Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Every Dog Has A Day(s)

(I've never surveyed squirrels from this window. This is marvelous! Thanks Princess A!)

Uli is in recovery. Not from relatives sneeking her sips of spiked nog or nibbles of bourbon soaked beef tenderloin. No, Uli is in recovery from her routine being all scrambled up. 

You see, Uli is a creature of habit. She likes regiment and order.  She knows exactly the time she wants out in the morning. She knows exactly the time her food bowl gets filled--twice a day.  She knows exactly where and how to lounge on each family member.  She knows exactly where she likes her kennel, and just how her pallet of blankets inside need to be fluffed. She knows the square of yard she relieves herself.  She knows she hates to be bathed, and hates a King Ralph home spun grooming. 

That was until... 

Three days before Christmas Uli's world of routine was scrambled. She was one pissed off pouch!  We moved her kennel out of the Red Room, into D's bedroom (just to give flow for Xmas company). Then D bathed our stinky hound, left her trapped downstairs till she dried, while I was washing all the floors. 

Bad idea! 

Uli told us just how she felt, in the way only a dog can. 


Shit the floor! 

Damn dog!!

So then she got the clippers for a slight winter trim. 

Thus the snub began. 

Uli refused to have anything to do with us. She neglected our offers of affection. She stared at the spot longingly where her escape pad use to stand. Not to mention the girls dressed her in her elf T-shirt and Xmas sweater. Uli HATES to play dress-up!! Basically Uli had slipped into a doggie depression.  She would sit staring out the French doors, probably plotting against her family. Never breaking her stare to look at us. She was a stone cold hearted dog. 

Then came December 26. Without fanfare her Xmas clothes were packed away and her kennel return to its usual location. Quietly, like a thief in the night (except it was high noon) she's sllinked into her kennel for an afternoon nap. The sun beating through the French doors warmed her fur. At that moment I believe I saw the corners of her mouth turn up, in a smile of euphoria.  

Our pouch was back! 

Bark, bark, hurray!  

I Demand A Repeat

Call me crazy...probably I am...I just said to myself--I wish we could do Christmas all over again.  

I know I moaned and complained about being stressed, and about King Ralph's permanent-reclined-Christmas-watch-it-all-come-together position...
(That's a fresh from the oven gooey butter cookie resting on a napkin on his chest...that he did not rise from the chair to fetch) 

but the Eve of Christmas and Christmas Day; one tranquil and one magical, filled me both heart and soul, beckoning for a repeat. What is not to love about that?! There is always, (especially this year) a beautiful full house Christmas Eve church service, filled with carols, choirs - of both vocal and bells, accompanied by a beautiful message of love, joy, hope and peace. Something my city is in desperate need of finding and understanding.  Something our World is equally in need of finding! 

There is always food. Lots of good food. 
(Christmas Eve) 

Santa never fails. He comes in the night, and I'm now first to see what he left under the tree.  Wasn't like that in the yesteryears. Who knows, maybe little, or now big feet tip toe in the night to survey the wrapped goods? 

The pickle stake went up to $20 this year. All I could hear from M and D was something on the lines of being a poor college kid and needing twenty bucks. 
(D wins!) 

After gift opening, I gave a once over scrub to bathrooms and floors, and vacuumed area rugs for the umpteenth time...the company arrived to play with our new toy: Selfie Snap.

The libations flowed: Grinch Juice and wines.

We ate and played games. New favorite: Racing Horse Game 

Our fun continued on the twenty-sixth, where the 61* day was more Spring than Winter. M asked for, and received a croquet set from Santa (okay from King Ralph and I, but Santa is much more fun to say). Since our backyard was swampy from the rain earlier in the week, we headed to the sculpture park. The park was bustling with folks soaking in the gift of warmth Mother Nature served up. Most walked the trails or played with remote control toys.  We, however, were the envy of the park. 

Next it was time to play with my new toy--the pasta maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. Along with a ravioli press. 
(Served in a treasured pasta bowl that once belonged to King Ralph's paternal grandmother.)  

So I ask. Why wouldn't I want a repeat of Christmas? 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Where Are You Christmas

Where are you Christmas? I know you're out there...I think I found you, finally, this weekend. With just days to spare, my Christmas meter is rising. Aaaahhhh yes! 

Thursday, King Ralph drove down to pick up D from college. D and her hundred tons of shit, I mean stuff. Stuff and all, my heart and home are now full--for the next four weeks; at least. 

Friday was the last day before winter break for students, and although I am working through December 23,, an occasion of this magnitude calls for a family night celebration. So...to the symphony we go. 

I didn't have to beg hard, well, I did hear--"Mom, really, I'm almost 25!" To bad, get up there...and they all three did--sat on Santa's lap . 
"Three beautiful girls. What a treat for Santa!' 

It was a great symphony of holiday music and a sing along. They even gave me a spiritual, and as my family knows, I love a good spiritual. Seriously! 

On the way home we took in a Saint Louis holiday light tradition: Candy Cane Lane and Angel Ave. who doesn't love a neivirhood's collective spirit of celebrating via lighting up every house on the street?!

Saturday brought us to an early Avery Family Christmas.  Wait, I mean, "dysfunctional family fun", or as we like to refer: DFF. It was a great night of food and fun, and the dysfunction was kept to a low roar
 With a toast
And another toast (where's the damn [missing] Charley sign?) 


It was the beginning of a beautiful thing. The First Annual Dysfunctional Family Fun Bowling Tournament. When you have two kings pins in the family, what better way could there be to say Merry Family, than at the bowling alley! The King pin cousins were captains, selecting team members by a hat draw of names. Which calmed my repressed memories of school days in PE. There you have it...
Team Loser (can my sweater sag down anymore making me look fat or nine months pregnant? Sigh.) 
Team winner, with a two game series score of 1833. Holding the new and coveted Toby trophy. That golden boy Oscar ain't got shit compared to ceramic Toby! Just saying. 

It's only at this family gathering that you can hear one cousin say to another cousin, "love what you've done with your beard. Gone with the Abraham Lincoln style."

Sunday brought Princess A's  mad cookie skills to the kitchen. 

Christmas to be continued....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Friends I'm stressed!  S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D! Stressed.  And I'm not afraid to tell anyone who asks, "how are you?" Which always prompts the question, "why?"

Why?  You wanna know why?

Well, let's see...

There's work.  WORK!  I won't go there.  Not to mention I have to work till December 23, while students are done on the nineteenth.  Perhaps I'm just plain jealous? Perhaps? No I am!  There was the lights on my pre-lit tree that went out, in the center of the tree...but I fixed that stress-er after five days of stressing about it.  I still have a few gifts to get--so those folks will just be getting gift cards. Christmas Cards.  Screw that, I eliminated the cards, but not without King Ralph (who's never touched our cards) moan about it.  When will I clean?  When will I grocery shop?  When will I bake? Do laundry? Iron?  

M and D are arriving home from college with their hundred tons of stuff.  M is home now and it looks like she is back forever; when it is just a month.  D arrives home tomorrow.  Surely to come with her hundred tons of stuff.  Why does the "stuff" have to sit idle for three days, engulfing their bedrooms, before they decide to wake up from their 48 hour post final naps and then shuffle it to the appropriate holding spot?  It's a mother stress mess!

I made myself a chore chart yesterday.  I pray it helps me to pace my stress.

While I tackle my chore chart, we will be celebrating M's 22nd birthday.  Princess A has a cookie order to fill.  We have the holiday concert at the STL Symphony and an early Avery Family Christmas, and the family Christmas bowling tournament. (We'll visit my mad bowling skills at a later date.)

Oxygen.  I need oxygen!      

I'm now cranking up the Christmas tunes, grabbing some cleaning supplies and checking a few areas of my chore chart.

Tis' the Season.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Temperature In The Air

May the weather from the Thanksgiving Eve skies cool the tempers on the ground.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Day Is Still

Snow is what it does.
It falls and it stays and it goes.
It melts and it is here somewhere.
We all will get there.

_ Frederick Seidel

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pitchy, Flat, Sharp...What Do I Know, Always Sounds Good to Me!

King Ralph and I have an obligation free weekend.  Time belongs to us, so we thought we'd go visit our D at college.  You know, the kind of visit that fills a parent's heart, and empties the wallet--gladly.  Except we were told by D that she was to busy for us.  She was singing the National Anthem at the football game, and had a sorority dance to get ready for after...so time with us just wasn't in her cards. Damn! 

As much we would have loved to see our D in a moment of musical glory today...driving the distance, to freeze our tails off for an always-losing-football-team's game, with little D time, sounded--not worth the highway ride.  So we just fluttered about our own town.  

King Ralph and I were hanging out, enjoying a holiday coffee, when we got a text message that included this video

I am told, they were a "little pitchy."  I'm just everyone's musical cheerleader; sounds good to me.  Maybe a highly trained ear would agree, but I am just thankful my ear or ears are not.  What I do know is that D is the center of the trio and no cock of my head will offer me a view of her cute little face.  I just have to listen for those high notes to know she is there.

And I'm told they sang the Dixie Chicks rendition. 

What do you think?  Similar?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hiding From The Great Pumpkin

Halloween season use to be a process leading up to the big day.  There were the trips to the fabric store to select a pattern and material for the perfect costume, a trip to the pumpkin patch, decorating the inside and outside of the house.  Carving the pumpkin required a family meeting--a lesson in the democratic process of voting [on the carve patterns].  There was the constant lessons of how to say "trick-r-treat"...because nothing gets my goat more than a plastic pumpkin stuck in my face by stretched out arms, expecting candy without a cheerful prompt.  There was annual chili supper with the neighbors.  Then when I returned to work after seventeen years as a stay-at-home mom--thinking of a costume for myself to match the office theme was an additional chore, a fun and welcomed chore.  Halloween was magical in all its ghoulishness.


Work is no longer peppered with elementary holiday sweetness, it instead has been mentally exhausting,  So, when Halloween night begged an invitation to hide out in the dark, we took it!  King Ralph and I sat in the living room in the dark, only the glow of the TV to add light to the room.  We ordered a pizza and wings and calculated our escape from the garage to fetch our food.  First we stopped at the grocery store each selecting our own seasonal selection of beer and a Redbox movie. Now here's the funny of it all.  As we drove up our street we saw only a solo trick-r-treat-er.  She had a car following behind her...parents don't like 35* Halloween nights after a week of 80* temperatures. Almost every house on our street was dark.  The young took the fun else where, and the old (I guess King Ralph and I tossed ourselves in this category) hid in the dark...from no one.  How hilarious is that?!

While King Ralph and I hid in the dark tossing back beers and munching on pizza and wings, our girlies were out putting a mark on Halloween. D was performing at the NATS (National Association of Teachers Singing) Recital.  Which is a BIG deal to be selected by your college professor to perform. D was the only non-senior from SEMO selected to sing.  Although D felt great about her performance, sadly it didn't progress to the next round as she had hoped.  I sent her this text: Remember what Karen Carpenter sang "don't worry if it not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song."  Take this experience as a moment in life to grow and learn from. These are the events that will help shape you into a stronger person and a better more compassionate teacher. And most of all, never forget...your momma ❤️you! 😘😘😘😘😘😘 

Meanwhile, Princess A took to the highway to visit M at MSU where they donned the matching costumes M had created for them.
While in the back off the mind you can hear Jack Nicholson saying "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy."

King Ralph and I spent the rest of the weekend going to the movies, shopping, eating yummy foods and lounging on the couch in our pajamas. 

Happy Fall Back On the Clock! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Teenager No More

Twenty years ago it was pumpkin spice and chocolate layer cake to ring in one year of life.

Twenty years later it's a cheese cake hauled down the highway to college...along with a gift and a pumpkin for carving with your roommate. 

I'm super excited to see what life has in store for my baby. I'm certain what ever it may be will be sprinkled with pixie dust.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weekday Morning Ritual

I have a morning ritual-- on Monday and Friday I stop at Starbucks before work and grab a grande skinny vanilla latte (with hopes of spotting the affair couple, for pure entertainment).  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I brew English Breakfast tea to sip at my desk.  On the drive to work I always pop in a CD that D made and advance it to track five--and I sing.  I sing because I know all the words and because it makes me happy to sing.  Regina Spektor's Folding Chair is my morning happy song. I don't care who sees me singing my heart out in the car.  If I'm not exactly happy, or I'm loathing the impending work environment, this song cheers me up.

Lately I've needed this song!

If you just happening to be thinking of me tomorrow...at say around 6:40am....feel free to sing along

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Little House of Memories Tainted

 While we were out in the city on Saturday, shopping at Soulard Market and eating at Bogart's, 
we decided a trip down memory lane was in order. We twisted down city streets, stopped to take in the river view
before finally arriving at the little house at the edge of the city that holds so many memories for King Ralph.  Its been fourteen years since King Ralph's grandma passed and that he's been to the house where memories linger.
Memories of King Ralph and his sisters living in the converted attic with his very young parents.  Memories of being a mischievous boy--climbing on the roof (at age five, when no one was looking) freaking the neighbor who spotted him. Memories of locking his grandma's cat in a chest, and his grandma very mad at him.  Growing up, moving away, coming back for holidays or to mow the grass. Living once again in that converted attic to save money and keep his widowed Grandma company.  Right there in front of the hydrangias King Ralph and I built an eight foot snowman, when we were dating. Memories flooding the mind, until....
he looked past the yard of shit and saw goats in the backyards. GOATS! Not one, but TWO GOATS! Are the goats a lawn mower or dinner? BUT GOATS! Why? 

Memories stalled and only texts of goat spotting was shared. Little house of memories has been tainted.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Never One to Throw A Crutch

I believe the greatest gift I've given my girls is I never threw them a crutch. They are who they are, who God made them. Flaws and all. Sure, I could have gotten them the ever popular 504 plan to aid them in school with longer testing time, but I didn't. I never even mentioned the flaws to school till a teacher noticed or medical intervention creeped into their lives. No crutches. Learn to adapt. Life will not always be able to make exceptions for you, so embrace who you and flourish--that's what I taught my two girls. They did what they wanted and always succeeded.

So here we go again with our M. This time it's more difficult for me because I'm not in her presence to reassure her she is perfect in our eyes, in the eyes of God. To just give a confronting hug to ease her anxiety. God made her eyes for tweaking so she could go into the world and show--see there world, nothing can stop me.  All M's struggle will, or have, made her a more compassionate person. She knows how to jump the hurdles of life. She will take that trait into her one day classroom, where heartfelt understanding is a key tool. 

My M is resting.  I am right by her side, and I'm not going anywhere. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

My Day

I had three adorable girls sitting by my desk

Student: Are the high school cheerleading coach?

Me: Oh my gosh no, if I was the high school cheer coach the cheerleaders would be a hot mess!

Student:  Well you have a cheer jacket on your chair.

Me:  Oh ya, on the occasion that I am cold (which is often) I become Crys-tal, middle school cheerleader.

Student:  Do you have a daughter who is a cheerleader?

Me: Oh no, my daughters are all in their twenties (well D will be twenty in 17 days, close enough)

Student:  WHAT?!

Me: Do I look to young to have daughters in their twenties?

Student; No!

Me: So how old do I look? Like I am in my thirties?

Student:  Uh ya!

Me: Mr. Principal be nice to these girls they think I look like I'm thirty.

Mr. Principal:  (Looks at me and shakes his head)

Me:  Hey now be nice or....

And that my friends is when middle school is a great place to work.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

So The Weekend Plans Got Revamped, Who Cares

This is the year of work that I've vowed to fill my weekends with fun. If my weekends are fun then I have something to look forward to all week long...making myself believe it's worth going back every Monday. I don't know why but I just had a negative feeling about this work year, and my feeling seems to showing some truth. Sigh.

Our plans were all laid out till the Cardinals turned on their "October Red," turning a dinner and movie theater night into a pot of soup and a baseball game on the TV. Long game! Fantastic game! The Boys of Summer just know how to stretch it into the Fall. We really are nerds--Princess A, King Ralph and I, whooping and hollering at the TV, cheering and texting player thoughts to relatives and friends. High fiving in the living room. Maybe not needs, but fans?! 

Saturday's first stop: The Pond Unvailing Party, was moved to Sunday for better weather.  The second stop remained in check. By 5:30pm I had a home brew beer in my hand under a dimly candle lit tent, with polka music blasting from our Jaw Bone speaker. Princess A baked up a themed treat for the annual Octoberfest. 

Before beer and treats there was laundry and the movie Gone Girl to fit in. Which never got fit in. I just hope I won't be disappointed when I finally do fit it in. I get that way when I've read the book, then I ramble angry thoughts under my breathe the whole time. I'm not a fan of changing the characters into anything other than what the author gave us in type. Okay so the movie never happened. The beer did happen 
The chocolate porter on tap was the best chocolate beer I've ever had! I found a delicious blue berry ale in that lid popping cooler of craft beers.

The Princess A cookies where gone before I had my first bite of brat. But haha 

Sunday came and we had breakfast with Lin and her men at Blondies on Wash Ave. Then it was off to the pond party...
where pond gazing was the acceptable entertainment...
followed by gorging on delicious foods, sipping vodka punch, and finally topping our stomachs off with yummy desserts...that sent us into food comas

It's weekend memories filled with time spent with friends and family and loaded with fun that made Monday with a headache doable. 

Four more days and I can do fun all over again! 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Of Few Words

When I'm having a week of frustration I let my mind slip to places of tranquility

Then I have a coffee with pumpkin spice creamer. 

And the day seems like a much easier place to navigate. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Take Your Dog To College Day

I can't even begin to say how many snap chats of puppies visiting the AXO dorm I received over the last year. So when we needed to make a campus visit to deliver necessary items to satisfy D and her new room/roommate's needs--we were talked into bringing Uli for her first college visit.
(M is home so she was on calm-the-dog duty) 

We arrived at SEMO to happy-puppy-loving squeals of sorority girls basking in the sun on the patio.  Uli was equally excited for her new found popularity.  Uli pranced up to the third floor, sniffed out the room, rolled on the beds....  D made arrangements for Uli to spend time with a "sister" while we dined out and made the quintessential Walmart run (where mutants linger).  Uli took a field trip to the town's dog park and then headed to somewhere on campus to witness the pomping of the homecoming float.  D received a picture of a napping dog. Uli was having her very own Ferris Buellers Day Off dog-style and crapped out. 

Then it was time to part ways: a girl and her doggie 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Living In The Past

We've been living a bit in the past around our here lately.  Grabbing the feelings of yesteryear--and loving it!


About a month ago Princess A, King Ralph and I went to see Chicago and REO Speedwagon in concert.  It was a beautiful Friday night for a concert at the Verizon Wireless Theater, making the weather perfect for our vocals.  And. So. We. Sang.  All of us!  Yes that's correct King Ralph was singing to almost every REO song.  What you must understand is that in our 28 plus years together (27 of those married) the most I have heard from my man's vocal cords is "Happy Birthday."  After he gave the run down on his past REO concerts - 1974, Keil Auditorium, 1976 Super Jam at Busch Stadium and  1980 something in Palm Beach Florida (where stories of his roommate, girls and kissing added spice to the night right up there near front stage).  Then there is 2014.  The year I know I have lived another great marriage moment--hearing my hubby sing!  I can die nearly fulfilled.

When a family grows and takes everyone in different directions family vacations are harder to come by.  We've been so lucky that 1. our girls love family trips and 2. in the past years we get at least two of them with us on most trips.  So on Labor Day weekend when all five of came together it swelled our hearts. We camped at Pomme de Terre State Park.  We had never been to the "hidden gem of the Ozarks" and a gem of a lake it is!  
Saturday and Sunday were picture perfect days.  We basked in the sun on the rocky beach of the Hermitage area of the park, 
sipping Margaritaville pina colada drink powder mixed with coconut vodka.  Best on the water, in the water on a raft drink ever.

We fried bacon, scrambled eggs, flipped hot cakes laced with fresh blueberries and brewed coffee the old fashion way, in a percolator. We grilled steaks and baked potatoes of the russet and sweet varieties. We made roaring fires 
and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.  No TV. Just stories to be shared and some tunes on the stereo...and the sister's crazy lyrical dancing in the camper to King Ralph's Pandora 80's Love Song station. 

We took a short hike on Sunday...those of us with proper packed footwear.

Monday at 4am a wicked storm rolled through, we found ourselves awake a wee bit freaked at the sway of the camper.  Uli shaking in her puppy dog fur more than her usual storm fear. What do I say?  We had waited three years to all be together on a trip.  The wait...it seems was well worth it.
Love abound!

Pomme de Terre State Park - Hermitage Area Report Card

Check-In:  We arrived at 9:30pm, having paid in full on-line we just drove to our electric site (all sites are electric only).  I checked us in in the morning.  There is ice and firewood available at the check-in station, but be aware a park host drives around twice a day selling the goods from a truck.

Site 224: Our site was a gravel pad, with a fire ring, picnic table and lantern hook.  We had a nice horseshoe view of lake and bluffs.  We backed to a grassy common ground area that made for nice yard game playing space. I recommend the sites in the 200 and 400 loop that back to the lake.

Comfort Station:  Ample number of flush toilets and running hot water sinks.  Showers on the back side of the comfort station.  Clean and spacious.  The comfort station is at the entrance to the campground so be prepared for a good walk, a bike ride or like so many drive your car.  Also be prepared to use your RV bathroom A LOT.

Activities:  The lake!  The beach has been filled with fresh rock.  You can rent a boat or kayak from the marina.  Take the short 1.5 mile hike with the trail head at the comfort station.  The paved roads through the campground to the beach are great for a bike ride.

Eight Miles down Hwy 64 is the Pittsburg area of the state park with a longer hiking trail and a another beach area. This part is truly a hidden gem and I give it an...

Overall grade: A+!


Last night I offered my free babysitting services to my old co-worker and friend.  I relived my past life in 5 hours of fun.  I served, by request, nasty-but-kid-loving Lunchable pizzas for dinner with juice bags.  We made blanket forts, flipped and bounced.  We went for a walk around the neighborhood--baby in stroller, boys's bare-feet dodging acorns littered on the sidewalks.  We played board games. We had tears for attention and a poop diaper.  I was left wondering how did I do this everyday for years. Running. Chasing. Wiping noses. Wiping tears. Answering questions. Listening to stories.  Always with a warm heart and smile on my face.  How?  But, I was left remembering how much I love and miss those days of yesteryear, when my little people needed me, needed us.  Really needed us.  I smile more. Smile bigger at the memory.

Living in the past is a reward worth repeating every chance I get.

Who else misses the yesteryears?