you’d never do.

Despite this given sentiment, I wouldn’t trade the magical experience I shared with my husband and our almost-six-month old infant for anything.

Disney World changes when you have a kid. You see, it’s already magical but once you have a child to share it with, it stops being about you. At this point, it’s all about them and your every action revolves around watching their face light up with joy.

And that is exactly what happened. It gets to the point that your eyes start welling up at the sight of this tiny, sweet baby you love so much just smiling at princesses, trying to put satin-gloved fingers in their mouth, and grabbing at the costumes of villains.

Their happiness becomes your priority. Your everything.

With that said, you have to keep them neutral among the elements. With that said, it gets really hot in Florida. I mean, really hot. 95% of the year is spent under the blistering sun in 90+ degree temperatures.

Even though Florida is a thousand degrees year round, you still find a way to look past it and make the best of it. We had a small fan that sprayed water and it was utilized almost down to the last drop. Sunscreen is also a must! A sufficient supply of drinking water is also an important item to have.

Although the sun is out 90% of the day, do not be deceived. Just because it is called the Sunshine State, that does not mean there won’t be torrential rain one minute or even quite possibly a shower through sunbeams. It did rain but we managed to be in between rides at the time. That’s how quickly it can dissipate. We just kind of become accustomed to it and deal with it though. You could get ponchos and plastic strollers cover though I’m sure.

Despite the intense weather, our love child was so happy. She smiled at each character and stranger that greeted her.

Despite what one would think, Disney World is very baby friendly. There is a fabulous baby center that is like an unlocked achievement that doesn’t unveil itself until you pop one out. In other words, you won’t have the need to know where it is unless you (or someone with you) has a kid. Or needed to go to First Aid. That is also a definite possibility.

The baby room is really nice because there are multiple tables with large disposable sheets of paper to change your baby and a room complete with any essential item you could think of needing. There’s another room in the air conditioner with a television and tables to eat on complete with a microwave in the next room.

My favorite was the nursing room. I went into the baby center expecting I’d have to feed her in the open until a kind costumed lady ushered me a to a sliding wooden door that opened to a room illuminated by a single lamp and six recliners facing forward. Those chairs were very comfortable and it was a quiet hideaway from the bustle of the amusement park outside. It was really cool because I had never been among fellow breastfeeders.

After popping into the fantastic room as often as I could, we ran from world to world riding as many rides we possibly could with the help of FastPass. I didn’t think waiting in a two hour long line would be fun with a baby. Although, she did just fine for the few that were half an hour. We managed to ride most of the classics without even needing to wait in line.

I had to wake her up for Winnie the Pooh and she seemed uninterested as she was still in her half-asleep daze. The guy ushering us in the line noticed my husband was playing classic Pokemon on his DS and of course after mentioning our daughter’s name, the guy was stoked. Turns out he was a huge video game nerd like us.

She also rode our favorite ride: Haunted Mansion. She did so well! She hardly got scared and I want to say that it wasn’t even her fault the one time she did. It happened in the beginning when the room stretches and then goes dark. Normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal but because we managed to get in the ride with the most eccentric people in the park, a different tale unfolded. They literally recited the opening scene and screamed really loudly, namely my husband who was right next to her. (That was one of the only times she cried within the 12 hours.

However, she loved It’s a Small World. LOVE. She watched all the dolls singing, she giggled, squealed, and baby-talked every one of them. She bounced in my lap nearly the entire ride.

As she rode the Little Mermaid, she sat quietly and content in the seashell, watching Ariel’s story unfold in a melody-filled adventure around her.

And lastly, of course the Carousel of Progress, and it was our chance to avoid the rain but who are we kidding, it’s such a classic. This was the first ride I actually had to nurse her on. It was nice to feed her in the AC and the dark where no one would say anything. It was kind of cool. So now I can say that?

But it was all worth it when yet again, she excitedly squealed, watching the animatronics move and talk. She actually tried to get their attention and talk to them. She just stared at them wondering why they weren’t interacting with her. As she was looking back at me, asking me with her eyes why they weren’t paying her any attention, I started to feel something.. something was on my fingers.

I fought the darkness to discover what this unidentified liquid was. Then my nostrils started doing their part and voila. I found out very quickly what had happened.

She ended up pooping on me, like a slight blowout kind of thing. Here’s the kicker. The ride got stuck so we got had to sit in the most modern era for about two runs. We watched them repeat the same lines and saw grandma beat the high score three times. The one time I’m trying to rush out the door, here we are going through their lines over again. So yeah welcome to motherhood.

Still totally worth it.

Surprisingly you can ride a lot of rides with a baby with the exception of the roller coasters with height restrictions. I think that would probably make me too nervous anyway.

Onto the princesses…

She met Princess Tiana, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Ariel, and Princess Aurora. Every last one of them were greeted with a big, gummy smile. She patted and grabbed at their sparkly dresses, she tried to stick Cinderella’s satin finger in her mouth, and she delighted many people. All of them smiled back, spoke to her in their voices, and simply shared the magic of Disney with us.

It was completely magical.

I was disappointed when I found out Snow White was only doing meet and greets at EPCOT. I met her three years ago in the Princess Fairytale Hall so my hopes were crushed thinking it’d be the same. Guess they decided to switch things up on me the one day I needed it to happen. I found out she would be in the parade so I went on a glimpse of hope that I may or may not see her. I was anxious all the way until the parade started at 3 A.M. Not to mention, my butt cheeks were like buns in an oven waiting for the parade to start for an hour, as the pavement underneath me heated up from the Florida sun. I was ready for that parade to start.

While we waited, our baby was making friends with the people behind us, just as she did in all of the ride lines. She’d whine with me every once and a while but go on to smile and squeal at literally everyone else. She was ecstatic. If she’d get antsy, I would just turn her around to her new friends and she’d pep right back up. This happened for strangers, the full crowds gathering around her, people taking her photo (before we even got into the park), princesses, villains, and big, scary characters. She wasn’t phased. She grabbed at their costumes and tried to put gloved fingers in her mouth.

At one point, a very large costumed creature was coming closer and leaning down at me. As my infant child was giggly and excited at the attention, I was squealing and turning away, almost in tears. I have and always will be afraid of large costumed things. I was very awkwardly uncomfortable.

It was cute because the guy sitting next to us had a blank sketchbook out at the beginning of our wait. Toward the end, I kept catching glimpses of the works of his pen, and I noticed he drew an adorable version of our baby in her Snow White costume and the biggest, toothless smile on her face.

Once the end of the parade was nearing, I noticed a few big-nosed, short creatures, with goofy outfits on and I knew it was time. The Snow White troop was approaching. One dwarf spotted her and turned around to get the rest of them. Next thing I know, there are seven dwarves crowding around her. This section of the parade basically stopped  as the dwarves excitedly flagged Snow White down.

For anyone who knows her, she made the perfect Snow White and since she was born I had wanted to dress her up like the first Disney princess because of her dark hair and fair skin. Her hair is so long and has been since birth so it was nearly perfect. Everyone made a comment but because the resemblance was uncanny. That’s why it was so important for her to meet her and it ended up being more than I could ever imagine.

Other than the fact that it was amazing for me to see her face light up, it was cool for me too as I got to try dole whip for the first time and I got my first pair of Mickey ears. The Polaroids I captured were incredible too.

In all, this trip was amazing and I can’t wait to go back when she will remember it but it was most definitely worth taking her.

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Things they don’t tell you about pregnancy and having kids

Disclaimer: By no means, do I mean that these things will happen to you. Every mother, every baby, and every pregnancy are so different. We’re all unique. This is just my experience and meant more to be funny than anything. Plus there are some weird things that happen and you just gotta talk about them.

Moms are so cool and so supportive especially with your first. They’re so quick to help you with your registry, to soothe your worry and panic, and give extra hands. I’m not sure how many times I’ve insisted I didn’t need help carrying anything, but the diaper bag flings out of my hand into the kind hand of another who was once there.

With that said, maybe you don’t need every single thing off of your registry? The one thing I didn’t get ended up being the most expensive and the one thing I actually needed: the beloved baby carrier. Thanks, Ergo. But I have not put my kid in 99% of the socks or mitts I bought, nope on the shoes, most of the clothes I’ve had her in have only been worn a few times, and she has enough bath supplies to last her until her first second grade field trip.

Sex after childbirth? That’s funny, right? Not only does the desire just slip away for some, it seems physically impossible. Besides doctor’s orders of waiting, it literally is a mess down there, and should be avoided at all costs initially. None of those baby books, mom groups, or Google searches prepared me for the pain I was going to experience. Trust me. It’s true when they say it’s like starting over from the first v-card ever played. Good luck ever having that pain go away. I’m still waiting patiently almost six months into the game.

You also might bleed for six weeks straight. That’s lovely right? But then if you breastfeed, you may or may not get a period until you’re done.

Your heartburn may get so bad that you wake up choking on lava right on time for your third pee. I mean, “gasping for air-I’m dying” choking. Guess it’s true what they say about heartburn and babies being born with a full head of hair.

That’s another thing. Don’t be so quick to tell everyone about your “old wives tales”. People WILL jump on you the first chance they get. Some, with proven scientific information, will still go on and be the first to tell you that it was absolutely not true. That’s because there’s something about the same hormones that cause hair growth and the relaxation of the sphincter in the esophagus, thus tying the two together. It’s not fool-proof but it has been tested which means that it is possible to be apart of the smaller percentage that had heartburn, but no baby hair. No but really, I’m joking, but let’s all just humor each other, shall we? If someone says something, let them have it! Don’t shoot them down. There is no set anything when it comes to pregnancies and babies. We’re ALL different.

The nurses helping you deliver WILL do everything they can to keep you positive… even if they’re driving you crazy with the “you can do it” babble. Eventually you WILL do it and prove yourself wrong but do you want to know how many times I wanted to tell them to shut it for just two seconds. *side note. I am so thankful for the nurses that assisted me in my 24-hour labor. You guys are the real MVP.

The epidural may not go in correctly when you’re 6 cm dilated and going through the most painful contractions- six hours after your first one wore off. Especially when sitting still is virtually impossible. Thus resulting in a withdraw and re-poke. You can in fact receive two and a half epidurals. And you might still feel it from time to time many months postpartum.

You will lose friends. Some way or another. It actually does happen. I don’t know how but it’s just a switch that just flips like clockwork.

Labor can and will last 24 hours. It will last as long as you can tell yourself it won’t be.

You may not be able to eat anything. Except ice chips. So even though they will probably say otherwise, try to eat something before you go into the hospital. I couldn’t even have water. They made me go without anything until that little baby was OUT, even after not eating since 10 PM Sunday night but not actually delivering until 3 AM Tuesday morning. Mmm.

You CAN sleep. I honestly thought you weren’t allowed to. Like there was some rule or that you couldn’t physically sleep. I was in and out of a drug induced sleep the entire day. Until it got real.

You may spend a month packing a hospital bag…and using almost none of it.

You will feel an intense rectal pressure when you’re getting close. Seriously. You’ll feel like pooping yourself. You may tell the nurse you have and although she says you haven’t? You may still continue to be convinced. You may even try to in order to relieve the pressure. Go before the big stuff kicks in. Trust me. Even if you poop yourself, it’s okay. Chances are you won’t, even if you try.

You probably will not be able to pee after you give birth. It may take trial and error runs before you can. You may try as hard as you can just so they won’t give you a catheter after you’ve been poked and prodded for an entire day. You may visualize the water-iest of waterfalls and beg the nurse to give you just two more minutes. When you do finally go, it may feel like tiny needles for a few days.

Postpartum depression is so real and can be intermittent. Please don’t think there is anything wrong with you. Even when people call you an emotional mess or say you have issues. You don’t. And postpartum isn’t just when the baby is first-born. People should always cut some slack for new mamas and spread kindness.

You don’t owe anything to anyone. Visitors can wait. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be topless for two weeks on the couch while you figure you and your baby out. It’s okay to eat all of your food in bed. As long as you take care of that baby, the world around you can wait.

Don’t be so afraid of germs but don’t be afraid to put your foot down when it comes to kids and other people holding them. I legitimately took my 2-month old infant to a Chuck E. Cheese for her cousin’s 7th birthday party. She survived — of course I exercised the utmost precaution; keeping them close, lots of hand sanitizer, and so on. Babies are far more resilient than you are lead to believe.

Your body does a weird shaking thing while you’re in labor. It’s hardly controllable. It can freak you out but it’s completely normal. It’s probably not the best time for your husband to get back from the cafeteria. Seeing your wife shaking uncontrollably, under three blankets, and then throwing them back off seconds later… with an oxygen mask on, isn’t the most soothing of sights.

Breastfeeding is amazing, free, and helps you lose all of your baby weight. I’ve lost the 50 pounds that I gained while pregnant without doing any exercise and eating 3x what I ate while pregnant. Seriously, you will feel like a bottomless pit while doing it but it is very much rewarding. Some can’t, and it is very hard in the beginning: it will make you cry and question why you can’t do anything right by your child, but do yourself a favor. Join a breastfeeding support group and if you really want it, never give up.

Your child will be the most beautiful creature you’ve ever laid eyes on. You will lay there some nights, trying not to cry because of how perfect your child is. You will stare at this being in your arms and be content with only that.

And yes. It does fly by. So cherish it while you can. Get newborn pictures taken. Take videos of their small movements in the beginning. Snuggle with them while they’ll let you. Don’t, for a second, let this scary newborn stuff scare you from enjoying the precious memories you will experience for just a short amount of time when they’re so very tiny.

From one mama who has no idea what she’s doing but is okay with that to another.

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Bucket list check | 185. Go to a Blue Man Group Show

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Maybe I’m cheating a little because I saw the show once before in 2010 with my parents. Coincidentally it was my going away trip with my parents before I moved in with my now husband. This time we shared the experience together and an added bonus of a revamped show.

Mom, Blue Man, and me (2)

(Circa 2010 with my mama!)

The show is a must-see for anyone. They mix elements of music, dancing, humor, and special effects. I don’t want to give away too much of the hour and a half of blue extraordinaire, but I can give a mere sneak peek of my favorite skit.

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The Blue Men have a skit in which they feature intense anatomical acts such as the way the eyes work. With these elements and the mixture of flashing lights, it makes for a truly hypnotizing performance.

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So if you want to see the three blue amigos show what they got and bang on drums slathered in paint, you must visit the famous Blue Men! Not to mention, you get to be a part of an epic dance party at the end. I won’t give away what happens though. That’s the fun about it. 😉

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Bucket List Check | 40. Pet a Penguin

To celebrate the beginning of my second trimester, we marched over to the Aquarium to play with some penguins. We wandered around the maze of tanks before our VIP penguin experience. As you can see, the Aquarium itself was also a bucket list check so I didn’t snap many photos of the glorious sea life amidst the walls of water.

When it was finally time for our experience with the birds in tuxedos, I was ecstatic! You never really know what to expect when you approach an animal you normally don’t see often in your environment. You don’t think about the senses associated with a new animal or concept. For example, what it feels like is always my first go-to for new exposures!

When we first approached the large blue doors that would lead us to our birds, we were given the rundown of what we can and cannot do. The Aquarium is a highly accredited sanctuary for its animals. They love their marine life and it clearly shows. In fact, the extra money needed for the penguin exhibit goes straight back to them.

Upon hearing our rules from our biologist, we entered the cold room that smelled heavily of fish. To be fair, we received a warning before we entered the room but I was still afraid considering my strong pregnant nostrils. Thankfully it wasn’t all that bad. Instead, it was a lovely surprise of penguins lined up in their area waiting for us. Anyone who knows me knows that I love these flipping, marching birds! They hopped, waddled, ruffled their feathers, and stood there waiting to be picked up like small dogs! It was seriously the cutest sight seeing them wait their turn!

Out of the ten penguins they had in the room, only two of them came out to interact with us. We were introduced to all ten by name but we only officially met Cliff and Shelly. Cliff made his grand entrance by trying to climb into a girl’s long skirt. It was truly delightful to watch. She walked around letting us personally pet Cliff and to my surprise, they are really soft! They aren’t rubbery like one would assume. Then he sat down while half had a photo and snuggle op with Cliff while the other half watched Shelly swim around in her kiddie pool. She bobbed around and went from feeling soft to like a wet dog.

After we all switched, we watched the penguins waddle around the room and charge at us to receive petting. I sat down with Cliff again and pet him until he started to fall asleep. When he woke up from nuzzling into my side, he started pecking at a string on my shorts. They’re pretty handy with their beaks. A couple of them tried to take my cell phone through the gate and one of the free-roaming ones tried to take someone’s cell phone sitting on a bag. We heard stories about how they enjoy climbing into big purses and whatnot. Penguins truly are wondrous animals.

It was pretty cool learning about them in a scientific setting too. We learned so much from the biologist! This is definitely something I would 100% recommend.

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Travel List Check | Visit Washington, D.C. and New York City

People want to tell me that I’m crazy. When they hear our adventure plans, they say, “IN A WEEKEND?!”, and I proudly say yes. Some say I’m a dreamer and it is true. I’ve come to terms that I am an idealist lost in a world full of realists. It’s just how I am but I found out that it influences my every decision – such as traveling to NYC and DC from Florida in two days. And guess what? Here I am to tell the tale and the incredible views I saw spending one day in each place.

And I can say with some time and dedication, you can accomplish anything. We didn’t even really plan it financially or any other way. In fact, the night before we weren’t sure we were even going and a week before, our destination was New Orleans.

Our system was simple. I’d sleep all day so I could drive all night until I got tired. Then I’d switch with my husband. We drove from 9 PM one night until 2 PM the next afternoon. On the way home, he drove for six hours while I slept, then I drove for four hours while he slept, and then him again after four hours, and then my last driving shift was six hours. It was a total of twenty hours but I went to a big place I had never been, shared it with my best friend and love in the entire world, and witnesses some surreal sites.

Our first day was spent in Washington D.C. We went to the Smithsonian, visited all of the monuments, and stood in front of the White House. It was just incredible to see the Lincoln Memorial. They’re just so big and mighty. All of them were incredible but just to stand there meant so much to me. It was pretty nifty being in the same location of the president of the United States also. I was able to touch the Washington monument. Oh and there was an added bonus of ducks everywhere. There were babies and then yards full of huge ducks. Everywhere.

Our second day was spent in New York City, which was one of my biggest travel dreams. I was squealing when I first laid eyes upon the skyline. It was my first time in such a big city. We pretty much ventured around the city in a massive tourist scavenger hunt. I made a list of major sights to see and we Google mapped via our phone for hours. The only regret we had was not bringing our bicycles. We visited Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, Saks at 5th Avenue, Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden (where I rode my first subway!), the Statue of Liberty from a distance, and the 9/11 Memorial.

Each place has a different memory and a story that I could go on for hours but quite frankly I don’t have the time right now and I’ve been dying to get these photos up.

I can tell you that while looking at my phone at the fence in Times Square, I heard a voice behind me, and realized it was Elvis practically begging me to take a selfie since I had my phone. I asked him if it costed money because of the time I got tricked in the Florida Keys by taking a picture with some guy’s parrot. He didn’t answer my question and just kept insisting. Stupid me went ahead and did it, then he said he works off of tips and accepts all bills higher than a dollar. I ended up paying FIVE DOLLARS for a selfie with an Elvis impersonator in Times Square. It wasn’t even a good selfie.

Oh, ten minutes later it happened again with a Monk who walked up to me and gave me a ‘peace’ paper and a bracelet. When I tried to ask how much it cost, he said it was for me. Silly me, assumed once again people were just trying to be nice in New York, I took it. Then he made me sign a paper and one of the boxes was a donation box. That’s when I told him I didn’t even have any money. He took the bracelet back and kept INSISTING. Even when I said no. He kept saying, “change”. Over. And. Over. And. Over. I ended up paying a dollar for this stupid piece of paper. I learned my lesson but yeah, I have to stop being SO NICE.

The most powerful moment was witnessing the 9/11 Memorial. I teared up a bit and I didn’t directly lose anyone. My husband and I were discussing where we were when it happened, I visualized the photos and news reels, and the live feeds. It was heartbreakingly powerful. It was Ms. Lyon’s fourth grade class when everyone started gasping and we didn’t quite understand yet. That day forever changed history and here I was, bracing my hand across the just rained on engraved names who lost their lives. I just couldn’t handle it.

It was an amazing experience and so worth the long drive, the tiring days, and the weird sleep schedules. We plan on doing this every month now, just to different states (that we can swing anyway- nothing on the west coast yet!)

I fell in love with new cities this past weekend and I can’t wait to tread across new grounds.

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Travel list check | Go to Tennessee

Over the weekend, we traveled to the beautiful state of Tennessee for an important wedding. We decided to explore a bit before the ceremony. I had only been to Tennessee one time and since I was a young girl, I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time. The beauty of this state truly blows my mind compared to Florida. When you’re used to sun, flat land, and the beaches, the mountains always comes as a shock. It is surreal.

Our first stop was to Lookout Mountain to explore Rock City Gardens. We squeezed through wet, mossy rocks, and marveled over the nature around us. Then we stopped at a spot where you could overlook seven states (KY, TN, AL, GA, VA, SC, and NC.) This place really had a lot of cool views to offer. We even saw chipmunks running around carelessly!

Then we headed an hour and a half away to Fall Creek Falls state park. We hiked to the bottom of the waterfall. It was such an amazing sight to see. My favorite were the adorable, green moss on the rocks, the natural formations above us, and just so much to look around and be thankful for.

 

Then we went to the wedding and watched two very important people in our lives get married. We spent the rest of our night with them, laughing, dancing, and sipping on sweet tea. The next morning, we woke up and went to explore Burgess Falls. I had even more fun here than I did at Fall Creek Falls. It was an even more strenuous hike but it was amazing nonetheless. At one point, we were climbing straight down on rocks and were practically rock-climbing, and I mean real-life rock-climbing, not just purple and yellow rocks in a gym. Once we made it to the bottom though, it was incredible. The mist and spray of the waterfall blew your clothes and hair like a big air conditioner. It was reward for actually making it to the bottom.

 

After we left the falls, we took a two-hour drive to Nashville to explore the music city. Before we even got there, I found a guitar pick on the ground. It was just one of those little things that made me smile. We went to Antique Archaeology which is one of the locations on American Pickers. We also had amazing barbecue in the heart of Nashville. It was a pretty lively city! On every corner was a honky-tonk and someone in cowboy boots yelling something or singing. There was music in every nook, corner, and cranny. I saw men playing their guitars and some playing violins in doorways to take shelter from rain. It was touching instead of sad.

The trip was amazing and now we’re planning our next trip. I can’t wait to see where on the map we land next!

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Bucket list check | 29. Ride the tallest SkyCoaster in the world

Remember when I did the slingshot in Orlando with my friend, H, because neither of our husbands would do it and we just couldn’t bother with doing this alone? Well, again my husband and I were in Orlando already staying in a hotel on the same strip as both Old Town and Fun Spot, so she met us up there again. The Skycoaster is so much more intimidating than the slingshot and I knew this when we did the lesser of the two first.

I woke up with a stomach ache due to nervousness and ate the smallest breakfast I could stomach due to anxiety. We got there semi-early after checking out of our hotel, so we perused the shops of Old Town waiting for my friend to get there, in my favorite shop Black Market Minerals to be more specific. Every time I walked under the beast or watch someone get released and start flailing, I had to swallow lumps in my throat and ignore the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Once she showed up, I’m pretty sure we sat there close to it and watched others get dropped from 300ft feet. We finally worked enough courage up to do it instead of backing out as I’m sure we both would have ended up doing. I don’t back out of much but I can assure you that I was checking out the bumper cars next door. Also there was a helicopter writing words in the sky about God so I felt like that had to be a good sign, right?

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The next dilemma was figuring out who would pull the cord to release us once we reached the top. There was no way it was going to be me. They make the taller person go in the middle and the shortest will pull the cord at 300 ft. Unfortunately at 5″2′ that doesn’t leave a lot of room to relax for me.

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We ended up in our loading dock to get strapped in when a group of people approached the outside fence asking if we were going to actually do it. After a few nervous laughs, we said yes. She told us that she wanted to do it but that none of the people she was with (assuming her kids and grandkids) wouldn’t do it with her. It all kind of happened so fast but we ended up recruiting a third person to ride with us. She was so cool for agreeing to go with us on the spot. In turn, she ended up being the cord (I’m so sorry Mary, for volunteering you) but she was totally okay with it!

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I had to take my glasses off for obvious reasons but H was worried about losing her shoes. I think the most funny part of this was hearing the guy say “You’re worried about losing your shoes? You have a whole boot on.” Anyway, we got strapped in and linked arms with H in the middle. This entire time I thought you lay on your belly on a platform, but it’s not a platform at all. You get into a harness-type contraption and it has an apron-like function that holds you in. It lifts you up and then tightens up so you fall forward. It looks like you’re totally going to fall on your face but you end up being all right and momentarily dangling.

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It starts lifting you up slowly and I felt all right. We saw a big turtle in the water below us actually. I asked if it was done lifting us about five seconds later and was informed that we weren’t even halfway up yet. That’s ridiculous. Once we heard the OK to pull the lever, we went soaring! It was a surreal, thrilling experience. We swung back and forth a few times. I screamed quite a lot and everyone heard, but do I care? Nope, not even a little bit, because it was a big deal that I did it in the first place. The view was amazing, it felt like we were flying, and there were even birds flying with us. It was definitely an experience worth having.

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I’m glad I could share this with two other amazing people, a really good friend and someone’s grandma. My husband told me that he could actually hear them saying “grandma, you’re so brave!” How cute is that? I would definitely do it again and actually plan on it within the next week.

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Bucket list check | 44. Milk a cow | 62. See Brooksville sunflowers

I’m back! 🙂
There will be a special message to a few of you guys within the week.

Let’s just say we went farm-hopping throughout central Florida. It was the perfectly sunny springtime day to do so.

Our first stop was at Sweetfields Farm in Brooksville, Florida. I have been trying to get to this farm for quite some time because all I kept hearing about were the beautiful sunflowers. We spent an hour tracking and backtracking through fields of bright, golden flowers.

 

It was so hot but honestly I didn’t care because I couldn’t stop gazing in awe at the beauty of tiny bursts of sunshine throughout the journey. Mind you, the sunflower is my favorite, so imagine the smile I kept on my face throughout the entire maze. Once we left the maze, we meandered around the farm, looking at all the animals. We saw chicken run funny, a tiny fluffy chicken squeeze out of the smallest hole in its pen, and watched small pigs run in a race with little curly-q tails wagging all about.

Our second stop was at Green Meadows Farm in Kissimmee, Florida. Here is where we spent more time with the animals. When we got there, we boarded a train that goes around the property. It was really nice and the kids around us were having a blast. So we were though. We basically ended up at a large petting farm and it was amazing. We even milked a cow! We were able to pet goats and sheep in the pen with them, feed them afterward, and we even held baby chicks and ducks! I was honestly way too excited. I was even excited when I tried forcing my shoes and hair out of the goat’s mouth. It was hilarious watching this goat chow down on my hair and literally try to swallow it all because I bent down to pet it.

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Bucket list check | 36. Ride in a Horse-Drawn Carriage

I don’t think we could have picked a more perfect Wednesday afternoon to take a Cinderella carriage through the city. I always dreamed about taking a ride on one of these downtown carriages ever since I met this beautiful horse posted by the Moon Under Water restaurant. The sun was setting, there was a feathery breeze passing by, and we even had our pup with us. The staff was friendly but also dedicated to making the experience special and giving us privacy. There was no bombardment in sight. It was just us three enjoying the breeze and the beautiful views of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

Our horse was a gorgeous Clydesdale by the name of Henry. He was gigantic and very friendly at the age of 12-years old! These horses are very well taken care of and you can tell. They respond well and they keep their cool even when people get close to take pictures or when dogs bark at their large, majestic beauty. They followed the rules of the road very well.

We took a ride down past a beautiful park by the water called Vinoy Park. We gazed at lovely houses, adorable bed and breakfasts, and even a dog park! Every dog in the dog park jumped out of their owners’ laps to bark a little closer at the horse. It delighted me especially because our own feisty dog was actually in the carriage not barking. Charlie kept his cool and didn’t bark at the horse, not even once, even though he pepped up and whined a little when we passed by onlookers.

It was a very romantic ride. We chose the Cinderella carriage so we saw many little girls pointing with open gasping mouths holding their mom’s hands on the sidelines. You have a choice when it comes to which carriage you’d like to take a ride in.

We had thirty minutes of clip-clopping through the cobblestone streets under rose petals. They were fake of course but still. The point is that it was cute. He also had to speed up at certain points when we went through intersections. It was pretty entertaining to say the least.

At the end of the journey, we posed up close to Henry. I was wondering how Charlie and the horse would react. One of his hooves was bigger than Charlie so there was no telling what each one thought of the other. Until this big horse face turned and started sniffing my little dog’s head. That was something else. I couldn’t stop laughing because Charlie was freaking out and about to jump off of my shoulder.

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Bucket list check | 27. See tigers at the Big Cat Rescue

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Tigers are my spirit animal so wouldn’t it make sense to visit the world’s largest accredited sanctuary for exotic cats? Growing up, we were a “cat family” thus turning me into one who could have been a crazy cat lady if my husband and I never got married that cold December day.

 

What I like about this place is that they rescue the big cats and end the misuse of large cats elsewhere. They have saved many illegal pets and kitties from fur farms. We saw tigers of course but we also wandered around bobcats, servals, lions, leopards, caracals, cougars, and even one adorable domestic kitten. Just as it was explained to us, these cats basically did cat-like things. They climbed and they slept just like any house cat would do during the day; the only difference is their majestic size.

 

I actually just looked up some information and apparently they’ve been rescuing beautiful cats since 1992, exactly one month before I was born. That’s awesome.

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The tour was self-explanatory. We walked around with a group and a guide learning about the cats, their backstories, what the organization does, and even some background on the people who started it all. Basically, a woman went to take a smaller cat and stumbled upon a place where many were being bred for fur coats. She was appalled by what she saw so she bought fifty or more cats and thus the Big Cat Rescue was born.

 

You can tell the people really care about their tigers unlike a few other places we’ve been to see tigers. They have plenty of space to play in, their habitats were clean, and the cats seemed like they were fine. Even the serval with an attitude who kept hissing. This organization is a non-profit organization so it was a nice change not to feel like they were only after our money and trying to exploit the cats. I’ve been to some questionable places. Each place has its ups and downs but overall the experience was good.

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I felt like crying, actually teared up twice. I know the tour consists of telling about the stories they’ve gone through and that there are certain laws that needed to be changed, however the sad stories simply made me feel badly with no way to help. I wanted it to be more positive and happy. People are so cruel to animals and it makes me so sad that there aren’t many left in the wild.

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Bucket List Check | 59. Name a star

source: weheartit.com picture links to source.

I don’t have much to say about it yet since we haven’t received our package from the Star Registry yet! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and am glad to finally say we have named a star in our vast galaxy. It isn’t named in just any constellation either. It is carefully selected in the Ursa Minor constellation. Yes folks, there is a star representing my husband and I in the big dipper!

The name is  our initials and our anniversary.

I can’t wait to get the package. When I do, I will post it here along with some photos.

I think this is a really cool thing to be able to do. Of course there’s no way to physically buy a star since the star can’t really be owned but no star is named twice. The website basically puts it like you are adopting the star. All stars are added to the “Your Place in the Cosmos” database which is then filed away safely with the U.S. Copyright Office.

It is very sentimental because anytime you see that particular galaxy, you will be reminded of whatever significance you chose to twinkle in the sky. In my case, it is a star for our love. I remember walking around my backyard while we were still dating, looking up at the night sky while on the phone with him from four states away.

This truly is a great gift idea and it is among the most unique.

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Bucket list check | 219. Go to a shooting range

I found a Groupon for a local shooting range which split the expected cost in half. I had to snag it before the deal expired and that we did. Turns out it was a gun range I used to pass by all the time growing up. I even used to go to the pet store across the street often. It clicked about five minutes before we got there that this was the gun range I saw go into business as a young girl.

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We strolled into Family Firearms on a nice Sunday afternoon despite knowing whether or not hubby would have fun. He is all about peace, so guns and peace don’t really coincide. I, on the other hand, was terrified. I was scared of guns and have always tried to stay away from them. I had no experience with anything more than a BB gun but obviously my husband training in the military, so it was nothing new to him. It actually came back to him while he was there.

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We were welcomed with the utmost friendliness by Frank. He made us laugh and gave us the best information for our first time at the range. He was definitely a cool dude. I think he made 50% of the entire experience because I felt comfortable and like it’d be okay, even if I was afraid. After he explained safety and showed me how to use the gun, we set off into our lane, and I had a bit more confidence.

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I made the mistake of putting on the ear phones when we got inside the doors, rather than before we made it in there. I can’t even begin to tell you how loud it was and how badly it hurt my ears. You have to learn somehow right? It was a good environment because for some reason, I felt like I was getting the same pep talk the girl a few rows down was getting from presumably her father. He was stern with her and taught her everything she needed to know, as if to build up her self-defense. I liked that.

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We loaded our 22 Ruger and began shooting at targets. I knew there would be power behind the gun but I was so shaky that I kept fumbling and the first shot put out more power than I expected. This is why I wanted to go to the gun range. Before I work on target and aiming, I want to be comfortable with holding it and shooting, just in case.

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Back to what I said about my husband and peace earlier: it came down to the moment we ran out of the ammo included within the Groupon. He asked if we should get more and I didn’t know. He went to find out the cost and ended up bringing them back and saying “WE’RE DOING IT” with the biggest smile on his face, he was so sure of himself. It made me smile because he was so cute about it. He was definitely having fun and I was definitely becoming more comfortable with it.

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He hit the target more than I did. In fact, I thought I did so well, only to move the target forward and see that I missed…so…badly. I managed to get the side, the blank space, haha! And maybe an arm shot. Like I said, I was more concerned with shooting and holding the gun, than getting a bulls-eye. I started getting distracted and a little nervous because some guys with some really big guns came in. Shells were flying everywhere!

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By the time we went through all our rounds, I was shooting and loading like a pro – a slow pro but definitely more confident. We would have stayed longer but we had a busy day ahead of us. We had fun and I wouldn’t mind going back. If we do, we’ll definitely be going back to Family Firearms because it was so worth the drive from where we are. The prices are great, the staff is friendly, and it is definitely a place you can feel comfortable for your first time.

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