Meet Me In St. Louis Part 3 (and finally the LAST of Julia’s Birthday)

I’ll bet you all were hangin’ on the edge of your seats in anticipation of our last day in St. Louis, weren’t you?  So to recap – we had day #1 on the Delmar Loop and then day #2 on Laclede’s Landing.

So sad to leave our Hilton Hotel room!  We naturally, pushed it to the very last second and left a little AFTER check out time.  None of us wanted to get up and only ONE of us (guess who?) was responsible enough to pack.  Here’s a hint, it wasn’t ANY of the 15 year olds!  Oh and FORGET about the 28 year old.

Julia wanted to have a REAL tea party, just like in “Alice in Wonderland”!  lol  We reserved a table at the London Tea Room on Washington Ave. downtown.  It was strange to be on Washington Ave. because only a few years ago, when I was still working, this place was a slum!  Known for the prostitution and drugs.  BOY have they cleaned up!  Now, there’s a booming loft district and SO pretty.  Birthday Girl wants to live there one day.  I sincerely hope she makes enough money to live comfortably in a loft apartment 🙂

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(They decided on the “Cream Tea”, which I guess in London consists of a scone and a pot of tea?  That’s what a Cream Tea means at St. Louis’s London Tea Room, anyway)

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(Julia said she felt so sophisticated and grown up just like the REAL English people!  lol  She’d never had a scone before.  We ordered blueberry scones with “Devonshire Cream” which was TO DIE FOR!  Devonshire cream is like butter, only better.  I seriously need to figure out how to make this stuff!  Anyway, the scones were light and fluffy… NOT like the scones we’re used to.  I’d give this place 2 thumbs up for the tea and their scones 🙂

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(Julia feeling all grown up and elegant drinking her Chai Latte.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that they didn’t drink Chai Latte’s in London.  She liked the idea of the foamy milk.)

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(So Katie tells me AFTER ordering that the taste of tea makes her sick.  Here she is looking DEEP into her tea cup.  I’m not sure what she thinks is going to jump out and hurt her.  For my friends in the UK…  in our defense,  we’re REAL bonafide rednecks AND we’re coffee drinkers.  We really had no business in a London Tea Room.  lol)

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(In keeping with tradition, Hannah wouldn’t be Hannah if not causing trouble somehow!  lol  All through our little tea party, the girls spoke in their very best British accents.  Yeah, it was annoying so I kept my head down so as to not make eye contact with any of the other patrons.  When I looked up, this is what I saw staring back at me (Hannah with a fake “stache”).

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(I’m LOVING this pic of the girls walking down Washington Ave.!  They look like models to me 🙂

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(and so when it came time for the girls to take MY picture, I didn’t notice Julia walking like Derek Zoolander)

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(This is Windows On Washington, where the presidents always come to hold their campaign fundraisers while in St. Louis.  I used to deliver specialty foods here when I was working.  How’s THAT for a fun fact?)

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(The Loft Apartments where Julia swears she’ll live one day)

From Washington Ave., we drove around, stopping to take pictures of the awesome old city architecture.

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(I literally parked in the middle of the street to get this one!  lol  This is a view of the city from Market Street.  It’s a good thing it was Sunday and everyone who WAS out in the city happened to be at the Cardinals game!  Go CARDS!)

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(I’m not sure what this building is but it’s old and it’s beautiful!)

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(Just more lovely buildings 🙂

We ended up at Kiener Plaza where all St. Louisans gather before a Cardinal’s game.  Here’s where it got weird.  I began taking pictures of the girls and a lady walks up to me and asks if I want to be in the picture.  She offered to take my picture and being me, and being naive and being from the “country”, I said, “Sure!”.  Well, I discovered this woman was homeless.  Now, I love all people and the girls and I work hard to help stamp out hunger and homelessness.  We hold fundraisers and work with area churches to help these people.  BUT… I wouldn’t want one of them to hold my fancy new expensive camera!  She could have run with it.  Thank GOD she didn’t.  The girls and I took this opportunity to talk with her and learn about what’s going on in St. Louis with the homeless.  This opened the door for other homeless people to come up to us and tell their story.  It broke my heart, really.  However, it was good for the girls to learn what it was like to be homeless, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.  I’ll tell you their stories in another blog.

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(Here’s the pic that the homeless woman took.  Notice the Gateway Arch behind the old Old Courthouse?  I love this scenery.)

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(And here’s the homeless woman who DIDN’T run off with my camera.  God Bless her!  Do you know that NONE of them asked for money?  They only wanted to tell their story to someone who would listen.  She asked me to tell her story to whoever would listen… so I certainly will do that!)

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(Homeless men sleeping in Kiener Plaza.  They weren’t bothering anyone.  They just needed a place to sleep and the shelters were completely full.  This breaks my heart but it was an opportunity to show the girls how very blessed we really are.)

Next stop:  City Garden!  Guess what?  It’s another FREE experience!  I’m so proud of the way they’re beautifying our city!  There was a time that I was ashamed to say I was from St. Louis.  NOW is not that time 🙂

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(Hannah the Ham inside the eyeball of the creepy head sculpture)

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(Julia BEFORE she fell)

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(volunteers take care of this garden)

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 The girls and Pinoccio.

(The girls and Pinocchio)

City and gardenGirls and the bunny rabbitsJulia the Birthday Girl Me at the city Garden

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And this will conclude our tour of the beautiful metropolis of St. Louis Mo 🙂  We truly had a blast.  Lot’s of bonding, fighting, posing and eating…  Ah but it’s good to be home!

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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

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: Future Tense

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Future Tense

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

I pray that my most PRECIOUS, intelligent and beautiful granddaughter will always be able to dream and have the courage to follow her dreams.

Here she is dreaming about who knows what. Maybe she’s dreaming of her knight in shining armor who will one day sweep her off her feet… or maybe she’s dreaming of the day she’ll take over the world! lol The important thing is that she dreams…

My reward for insomnia?

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Notice I’m not in the bed… AND notice, my other half NEVER has a problem sleeping, EVER. lol

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I was awake to watch the sun come up and this is what I saw from our balcony at the Trout Lodge!  I wish I could post all the awesome shots I got but the bandwidth here is pretty sucky and it’s taking about 10 minutes to upload 1 shot.  AND hubby’s pretty hungry (it takes a lot of calories to keep up his girlish figure (see above pic).  lol  He’s making me get off here so we can go to breakfast 😦

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The other upside to my insomniac kind of night was that I was able to figure out the settings on my new camera!  I thought THAT was a lost cause.  Here’s just one more!  lol

Happy Sunday to you all!  He’s about to kill  me now so I must say goodbye 😉

10 years and counting! Our upcoming annual anniversary celebration to the Trout Lodge…

I’m so excited that I can hardly STAND myself right now!  lol  The hubby and I are going on our yearly Valentine’s Day weekend adventure at the Trout Lodge.  It’s run by the YMCA of the Ozarks (Potosi MO).  Like I said, we’ve been doing this every year since we’ve been married.  It’s a little pricey but SO worth it.  Besides our anniversary is on February 22 so we kind of use that for our excuse to spend a bunch of money.  lol  THIS year, we’ll be married 10 years!  TOTALLY amazing to me because I didn’t think it was possible that I could be with anyone legally, for 10 years!  lol  Pretty huge deal for BOTH of us!  lol

This is how the weekend will KIND of go…  We get to our private cabin, or condo (not sure what he reserved cause he always keeps it a surprise) and I’ll open the door and see the most BEAUTIFUL bouquet of roses.  Here’s  a pic of the roses he gave me in 2010 🙂

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After we get unpacked, we’ll probably go grab something to eat in their festive dining room.  They serve 3 meals a day, all included in the price.  Breakfast is pretty good.  The food isn’t GREAT but it’s not bad either.  There IS a Valentine’s candle light dinner served on Friday night and that’s always FANTASTIC.  There’s usually a sort of “lounge” type singer or in some cases a band singing love songs all the way through dinner on Saturday night.

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The dining room welcome balloons

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(a really bad pic of some really good spinach strawberry salad served at the Vday dinner)

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Hubby at our candle light dinner

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Hubby and I in 2008 sitting by the fire in the cedar lodge, waiting to eat.  Yeah, I’m about 40 pounds heavier here because I hadn’t gotten extremely sick yet.  Ben, however is 40 pounds lighter!  lol

After we eat tonight, we’ll probably retire back to our cabin and either read or play dominoes (for money cause I like to gamble OR for chores… whoever is the winner gets to decide what chores the other will do.  lol), or just hang out.  One year, I decorated our room with rose pedals and all that romantic schtuff…  I even had a rose pedal bath waiting for him.  How’s THAT for a good wife?  And he says I don’t put enough effort into it…. HOGWASH.  lmbo

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Here’s Ben in his ummmm, sexy, short shorts, preparing to lose dominoes 😉

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This is something of an event for Ben, as well.  He sets aside some extra special  “Ben” time to groom the extra long nose hairs.  I encourage this, for obvious reasons.

Tomorrow, we’ll wake up, whenever we want.  We’ll probably go horseback riding or on a scavenger hunt.  Something we ALWAYS do is play ping pong and SOMETIMES mini golf (in the cold).  We’ll walk around the woods and the lake, looking for awesome shots to take.  We COULD sign up for archery or make mosiacs (yes Ben will humor me, because he loves me, and help me create some pretty special mosiac art… lol). We might even get to go trout fishing, although they’re probably not biting in the cold 😦  Plus, they make us “release” which is NO fun for me at all. I usually set aside some time for either an hour long massage or a pedicure OR both. When it gets dark, we might go on a carriage ride or even just sit by a campfire, snuggled up and listening to someone else tell ghost stories.  Before our special dinner, we’ll do the wine and cheese tasting.  After dinner, there’s always dancing.  The band is usually pretty good 🙂

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The first pedi I ever treated myself to.  I was SO proud and couldn’t stop admiring my toes!  lol

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This was 2008 and I didn’t have a good camera BUT it didn’t stop me from trying to get a good shot!

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Ben’s waiting in line to get me some MORE wine!  lol  Check out those empty glasses.

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Just some of the pretty things we see!  It’s supposed to snow and I SO hope it does this year like it’s done several years in the past.  Can’t wait to bundle up and put another log on our little fire.

We won’t have internet connection OR even a TV.  It’s not allowed there.  At first, we didn’t like that aspect AT ALL.  We’ve grown to look forward to the complete break from the outside world. Most of the time we can’t even get phone reception.  That’s just fine by me 🙂

Here’s hoping you all have another FANTASTIC weekend and that you’re able to make special memories with the one’s YOU love!  Happy Friday Everyone!  See you back on Sunday night 😉