Nicotine and Napalm Book Review and Giveaway

Nicotine and Napalm Book Review

About the book and Emily:
Emily Priest’s first compilation, Nicotine and Napalm, is a raw and unflinching exploration of love and loss. This collection of prose and poetry is one woman’s account of growing up in the modern world and her own discovery of sexuality, strength and weakness. Find out more about Emily on her website: http://emilythewriter.co.uk Or on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @EmilytheWriter


MY REVIEW: I read this book twice and I do recommended that do you that. You will feel and appreciate the writing more each time you read her book. It is raw and full of emotion. The book is a short quick read and easy to follow. Poetry is not for everyone, but if you like poetry then you should check this book out!OH, did you see the cover? It is BEAITUIFUL! I love the feel of the book in my hands.

This is my favorite part!


GIVEAWAY:When I get gifted a book I like to pass it along to those that might also like it. My only requirement is that you write your name or location in the book and share it once you are finished with it. It is my goal to read, review, give and see how far the book goes. To enter just comment and share! Winner will be chosen on July 2, 2019.

Thank you for taking the time and reading!

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

The Very Best of West Virginia

West Virginia is a misunderstood and misrepresented state with so much natural beauty. There are so many things to do and see when you visit. From eating good ol’e fashioned home cooking to white water rafting you will be able to find something for anyone in your family. Below are some of the best and lesser known places to visit when you come to West Virginia. I have already visited many of the places, including all locations mentioned. My goal is to make it to every destination- get my kayak out, camp, fish and hit the rapids. My husband and I try to take a trip in state every year for our anniversary. We stayed at the sweetheart log cabins (I’m actually working on a full review of that on my website). I was asked to plan a 1 week vacation. These wouldn’t be in order but these are my top five weekend or day trip locations for the whole family.

Transportation

I would suggest either driving or using a rental to get from point A to B to C and so on. Some of these places do provide transportation but if you need to get out of the area to pick something up or do some shopping, a car is needed. A lot of the places also have other fun activities located outside of the area so once again, a car is a plus. A few areas in WV have public transportation, but most only have greyhound access. If you don’t have a license, you may want to call the greyhound to find out the times and how often they go.

Dining

There are restaurants- both fast food and sit down near all these attractions, bars, cheaper hotels and stores to buy your supplies. The first on my list is Cass Scenic Railroad. It’s an old style train ride and tour, Blackwater Falls is a great location to visit for a picnic and walk while traveling. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful and it’s a great day trip with the kids, Blennerhassett Island is another great day trip. You can tour the mansion, take the riverboat across the Ohio River and ride in a horse drawn carriage, spend the weekend touring the Smoke Hole Cavern, grilling out and taking the kids fishing. The end of the trip will be wrapping up with laying on a fishing boat or riding a kayak across Charles Fork lake and ending the trip camping on the on ground camping site.

Cass Scenic Railroad

1 Cass Scenic Railroad. The primary attraction is, of course, the train ride. Hikers, bikers and fishers can also find plenty of entertainment, from the youngest fishers and hikers to seniors. Geocaching is also fun for kids of all ages, as well as adults or teens. There are also historical museums in the park, so you can take your children and learn about the history of the railroads. If you enjoy hunting or golf, there are places nearby where both are welcome and there are also places nearby to take your boat out.

 

Activities for toddlers and young kids

1 Biking trails

2 Fishing

3 Hiking

4 Historical museum

5 Geocaching

Activities for Older children

1 Same as toddlers and young kids

2 Outdoor “adventures” (as they say on the website). Outdoor adventures are outdoor games like volleyball, basketball, tennis, obstacle courses and other types of activities.

 

Blackwater Falls State Park

2 Blackwater Falls State Park. Blackwater Falls is an absolutely beautiful waterfall located in the Allegany Mountains in Tucker County, WV. Besides picnics and letting your kids play, this is great for family reunions, weddings, school events and much more. This is a popular destination for kids, schools and field trips for camps.

 

Activities for infants and toddlers

1 Geocaching

2 Hiking

3 Boating

4 Camping

Activities for elementary school kids

1 Geocaching

2 Hiking

3 Boating

4 Camping

5 Swimming

6 Fishing

7 Biking

Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park

3 Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Located in an island right outside of Parkersburg, WV this is a day trip that must be taken if you’re traveling to WV. You can reach the island by sternwheeler. On the island, you can take tours of the museum and mansion and they offer horse drawn carriage rides. The rides and tours last from late May to late October.

Activities for babies and toddlers

1 Tours of the mansion

2 Visit to local businesses- including the glass factory

3 Hiking

4 Horse drawn buggy rides

Activities for older kids, teens and adults

1 Fishing

2 Tours of the mansion

3 Hiking

4 Horse drawn buggy rides

If you’re wanting to take the Sternwheeler, it costs 10 for an adult(13 and up) and 8 for a child. (3-12)

The island is open from Tuesday- Sunday, including holidays on Mondays.

 Smoke Hole Caverns and Log Cabin Resort

4 Smoke Hole Caverns and Resorts. If you need a place to get away from it all, a cabin to spend your honeymoon or a fun spot to take your whole family, this is your place. The smokehole caverns will give you a fun tour of the caverns or you can go mining for gold outside the cavern. While you’re waiting for your tour group to start, you can take the kids to play Putt Putt.

 

If you’re not at the gift shop, the cabins are absolutely beautiful. The sweetheart (honeymoon/anniversary) cabins have one bed, a heart shaped hot tub and only the couple is allowed inside (you can’t have guests). It is absolutely perfect for new couples or couples celebrating anniversaries. They give you an extra option to order wine with your stay and you can spend a few extra dollars for a Smoke Hole mug.

They also have a resort and separate family cabins. You can take your pick of staying in the family cabin that fits

 

If you’re interested, you are able to reserve online on their website. There are grills throughout the grounds as well as a fishing pond that you can let kids (or adults) fish in and a small shop for your fishing needs. There is a restaurant located in the gift shop but the cabins come with a fridge, oven and what you need to bring your own food.

They have tours every 30 minutes of the caverns where you walk through and they teach the history of the caverns and the people who used them. The tour is good for all ages, I would

 

 

 

 

Charles Fork Lake

5 Charles Fork Lake. Charles Fork Lake is a smaller, more private lake in the Spencer, WV area (Jackson County). It’s a great place to camp out or take a kayak/boat out and get some fishing and hiking in. They have a camp ground on site as well as a small shop where you can buy small things for your camping trip and the fishing items you have forgotten.

Activities for infants and toddlers

1 Hiking

2 Boating

3 Camping

Activities for older kids and adults

1 Hiking

2 Boating

3 Camping

4 Fishing

About the Author:

20181224_154335 (1)Bethany Boggs is a 30 something married mother of two girls, an angel and a cat. She is an aspiring fantasy author and has a few projects published on Lulu. She studies dreams and dream interpretation, tarot and astrology, works as a writer and has had work published on sites such as Babygaga, PregnantChicken and Yoga Digest (to name a few.)

She is currently working on designing and creating a home décor and home accessories line and is hoping to get into the decorations and sustainability markets. She also reads Tarot and Astrological Natal charts professionally (https://www.etsy.com/shop/newagedreamchick  

In her free time, when she is not writing, you can find her sewing, reading the cards, making candles, cooking, baking or bowing down to the coffee gods.

She can be found at the local Starbucks, falling asleep standing up or chasing her energetic kids around.

You can find her at https://www.newagedreamchick.com, https://www.diymommy18.com or https://www.astromommy.com

Twitter- https://twitter.com/dreamgirlBA (handle is @dreamgirlBA)

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/NewAgeDreamChick/?ref=bookmarks

Insta- https://www.instagram.com/dreamchicknewage/

Website is https://www.newagedreamchick.com and https://www.diymommy18.com

 

 

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Bethany thank you for writing about West Virginia! The railroads looks so neat to see! I hope to come visit someday!

 

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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The Very Best of Florida

Why I Became an Instant Floridian

(after relocating from the Midwest)

Oooo, another exciting assignment from Jessica. This time, I get to share about the state I currently reside in- Florida.  

I’m not from here.  I grew up in the New England state of Connecticut. And then, after college, I lived in the Midwestern state of Ohio for some time.  Ohio, also known as the Buckeye State, is where a lot of my extended family live. It’s where I still have a lot of friends, where I met and married my husband, and where my son was born.

But Florida is where I am now, and hopefully where I will stay. I love it here.

Having been here for four years, or most of my son’s elementary school career, I pretty much consider myself a local now.  So, why do I love this state so much?

Vacation Destination

Let’s face it- I live where pretty much everyone else wants to go for vacation.

Florida is the number one vacation destination in the world, and Families flock here from all over the globe.  This is in part thanks to Universal and Walt Disney World. But we are also the home to the Kennedy Space Center, Lego Land, South Beach, Busch Gardens, and Key West.

Oh, and did you by chance hear about our beaches? Clearwater Beach is continuously rated as one of the top ten in the World, and that’s just one of them. There’s also St Pete Beach, Longboat Key, Siesta Key, Amelia Island, Panama City, and because it’s more than just a hot spot for nightlife, South Beach.

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Tampa has Bayshore Boulevard. It’s the longest connected sidewalk in the world (4 & 1/2 miles) and has its own Wikepedia page.

Sporting Events

With no less than three major tv markets (Miami, Tampa and Orlando), and one decent midsize one (Jacksonville), we have no shortage of professional sports here.  

In Tampa alone, we have the Lightning (NHL), the Buccaneers (NFL), and the Rays (MLB). An hour’s drive to Orlando, and you’ve got the Magic (NBA). We’re also home to spring training to many other major league baseball teams (Yankees, Pirates, Phillies, Blue Jays), and several minor league teams.

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Tampa is also host to two College Football Bowl games a year (Gasparilla and Outback), and frequently hosts the College Football Championship game. We’re also getting ready to host the Super Bowl again in 2021.

Is Auto racing your thing? Tampa hosts the St. Petersburg Grand Prix every year, and we are only a few hours away from the Daytona 500 and Sebring.

Regular Family Life

I’m a working Mom, so my life involves a lot more than beaches and sporting events. Actually, one of the main reasons we moved down here to Florida was because of a job opportunity. Tampa, Orlando, and Miami are all bustling metros, with lots of different industries.  Finance, Construction, Medical, Education are just some of the areas you can find lots of open positions in, on top of all the work available in hospitality.

Florida is also a good place to raise a family. One of the reasons I specifically like Tampa is that it feels a lot like the Midwest to me (not weather-wise of course). It probably has a little to do with the fact that there’s a lot of transplants from the Midwest here, but it’s just a friendly place to live.

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And we have a lot of the family-oriented things that you would want in your city, such as Scouts, a vibrant YMCA, great parent-teacher organizations, and lots of parks.

The Downsides

If you ever want to move to Florida, there are some things you should probably know. First, it’s hot and humid during the extra-long summer, and the Mosquitos are relentless year-round.   

Traffic is insane no matter which one of our major cities that you live close to.  There are never any shortcuts, and everything is a toll road. If you’re lucky enough to live near water, like we are, your rush hour commute may have the extra bonus of needing to cross the only bridge that can get you and everyone else to where you’re going.  

There are no income taxes in Florida, yay!  So, they make up for it in everything else, Nooo!

License plate renewal fees, sales taxes, property taxes, they get you everywhere. Which is probably part of the reason why the cost of living is a little higher here than in the Midwest.   

Oh, and we also have hurricanes and alligators.  And did I mention the &%#@ mosquitos.

I love it here

Yes, we have bugs, but here are some things we don’t have- snow, ice, sleet, slush, polar vortexes, short summers, freezing winters.

We have jobs, sports, beaches, amusement parks.

And we have water.  As I get stuck on the bridge in rush hour traffic, I stare off into the big, beautiful Tampa Bay waters, and all of my troubles just seem to float away.

I realize how lucky I am to live here. I may be from New England, and maybe turned into a little bit of a midwestern girl during my time in Ohio. But I’m in Florida now, and I love it here.

About the Author:

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Candace is a working Mom. She’s learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work. Sometimes the hard way. Both she and her husband work full time, while raising a relatively normal, if not rambunctious young boy.  It’s tough being a working Mom, but she gets it done

https://workingmomx.com

https://www.facebook.com/WorkingMomX

https://www.pinterest.com/workingmomx/

https://www.instagram.com/workingmomx

https://twitter.com/WorkingMomX

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Thank you so much for telling us about Florida! I hope to someday live there as well!

Follow me at any of these places:
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Branson, MO

Over the past weekend we went to Branson for an extending weekend the first part of our son’s Spring Break at school. We left on Friday morning after his dad dropped him off. First stop was breakfast (MCD’s) and then we were on our way. I drove the first part and then my husband drove. I read and even took a nap. Its not a far drive right at 3.5-4 hours. Check in was not until around 3 so we stopped at Branson Landing first and walked around. We went in to some stores and had a late lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack it was delish! After that we went to our resort and checked in.

Frist stop was to go race some Go-Karts at Wild Woody! I must say I ALMOST kicked the boy’s butt’s! (haha!) Unfortunately there are no photo’s of me claiming first, so you will just have to take my word for it. It was a fun track and is all wood and it there were looped-d-loops!

Once we were finished there we went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! That place was so neat! There was so much to see and do. At the very end there is a spot where you are supposed to walk across, but it looks like you are spinning and that you might fall over. At the end of the hallway there is a mirror that is spinning and it creates an unbalanced feeling.  Ethan went around it 2-3 times before I could even do it because I thought I was spinning and/or that I might fall.

After that we went to our resort relaxed and went to bed.

Saturday morning we woke up early and worked out. YES you read that right, we worked out! After that we showered and then we had breakfast and had to listen to Larry make a pitch about how we should be a timeshare…. HMMM… I keep on going back and forth on if we should do that.  We did NOT, but we did buy something that will allow us 1 more vacation and possible some getaways.

After that we went to the outlet mall.

Once we were finished shopping we had lunch at Drafts. Sometimes I have the hardest time picking out food. So luckily the person taking our order pretty much picked out my order and I am super happy he did because it was chicken nachos and they were so good!

After we were done eating we were going to go swimming, but the pool was closed because someone got sick in it. Ethan seems to have the worst luck with pools. (For one of his birthday’s we decided to do a pool party, but once the party started in the pool someone POOPED! So, of course they couldn’t swim.) So we decided to take a short nap before we head off to the show we plan on seeing.

We were on our way to see The Haygoods! They are very talented and we enjoyed the show very much! I want to go back and see their Christmas show! Take a close look at the photo’s as YES there is someone hanging upside down playing the guitar! I can barley clap to the beat, so when I hear and see talented people I just get all kinds of goosebumps!

Afterwards, we checked out a place for diner right next to the theater and it was pretty cool. They had a real jukebox and it was very vintage looking, inside and out. I loved the exterior. I think that’s what caught our eyes. I just went to the website so I could post it here and come to find out they even do shows there!! Jackie B. Goode’s Uptown Café; we will be back!

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Where we had dinner!

On Sunday we went to the Hollywood Wax Museum. I got to see my lover Justin Timberlake and we took photos with almost every celebrity in there. It was a really neat experience! Some of them look so real! They told us as we were walking in that you cannot touch them, but oh my the temptation of being told not to and wanting to was real for our 13 year old son and well maybe even for me too.

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We played some mini golf after, then headed over to a mirror maze. I think we found the exit 3 times before we even realized it was the exit. I think that was the fun part of it. It was pretty fun!

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This was in the mirror maze!

After that we went swimming and had a great time in the pool It was a little chilly, but once we got in we were good to go!

When we were finished there we went back to the Landing to see the water show that we heard so much about. Honestly, I liked it, but it wasn’t as spectator as some had said.

The next day Ethan and I went to a Fritz’ Adventure Park and it was really cool. Didn’t get any pictures of this, cause they wanted to charge us for a full priced ticket just to go down there.  Inside you could climb, go down slides, go underground, it was a blast. By the end I was sweaty and felt like I had a full work out done!

My awesome husband went and got Ethan a sword he was wanting from Ozarkland. He collects knifes and swords and stuff like that. Typical boy. We stopped at celebrity car museum on our way out that had cars outside that we wanted to see, maybe next time we will go inside the museum and see all of the cars.

On our way home, we stopped at Uranus Fudge Factory and ran into the besties. We didn’t even know they were there, so that was pretty cool.  It’s always good to run into them!

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We had a great long weekend road trip and a fun time in Branson. Now to plan another trip… Where to go, where to go?!

Thank you for reading.

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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
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March Goals, 2019

 

 

Blogging goals:

1. Search for guest bloggers for my next guest blog post! Its called The Very Best of the US and then we will do each state!

2. Do 2 book reviews.

3. Post a blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I will plan on working on these when I do not have my son and pre-schedule. I did that for the guest blogs and I think it worked out well. I am currently doing that for my #dogsofblogs series for this month too.

4. Get more blogger friends on twitter and Instagram.

Personal goals:

1. Go through the rest of my dressers and my 1/2 of the closet.

2. Finish reading my books.

3. Drink less soda, more water.

4. Do Turbo Fire schedule with my friend Sheri!

5. My family and I are going to Branson for the first part of Spring Break. I want to be in the moment with them while we are away. Yes, some photos, but actually be in the moment with no phones unless we are driving from place to place or we are finished for the day.

What are your goals this month?

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to hearing your goals!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story- Guest Blog

What is Love?

Love is buying his favorite gummy worms and a soda before a long snow shift. Love is cleaning off my windows when it’s snowed or icy so I don’t have to do it when I leave for work. Love is sacrificing sleep or time to ourselves when we haven’t had much time together due to busy schedules. Love is getting into a fight, then making up and working through our problems. Love is holding your newborn who passed shortly after birth and deciding right then to never give up on anything. Love is taking a horrible first year of marriage and making your relationship even stronger than you ever could imagined. Ryan and I first started dating in March of 2014, and our first date was quite the memorable one. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and were there for over 4 hours, we talked, laughed, watched the St. Louis Blues game, and drank entirely too much. After that it just felt right, we were together 2.5 years before he proposed in quite possibly the cutest way possible. We are hunters and he wrote in a card for me “This buck has found his perfect Doe, Will You Marry Me?”.  We got married on our 4th anniversary of dating. March 24th 2019 will be our first year of marriage. In that first year we have had 4 deaths including the death of our daughter Emma Louise. Just two weeks after our wedding, my last living grandparent, my grandma Joyce passed away. Two weeks after that my husband’s grandpa Harry passed away, sadly 3 months after our wedding our baby girl was born and passed the same day on July 5th, 2018. And then in December Ryan’s grandma Helen (Harry’s wife) passed away after a fall that left her paralyzed. Not only did we have to endure such tragic events, but we had fights, we were trying to grieve, and I know at one point we both wanted to give up. But we knew that we couldn’t do that, we couldn’t give up on us because that would be like us giving up on Emma. We haven’t had an easy first year of marriage, but it has been so worth it. We have not only grown closer together, but grown into better people. We look at things differently for sure, and have a different approach when an argument starts. The love we have grown for each other is unbreakable and as crappy as our year was. I am happy it happened, that’s not to say I am happy we lost anyone especially not happy about losing our daughter. But the bond this shitty first year of marriage has brought will only bring better years to come. I can’t wait to see what year two has to bring, we will be getting the results to our genetic testing in the next few weeks and hopefully trying for baby number two. I love you Ryan and I always will. Here’s to 60 more years!

About the Author:

I’m an Angel Momma, married to my best friend and have a huge love for hockey. I love dogs and being outside hunting, fishing or hiking. Wine and tacos make me happy. I live in workout clothes or scrubs. On the weekends you’ll find me out with friends or family, or at home with a good book or movie. I’m super sarcastic, and extroverted but I also like to be by myself. I’ve learned a whole new side of grieving after losing my daughter and I am here to share it with all of you. Blogging has helped express what is going on, how I am feeling and what’s new in my life. I am glad to have started and I hope that you will follow as well.

Follow Katie:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/EmmyLouStrong/

Instagram: @ emmasangelwings 

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Katie and I used to work together and we grew to be friends. While Katie and I worked together I got to see her through most of these life altering events that happen to her. She has shown so much strength! Your love story is one I will always remember! I hope your second year of marriage bring you more happiness! ❤️

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Love Story-Guest Blog

She waited at the door. Doe eyed. Her white skin glistening against the
white sky, her hair spread in a golden sheet beneath her nape.
He would be here any time now. She pursed her lips at the thought and the
corners of her mouth wrinkled in a delicate smile.
A soft swish and then some distinct footsteps. At 6.30 in the morning, the
sun shot darts of gold across the sky as though to herald his home coming.
The war was over and he had returned home to celebrate their 50th wedding
anniversary.

Blog link:https://www.racingtigers.com/
Social media links
https://www.facebook.com/Racingtigers/
https://in.pinterest.com/racingtigers/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/talat-racingtigers/

Thank you,
Talat Yasmin

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Love Story- Guest Blog

I met my son Kayden in 2014. He came to visit the classroom of the school I worked in at the end of April/very beginning of May and while his parents did a tour of the school him and I sat at the table to do a puzzle. He was a timid polite young boy. He was the absolute cutest kid ever and he was expecting a baby sister. On his first day of preschool he wore a red polo and khaki shorts. I remember him coming in so confident and ready to start school for the very first time.  I told his parents ” I got him but I need you to say goodbye give him a hug and quickly go out the side door, call as much as you want and I will keep you posted all day long, he’s going to do great” When his mother and father left of course he cried but I sat with him. Together we played legos and we talked about his baby sister and how fun it is to be a big brother. He was eager  to know  the new things he would be learning at school. From that point on we clicked. I was his teacher for 3 years. He graduated August 2016 and at that time I also chose to move on with my career. I never imagined I would be spending the rest of my life being a stepmother to him and his sister along with having my own daughter and now a one year old baby girl. Throughout life we are told that everything happens for a reason. I certainly believe that my son and I came into each other’s lives for a reason. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be a mom to four AMAZING beautiful kids and I wouldn’t have met my soulmate(his father). I know I could have written about how my husband and I met and our love story but the one between my son and I is so significant. My son has gone through many transitions in such a short amount of time and through it all he has remained strong, loving, and gentle. Becoming a stepmother was like 2nd nature to me. Im not perfect and it is not easy at all, but I love every second of it. I can’t picture my life without my children. I write about my son because through times that i’ve felt lost and have wanted to give up he has called me just to sit with him even if its in silence. My son has made me feel like more than just a step mom but has really shown me the love that a mother and son can have. His presence has given me purpose through times I have felt worthless. We all struggle as mothers and we question ourselves constantly if we are doing the right thing and the times that I get an unexpected hug, or a kiss all of the questions go away. He is an amazing little human and out of all people I am blessed enough to call him my son and to watch him grow. I may not have given birth to him and I have accepted a lot of what comes with being a step parent but he never makes me feel like just a “step mom”
So lets fast forward to him being 6 years old when my husband and I got married. He was ecstatic and so happy about it and couldn’t wait for us to be a family. Directly after my husband and I were married I moved in and we begin our life as family. I immediately took on the mom duties of the house. We were very consistent and routine. I believe it helped all of the kids feel better about the transitions going on around them and they all adapted very well. My son and I connected through music. We would show each other new songs and listen to them really loud early in the morning on our ride to school. Every time he likes a new song now we listen to it together and sometimes even discuss the lyrics. We are now going two years of being a family and I cant imagine my life any different.  I love my son with all my heart and  thank god every day the god put him, his sister and their father in my path.
I love all my children but I chose to write about my son, because of him that I fell in love with being a mom especially after constantly questioning myself as a mother to my 1st daughter. Because of him I found my soulmate and fell in love with his father who is one hell of husband and father. Everyday he reminds me that I am doing this mom thing right. Him and his sister may not be my biological children but between them and their sisters they make my heart so full.
About the author:
Mjmamaa is a working mom of four, wife and writer. She’s been writing since a young age but through blogging about her life, marriage, parenting and music she has found a huge fulfillment in life. She’s been married for two years and a lot of her blogs are influenced by her every day life and the support of her husband has made it possible for her to have the time and space to write. Before using blogging as a platform mjmamma used to write in her “black book” but always felt like she could be doing something greater with her thought and ideas. Through blogging she’s been able to reach a wide audience of moms, women, and music fans which has been nothing but amazing. Eventually she hopes to venture deep into the world of music and really capture special moments with artists, music festivals, and the amazing things the artist of yesterday today and tomorrow can bring to this world.
Facebook page @mjmamaajournal

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Wonderful story Mjmamaa! Being a mom is a blessing! It is great to hear a story about being a step mom because sometimes those moms are overlooked, but are also so appreciated! My son has a step mom too and she is a wonderful step mom to our son. I don’t thank her enough for being the mom when I am not there.

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Chicago, Sept 2018

Randy, Ethan and I all went to Chicago last year for a long weekend. We took the train which was a lot of fun. The train ride is not too long. Once we got to Chicago it was raining and since it was our first time there we did not know where to go. Once we figured everything out we got a bus pass and went on our way to our hotel. We dropped everything off at the hotel and we were ready to eat. We went to Giordano’s and it was delish! The boys keep on saying that we have to go back soon just for the pizza! After we ate we walked around the city for a while and then went back to the hotel and went to bed.


In the monring we went to the Shedd Aquarium  which is one of my favorit spots! There is tons of fish, turtles, sharks, beluga whales, and much more to see there including dolphin shows! Oh yes, don’t forget to pet the sting rays too! While we were there we had lunch and I tried a Chicago style hot dog. I am happy I tried it, but I will not eat it again.

After that went to the Navy Pier looked at the Ferris wheel, looked at the shops and spent time there.

We then went to the Museum of Science and Industry Science is so interesting when they make it hands on! I learned so much there! It was a great place to spend the afternoon. We did a cole mine tour. That was very informative and interesting. Even saw a baby bird hatch! They were all so cute!

 

Off to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate (Bean) and Crown Fountain. Ethan did play in the water which was fun to watch and we went and go him a new Chicago shirt. After that we went to the Sky Deck and looked around and took some photos. It was really high up! After that we went to the hotel and went to bed. It was a long and fun day.

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Once we woke up we got some breakfast and went on the bus to head home from the train station. The train ride was very long on the way home because we had to wait for another condtor to drive. They are only allowed to drive for so long. Randy worked on his video, Ethan did his homework, played on his phone and read. I posted photo’s and read. My mom and dad picked us up and we went to get our dog and go home to bed. It was a very fun trip that I hope we get to go and do again some time and check out other activities that we did not get to do this time around.

Be sure to check out my husbands video of our trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XUAehfaEq4&t=3s

Thank you for reading! Have you been to Chicago? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, what would you like to do in Chicago?

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Love Story- Guest Blog

My European Romance

I admit I was apprehensive about my senior trip to the Chartres pilgrimage in France. In all of my seventeen years, the farthest I’d ever been from my hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan was to Florida with my grandparents. I wouldn’t have the security of going with someone I knew this time. Hiking sixty-two miles over three days with a group of complete strangers was a daunting prospect for my younger self. I had no idea that this trip would change my life.

It was the first day of our journey and the sunlight soaked French countryside reflected my cheery mood. I wanted to try something new, meet someone new, it was a day for adventure! I overheard a warm, male voice speaking a foreign tongue and glancing around, I found the speaker–a young man, at least six foot four, with hair so blond it almost didn’t seem real and eyes as blue and deep as the night sky. Curious about where he was from, I approached him. 

“So…are you Dutch?” I queried, trying to make conversation. 

He smirked and pointed to the little flag peeking out of his backpack. “I’m Swedish.” 

I started pestering him with questions about his homeland and asked him to teach me some words. Before I knew it, the day was nearly over. Talking with him made the hours fly by. I felt an intense connection with him, as if I’d been searching for him my whole life and my heart had finally come home. 

The next two days were a blur of giddy excitement as we hiked and talked about anything and everything. I don’t know how he put up with my endless questions and cheesy jokes, but he even seemed to enjoy them! Those were two of the best days of my life; everything was perfect. When the time came for us to part ways, it felt so wrong. My heart was urging me not to leave him, and despite us having just met, I knew we were supposed to be together.

We texted constantly the next few weeks, and before long, plans had been made for me to visit him in two months. Those two months crawled by, but during that time, we fell deeply in love. 

The day finally arrived, and I was on my way to Sweden! My stomach was a churning mess of butterflies the entire twelve hour journey. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him in the airport–so similar, yet so different from what he sounded and looked like over our video calls. He was perfect. My first meeting with his family, on the other hand, was a mess on my end. They were the some of the sweetest people I’d met, despite having to put up with my jetlagged self. I actually dropped my salad in my lap at lunch! 

The next two weeks flew by as we spent sun soaked days exploring the islands of the Swedish coast and nights roaming the streets of Göteborg or just staying at home sipping sangria (at 18, I was legal to drink in Sweden) while cuddling up to watch a movie. We even took a ferry to visit Denmark!

Only a month later, he visited me in the USA. My family fell in love with him, and we showed him many of the beautiful Michigan sights, including Mackinac Island. During this visit, four months from the day we met, he proposed. Of course, I accepted! 

The journey to getting him his fiance visa was long, arduous, and cost about two thousand dollars total (very expensive for us). It took seven months total. Being away from him was so hard but so worth it. We managed to find ways to keep the romance alive, whether watching movies together, playing online games, or simply talking for hours until we fell asleep on the phone. 

I spent those entire seven months just hoping and praying that my groom would make it in time for our wedding. We’d planned our big day to be May thirteenth, one year after our meeting. The date grew closer and closer as we waited and wondered to see if he would be allowed to come. Eight days before, his visa arrived in the mail. Five days before, he rolled into Michigan. We were reunited at last! 

Our wedding day couldn’t have been better. His family was able to fly over from Sweden for the big day. Our mutual friends from our trip in France were able to attend the wedding and be in our wedding party. Our day was filled with joy, tears, laughter, and of course, lots of dancing!

We have now been married for almost two years; we’ve had our ups and downs, but there’s no one else I would have rather gone through them with. We have recently embarked on the wild ride of parenthood and are enjoying (almost) every minute of it! He’s my best friend, partner in crime, lover, soulmate, adviser, and the father of my child. He is my husband.

 

Author Bio

Catherine Claesson is a mommy blogger and virtual assistant with 3 years of writing experience. Catherine, a Michigan native, and her Swedish husband became first time parents to a beautiful little girl in November, 2018. When Catherine’s not working at her laptop, you’ll find her drinking coffee, changing diapers, and binging Netflix shows. She specializes in email management, online content creation, and ghostwriting. You can learn more about her services and check out her blog at notebooksandninjas.com

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Catherine, your love story makes me think of a movie! I bet your story could be made into one! Thank you for sharing your story and enjoy your little one being little!

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