Saturday, August 29, 2015

When Purpose Is Redefined

This has been my week. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Deep In Depression

While King Ralph and I adjust fine to an empty nest...some don't.
Uli is deep in dog depression. She's wondering why all the sisters have left her. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Nest Is Empty

The nests are now empty, but before my sister-in-law, King Ralph and I sent our babies packing we partied. 


Last Saturday we spent the day poolside, with family. We had a college send off celebration for the youngest family members: D and Peanut. 
(Princess A with the nieces) 

We mixed lots of tropical garnish, but the bendy straw was an adequate replacement. 

Time for a refill! 

King Ralph was given the honor of grill master (even if the hat doesn't fit wear it, because someone found it hiding in a box). 

Dinner ended with dessert, cake--to send the baby cousins off to the same college, to major in the same subject: vocal music education. 

D arrived to SEMO on Tuesday with the the help of King Ralph, and set out to prepare for the onslaught of the Freshman's arrival. 

Thursday Peanut arrived and sent a snap. 
(The snap chat of joy alerting her arrival to campus) 

D's assigned move-in day shift had ended, she headed over to help...make a bed?  The proof is all in the picture...looks more like an observer than a bed maker, if you ask me. 

The cousins met up in the evening at a campus welcome event, and while it is important for Peanut to make her own freshman friends, it's nice to know she has a junior in her corner. Not to mention now when we go to concerts we get to enjoy two beautiful known voices! 

While my sister-in-law is nursing her emotions of sending her only child off to college, King Ralph and I are partying it up...our nest is empty again! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Send Off

As D prepares to depart tomorrow for her Junior year of college...I'll send her off sharing this funny moment that happened this evening. 

King Ralph: Jodi, is that the tornado sirens going off outside 

Me: (walking towards the back door listening) noooo, that's Demi downstairs vacuuming. 

King Ralph: DAMN! I've never heard her vacuum before

Pretty much a true statement! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Fine Print

Appearantly the fine print in my employee contract says: heavy hauling, must be able to lift 50 pounds and move boxes from floor to floor, one end of the building to the other...bonus: use of elevator key. Damn it I didn't read that fine print in 2007, when my eyes could still focus without reading glasses.  I've hauled and unpacked and stocked office supplies for three days. My bones ache, my foot swells, I soak in Epsom salt bathes at night, and I feel like "Three Guys and a Truck"--except I'm one gal and a flat bed dolly. If I never see a case of manila file folders again in my life time, I'm certain I could survive the most herendous disease. I've unpacked a gross amount of unnessacery supplies that I'm certain a teacher could secure a raise...just off of jumbo paper clips and file folders alone. If you think I was miffed as I did this [solo] task, you guessed correct!  I just felt like I was seeing misuse of my taxdollars dash   before my eyes.  I'm frugal, practical-- what can I say?! I did win the favor of the custodians because I just asked for that flat bed dolly and did the work all myself. Those guys are over worked, under paid and are never appreciated as they should be. I figured if I was taking a bull by the horns myself, well, I mine as well just win the bull fight all myself. I told them to watch out I was a threat to their jobs. Wink, wink! 

When I returned to work last week, my desk I couldn't find. Seems when you're off all summer people think it's okay to dump the things they aren't sure what to do with into my sacred space. Looking at my desk made me sweat. Well, luckily my diligence paid desk is all mine again! I can finally type without the risk of bruising my elbows and I'm not hidden by the Great Wall of boxes. My to do list was down to two tasks, so I was beginning to feel comfortable. I decided as exhausted as I felt that a family night at the ballpark was in order. Then my summer fun list could get another check mark. 
While the Cardinals were kicking the Piarates' butts, M filled my hand with some peanut M&Ms, when they dumped out in just the school colors I was certain this was a sign...
a sign good things are to come. For me and our teachers! 

Commence with the 2015-16 middle school year! 

Friday, August 07, 2015

Summer Report

It's time to give myself a summer report card. Did I succeed at doing all the things I set out to do during my summer hall pass...things that I needed to do in order to rejuvenated my spirit..because God knows I was losing faith in humanity near the end. 

Here we go...

Clear my mind and soul - I truly felt relaxed this summer. I let certain people creep in my mind from time to time, but overall I felt a peace in my soul. The peace I needed to be healthy. 

Lose some pounds- Okay, so I only lost two pounds, but it's a loss and that counts. I blame it on being laid up with a foot injury. 

Read - I wasn't my usual summer reading self, but I got two books in. I last read "Still Alice", which I loved (even cried twice while reading). Then I rented the movie and wondered why I rented it, and why the producers butchered the book in the making. 

Bronze my skin--poolside - I took to my sister-in-law's pool several times over my break. I also made certain to take no less than fifteen minutes each day in my chair on the back deck. I sat on the beach of the Big River too. Vitamin D in its natural form lifts the spirit...did mine! 

Hang with people I love - I had no problem fulfilling this. I made a super fast trip to see my bestie and grandma, saw friends that the school year full of family obligations just doesn't allow for.

Go camping - This is just a given. No, we didn't take our usual cross country ventures, but we enjoyed seeing what our own state has to offer. 

Drink grapefruit martinis  cucumber martinis, blueberry lager and Moscow Mules - Check, check, check and check! 

Hike - I took strolls on paved trails in my own community, a trail while in Illinois, and into the woods while on camping trips. 

Run on treadmill - Until my foot swelled like a blow fish I got on the treadmill everyday for at least an hour. 
Have coffee and lunch with friends - This was an easy task to check off my list. Coffee and lunch dates are no less than a three hour experience. 
Hang with my nieces and daughters - You know what is great to be able to add to this? Hanging with my nephew. He's finally stationed at a base minutes from home. Hanging with my daughters and nieces included dinners at my nephews new house, taking my oldest niece to brunch and hanging with my college bound niece at the pool. 

My girlies and I had the best daughter dates too! 
(Best part of a three-day date with M) 

(Best date night with Princess A- dinner, dessert drinks and Harry Connick Jr. concert)

(Spent a great afternoon of learning with D at a historic site that neither of us had visited, but always wanted too) 

Float on the river - Mother Nature foiled our big cousin float trip, but I'm taking last weekend in that blow up raft boat on the Big River as a success to this task. So I say--check! You can say--cheater. 

Go on dates with King Ralph - He will always be the best friend to go to Steak n Shake with and share a vanilla shake with (even if chocolate is his favorite). 

Make strawberry jam - Well, I made organic blueberry jam instead. I still long to make strawberry jam, and one day I will. 
Visit the lavender farm - This was a task of mission impossible. When I say impossible it's nature that is actually at fault here. The harsh winter and relentless rains of spring and summer killed the lavender crop. The fields had to be cleared and will be replanted for next season. Damn you Mother Nature! 
Go to the Botanical Gardens Lantern Festival - I didn't see the lanterns glow, but they were equally as fabulous to view during the day. It was a great day spent with my M on her trip home this summer. 

Go to a Cardinals game - I'm ashamed to say this is the first summer in years we did not attend a game. It's almost feel sac religious. 

Go to the wineries - it was just to hot or humid or wet outside to accomplish this task. Maybe in the Fall.  

My over all grade...A for effort! A for enthusiasm. Really, that's what matters most! 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Summers Over

Well folks my summer hall pass has been revoked. I feel like Cinderella, the clock strikes times up, and the carriage turned back into a pumpkin. 

In other words I'm back at my desk today. It's a horrifying site...piled high with months of mail and crap no one knew what to do with. I'm digging my way out, envelope by envelope, email by email. Sigh! 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

A Man And His Selfie Stick

King Ralph wanted a selfie stick, so for Father's Day the girls indulged him. He's never been great with framing pictures, even without his stick, and he doesn't take to constructive critasism. Which we think is more good advice--don't put the stick in the picture, you don't always have to extend the stick fully, etc....

Take One - oops not everyone got in the picture
Take Two - Try much ground on the left 
Take Three - where's Princess A 
Take Four - "Princess A stick your head out!" 

Perfect. (Except there's still too much ground on the left) That's a wrap! 


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Camping In My Own State

I have but a few days left on my summer hall pass, so it was vital to my survival over the next ten months that I live up life a bit, disconnect from the outside world and enjoy myself--before I go from feeling like Cinderella to a pumpkin again. King Ralph and I opted this year for camping trips around our own state of Missouri, unlike our usual cross country camp trips. Although we missed the adventure of traveling far, we have been exploring the different state parks, some of the area attractions, hiking and the rivers.

This past trip brought us to St. Francois State Park on the Big River. It turned out it was our favorite park! Site 41 had such a private feeling, lots of shade, with generous space between the neighboring sites and looked out to the woods. Bonus: it's only 45 minutes from our house. 

We arrived Wednesday evening to a nearly empty campground. There really is nothing better! We have watched the few people come and go...till Friday evening, it turned full house. The campground was full of families having fun. Good fun. Not whooping-it-up-drunk-loud-fun.   

Thursday morning we woke, brewed coffee and tea to sip while relaxing in the beautiful fresh morning air. Then we went for a long bike ride. We stopped along the different beach entries on the river till we selected the perfect spot to enjoy later. After we showered, it was off to see the Bonne Terre mines. Recently the STL Post-dispatch published this article which meant we had to go! It was cool, both literally and figuratively. I wish the very nice tour guide would have been more exact on with dates in history. I love exact dates of time in history. There's one thing I know for sure...lead mining for a $1.00 or a $1.05 for a day with the impending onset  of lead poisoning later in life wouldn't have lured me into the career. Years after the mines closed they were flooded. People come from all over to fresh water scuba dive in the mines. Scenes from the movie The Abyss were filmed in the mine. Jacque Cousteau once visited the mine for what was to be a twenty-four hour diving visit, but stayed five days. It's that cool inside. 

When it's just King Ralph and I we dine on camp fare that we know our daughters wouldn't partake in: fish tacos. We cooked up some fresh caught fillets outdoors and layered on the spice and crunch of cabbage. We aren't the campers that think food begins and ends with hot dogs. We like to think of camping as a time when we are relaxed and have more time in the kitchen. We then took a short evening bike ride, played games (watched me dominate every board),
we sipped wine and beer, made a nice fire and hauled the TV outside to create our own mini drive-in. It was showing "Date Night" for our date night. 

Friday we started our day with homemade blueberry muffins and fresh fruit,
the old fashion percolator brewed coffee and the morning conversation turned to our retirement dreams and goals. By afternoon we found ourselves sitting on sand, staring out at the Big River. Since I am nursing wounds (previous adventure going arye), am on strong antibiotics (to avoid my foot from looking anymore like Mr, Deeds's foot), King Ralph blew up a boat and floated me on the river.
Doctors orders were you can be ON the river, but not IN the river. I was like the Queen of Sheba. My King even brought me ice cold blueberry lagers to sip while the sun kissed my skin. 

While we enjoyed the river, I had a roast cooking--waiting for
Princess A to arrive. D was still not feeling up to snuff, opting to stay home, which foiled the dogs camping dreams. Uli loves camping! I then made a yummy pot of garlic smashed taters and steamed green beans. The three of us sipped bourbon slushies, 

Bourbon Slushies 
4 chilled cans of regular or diet coke
12oz frozen limeaide 
12oz chilled bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
Mix ingredients, freeze, stir after an hour. Freeze solid over night. 

played Trouble (King Ralph alienated us) and we took a night walk under the blue moon. The moon was so bright the blue of the day sky was visible above the tree tops. 

Good morning Saturday! The morning air was cool, the perfect summer morning air. I started a pot of coffee while the King and Princess A slept.  I grabbed my magazine,
but also absorbed the silence and the near stillness of the campground.
A few folks took early morning strolls, and I could see one boy taking to the shower house (I was certain in a race to beat the crowds). The morning sun burnt the dew off the grass, leaving water droplets to glisten like littered diamonds, while birds sang in the still of the morning adding another layer of peace. 

I don't know what it is about a Saturday morning campground, but the air permeates scents of pancakes, eggs and bacon. For us it was bacon and omelets...oh, and mimosas. 
King Ralph grilled pork steaks, got them in the slow cooker to make them fork tender, and headed to the river. King Ralph secured our perfect spot earlier in the day--our chairs sat idle waiting for us. My sister-in-law, niece and D joined us. We all sat in the river, sipped cocktails, ate homemade hummus, gourmet cheese, and soaked up the sun. Princess A secured my boat to her chair that she sat in the water. She found a de funk tire from a swing on the beach, drug it in the river and created a redneck ottoman for her legs to tan. Once we reached the daily allotment of sunscreen, we all headed back to our camp site for dinner. Our meat was cooked to perfection, salad was tossed, the corn-on-the-cob sweet, baked potatoes were loaded, and the bread was toasted just right. We finished a night of family fun with games--Left Right Center and Trouble. The girls roasted marshmallows over the campfire and we sang Sweet Caroline. 

Sunday means the escape from home ends and my summer hall pass draws closer. With my foot feeling pretty darn good the three of us set out on the Swimming Deer Trail. It was a tranquil way to start the day. We hiked to the top of the bluffs,
stood at the edge to look down at the river, peering up and over the tree tops. On the way down we passed the old dilapidated saw mill,
where King Ralph signed our names in chalk. Chalk chunks lay all around shack's base. 
Then we packed up and headed home.