Saturday, November 30, 2019

Small Town Saturday | Irondale, Missouri

Camp Irondale Staff, 1960

     Hi everyone, and welcome back to the blog!  Today, I am so excited to introduce my newest series, Small Town Saturday.  In this series, I will be talking about my favorite small towns.  I will highlight their founding, history, and what life is like there.  I conjured up the idea for this series when pondering on how small towns, which are often looked over, could get more recognition.  These bypassed places are gems just waiting to be found, and I want to help bring them to the light.

     I am starting this series off with Irondale, Missouri.  Irondale is a quaint village located in Washington County, with a population of 447.  Irondale was first laid out in 1857 by John G. Scott, who built an iron furnace there.  Scott later sold his iron furnace to Edwin Harrison and Company, who operated the furnace until 1880.  Edwin Harrison and Company also bought 13,000 acres of land at the time, including the site of present day Irondale.  Not long after, the now company town was surveyed by Belt and Priest, and was called Irondale for its iron furnace.

 Irondale Milling Co.

     Irondale was formed from three different assets, the company which operated the iron furnace, and two small prior settlements.  These two settlements went by the names of Mineral City and Log Town.  Mineral City sat on the west side of Dry Creek, where iron ore was hauled from the ore bank neighborhood.  Log town sat on the east side of Dry Creek, and was named for a handful of log homes in the area used as dwellings.

     By 1867, just ten years after being platted, Irondale gained its own post office.  The town was doing well, and had many assets to offer the people.  With the iron furnace in full swing, mining also became a large operation.  Mining had begun in Washington County as early as 1823, when the Springfield Iron Furnace was opened on Furnace Creek.  The mines in Irondale put out iron, lead, and even zinc.

Savoy Railroad Depot, 1912   

     One of Irondale's most notable early memories, was when the town experienced a brief name change.  Due to mail mix ups between Ironton and Iron Mountain due to similar names, Irondale changed its name to Savoy in 1906.  Though the name did not stick, and after just a few years the town turned back to its original name of Irondale.

Irondale Railroad Depot and crew

     Another vital trait to Irondale, was the railroad.  The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway moved into the area in the mid 1800's, and made its way directly through Irondale.  The railroad was a major asset for Irondale, and although Missouri has many abandoned rail lines as of today, this is not one of them.  Though the trains no longer stop in Irondale, the line put in place near 150 years ago, is still very active.  Freight trains rumble through multiple times a day, and if you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of Amtrak's "Texas Eagle" passenger train gliding through the night.  Irondale's railway line has changed hands multiple times over the years.  It was built and operated the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway, which was later sold to Missouri Pacific, and is now owned by Union Pacific, one of the biggest railroad companies in the country.

    William Helms Jr. (The Iron Mountain Baby) pictured with the bag he was found in

     The railroad also provided transportation to the popular Camp Irondale, and is most famous for the story of the Iron Mountain Baby.  On August 14th, 1902, William Helms (June 5th, 1835 - December 13th, 1917) a local farmer and Civil War veteran was walking along the railroad tracks in Irondale.  Upon meeting where the line went over Big River, Helms stood aside while northbound No. 4 blew by over the trestle.  Afterward, Helms began to move on with his walk when a strange noise caught his attention.  He traced the noise to what he described as an "old fashioned telescoping valise".  Inside, he was shocked to find a baby, which had been thrown from the train, and had fallen fifty feet.  The child had sustained serious injuries, but was alive.  After taking the child to be examined, it was determined that it was a boy, estimated a five days old.  Helms took the child home to his wife, where he was nursed back to health, and adopted by the family.  He was named William Moses Gould Helms, after his new father, the railroad owner, and being found on the water.  William Jr. went on to recover and live a full life, and the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway paid for his schooling at Braughton's University, and Southwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Missouri State University). 

Boy Scouts arriving in Irondale by train, 1922
     Many residents of Irondale have fond memories of the railroad.  "I remember as a kid, hobos would always get off the train and come to our house.  I believe our house was marked in some way, like they knew it was safe to come to."  Said Paul Lashley.  "I remember as a kid, always running outside when I heard the train coming to watch it go by, but I think I only caught it three or four times."  Said Jennifer Lashley.

     The old Depot Saloon Building, taken by Jennie Moore

     Even though the passing of time has left Irondale with no train stops, plenty of hints to Irondale's railroading past still remain.  With a keen eye, several sites can be found that allude to the town's once hopping railroad scene.  One of my personal favorite remains is the old Depot Saloon, which is located behind the Blue Haven Cafe, across the railroad tracks.  The building was constructed in the late 1800's as an office for the local zinc mines, but was later converted into the Depot Saloon.  Stories passed down by those who visited the saloon tell of how locomotives used to stop in front of the saloon in order for the railroad crew, including the engineer to purchase beer.  At the time, beer was sold in metal buckets, which would be loaded back onto the train.  If you look closely at the photo, you can still see the faded paint job on the building which reads "Old Lynch Rye", which was an advertisement often found on bars and saloons at the time all throughout Missouri and the Midwest.  Not many of these paint jobs have stood the test of time, which is just another reason I love this site so much.

   1856 Stone Arch Railroad Bridge, taken by Jennie Moore

     Another railroad relic that can be seen today is the stone arch railroad bridge which sits over Dry Creek.  This bridge was built in 1856, is one of the oldest bridges in Missouri, and one of the oldest bridges in the country that is still in service.  It is admirable structure that still serves a big purpose in Irondale.

The old Railroad/Kirkpatrick Building, taken by Jennie Moore
     Perhaps the most iconic site on the list is the old railroad building, also known as the Kirkpatrick place, which sits near the stone arch bridge.  The residents of Irondale will tell you that it has looked the same as long as they can remember, as if time had progressed to a point and stopped.  The building was reportedly built in 1867 as a hotel, and later became railroad offices.  "My great-grandfather was a bellhop when he was younger.  It shut down in the 60's."  Said Kayla DeSherlia on Youtube.  "The building was owned by my grandfather and grandmother in the early 1920's, John Ace Eye and Sally Anis Smith Eye.  Not sure when it was sold, but it belonged to the Kirkpatrick family in the 1940's."  Said Rose Dickey on YouTube.

Irondale Pool 2019, taken by Jennie Moore
     Another thing Irondale is known for, is the old Boy Scout camp, or Camp Irondale.  The camp was first opened in 1920, but scouts began camping in the area as early as 1913.  The camp began under the name Camp Irondale when land was donated to the St. Louis Council by Clarance Howard.  The community was very supportive of the camp, with nearly all of the lumber used being donated by a local mill, and assembled by farmers.  Though the camp started small, it gained traction fast.  In 1945, an Olympic sized pool was opened at camp Irondale, which replaced the previous spring fed pool.  Rumor has it, this was the first Olympic sized pool not built for the Olympics.  The massive pool was wildly popular, and was in operation until the 1970's, even after the camp itself moved out.  "Growing up, Irondale Estates was in its prime and my brother Pat bought a lot so we could use the Olympic sized swimming pool. Needless to say my sisters and I had nice tans to begin fall classes with." Said Sue (Sucharski) Roney.

Inspiration Hall Chapel 2019, taken by Jennie Moore

     The camp also had many other features such as a chapel called "Inspiration Hall", a climbing tower, water tower, two lakes, several cabins, post office, pavilion, parade grounds, flag pole, nature lodge, and more.  Many of these are still standing, and can be visited today!  The camp was home to as many as 1,200 campers each summer, many of which still reflect on the memories made there.  The camp didn't have a suitable access road for vehicles for many years, meaning the campers arriving by train had to hike from the depot.  In 1938, the Camp had a special visitor, Marlin Perkins.  Perkins was a zoologist, and the host of television's "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom".  He spoke to the scouts, toured the camp, and even visited the "Snake Pit" of Irondale Nature Museum!  Also in 1938, the American Legion donated to the camp an "Indian Village" of six, 20 foot tepees with wooden floors.

Camp Irondale, courtesy of the Lashley/Sucharski family

     The camp remained in operation until 1965, until it met its successor, S-F Scout Ranch (Knob Lick, Missouri).  Now, a portion of the old camp is now a subdivision, known as Camp Irondale Estates.  Though Irondale still owns about 15 acres of the camp, which is in the process of restoration.  In 2010, the Ozark Trailblazers District in the Greater St. Louis area council worked throughout the spring and summer to restore parts of the camp that Irondale still owns.  The chapel, "Inspiration Hall", has been restored and is still in use as of 2019.  If you would like to help keep the camp's history alive, you can become a member of the Historical Society!  (See bottom of post for information on the Historical Society.)

Irondale Elementary class photo, courtesy of the Lashley/Sucharski family

     Even aside from the camp, many people have fond memories of growing up in Irondale.  Before West County schools existed, there was the Irondale Grade School.  Though this was no one room school house, but was a large, two story, stone building.  This school was heated by coal, and was said to have its own kitchen.  "My class in  Irondale was about 13, and when we went over to Leadwood for Junior High School, there were about 50 students between Irondale, Frankclay, and Leadwood.  I am proud to say we had good teachers all the way from Kindergarten to 12th grade." Said Sue (Sucharski) Roney.  "Irondale was a great place to grow up at." She added.  

Irondale boys and girls basketball team ,1923

     Though many small schools in the early 1900's were neglected sports and extra curricular activities, Irondale Grade School and surrounding area schools did not follow that path.  Irondale school children took part in sports, and competed with other school teams as early as the 1920's.  Irondale also had a yearly homecoming, that lasted many years after Irondale Grade School was closed.  "I remember even when I was a kid, it was a big deal.  It drew people from all over, and people that had moved away from Irondale would come back for this event."  Said Jennifer Lashley.   
Hickory Grove School near Irondale, Ferlin Husky pictured bottom left 

     Along with notable events, Irondale has also produced notable people.  Irondale was home to aviation pioneer, Tom Benoist (December 29th, 1874 - June 14th, 1917).  Benoist helped make St. Louis a center of American aviation, designed the Benoist XIV aircraft, and also operated the worlds first scheduled airline.  Jessie N. Self is also an admirable name for the community, as he was a school teacher in Irondale until he was called to serve in the Civil War.  Self became Captain of Co. F, 32nd Missouri Infantry.  Self passed away while in the service on February 25th, 1863 due to war related illness.  Letters written by Self can be found in Missouri State Archives.  Lastly, and most well known, is country music artist Ferlin Husky (December 3rd, 1925 - March 17th, 2011).  Husky was from the Irondale area, and attended grade school in  Irondale.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ferlin several years ago, and am pleased to say he was a kind man.  

Irondale Bank, 1901

     Speaking of notable people and events, many don't know of the Irondale Bank robbery that took place in the early 1900's.  On October 26th, 1928, two men, unmasked, entered the Irondale Bank.  The men approached cashier W.H. Jamison, and drew revolvers to his head.  They ordered Jamison to open the vault, and surrender the contents.  Jamison cooperated and then was ordered to open the rear door of the bank, where the two men fled to their automobile with $1,700.  Jamison was unharmed, and the men raced away toward Leadwood.  Though on the loose for a short time, they were later caught as one of the men confessed.  Jamison told the newspapers that the bank faced no real loss thanks to insurance.  

     Blue Haven Cafe, taken by Jennie Moore

     Although Irondale is no longer a mining and railroading boom town, it is still alive in its faithful residents.  One of my favorite stops in Irondale is the Blue Haven Cafe.  The cafe was established in 1946, and is still serving the community today.  Blue Haven Cafe serves several meals, delicious home made desserts, and even has a one of a kind house salad dressing.  Everything I have tried from the Blue Haven Cafe, has been wonderful.  It is a great place to go for a home cooked meal away from home, a burger, or just a light salad.  The prices are very affordable, and the staff makes you feel as if you've known them your whole life.  I was blessed enough to meet the Lashley/Sucharski family at the cafe for lunch to help me with gathering information for this post.  The family are life-long residents and visitors of Irondale, and were such a joy to talk to about life in Irondale.  The cafe and the people in it, are a must see.

     I also must mention Roy's Convenience Store, the one stop shop for gas, groceries, and more.  This little store is reminiscent of an old general store, with a little bit of everything.  There is a never ending flow of customers flowing in and out of Roy's, as it is the only store and gas station for miles.  I really enjoyed popping in!

Irondale Grade School, mid 1900's

     In conclusion, I hope this edition of Small Town Saturday prompts you to pay Irondale a visit sometime.  It is a place of rich history, just waiting to be uncovered.  Irondale never fails to provide smiling faces upon every visit.  Below I have listed the information for the businesses of Irondale.

Blue Haven Cafe-
105 S Oak St, Irondale, MO 63648
11:00am - 8:00pm Tuesday - Sunday

Irondale City Hall-
110 S Oak St, Irondale, MO 63648
8:30am - 4:00pm Monday - Thursday

Irondale City Park-
Ash St, Irondale, MO 63648
To donate or participate in fundraisers to help better the city of Irondale's public areas, call the Irondale Park Board at 573-749-3223.

Roy's Convenience Stores-
113 S Oak St, Irondale, MO 63648
7:00am - 9:00pm daily

The Historical Society of Leadwood, Surrounding Areas and Museum-
501 Bank St, Leadwood, MO 63653
5:30pm - 7:00pm Tuesdays

     Thank you all very much for reading, and I do hope you enjoyed.  I hope you are eager for this series, and please feel free to recommend any places you would like to see in this or any of my series.  Thank you for making the blog possible!

     A special thanks to the Lashley/Sucharski family, the Blue Haven Cafe, and the Irondale City Board.

With love,



Monday, November 11, 2019

18 Things I've Learned in 18 Years

     Hi everyone, and welcome back to the blog!  On November 6th, I turned the big 18.  As most people agree, growing up is hard.  Adolescence, although difficult at times, is a vital era in ones life.  So now that I am an official adult, I want to share with you 18 things I've learned in my 18 years on this planet.  This one is going to be a long one, so grab a snack, a cold drink, and hang out with me for a while.

1.  Blood doesn't make family.

     Fear not, a sad story about abandonment is not where I'm going with this.  Rather, my experience with adoption and being taken under one's wing.  Like many others, much of my family on both sides have gone to be with the Lord, many prior to my birth.  Though this is unfortunate, I don't feel some gaping void in my heart, and whatever emptiness I had felt has left me in recent years.  This is because of my adopted family, official and unofficial.  As many of you know, I was adopted as a grandchild to my grandparents at birth.  This resulted in not only their presence, but the presence of their entire family, extended family, and friends.  The way I have been treated, and consistently treated throughout my life has been nothing less of a dream come true.  I also feel this way toward the friends of family who have stepped up to be extra aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I am closer with these people than a large portion of my biological family, and I am okay with that.

2.   You can come back from anything.

     Life can be hard sometimes, to say the least.  I believe everyone experiences some kind of emotional pain at least once in their life.  Everyone experiences life differently, and perceives pain in different ways.  Some people will find that they have similar stories to one another, while others will be wildly different.  Although, regardless of origin, emotional pain can place us all in the same boat.  A violently rocking, leaking, seasickness inducing boat.  Though I think there is some truth to it, I won't leave you with "it happened for a reason!", because that also made me want to punch someone in the throat.  However,  you can overcome, heal, and use what you learned to your advantage.  There is always a way out,.  There is always time for a fresh start.  No matter what your situation is, you can always come back from it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Drug Abuse Hotline:  866-775-7670
SAMHSA National Helpline:  1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

3.  Body standards are stupid.

     I'm sorry, (not really) but I have absolutely outgrown the thought that any particular body type is favored by the world, and you should too.  Never again will I yearn for the approval of my physical appearance from anyone other myself.  I spent my adolescence, the most impressionable time on a young girl, eating away at my mental health over my body.  The worst part is, that is what we are taught to do.  I developed some serious body image issues over this unacceptable feature in world culture, and I'm sure many of you, of any gender, did too.  Once you've fallen under this impression, change is like an itch you just have to scratch.  It is so difficult to break the habit of harsh judgment and comparison, but I promise it can be done.  I do not look like what I have been told I should look like throughout my entire life, but I'm fine with that.  I won't be caught dead dieting unhealthily, buying weight loss products, tanning products, or items that make me appear taller ever again.  I have actually grown to enjoy what I look like naturally.  It is to freeing to pursue self love, and I encourage you to do it too.

4.  "Basic" isn't a real thing.

     I'm sure me, you, and the next guy have all been called "basic" at least once.  Most likely for liking, wearing, or doing something that is fairly popular.  Here's the issue I have with that statement, I really don't think anyone's likes are basic.  Humans are such intricate creatures, that there really is no room for someone to be basic.  If you think about it, for someone to be deemed basic, their likes and interests have to be very common.  But if those likes and interests weren't popular, but the person still had these same likes and interests, they would no longer be able to be deemed basic.  So really, it has nothing to do with the person at all.  Rather your likes and interests are popular or not, they are still yours and you would have them regardless.  So I say, do your thing.  Go play your top 40 playlist, go get that pumpkin spice latte, go do you and don't let anyone get you down.

5.  It's okay to be different.

     This one kind of pairs with the last one, but on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Again, humans are like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same.  Just like its okay to like common things, its okay to like uncommon things.  Our likes, interests, and traits are what makes us individuals.  There are endless types of people in the world, and there should be no shame in embracing the type of person you are.  This goes for fashion, hobbies, work, whatever it may be.  As long as you're not hurting anyone, there is nothing wrong with you.

6.  People change, and that's okay.

     Sometimes the people in you life change.  They become less familiar, and not who you used to know.  This can be a good thing, and this can be a painful thing.  Either way, it's okay.  Believe me,  growing apart from someone you love is one of the hardest things a person can go through.  Watching a change take place within someone you care for can be absolutely taunting, especially when this change results in a breakup, or falling off.  It's hard to find comfort in this time, because the mind becomes a whirlwind as you try to comprehend what has happened.  Sometimes the change is slow, sometimes it is abrupt, though I can't say that one is better than the other.  What I can say, is the falling off is the best thing for you.  It feels like the end of the world, and perhaps it is as you know it.  Though this is a rebirth you need, as trying to make two people who don't go together is just as painful as the falling off.  It doesn't make one of you a bad or worse person than the other, you have just grown to be incompatible, and it's okay to let that go.  Take what you have gained from the bond and carry it on to the next one. 

7.  Your self worth is immeasurable.

     No matter who you are, you have more value than you'll ever realize.  You don't see how you impact people.  You don't see how people think of you and speak of you.  The ripples you cause in the world turn into waves, and those waves crash onto the beaches of those who need them.  God sees all you do, those around you feel what you do.  You make such a big difference everyday you wake up.  No matter what, someone loves you, someone needs you, and someone is glad you are here.

8.  You can turn pain into pleasure.

     Not to say that hardships will always seem worth it, but I fully believe you can find at least one thing you learned from that time and use it to your advantage.  Maybe its new insight, or new strength.  Maybe its experience that you can use to help yourself and others in the future.  Rock bottom teaches you things that mountain tops never will.

9.  There are some foods you'll just never "grow into".

     Avocados still taste like dish soap, sushi still smells like Sea World, and spice still makes me cry.

10.  Travel is the best way to learn.
     I have always felt so blessed when given the opportunity to travel.  Travel is such an amazing way to grow, learn, and experience.  Seeing the country has made me broaden my horizons, which in turn has made me a happier person.  There is so much to be gained by even just having a conversation with those from different walks of life.  I also want to point out that you don't have to live luxuriously to travel.  You do not need to go far and spend a large amount of money to get these experiences.  You will be amazed by what you can find hiding in your own state.  Pack a cooler of drinks, snacks, your camera, and just cruise.

11.  Dress however you want.

     Although some people will find any reason to critique, I really encourage you to express your true style.  Wear what excites you, what inspires you.  There are so many types of fashion out there, I promise there are others with your taste, even if they're not in your area.  Don't compress yourself into all the popular trends if that isn't what your heart desires.  Break all the fashion rules, and wear what you like, how you like.  In retrospect, the fashion trends won't matter 10 years from now.  We all end up looking back and questioning our wardrobe choices, so you might as well not wait to wear what you like!

12.  Its okay to try new things, and its okay not to.

     I will always prompt you to try new things, to help you grow and find yourself.  Though what I didn't hear enough when I needed it, and still don't, is that its okay not to try certain new things.  Growing up with anxiety among other things, the pressure to perform certain tasks has become overwhelming.  It is always expected of young people to do certain things a certain way, and most people never consider another option.  I want to tell you that there are other options, and it is perfectly okay to take them.  I am 18, and I do not drive, and that's okay.  I don't have a conventional job, and that's okay.  I did not have a conventional school experience, and that's okay.  You do not have to do what is expected of you, do what is good for you.

13.  Gender rolls are out of style, and that's great news.

     Congratulations everyone, we did it.  The world is progressing into a happier, more functional attitude toward gender and what rolls they play.  I am so thankful that we have made it to this point, especially as I go into adulthood.  I want to reiterate that your gender has nothing to do with the role you play in your home.  I have been so blessed to grow up around powerful women, and to observe them doing great things.  I want you to know that I fully support and encourage whatever system it is that works for your home.  Anyone who still believes that women need to stay in the home, and men need to go work a 9 to 5, really needs to get with it.  If that's what works for you, that's great!  If not, that's great too.  Apply for that job, start that business, make that move.  Find whatever it is that makes your world go 'round smoothly, and roll with it!

14.  You do not have to respect those who don't respect you.

     I know we have all grown up hearing "respect your elders", and typically, that is a great thing to do.  I have so much love for the elders in my life, and there is always something to be learned from them.  However, you are never entitled to pay respect to those who don't do the same for you, even if they are your elder.  You are a person of value, worthy of respect.  Don't let someone treat you poorly, because they believe they have a free pass.  They don't.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging you to beat up the elderly, but you sure don't have to sit back and take the abuse.  It is okay to be the bigger person, and walk away.  You don't owe these people.  This also goes for those of you who are well into adulthood, and are still being put down by those who believe they are superior.  They're not, you matter!

15.  Pyramid schemes rarely work out for people.

     This doesn't apply as much to well known companies such as Avon or Mary Kay, but I still encourage you to stay leery of other brands with the same algorithm.  I really hate to be the one to tell you, but very rarely does anyone make back the money they invest in the company they market for.  I personally have never been apart of one of these organizations, but I have plenty to observe on my Facebook timeline.  I love my distant cousins and dear friends from high school, but I really don't want a seaweed wrap or $20 lip gloss that burns.

16.  There are friends out there for you.

     I struggled for a long time, feeling like I didn't have many friends.  I had a lot of acquaintances, but no close friends to spend my time with.  I had a couple friends that have been consistent throughout my life, but of course as we got older, they became busy.  I over time became used to this, and truly believed that it was normal to be so alone.  I didn't realize what a rut I was in until I met the friends that I have now.  I never thought I could be so blessed to have friends like this.  My friend group provides me with endless love, protection, and help.  Here is what they have taught me.  The people in your life who truly care about you, can and will make time for you.  Your true friends will never be too busy to see you.  Your true friends will never hesitate to include you.  Your true friends will always do what they can to help you.  It is a hard pill to swallow when you realize that you don't have the right kinds of friends, but I promise, say a prayer and they will find you.

17.  Good people are everywhere.

     I have been a lot of places, some good and some not so much.  Though in the hard times, or even just inconvenient times, I have stumbled upon the most refreshing people.  During our car accident, strangers pretended they saw nothing, but others put their lives on hold to help.  On multiple occasions, hospital staff have given emotional relief to get through the physical pain.  There are people who pay compliments, and do good deeds just because they can.  Those people are everywhere, and they can be found if you just look.

18.  God is real.

     I was raised Christian from birth.  I never had a particular doubt in Christ, but I know that I had to go through my own rebirth to fully understand him and his glory.  I suppose I began to doubt in the back of my mind, as times grew harder.  I wouldn't say I doubted his existence, but I didn't feel like I had his presence.  I went through a traumatic, and near death experience in 2016.  The Lord single-handedly saved my life.  I was experiencing a life threatening issue, alone in a hospital hours from home.   I begged God for mercy, for forgiveness, and for help.  My health was stabilized late that night and issued to go home the next day.  The staff had never seen anything like it, but I had no doubt what had happened.  I have been building my relationship with God ever since, and it has been the highlight of my life.

     Thank you all so much for reading, and I really hope you enjoyed.  I know this is something a bit different, but I'm hoping that this can help someone who is also coming up on adulthood and would like to reflect on their life so far.  I know it was great for me.  I couldn't have made it this far without every single member of my friends, family, and readers.  Thank you.

With love,



Sunday, November 10, 2019

Hurricane Mills, Tennessee | Landmark Landing

Hurricane Mill (c. 1897), Hurricane Mills, Tennessee

     Hello everyone, and welcome to my first installment of the new series, "Landmark Landing"!  In this series I will be taking you along on my travels to America's landmarks.  I absolutely love to travel, and I know many of you do too.  I hope this series is helpful and sparks your inspiration! 

     This series is kicking off with Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.  I visited Hurricane Mills for the first time this past July, and it did not disappoint.  Truthfully, it was even better than I had anticipated.  As most of you know, Hurricane Mills is home to Loretta Lynn's Ranch.  This is what draws almost all of the tourism, but there is so much more than a celebrity home here.  Hurricane Mills is a beautiful small town, and I have immense respect for what the Lynn family has done to preserve it.  Although, many people are too starstruck to take in the history of the town, I want to do my best to showcase all of the things that Hurricane Mills has to see.
   Hurricane Mills is an unincorporated community in Humphreys County, Tennessee.  Hurricane Mills is a part of the Hurricane Mills Rural Historic District, which is 300 acres that was placed on the National Register Of Historic Places in 1999.  Although there isn't much to show it these days, there was settler activity in Hurricane Mills as early as the 1830's.  One of Hurricane Mills' earliest known builds is the dam on Hurricane Creek, which can be seen in the photo above.  The concrete face you see now was placed in 1912, but underneath is the original stone dam that was built c. 1839!  Going hand-in-hand with the dam is of course Hurricane Mill, where the community takes its name from.  As seen in the photo above, Hurricane Mill is a large, wood built grist mill that was built in stages from 1897 to 1910 by James T. Anderson.  The building was not only the mill, but a portion of the building housed the Hurricane Mills post office, now located down the street.  The Mill is now home to one of many Loretta Lynn's attractions, a quaint gift shop that I personally, really liked.    
     We also, of course, visited Loretta Lynn's home, the biggest attraction in Hurricane Mills.  This 19th century plantation style home is known as the Hillman-Anderson home, and sits on rolling acres of lush land.  As you can tell by name, this home was built and occupied by the same Anderson family that built and operated the mill.  The Lynn family purchased the property in the 1960's, and called has called it home ever since.  Other than being the home of the "Queen of Country", the home has gained quite the reputation of being haunted.  Loretta has spoken on multiple occasions about the activity in the house, which has impacted both her and her family.  The Lynn family now lives in a newer home on the property, leaving the mansion open to tours.  Tourists and employees have also spoken on their experiences in the home.  

     So we all hear of this activity, but what I haven't heard much is, why?  Why is there so much paranormal activity in the home?  This is a question I had, and I set out to get an answer.  After hours upon hours of research, I found my answer, which I want to share with you.  The Hillman-Anderson home is no stranger to the ups and downs of life.  Since the home's construction, it has been the site of several events.  It has seen the changes of time, and people from all walks of life.                
          During the Civil War, the home saw a skirmish that took place on site.  The event left several soldiers dead, with 19 men of the Confederate Army being buried on the property.  Those who were buried, still lie there today.  The home also experienced the hardships of slavery, as there is a slave pit located under the home.  In the pit is where it is thought misbehaving slaves were put, and likely abused.  Word has it that Loretta has gone into the pit only once, and refuses to ever go back.  Though fear not, the history of this property isn't all tragic. 

     What many people don't know, is that before the site was settled as Hurricane Mills, it was a thriving Mississippian-Era prehistoric village, inhabited by Native Americans.  This village is known as The Duck River Temple Mounds, or the Link Farm.  Near the Link Farm, there was another farm that was owned by the notorious Jesse James.  There was also a notable Carding Factory, which was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  All three of these sites are located within Hurricane Mills!   

     Hurricane Mills also still has it's general store which has been converted to another Loretta Lynn attraction.  The building holds two shops, a post office, the Native American Museum, a snack shack, and an underground recreation of a coal mine, like the one Loretta's father worked in.  I really like this portion of Hurricane Mills, as you can shop, learn, and eat all in one place.  It's also a great place to cool off if you visit in the summer like I did.  

    Loretta has also had a new building built as her museum called "Coal Miner's Daughter Museum".  The museum is a whopping 18,000 sq feet, and holds a massive amount of memorabilia.  This building alone is paradise for a Loretta fan.  What I liked about this museum is the inclusion of Loretta's friends and family.  There are several exhibits on those who were/are loved ones of Loretta's.  I also really appreciated the amount of seating throughout the museum, and Hurricane Mills in general.  This was such a great surprise for someone who sometimes has trouble getting around.  I found all of the attractions to be very inclusive, and welcoming.                                                                                                                        
     I also have to give massive props to the recreations throughout Hurricane Mills.  The work put into these pieces is extremely obvious, and they really make the history come to life.  There is an exact replica of Loretta's childhood home (Located in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky) which can be toured.  There is also the coal mine that I previously mentioned, and the town itself still has a maintained 19th century aesthetic.    

     As of 2019, Loretta Lynn owns nearly all of Hurricane Mills, and truthfully, I'm glad she does.  The way she has taken care of, and presented this small town, is really admirable.  Without her falling in love with that vacant house on the hill nearly 60 years ago, Hurricane Mills may have been lost to time.  Now, Hurricane Mills is the most active small community I've ever seen.  There are endless activities and events on Loretta's land.  Camping, kayaking, and swimming to just name a few. 

     Overall, do I recommend you visit Hurricane Mills? Absolutely!  I really enjoyed my visit, and would visit again.  Even with everything I spoke on, there is still more to see.  I hope to make another trip in the future and further explore Hurricane Mills.  If you enjoy history, the outdoors, country music, or travel in general, I would definitely make a stop here.  This quaint town 698 people will not disappoint! 

     Thank you all so much for reading!  I really hope you enjoyed this post, and will tune into this series again!  Give me your thoughts.  Have you been to Hurricane Mills?  Would you like to?  

     A special thanks to my mom, Colleen Gallagher, for being my travel buddy and giving me this experience.                            

With love, Jennie

(All photos in this post are taken by myself in July of 2019.)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Jennie's Book Club

     Hi everyone!  It has been some time since I have made a blog post, and it feels great to be back.  I have been spending some time bettering my work, and myself.  With that, I am thrilled to bring more and better content to you.  To celebrate my return, I thought there would be no better way than to begin a new series!  Jennie's Book Club is my take, thoughts, and opinions on the books I read.  I feel that this will be a fun and interactive series, as I know so many others love to read as well.  I am excited to hear your thoughts on these books, and your personal favorites!  Thank you for returning, and I hope you enjoy!

     I want to kick off this series with the only book I have ever read twice.  "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is a novel written by the very talented Mildred D. Taylor.  I first came to know this book in my seventh grade English class.  We often read books as a class, the books varying in era, setting, and plot.  To tell the truth, I never liked reading growing up.  I absolutely dreaded when reading was required for an assignment, especially when it was on my own time outside of school.  I didn't mind class reading as much though, as it made it easier for me to tune in to the story.  When I followed the words on the page and matched them with the teacher's voice, the story came to life.  I didn't begin enjoy reading on my own, until after I graduated High School this past January.  When I gained interest in picking up a book, it had to be this one. 

     When I was in school, I battled a lot of health complications.  This made my attendance spotty, missing several days throughout the year.  I missed more days in seventh grade than in any other year, and that was difficult.  I missed many days during the class reading of "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry", and for once, I was bothered by this.  I didn't mind class reading, though I never felt a true fascination for any of the books we read.  I didn't expect this to be any different, but to my surprise, I was immediately intrigued by the novel.  I am a big history buff, so the old setting and location of the beautiful deep south really caught my attention.  Due to my attendance, I missed the majority of the book, and only caught sparse chunks of the story.  Though as time went on, I still remembered my interest in the book.  When I decided to read again, there was no doubt that this book was my first pick.  I wanted to read it cover to cover, absorbing the story in full, and that's what I did.

     "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is set in the 1930's in Mississippi.  The story is told in the perspective of a young girl named Cassie, who is the young age of nine years old.  Though it is told through such a young perspective, the book explores deep topics, real life, and a true taste of the reality of the time.  I find the point of view very interesting, as you almost get to learn along with the young girl in what feels like real time.  The story is heart wrenching, and eye opening.  Though a fiction story, it's time, setting, and events of the time are authentic.  This book is a painfully good representation of what it was like to live as an African American family in the deep south during the Great Depression.  Though set in a child's perspective, there is no restraint of the harsh reality of racism, segregation, and hardships of the time.  It makes one realize that people, even young children dealt with this abuse. 

     On the contrary, there is a great showcase of positive aspects in the life of this family.  There is a beautiful presentation of what brings a family together, and what gets them through the hardships.  There is no end to what this family will do for one another, even if their own life is on the line.  There is an abundance of love, loyalty, strength, persistence, and integrity. I feel that this is an acscurate representation of the real families of this time, that are often forgotten.  We follow Cassie and her family as they deal with their struggles, abuse, and labor intensive life.  We get to see a glimpse of what a working, farming family of the Depression really looked like, even in its most painful aspects. 

     I can't say enough good things about this novel.  It is a great read for all ages and all walks of life.  Even though it carries the fiction label, it is so educational about real life, and real times.  There are real families just like the Logan's, and lived life just like the Logan's.  The characters are beautifully crafted, along with the entire setting, and premise.  This novel tugs at the heart, and represents those who didn't, and haven't, gotten the recognition they deserve.  The book is beautifully written, and easy to follow.  It is such a good piece and it makes me eager to explore other content from Mildred D. Taylor.

     In conclusion, this book is an absolute win for me.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone who takes an interest in it.  I think there is something for every reader to take away from this book.  It takes what we think we know, and breathes life and reality into it.  I becomes real, it becomes a time and people that you know.  It shows all the progress we've made, and how much we still have to go.  "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is timeless, and will be a lifetime favorite for me. 

     Thank you all so much for reading.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you've read it, and I would love to take your book recommendations!

With love, Jennie

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Hermit Crabs | Upgrade My Tank With Me

     Hermit Crabs.   One of the most complex and fascinating (yet underrated) species in the animal kingdom.  I have been keeping Hermit Crabs for over two years now, and it has been a wonderful experience.  Today's post will be completely dedicated to these little guys, their care, and bringing you along as I upgrade their enclosure!  At the end of this post, there will be a link to my very first YouTube video!  In the video you will be able to watch me give my crabs a new and improved home, with a complete tour of the before and after!

     Humans have been keeping Hermit Crabs for years, making them a fairly popular pet, especially among children.  Unfortunately though, there are so many misconceptions about Hermit Crab care.  The Hermit Crab market is filled with poor information, and even misinformation.  So many Hermit Crabs are kept in unfit conditions by their owners due to this, though it is rarely the owner's fault.  Buyers and owners are fed much false information and advice, that they have no reason not to believe.  It doesn't cross ones mind to question to word of a breeder, seller, or professional, and it shouldn't have to.  Though it just isn't that easy in the case of Hermit Crabs.  

     On the bright side, many individuals and Hermit Crab keepers like myself are stepping out to spread to word on proper Hermit Crab care!  There are pages, groups, and articles popping up everywhere, lending a helping hand to Hermit Crab owners!  With this post, I am going to pitch in.  All of the information I am going to share are my opinions that have come from research, other Hermit Crab keepers, and my personal experience in Hermit Crab keeping!  I hope you are able to find inspiration to give your crabs a great life, or find out if they are the pet for you!

     First, lets talk about Hermit Crabs themselves!  There are both land and marine Hermit Crabs, and in this post we will be discussing land Hermit Crabs.  Hermit Crabs aren't native to just one place, and different types of Hermit Crabs can be found in many coastal areas all over the world!  There are about 500 different types of Hermit Crabs, so I obviously can't name them all.  Though the ones that are commonly kept as pets are The Australian Hermit Crab, Capvie/Cav, Ecuadorian Hermit Crab, Indonesian Hermit Crab, Purple Pincher, Ruggie, Strawberry, and Viola.  As overwhelming as it may seem, it isn't difficult to identify the species of your Hermit Crabs, as all of these species carry different physical features.  Regardless of the species of the crab, the general care remains the same, so don't stress! 

     Now, lets talk about the size of a Hermit Crab enclosure.  There is so much misinformation about how much space Hermit Crabs need, there are even tanks/enclosures marketed specifically for Hermit Crabs, that are unfit for them to live in! As far as size goes, I believe a good rule of thumb is 10 gallons per crab after 29 gallons.  I know 29 gallons seems huge for minimum, but it is a very healthy size for the crabs.  I'm sure this comes as a shock to some, as you were sent home with your crab in a mesh cage or plastic box, but this space is crucial for crabs to flourish.  Also keep in mind that a glass aquarium/terrarium is the best option for them, opposed to mesh.  I will talk on why in a bit. As you will see in the video, my previous tank was a 20 gallon long.  In my opinion, this size was suitable for my two crabs for a period of time, before I was able to upgrade.  Though I do not recommend this size long term, and encourage you to upgrade to a 29 gallon as soon as it is possible for you.  The height the 29 gallon provides is extremely beneficial for the crabs, as they need space to climb. This size tank is ideal for 2/3 Hermit Crabs.  I would not recommend anymore in this space.  And remember, never house a single Hermit Crab!  Hermit Crabs must be in a pair or group.

     Next, substrate!  Substrate is the matter put in the base of the tank to create the floor.  Like dirt, sand, rocks, etc.  What I believe is the ideal for substrate is a mix of two things.  These things are sand, and EcoEarth.  EcoEarth is a coconut fiber substrate that you can find online, or at most pet stores.  When purchasing sand, I highly recommend skipping the calcium sand.  Even though it is marketed to Hermit Crabs and sold in pet stores, it is not safe for them.  When calcium sand comes into contact with water, it clumps up, and hardens.  This phenomenon can occur inside a Hermit Crab's shell, leading to injury.  A great alternative to calcium sand is play sand.  Yes, play sand, the kind you would fill a children's sandbox with.  As odd as it sounds, this is the perfect sand for Hermit Crabs.  It is safe, a good consistency, no clumping, and you can get large bags for a low price.  A good ratio for mixing the two substrate is 1 cup of EcoEarth for every 5 cups of sand.  Or, one brick of EcoEarth for every bag of sand.  There are multiple benefits to mixing these two, opposed to just using one or the other.  It creates a more comfortable surface for the crab's feet, it holds tunnels, and gives a good place for molting.  The substrate also must be six inches deep (at least in the majority of the tank), which may seem like a lot, but it is necessary!  Hermit Crabs need this depth for digging and molting.

     Another important necessity is decor, and accessories.  For Hermit Crabs, decor isn't just decor.  Hermit Crabs love to adventure, and climb.  It is important to provide your crabs with various places to climb, play, and exercise.  A great option for this is to use various types of wood in your tank, to create lots of areas for the crabs to explore! (You can see how I have done this in the video!)  You can also purchase artificial greenery, ladders, ropes, and much more.  Another important thing to have is a few places for your crabs to hide.  My crabs are very appreciative of their places of shelter, so I recommend having a couple hide houses in your tank.   

     In addition to these basics, we also need to talk about the conditions that Hermit Crabs needs to flourish.  Hermit Crabs come from the tropics, so it is our job as keepers to recreate a tropical environment!  The two keys to achieving this, are heat and humidity.  These two things are vital to Hermit Crab health, but are rather easy to achieve.  For heating your tank, I recommend a heat mat, and/or heat lamp.  If you go with the route of a heat mat, I recommend placing the mat on the back wall of the tank, above the substrate.  I recommend this over placing the mat on the bottom of the tank, because it will better heat the tank and poses less of a hazard.  I also prompt you to place it to one side of the tank, so the tank can maintain a warmer and cooler side.  This way the crabs will be able to move about to a comfortable temperature when they please.  If you decide to do a heat lamp, I recommend placing it to one side as well.  There are rare occasions where it is safe to do both, but that is what I have had to do to keep the temperature at a healthy 80 degrees on the warm side.  My crabs really like this set up, as they can move as close to or as far from the heat lamp as they want.  It  is important to do your research on your heat pads and lamps, to assure you have the right fit for your set up.  Look into wattage, and find which heat mat is recommended for your tank size.  This research is especially important if you use both a heat mat and lamp, as you want to make sure you are not burning or overheating your crabs!  The ideal temperature for a hermit crab enclosure is about 72 - 80 degrees.   As far as humidity goes, it's rather simple!  Hermit Crabs breathe through modified gills, so having high humidity in their enclosure is crucial.  A humidity content 80% or over is needed for them to breathe properly.  This can be achieved by simply spraying down the tank with lukewarm water as needed.  How often you need to do this will vary on your set up, and tank type.  This is the main reason why I recommend a glass tank, as it holds in the humidity.  If your tank lid is sealed or not will also play a part in how often you will have to add moisture.  I recommend having temperature and humidity gauges in your enclosure, so you can keep an eye on things.

     Next, let's address diet.  Hermit Crabs have a very complex diet, and are not hard to feed.  A general idea of what to feed Hermit Crabs, is what your doctor recommends you to eat.  Hermit Crabs are omnivores, so their menu is nearly endless.  Fruits, vegetables, seeds, fish, and so much more are great options for your crabs.  Some of my crab's favorite foods are carrots, shrimp, pineapple, greens, and eggshell!  Hermit Crabs also need constant access to both fresh and salt water.  It is also important to have these in pools or deep bowls.  You want each water access to be deep enough for your largest crab to submerge in.  You can see the in ground pools I used in the video (I purchased them at Petco.)  I also recommend to change out the water every couple days, as the crabs will track substrate into it. (As you can see they decided to do just before filming.) 

     Now it's time to talk about molting.  Hermit Crabs will molt on average every 18 months, but don't be alarmed if it is more or less frequent.  When a Hermit Crab molts, it sheds it's outer shell of it's body, and grows a new one.  They almost always shed in one main piece, leaving behind an exoskeleton.  This exoskeleton resembles a dead crab, so if you see what seems to be a dead crab, do not fret!  More likely than not, it is just your crab's old exoskeleton.  You can tell, by checking if it is hollow.  If you do find the exoskeleton, leave it be!  Most crabs will eat it after their molt is over.  Molting is different for every crab, as is the timeline.  Do not fear if your crab has been down to molt for a long time.  Some molts take up to eight weeks!  This is normal, and it is best to just leave it be.  Never dig up a molting crab, as this can seriously hurt it.  Your crab knows what it's doing, and will come back up when it's ready!

     Just as important, are shells.  Hermit Crabs wear shells as a form of protection.  Hermit Crabs have abdomens that are unlike the rest of their bodies.  The part of their bodies that you see resembles a regular crustacean, but their abdomens (which they keep inside their shell) resembles that of a shrimp.  It has no outer shell like the rest of their bodies, and is much more sensitive.  Having a shell is a matter of life or death for Hermit Crabs, and making sure they have the right one is crucial.  There are different sizes of Hermit Crabs, so you must have different sizes of shells!  You can measure the opening of the shell size your crab wears, to get an idea of which ones to have.  Then, you will also want to have a few shells of a bigger size for your crab's growth.  Do this for each of your crabs, and keep these shells in the tank.  When it is time for your crab to switch shells, it will find the perfect one out of the group on its own.  I also must say that I encourage you to rid of all painted shells.  Most Hermit Crabs come in painted shells, and are sold with painted shells.  Though these can be harmful to crabs, as they can ingest the paint as it chips, and it is overall unpleasant for them to wear.  Natural shells are the best way to go, and your crab will happily change into a natural shell from a painted one when given the chance.  

     Now, handling your Hermit Crabs.  Contrary to popular belief, Hermit Crabs are not social creatures.  They are really only social among themselves.  They see you as a predator, and can be very intimidated by you.  Though things will get better with time, and they won't run every time you stick your hand in the tank, I don't recommend handling your crabs unless you absolutely have to.  Handling your crab and removing it from its environment can be extremely stressful for them, leading into a decline of health.  Hermit Crabs are a pet to watch, not to play with.  Though they can be so enjoyable to watch as you give them the means to flourish.  They have their own personalities, and you can discover your crab's personalities by observation!  

     Lastly, something I am tired of hearing, is the lifespan of Hermit Crabs.  I often hear that a typical lifespan for a Hermit Crab is one year, and truthfully, that's rubbish.  I believe that this misconception came to be due to the common poor Hermit Crab conditions kept by breeders, and sellers.  The premature deaths of Hermit Crabs have become normalized, and I want to do everything in my power to stop that.  Most people don't know that in the wild, Hermit Crabs can live to be 30 years old!  When kept in proper conditions, it is possible for captive crabs to still live up to 20 years.  Don't blame yourself if this does not happen though, as your crabs have likely had a rough life before they came into your possession.  Almost all Hermit Crabs are wild caught.  They are taken from their homes, and taken by plane and/or truck to get to a facility where they are distributed.  There conditions are shameful, and the crabs are lucky if they don't get transported to a souvenir shop.  This is why I believe it is so important to take good care of Hermit Crabs.  They gave gone through so much, against their will.  To help this cause, I prompt you to not purchase Hermit Crabs from pet stores or souvenir shops.  Instead, rescue or adopt your Hermit Crabs!  You can find many listings online across various platforms, and even on the Facebook Marketplace. 

     I hope this post has helped you learn and has given you some inspiration!  Hermit Crabs can be great pets if taken care of correctly.  They require more work than lead on, but still are a great beginner pet!  I adore my Hermie and Fluffy, and have been so blessed to be able to pass the knowledge that I have learned onto others!  If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment!  Thank you for reading and I hope you'll watch my video in the link below!

With love, Jennie

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Q & A | A Little More About Me

     Hi everyone!  Today's post is a fun activity between my audience and I.  I thought since I am still a new blog and this is only my third post, we'd have a little more fun getting to know each other!  I asked on social media for your questions that you had for me.  In this post, I will be answering all of your questions.  I loved reading what you all wanted to know about me, I found your questions super interesting.  I thank all of you who submitted me questions from the bottom of my heart.  These fun posts would not be possible without you.  Without further ado, onto your questions!

1. "How do you maintain a healthy relationship?"

     Having a healthy relationship is something that almost everyone strives for.  Though as desirable as it may be, many find it hard to achieve.   To be honest, I don't think there is an exact formula for a healthy relationship.  Everyone is different.  Everyone acts different, and everyone perceives different.  It can also be particularly hard to have a healthy, stable relationship at a young age.  At this time in our lives, we are growing into our adult selves.  This can cause a lot of turmoil and confusion within yourself, and that absolutely can translate into your relationship.  Now as bad as this may seem, that does not mean a young, healthy relationship isn't possible!  Though there is no set in stone procedure, here are some things I have learned in my own experience. 
     Some people are a match, some people are not.  And Unfortunately, most people don't realize that they are not a match for their partner until they are well into the relationship.  This happens because you naturally learn more about a person as you spend more time with them. Small inconveniences you brushed aside in the whirlwind can come back to be major issues later.  As my grandfather says, "You can't fit a square peg in a round hole."  It's easy to put your attraction first, and it some cases it works, but not always.  So I advise everyone to take the time to find if you are a true match with your interest.  Try a courtship before a full fledged relationship.  Ask questions, discuss topics.  Get to know then before you invest.  This way you save yourself the time, and hurt.  You are much more likely to have a solid relationship if you first determine that you are compatible with this person.  In contrast, don't create a cookie cutter image in your mind of what a match for you is.  A match isn't necessarily someone who is like you.  Be prepared for your match to have a different life, hobbies and interests, because this very well could be the case!  In my opinion, a match isn't someone who shares the same surface layers with you, but someone who shares the same core layers.  It doesn't mean a thing if you both like walks on the beach and watching sunsets if you are not on the same page mentally, emotionally, and morally.  You really need to have the same wants and expectations out of the relationship.  It's also very important to have the same morals and values.  As you can see, my partner aside from these keys are black and white (quite literally) but because we share the same core layers, our opposites actually compliment each other! These are what I believe are the bases of a healthy relationship.
     As for once you've done all of this and are in an established relationship, the keys to always keep are respect for one another, just the right amount of patience, and very importantly, communication.  You have to learn how to calmly communicate with one another.  This is how you will be able so solve issues as one.  I really hope this has helped, and again, everyone's experiences are different, but this is what I have learned from mine.

2. "How did your diagnosis change you?"

     I actually love this question, because it has so many answers.  A life change like a diagnosis can and will have much impact on a person.  Though not all of the impact has to be negative!  I was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes at age three.  As sharp as my memory is, I don't remember a lot of not being diabetic.  I usually get a pitiful response when I announce the age I was diagnosed, and though of course it was hard at the time, I really don't know any better.  The only true memory I have before and is relevant to the diagnosis was sitting at my mom's feet, eating a pudding cup.  I recall feeling very odd after eating, which turned out to be none other than Diabetes.  Growing up with it was very much an interesting process.  There was never a dull moment, even when I wished there would be.  It has put me through a lot.  Lots of sickness, and lots of hospital visits.  As terrible as it sounds, I wouldn't take it back.  I have gained so much strength, knowledge, and empathy though these times.  Though I would very much prefer to NOT do it again, I walked away with things I did not have when I walked in.  This also goes for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and honestly whatever the issue may be.  There is always something to be taken from hard times, even if you can't see it at the time.  Also, it is okay if you didn't see it at the time, because I didn't either.  Though you can't grow a foot in a week without some growing pains.
     As far as specific changes go, there are a few traits I have that I don't know if I would if I hadn't had these obstacles.  First, I am without a doubt the mom friend.  Every group has a mom friend, but I am momming on another level.  Need a drink?  Got it.  Need a lunch?  Packed it.  Have an injury?  Grab the customized first aid kit in my backpack.  There isn't much I'm not prepared for.  But as silly as it seems, this has all came in handy more than once!  So, I think its a pretty goof trait to have.

3. "What is your diagnosis?"

     Currently, at age 17, I have been diagnosed with the following: Type One Juvenile Diabetes, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Possible Endometriosis, Asthma, Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  I also have no immunity, so I get sick rather often.  I am also very prone to accident and injury.  No real reason why other than the fact that I'm radically clumsy.  It is absolutely hilarious.  I come by it honest though, it's in my genes! (Sorry, mom.)

4. "What's a vivid, good memory you have from your childhood?"

     I feel pretty blessed, as I have always had a sharp memory.  I've had many people ask me the most odd and specific questions to see if I can really remember, and most times, I can!  I'm pretty sure I have a photographic memory, though I remember a lot of full scenarios as well.  I have so many great childhood memories, but there is one that stuck out to me when I read this question. 
     As I've mentioned in my introduction post, I traveled with my family as a child.  They are in the music business, which of course resulted in touring.  This was a great time in my life, as my entire family was in on these trips.  We traveled in our small bus for hours on hours, days on days.  I have a particular travel memory that has always stuck out to me, and I think it is because of the wholesome happiness we all felt at the time.  It was late at night, and we had been on the road for some time.  I believe we were out west somewhere, likely in Kansas or Oklahoma.  There was only flatness for miles, as the sky got darker and darker in the night.  I had my small face smushed up against the window, counting the dashes in the highway's center line.  Granted, I was around three years old, so I likely only counted to ten and started over, but that is besides the point.
     By this time, everyone on the trip was tired and hungry.  Myself included, which still hasn't changed in case you were wondering.  We drove on and on, stomachs rumbling.  When we traveled, we took the bus and a van to carry everyone.  We always traveled together, the van following the bus.  (I'm sure you've concluded by now that we were quite the group.)  Well, about this time, the van called up to the bus, expressing that they were on the same page. 
     I don't know if you've ever been to Oklahoma, but you get into stretches where there is absolutely nothing but highway.  Of course, we were in one of those stretches, and they can go for miles.  After what seemed like forever, though it very well could've been just 15 minutes that seemed like forever in my child mind, we saw light on the horizon.  On the right ride of the highway sat a little diner, attached to a gas station I believe.  It was small and a tad run down, but it really didn't make us any difference.  We all piled out of the vehicles like clowns out of a clown car, and went into the diner.  They pushed tables together for all of us to sit around like one long dinner table.  None of us got anything fancy, but we all really enjoyed getting out and a much needed meal together.  I remember the all the chatting and laughing like it was yesterday.  That will always be a great memory from my childhood.

5. "What do you strive to be when you're older?"

     I want to be happy, and I most definitely want to do something to make others happy.  I would really like to be able to have my hand in good causes.  I want to be able to do my part.  I really enjoy putting work and help into local causes and small businesses.  I would love to work my way to having the means to be able to do that consistently.  That would bring me a lot of joy and I really hope to bring joy to other people.  (This seems like a really overthought beauty pageant answer, but it's the truth.)
6. "What do you want do career wise?"

     I would really like to do something in the history field.  I have always had a passion for history, historic preservation to be specific.  I would love to have my hand in saving historic artifacts, sites, and properties.  I've always loved historic homes in particular, so to be really specific, my dream job would be to save old homes.  Of course this is a huge job that would take a lot of skill, knowledge, and patience.  I would need the funds and a great team, but I'm hopeful!  It's hard work, but it is a work I have a burning love for.  In the meantime, I do really love writing and having this blog.  I hope I can ride this train for a long time!

7. "What's your favorite musical artist?"

     This is such a tough question.  After growing up in the music industry, I have such a passion for music.  Not a day goes by that I don't have something playing.  If I had to pick,  I think I would say fun.  I have been very loyal to fun. for many years and I never get tired of their music.  I'm growing gray hair waiting on the next album, but it'll be worth it when it comes!

8. "What's your favorite book?"

     I am pretty new to the reading scene, honestly.  I never liked reading in school.  I didn't start reading willingly until after I was home schooled at 14, and especially after I graduated in January.  Now I have a handful of books that I like, so it's tough to pick a favorite.  I suppose so far the book I was the most invested in would have to be "Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor.  It is a really touching and eye opening story about racism in America during The Great Depression.

9. "What's your favorite movie?"

     I've never been a big movie watcher even though I have a love for film.  I've always had a preference for short films opposed to large Hollywood movies. Though  I'm currently watching "Chaplin" and I'm really liking it so far!

10. "If you could live anywhere, where would you?"

     In contrast to popular opinion, I think I would stay right here.  I see many people expressing how much they want to leave Missouri, but I feel quite the opposite.  I love it here, I always have.  I suppose it does depend on the kind of lifestyle you are wanting to live, but Southeast Missouri has everything I want!  It's home, and its awesome!  Though if I had to pick somewhere else, it would have to be Tennessee.  I love road tripping in Tennessee, I always look forward to it.  It's a beautiful state with a lot of fun places to go.

11. "Would you ever get a tattoo?"

     I think I would!  I have been thinking on it for quite sometime.  I would really like to get something small that reflects the best side of me, and bring out happy thoughts.  I'm still thinking on what that will be, but I definitely see a tattoo in my future!

12.  "What's the farthest you've traveled?"

     I believe that would be Washington D.C.  It was a 16 or 17 hour drive, but entirely worth it.  I loved D.C. and will be doing some posts on it in the future!

13.  "Do you collect anything?"

     I collect post cards!  I'm not a hardcore collector but I always grab the ones I like.  I purchase them from destinations I visit and I have some old ones that caught my eye.  They're fun to flip through as they all have a story, rather it's yours or someone else's.

14.  "Where does your love for animals come from?"

     I have always loved animals, but it has definitely grown as I've gotten older.  I enjoyed learning about animals as a child, and I've become more hands on with them since I became a teenager.  I've always had a dog in my life, and I can't fathom how people live without one!  I've grown up on a farm, spending a lot of time with cattle and the sweetest horse by the name of Jessie.  My family also adopted a cat when I was around 13, and my love just expanded from there.  I adopted 2 hermit crabs in 2017, and I still love them just as much (if not more) than when I got them.  I've had several fish tanks over the past few years, and I am still loving caring for them.  I adopted 2 parakeets last year, and had one surrendered to me this January!  My latest addition who was also surrendered to me is my sweet guinea pig, Gerald.  My passion for these critters only grow.  They have been amazing therapy animals, and caring for them brings happiness into the dreary days of being too ill to leave the house.  I will be making a post completely dedicated to my pets in the near future!

15. "What's it like being raised in a musical family?"

     Honestly, it's great.  I have learned so much just from observing, and I've gained a lot of perspective due to meeting so many people.  Being shy, I have found that there is still a place for people like me in the industry.  If you love music, there is a place for you.  I got to learn by experience as a child, which was such a blessing.  Children are like sponges, and being able to spend my sponge era soaking in the country is such a gift.  I will be making a post just on this topic in the future, so if you're interested in hearing more on this topic, stay tuned!

     Thank you everyone for sending such awesome questions!  I had so much fun making this post and I would love to do another Q & A in the future!  I hope you enjoyed and will come back next time!

With love, Jennie