And this is how we do it!

Baby Girl decided that she HAD to get her drivers permit TODAY, on THE day that she turns 15.  No excuses were going to be accepted from me.  It didn’t matter to Julia that we didn’t have a copy of her SS# OR her birth certificate.  It didn’t matter that I had a million things to do in order to get ready for her birthday weekend.  It’s HER birthday so I must comply!  I spent some time waiting in lines at different government offices and twisted a few arms in order to get the required pieces of identification.  YUK.

Well, let me tell you, it came within MINUTES of not happening.  I must have “forgotten” making a promise to pick she and her bff up from school.  I had lots of errands to run so I got home almost an hour after she was supposed to get off the bus.  As soon as I walked through the door the phone rang.  It was Hannah (bff) asking why I didn’t remember to pick them up?  OMG!  If I got in the car RIGHT then, I could make it to school to pick them up and THEN to the police station, where they give the drivers permit tests, 5 minutes before they close the door… and that’s only if there’s no traffic and everything fell into place perfectly.  We all know that when you’re in a huge hurry nothing ever falls into place perfectly.  Well, I’m happy to tell you that today was different.  We made it with 3 minutes to spare before they closed the doors!  lol

NONE of my girls passed the test on the first day.  We had to KEEP going back to retest with a couple of my girls because they wouldn’t study the book.  Not Julia or Hannah.  They BOTH passed TODAY!  These girls were dead serious about their NEED to drive and as afraid as I am, because I HATE when teenagers start driving, I am also SO very proud!  Hannah could have gone to pass the test a couple of weeks ago because she turned 15 before Julia.  But because she’s such a good friend, she wanted to wait for Julia’s birthday so they could go together!  I’ve got to tell you, if it were ME, I wouldn’t have waited.  She’s a sweet girl though 😉  I was a little worried that Julia would have passed and Hannah wouldn’t… only because that’s the way things usually go.  I mean, what if fate decided to punish Hannah for being such a good friend?  OR worse, what if Julia didn’t pass the test and it’s HER birthday?  Either scenario was bad.  Thank JESUS BOTH of them passed.  Hannah on her first try and Julia on her second.  They’re only allowed 2 tries a day.

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Birthday girl get’s her permit!  Look at how happy she is!

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Hannah was so nervous.  She was afraid that if she blinked wrong, the officer would decide to take her permit back.  lol

Congratulations to both girls!  Watch out world… 2 more teenagers on the road.

Landslide / Happy Birthday Baby Girl

My baby turns 15 today! Wow. As if I didn’t already feel old.

Here’s a song Julia grew up listening to (the Dixie Chick version was the only one she knew). To me though, as much as I adore the Dixie Chicks, NOBODY can sing it like Stevie Nicks.

NOW, this song is appropriate. Now, she’s older and I’m watching my baby turn from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Soon she will fly.

Today, we listened to this song and she cried a little. She’s always cherished being the baby of the family. She’s not sure she wants to grow up but we all know that we can’t stop time. We can’t even slow it down a little.

Landslide

Songwriters: NICKS, STEVIE
I took my love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain then I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Uh ah … uh ah …. uh ah …

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

Well …

(Instrumental)

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

Well, I’m getting older too

So, take this love and take it down
Yeah, and if you climb a mountain and ya turn around
And If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down

If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills

Well maybe …
Well maybe …
Well maybe …

The landslide will bring you down.

Ideas Please?

I’m panicking!  Help please???  My youngest princess is turning 15 tomorrow and I need to come up with something to make this year special.  Here’s why…  From experience with all my other girls, I’ve learned that this, year 15, is really the last year she’ll be mine 😦  *cue tears*.  Everyone knows that Sweet 16 is something very special for a girl.  15 is very special for Mommy!  

I’ve always made birthdays for my girls special and we’ve tried to do parties or weekend trips.  We’ve pretty much done anything the girls wanted to do within the limits of our financial situation.  SO… Julia’s the baby.  I’m struggling with  empty nest syndrome and I think sometimes, I’m not the one winning.  I’m trying to be graceful about losing my mind to the “empty nest”.  After all, FINALLY, after FOUR kids, I’ve realized that these girls were not born FOR ME!  They are little beings so separate from me and I have so very little to do with their lives  – except to give birth and pay for them.  They don’t need me after a certain age.  My job was to shape and mold them and HELP them to be the decent human beings that they were born to be.  Now, I want to celebrate Julia. 

So here’s the dilemma.  I’ve done a lot of cool things to celebrate her birthday already.  Last year, we had a bunch of friends over (her friends) and they spent the night.  We spent one day in downtown St. Louis and packed a picnic lunch.  We spread a blanket out on the ground at a park and looked up at the Arch.  We fed the ducks and geese at the pond we sat near.  Image

~Here’s everyone eating by the pond under the Arch.  It was a pretty cool idea and inexpensive to pack our own lunch.  The girls had a blast even though we didn’t spend a bunch of money on dinner reservations~

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~Here’s the view of the downtown buildings from our little picnic spot~

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~Here they are walking in the rain.  They did their best to ditch the parents (Ben and I) but I managed to catch up with them AT LEAST to get this shot.  lol~

After eating, feeding the mean geese who took our food and then attacked us, walking around under the Arch and people watching, we took a horse drawn carriage ride all along the riverfront.

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~Here’s the whole group of us!  The girls had the choice between going up IN the Arch or doing something else.  They chose the carriage ride and were SO giddy at being able to wave to the tourists.  We laughed so hard and just enjoyed the moment.~

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~Here’s the St. Louis Riverfront… view from the carriage ride~

We were done kind of early with the Riverfront and the girls weren’t ready to leave yet.  They’d decided to spend the rest of the day at the City Museum on Washington Ave.  This was a tough decision because it wasn’t in the budget BUT how could we say no?  The cost is $12 a person and $20 a person if you want to go to the Aquarium, which we did NOT.  It was particularly scary that day because a tornado went through the city of St. Louis and there were even fatalities right down the road.  Thank God the girls were all safe and it missed us.  They had a BLAST (despite the crazy howling winds outside) and they closed down the place 🙂

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~All the materials used to make everything in the City Museum came from recycled garbage!  Basically anything you’d throw away NOT food or sewage related.  lol  Here’s one of the ceilings.  I’m loving the mosaics on the column.  Not sure what the ceiling material is made of.~

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~This isn’t a good picture but I put it here to show you that there are other aquariums that are free to see.  There are fish and turtles everywhere.~

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~Here’s my oldest daughter Sumo wrestling a statue at the City Museum.  So you see, there something fun for ALL age children.  lol~

After the museum, the girls came back here and made their own pizzas.  They stayed up all night and left late the next day.  We got a LOT of birthday celebrating in that weekend and Julia and her friends are STILL talking about it.  So how do I top that?

One year, we took a FEW of her friends to the St. Louis Magic House.  We were supposed to go to SixFlags but as luck would have it, and as it seems to do EVERY birthday for Julia, it stormed so they couldn’t ride the rides at Sixflags while there’s lightening happening 😦  

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~here she is pretending to be a judge.  They learned all about the judicial system… among so many other things.  Again, having WAY too much fun pretending~

Looking back on it, we’ve done so many things for her birthday.  I’m running out of ideas and here’s where YOU come in handy 🙂  I need some ideas!  Keeping in mind that we’re only going to have 1 maybe 2 friends this time AND that Julia loves the city.  I would absolutely LOVE to get on a train, just Julia and I and go to Chicago for a few days.  We won’t be able to do that, most likely, because we just bought her first car.  I realize a car should be enough but she’s going to be paying us back for that and to me, it’s all about the experiences we share.  Memories need to made AND, like I said before, this is probably the last year that I’ll have her to myself.  I fully expect that NEXT year, when she’s 16, I won’t get to be even a little part of her party… well except to pay for it.  lol

I’d really love to hear from you guys on this because I’m at a loss.

On a Sunday Drive and in appreciation of “Earth Day”!

I realize “Earth Day” was actually yesterday BUT, as usual, I’m a little late.  It took me FOREVER to go through over 200 photos that I’d taken on Sunday!  I absolutely LOVE going on little adventures with my only real goal is attaining peace, spending time with a good friend, listening to music (mostly BAD music), laughing AND (here’s the biggest goal) looking through the lens of a camera to appreciate the beauty around me.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best photographer in the world.  I just only love it.  I don’t seem to ever find the time to REALLY practice or read manuals or even go to the classes that Hubby pre purchased for me to fine tune my skills. I just want to have fun!

Here’s some of the beauty I found through the lens of my camera.  I think it’s pretty appropriate for “earth day” because, mostly, it’s all nature.  Remember when I talked about appreciating your everyday surroundings?  Like what makes America great to you?  Sunday was one of those days where I found ALL kinds of average things that I see on a regular basis but it’s also representative of what makes America special to me.

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Americana – this is a lot of what you’ll see everywhere in our Midwestern town.  We live in the country so this is normal and I LOVE it 🙂

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Just another red bud tree – When Spring begins, I can’t get enough of the vibrant colors of nature.  Soon the red bud tree buds will turn into green leaves and we won’t see the purple.

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Like I said, bff and I drove around looking for things to photograph.  This is a picture of her – I made her go “fix” the American flag so that it would look better so I could shoot  it. lol We didn’t know the people who owned this property… we just made our selves at home and did what we wanted!  lol

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As you can see, bff failed at her task of “fixing” the American flag.  Don’t worry, I fired her!  Buwahahahaha!  But here’s the little outhouse anyway.  I loved how it turned out 🙂  Another shot of Americana!

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Bff, Beth aka Flashychick, looking for a crawdad (or crawfish for the Yankees reading this).  This is her favorite thing to do when we walk along a creek.  She always finds them too!

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And like I said, she found one.  It can barely qualify as one but I’ll go ahead and give it to her THIS time.  Next time, I want to see a crawdad in a non embryotic  stage.  lmbo

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Not sure why I love this pic so much?  Beth and I just found a spot on the bank of a creek where we could sit and talk with only the sounds of nature to interrupt us.  I guess this pic makes me feel the peace that I felt that day 🙂  Our chairs were just waiting for us to sit and relax.

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The creek bed rock was solid granite.  In the Ozark Mountain area of Missouri, we have tons of granite!  I just think it’s so beautiful.

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Me and my chair again 🙂  This is actually funny because I was trying to practice “positive visualization” here by writing down how I was definitely going to win a lot of money on the scratch off lottery tickets that I saved to scratch off at “just the right time”.  Did it work, all that positive visualization?  Nope.  It did not.  Maybe I was supposed to write my positive affirmation BEFORE I purchased those lottery tickets and not after they were already bought and paid for?  IDK.  What I DO know is that I’m still poor.  lol

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Time to leave our peaceful little creek and go find MORE beauty!

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LOVE this one… NOT because my photography was so wonderful cause yeah, it’s not.  lol  But check out those little baby lambs running and jumping and playing!  I took about a hundred pictures of these little guys but this one the best.  This was part of a “hippie farm”.  Some old lady who I KNOW was a Hippie, back in the day, grew her own food (plus who knows WHAT else) and looked completely self sustaining.  Kind of cool!

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Here are the Hippie guard dogs.

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And here’s the Hippie bus (the same kind of bus I’m positive the Charles Manson hippies lived in) and the Hippie llamas and the Hippie chickens.  Pretty cool, eh?

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Traveling down the road, away from the Hippie farm, to an area called Charter Church Road.  This is a road rumored to be haunted and to have a devil worshiping church located somewhere that I didn’t want to find.  It’s kind of cool, really.  One day I’ll find the church and tell you some of the local folklore that goes with it.  Halloween sounds like a good time to do that!  lol

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Just a beautiful field on Charter Church.

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Reminds me of Little House on the Prairie where Laura and Mary Ingals are running through the prairie?

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Confessions of a bored housewife…  you KNOW I’m bored when a picture of wheat fascinates me!  lol  But I really did love the way this turned out 🙂

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Practicing shooting in macro here.  This is the prettiest to me.  It reminds me of  a Victorian garden or wedding.

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More Americana.  Even in Missouri, we don’t see very many old churches like this left.  Especially a church with a cemetery attached.

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Here’s one of my favorite barns in Jefferson County.  I could live inside that barn.  lol

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Bff hiding in my favorite tree in Jefferson County.  This tree is at one of my most peaceful places.  A place we call “The Slab”.  As a teenager, I used to bring my lawn chair and hang out on the bank just to listen to the water run.

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Here I am sitting on “the slab”.  I used to bring my baby daughter here when I was 19.  This is where I taught her to swim on some of my rare days off of work.  It feels like a thousand years ago… but then it feels just like yesterday.

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More of the slab.  I can’t wait until it gets warm enough for me to get into the water 🙂

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They try to discourage traffic at the slab now because the kids trash up the place.  It’s a shame how some people who don’t respect nature have ruined it for the rest of us.  Pick up your trash people and we can ALL enjoy the beauty again!  Even as teenagers, we knew to pick up our beer bottles… I have very little patience for people who don’t pick up their trash now.

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Here’s BFF looking pretty but the MAIN reason I wanted to show you this one is to show you the trash by the tree behind her.  I’ve always taught my kids to leave nature better than when you arrived there.  So, if you see trash, pick it up even if it’s not yours.  I’m proud to say that they live by this even now that they’ve left my house and live on their own.  It’s become second nature for them to keep the trash picked up 🙂

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Whirlpool on the way out of the slab.

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Goodbye slab!  I’ll see you soon 🙂

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I have to close down the day with yet another picture of yet another barn!  lol

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It’s been an awesome day!  The best I’ve had in a very long time so to celebrate, BFF and I wrapped it up with our favorite local Mexican Restaurant.  BFF won’t admit it but she lives to text 😉  So while I sit, all alone, waiting for my food, with nobody to talk to… Beth is being entertained by her phone!  Yeah, that’s just how she is!  lol  She’ll probably kill me for this but you only live once, right?

So how did YOU spend Earth Day?  Hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as I did 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Up

Okay… I know this isn’t an example of my BEST photography. I think it was taken with one of the first digital cameras I ever own and it probably cost WAY under a hundred bucks, if I remember right. No matter. This one I LOVE because this time in my life began my interest in photography.

Probably the other reason I love this is that it’s a photo of my “wayward daughter”, taken during a time where we were so close. A mirror of each other. I always knew she was going to be a free spirit. She thinks on her own and with a brain that’s SO different than anyone else. A free soul and I think I can see that in her here.

Here’s my representation of “up”. I’m looking up at her while she’s sitting on a giant granite rock at Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri. A place we loved to go as a family, when our family was together. I miss her but I know God’s got his protective hand on her and I pray that her future always looks “up”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Up

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.”

~Les Brown~

Here’s a pic taken when Julia turned 13. She’s using the pulley’s at the Magic House in St. Louis, to pull up the construction buckets. She’s with her friends Shelby and Leah.

Coming to you LIVE from St. Francois County Missouri…

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BFF and I didn’t know we’d end up being amateur reporters today!  We only wanted to see PRETTY things!

Have you ever just wanted to get away from everything so that you can regroup or decompress your busy brain?  Yesterday was one of those days for me!  My bff, Beth or “Flashychick”, as you will come to know her on her new blog, decided to go for a Sunday drive and just take the day to look at the beauty that surrounds us.  We were noticing that this year, the Spring colors seem to be brighter than they’ve been in more recent years.  Why not take my fancy schmancy new camera out and learn to use it!  lol  We also wanted to unclutter our minds because we’ve been discombobulated with all this badness that’s going on in the world.

Well… where ever we are and no matter what good intentions we have, we seem to always find trouble.  In yesterday’s case, we found tragedy before we found beauty.

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I’ve never seen a house on fire in REAL life.  Not like this, anyway.  On our way to “somewhere”, we saw this tragic sight, directly on the highway!  Leave it to me to pull over and run through the field to get some shots, right?  I was like the Pied Piper because after I pulled over, other ambulance chasers (people like me) pulled over and before long, we had a whole slew of amateur reporters getting their cell phones out to take pictures.  I could tell that people WANTED to pull over but they only got the courage to actually DO it once they saw me running through the field.  lol  When I got home last night, I saw that MANY of my Facebook “friends” had seen the same thing and posted their pictures of this fire.  It’s strange to me how whenever I see something that gets my adrenaline pumping, I lose all sense of “self preservation”.  I got pretty dang close to this and now that I’m looking at the pictures, I’m realizing that there COULD have been an explosion from propane and I COULD have been blown up with the house.

Before you judge me for talking about myself…  There was nobody in the house, THANK GOD, and I did send quite a few prayers up to heaven for the owners of this house.  This truly was a sight that made me so sad.  I couldn’t help but notice the little kids playground and tree house in the back yard.  By the time the Fire Department got there, even the playground burned.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbors houses caught on fire too because the houses were so close together and this fire was MASSIVE.  I’m still shocked at how long it took for the fire department to get there.

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Can you see the little swing set?  Also notice how close together the houses are.  See THIS is why I want to live far away from other houses!  I never did like the idea of a subdivision and this is why.

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Finally, the fire department showed up.  You can see the little white fire truck to the left of the RV.  They had to call for back up from neighboring towns because this little fire truck couldn’t get control of this angry fire.  On our way back through, we noticed that the other houses didn’t burn.  Again, Thank God.

It amazes me how when I begin to think I have it so bad, I’m always reminded that it could be worse.  Count your blessings, friends!  We really have SO much to be thankful for.  Knock on wood or fingers crossed, I’ve never experienced a house fire.  I couldn’t imagine losing all my memories.  Forever gone.

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And to conclude our Sunday devastation report… we bring you more flood damage!  This is the main road, in and out of, Lake Timberline – where my brother and Dad live.  The road complete washed away.  It SHOULDN’T have happened.  The “Board of Trustee’s” won’t upkeep the roads.  They keep raising assessments (money residents have to pay in order to have the “privilege” of living here) but they won’t fix the roads!  They take the money they collect from the residents and apply it to their own special interests.  Like dams for the lakes.  It seems to me that basic road upkeep is a necessity and not a “want”.  If the residents can’t get into their homes, safely, without fear of their vehicle being eaten by a huge hole in the road or without fear of the road literally washing away, I wouldn’t think it matters much about beautifying the beaches or the dams.  The board of Trustee’s say they’re going to fix this though… just as soon as they raise the assessments again.  ARGH!  And this is why I would never live inside Lake Timberline!

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But HEY!  The “Timberline Falls” are nice, right?  lol  It’s always good to end bad reporting with a pretty picture 🙂