Thursday, March 28, 2019

7 Reasons Why I Hate Walt Disney World


This past December 2018, I went to Walt Disney World for the 8th time. Or maybe it was the 9th. Heck, I’ve started to lose count. Regardless, as I sit here and reminisce about all of my trips, I’ve realized there are several things that just drive me crazy about Walt Disney World. And I wanted to share those feelings with you all. So here goes...

I eat way too much
When we stay, we often go during the Free Dining promo period. We’ve done the math. It’s literally free for us. It's not ideal for everyone so send me a message and I can help you decide whether or not it would be for your family. I have two growing boys though and they eat … a lot! So not having to worry about budgeting for food and snacks makes our trip that much easier to plan and enjoy! But it also tends to make us overeat.
I tried to eat healthy options. But calories and carbs don’t count when you’re on vacation, right?
Epcot’s World Showcase is one of the best places to go if you’re a foodie. Eating around the World at Epcot is LITERALLY a thing! You can try original Fish n Chips from the UK and fresh-baked breads from France. Authentic Beef Brewat from Morocco or sushi from Japan. Bratwurst and Schnitzel from Germany (and beer) or School Bread from Norway. Authentic nachos and tacos from Mexico or specialty desserts from the pop-ups throughout the World Showcase.
Why go anywhere else in the world when you can visit 11 countries in one trip?! If you don’t already know this, Epcot only employs Cast Members to work in the World Showcase who are strictly FROM those countries. So when you’re in Germany, you’ll actually be visiting with a Cast Member from Germany. When you’re in Morocco, the Cast Members were born and raised in Morocco. So if you don't like visiting with foreigners and getting to know about other country's cultures, WDW may not be for you.
Beef Nachos from Pecos Bill in MK. This was one of our favorite places to eat. You order whatever you want off the menu and then you have access to their 'Fixins' Bar. You can top with things like, Mexican corn, sour cream, shredded cheese, queso, onions and peppers, and tons of other stuff. You can pile your nachos or hamburger or tacos or whatever you order as high as you want and nobody bats an eye. It's very filling! The beef nachos were $12.00 but I couldn't even eat it all!

My kids go CRAZY
I didn’t even know who they were! We decided to surprise our boys on our trip in December 2018. They thought we were taking our annual Kansas City Christmas trip. Our flight was set to leave at 5am on December 7th (my youngest’s birthday) so we had to wake the boys up at 3am to get to the airport – we stayed at a hotel right by MCI to make that early morning a little easier. We woke them up by telling them we had to switch hotels but before we left, they had to put ‘these’ on. We handed them their Magicbands. Our oldest son immediately asked if we were going to Disney World. When we said yes, he started crying. He was so happy. It was one of the sweetest moments and I’ll cherish that moment forever. Our youngest, well, he’s a planner. So the fact that we were changing our plans, regardless of where we were going, did not sit well with him for a bit. It didn’t take long for him to settle down though.
Once we arrived on Florida soil, our kids were different. They were suddenly two little boys who were in awe of everything around them. They’ve both gone before but they were 6 & 3 at that time and they only remembered bits and pieces. Now they were 11 & 8 and took in everything they saw. They smelled the smells that have always reminded ME of past vacations and they appreciated every single minute we spent there. They rode rides they normally wouldn’t (scary and 'baby' rides) and they never complained once. They got along and didn't fight or push each other's buttons. They could suddenly walk for GREAT distances and never get tired. They ate all their food on their plate and they went to bed without arguing. They woke up the first time we asked and they suddenly wanted their pictures taken with EVERYTHING that we came across. They never once asked for their tablet or to watch TV. Who were these kids?!
Looking across World Showcase Lagoon at the other countries


It rains A LOT in Florida
Despite our well thought-out planning of bringing ponchos and umbrellas, we still got caught in the rain. Chris’s poncho ripped so he was hiding underneath mine as we raced towards our dining reservation at Be Our Guest. And because these ponchos were from the Dollar Tree, obviously mine ripped as well. We were soaked from head to toe. And since we were soaked, we decided we might as well jump IN the puddles instead of over them. We had to go from one end of the park to the other to get to our restaurant and we counted 23 puddles that we splashed in along the way. Once we were done with lunch, we were able to ride any ride we wanted to and never waited more than 5 minutes. It was just the worst, I tell you.
This poncho is NOT from Dollar Tree. This is a $10 poncho that WDW sells that we purchased after our Dollar Tree ponchos ripped. Well played WDW, well played.

Walt Disney World is incredibly smelly
Magic Kingdom’s Main Street is the smelliest place in all of Walt Disney World. The moment you step foot on Main Street, you instantly smell popcorn. Maybe that’s because of the smellitizers that they LITERALLY use, or maybe it’s because there’s a cast member selling Popcorn Buckets immediately to your right. Take a few steps further and you’ll get a whiff of Main Street Confectionery. Try to avoid going in, I dare you. The sweet smell of cupcakes and candy apples and cookies and sugar is one of my favorite smells in all of WDW and instantly gives me a sugar high.

Keep going a few steps further and you’ll walk past the Main Street Bakery and Starbucks where they have fresh baked bread and, obviously, fresh-brewed coffee. Even each of the bathrooms has their own smells. Oranges or Glade Air Fresheners or clean laundry … it’s probably an environmentalist’s nightmare. For me though, the smells of different places and areas of WDW are as familiar as the buildings. Every thing/area has a distinct smell, somehow reaching your nose through the fresh air and hordes of people. It’s nostalgia for me. If you ever get a chance to go to WDW, pay attention to the smells. Odds are, the scent in the air was crafted by Imagineers to fully immerse you in the magic.


If you haven't noticed by now, I'll fill you in.  I don't really 'hate' Walt Disney World. Actually, it's my most favorite place in the world. I've traveled all over. I've traveled to other countries and I've done staycations as well. But my Home Away from Home is hands down, Walt Disney World. It's my family's happy place.

Continuing on with my 'hatred'...
  
Some of the rides are dated
It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, Carousel of Progress, etc. These rides are like acid trips (I totally have never tried any sort of drug but if I could imagine what acid trips were like, it’d be those rides). Yet, we found ourselves liking the classic, dated rides the most. Ok, maybe It’s a Small World is only a one-ride per vacation ride only but still. When I ride these rides, I can’t help but think of Walt himself. These were his ideas, his creations and his imagination. Obviously there are some rides that need a fresh update (think: Tomorrowland Speedway which is currently under refurbishment, thank goodness). But sometimes, you just have to let the original ideas stay in place and just give them a fresh coat of paint every once in a while. “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”-Walt. These classic rides were his dreams. And dreams are forever.

It's so dang expensive
So many people ask how we can afford to go to Walt Disney World as often as we do. It’s simple, really. We research and we plan and we save and we make sacrifices. I did Swagbucks (note: if you decide to try Swagbucks, follow my referrel link so that we can get a bonus!) and turned my recipes into points that turn points into gift cards. I used Shopkick (use my code: SHOP421799 or click this link to download so we get the bonus) and coupons. I bought Disney Gift Cards from Target (5% Redcard savings) or Sam’s Club (about the same discount) and used the gift cards to pay off our trip. I bought Disney gear from Target when it was on sale or Dollar Tree if they had something we needed for our trip. We skipped distant vacations and opted for exploring nearby nature trails or only took one-day trips. We did have a family reunion in Colorado last year (which was the same year of our most recent WDW trip) but while most of our family stayed several days, we just stayed a couple of nights but were still able to fit in some mountain time. We saved change in a jar and sold items we no longer used. We turned gifts into gift cards and budgeted our grocery list carefully. Birthdays and Christmas were Disney gift cards or stuff we needed vs. stuff we wanted but didn’t need. We only ate out for special occasions and used the needs vs. wants method a lot while purchasing things. However, we never once felt like we were missing out on something during the years we saved for our trips. And in return, the days that we spent in Lake Buena Vista, Florida are some of the BEST memories we’ve ever created.
This paid for over half of our vacation. See above how we bought the Disney gift cards.

Disney put a spell on me
You often hear the phrase 'Disney Magic'. And to people who haven’t witnessed the Disney Magic, it’s hard to explain. For some, it’s an experience. For me, it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe. It’s the same feeling I get when I see the castle that I got the first time I saw the castle. It’s the feeling I get when I hop on the Magical Express at MCO heading towards our resort. It’s the feeling I get when I smell the Main Street asphalt or the water on Splash Mountain. It’s the feeling I get when I hear the words, “¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!” (Please stand clear of the doors) as I sit down on the seat of the Monorail. It’s the feeling I get when I see Mickey Mouse or any of the Disney characters whether it’s a commercial on TV or in the parade in the parks. There are simple sayings that all I have to do is hear them and I instantly teleport back to Walt Disney World (WDW fans will know this: “Paging Mr. Morrow. Mr. Tom Morrow"). Disney Magic is different for everyone. And until you experience it, it’s hard to understand the meaning of it.


At 36 years old, Walt Disney still brings out the kids in me. The nostalgic feeling of being in Walt Disney World and escaping reality is Disney’s catalyst to creating the Magic. It’s not known as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ for no reason. And if someone tells me that they didn’t have a good time the last time they were at WDW, I simply tell them, “then you didn’t do Disney World right.”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

MY DaVinci Surgey and Recovery for Partial Nephrectomy for Kidney Cancer

First of all, I wanted to thank each and every person who has reached out to me over the past several weeks. Whether I responded back to you or not, your message did not go unread! And I felt every comment, email and text that was sent!

Many have been asking how I am recovering.

Surgery went as well as it possibly could! I was wheeled back around 2:30pm and saw my handsome husband’s face around 7pm. I was in post-op recovery for an hour and a half so the surgery took about 3 hours total. I had the DaVinci Robot surgery and I cannot tell you enough how amazing that machine is! If you ever get a chance, YouTube it. If you want a less bloody version, click my link here and you'll see an animation. Technology is incredible!

I was in the hospital a total of two nights. They originally thought I would get to go home the day after my surgery but because they had to move some organs and my diaphragm around to get to the tumor, I was having a hard time breathing in. Because of that, I couldn’t get the fluid off my lungs and so I was a slight pneumonia risk. Once I could get that spirometer breathing thing past the 500mL mark, I was set! So I was discharged on the 2nd at noon. I opted for no pain pills as well. I went from being on Morphine every six hours in the hospital to just extra strength Tylenol on discharge. It was my choice though. I am not a fan of how those opioid pain pills make me feel so I powered through the pain. I mainly slept anyway.

It took about four days total before I finally started to feel like a human again and about a week for the Morphine and General Anesthesia to completely get out of my system. By 2 weeks after surgery, I was anxious to get back to work! I took a few extra days off to enjoy feeling well and as of Tuesday the 19th, I've been back to work pretty much full-time. Depending on what all I did the day before is how I feel the next day. I have better days than others and occasionally still get stiff and sore but for the most part, I am thrilled with my recovery!

I received the pathology report a couple of weeks after the surgery and I guess I’m still in the air on how I feel about the results.

I had Stage I, Grade II Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Originally the tumor was thought to be 2.5cm but upon removal, it was 1.9cm. So that’s good. It was smaller that originally thought.
However, I did not necessarily get clear margins.
When my surgeon removed my tumor, he also removed extra tissue (which is what they usually do). When he cauterized the tumor, he burned through a piece of it and into the healthy tissue. Therefore, the people that did the biopsy cannot fully say I have negative (or clear) margins. My pathology report says: “Parenchymal margin focally positive for tumor”.

It’s hard to shout out that I’m Cancer Free when my pathology report shows otherwise. My surgeon/Urologist says I’m cured. So those are the words I’m hanging on to. When the surgeon excised the tumor, it more than likely killed off the small amount of cancer at that time.

Regardless, Kidney Cancer is a very slow growing cancer. I’ll be monitored every six months for the next several years and then every year after that for probably the rest of my life. If anything should come up on one of these scans, I can immediately be treated. So that’s a reassuring thought as well.

My takeaway on the whole thing is…
My Faith is stronger than my Fear. When I feel like I can no longer stand or steer anymore, God is a great pilot.


A completely healthy person who received NEGATIVE or CLEAR margins can have cancer reoccur.  While someone, like myself, who didn’t get such good results, and who possibly still has cancer cells in the body, may never get cancer again.

It’s whatever hand we’re dealt. And we just have to play the hell out of that hand until it’s time to fold. And I'm not a folder.

Thank you again for all of your thoughts, prayers and support. I appreciate it more than you know!


Now go get your yearly physical! And ask the doctor to throw in a urinalysis while you're there! This sneaky cancer is silent and I kind of want you all to stick around!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

No City-Wide Garage Sale Post This Year. I have to kick Cancer's ass first

I’ve had several people email me asking about a 2019 citywide garage sale post and I fully planned on putting one together but unfortunately, I’ve had a health setback and won’t get to it this year.
But you can check out my friend's blog over at Wichita on the Cheap and she'll get you some dates and locations!

Since this is my personal blog and I use it as my voice on occasion, I will share with you what I have going on… On January 24th, I came down with a horrible stomach something. I say ‘something’ because the mystery is still there.
Shortly after dinner, my stomach started cramping severely bad. Up high in the middle and maybe an inch to the right. It was a pain like I’ve never felt before. It felt like someone was punching me in the gut over and over and over again. It hurt so bad that I eventually got sick. I felt better after I got sick and so I went to bed for a bit. Then it started back up again. Repeat this all night, overnight Thursday until about 7am that Friday morning. I ended up sleeping on my bathroom floor. I mentioned to my husband a couple of times that if our boys weren’t sleeping, I’d go to the emergency room. This is coming from a girl that waits until she’s barely breathing to go to the doctor. So yeah, that was the pain.  That next day (Friday) I had zero energy (to be expected after a night of hurling) but still didn’t feel the greatest. I never ran a fever and never had body aches so I was pretty sure I had food poisoning and so that’s why I didn’t make an appointment on Friday.

I went through the weekend and went to my kids’ basketball and soccer games even though I still had a slight twinge. I was still pretty sure it was the food poisoning.
On Monday, I decided I’d go ahead and make a dr’s appointment since I still had that dull ache. None of my family members on my mom’s side have their gall bladder anymore so if I didn’t have food poisoning, maybe it was gallstones.
At the dr, he was palpating my stomach and was pretty sure I had gallstones or a gallbladder attack and so he ordered an ultrasound as well as a CBC and a urinalysis.

The next day I had my ultrasound and noticed that the technician only spent a couple of minutes on my gallbladder but about 10-15 minutes on my right side, down low and towards my back as well. I’m no doctor but I always thought the gallbladder was higher up.
The next day I received a call from my doctor and said my gallbladder and liver were great, however, I had hematuria (microscopic blood in my urine) as well as a mass on my kidney.

I didn’t hear anything other than “mass on your kidney”.
They set me up to have a CT scan with contrast the following week and the day after that, it was determined that I have a 2.5cm cancerous mass on my right kidney.
I was sent over to a Urologist to have him look at the report and the scan and he came to the same conclusion. I have Kidney Cancer (AKA: Renal Cell Carcinoma) and I will need to have surgery to remove the tumor as well as part of my right kidney on February 28th, 2019. Oddly enough, the month of March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and come March 1st, I will hopefully be able to say that I am a Kidney Cancer Survivor.

I’m on autopilot right now. I don’t quite know how to feel about having cancer other than I just want the fucking thing out of me.
Honestly, I feel really, really good. Which is the scary thing about Kidney Cancer. Call it divine intervention or a guardian angel watching out for me or whatever you want to call it but the fact is, they found my cancer by complete accident while it’s still relatively small. Most of the time, by the time someone finds out they have kidney cancer, the tumor is quite large and causing noticeable symptoms and possibly already spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Sure I’m going to have to have a pretty major surgery and be down for the count for several weeks - but I’m so ready to get this thing out of me and get on with my life!
My boys don’t know that I have cancer. We’ve decided to wait until the pathology reports come back after the surgery. They have too much other stuff to worry about right now ~ stuff like, “where did I put my other shoe and why do our parents always make us take baths in the middle of a video game?!” type of worries.
My husband has been amazing through this with me. He’s been my punching bag and my shoulder to cry on and a face to scream at and the reason that I’m honestly still standing. I have fallen soooo many times during our relationship and he always picks me up and dusts me off. I couldn’t do this without him, honestly. And even though my boys don’t know what I’m going through (other than that I have to have surgery on a kidney), their little faces are the other reason I’m not only standing, but smiling as well. When I feel weak, they are the strength that keeps me going. When my mind turns dark, they are the light that I need.

I believe in the power of prayer. So if you wouldn’t mind saying this little prayer for me, I’d SO appreciate it…


“Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.””

-Luke 8:50

If you have another prayer, feel free to share it!

And even if prayer isn’t your thing, your thoughts and virtual hugs are plenty!

Thank you to my faithful followers who have been here since day one. Thank you to my new followers who found me after my Fortnite post and realized we had stuff in common. Thank you for being my people.

It’s time to go kick Cancer’s ass!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Fortnite Valentine's Day Cards - Free Printable Fortnite Valentines


All it took was a quick search for Fortnite Valentines Cards to see that there aren’t many (if any) out there.

Seriously?!

Who doesn’t play Fortnite right now?!?  My husband and I were talking and we get a little annoyed when our kids want to spend their allowance on V-bucks and Fortnite skins and the Battle Pass, etc.  But I’m pretty sure Fortnite will go down as the new G.I. Joe and Barbie of our kid’s time. And lord knows we all spent every penny we had on clothes and accessories for those two things!

Obviously my boys wanted Fortnite Valentines this year and since my search didn’t pull up anything I liked, I decided to make my own. And then I decided to share the love (pun intended) and make some FREE Printable Fortnite Valentines cards for anyone else who wants them.

So here ya go! Let me know how they print! This is my first time doing a printable on my website so I may have to deal with a few hiccups until I get it just right.

As far as what I'm attaching to them, I haven't decided that yet. Maybe some pixie stix (because, pick axes) or war heads (battle) or skittles (y'know, because boogie bombs). Who knows! My kids are just excited about having Fornite Valentines for school! But if you have an idea of something I could attach, let me know in the comments below!



Happy {early} Valentine’s Day, friends!






Thursday, May 17, 2018

2018 Summer Concert Series in Andover, KS

Have you heard?
Summer Concert Series is back in Andover, KS at the brand new Capitol Federal Amphitheater!

Construction started in 2017 on the amphitheater and the inaugural Summer Concert Season kicks off May 26th this summer at the brand new theater!  You can find directions and more info by going to the Andover CVB website here.

Here is this summer’s lineup...

May 26th, 2018 
7:00pm
CLAY WALKER
w/special guest: JOHN ANDERSON
Tickets are on sale now!  $10-$100


June 16th, 2018
7:00pm
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD BAND
w/special guest: QUINN SULLIVAN
Tickets go on sale May 18th!  FREE - $50.00


July 21st, 2018
7:00pm
TERRI CLARK
w/special guest: LITTLE TEXAS
Tickets go on sale May 18th!  $10-$100


August 11th, 2018
7:00pm
PLAIN WHITE T'S
w/special guest: VERTICAL HORIZON
Tickets go on sale May 18th!  FREE - $50


You can purchase tickets for any of these concerts by clicking the links provided above or on TicketFly.