This post is about something I am super uncomfy talking about. I want to put it out there and get more comfortable because whenever I’ve shared things with this community it has lead me to more connection with other amazing ladies, often going through something similar. I mentioned this briefly in a previous post, that I took the leap and started talking to my doctors about fertility. Matt has wanted a baby since the moment we were legally married (and honestly before that) and I have been the master of excuses to push it off. Through a bit of self discovery I came to terms with the fact that I was actually truly terrified to be a mom. I had spent so much time focusing on just trying to get things stabilized to get through life, that it seemed such a distant possibility that me, myself, my body, could handle actually bringing a life into this world and then taking care of that life. To be honest, as soon as Matt and I started seriously talking about the potential of becoming parents, it triggered my anxiety to an ALL TIME HIGH. It is like every insecurity I ever felt about my body physically or emotionally bubbled to the surface, trying to convince myself that I would be a horrible mom and I was not qualified in any possible way.
I’ve been working through this for the past few months. As both a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, the thought of having a little being that I am responsible for and could potentially totally mess up feels absolutely terrifying. I mean, I am already crazy about caring for my dogs, how will we throw a baby human into this mix? Everyone keeps telling me, “You’ll figure it out”. And, yeah, I know we will. I’m resourceful and have basically played the figure it out game most of my adult life. What worries me is my body being on the same page as my brain.
As much as I know that rationally this thought is not healthy, I feel like it is my responsibility to bring children into the world for our family. I haven’t gotten this pressure from anyone else, but my own feeling guilty brain. No matter how many 'green lights' I get, somehow I still feel self conscious that something is wrong with me. Ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I have been told that pregnancy was going to be harder for me. I was also threatened with that when I was 18 years old suffering from an eating disorder. I will never forget hearing “If you keep doing this to yourself, you’ll never get pregnant and you’ll never have babies”. I get that those telling me that were worried about me and trying to scare me into ‘getting better’. Now it rings in my head every time I visit the Obgyn or see a baby in the grocery store.
I’m scared of ‘failing’ my family because my body isn’t ‘good enough’. The thing is, if a friend were to spill this situation to me, I’d tell them this way of thinking is totally irrational and they are being so incredibly mean to their beautiful body and hard on themselves. But when the dialogue is directed at yourself, somehow things always are narrated a bit differently, huh?
How do you get past the fear of ‘failure’? How do you believe in your body when you feel like it is out of your control? How can you trust this body to bring the most precious gift into the world when it is hard to trust it to make it through the work week.
I’ve been working on positive self affirmations. I’ve been living by the mantra, “You are doing the best you can”. I’ve been making lists of all of the amazing things my body can do. And I’ve been praying to the universe. It’s hard to share these fears with those close to you, because they are all so hopeful and they are the people you don’t want to let down. I’ve been following along with the journeys of strong, inspiring, and truly amazing women on Instagram. Some of them I have the pleasure of knowing and some of them, just strangers, who are brave enough to share their stories with those who need to hear it. I know that my story has barely begun and it might sound crazy to those who have been through so much that I am so initially paralyzed by fear. But this is how it is, and I’m working to be okay each day with just doing the best my body and mind possibly can.
Got a little real on this one, and I hope to feel inclined to continue to do so. Please drop me a message if you are a fellow spoonie, member of the chronic illness community, or struggling in a similar situation. Let’s stand by each other.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
Time to talk about one of my favorite things! Disney dining! After sharing what I was eating throughout or last trip, I received a few requests to share more about the gluten free options at Disney World. I shared a roundup of my favorite gluten free options from the Food & Wine Festival on my story highlight, here. I also shared some of our favorite hidden gem destinations, some of which a food related, here. I wanted to put together a guide that is specifically around gluten free food options that you can get no matter when you are visiting the parks. All of these places I have eaten at an received awesome service and equally as great food.
If you’ve been to Disney World before and have a good allergy, you know the lengths they go to in order to make sure your food is prepared correctly. If you haven’t been, here is a quick rundown on their precautions.
Disney always goes above and beyond to provide top notch customer service, and their allergy friendly dining is no different. I hope you like my round up based on my great gluten free dining experiences! Of course, there are other places I love as well, these just happen to be the ones that created truly magnificent experiences for me.
Jungle Skipper Canteen - Magic Kingdom
Jungle Skipper Canteen is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for gluten free options that are so good, they’re actually served on the main menu. There are plenty of dishes that are gluten friendly, but I do have two favorites that I highly recommend. For a starter, the cheesy bread is a must. It’s technical a special they have so you won’t necessarily see if on the menu but definitely ask for it. This bread is naturally gluten free and served with a parmesan and chimichurri spread that I could eat by the spoon. For an entree, I 100% recommend the fried chicken, aka the “‘Tastes Like Chicken’ because it is!”. It is coated in a gluten free tempura batter, so you get all the crunch without the gluten.
Kona Cafe -Polynesian Resort
I love the food at Kona Cafe and it’s a staple for Matt and me on our Disney trips. They have great gluten free sushi and entree options, but the reason this made this list is because of their gluten free bread. The first time I had it I spit it out and asked our server if it was actually gluten free because it tasted so good I swore it wasn’t. Well, it was, and now I can’t get enough. They serve these warm, really fluffy rolls that have a bit of sweetness to them, think like Hawaiian rolls but gluten free. I’ve been trying to find a comparable kind at home with no such success, so it looks like they will stay my Disney treat.
Boma- Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma is an African food buffet located in the Animal King Lodge. Not only is the environment incredibly cool and the food is delicious and plentiful, but there are also a ton of gluten free options. I’ve been for both breakfast and dinner, both of which were great experiences. Since it’s a buffet, they provide gluten free guests with a pamphlet complete with charts that note specific allergens in each item. This makes it really easy to navigate the food choices and the options are really extensive. For breakfast, they brought me gluten free donuts and waffles and at dinner they brought gluten free bread and gluten free desserts for me to enjoy!
Tony's Town Square- Animal Kingdom
You can read about my love for Tony’s Town Square, here, and, spoiler alert, a lot of it has to do with the gluten free options. It’s not everyday you can get a good gluten free pasta, but here you can. They have some good entree options, my personal favorite being the shrimp scampi. I also love that they provide separately packaged gluten free rolls to dip in the olive oil and herbs at the table. It’s so nice to be able to participate in this Italian restaurant ritual and I sometimes even take one of the prepackaged rolls for a snack later.
50's Prime Time Cafe - Hollywood Studios
The 50s Prime Time Cafe is a destination for the experience itself, but also a stellar option for gluten free folks looking for some classic comfort food. The gluten free pot pie is a personal favorite and reminds me of family dinners as a kid. The fact that they could make a classic home style dish gluten free and still taste so good seriously surprised me. Matt was making jokes about wanted the extra gluten I couldn’t eat on his meal. Well, in typical in character cast member action they brought out his Caesar salad with croutons overflowing over the side of his bowl. I couldn’t stop laughing at his ‘extra gluten’ special.
Be Our Guest - Magic Kingdom
I’ve been here for breakfast and lunch, neither disappointed! It can be challenging to get a recommendation at this popular spot in Magic Kingdom so I suggest booking early. If you don’t score that reservation though, don’t freak, checking a few days before or even the day of for cancelations can be your ticket in! The gluten free appeal at Be Our Guest is their ability to make almost any sandwich (for breakfast or lunch) gluten free with bread that still tastes great. The portions for the regular sandwiches are pretty big and they keep it consistent with the gluten free options. You actually get two sandwiches which is crazy! Not going to lie, I usually bring a plastic bag and take one to go. For breakfast they also provide gluten free breakfast breads to enjoy.
Nomad Lounge - Animal Kingdom
You can read my whole obsession with Nomad Lounge here, but for now I’ll kept it focused on the gluten free options. They are so accommodating and can make almost everything on their menu gluten free. The menu is already a limited (but delicious) one so this is definitely a good thing. My favorites for a savory snack are the chicken satay skewers and the ribs. Both pack a ton of flavor into a little dish and are the perfect size to share with your park buddy. The real showstopper here are the churros. They’re gluten free and taste like heaven in your mouth. They are a perfect consistency and not dense at all like most gluten free desserts. They also come with dipping sauces to sample which, no pun intended, are the icing on the cake.
Let me know if you try any of these recommendations and why you end up getting!
Okay, not all of us have the disposable income to be able to have every designer piece we are coveting in our possession. I certainly don't. That doesn't mean that I don't want to wear these styles or participate in the trends that high fashion is pumping out. That is where dupes come in.
I know some people are against dupes, which is fine, do your thing. I do want to go on the record here and say I appreciate the design/style/craftsmanship of the designers creating the original designs for these products. I rely on dupes for trendy, of the moment pieces that I am not going to invest a ton of money to wear for one or two seasons. I don't need the quality of a LV bag that is going to last me a decade if I am buying a style that I'll be over by next year. For the pieces I need, I will invest and I do invest in these brands that I love. To each their own, just wanted to share my philosophy.
Amazon is my GO TO SPOT for the best dupes for trendy pieces. I love these options for accessories and especially for traveling. Even if you do own the 'real thing' packing these lower cost alternatives can reduce the stress of lost or damaged items in your luggage. Also, with sunglasses for example, I am not going to bring $200 sunglasses on a boat excursion and most likely lose them. But $15 Gucci dupes? You bet. See, it is all about the convenience, the savings, and making these styles accessible.
Here are some of my favorites at the moment that have made it into constant rotation in my wardrobe.
So, I know I mentioned sunglasses and I am a firm believer in purchasing some cheaper shades for adventures.
These are two that I purchased a bit before my most recent trip to Florida and I love them. Both are under $20, and so far have held up nicely. Also looked very cute in my opinion.
These headbands are another favorite purchase. They're Gucci dupes and I CAN'T GET ENOUGH. I know I've posted about them like 10 times so far, but it's because I love them that much. They are also under $10 so you can ride out the headband trend while staying under budget.
Shirts are something I just recently started getting from Amazon and I am very confused at why I didn't do this sooner. If you are looking for something super high quality that is going to become a heavily worn and heavily washed piece -- don't go for these. But, if you are looking for a blouse to go with a specific outfit or for a certain look for an event or something. Definitely recommend. A personal fave right here...
The Gucci belt. The Gucci belt that every fashion blogger in the universe seems to have. #blessed, I got a real one as a birthday gift from my mother in law, but before I was making it work with Amazon finds. Anna from Lifestyle By Anna Elizabeth got me hooked on this one I am wearing here.
Unfortunately, that specific one isn't available anymore, but there are some other great ones like it. Even if you have the authentic Gucci belt in a basic color, you can always grab a dupe in a more exotic pattern or print as well. You won't wear it as much as a basic style, so the quality doesn't matter as much.
Last, let's talk bags. Specifically bags that you really want to be cute, but won't use as much as your everyday tote. Aka for me right now, backpacks and fanny packs. I ordered this LV dupe backpack for my trip to Disney last month, hoping it would be decent quality to tote around for a few days. It actually turned out being pretty good quality and I plan on using it to travel with in the future. The one I've linked below isn't the same exact one (that one is no longer available), but it is very similar. I love that it has multiple pockets, easy to use zippers, and if it gets dirty I don't really care because it is under $25.
Fanny packs are also the it thing these days but with no doubt will be out in a few seasons then back again when our future children are 20. Fashion is cyclical baby. Guess my semester at FIT paid off. I am not going to splurge on a design fanny pack unless I see them as a long term resident in my closet. Truth is, right now I don't. That could change, but for the time being, this one from Amazon will do just fine.
One of my favorite bloggers Anna (Lifestyle by Anna Elizabeth), who I mentioned earlier, just did a giveaway on her Instagram for a super cute LV dupe that I have added to my wish list. She also always has great recommendations for affordable style and is one of my go to's when I am looking for some outfit inspo. If you were into this post, definitely follow along with her as well!
What are your favorite dupes right now? What items are you trying to save on instead of splurging for the real deal?
Is everyone just as ready for the weekend as I am? Because I am SERIOUSLY ready. I need like two days to just sleep. Unfortunately, that isn't on the schedule. Fortunately, I do have access to a lot of coffee to fuel me through my next few days of fun plans.
I wanted to pop on here before the weekend to talk about some of the content I have been sharing on other platforms. I do a lot of my sharing and updates on Instagram, I've been treating it kind of like a microblog these days. I know that not everyone uses Instagram as religiously as I do, or maybe you missed a post, so I want to make sure you all get to see the fun stuff I am putting out there. Every now and then, when I have a few things I want to highlight, I will do a quick post on here about them so you can always be in the loop. I'll also highlight any previous blog posts that might be extra pertinent at the time along with anything else from other platforms I'm feeling that day. Let me know if this is helpful for keeping you up to date with new content all in one place!
So what do we have this week....
If you are looking for some good books to curl up with as the weather gets chillier, I'm here to help. This past week I put together a Fall Reading List, based on the books I loved reading over the past few months. You can check out my Amazon list here!
I also shared the fall decor updates I made to my house for the season. Getting festive! You can see all of those details here and on my 'Home' story highlight.
If you were into my last blog post on hidden gems at Disney World, you will want to check out all of my gluten free sips and bites from the International Food & Wine Festival, here, on my 'Disney' highlight.
Yesterday was Mental Health Awareness Day so I posted a bit about it on my Instagram, here. Mental health is something I address often and I feel sharing can really make a positive impact. If you are in need of a little realness on this topic, check out this blog post and this episode of the Crohnically Blonde Podcast.
If you've been following my adventures on Instagram, you know that we just got home from one of our most frequented vacation destinations, Disney World! I can say that Matt and I a Disney World frequenters. We aren't as consistent visitors as the rest of my family are, but it has made its way onto one of our favorite places. This past trip I shared a lot of details on what we were doing/where we were going on my Instagram stories. While I shared our adventures, I got a lot of questions about the places that we were going that are a bit off the beaten path. I find that usually when I talk to people about going to Disney World they think in terms of rides and attractions only. We are lucky enough to have visited enough times to have the time to appreciate the other little hidden gems that you may not notice on your first or even tenth trip, unless someone points them out to you! I am super excited to share these finds with you. We've had great experiences at these places, which is why they are on our must visit list time and time again. Each of these gems exemplify the detail and magic of Disney in a way that I appreciate so much and hope you will as well! Let's count these down....
Number 5: Dockside Margaritas
First off, I find so many people skip out on Disney Springs during their Disney vacation. In my opinion this is a huge mistake because Disney Springs is full of culinary and shopping experiences that really deliver. I can give a rundown on all of my favorites in another post, but one of my favorite spots to hang out here is Dockside Margaritas. It is located right on the water while also still in the action so you get the best of both worlds. This is one of our go to locations to grab a drink and people watch before dinner reservations. The margarita selection is delicious - their seasonal options are so fun as well - and you really can't beat the view. For couples, like I said, this is a great pre dinner date spot, and for parents this is a great spot to have one parent relax and enjoy a cocktail while the other takes the kids to explore one of the nearby toy stores. Fun fact: this is where Matt and I grabbed bright blue margaritas right before we got engaged.
Number 4: Tony's Town Square - specifically before fireworks
I ride or die for Tony's Town Square in Magic Kingdom. I feel like this place always get forgotten about or hated on by Disney blogs and podcasts and I strongly disagree! Matt and I make it a tradition to eat here during every one of our visits. It is an Italian restaurant right off of Main Street with serious Lady & The Tramp vibes. The food, specifically the gluten free options, are delicious, and they serve decently priced wine by the bottle. If you can get seated out in the sun room portion of the dining room, you can people watch while you enjoy your meal. Personally, those are my favorite seats in the house. If you schedule your meal perfectly, you can be exiting right on cue for the nightly fireworks show over the castle. Since this restaurant is right off of Main Street, once you walk out you are just steps from a perfect viewing location for fireworks, but right near the park exit so you don't have to fight the crowds when the show ends. I highly recommend making a reservation since this place can fill up, especially at opportune times (like right before fireworks). On the other hand, if you aren't picky about timing, this is often one of the restaurants that you can find random openings for a day or two in advance (sometimes even same day!). This is pretty rare for a lot of Disney dining. I chalk it up to park visitors totally underestimating the greatness of this place.
Number Three: Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar
This is an actual hidden gem inside of the Polynesian resort. They are located behind an unassuming inside of a hallway near the outdoor bar. With a quick knock, you are invited inside of a dimly lit, and usually packed room. What this bar lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere and entertainment. The decor is so incredibly detailed, you feel as though you truly stepped into a real, but crazy tiki bar. The decor is something you have to experience for yourself, so I won't ruin the surprise. What I will say is the tiki gods have an impact on the atmosphere, shining light on certain aspects, creating abrupt weather changes, and triggering volcano eruptions. When it comes to drinks, they have some killer tropical cocktails that you can also get in non-alcoholic form, which is a nice touch! They also have a variety of appetizer you can munch on as well, so if you aren't in the mood for a drink there are plenty of other reasons to come check it out. Make sure to keep an eye on other patrons as they order the signature cocktails, the tiki gods can really shake things up depending on what they ask for. Overall, we love this place because just being there is such a good time. We love looking at the detailed decor and interacting with the spirited and rowdy staff.
A few tips to make sure you have the best experience possible : Trader Sam's opens at 4pm most days so make sure to be there right there on the dot to get your name on the waiting list. The space and seating are limited so it can fill up quickly. Due to the limited space, a lot of the seating areas are communal which lends itself to great conversation and meeting other guests around you.
Number Two: Animal Kingdom Lodge
I could do a whole post just about why I love Animal Kingdom Lodge so much. To give you the summary, basically the attention and execution on detailed elements will set this resort apart from anywhere else you have ever stayed. I haven't had the pleasure of staying on property at the Animal Kingdom Lodge yet, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying its various restaurants, bars, and hang out spots. The back of the main lobby opens up onto a savanna, full of native African animals, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated. You can stroll the grounds while enjoying your morning coffee and viewing, you know, giraffes. On a nice day, one my favorite things to do is grab a book, find an open rocking chair on one of the public decks, and relax. The environment is so incredibly magical and peaceful. I actually have to set an alarm because I will get lost in my book and the beauty of the surroundings. This is also a great pre dinner ritual if you have reservations at one of the restaurants on site, which are stellar dining options as well.
Number One: Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom
I could hang out here ALL DAY. Truly all day, I would if I could. I only just recently discovered this lounge, thanks to my family who has made this a regular hangout for them. It's easy to miss as you are walking through Animal Kingdom, but once you discover it, you won't ever want to relax anywhere else. This low key bar is designed all around celebrating the love of traveling. The indoor space is cozy, and features decor with travel quotes and conversation starters beautifully sprawled across the ceiling. The outdoor area has luxurious sofas to lounge on, a view of the lush green landscape, and to complete the luxe effect, draped curtains on the open air windows. The vibe here is so relaxed and the servers/bartenders are incredibly pleasant to interact with. The drink menu is pretty extensive in my opinion, ranging from regionally themed cocktails, to a nice selection of beers and wines. Non-alcoholic cocktails are also offered here, if you are looking to try the concoctions without the booze. If drinks aren't on your wish list, you are still in the right place because, beyond the atmosphere, the food is equally as amazing. Almost all of their small plates can be prepared gluten free and they even have gluten free churros which I wish I could eat everyday for the rest of my life. Seriously.
These are just a few of our favorite gems in Disney, but I know there are a ton more to explore and discover. That is part of the fun of going to Disney again and again, stumbling upon new magical experiences that you didn't even know you needed. We always love new suggestions on where to go so please share your favorites below! Also, make sure to let me know if you end up visiting any of our favorite hidden gems! I'd love to hear about your experiences! Magical travels.
We touched down back in Baltimore today from our week look vacation. As much as I didn’t want to come back to real life, I am happy to be reunited with my pups and sleep in my own bed. The day we get back from trips is always full of trying to get us set back up for the rest of the week. Unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, trying to make the transition back to the daily grind as easy as possible. My to do list isn’t just full of chores though. I also make sure to take some time to reset my body after being on a different schedule (and potentially being jet lagged). I also prepare for my week and get organized so the 'back to real life' anxiety is kept to a minimum.
Rehydrating is priority numero uno. Usually while I’m unpacking I put on a hydrating face mask to combat any dryness from being on the plane. This past trip I tried this new face mask from Summer Friday’s call Jet Lag, so fitting right? I've also been liking the Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm to help any dry or sunburnt lips.
I also make sure to rehydrate my insides too. This is probably the most important part of my reset routine. If I don't rehydrated properly after traveling I feel pretty miserable and that on top of a post vacation slump is not fun. I usually carry DripDrop ORS on the plane with me so I drink one packet on the flight and another once I get home. On top of the usual dehydration from flying/ traveling I pretty much always have some type of Crohn’s symptoms when I’m away and out of my normal eating routine. This always requires a little extra dehydration relief to make sure I’m feeling good once I’m back to business. I notice, too, that the more dehydrated I am the more my skin will freak out from climate changes between destinations. I think of dehydration relief as the ultimate way to reset my body and make sure I am fueled and balanced to get back to the grind. DripDrop ORS also helps to pack in some extra vitamins that can help prevent getting sick from the nasty germs you can pick up on the plane. Win, win situation overall.
Whether I traveled through different time zones, jet lagged or not, I like to keep my nighttime routine consistent and calming. I make a cup of mint tea with some CBD oil to help me sleep and enjoy this while reading. I always feel the anxiety build in me as the clock creeps closer to having to go back to work. I try and limit this anxiety by trying to stay as relaxed from my trip as possible as long as I can. By getting a good night sleep, I’m more physically and emotionally equipped to handle playing catch up at work when I am back in the office.
The last thing I do, is block out an hour of the day to read critical emails and map out the rest of my week. It’s easy to wait until the morning you return back to the office to catch up, but to me that feels dreadful and chaotic. By feeling prepared and organized for the week of ‘real life’ ahead, my anxiety is lessened and I know what to expect. I make sure to plan my meals and time to move (walk, at home workout, gym) so I can get back into my routine as quickly as possible.
Right now I’m snuggled up on our sofa with our pups, catching up on our shows, and feeling as ready as I can be for the week ahead. What do you do to get back into your routine after a trip?
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.