Southern Illinois Travel Adventures (Ferne Clyffe State Park)

Well on my health journey I have decided to venture out to the great hiking locations in Southern Illinois. So this weekend we loaded up and headed to Ferne Clyff State Park. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Ferne Clyffe State Park is known as an outstanding natural spot. The park has an abundance of ferns and plants life.  With trails that wind through beautiful wooded areas, allowing fascinating views of rock formations. Ferne Clyffe also offers camping, picnicking, hunting, and fishing.


Now to get to Ferne Clyff you go a little off the beaten path. But the Drive there is well worth it as well. The views from the car are outstanding. It is also known for a great waterfall. However, we haven’t had the best luck of rain around here.  Therefore, it wasn’t flowing hard at all.

The best directions to give are the ones from the website: Located on Illinois Route 37, just one mile south of Goreville and 12 miles south of Marion, the 2,430-acre Johnson County park is easily accessible from both I-57 and I-24.

All in all, I’d say this is a great family free day. So if you don’t have a lot of money or just want to be with nature this is a spot.



Young Love And The Length You Will Go

Might as well drop you something from sixteen years ago. I look at this story now and think about how young I was. I also think God he has me where I am supposed to be now. Don’t ever let yourself feel like I did back then. I didn’t know who I was as a young woman. Not sure I knew how valuable I was then. All I knew was, I had big dreams and the world was mine for the taking. I do miss these days at times.  I hope you enjoy the quick laugh and picture of young girls trying to make the best of a crappy situation


I was part of the Spring and Summer 2002 Walt Disney World College Internship Program. Life has a way of handing you the right people at the right time. I left Southern Illinois to start my Disney Internship, in Florida, just after my first semester in college. I arrived with only 500 dollars in my hand and a lot of big dreams. They placed us in three bedroom apartments. With two girls or guys in each room. That first day it was like herding in cattle. We were told to look closely at who was standing next to us because that’s who we would be rooming with. Immediately, we were sizing each other up. After being herded into Vista Way Apartments like cattle you begin to meet everyone. You become close to even your security guards. After all, you want them to be on your side if anything goes down. You are so far away from all you know, that you start to depend on each other.

I soon started falling for one of the security guards. His name was Jason and he was hot. He was short but taller than my 5’2. He had strong arms from lifting. You could see every ripple in his arm all the way down. There was a softness in his voice and he had experienced more of life then I had. He had become a teenage father and was doing well to step up to fatherhood. I also remember that his fingers were short but wide. He rode around Vista Way on a golf cart. In his white and black mall cop uniform always neatly pressed. He would carry his nightstick and his flashlight. In my eyes, he was at twenty years old a man.

Every night my roommate Liz and I would sit out on a green air conditioner box to talk to random passing people. We called it our big green stool. If you walked passed us you had to say something about your day. We really didn’t give anyone much of a choice. I was the loud one who would flag you down and Liz was the one who would do all the charming once you stopped.

Jason would zip by and me being the loud one would yell at him. Soon we begin to talk, then it led to gold cart rides, and later rides and talks about God. I was falling for him. He was a youth Pastor and that was all it took. I was in love with him. He was a man that could pray. He was, at that time, all I had ever wanted. However, I was young and had no intentions of telling him how I felt. I was way to scared of rejection and of being hurt. I had a habit of sticking guys in the friend’s zone. So we continued on in the friend zone while I crushed on him.

One night Liz was on the phone with her boyfriend Mike. They were discussing him visiting and going on a Disney Cruise. I had to poop really bad. Therefore, I so bluntly told them both what I was doing and headed to the bathroom. Just to aggravate Liz I’d scream from the bathroom letting her know exactly how it was going. Once I was finished I went to flush and the toilet got clogged. I started screaming for help and Liz comes running as turds are floating over the toilet. Liz quickly gets advice to turn off the water from Mike.

While they are laughing at me swimming in my own turds another roommate offers to call security. I scream, “STOP! Jason is on tonight he can’t see my CRAP!”

Liz is laughing hysterically at me with Mike on her fancy Nokia. She goes back to sit down on the sofa as I attempt to figure out how to unclog poop without a plunger. I scramble around the kitchen. Liz is dying as I pull out long spoons and soon a milkshake maker. Of course, it belonged to Annul Pam and it was made to mix things up. Liz stopped me in my thoughts on that one.

Finally, I find duck tape and blue Walmart bags. I began placing them on my arms. Then duck taping them around my arm so there were no leaks. I look at Liz and scream with my arm held high, “I’m going in!”

I was able to pull out the clog and completely gross my own self out. The story of the Walmart bag lives on forever even after sixteen years. My love for the security guard didn’t last forever. I soon moved on and so did he. To this day he never knew I was swimming in my own poop to hide from him.

Southern Illinois Summer Adventures 2018

Summer vacation with two ready to go, kids, is always challenging.  If you are anything like me you want them out of the house.  So you make plans to take them someplace where they can play and you can relax.  We all know that stir crazy children are no good on a momma’s nerves during the summer. So each week I am going to give you a new place to try this summer in Southern Illinois.

Today’s adventure was Cedar Lake.  Boy was it an adventure. I hadn’t heard of it before, so when I saw it on a friend’s Facebook page I knew I needed to take them. First off I tried using the GPS on my phone to get me there. Yeah, the GPS took me right to the center of Makanda IL.


Let’s just say after some directions from a local shop owner we were on our way.

So the best way to get there from Carbondale, IL is to take 51 South towards Makanda.  Make a right at the Dollar General, just on the outskirts a few miles from Carbondale. Follow this road to Ceder Lake Rd. Take a right onto it.  After going a little way, slow down or you will miss it, but make a left on Poplar Camp Rd.  You will continue straight on this road until you hit Poplar Camp Beach at Cedar Lake.

If those directions do not help you could also try the website:

The lake is located south of Carbondale. To drive to Cedar Lake, take U.S. 51 south to the intersection of Old and New U.S. 51, follow Old U.S. 51 approximately 1/2 mile to Cedar Creek Road, travel west on Cedar Creek Road about a mile and follow the signs to the beach on Poplar Camp Road or for the boat ramp at the end of Cedar Creek Road.

What I LOVED about this place for the kids and I were some of the following:

  • A swim, play, and floating areas, plus a swim lap lane are provided… I’m into floating check and I’m into swimming laps for exercise. So I got to do both. Happy Bonus Momma means Happy kids 🙂
  • Certified Red Cross lifeguards are on duty… They kept watch well and were very friendly when asked questions.
  • Hours of Operation are 9:30am-5:30pm on weekdays and 9:30am-7pm on weekends and holidays
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, and concessions are available
  • Single-day admission: $2.50… Which was not very costly since we live on a budget. Okay, the most costly was I stopped and bought a float so I could float.
  • Children 4 years of age and younger are admitted free
  • Ten (10) visit pass $20 or twenty (20) visit pass $35
  • Passes purchased are good for the current beach season.
  • We were also able to bring our own picnic items into their beach area. Which made it so much easier to afford to feed my troops.

The only advice I would give in regards to this place is to load up on sunscreen. We are burnt tonight.  However, I have two wore out children that were ready to go to sleep the moment they returned home. All in all, I’d say this place is a win for a Peaceful day for any Momma.  If you are on your way home leave early enough to stop in at Makanda. Those country stores have a lot to offer from local area artists as well.

How To Survive Being A Bonus Mom

Step Parenting is no joke.  It’s the hardest job anyone could ever have. To love someone else’s kids as your own and to raise them as they were your own.  All the while having to take a back seat in important times in their life.  Not only this but, navigate not stepping on the other parent’s toes.

I’ve experienced two relationships where children were involved.  It is naturally ingrained in me to step up to the plate.  I had a good stepfather and an amazing grandfather who I had no idea he wasn’t biological until later in life.  Yeah, that one threw me for a loop as a teenager.  The man never once loved me otherwise.

So here are some tips from my experience that may help you navigate some difficult times for you….

1.  Allow your partner to handle their ex.  All you get from trying is a headache and a relationship that is stressed. In reality, your partner knows exactly how to handle the ex.  Just step back and wait for them to ask you for the advice.

I had an ex who would let his ex-wife walk all over him. It was ridiculous! It would infuriate me to no in.  Then when we tried to take the kid to Walt Disney World, the woman filed a restraining order against him saying all these untrue things.  Yeah, that lasted several weeks. In turn, missing the trip to Disney.  Then in court, her exact words were, “I just didn’t want him taking him to Disney.”

So I spent more time than anything pushing that man not to back down to her.  Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last.  It ended with me hurting and the child because we had to part ways. So please just step back and let him fight the battle. In the end, you can fight with him, but you can’t win his war for him. He will let you know when he needs help.  Just be the cheerleader when need be.

2. Sometimes you are on the sidelines

My two stepchildren live with us full time. There are days that I do feel like I am second best.  Sometimes, children being children, can make you feel as if you are second best. These times are when the Bio Mom gets to be front and center.  Why do I feel like this some may ask? Well, I help raise them. I clean for them, cook for them, do laundry like crazy, take them where they need to be, and tutor them. I play all the rolls a mother does.  So to have to step back on parent nights or one day their weddings can feel like a punch in the gut. However, they know I’m always here. My stepfather was my safety until the day he died. He wasn’t leaving me if I needed him.  As long as your stepchildren know this then you have their hearts. Trust that.

3. Discipline….

Matt and I have gone rounds.  Remember these children have to learn two sets of rules. Its difficult at times. More so if they are older. Be prepared to take the time to learn as you go. Be patient with them, your partner, and yourself.  For example: Back your partner up at all times.  Don’t disagree with the choices of discipline.  Wait until later when you two are alone and say, “Sally has been good. Can we let her just…”  Sometimes you are the advocate and sometimes they are. Trust that they see something you don’t.

4. Conflict with the Bio Mom

No one has time for that.  It does you no good or the kids no good.  Just try to make peace anyway possible. One, you want them to be okay with you and to trust you with their children. Second, no matter what you say she gave birth to those children.  If there is a conflict just do what I do… “YOU WILL HAVE TO TALK TO HIM”

5. Lastly, it’s not easy. However, at no point do you talk BAD about the Bio Mom to the children. They will defend her every time and you will become the dreaded evil stepmother.

Gastric Sleeve 15 things you should know

If you are considering the process for weight loss surgery, then there are a few things to consider before hand. I underwent the sleeve on April 16, 2018. There were a few things that no site or doctor told me before hand. Now down 55 pounds, I look back on the process and wish I’d of known….

1. If you are not mentally strong its very difficult. Some doctors require a two weeks clear liquid pre-op diet. About the 3rd day in you feel like hell. Then you run to the bathroom so much, your anus feels like a war zone. Not even kidding with ya. So the best advice I can give is stock up on wipes. You will need them from becoming like sand paper back there.

During this time you are hungry. Eating sugar free Popsicle’s are like treats. I lived off of them. I had so much Jello that my fat belly became a pool of it. Invest in some egg drop soup from a local Asian restaurant. After about a week it tasted like pure honey going down. I never craved meat more then I did during these two weeks. However, this process was to flush fat off your liver. It worked, because I was down 25 pounds the day I went into surgery.

2. I pray you have an amazing support system. During the first few weeks before and right after you will need it. You go through withdrawal from food like an addict would from a drug. After all if you are having this, then you must have some addiction to food. I mean 99% of everyone I know, thin or big, loves food. I still love food. That hasn’t gone away at all. However, now I don’t over it for fear of pain.

My support system was my family. My amazing boyfriend, our mothers, and his family. Now looking back I wasn’t always the easiest patient. I sure gave them a run at times. Not only was I hangry, but my hormones were already changing about the third day in. One moment I was crying cause you looked at me wrong. I finally came to the conclusion that its just as mental on you as it is your loved ones. Thank God I’m loved unconditionally.

3. You will not sleep the night before surgery.

4. You will get a sudden, Oh No, fly into your head just moments before surgery. I was perfectly fine up until it was time to head back to the OR. Yeah I flipped and started crying wanting my momma. I had great nurses who got her and started giving me stuff to calm me down.

5. Be sure you know the process. Ask for vomiting medicine before you go into surgery and pain medicine. Counter act everything early. My surgeon did this and it worked great.

6. You will wake up with so much air pain that you think you made a mistake. My thought, what did I do to myself? Walk ASAP, the faster you start a tooting the better you will feel.

7. You will pee a lot after surgery.

8. Oh your new tummy will be angry with you. The new sounds it will make will be impressive.

9. You will not loose weight like someone you know who had the surgery. You can be a part of as many Facebook groups or follow Suzie on Instagram, but your journey will be different from others. You still have work to do and its not leaving without some work.

10. Don’t be stupid and try to move from the meal plan your doctor has set. Understand you just had major surgery and had part of a vital organ removed. You didn’t go through all this to have a set back or kill yourself.

11. You will hate yourself for two weeks after surgery. You will have mood swings and become depressed. You will want to cry when you can’t eat. Just know at this point there is no place else to go, but up. This to shall pass. Soon when you can start in taking some foods you will be happy again.

12. Drink water a lot. Sip sip sip sip and then sip some more. You will have weight loss stalls early on. Its going to drive you nuts. Up your water intake and activity level. Also eat as much protein as possible. It will start moving again. You have to give your body time to catch up.

13. You still have your wipes. Yeah you will still need them. You will go days without pooping and then when you do its like playdo. Just invest in some good flushable ones.

14. Three bites you are full. My advice cut everything up the size you would feed a baby. Then eat slow. You will feel like you have eaten a lot.

15. You will be hungry. Now that stomach digest faster then before. Remember you will eat every two hours or so. I’m hungry now myself. So eat three bites and relax. Its okay, you will take several months to get to three meals a day.

New Beginnings

We as women are harder on ourselves than anyone else. It is like we are under a constant spiritual attack. Our insecurities keep us from moving forward, but Satan uses them as a dart board.  I have decided that as I take the steps to battle my own demons, that maybe you need encouragement to battle your own as well. 

Each of our battles come in different forms.  For example here is a list that will look familiar to you…

  • Lori looks in the mirror and her muffin top just continues to hang over her pants. The dressing room mirror makes her want to run out of the room crying.

  • Linda spends all day with her kids. She doesn’t regret her children, but she has lost herself. Her hips no longer look the same. She feels like her husband doesn’t want her the same way.  She is always tired. However, late at night, she lies in bed wondering when she has lost her spirit for life.  

  • Samantha has been in and out of institutions since the age of twelve.  She has fought to stay alive.  Her enemy has been food.  She is so good at eating less (or nothing at all), that she knows exactly how to eat only 300 calories to make it look like a lot. 

  • Tiffany comes from a family history of obesity.  Not only that, but she was diagnosed with PCOS in her early twenties.  Her weight has gone up and down but has never just been under control.  Either she is extremely overweight or she is eating hardly nothing and still can’t get under 250 pounds.  


  • Sarah was raised in a very tough home. She mentally has no idea how valuable she is.  Why? Because she saw so much as a child.  Her mother died of a drug overdose in front of her. Her father beat her and smoked meth in the same room with her. Was in and out of prison.  At age 8 she went to live with her Grandparents after her father was arrested.  She had meth in her system and screams in agony as her skin crawls.  Now as she is older her father is released, but she refuses to see him.  Why, because she remembers the mental attacks she had and all the beatings she received.  Leaving her unable to have a relationship with a man.

The list can go on and on.  So here is the one that I fit in, I am Tiffany.  Yup, that is me. I have spent my life loving Jesus, fearing my mother, and hating my weight.  Here is the thing I grew up with an amazing group of people.  I don’t remember a day being called a name or not fitting in with them. Where I didn’t fit in was in my mind. However, it was adulthood hasn’t been nice to me. 

My weight had become my demon.  It had become my hiding. Sure I’m not going to lie there are times what I put in my mouth has caused some, but the PCOS (which will be discussed at a later time) has caused so many hormone changes that my body can’t keep up. So here I am at the age of 35 preparing to take on my demons. 

After several doctors and a stint with an internal blockage, I have decided to undergo a special surgery.  The surgery will remove hormones from my stomach lining.  Known as the gastric sleeve. So from this point on we will take this journey together. 

So as I take this journey, I plan for everyone to take this as well. So I can use my struggles as a way to show whoever is reading this that you are worth more than the struggle.  That God wants to take your struggle and give you a freedom you have never felt before.

Opening Act

So after years of prayer and years of running in circles, I have decided to do what I love. One is talking and the next is writing down my opinions.

First, I think we all should get a little thing out of the way. I love my Jesus more then anything.  I strive daily to seek his will. Second, I am a daughter with the most amazing momma in the world.  I’m also, lucky to have the most amazing future mother n law as well. Third, I have been extremely blessed with Matt in my life.  Even in my ugliest moments he loves me unconditionally. Then I’m a Bonus Mom.

Ava and Candin are Matt’s two children.  They mean so much to me and I strive daily to love them unconditionally and to show them Jesus.  I’m not saying its been easy, but it’s been worth it.

Lastly, I am a momma to three of the most spoiled fur babies in the world.  They are a handful at times, but they are my protectors. They love their momma and daddy so much. I will admit if we lived in the country, we would have more animals.  Just no hampsters, we tried that and well he disappeared or a dog ate him.  Not sure on that one.

So here is my opening Act… Just a little about me.  As time goes on I will begin to dig deeper into who I am and what Jesus has called me to do. I just wanted to say Hi and welcome you all to my blog. May God bless and I look forward to sharing so much more soon.