A Success Story in the making

In the midst of my dark mood, attitude and opinions surrounding the American Education system, more specifically, directed at the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, there is a bright spot.  My brilliant niece Aubrie.

Yesterday, my niece and I took some time to celebrate what we like to call Auntie/Aubrie day.  Kind of geeky, eh?  Not really.  Aubrie and I have virtually NO time to spend together because A.) I spend most of my time with her sisters because they’re little and need me more and B.) Aubrie is 13 and involved in 3 different sports, not to mention her rigid academic schedule.  It’s kind of sad that we actually have to schedule any time we can spend together a month beforehand. We pack a lot of talking into the few hours that we have together.  Right now is a good time to mention that Aubrie is not my biological niece although NOBODY would be able to tell by looking at us.  She couldn’t be MORE mine if she were biological and I’ve become her favorite aunt through the years.  She tells me that she feels like I treat her with respect and don’t condescend to her.  It helps that I’m a good cook and like to take her shopping!  lol  HER words.  She likes that I actually enjoy our time together.

This weekend, Aubrie is competing in the National History Day State Competition in Columbia MO at the University of Missouri Campus (Mizzou).  She’s made it this far by placing fourth place in the original competition where she beat out hundreds of other kids making their presentations on the historical figure of their choice.  Most of the kids her age gave speeches on past presidential leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  *yawn* –  Natural and easy choices.  Not Aubrie.  She went out on a limb, like she always does and made her presentation based on a very strong and successful woman who rose to the top of the fashion industry.  Coco Channel became iconic using her own skills and hard work ethics.  She started poor and became wealthy, as we already know.

What impresses me so much about Aubrie’s presentation and choice of historical figures is that she chose a woman.  Someone Aubrie can look up to and use for inspiration.  We’re all strong women in our family and believe that our gender shouldn’t dictate how far we’re able to go in life, we’re in control of our own destinies.  We are also very well aware that we’ll have to work harder to get there.  Aubrie is well ahead of her game.  Before she was allowed to prepare her speech, she was required to create a website.  This may sound like a normal skill for a girl her age in other countries.  Sadly, here in America, this is NOT normal for a public high school student.  She’s only in 7th grade.  I’m proud to show you all what her website looks like.  It’s her first time creating a website and I think she did a fantastic job!  Obviously, the judges of this competition shared my semi biased opinion or she wouldn’t have beat out hundreds of other students.  Here’s the link to the website she created about the life of Coco Channel

My niece takes her studies VERY seriously.  She worries me sometimes because she’s so serious but I have NO worries about how successful she’ll be in life.  When she gives public presentation, especially when she’s competing, she pays attention where her appearance is concerned.  Aubrie wants to make a professional appearance.  I truly believe this helped her win the competition.  Most girls her age made their presentation to judges who were college professors (potential scholarships involved for MAJOR universities) wearing yoga pants or blue jeans and tee shirts.  They weren’t allowed to wear provocative clothing but a lot of these girls looked like they’d just jumped out of bed without brushing their hair.  Their clothes were wrinkled and they appeared sleepy.  Not MY niece.  She wore a suit appropriate for an interview with a major corporation.  She’s only 13 folks!  lol  Her hair was up in a neat bun and her make up was appropriately light.  She appeared to be a powerful and intelligent woman!  I was so proud.  The professors actually commented on her appearance and asked the other girls to pay attention to Aubrie’s presentation of HERSELF.  They used her for an example of what TO do instead of what NOT to do.

So yesterday, in preparation for her competition on Saturday, we spent our time at the nail salon of her choice.  The salon where Aubrie knew the stylists would do the professional job that Aubrie expects.  If they don’t do it right, she makes them do it over.  Wow.  I can honestly say, she makes ME feel like the child!  lol

Here she is talking to a teacher for one of our public schools also getting a pedicure.  Aubrie is explaining the competition to her and what she expected to win THIS time.  She expects to win a substantial scholarship, by the way.  I’m placing MY bet now that she’ll WIN that scholarship!

Image

(she cracks me up with how serious she is and how adult her mannerisms are)

Image

(thank the LORD Aubrie is satisfied with her “full set” and the quality of work this stylist does… lol)

Image

I must really rate in Aubries book because she allowed me to talk her into a more playful, age appropriate style.  A style that she will have fun with even after the competition and a style that I think will also work for her professionalism.  It’s not so crazy of a color that will stand out and make her appear to not be taking her job seriously.

Talking with my little “adult” niece about her plans for the future and the work that she’s doing to make her path clear, only served to make me more aware of how POOR our public school system is.  Aubrie has NEVER attended public school.  It’s Catholic/ Private all the way for her and it’s certainly ALREADY paid off.  Her private school is already preparing the children to write quality university level research papers.  They begin teaching the children to do research papers in fourth grade, by the age of 8 and 9.  Aubrie tells me that her instructors are constantly explaining to the class that they’re being groomed for COLLEGE (not high school).  When I was in Catholic school, they stressed how we were being groomed for high school.  It’s different now and I’m glad.  Guess when our PUBLIC schools focus on college level work?  Tenth grade.  My daughter gave me the “Mom is just crazy” look when I shared my opinion on how important it is to teach our children how to create a proper college level research paper.  In another related point, do you know that these public school kids don’t know how to address an envelope?  They tell me that it’s not important anymore in today’s age of technology.  It just seems so simple to me and common sense.  Don’t they still NEED to know how to address an envelope?  Or the proper way to write a letter, be it business or personal?  They SURE know how to “Tweet” and know ALL the “texting” language.

I’m feeling EXTREMELY guilty that I’m not financially able to provide the right kind of education for my daughter.  Aubrie’s younger, yet she’s so much more prepared for the real world.  She’s been lead to already know the direction she wants her life to go in.  My daughter hasn’t been taught to give it another thought.  THAT is my fault.  I can’t leave it all up to the school system especially since I’m fully aware it’s a FAILING school system and has been since 2001, when the “No Child Left Behind Act” was passed.  My back’s against the wall and I’m running out of time here!  I asked my daughter to consider switching schools.  I realize the choice is not hers but I ‘d feel a whole lot better if she’d share my views for her life!  She’s only 14 and in 9th grade.  She’s got 3 more years of high school so is it too late?  I don’t think so but my daughter actually said these words to me, “Mom, it’s too late for me”.  She’s not worried about her social life and losing her friends.  She just actually believes that she’s not capable of learning because she’s also very aware that she’s not being taught.

To give you an example of why my daughter believes she’s not being educated, I’ll tell you what happened the other day with her Science test.  She’s always (in previous years) been very good in Science.  Once she hit 9th grade, this changed.  Her teacher almost isn’t even present.  He does bother to lecture or do experiments.  He tells them to read their book and if they don’t understand something, he tells them to read it again, never bothering to explain.  He gets annoyed.  My daughter told him that she wasn’t ready to take the test because she only got 2 out of 10 questions right on the quiz.  She didn’t even know why she got those questions wrong and she explained this to her instructor.  He told her to sit down and he actually GAVE her the answers for the test.  I’m pretty sure we all remember what used to happen to US if we were caught stealing the teacher’s answers, or if we “copied” off our “neighbor”, right?  This teacher actually GAVE her the answers because he knew it didn’t matter if she knew the subject matter.  She was going to pass because NOBODY fails anymore!  The rest of the class can’t move ahead if even ONE person fails so he gave her the answers in an effort to make himself appear to be a successful teacher.  It looks bad on the teacher if one child doesn’t know the material and for THIS reason (NCLB act) ALL the children are forced to be on the same level.  For THAT matter, they’re even integrating Autistic and otherwise learning disabled children into a class of “normal”, learning abled children.  They’re ALL being taught the same way.  If there’s an Autistic child who’s making a lot of noise in class, he’s allowed to keep distracting the other kids and there’s NOTHING an instructor can do about it.  TRUST me, my sympathy doesn’t only lie with our children.  What is a teacher supposed to do to gain control of their class and keep their students focused?  It’s becoming more clear, every year that passes SINCE 2001, that there’s NO point in our instructors caring.  SO sad.  Occasionally, we’ll have a rogue teacher who actually takes pride in the fact that they’re forming our children’s future.  They know they may even get into trouble for not focusing ENOUGH time to preparing our kids for one federal test or another.  This rare “rogue” educator will actually spend TIME discussing and teaching a subject.  I need to stress how very rare this is though.

But this isn’t the point of this post.  You all know me by now, I get distracted and one thought leads to another, which leads to another and on and on we go!  lol  My point was to brag about my niece and to pay attention to what she and her educators are doing right.  My point is to pay specific attention to the difference between our public school system and the private school system.  The differences between the poor and the rich, although there is a DRASTIC difference between our rural area schools and the wealthy public schools in the better suburbs.  I’m SO proud of my sister-in-law for making education a priority for her children!  I’d always believed education was a priority for MY children as well.  However, now that I’m being honest, I can see my tendency toward taking the “lazy” route.  I’d been reading for years, about the effects of the NCLB act on our youth.  I didn’t want to believe it though and tried to make myself accept that it just takes time to iron out the rough edges of any new program.  MY children should have been made a priority, somehow.  I shouldn’t have gambled on their futures and I should have sacrificed more to give them the education that they deserve.  I made vacations and our quality of life our priority instead.

It’s NOT too late though.  I’m done accepting less than mediocre for my daughter.  I’ve got to either talk with the scholarship program St. Pius and make arrangements for her to attend, if she’ll even be able to test into their school.  OR, here’s my other option.  I can do what has been recommended to me BY several educators and allow my daughter to take the high school equivalency test (GED).  There’s not ONE bit of difference here, anymore, between a GED and an actual 4 year high school diploma.  Many parents have now started taking the advice to take their children out of high school and having them begin college courses so that they can earn college credits.  Our educators tell us (in private and off the record) that to send our children to high school is equivalent to sending them to be “babysat” for 8 hours a day.  There used to be at LEAST a social reason to attend high school.  In present days, it’s becoming only negative social development.  Why do I need a babysitter?  I don’t and she should have the same advantages as my niece has.  I’m ashamed and shocked when I think of how much she’s actually REGRESSED since grade school.  Her grades used to reflect a college level knowledge of almost every subject.  Now she tests at a grade school level.  The only reason she’s passing Science at all is because the teacher provides the answers for her.  Don’t think I haven’t tried speaking with the proper school officials.  They keep giving me the same answers and even IF I can get them to care, their hands are tied due to the No Child Left Behind Act.  They have to follow the rules if they’re to receive federal funding.

I want MY daughter to be a success story also.  Naturally she already is in MY book.  She was born with an amazing mind and is every BIT as intelligent as my niece is.  She just hasn’t been given the same advantages and THAT’S been my responsibility all along.  We need to make our children’s futures our priority.  After all, they’re going to be leading this world one day.  If our government doesn’t care and won’t do anything about it, then the responsibility lies solely on us, as parents.  I think it’s time, folks.  It’s probably over time.  We should have paid more attention to this as citizens of the once great USA.

I’m VERY interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions.  DO any of you have a story to share about how our schools have affected (good OR bad) your own children?  What would you do?  Or do you have any ideas about how we, as a nation can change this?  We NEED to care.  Even if you don’t have children now.  This country will be run, decisions will be made by these children who AREN’T being educated.  Who then will run our country?  Let me give you a hint.  It WON’T be the “people”.  I believe they may be doing it this way so that we’ll all become more ignorant.  We’ll care even less than we do now (if that’s possible) and eventually our officials won’t be “elected”.  We’ll have dictators because we won’t be ABLE to make educated decisions.  Is this what they want?  It sure makes you think, doesn’t it?

Advertisements

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

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the details

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Lost in the details

Esme’ getting lost in the detail. Who care’s about the cookies when you can have cookie dough, right?

“To create something exceptional, your mind must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail”
Giorgio Armani

I’m SO excited!

I say this (so excited thing) with a little trepidation…  Knowing I may feel differently in a few hours!  lol  My nieces are coming!  They’re actually getting to spend the night today.  This is a HUGE thing because their mama doesn’t like for them to sleep anywhere but safely, right under her roof.  I don’t blame her, I was the SAME way.  I remember crying when my kids had to spend the night visiting their dad on weekends.  I HATED being without them.  My wonderful sister in law, however, took mercy on me.  She knows I’m missing them and need to spend time with them.  I’m very sick (don’t worry – not contagious) and I feel like my back is up against the wall.  I’m battling time here.  While I feel well enough to handle these little demons  angels, I want to spend as much time as I can.

Image

This is 4 year old Esme’.  She’s a HANDFUL and a half.  That doesn’t even cover it.  Personality enough for 40 people, really.  She has meltdowns when they make her leave my house and I have to tell her that she can’t come back if she doesn’t leave.  HAHA!  It’s true, how can she come back if she doesn’t first leave?  She scratches her head and tries to understand.  Anyway, she’s probably the most intelligent child I’ve ever spent time around.  Not in the traditional way either.  She actually has a hard time focusing on letters and numbers BUT she knows things that she’s never read or seen on TV.  It’s in her head.  She’s not even allowed to watch TV at home.

Image

Esme’s actually pretty rotten.  That’s probably why I love her so much.  I’m glad, though, that I’M not the one who has to make the major decisions regarding her life!  Whew!  I’ve already raised one of these kinds of kids and let me tell you….  it just about KILLED me!  lol  Can you see the evil glint in her eye?

Image

To sweeten the pot, a little, my brother and sister in law gave me Ireland Elizabeth!  She’s the EXACT opposite of Esme and is just good and stable!  lol  I love her in a different way than Esme’.  She’s my squirmy snuggler.  Ireland is 8 months old.

Image

Here I am with Ireland and her older sister, my intelligent and wonderful niece, Aubrie!  I don’t get to spend NEARLY enough time with Aubrie because of school and sports but I’m SO close to her too and even more proud of her.  I expect that she’ll be running a major corporation one day.

I’ve said before and I meant it, my nieces are like my daughters.  I couldn’t love them more if they came from my body.  I’m SO thankful to my brother and sister in law for deciding to have these babies later in life.  They add the spice that my life was needing and they keep my young!

Our weekend, good and bad, in Pics :-) SO much fun!

Awesome weekend!  As much as I hate coming home to reality, it was SO worth it!  As I’ve said before in THIS post,  the hubby and I have been celebrating our anniversary and Valentines Day since before we were even married.  We’d forgotten that we actually had to lie and say we were married just to be able to go 12 years ago.  The rules were (back then) that it was for married couples only.  We FELT married, so we went….  Did I tell you that I was never much of a rule follower?  lol

Image

On the way to the Trout Lodge, Hubby tells me that he felt SO bad because he knew I was expecting flowers but he didn’t have time to order any.  I knew he was lying and, turns out he was.  lol  He knew I’d told him before that he didn’t have to order roses all the time, it gets boring.  THIS time, he ordered something that helped commemorate the ten years that we’ve been married.  Did you know that TIN actually is the metal that represents 10 years?  Hubby made sure he ordered something that came in tin or aluminum.  Cute, huh?

(here’s a pic of the dining room mantle….  I’m FINALLY learning how to work my fancy new camera!  lol)

Image

The first night there was sad, but relaxed.  Sad because a couple that had been going for years (like us) were there.  The wife was in a wheelchair and she was given 6 to 8 weeks to live (cancer).  At dinner time, we witnessed her go into seizures and everyone rushing to her with oxygen.  They laid her on the ground in the rescue position so I knew something was very wrong.  It was all low keyed because the YMCA didn’t want to ruin anyone elses weekend so we really didn’t know how serious it was.  I felt SO much conviction to pray over this woman (and TRUST me, I’m not the kind of person to do this kind of thing…. I’ll pray a quiet prayer and NOT make a spectacle of myself).  I fought and fought with myself, but in the end, God won out and I walked over to ask her poor husband if I COULD lay my hands on her and pray.  I’m Catholic, folks!  Catholics don’t DO these kinds of things.  However, given the fact that SO many people are praying for my own terminal condition, I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I’d not listened to God’s very loud nudging.  I’m glad I did.  Her husband cried and hugged me, thanking me from the bottom of his heart.  I was the ONLY person who walked up to him (besides the people he came with) to show concern.  I know that not a lot of people feel comfortable with a public display of prayer and I can’t blame them.  What I can NOT understand is why, when people see something like this, they don’t go outside the box and show love or concern?  I can’t tell you how many people came up to me later to say “thank you” and that they WANTED to do the same thing but were afraid.  DON’T be too afraid to hug someone or to ask if you can do something for them.  It might be YOU one day who’s in this situation.  Pats on the back make me uncomfortable but I’m SURE glad I did something for the man.  I knew, as soon as I laid my hands on her that she was not going to be okay.  I felt it.  I knew my prayers would reach God but they’d be more for her husband.  As it turned out, I was right.  She was flown by helicopter to a good hospital and placed on life support.  All she wanted was ONE LAST WEEKEND with her husband.  It makes me so sad and angry that she couldn’t have her weekend.

Image

Here’s me BEFORE the tragedy in the dining room.

Image

Next… we decided to walk down to the lake and join in on some “romantic music by the bonfire”…  LMBO  Maybe NOT so romantic.  The singer only knew Willie Nelson songs and NOT well.  PLUS there was an old hippie couple that were trying to sing loudly, all the wrong words and as off key as you can get.  Cute, but after a while, we just had to leave.  lol

Image

This is Hubby by the campfire.  LOVED the way this turned out!

Image

Here’s me and Hubby snuggled up by the campfire.  The cool thing was that even though it was single digit cold and the windchill was FRIGID, the YMCA workers supplied blankets and coffee and hot chocolate.

Image

Here’s the YMCA worker that kept our campfire hot 🙂  He’s a cutie!  He’s here from somewhere out west, working on his recreation degree.  They get to stay for free, in a cabin, as long as they work at the Y.  He’ll be here until May.  Sounds like a fun job to have!

Image

This is the view from our balcony.  Not such a bad way to wake up, huh? I had my coffee and just outside in the FREEZING cold, trying to learn that dang camera!  lol

Image

After breakfast, Ben and I went on a little walk.  We ended up in the Tee Pee, trying to get warm.  The original plan was to stay there and make Valentines cards.  We decided that THAT didn’t sound like much fun so we left…  SO wishy washy!

Image

Here’s me inside the tee pee, taking advantage of the warmth!

Image

Image

Image

We TRIED to go on a hike on Saturday.  It was so cold that I whimped out and had to turn around and go back.  Along the way, I did get some good shots of the lodge, it’s self.

Image

This is a pic of the woods BEFORE I whimped out!  lol  Not sure why I love this but I do.  It’s kind of spooky to me and I wouldn’t mind seeing how this turns out on canvas:-)

Me playing Dominos. 2013

Ben's looking a little aggrivated at me!  lol

We gave up on the outdoor activities and decided to play dominos!  He kicked my butt, as usual.  I’m going to learn ONE day, not to bet against this man.  He will ALWAYS win.  BTW… I’m a sore loser.  BUT, I did pay up!  lol

DSC_0054

After Dominos, Ben and I did the wine and cheese tasting.   GREAT shot of this random stranger shoveling it in, huh?  lmbo  Ben looks like he’s going to stab this guy with his “kabob”.  BTW…  the YCMA provided all the cheese, several different fondues and lots of fruit and snacks for dipping.  We could have all the free wine we wanted.  You have to TASTE a lot in order to make a good decision on what the perfect bottle to buy is, right?  lol

Candle light dinner, view from 5th floor.  2013

View of the dining room from our floor.  It’s set up for the candle light dinner on Saturday night.

The dining room decorations for 2013

Dining room decorations hanging from the ceiling.

DSC_0053

Here’s the lady who serenaded us with wedding music all the way through dinner.  Can you see Ben yelling at me to COME ON because he’s holding the elevator for too long and he didn’t want it to keep beeping?

Me and Ben's valentine pic.  2013

Me and the Hubby before our candlelight dinner 🙂

DSC_0068

Cute little table decorations.  The YMCA staff actually made these candle holders for every table out of wood they found on hiking trails.

DSC_0067

Our little dinner.  It was DELICIOUS this year.  The prime rib was SPECTACULAR, so was everything else:-)

We danced a little after the dinner.  Not TOO much, as Ben was too hot in the sweater I made him wear.  Poor thing…  I just get SO tired of all the pictures of him in the same “old man” short sleeved shirts he likes to wear.  Why do men insist on wearing the same shirts you bought for them 10 years ago, even though they don’t fit anymore?  He’s got a closet full of NICE clothes I buy for him…  *sigh*.  lol  At least he wore SOMETHING different and tried to dance a while.  We slow danced to “My Girl” and I tried to get him to dance to “Proud Mary (Rolling on the River)”.  In the end… I was the only one dancing to Proud Mary!  lol  Well me and a bunch of other people, just not the hubby 😦

DSC_0106Beautiful sunrise at trout lodge on Sunday.  2013

DSC_0116DSC_0119

Good bye Trout Lodge!  See you in the summer when we can Kayak and swim and play sand volleyball!  This winter thing is AWESOME and even romantic but I’m getting WAY too old to enjoy the post nasal drip that comes with it!  lol

A Fun Weekend Had by All… in pics

Follow up from yesterday’s post:

Just wanted to share with you our FABULOUS day at the St. Louis Boat Show!  What an awesome way to fight the gloom and doom of a rainy winter Sunday.  I’m SO glad we went because it gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with the hubby, have fun with good friends AND torture my daughter!  It’s a win, win win situation, as far as I’m concerned!  lol  So here’s some of our highlights:

Image

Teenage munchkin posing to amuse me in the cold rain.  She’s a GOOD daughter and wants to see her mama happy 😉

ImageOk.. this one’s funny because I’d convinced her that she would be going scuba diving in the pool (just another experience I want her to have).  Anyway, I’d told her she’d be doing the scuba boogie in THIS pool… only this pool was filled with dog hair and kind of smelled really bad because it was REALLY used as the “Dock Dogs” pool.  She’s trying to decide JUST how badly I want her to scuba dive!  lol

Image

So this one’s where she figures out that I wasn’t REALLY serious about her swimming in the dog hair!

Image

And here’s me waving to my adoring fans!

ImageOne of the reasons we wanted to go to the boat show on Sunday was to do the Swamp People Meet and Greet!  (Swamp People)

Image

Here’s me embarrassing teenage munchkin (because she’s in LOVE with Jay Paul)… I’m explaining to them how I TOO am a famous Mississippi River Gator wrestler!  For my friends that aren’t from this country…  we don’t REALLY have gators in Missouri…  which is precisely why my daughter was praying I’d shut up.  lol  I think R J was interested in signing me to help him wrestle the REAL swamp gators!  hehehehe

ImageAfter my contract was negotiated!  lol  I think we’re all pleased with the terms and conditions!

Image

Not to break any young girls heart, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but did you all know that Jay Paul is married?  Not ONLY is he married to this little cutie, they’re expecting a baby.  She’s 14 weeks along.  Cause yeah, I asked!  lol  I can tell you that Julia (teenage munchkin) and her friends are very sad about this!

Image

Not to leave out hubby…  here he is being rewarded for taking me to the boat show.  What is his reward?  So glad you asked…  a cheeseburger.  Cause that’s ALL it takes.  lol

ImageHere’s the boat that I won’t be reciving as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband.  However, he’s informed me that if I play my cards right, once Julia moves out, we CAN sell our home and live on the river in something LIKE this.  I think I could do that 😉

ImageHere’s me cooking a fish over an open fire on the only boat we’ll ever be able to afford…  a Tom Sawyer style floating raft.  Also pictured, my dear friend Beth and of course, Julia the teenage munchkin!

ImageThe 2 Ethiopians on the River Raft!  Hubby says we both look like we need a sandwich.  What do you think?  lol

Image

This is precious!  I was able to track Dora the Explorer down because Julia wouldn’t leave the place until she could have a picture and a hug from Dora!  (okay… in all actuality, Julia had had just about enough of my shenanegins!  lol  but again, sucks to be MY kid!)

ImageThis is kind of cool…. here’s me sword fighting an elderly gentleman on The Gypsy Rose Pirate Ship…..  In case you were interested, I lost.

ImageI think this is the owner of The Gypsy Rose.  He was TOTALLY macking on my friend!  He was POSITIVE he’d seen her boating on the Mississippi several times because he was POSITIVE he’d seen her before.  You know “You look SO familiar to me… have we met?”  She was POSITIVE they’d NEVER met.  lol

Image

Here’s me watching as my friend was getting molested by the pirate ship owner!  hehehe

Image

Remember the scuba boogie we talked about?  I decided to have mercy on the daughter and we compromised.  She didn’t want to get her hair wet so we decided that she’d learn to navigate a boogie board (at least that’s what I THINK they’re called)

ImageNotice anything wrong with this picture?  That’s right!  Her wet suit is on backwards.  A photo opp in a HALF, if you ask me!  There has to be some perks of being a mother to a teenager, right?  I get to share with you all the things that amuse me 😉

ImageAnd she’s UP!  She actually did a very good job with this thing.  We canoe and kayak pretty often though.

ImageMy girl, in her backwards wet suit,  dreaming of the day she’ll kill me.

So that’s our day in pictures!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!