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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Twelve Days of Family Medical Emergencies - Part One

Jacksonville Beach Pier with the kids
(photo clearly doesn't depict our medical emergencies, but does show the fun time we were having prior to it all beginning.)

July 2, what started as the beginning of a good day, progressed horribly. I woke up at the beach, all of the kids and some of our friends were there. We were going to enjoy one last full day on the ocean shore and by the pool. Around 10:00am, though, things got bad. I was so nauseous, my body hurt so badly, I was freezing cold, huddled under a blanket that we joked just the night before would keep an Eskimo warm. My son offered to go find me some Pepto Bismol and Gatorade. It didn't work. I hated to have to be the ending point of our fun day, but there was no way I could endure heat and kids, conversation, much less putting on a smile. Home we went.

My husband thought I must've picked up a bug or gotten food poisoning. After all, we had been eating out for every meal, my body isn't used to that. I wanted to go to the hospital. He offered to take the kids to his parents, so I could rest. Hours went by, no relief from the vomiting or the pain was in sight. It felt like labor pain. If you've never experienced labor pain, it felt like knives in my belly and body aches from constant vomiting. I'm sure there's a better description for labor pain, but this was my experience. I had to go to the hospital. Now.

After getting checked in to the ER, and getting much appreciated medication to stop the vomiting and pain, I was wheeled off to Radiation, for a CT scan. And then whisked away for an ultrasound. (No babies, y'all! That factory is closed.) The culprit of all of my anguish? Ovarian cysts.

When the doctor came in to tell me what had been giving me all the trouble, he was cautiously optimistic, that it was an isolated issue and these things happen. "Ovarian cysts are common," he said.

So, I get home and crawl into bed. After all, I needed to let all of that pain medication wear off, and I prayed for no more vomiting. I was beginning to feel better. Until July 4th.

Y'all, on July 3rd, I felt semi-back-to-normal. And then, on July 4th, it came back with a vengeance. Back to the ER I went. Again, they gave me pain medicine via IV, something to stop the vomiting, and told me it was ovarian cysts. However, this time they added to my diagnosis, and I was told I also have fibroids. I was told to go home and make an appointment with my GYN, because the ER isn't equipped to help me. #soconfused

I prayed that THIS TIME I would go home, crawl into bed, wake up the next morning, and the pain all be gone. Well, it didn't happen that way. I rolled around, writhing in pain for the next two days. Even if I wanted to make an appointment for the GYN, I was too terribly sick to do so.

Can you even believe I can keep going? On July 6th, I went BACK to the ER. Same thing, pain meds, anti-nausea medication, ovarian cysts, make an appointment with the GYN. Maybe they gave me enough pain medication to last me, maybe my REAL ailment calmed down enough for me to deal with what was ahead. Because, on July 6th, after I got home from the ER for myself, I had to take McKinley.

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips

5 Back to School Shopping Tips

Last week a postcard showed up in my mailbox informing me that Middle School Orientation is in 3 weeks. THREE weeks, people! Didn't Summer just begin??

While I'm sad for the Summer to be coming to a close, I'm equally excited {if not more so} for the kids to go back to school. When I was a kid growing up, back-to-school season was my most favorite! Freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebook paper, and a Trapper Keeper {!!}. Kids these days have NO idea what a Trapper Keeper is...only the greatest notebook of all time! Children of the 80's, am I right??

I'll have four kids in school full-time this year. While I'm no expert in what's right and wrong in back-to-school shopping, I have learned a few things along the way. After all, Jake will be starting 9th grade this school year. Including preschool and VPK, that's like 10 years of solid experience.

Today I'm sharing 5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips that I've learned along the way.

/1/ Start Shopping NOW! - Back-to-School supplies sales begin to pop up the weekend after the 4th of July. For real. It seems early but, it's great for a multitude of reasons. Keep reading. Each week, pick up a Sunday paper and scour the ads for the best deals.

/2/ Shop Often - Every week each store will have different school supplies on sale. This week you can buy pencils for next to nothing and next week might be 1-inch binders. The more often you go, the less money you'll spend and the less crowds you'll have to fight when it gets closer to the first day of school.

/3/ Shop Tax Free - Check and see if your state offers a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping. If it isn't offered in your state, drive to a neighboring state {if gas cost is significantly lower than the tax savings} or contact your local state representative to see if he/she can get the wheels in motion on bringing that savings to you for following years!

On top of the store's sale prices, saving your state's tax percentage is an added bonus! Since I like to shop for supplies each week as the sale ads come out, I usually take advantage of tax-free weekend for the kid's clothes. After all, the clothing is the most expensive part of the shopping list. Also, tax-free weekend is a great time to buy the supplies that are "wants". You know the ones, the FROZEN folders or the more expensive mechanical pencils that they insist are far better than the ones you bought for $0.48 or the fancy-schmancy pens. Basically, anything not on the "official" supply list is generally bought during this time for an added savings.

/4/ Know Before You Go - I noticed this past school year that my kids' school puts a supply list in their end-of-year report card. Genius! This way I'm armed with a supply list weeks before the sales begin and I can make a plan. I can buy more than I need, if the price is right. If I didn't have my list I might wind up buying 3 folders at that amazing sale price when the kids actually need 4...and then I might end up paying full price for the 4th. It's nice to have a list!

/5/ Price Match - This is my most recent back-to-school shopping, "ah-ha moment" tip. In years past I would check out Sunday's paper, make a plan to go to each store that had what I needed at the best price, and go to each store. {let's not even think about the amount of gas was used in this school shopping adventure...} This year is different. I check my Sunday paper each week, gather the sale ads with the items circled that I plan to purchase, and then head to my local WalMart and utilize their Price Match Policy. It's a one-stop shop. Best of all, if the item is Buy One, Get One Free then it's 9 times out of 10 going to be cheaper on the Buy One. For instance, XYZ store had Crayola markers on sale BOGO for $2.98. WalMart's price was $1.27. This means, I was able to get the BOGO offer at $1.27 instead of $2.98. Make sense? {I was able to get each item for 64 cents, instead of $1.49.} It's truly easy and saves SO MUCH MONEY!

Are you ready for Back-to-School? What shopping tip would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.







Sunday, May 28, 2017

10 Games Kids Can Play On A Road Trip

This post contains affiliate links. What does this mean? When you click through the links and make a purchase, I get a small commission. 

games for kids on a road trip

With the Summer season upon us, and the start of traditional traveling months to begin, I thought I would bring you some hope. After all, road trips are fun. Well, they can be. As soon as "Are we there yet?" and "Can we stop? I have to go to the bathroom." is asked for the one millionth time, you're F I N I S H E D. I've learned over the years the best way to cure the whiney children is to play a game, or three.

Good news! I have TEN great games your kids can play while you're cruisin' down the highway.

1. Telephone - You remember this one! It doesn't matter what generation you were born in, you played Telephone at one point in your life. Your child whispers a story or a sequence of words to someone else in the car. The person he whispered it to then whispers the same story, as close to what he heard as possible. Then, on to the next person. By the time the story gets to the last person it's rarely the original thought and it brings laughter.

2. Twenty Questions - One person secretly thinks of either an object, place or animal. The other people in the car take turns asking yes-or-no questions, like "Is it red?" or "Have we ever been there before?" After the players have asked twenty questions, each player gets a chance to guess at what it could be.

3. The Alphabet Game - One person chooses the righthand side of the road, and someone else choose the lefthand side. The players take turns finding letters in the alphabet, either on street signs or license plates. The idea is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z. The first person to Z wins.

4. The Theme Song Game - One person hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.
Mom and Dad, you could play this game with songs from years past. What about the first song you ever danced to? Or, "your song" from when you were dating? This game could be fun for ALL!

5. Restaurant Race - Each player chooses a restaurant, such as Burger King, McDonalds, Panera Bread, etc. Players earn points by spotting their restaurant off the road, on a billboard, on exit markers, on Food/Fuel signs, or by hearing it mentioned on the radio. Impose a time limit -- say, 20 minutes -- and then add up the points.

6. Memory Test - The first person says "A is for ___" filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter A, such as "apple." The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as "baseball," but must also repeat the A word: "A is for apple, B is for baseball." Continue through the alphabet, each person taking several turns and reciting more and more letters and words. By the time you reach the letter Z, that player will recite the entire alphabet and its corresponding words. However, if you're playing with younger kids you may want to choose an earlier letter than Z to be the final one.

7. "I'm Going on a Picnic" Game - Super similar to the Memory Test, but you say, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm going to bring apples." The next person would say something like, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm going to bring apples and bananas." Next person would say, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm going to bring apples, bananas, and cupcakes." You get the idea. You'd go back and forth until you are bringing something to the picnic from every letter of the alphabet.

8. Secret Place Race - You'll need an old school map for this one. But, that could be lots of fun. (You can often find a map at rest stops or visitor stations.) One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, river, or trail. That person tells everyone in the car the place he has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.

9. The Animal Game - One person names an animal, then each person in order has to name another animal (no repeating!) that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. There are no winners or losers in this game. With older children, try the game with TV shows, or geographical categories, such as cities or countries.

10. The State License Plate Game - This game we play on every road trip! Until recently, I thought I made this game up. :) At the start of your journey, grab a pencil and a piece of paper. As you're traveling down the road, pay close attention the license plates of passers by. Every plate has a different state. Write down each one, until you've found all 50 states. Can you find them all? There's a wonderful game board made by Melissa & Doug for this game. (Find it by clicking HERE) Apparently I wasn't as creative in making this game up as I thought.

Here are a few more games that I found for you on Amazon.
50 Road Trip Games
Travel Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Spot It! On The Road
Mad Libs on the Road
Backseat Bingo Playing Cards

Now, as you prepare for your next road trip, you don't have to dread the hours of "Are we there yet?"

What are your favorite games to play, when you travel? Tell me in the comments!

Safe travels!





Monday, May 22, 2017

Wild Florida Celebrates Seven Years -- Press Release

images

Wild Florida Celebrates Seven Years of Airboat Tours, Gator Hugs, Buggy Rides and Slothies by offering FREE admission to its Gator and Wildlife Park

This June marks Wild Florida’s seventh anniversary of providing visitors from all over the globe a world of adventure in the Middle of Nowhere.

Celebrate with more than just airboat hair. Beginning this June, Wild Florida will offer everyone free admission to its Gator and Wildlife Park through the end of 2017. Get an up close and personal look at more than 200 animals ranging from native Florida species to more exotic animals like sloths, lemurs, zebras and more. Explore and interact with these amazing creatures and learn about their heritage, habits and what it’s like to care for these animals. That’s right, hug a “Fluffy” gator or snap a “Slothie” (sloth selfie) or two.

Since the opening, the mission at Wild Florida has always been to provide an unforgettable Everglades experience that promotes a connection with animals while inspiring education and conservation.  

“Over the past seven years we’ve shown hundreds of thousands of guests what real, wild Florida is all about. We have built a world-class attraction in the ‘Middle of Nowhere’ and we couldn’t be happier!” says Sam Haught, co-owner and co-founder of Wild Florida. “The best part about Wild Florida is the WILD part. Wild rides, wild animals, wild memories with your family. We’re much more than a roadside attraction with gators. Wild Florida’s a destination where guests can experience both rescued gators at our park and wild gators in the Everglades.”

Wild Florida has grown from day and night airboat tours to a ½ day experience including the expansion of the Gator and Wildlife Park, dining and event space and ranch buggy tours through some of Central Florida’s working cattle ranches. That’s not all. This year, Wild Florida welcomed several species of Crocodiles and some other fun animals to check out on your next visit.  For additional information, visit www.wildfloridairboats.com.

Friday, May 5, 2017

WORLDS Gift Idea for Allstar Cheerleaders

This post contains affiliate links. What does this mean? It means, when you click through the links and make a purchase, I get a small commission. 

Worlds Cheer Gift

Last week, the gym that McKinley cheers with had a send-off for the Senior 5 team. They were heading to Orlando for Worlds. What is Worlds? It is THE competition that every cheerleader dreams of going to; it's like the Super Bowl or World Series of cheerleading.

We have a few girls that we wanted to give gifts to, for encouragement. (Don't worry, tons of other mom brought gifts, so no one was left out.) When I started to think of what we could get these girls, I was at a loss. A few suggestions were given, but nothing really sounded like something I wanted to give. So, I grabbed McKinley and she and I went to Michael's for a little inspiration. I mean, it's a craft store, I was sure to be inspired.

We walked the aisles and found nothing. And then, in one of the dollar bins, at the front of the store, I noticed the "Yes, You Can!" notebooks. I wanted to write each of them a little note, so these would be perfect to write that in. I also bought a metallic gold Sharpie and hand lettered each of their names on the front. Girls love anything with their name on it!


Worlds Cheer Gift

Worlds Cheer Gift

On my way to the Sharpies, I found the little world stress balls. PERFECT!! These were more of a fun little filler, but really, Worlds and stress kind of go hand in hand. (You can find the same balls here.)

I knew I also wanted to add some candy, since I see these cheerleaders eat a ton of candy before and after they hit the mat. I bought a big bag of Starburst, since they are all SHINING STARS, filled a handmade zipper pouch, and popped that in their gift bag, too. Oh, and I gave them a small bag of chips. Snacks are HUGE for cheerleaders. Heck, snacks are a big deal for everyone!

Worlds Cheer Gift

For the gift bag, I created an image in PicMonkey and sent it to my local print shop. I was just going to have it printed on card stock, but when I told the guy what I was doing with it he suggested sticker paper. What a great idea! 
Worlds Cheer Gift

Now, it was time to go home and assemble the bags to take to the gym. We couldn't wait to see the girls perform their routine for us one more time, before heading to Worlds, and then give them their gifts. 

Worlds Cheer Gift

Certainly, more could have been added to this gift. And I could've added a little note with the Starbursts that said they were STARS, but I wanted to keep it simple. What kinds of things would you put in a gift for a cheerleader? I'd love your ideas for next season!

Handmade pouches can be found here.
Similar YES YOU CAN notebooks can be found here
Gold Sharpies can be found here.
Gift bags can be found here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tony Award Winning KINKY BOOTS in Jacksonville, FL May 2-7

This post sponsored by FSCJ Artist Series in Jacksonville. Tickets were provided for my honest opinion. 

kinkyboots1140x450__slideshow

Ladies, gentlemen and those who have yet to make up your minds,

I went to see Kinky Boots the Musical tonight, and WOW! The lights, the songs, the costumes...it was breathtaking. I was captivated from the moment Charlie, the son in Price & Son's Shoes, come onto stage. And then there was little Simon, who took to the stage in his red high heels. You heard me correctly, HE was dancing around on stage in red high heels.

Fast forward a bunch of years, Charlie tries to run away from his shoemaker destiny. But, when his father passes away, he's forced back to the factory, to care for the workers that still need jobs. He was ready to throw in the towel, until he met Lola. She was tall, dressed in flashy clothing, and had a broken pair of high heels. Together Charlie and Lola will turn the shoe industry on its head; in the process, they'll change the hearts of many.

What happened to little Simon? Well, you'll have to go see Kinky Boots, and see for yourself.

Look for Kinky Boots in a city near you. This broadway production will have you laughing and crying, feeling feelings that are raw and real. After you've seen it, come tell me what you thought. I'd love to hear from you!

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots

Jacksonville, Fla. – Kinky Boots, the smash-hit musical that brings together four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (Book) and Grammy® Award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper (Tony Award-winner for Best Score for Kinky Boots), opens in Jacksonville for its premier run May 2-7, 2017 at the Times-Union Center.

Directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots has won every major Best Musical Award and is represented around the world with the Tony Award-winning Broadway company now in its fourth year, a North American First National Tour that launched in September 2014, a London production that opened in September 2015 (where it won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Musical) and an Australian production that opened in October 2016. Previous productions include an extended run in Toronto, two Korean productions and a Japanese language production. The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Kinky Boots is available on Sony Masterworks Broadway.

Kinky Boots took home six 2013 Tony Awards, the most of any show in the season, including Best Musical, Best Score (Cyndi Lauper), Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Best Orchestrations (Stephen Oremus) and Best Sound Design (John Shivers). The show also received the Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Broadway.com Awards for Best Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Album, along with many other accolades.

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

The creative team for Kinky Boots includes Tony® Award nominee David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Tony® Award-winner Gregg Barnes (Costume Design), Tony Award-winner Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), Tony® Award-winner John Shivers (Sound Design), Josh Marquette (Hair Design), Randy Houston Mercer (Make-up Design), Telsey + Company, Justin Huff, CSA (Casting), DB Bonds (Associate Director) and Rusty Mowery (Associate Choreographer). Kinky Boots features Musical Direction by Ryan Fielding Garrett, and Musical Supervision, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Stephen Oremus.

Kinky Boots is produced on Broadway and on tour by Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Independent Presenters Network, CJ E&M, Jayne Baron Sherman, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Judith Ann Abrams, Yasuhiro Kawana, Jane Bergere, Allan S. Gordon & Adam S. Gordon, Ken Davenport, Hunter Arnold, Lucy and Phil Suarez, Bryan Bantry, Ron Fierstein and Dorsey Regal, Jim Kierstead/Gregory Rae, BB Group/Christina Papagjika, Michael DeSantis/Patrick Baugh, Brian Smith/Tom and Connie Walsh, Warren Trepp and Jujamcyn Theaters.


Kinky Boots Performance Schedule:
Tuesday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 6 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 6 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 7 at 7 p.m.

Tickets for Kinky Boots start at $38.50, plus applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at our box office from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling (904) 442-2929, or online 24/7 at www.fscjartistseries.org.




A beautiful, Jacksonville sunset to make the night even better! If you ever find yourself in Jacksonville, head downtown, to the Riverwalk. You'll not only see the skyline to our great city, you'll see sunsets that will take your breath away. 

jacksonville sunset

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Disney On Ice Worlds of Enchantment - Coming to Jacksonville, FL

This post sponsored by Liz Morgan PR and Feld Entertainment.

Worlds of Enchantment

TICKETS FOR DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS WORLDS OF ENCHANTMENT ON SALE FEBRUARY 7 IN JACKSONVILLE 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., (January 24, 2017) Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favorite Disney stories when Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment comes to Jacksonville!  This one-of-a-kind production visits Jacksonville from April 13 to April 16 for six performances at Veterans Memorial Arena. Tickets go on sale February 7, 2017 and are available at www.disneyonice.com.
 
Get ready to enter a dazzling world of Disney magic, live on ice where Lightning McQueen, Mater and the crew of Disney Pixar’s Cars perform high-speed stunts and race across the ice like you’ve never seen before!  Be amazed and join Ariel as she dives into the underwater kingdom of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and other favorites from the Toy Story gang as they try and escape from Sunnyside Daycare in one of their most daring adventure ever from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3 – proving that the toys are back in town! Plus, enter the wintery world of Arendelle with sisters Anna and Elsa from the BAFTA and Academy Award® winning and number one animated feature film of all time, Disney’s Frozen. Join Anna as she embarks on an epic journey with the hilarious snowman Olaf and rugged mountain-man Kristoff to find her sister, the magical Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter.  
 
From wheels to waves, icy wonderlands to infinity and beyond, see some of your family’s favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment.
 
Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment start at $15.  Ticket prices may fluctuate based off market demand, Lock in your seats early!
 
Tickets are available at the Tom Bush Family of Dealerships Box Office located at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000 or online at  www.ticketmaster.com. For Feld Direct Group Sales information please call 866-248-8740. For SMG GROUP information please call 904-630-3969
To learn more about Disney On Ice, produced by Feld Entertainment, visit www.disneyonice.com, or visit us on Facebook and YouTube.
                                                                        

About Feld Entertainment 
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year.  Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 70 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Feld Motor Sports, Disney On Ice and Disney Live.

WIN a Family 4-Pack of Tickets!
Leave a comment below telling me your most favorite Disney memory. Never been to Disney? Tell me who you would take to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

I'll draw a winner April 14, 9:00am EST.


Buy your tickets, by clicking HERE today! Save $5.00 on tickets using promo code LZPR17.

Discount code not valid on opening night (all general tickets are priced at $15 flat plus fees.), not valid on Sat 3:30pm show, not valid on premium seating, no double discounts.