Meet Me In St. Louis Part 1 (a tour of my city on Julia’s 15th birthday)

I’m BAaaaaaack!!!  Show of hands….  did anybody miss me?  Ah, no matter, I missed YOU enough for all of us!  lol  My life has been PACKED with so much excitement and activity and I don’t really know where a good place to begin!  I feel like I’ve crammed enough living for a year in these past couple of days.  Or close to it 🙂

So, you all know that last week was my baby girls 15th birthday, right?  I asked you guys for some ideas to help us celebrate in a special way.  You all had some fantastic ideas and we used some of them, so for that I thank you!  Carla suggested a photo shoot and a makeover.  These girls live their LIVES doing makeovers so we didn’t choose that but we DID have a blast doing photo shoots.  We spent the weekend touring the city of St. Louis and took over 500 shots.  By the end of the weekend I think the girls wanted to HURT my camera!  Maybe I over did it a little? Nah.  But they really did have fun and felt so special being the star of the show.  So Carla, THANK YOU!  The girls and I had a BLAST and more importantly, we made some memories that we won’t soon forget.

You know how I am about showing you too many pictures, right?  I do that because I’m proud AND I can’t decide which ones are the more important shots.  ALL of them are important to me.  Don’t worry though, I won’t show you all 500 of them!  lol  I’m going to do little segments, one day at a time.

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(I think Hannah was the one to smash the cupcakes… look at her evil face!  She wouldn’t admit it though)

We arrived at the Hilton with Julia’s birthday cupcakes NOT in one piece!  lol  One of the girls threw their luggage on top of the special cupcakes that I had made for the occasion!  ARGH!  NOT a good way to start the weekend.  These cupcakes were delicious and SO pretty before they got smashed.  There’s a place in a town near us called Sweet-T-Pies and they make the best cupcakes filled with any kind of filling you could dream of!  OMG!  They’re the most delicious little cakes any of us have ever tasted! Still divine even if they WERE smashed 🙂  Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

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Once we got checked into our room, we made Julia hide in the bathroom so we could decorate for her.  Notice the little princess crown on her head?  Part of the deal was that she had to wear her birthday tiara everywhere we went so that the whole world would know that my princess was having a birthday!  Did she do it?  Nope.  She’s way too shy and doesn’t like unnecessary attention.  I’d say this was a weekend where the attention was NECESSARY!  lol

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Remember those expensive pretty little smashed cupcakes?  Yeah, as IF smashing them wasn’t enough, HANNAH (Julia’s bff) decided Julia should wear one too!  Silly girls 😉

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(Street car or trolley like the one used in Meet me in St. Louis.  Don’t mind the white cloud streaming into the pic.  It’s not a ghost… just the smoke from my cigarette cause I’m classy like that!  lol)

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Do any of you know the Judy Garland movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”?  Of course, being a St. Louis native, I grew up watching this classic and LOVE it still.  Every Christmas, it’s a family tradition at my house and we all sit down with popcorn and watch.  The song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was first sang by Judy Garland in this movie.  The whole movie was filmed in University City on the Delmar Loop.  It used to be known for it’s streetcars or “trolleys”.  Well here’s a street car just like the one featured in “Meet Me In St. Louis”.  I can’t get the “Trolley Song” out of my head now!  lol

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(I know this is too dark but I wanted to show you the neon sign for the Blueberry Hill restaurant)

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(Chuck Berry’s guitar and other music memorabilia)

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(Julia can’t decide which crappy food item to order)

The first stop of the night (besides shopping at one of the cool stores on the strip) was Blueberry Hill Restaurant.  You all know Chuck Berry, right?  He’s a St. Louis native who’s legendary for his guitar playing and song writing.  One of my favorites is “Roll Over Beethoven”…  Anyway, this is his restaurant.  It’s a landmark, for sure but if you ever come to St. Louis and decide to visit Blueberry Hill, don’t judge our cuisine based on what you find in this restaurant!  It’s pretty sucky.  Only go here for the atmosphere, the music and their toy collection.  As soon as we walked through the door, we were greeted by a young college kid who didn’t say hello, instead he barked, “All minors have to be outta here by 10:00 p.m.”.  As IF I was going to keep my kids there doing shots of tequila!  So, not only was the food bad but they weren’t even friendly.  Too bad cause I’m generally a really good tipper and I LOVE to write reviews!  lol The girls had fun and soaked in the music and atmosphere though.  THAT was the important thing 🙂

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(I love neon signs and city streets at night)

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(the Tivoli lobby where we spent most of our time waiting for the couple to stop their love making inside the theater…  it was beautiful though *NOT the love making* …  I felt like we were transported back to the year 1924 when this place was new)

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(the ceiling of the Tivoli… LOVE the decor of these old city buildings)

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(my girls were a little bored and didn’t know when it would be appropriate to enter the theater room where the couple was making out… they didn’t want to interrupt)

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The big event of our first night was to catch a midnight showing of “A Place Beyond The Pines” with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.  I couldn’t WAIT to show the girls the Landmark Tivoli theater!  This was a theater that made it”s debut in 1924 and it was known for it’s luxury.  For the day, The Tivoli was considered one of the most luxurious theaters in the USA.  It went through a period of decline in the early 90’s and eventually shut down.  The owners of Blueberry Hill renovated it in the mid 90’s and restored it to it’s original state.  However, it would appear to be going through another period of decline.  First of all, I should tell you that the Tivoli is THE place to go if you want to catch an “artsy” film.  Granted, “A Place Beyond The Pines” is NOT an artsy film (the girls HAD to see this one because they’re all in major LOVE with Ryan Gosling, and REALLY…. who could blame them?).  That being said, you’d think that a theater known for their showings of the “artsy film genre” would be a clean and well kept theater.  Or at least I would think that to be true.  Well…  it was clean in the lobby.  The room where we watched the movie had sticky floors and the seats were worn and appeared to have been new in the ’90’s, when it was last renovated.  Upon walking through the door, we were a little shocked to find a college couple doing some pretty HEAVY “petting” and making out!  The girls felt uncomfortable to have interrupted this lovely couple.  Soooo… we had to wait in the lobby until the movie started.  You all know me and MY big mouth!  I suggested LOUDLY that they get a room, which only seemed to embarrass my girls further!  lol  I’ve said this several times before… SUCKS TO BE MY KID!  lol  However, the couple didn’t take me up on my suggestion.  All in all, it was fun to stay out late and watch a midnight movie.  What was scary?  Walking the streets of Delmar after the bars closed down.  We were followed by a man who appeared to be way TOO interested in my girls.  I invited him to let me know what his intentions were.  He didn’t appear to want to mess with “Mama Bear”.  GOOD for him.  He, apparently wasn’t TOO drunk to miss the evil gleam in my eye 😉

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And this is how our night ended!  2 of the crazy girls crashed just as soon as we got back to our room!  I wanted to sit up and talk but THEY were tired and wouldn’t humor me!  lol

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.

Wish You Were Here….

I want to send a great big Happy Birthday, across the heavens to my little brother, my best friend always, the other half of my soul, my twin.

I’ll never forget you little bro. I miss you but I have a job to do and you already finished yours. I wish you were here so that I can see your eyes one more time when you laugh but truly, I know you wouldn’t come back even if you could. Your half of the soul was too good for this world, I think. This place hurt you too much. Now, I have peace knowing you’re happy and free once again, surrounded by all the love of heaven. You’ll be waiting when it’s my time, waiting to take my hand and show me all you already know.

I love you little brother. Happy Birthday. It’s so surreal thinking you’d be 46 (would you be fat and balding?) if you were still here but in reality, you’ll always be 18 for all eternity. Frozen in time.

John Clyde Akers II
April 10, 1967 to May 25, 1985

“Wish You Were Here”
Pink Floyd

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Last day of sanity and a peek into Hubby’s future ;-)

Here’s the song that reminds Hubby of me especially when I have no synthetic hormones (refer to my last post “And you think I’m crazy now?”). lol

Watch the video and it will scare the crap out of you! I asked Hubby if Pink really reminds him of me and he says “Honestly, yes. On a bad day”. Well, honey, it’s about to be a bad day! I just took my last little life saver! lol So today we’ll celebrate, cause all should be good 🙂 Tomorrow…. I pity you 😉

Of course I’d love to tell you all I’m joking. And I’ll even go so far as to say I kind of am… the reality of it is, I can be BAD when it comes to mood swings and lack of hormones. How come nobody ever talks about these things? I guess no woman wants to admit to their own psycho menopausal behavior? Come on now, I CAN’T be the ONLY one! Well, I’m about to break the cycle of silence! lol Here I am telling you that it’s NOT a pretty picture. At least for ME, it’s not.

Pink
Please Don’t Leave Me

Da da da da, da da da da
Da da da, da da
Da da da, da da

I don’t know if I can yell any louder
How many time I’ve kicked you outta here?
Or said something insulting?
Da da da, da da

I can be so mean when I wanna be
I am capable of really anything
I can cut you into pieces
But my heart is broken
Da da da, da da

Please don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me

How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I’ve never been this nasty
Da da da, da da

Can’t you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest
But baby I don’t mean it
I mean it, I promise
Da da da, da da

Please don’t leave me
Oh please don’t leave me
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me

I forgot to say out loud how beautiful you really are to me
I cannot be without, you’re my perfect little punching bag
And I need you, I’m sorry
Da da da, da da

Da da da da, da da da da
Da da da, da da
Please, please don’t leave me
(Da da da, da da)

Baby please don’t leave me
(Da da da, da da)
No, don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me no no no

You say I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back
It’s gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me

Please don’t leave me, oh no no no.
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this

Please don’t leave me
Baby, please, please don’t leave me

That’s what I said!

We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it’s our time now

Hey… everybody loses it,
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey… yeah I know what you’re going through
Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive
Ohh

People like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Hey, this is not a funeral
It’s a revolution, after all your tears have turned to rage
Just wait, everything will be okay
Even when you’re feeling like it’s going down in flames
Ohh

People like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You’ve just gotta turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

They can’t do nothing to you, they can’t do nothing to me
This is the life that we choose, this is the life that we bleed
So throw your fists in the air, come out, come out if you dare
Tonight we’re gonna change forever

Everybody loses it, everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
Ohh

People like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You’ve just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
This one goes out to ALL my fellow misfits! lol Crank it up and DANCE. Celebrate life… it’s too short to be sad 🙂 Remember YOU are loved, very much!

People Like us by Kelly Clarkson

We’re all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You’ve just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Sad and Disrespectful.

Last week, our family was bombarded with funerals.  One of the funerals took place at Jefferson Barrack’s National Cemetery.  Now, I know that attending a funeral isn’t on the “fun” list for anyone, but for me, attending a military funeral can be moving.  One of the highlights occurs after the preacher finishes his eulogy and “Taps” is performed by an ex or retired military bugler. Even if I don’t know the person being buried well, I ALWAYS, without fail, get teary eyed.  That’s okay though because when I look around, everyone else is shedding a tear or two also.  I don’t know anyone who’s so hardhearted that the sad bugler can’t evoke a tear or two.

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If you’ve ever attended a military funeral or visit a National Cemetery, you know that the final resting place for a military man is lonely and a little boring in it’s “sameness”.  You won’t find different shaped tombstones or anything written on the tombstone that will give you a hint into what that person might have been like.  Actually, I used to hate visiting these cemeteries.  Now that I’m older, I can find the beauty in the “sameness” and understand what an honor it is to be buried here.

On any given day at Jefferson Barrack’s Cemetery, there may be upwards near 20 funerals.  During each and every funeral, there will be a old soldier paying respect to another soldier being laid to rest.  It cost the cemetery $25 to pay this soldier to bugle “taps”.  Apparently, it’s not cost effective to pay these men any longer. It was just publicized that now, during each and every funeral, “Taps” will be played over the loud speakers.  No more soldiers dressed in their uniforms.  No more respect for the soldier being laid to rest.  Personally, I think this is HORRIBLE and disrespectful.  Loud speakers?  Don’t bother.  For my relatives who will be laid to rest at Jefferson Barrack’s, I’ll be happy to pay, out of my own pocket, an ex military man or woman to bugle “Taps”, just the way it SHOULD be played, with respect and in person.  To be fair, the cemetery is going to allow us to purchase our own buglers through the funeral home.  Wow.  I know there will be soldiers who volunteer their services for these fallen men and women.  I just don’t think they should HAVE to volunteer.  I feel like this should be a service provided by our country to show respect for the time served.  I know I’m not alone in the way I think.

Here’s the link to the story that aired this morning.  Shame on them.

Here’s your memo… (my gift to you)

Inspired by an amazing woman, Susan Spencer-Wendel and the story I saw on the Today’s Show this morning, I now have a plan!  You’d think I would have broken down and cried the way I’m sure most people do when they see Susan’s story, and I DID, a little.  After the tears, I came up with the start of a plan that I’ll share with you later.

In case you don’t want to read the links, Susan is LIVING with ALS.  She’s 44, I believe.  She is a mother and a wife but she also had a busy career as an award winning court reporter. She was kind enough to share her story in a book, Until I Say Goodbye.  In a nutshell, Susan designated a year to providing amazing experiences for her entire family (extended family included) and her friends.  She squeezed a lifetime of living into such a short time just so that her family can always have these fantastic memories to draw from, even when she leaves them.  Oh and she topped it off with writing to each and every one of them, love letters and a recording of her voice singing the same lullaby that she always sang to her children.  And of COURSE she wrote her memoirs and shared them in her book.  Susan is still living and honestly, she may live for a while as ALS can linger for so long.  I have a friend who’s been battling this demonic disease for YEARS now, and it’s SO hard for him to be trapped inside his body.

I know many of you aren’t battling a debilitating disease that will claim your life one day soon.  The reality is though, that NONE of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  I AM, as you know by now, living with a disease that should have claimed my life a few years ago.  I’m faced with knowing that every year that goes by, could be my last year.  I’ve talked before about the expiration date that they keep trying to place on me and how I won’t cooperate.  What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been where Susan is now.  I know that when my moment is finally up, it will come quickly, as I never really have a lot of warning when I start to bleed.  I’ve been lucky so far and have been able to make it to the phone to call 911 after waking up on the floor, not knowing how I got there.  Internal bleeding is just that way.  It can happen SO quickly.  In July, it was almost too late and I needed 8 units of blood that night and several more units the next day.  Most people don;t recover after losing so much blood that quickly.  The thing I remember most though is how I really didn’t have a lot of warning and how I thought everything was okay.  Just like any other day.  Again, not a lot of warning.

I’ve already lived many memories with my family.  I’ve been on amazing journeys (on a smaller scale than Susan) in order to share with them some good times.  I’ll share with you in a second or two.  Right now, I just want you to know that ALL of you, too, should live this way.  You know the cliche’ and the song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”, right?  A very good friend of mine, Brigitte took me on a little trip one day and on the way home, she popped in this CD and made me listen to the words.  She couldn’t have known that this memory would change my life and it provided the “beginning” that I needed.  I know you might think this is morbid but believe me, being given a death sentence is a gift.  Being faced with a terminal condition makes you know that time is going to end and you need to pack a lifetime of living into a few moments.  EVERYONE should be so lucky.  Sadly, most of you won’t know this way of life.  Most people don’t ever get the memo that their days are few.  Look folks, ALL of us are going to die.  There’s your memo!  Now you have NO excuse because I just handed you all the same memo I received.  Now, what are YOU going to do with it?

Take a second to look at that baby girl beside you.  What if she was not going to see her mother (you) after today?  Now what are you going to do to make sure she remembers you?  Look at your little boy.  He might not see you tomorrow either and you’re busy right now, cleaning.  Maybe you’re on the phone and maybe you just want to be left alone BUT your little man wants you to take him outside to ride his bicycle with training wheels.  Are you going to do it?  Or are you going to STAY too busy to pay attention to him?  It’s your choice but remember, today is YOUR last day.  How about that husband of yours who is always trying to get your attention.  Are you going to have another headache tonight or do you think you can try and remember how it was when you first met and you were giddy with love and emotion?  You know, BEFORE the kids kept coming and so did the bills and the clutter. Look, I know what it’s like and I’ve got to be honest and tell you that I STILL take many things for granted.  It’s EXTREMELY hard to live in the moment and to “Live Like You Were Dying”.  It takes effort and we’re lazy, most of us.  DON’T let life get in the way.  You can do this, I promise!

Just TRY and do SOMETHING a little different.  I really feel like one of the jobs I’ve been given (because I feel ALL of us are born to do a job) with the life I lead, is to show people that life is precious and a gift.  I want to show YOU too.  You don’t really NEED an official memo but if you WANT a reminder of how precious and short life is, I’m here to give it to you.

Remember… today COULD be your last day.  Love, have fun, pray and most of all count ALL your blessings.  Because even that little kid with the snotty nose who’s coughing germs on you is one of your blessings.  That cluttered and dusty house with the sink full of dishes?  Yeah, that’s a blessing too.  MANY people are homeless.  The pain you feel when you get out of bed in the morning?  At least you know you’re alive and can still move those limbs of yours.  Many people, like Susan and my friend Kent, are trapped in their bodies and THEY still trudge on and find meaning in their journey.  The bank is threatening to foreclose?  You still have a little time to pray and figure out what you’re going to do.  NOTHING is THAT desperate.  Because after all, you still have a moment.

Much love to ALL of you and may God bless each and every one of you!