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

Friday, May 10, 2019

High School Prom | What was it like?

Walter, Alex, Matt and I at prom.

     Prom.  The day that every girl has been taught to anticipate since the beginning of their school career.  An occasion that is always accompanied by a crazy story, and portrayed as a fairy tale in every movie.  As a young child with my eyes glued to every Disney Channel Original Movie, I always fantasized about my own prom.  Dancing in the dim colored lighting with your eyes interlocked with your crush that miraculously ended up dancing with you, appealed quite greatly to my young mind.  Though as I grew older and so did the people around me, prom started to hold a different meaning.  It still held the overall goal of having the best date or being the cutest couple, but different and less fiction like scenarios hid within the romantic shell.  Prom eventually became the social status competition, the battle of the cliques, and the warning of inevitable tragedy.  With these two contradicting themes in my head, I wasn't sure what to think when my boyfriend asked me to his senior prom.  I was eager but nervous, but after some thought, I decided we would make this prom our own.  A good time with no strings attached. 

     I actually never thought I would go to prom.  After becoming home schooled in the 8th grade and becoming evermore isolated, I never saw myself being asked to prom.  I spent a lot of time alone, and didn't have a lot of friends.  Things actually stayed that way until recently, which is what led to me having this opportunity.  Very late last year, I began to see my now boyfriend.  He is a senior in high school, and I suppose I never put too much thought into it as I was surprised when he asked me to prom.  I may have been surprised, but I was also prepared.  I actually already had a prom dress, and it had been sitting in my closet for over a year.  Let's rewind to how I came to own this lonely dress.

     In my previous relationship that I spent two years in, he was also a senior in high school.  He asked me to his senior prom, and again, I was nervous but thrilled.  So, I went on a wild goose chase for the perfect dress, as this was going to be my one shot at prom.  The way I hunted for a dress, I could have become an employee for the FBI, or if I'm lucky, Dog the Bounty Hunter.  Finally, after weeks of fruitless hunting, at a place appropriately named "The Prom Store", I found the dress of my dreams.  I've always had a more old fashioned taste in gowns, and this one was a great example of my taste.  No glam, no bling, just class.  I loved it, and still do!  Also lucky for me, it was on sale, and the only one there,  It was like it was made for me.  The dress is a long, elegant, powder blue dream.  I was ecstatic.  Unfortunately, after my purchase, I was informed that home schooled children were not allowed at the prom held by this particular school.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  I had no prom to attend, and I was stuck with this dress that I had no use for.

     Okay, back to present day.  I hadn't looked at the dress in quite some time, but after being asked to this prom, I decided to give it a look.  After knocking the dust off and unzipping the case, I still loved it just the same.  I was so eager to finally get the chance to wear it out.   I tried not to get my hopes up too much, just in case I got some late term bad news like last time.  Though as the prom crept closer and preparations were still being made, I knew it was safe to look forward to the event.  I found my shoes, (flats because I am terribly clumsy) shawl, and hairstyle.  I actually didn't wear jewelry to the prom, as I wanted the dress and myself to be what people noticed, if anything.  I was very happy with this decision,  even though it isn't a common one.  I felt more confident in my natural beauty without all the material enhancements. 

     My boyfriend and I took a handful of trips to St. Louis (the biggest city around) to have a suit made for him.  I send a special thank you to his mother for making that possible.  He gave me almost all creative freedom with the suit, and it actually turned out great.  It was a classy, elegant suit with a powder blue neck tie perfectly matched to my dress.  The outfits looked wonderful together and apart.

     Before I knew it, the day of the prom rolled around.  Regardless of having everything perfectly in check, I still felt rather discombobulated.  I always dreamt of coming down the grand staircase to reveal my look to my date, but it occurred to me that I live in a one-story farm house and someone had to help me tie the dress while my father was away for work.  Nonetheless, when I looked in the mirror, I felt everything I hoped that I would.  With our outfits and smiles on, we were on our way.  We were blessed to have our dear friend Emily take our prom photos, and they came out amazing. (Thank you Emily!) She gave me the option to take the photos wherever I wanted, so we went to my favorite local sites.  I really couldn't be happier with the turnout, she is a wonderful photographer and completely captured my vision for the photos.

     It was raining something terrible upon arriving to the prom, but in the excitement of the dawning evening, it didn't seem to matter.  The venue was lovely, I was so glad to hear the prom was being held there.  Upon entry, the decor of the Roaring 20's theme struck me.  The classic color palette and style instantly put a smile on my old fashioned face.  There were streamers in the entrance, and balloons littering the floor.  There was a buffet of food, that was so fancily crafted I almost couldn't stand to eat it.  It was such a well crafted event that did not disappoint.

    Me being my shy self, I was a bit nervous.  Being a teenage girl at the prom can be strenuous within itself.  This is a time in every woman's life where you become so vulnerable to the social standards of what beauty is "supposed" to be.  (Which is ever changing!)  For a short while, I sat at my table and just observed all the other young women flowing on and off of the dance floor.  I mainly took in the women who had no similarities to myself.  I assessed the different body types, the smaller frames.  I noticed the bigger hair and flashier gowns.  Though it wasn't long before I also began to notice the women with similar body types and features to mine.  I thought to myself how lovely these women looked, and by the same logic, I must look lovely too.  Of course this is easier said than done, but I knew after all the time I spent primping myself, there had to be some truth to it. Therefore, I took the inspiration and shook the insecurity.  

     I have always been shy and skittish.  I have never been outgoing.  I was always afraid to speak up, or sometimes even get up.  Though as time went by and I spent the prior few months with the right crowd of people, I became less cowardly.  Not by much, but enough for me to notice and feel good about.  Somehow, I ended up on the dance floor, singing and dancing the night away.  Maybe not as vibrantly as the others in my group, but off the wall crazy for me.  I don't regret a thing, and spent the night singing and laughing with great people.  I forgot all about social status, cliques, beauty standards, and expectations.  I paid no mind to what prom night was "supposed" to be, and put everything into what it was meant to be.  

     You don't have to treat prom the way others do.  Being the most adored girl in room has nothing to do with a flashy dress, big hair, or artificially tanned skin.  What makes you that girl is what you bring to the table.  Bring your laugh, bring your smile, and bring your spirit.  Prom is a day to treat yourself, not to change yourself.  Forget any negative eyes you feel like you have on you, and let your cares go for the night.  Prom truly can be one of the most magical nights of your life, but not for the reasons we are taught.  Prom isn't about the drinking or the after party.  Prom isn't a beauty pageant, but making yourself feel beautiful.  Prom isn't about having the socially perfect date, but loving who you're with.  Prom isn't about a perfectly executed itinerary, but having fun when you want, how you want.  I wouldn't trade scream singing John Denver for photo booth pictures any day.  I wouldn't trade these people for anyone.  I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  This was my prom fairy tale, and what I learned from it.  I hope you can take something from this and have found some inspiration for your prom, or even your life!

With love, Jennie 



Thursday, May 9, 2019

My First Post - An Introduction

     Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog!  I am so eager to be making my very first blog post.  I have always loved the art of blogging, and have followed many blogs over the past few years.  To have my own blog is so thrilling, and I cannot wait to live life and interact with my audience.  I'm sure you have looked over my About Me tab on the sidebar, but I thought for my first post, I would tell you all about me so we can get to know one another.  This will be a lengthy post, so fasten your seat belts and grab a snack.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about you!

     First things first, my name is Jennie.  I am 17 years old and love all kinds of arts, crafts, projects, and hobbies.  I'm from southeast Missouri, the sweet spot where the South and the Ozarks overlap.  I absolutely love it here, and feel so blessed to have been placed in my quaint town of 100 people.  Growing up here, I quickly learned the value of love, support, and community.  Residents here are so quick to lend a helping hand, give their support, and put in the work for a good cause.  Because of this, I have grown to have a passion for people and their stories, regardless of being rather shy.  I have spent a lot of my childhood into my now blooming adulthood working my grandparent's farm, just across the way from my home.  I believe this is what sparked my love for nature and animals at such an early age, a love that I still carry.  I have watched my grandfather, now 84, put all of his energy into working that farm, and that I have taken good note of.  Bit by bit, he has passed on his passion, strength, and knowledge to my father and I, so we too can care for the farm in the way that he does.  Our small town sits in the shadow of a mighty mountain, which can be seen standing nobly over us from the flowing fields of the farm.  Though the mountain is just a mountain, it never seemed like so.  It radiates a guardian, mother like energy, sheltering the valley from any harm.

     My grandparents have actually provided me with many gifts, that I believe has helped shape me into the artistic, passionate, hard headed young woman I am today.  Most of these gifts are not items or objects, but feelings and experiences.  These have turned out to be the best gifts I have ever received.  From an early age, they showed me the magic of love, commitment, hard work, and living life the purest that you can.   My grandparents together built a wonderful life from the ground up, and they have inspired me to do the same.  From them along with my parents, I gained an immense love for music, which only grows with time.  Though the only thing I can play is the radio, music is my key to life.  I have a sound track for everything, a playlist for every mood.  I listen to music every morning when I get ready, to get in the right mindset for the day.  I love all kinds of music, from mid century classics, to early 2000's pop, to indie & folk, to alternative. (and everything in between.)

     Another passion of mine that I also owe to my grandparents (and ties in with my love for music) is travel.  I began travelling at a young age, and though I don't get to go as far as frequently these days, the urge never leaves me.  My grandparents have spent the majority of their lives creating and performing music as The Plummer Family, and in their success, they began to travel.  Even after selling their theater in Branson, Missouri and coming home to our small town in the early 90's, they continued to travel around the country to perform well into my childhood.  My parents and I almost always traveled with them, as we were part of the band. (I was really only included because I was cute, but we don't talk about that.)  Over the years I was so blessed to have been to so many places, and seen so many things.  Before the age of 10, I had walked everywhere from the prairies of Kansas to the snowy hills of Minnesota.  I encountered people from all walks of life, people of every shape, size, and color.  From these experiences, I grew a love for travel, and still adventure as much as I can.  I am so happy to now have this blog to share my future adventures with you, and highlight what I gain from each destination.

     Next, I must express my love for art!  Though I personally really only draw, paint, and take photos, I love to admire all types of art.  I love sculpture, small scale recreations, mosaics, and anything I haven't already mentioned.   I love to admire other's art, and support local/small artists!  The area I live in is filled with art, with murals on every wall and children's art displayed on lamp post flags.  I suppose if I had to pick a favorite art type, it would be old time paintings.  One of my favorite artists would have to be Claude Monet.

     One of my hobbies I'm always active in, is aquatics, and animal keeping.  I absolutely love animals, they have been such a joy and amazingly therapeutic.  The pet that has been with me the longest would be my dog Tippy.  I only had her for a long time, until I took interest in aquatics and fish keeping about a year ago.  Now, I also have 3 parakeets, 2 hermit crabs, and a guinea pig!  If you love animals or aquatics, stay tuned to my blog, as I will be creating many posts through my journey as a pet mom.  I will take you along through maintenance, play time, and new projects!

     I have saved one of my biggest passions for last, and that would be history.  American history in particular, but I love it all.  I enjoy learning and exploring the past, taking along knowledge for my future.  I love to be involved in my local history, and attend every historic event.  I would love to go into the history field as a career.  It would be nearly impossible for me to be unhappy in any position that falls under the study of history.  I specifically have a love for historic preservation, and would love to have a hand in it in the future.  Nothing makes me happier than to see an old building brought back to life, or a new museum to house important artifacts.  A real dream of mine is to be able to contribute to saving and maintaining America's history, and I am thrilled to think I can do a small part by writing about such.

     Lastly, I want to talk a little more personal.  I want to be open and share with you the not so pretty sides of my life, in hopes of showing you how good things can be regardless of what is stacked against you.  I believe that the downsides of my life actually helps fuel my passion and determination.  It has helped shape me into who I am today, and I think God did such for a reason.  I am only 17, 17 and 1/2 to be exact.  This should be my prime, my peak of health, right?  Well that is just not the case for everyone, and that's okay!  When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes.  Believe it or not, it was much easier to deal with throughout my childhood than one might think.  Until my adolescence, that is.  Going through puberty and your teenage years as a diabetic is another battle within itself, and though everyone's journey is different, most diabetics will agree on this.  Due to the severe decline in my health (which we were to later find out other ailments were involved) I began homeschooling in 8th grade.  Since then, I have been diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, among other little things.  I am also currently being tested for another ailment that has caused me to have pain and weakness of the body.  Now I can see where this all seems pretty bad, and I'll admit, it's not easy.  Though it isn't all awful either.  I have found that there is always something that can be learned, or gained.  It is most definitely easier said than done, but I promise, it is worth your time and energy to fight.  Of course I must include that no matter how hard headed I am, I could not have made it through without the love of our God.  I've done so much praying, that he probably has my caller ID.  With a combination of love, (including self love) determination, and faith, you can get through anything.  My goal in life has been to not only get up after I have been knocked down, but to become stronger each time I get up.  I  hope this blog and my tips to you can help you do so as well, because everyone deserves a good life.

Thank you for reading and once again, welcome to my blog.  I'm so glad you're here.
With love, Jennie.