Drug of Choice.

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I am currently taking 125 calories worth of Vitamins a day, with the option of 20 more calories at night, if needed and/or desired.

Hi, My name is Rachel and I am a voluntary Gummy Vitamin addict.

I’d like to start this session by blaming my husband.

He has always tried to vitamize me, encouraging me to buy myself multivitamins anytime I start getting sick a lot, which has happened often in our marriage. But vitamins are always so gigantic, and I have trouble choking them down, so I would buy a bottle to appease him then take maybe two before giving up and letting them languish in the medicine cabinet.

Then one day he suggested Gummy Vitamins. He may not have, however, realized the extent of my adoration for all things Gummy, nor the full benefits of having gummies that I have justifiable cause to never share with my children. So, after getting completely hooked on multivitamins to the point that I was daily taking double doses and finding myself nauseous and then being in awe that an innocent little gummy could do that to me, I made it my goal to figure out how many different types of Gummy Vitamins I could take without ever overdosing again.

It was actually my annual goal, made on my birthday. Because I turned 33 and it was time for me to have Big Girl Goals.

So, let me introduce you to my current dosing schedule.

Gummy Vitamins

Let’s go from left to right.

The tiny, adorable red ones are Vitamin B12. Supposedly they give me a boost of energy and support my metabolism. They’re just little sprites of gummies but have a happy flavor, so they’re a passing sweet treat. However, I am also a fan of 5 Hour Energy*, and I do not recommend taking this vitamin on the same day as using a 5 Hour Energy.

* 5 Hour Energy needs new PR: Despite its gas-station-counter reputation, it’s not what most people think it is, which is like some super duper unhealthy dose of caffeine that Xtreme Sports Enthusiasts take. It does have a small amount of caffeine in it, but it’s mostly a huge shot of Vitamin B. AND IT IS AMAZING. It will make you run like a Puma, have energy like Kelly Ripa, and feel as happy as Larry the Cucumber trying to sing the blues. (And they’re also very tasty – I prefer Pink Lemonade.)

Let’s move on.

The second two vitamins, deliciously crusted in sugar-like crystals that I am sure are infused with all things good for me, are calcium gummies. As one would expect, they have a slightly milky-yet-sweet taste – as if you made Jell-O shots out of coffee creamer. They’re smooth and luscious, and make my bones strong, since I don’t exactly drink much milk.

The third rather nipply-looking vitamins are for Hair, Skin, and Nails. These taste like crap and are slightly sparkling – as if they were once Strawberry Fanta that was left out in the sun too long and then became fossilized and a bit moldy.

The fourth, largest, highest calorie collection are my three Airborne Vitamins. And yes – three is the recommended daily dose! So clearly this is a winning vitamin. But they are sour. It’s like slices of the eggs that Sour Patch Kids are born from. They help my sad immune system as well as adding a robust flavor to my daily collection.

The fifth pair are my Fiber Gummies. Because as I said, I’m a big girl now. They are the most bland of the entire collection and lack a satisfying elasticity, but are not distasteful.

And finally, the sixth pair are my MultiVitamins, which also have an emphasis on Hair, Skin and Nails. At times, I take one of these and one PreNatal Multivitamin, as both seem to help hair and nails in different ways and it’s fun to freak out my husband. And also, the PreNatal ones are so delightfully tasty. Like the smell of newborn baby.

My optional two vitamins are Melatonin, on nights where I’m too extroverted to sleep. The Melatonin Gummies have the most delightful flavor of all of the gummies – they’re sweet and comforting and in every way relaxing, which is exactly how you want your Melatonin to taste.

Melatonin Gummy Vitamins

Don’t they even look cozy?

I have clearly made grand progress on my annual goal, but I am also positive that I can add to my collection as I discover new ways that my body might possibly need more infused fruit snacks.

Because I like to be healthy.

Just Another Day at the Playground.

My kids are blessedly now both at the age where they are Independent Playgrounders. Aside from the occasional “Give me a starting push on the swings”, they blissfully run around, make friends, entertain themselves, and gift me with a Mommy Break.

Sure, I could join the hordes of parents along the perimeter of the playground staring at their phones – I’m good at that, too. But it’s more entertaining to watch the In Real Life newsfeed going on around me. Because all of these events happened during one visit to the playground….

….The background soundtrack of the entire visit is the extremely loud, fast-talking cell phone Mom with the Starbucks cup. I’m not sure how the person on the other end could process all of those syllables coming out of her mouth, but they have no worries – she’s not giving them time to respond anyway.

…Oh – look over there by the swingset! A presumed Dad is leaning up against the pole, and his apparent wife/girlfriend/baby momma is taking a sexy profile picture for him. Oh – he’s putting on the sultry pout now. Don’t the children swinging in the background of this photo make it slightly less seductive? By his facial expression, I’m assuming his opinion is…no.

…Noah’s made a new friend, I see. A four-year-old-ish kid, he seems nice enough. Is that a…why yes, yes it is. A stud earring in that kid’s left ear. That might be the first pre-teen boy I’ve ever seen with an earring. How long has he had that? Did his parents get his ears pierced while he was still in the hospital? Is that a thing now? “Hey doc – while you’re doing his circumcision, can you go ahead and put a diamond in his ear?”

Speaking of which, has the pierce-your-newborn-baby-girl’s ears trend ended? I never see blinged-out baby pictures on Facebook anymore…

…Noah’s new friend’s Mom came up and is watching along. She has a giant neck tattoo. It says “Princess”. I’m not sure that word means what she thinks it means.

Then again, I could be wrong. I’ll take a look at Princess Kate’s neck next time the Paparazzi catches her at the right angle – maybe she has one to match.

…Ali’s found a friend, too. She looks oddly like Noah’s friend – they have the exact same hairdo.

…Ali’s friend’s Dad has come up to talk to me. Is he hitting on me? I ask if Noah’s friend is his, too. He laughs. “No, but they look like siblings!” …he has effectively distanced himself from Princess-Neck.

…The first Smocked Baby showed up at the playground. Her Mom is wearing leggings as pants. Ohhh…and now they’re taking pictures of Smock Baby with an iPad. WHERE IS YOUR PHONE PEOPLE. WHY DO YOU HAVE YOUR iPAD AT THE PLAYGROUND.

Madness.

…Another little kid is getting ready to be pushed by his Mom in the swing. “Momma, is my butt hangin’ out of the swing?”

“Well I dunno, son. Is it?”

She pushes him. Hard.

He begins to squeal, even drowning out fast-talking cell phone lady. “MY BUTT!! MY BUTT’S FALLIN’ OUTTA THE SWING!!! STOOOOP IT MY BUTTTTTT!!!”

…A fast-moving blur catches my eye on the sidewalk outside of the playground. I watch, fascinated and a little jealous. A Dad is riding a skateboard, pushing himself with a broomstick-like-thing, then using the broom to push a kid in front of him that is on a sitting scooter.

And they are BOOKING IT.

They’re going at least sixty miles an hour. Okay maybe ten.

Clearly, the mother is not at the playground today.

…Chris shows up to meet as at the playground, and Ali’s Friend’s Dad slinks off. Then eventually rejoins us and is now getting to know both of us. So maybe he wasn’t hitting on me. Who knows..

…Noah, who has been possessive of the one bouncy car on the playground the entire visit, is now being visited by twin blondes. This changes things. He hops out of the car and, with a huge grin, offers to bounce them in the car.

My goodness boys learn young. And what is it about twin blondes?

Playground

…A Lady in full Fairy Garb walks by. Sparkly antennas and all. She smiles and greets me, as bubbly as you could desire to be greeted by a fairy. And it is not Halloween.

And that’s a full day at the playground.

Which person were you?

The Great Alabama Outdoors.

So, camping.

The weather could not have been more perfect when we arrived to the annual family camping trip. They were the ideal conditions for asking your son to pose for a picture,IMG_1088

When in reality you’re trying to covertly snap a photo of your camping neighbors taking their dog for a walk…in a pink stroller.

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That pup was the most pampered being in that campground, always parked in front of the fan, “walked” to her heart’s content…

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But this camping trip wasn’t about dogs. It was about children, and the wonderland that is having a playground within eyesight and the freedom of coming and going by oneself,

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About being made to carry firewood,

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No matter what your age.

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About playing on the giant rocks in a creek bed that’s never been anything but dry,

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About heading to the playground before breakfast and before being de-pajamaed,

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And before anyone can force you to put your Crocs on the right feet.

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About playing happily with your cousins so that your parents can take a romantic and quiet walk around the campground without any little shadows getting in the way,

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About pulling your grandmother in every direction possible because we all know she’s the most fun person on a camping trip,

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And about sitting around the campfire with your Granddad while making up ghost stories.

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And, since Ali was there and Ali is never unprepared, it was about having a craft table set up and organizing all of your cousins as if you were the activities coordinator on a cruise ship.

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This might mean that you have your first Rainbow Loom disaster and major rubberband de-sorting, but it’s worth it anyway.

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This is our annual family camping trip. Always at the idyllic location of Buck’s Pocket State Park, low in the valley below Sand Mountain in North Alabama.

It’s a place where you take your dogs along to do the dishes,

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(Yes I gagged a little when I saw that,)

Where you force your children to go on long nature hikes,

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(Yes these “paths” were most definitely where we managed to pick up Poison Sumac,)

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Where you teach them how to climb trails that go straight up mountainsides,

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Where you have to come up with a satisfying explanation for the rock-writing along the trail – because after all, some kids can read,

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Where, on some parts of the trail, you wish you were as short as they were,

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And where the view at the top makes it all worth it.

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Well, at least for grownups.

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(But the cousin-to-cousin bonding of such shared trauma cannot be denied.)

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But this is also the place where my Mother has been hosting The World’s Best Treasure Hunt for over two decades and two generations, so all hiking can be forgiven.

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Because the ecstasy of getting your water balloon into a bucket a foot in front of you erases all negative memories.

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(As does finding a new best friend.)

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At night, there are glow sticks to be had, and light shows to be offered.

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But after the children are tucked snugly in their sleeping bags is when the real fun can be had – because the good chocolate comes out for the S’mores, there are glow sticks to burn,

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And fiery air-writing to attempt.

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And then, after all can be had of the State Park, there are new adventures to discover.

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Adventures that require walking up to a ledge and looking over –

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To discover what is sure to be one of Alabama’s most fantastic sights, High Falls Park.

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If ever there were a Troll Bridge, that has to be it.

And of course, there are sunsets.

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Wide, sweeping gigantic sunsets,

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Unbelievable overlooks in the middle of nowhere,

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And awe-inspiring paintings in the sky.

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Sunsets that leave the cows unimpressed,

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Because they see them every night.

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This is Alabama. Come visit us soon.

(And I might even take your dog’s picture while I’m pretending to take my son’s.)