Meet Me In St. Louis Part 2 (still Julia’s 15th bday)

Our first night in St. Louis was SO fun, so now how do we top that?  I left it up to Julia since it was HER birthday.  My intention was to try and take it easy on the money situation but I NEVER ever succeed.  Julia and her buddies didn’t create their itinerary based off of the FREE “things to do” in the city.  Too bad for Hubby.  He never likes to let me lose with the pocketbook.  I’m beginning to understand why!  lol

We woke up late and didn’t get out of the hotel until after noon.  BTW…  should you ever decide to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport in St. Louis, you should know that just because you spend a million $ on the hotel room, you will NOT be receiving a complimentary breakfast.  Nope.  Not even a stale donut or a box of cereal.  However they DO invite you to partake in their $12 PLUS per person breakfast!  By this time, my oldest daughter joined us so we were now a party of 5.  I couldn’t justify spending $65 a day on breakfast food when we still had cupcakes.  Granted, by this time the cupcakes were fairly hard, but they were still good enough for a bunch of teenagers.  SO, because we were STARVING, we began our very rainy day at “Hodaks” (another St. Louis tradition) for all the fried chicken we could eat!  Hodaks has been around forever and some people would say they have the best fried chicken and frog legs in the world!  It was good but I wouldn’t say it was the best.  The girls DID say it was the best and that made it all worth getting lost in the city 🙂  Have you ever been lost in a big city where it seems like every driver on the road wants to be in YOUR lane at the same time you are?  Oh and let’s not forget all that AND screaming teenage girls who are literally punching each other in the back seat like a bunch of wild boys!  I told them that THIS was the reason I chose NOT to have boys….

(We finally found Hodaks.  Literally, people who move away from St. Louis and come back for a visit… HAVE to come back to Hodaks for the fried chicken.  I know people who visit this place every time they’re in town)

(Not very fancy but tasty!  I didn’t like the slaw at all and I thought it was funny that the chicken was served on top of a piece of white bread in order to soak up the grease!  lol  But despite the not-so-fancy plastic plates and such, the chicken was SO juicy and seasoned just right!  And by juicy, I don’t mean greasy)

After stuffing ourselves with as much fried chicken as we could all eat, Julia wanted to go to Laclede’s Landing on the riverfront.  No matter that a monsoon decided to visit us on this day.  Anything for MY princess!  lol  If she wants to walk around WITHOUT umbrellas in the pouring down rain, then BY GOD, that’s what we’re going to do!  Just as soon as we found a parking spot and stepped out into the rain, my oldest daughter flagged down a horse drawn carriage driver.  If you’re ever in St. Louis and you want to take a carriage ride, you should know that you CAN negotiate a price with the drivers.  They usually charge around $40 for as many people as we had with us.  My daughter got them down to $25!  Which is good because I hadn’t planned on spending ANYTHING on carriage rides!  We did that LAST year!  ARGH!  It wasn’t HER money, it was just Mom’s, so who care’s right?  lol  Oh and don’t forget that your carriage driver works for tips.  I didn’t realize that (even though there’s a big sign inside the carriage) so I walked off to hear our driver talking to another driver about how PISSED she was to have gone down on the price, yet she STILL wasn’t tipped!  lol  Ooops.  Don’t worry!  I made my oldest daughter tip her!  It was only fair since it was oldest daughter’s idea 🙂

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(Here’s our carriage driver trying to rustle us up some more blankets so my precious angels wouldn’t be so cold in the St. Louis rain!  She really was nice to us even if she DID get a little perturbed that we didn’t know to tip her)

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(The angels all snuggly and warm with their blankies)

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(Mama Bear and her Birthday Princess)

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(The Martin Luther King Bridge over the Mississippi River… a view from our carriage ride through the Landing)

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(And because I love bridges…  The Eads Bridge…  BTW… check out that cobble stone road!)

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(This is my favorite of the MLK Bridge)

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(Laclede’s Landing)

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(And because I love old clocks too 🙂

So the reason we were on The Landing in the first place was so that Birthday Girl could experience the creepy St. Louis Wax Museum.  I HATE wax museum because they scare the crap out of me but that was the exact reason birthday girl wanted to go!  I found a good deal on Groupon so it ended up being inexpensive.  Thank JESUS something was a good deal!  lol  The people who ran the Wax Museum were SO nice too.  They’re updating the place so some of the displays were in disrepair.  Apparently, they’re in the process of getting all new wax creatures.

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(Here’s oldest daughter with her idol, Michael Jordan.  She LOVES basketball and still plays every chance she gets 🙂

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(I had to get this one of “little bit” with Mark McGwire because it WAS here birthday and all about the year 1998, when a few months after she was born, Mark McGwire broke the home run record in St. Louis – I know… it was all too controversial… but STILL cool cause it happened right here in St. Louis AND in the year 1998!)

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(Okay… so this may be in bad taste but it looks like they have Patrick Swayze embalmed here!  We all LOVE Patrick Swayze but this was way too creepy and helped set the mood.  We were beginning to be VERY afraid.  We had to walk through 3 floors of dark and very scary hallways)

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(I’m not sure who this one’s supposed to be.  Possibly Tina Turner?  She was from St. Louis so maybe?  Whoever it is, she sure is CREEPY… Again there’s THAT word!  lol)

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(Again in bad taste… the kids said this one reminded them of me and all my stomach surgeries.  They have NO sympathy for me!)

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(Thank GOD my oldest found herself a man!  I was beginning to worry because she’ll be 29 this summer!  I wonder if Obama knows his image is being tossed around this way?  lol)

So the Wax Museum was Birthday Girl’s favorite thing to do all weekend!  Who would have figured?  I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough!  I couldn’t wait to get back outside in the monsoon to visit Gibbol’s Magic Store (Gibbol’s Novelty & Costumes)!  Carriage Ride lady told us there was a Magic Man there who would do magic tricks for us FREE!  Well, by God, if it’s FREE, we’re going!  Magic Man goes by the name of Andy G and has a separate business where he puts on private magic shows with a partner.  It’s called Shift Reality.  You can reach Andy G at #415-952-6394 or 415-95ANDYG…  clever, huh?  lol  He’s pretty good and kept ALL of us fascinated and entertained with his free magic tricks!  I’m pretty sure the owner of Gibbol’s couldn’t WAIT for me to get my destructive girls the heck OUT OF THERE though.  Who knew girls could be into so much trouble?  I only turned my back for a minute!  lol

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(Here’s Andy G doing a card trick for Birthday Girl)

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(Hannah was SO mad when Andy G wouldn’t tell her how he did a trick.  It drove her CRAZY trying to figure out what he’d done LONG after we left this place!  lol  He explained that, as a magician, he had to purchase magic trick secrets.  He just couldn’t go giving his secretes away.  He’d be glad to SELL us a secret though!  lol)

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(And of COURSE the biggest instigator of trouble was the 28 year old daughter!  She can’t help herself from trying on every pretty little thing!  lol)

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(I never laughed so hard in my life!  BIG TROUBLE daughter helped herself to the theatrical makeup and talked with Andy G as if this were her normal face!  She didn’t even crack a smile so I’m thinking he really thought she wore her make up like this!  He was having a lot of trouble looking her in the eye but SHE had no problem looking Andy G in the eye!  lmbo  Later the owner told us that they SOLD that make up and it cost money for them to apply it to our faces.  So, in other words, my daughter helped herself to some free make up…  I was laughing too hard to be embarrassed!  No wonder I have trouble keeping the younger one’s in line!  We’re not good at setting proper examples!  lol)

Good day but SO long and cold and rainy!  I couldn’t WAIT to get back to the hotel and read in my warm bed.  THAT didn’t get to happen though!  The girls wanted to go swimming.  Oldest daughter and I took them for a little bit and left them at the pool.  At 15, they’re old enough.  PLUS the pool was only 4 ft deep.  How was I to know that when I left they’d set off the alarm at the pool, use the handy cap chair lift and then set off more alarms on the elevator?  I was notified BY SECURITY that my girls needed to be accompanied by an adult at ALL times!  ROFLMAO  Which translates to NO reading in my warm snuggly bed.

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(Because I’m pretty sure Hannah was behind us getting into trouble with the hotel management, I’m going to show you all some lovely pics of her mascara lineds face in the hot tub 😉

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(Looks like they’re plotting trouble to me!)

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(Okay… so I MIGHT have known about them using the handicap chair lift.  Shhhh….)

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(And you thought your BOYS were messy?  Honestly, I didn’t know girls could be such nasty slobs!  How did toilet paper get ON the floor by my side of the bed????  But this is what I had to contend with after I left the pool BEFORE security notified me! lol)

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(Don’t feel sorry for them!  They TOTALLY deserve my invasion of their privacy!  FINALLY, we got them to go to sleep.  And then we picked at them until we disturbed their slumber.  Check out Julia’s extreme annoyance in the black and white 😉

So all’s well that ends well!  2 days down and 1 day to go!  This old mama’s getting too old for so much activity!  At this point, the nursing home is beginning to sound like a vacation 🙂

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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

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 🙂

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!

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

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

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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?