Pigeon Forge

Last weekend my dad, sister and I went to North Carolina to visit my mom’s grave site. Since it’s such a long trip, we headed over to Tennessee for a couple days to relax, and ended up in Pigeon Forge (good call Tiff!). They had so many cool things down there to see, and we didn’t do most of them, but we drove around like the tourists we were and took a bunch of pictures :) I would LOVE to plan an actual vacation with Elijah to go down there, because there is a TON of things to do. In any case, here are a few of my favorite pics from the main drag in Pigeon Forge.

There were a TON of dinner shows down there, but the two coolest looking buildings, were the Hatfield and McCoys and Titanic.

Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show

Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show

Titanic Dinner Show

Titanic Dinner Show

Titanic Dinner Show

Titanic Dinner Show

The Wax Museum was pretty neat looking (from the outside anyways)

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And there was a really cool ‘amusement park for the mind’ that I bet Elijah would love to explore

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We headed over to Gatlinburg for a few hours and did the touristy thing too. My favorite part? Riding up the side of a mountain on a ski lift, to see the view. As much as my dad and I are afraid of heights, we took the plunge and we were so not disappointed!

The ride up the mountain...eek!

The ride up the mountain…eek!

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

These pictures do no justice. Tennessee is beautiful. The view was stunning. It was sweet sweet serenity.

Our last stop of the night was The Island. We didn’t stay long because we had been out all day, but a friend recommended we go (thanks Robin!!) and I’m really glad we did! They have these fountains that change colors and dance with the music, much like the Bellagio in Vegas, but on a much smaller scale, and this amazing Ferris wheel in the background. By the time we got there it was almost dark, and I’m so glad it was. The lights were way cooler :)

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'Show' in full swing

‘Show’ in full swing

My daddy enjoying the fountain of lights and music

My daddy enjoying the fountain of lights and music

Gorgeousness

Gorgeousness

And this guy here… I didn’t know he was real. He stands absolutely still, even if people talk to him, get in his face, and by off chance, grab his face (which happened while we were there). He is very good at being still.

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While it was a short getaway, I’m so glad we went. I am looking forward to planning another trip down with Elijah and getting to do some really fun things. The place is amazing. And man, are people nice in the south!

 

18 years on the road to peace

My mom passed away 18 years ago. She was born and raised in NE Ohio, and this is where all her family remains. When she died, she had been married for 6 weeks. Her husband said she wished to be buried in North Carolina in his family plot, which I have a really hard time believing. But she wasn’t here to ask, so I was just bitter about it. I never went to see her grave site, because I was never sure where it was. Eventually we got directions to where she was laid to rest, but for years never made the trip. This past weekend, that trip was FINALLY made. My dad, sister and I jumped in a car and headed south. My step-mom (who I am only calling step-mom for clarification purposes here as she is an amazing woman and has been a wonderful mother to me over the years- I love her with all of my heart) kept Elijah and Gavin for us, and I’m glad she did. This trip was a great bonding experience for the three of us, and made me feel so much closer to them.

So my mom is buried literally in the middle of nowhere. We drove through mountains, and woods, and nothingness, and bam! – there was the church and the cemetery. It’s a very small town, and I use that word loosely, but the scenery was amazing. As unhappy as I am that she is buried so far away, the headstone is beautiful, so I will give her husband that.

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I’m glad my sister and I finally got to see where she was laid to rest. It was a final piece of closure, and a whole lot of peace. And I’m really glad my dad was there to share that moment with us. While he has been married to his current wife longer than he was married to my mom, he at one point in time did love my mom. And she was the mother of his children – I’m sure that it meant something to him as well.

iPhones and Food Stamps

iphonefoodstampsSo I came across this little meme someone had posted on Facebook yesterday, and usually I let these things slide. For some reason, I decided to comment. My comment? “I have an iPhone (a USED one at that) that I have been paying on for months. What difference does the type of phone I use to check on my son at the end of my WORK day matter? And yes, I use food stamps.”  My phone is years old bought off a friend, who is allowing me to make payments, because that is what I can afford. Two specific people were berating me for using a ‘brand new’ phone when I should be saving my money to get off of food stamps. I was accused of being a taker of money (from them specifically I suppose as they were so upset, so thanks for buying my groceries I guess), even though I WORK AND PAY TAXES. I have never once not worked and sat on the couch all day to collect money from the state… I do what ever it is I have to do to support my son. We rarely have anything new, and the majority of Elijah’s clothes are second-hand unless they are gifts, not that I need to explain myself to these close-minded ignorant people. We don’t have cable, haven’t had it in years, and we don’t have a house phone. We don’t go buy things we can’t afford, and I don’t go get my nails done, or my hair done, or go out to on the weekends with my friends. Andnever-judge I can guarantee to this ‘man’ that not having a phone is NOT going to get me off food stamps. People who don’t know anything about others personal lives have no reason to judge, or attack, or assume they know how to ‘solve’ their problems because they don’t know WHY I am in this situation I am in. Neither of these two people know my situation but both insisted I was making terrible financial decisions… by buying a used phone. Clearly I see the error in my way. I think they were so high up on their self righteous horses they couldn’t see that I wasn’t holding a pretty new sparkly phone…. I was holding a cheap option that was available to me because I needed a phone. And that’s the option I had. And honestly, the actual phone isn’t the point here. The point is these people have no idea who I am or what I’m about but what TWO facts they know about me, the ONLY two facts, they used to spew some pretty hurtful stuff at me. And when my cousin, and my sister, the ONLY TWO people who cared enough to speak up in defense thank you very much, the diarrhea of the mouth just kept flowing from this self-righteous PRINCESS. She said she wanted to get her point across and she has her opinion and blah blah blah, and in that she is right… everyone has an opinion, that’s what makes us human and different and unique. But when you have to be hateful and spiteful and rude just to people to ‘get your point across’, that just makes you look like a jerk. And nobody likes a jerk. Well, some people do apparently.

s6u7_700.1So here’s my advice for the day. Don’t judge people. We all do it, we can’t deny it, but we shouldn’t. But certainly, don’t call people out on social media that you don’t know, that you don’t know their story, that you know nothing about, because you will look like an idiot. Each person has their own story, and no matter how much we know about someone, there is that much more we DON’T know about them. There is so much stuff that I don’t tell the people closest to me, not because I don’t trust them, but because I don’t like to talk about a lot of personal things. I’m a very private person when it comes to my past and myself and get easily offended when people try to judge based on having zero information. So think twice about what might be really going on with someone before you pass judgement on them. Because even if you think you know them, you probably don’t.

Oh how the heart breaks…

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63What a sad story indeed. Robin Williams, the man who could make anyone laugh, suffered so deeply from his depression and addictions that he only saw one way out. Oftentimes people don’t understand depression. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with it in person, either with yourself or through a loved one, it doesn’t make sense. “Just stop being sad”, “Cheer up” or “Snap out of it” are some common statements. When depression overtakes you, there is no snapping out of it, or cheering up. If somebody is laughing and having a good time, they must not be depressed, they have gotten past it. On the contrary, people who seem the happiest, can be the most tore up on the inside. Some are professional deflectors of who they are.

There is so much about this disease that people don’t understand, don’t want to know. It’s crazy and complex, and comes in waves. It’s dark and scary and can creep up on you when you least expect it. It’s without rhyme or reason, and it doesn’t discriminate. Just when you think you’re making some progress in your fight, it sucks you back down, deeper than before. Unless you’ve been there before, no one can understand the way your mind works when you’re depressed. The thoughts that rage within. I can absolutely understand why suicide feels like the only viable option, I’ve thought the same fleeting thoughts time and again. When you’re in your own personal hell, it’s the one thing that makes sense, that can stop the pain. However, thoughts of Elijah with no mother or father have always cleared through the murky thoughts, broken the spell, made me think clearly. His pain vs. my pain always won out. Some people aren’t that lucky.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Depression is a bitch, no two ways about it. I wish we all could understand why it affects some people in a family and not others. It’s like a tornado, bouncing around wreaking havoc in this persons life, but not the next.  Why do some people sink so low they can’t get out, no matter what their life seems like it should be? Why isn’t it easier to recognize in people? Why isn’t there a cure yet? So many unanswered questions that will never be answered. I wish as a society this was talked about more. Maybe people would understand it a little more, or those who suffer from it wouldn’t feel so embarrassed about it, try so hard to hide it from those they love so much. There are so many misconceptions about it, people don’t want to share for fear of what others will think. At least in my case that’s how it was. How it is. Surely I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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If you know somebody who suffers from depression, or who you think MAY suffer from depression, don’t make assumptions, or make callous remarks about ‘snapping out if it’. Talk to them, really talk to them, and be honest. Tell them you don’t understand how they feel, but want to help, and need to know how best to do that. Don’t offer advice to something you don’t get.

What’s the hardest part of growing up?

Here is another installment of the 30 Things my kid should know about me. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done one, so I’m kind of excited about doing this one.

What’s the hardest part of growing up? The hardest part of growing up, in my opinion, is learning responsibility. When you live at home, you have little to worry about. When you move out on your own, a whole new set of responsibility comes your way. You have to get a job to support yourself, responsibilityand be responsible enough to keep it. You have to learn to budget and ration out your paycheck in order to pay your bills, and know that sometimes there’s more going out than coming in. You have to learn how to manage house-keeping, work, friends, and time for yourself. Add kids or a spouse into the mix, you have a whole new set of responsibilities to adhere to. When I lived at home, I used to not be able to wait until I could move out and be on my own, ignorant to the amount of responsibilities that came with it, the changes I would have to make. There was definitely a learning curve there, and I made a lot of mistakes. I still do. Just when I think I’ve got it, something new comes along that throws us a curve ball, and I get off track.  Growing up isn’t as fun as I thought it would be, and as unrealistic as it sounds, I sometimes wish I could go back to the days of security of living at home. 10401365_10203576485966479_8845612347756017103_n

Being a grown up is tough sometimes, no one ever said it was easy (at least no one I know). I’ve made it past my years of maturing, and growing, and learning and now I have my sweet, sweet boy and amazing family to share my life with.