Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Bye 2016

This year I have been suffering mental exhaustion from work. This year I find myself reminding me that the students I encounter are but a mere percentage of the student population. I remind myself it's no big deal to have a new boss. This year I come home and am drained...creative juices all but spent on politically correct letter writing and fake niceness. 

While I took the weekends of October to shower myself in fun, friends and relaxation...did I mention my trip to hang with Amy Roloff?
Ya, I forgot to mention that bit of fun. November and December have the usual holiday stresses of their own. I am proud of myself though, because I kept "holiday Jodi" (as my girls have labeled my wig outs) in complete check. 

I took control of my stresses last year by losing 25 pounds (15 more to go). I got my medical obstacles taken care of--some with pills, one under the knife. Also, I decided I didn't need to let my coworkers's nonsense disturb me any longer. It has been easier to put all my other stresses in perspective by just tackling one. The domino effect is working! 

Keeping myself paced through the holidays has been a tremendous calming to me. We decorated the tree as a family (this consisted of girls decorating while the men watched till the angel needed placing). I shopped and wrapped while those around me seemed flustered at getting the jobs tackled. The girls and I had a baking Sunday. It was relaxed, fun, not a chore. I kept my house very tidy so excessive mad cleaning wasn't a necessary. 

Then Christmas came. 

We feasted, worshipped, and sipped French martinis while opening gifts on Christmas Eve--as a family.  
Christmas Day we feasted, sipped cocktails and played games--as an extended family. We celebrated family members announcing a pregnancy and an engagement. We did loads of dishes and gorged on cookies. It was all a jolly good time!! 

I decided to fill my spare time this year with something more meaningful that gives and gives back. I am now a Make-A-Wish wish granter.
There is something fulfilling in adding joy to someone else's life, kneeling in front of someone else's Christmas tree to snap a picture, remembering the true spirit of Christmas. When you know the goal to granting a wish is total reality...pure and utter excitement overtakes the heart! 

With my heart full and my mind/body relaxed; I've taken to doing what I want on my winter break from work. I spent an evening at the movies with King Ralph, M and D to see Passengers. On two separate mornings I went solo to the movies to see Collateral Beauty and La La Land. I spent another day flopped on my bed binge watching "This Is Us." I lunched on The Hill with King Ralph and Princess A.    

So ya, I'm getting it. Life. In a better healthier way. 

No 2017 resolution required! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's Not Goodbye, But See You Later

While some people have been consumed with post election mental breakdowns...I was busy feeling good. You see I chose, we chose, to spend the weekend away from negativity and the TV. 

King Ralph and I took The Wanderlust out for once last adventure. We walked the dog along the river. We grilled. We drank wine under the almost full moon. We made campfires all weekend. King Ralph smoked cigars. I read my book, while Fall's fresh cool air kissed my skin and the campfire warmed the air. 
King Ralph and I were truly relaxed. Not a care in the world! 

Then we winterized The Wanderlust. Tucking her in for cold months ahead, and waiting for Spring to come back around again. 

Till then....

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Post I Forgot to Post

The Monday morning struggle was real! Dragging myself from my bed was a real feat. You see, October weekends have not failed us. Once again we were off on an adventure. It's the impending adventures that carry me through the work week! 

Our latest adventure was to include Prince Charming. He has yet to make a trip to Chicago to meet the people up there that mean the most to us. His California address got in the way for years...then he moved back to the Lou...and who knows what's been keeping him from joining in on our past trips. Perhaps that little thing called: a job. 

It was all planned--introducing him around town. Then his sister had to go and have her baby ahead of her scheduled C-section date. Which meant we adventured without Prince Charming. Completely understandable. 

To Chicago we went! Me, King Ralph and Princess A. 

With the Cubs in the city we opted to venture out into nature. Five of us headed out to Matthiesn State Park.
We navigated the rocks as we crossed the water.
One of us mistook leaves and pine needles thickly laying atop the water as ground. Yep, down in the water went my shoe. The wet shoe was worth the nature sights! 

After we hiked in the dells area of the park, we headed to Ottawa to try out a microbrewery
We sampled 
But I'll be a son-of-a-gun if in October this place was out of their Octoberfest brew. 

We finished off Saturday with deep dish pizza, the Cubs and pumpkin martinis. 

On Sunday we headed over to the nursing facility to hang with my favorite old lady--my Grandma. 
King Ralph snapped this candid shot of my Grandma and I. I think I'll end up cherishing this photo. It's real. It's simple. It's love. 

And the October adventures continues....

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Light Shines Blue

Tomorrow morning King Ralph will put on his dress blues and do what he's done so many times before--attend a police funeral. They're the kind of funerals no person in blue cares to attend, but know they must. It is the kind of funeral I pray every night never touches our family. It's the type of funeral that leaves me praying for a young widow and her toddler son. 

When a life is lost in the line of duty I'm reminded why I've always kept one dirty undershirt of King Ralph's.  If the girls and I ever where to lose him...well, I want to be able to breath in his scent. It's also why I like to keep one foot touching his leg at night. I need to know my guy is there next to me. Silly I suppose, but more now than ever, in this day and age where police are not respected....and more often hated.   

The night Officer Snyder's life was taken I snuggled King Ralph before drifting off to sleep and I told him I can't wait for him to retire. I told him I appreciate what he does to provide for our family, and that I'm proud of him...but I ready to stop worrying. I worry more now than I use too. 

Tonight as we turn off the lights and head to bed, one light at our house will shine blue. Shine in honor of a life lost to soon, to young, in the line of duty.

Monday, October 10, 2016

October Fun Carries On

After a crazy busy day of work, I rushed home, bopped from my car to the passenger seat of the truck. Off we went. Just King Ralph and I, off for a "romantic" camping weekend. Beating the traffic on Highway 70, making our way to the state's Capitol: Jefferson City, and Binder Park Campground. 

We arrived before dark, which was helpful to getting set up. Binder Park Campground is a quiet, small 17 site campground. The sites are nicely arranged with decent spacing between each. All the sites are full hookups for $18 a night. The only flaw is the water hookups are shared. God help you if you or your water partner are without a "Y" splitter. Or without 75 feet of hose. Lucky us we had both! Good thing we had enough hose because it was a distance to the water supply. Some sights are crazier in distance to their water hookup. If I could have selected my site ahead of knowing what I know now...sites 6, 12 or 15 are the sites to score. Those sites have the best water positioning. Insane to think about selection of site based on where a utility is. Other than that the sites themselves are decent. Pads are concrete (could be a tad wider), picnic tables are covered (appearing to have recently been refurbished), the campfire rings are perfectly placed--away from RV's. Oh and each site has a BBQ grill. 

What drew us to camp here? Our desire to tour the Missouri State Penitentiary. It shut down in 2004 and is open for a variety of tours. We chose the 3-hour history tour, which included viewing the gas chamber.  I don't want to share to much, in case you want to visit. I will say this...had one guy not escaped in a bread box history could possibly have rewritten itself.
I'll also say the very open railings gave my fear of heights with no security boundaries a workout. Walking the catwalks from one side of the cells to the other--eek! My heart was palpitating! 

After getting our prison history on we got lunch. We headed over to Prison Brews just up the street from the MSP, and fittingly named considering.
The micro brewery suds were fantastic--it was Octoberfest all the way for King Ralph and I. Food equally as yum. Matter of fact, best sweet potato fries I ever eaten. 

When we returned to camp we took a relaxing hike through the woods and around the lake, as the sun's warmth touched us. Then we BBQ'ed and relaxed by the campfire. Mother Nature was teasing us with Fall-ing evening temperatures.
Making a campfire absolutely perfect! 

The October weekends have been perfectly perfect! There is more fun to be had this coming weekend as well. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Remember when we all use to sing along with Judy Collins's Send In The Clowns? Remember when we use love to take our kids to the circus, excited to have a clown whip up balloon animals for our children? Or how your moms dressed you as a clown on Halloween...because it was an easy homespun costume. The only money spent was for store bought pasty make-up? 

Well. No more! 

Don't send in the clowns! Kids soon will not desire a trip to the circus! And no one will dress up like a clown this Halloween. Okay, well some will dress like clowns, but it ain't gonna be for a pumpkin full of candy! Nope it's gonna be to terrorize people. 

Why do I think this? Well, first I watch the news and hear all the horrible clowns antics. Then King Ralph has to deal with clown stories at work...which spill over into my work place. They were just stories, not sightings, that rile students.

Then the news didn't let up! All over town, up the highway and across the river clowns continued to lead the news stories. 

This week it got a bit more real. M called King Ralph at work to say her school was on lock down because a "dangerous" clown was allegedly spotted near the school. While she was allowed to continue conducting class with locked doors and drawn shades; the kids really wanted no part of it. The initial announcement of the lock down gave M chill bumps, she said. It wasn't long after I got home that I found her district's superintendent posted his letter to parents assuring the students and staffs safety and well being is always the biggest concern. 

In the evening I talked with my bestie in Chi Town. Turned out her daughter's school district was dealing with clown antics. The clown problem is spreading across the country. Ugh! Sigh! 

While this might be the post where I should add a clown picture, or suggest we all resurrect our VHS players to watch videos of Stephen King's IT...I'm going to refrain. Listen, I don't want hate emails because I induce nightmares. 



Don't send in the clowns! 


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Goodbye September. Hello October.

Where the hell did September go?! Ever since I returned to work for the school year time has sped up! Now I have zero complaints about that! I'm always up for summer break to come back around. However, it's everything that comes before summer break that is the problem. You know--winterizing the RV, leaf raking (I hate raking leaves!), holiday stresses....

Our October weekends are packed with fun. Now I hope the damn leaves stay green a little longer, holding tight to the branches. We've got no time for raking! 

We said good-bye to September by trying out a local restaraunt.
My good friend loves this place. Since it is right down the road from Princess A and her Prince Charming, we invited them to join us. They're smart, so they accepted our invitation...because they know the parentals will pick up the tab. Loved this place! The stuffed rainbow trout was delicious! The drink menu of craft beers was plentiful. Although, I went with red wine while everyone else drank suds. The menu is not over priced and the atmosphere is fun--in the neighborhood joint sense. We will return to this establishment! Sooner than later. 

October was welcomed in at the 11th Annual Octoberfest the my good friend hosts. Her husband, brother and friend crafted 7 home brew beers for the occasion.  
King Ralph, M and I agreed the Octoberfest was our favorite. I loved the Jack-O-Latte--October flavor with a touch of coffee. The perfect after-dinner suds. The Munich Dunkel was yummy. M really liked the Rye not so much. None of us were brave enough to try the Gose, as the label warned it wasn't a flavor for just anyone's pallet.

The food is always Germanlicious! Brats, kraut, potato salad...

The dessert table never fails either. M was pleased when she snagged the last spice cake cake pop. 

It's hard to beat the brats and brew, but seeing friends you haven't hung with in a while makes the night even better. It makes the laughter louder too. 
I think our gathering circle laughed the most. M's stories of her childhood and present life kept us going for hours. 

As we put a close on the first of October M and I created our take-home six-pack from the community beer chest. Here's what the Avery's flight looks like: 

To end the weekend King Ralph and I took a late afternoon trip to SEMO to fix D's bed. 
I can attest to the fact that being woke an hour after being asleep to unstable bed slats requires a dad's handyman rescue. I say that because the weekend before D woke me to help her as half the mattress kissed the floor.

So the bed got fixed. We all got fed Mexican food (picked up the tab again). And D got us to buy her weeks cash in her hand. 

I think she wants us to visit more often! 

Here it is Monday all over again. Sigh. Don't you worry about me! I'll have a weeks worth of middle school antics to entertain me...while anxiously awaiting Friday's return. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I Came. We saw. We Conquered.

There are only a few reasons and/or people that I would purposely wake at 6:30am on a Saturday for...D being one of those reasons. 

Friday after work I drove the 100 miles to hang with my baby girl. We walked from her college apartment to the riverfront. We went to a favorite local eatery for burgers and BBQ. Then walked our overstuffed stomachs to the end of riverfront walk, turned around and headed back to D's apartment. 

Later that night we went to the movies to see "Sully." We both really liked the movie. D told me how she use to have time to enjoy Tuesday $5 movie nights, but her senior year has got her by the tail. I'm glad I took her to the movies!  

When my alarm went off on Saturday at the obnoxious hour of 6:30am I reminded myself it was all for a cause. A good cause. I was running a 5K that D's sorority was hosting for their chosen philanthropy: domestic violence awareness. Okay let's be honest here, it was more run a little, walk a lot--1/4 running to be exact. I was nearing the front of the pack rather than the back. The back of the pack consisted of frat boys still sweating Friday night's case of Natty Light or shots of Fireball whiskey. 
I had a crowd of AXO girls cheering my finish. My darling niece snapped this picture. I left the brother-in-law in the dust. He and his drawstring backpack that held his cigarette pack and cell phone.

When it was all done it called for a mother/daughter picture. 

Next on the list was Inspiration Point. We drove across the bridge into the Land of Lincoln for this...

to stand upon this bluff point. Which actually scared the sh!t out of me. It also made me sad to see graffiti sprayed painted upon nature's beauty. Why?! 

And, so, I came, we saw, we conquered--a 5K and the bluff point. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Weekend Always Comes Back Round Again

Mother Nature totally foiled our Friday plans. We had intended to spread a blanket out on the lawn in Forest Park, gather delicious options from the foods trucks, pop bottles of bubbly and beer from our cooler and wait for the balloon glow. Rain. Non-stop Friday rain canceled the Great Balloon Race Ballon Glow. BOO! 

On to Plan B. 

What is Plan B? 

There wasn't a Plan B.

I decided King Ralph and I should take Princess A out to dinner at the establishment where we had our first date. Rigazzi's on The Hill. 
King Ralph sipped their famous fish bowl beer, while Princess A and I shared a bottle of Pinot Nior. Princess A's Prince Charming was off entertaining work clients. It was nice to spend time with our first born. 

After dinner we kicked it back in her house. She and I talked about how a woman should have total control of decorating the house. Then we rearranged the kitchen. 

On Saturday D came home from college. Our original plans were to visit her and hike Inspiration Point. Mother Nature messed those plans too. It would have been a muddy hike. So we kicked it back at home and went out for a treat at night. 
It's the kind of STL iconic treat that admits you've bid summer, accepted bidding summer farewell. 

So here we are at nearly Friday all over again! I'll be headed to visit D at college. On Saturday morning she and I will participate in a 5K race, supporting domestic violence awareness. Then we will hike Inspiration Point. 

I love the weekend! Love, love, love the weekend!! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kick Back

This weekend we are kinda kicking it back, relaxing a bit. Friday we had a couple of beers and went out for pub burgers. It wasn't our original plan, but when you're kicking back you can be spontaneous. 

Saturday M and I woke up, decided on donuts from a favorite shop and Starbucks coffee. Then we ran a few errands and lingered through a home goods store. Later M napped and I basked in the sun, while sipping seltzer water. We BBQ'ed for dinner and watched a Redbox movie. Kicking it back. 

Kicking it back comes in different forms. Last weekend we celebrated the three-day holiday weekend by taking "The Wanderlust" out to Missouri's new state park.
It's a beautiful park. There was a peacefulness to the park, even with every camp site occupied. The sites, whether RV or tent, are dreamy. The RV sites are yards of beautiful concrete pad and patio. The tent sites tucked into the woods have wooden tent decks jutting out into the canopy trees. 

For this trip D played the role of only child. Like M said during our summer roadtrip, she "missed the sisters." Despite the lack of sisterhood King Ralph and I showed D a good kick-it-back weekend. 

We walked and biked around the park
Trolled Sinking Creek and rocked on the porch deck of the lodge

We drove through the Mark Twain National Forest to get to Alley Spring Mill...hiked to the lookout point, gazed out over the Ozark Mountains--God's touch on our state. 
We watched the spring meet the creek before meeting up with the Jack Fork River. 
It's fun to find places on a trail to let the inner child come out. D did just that.

Next we headed over to Round Spring to awe at more cold pools of turquoise water. 

Took a cave tour through Round Spring Cave. Not a huge cave, but with the lack of commercial influence...the cave's natural beauty is magical. The drape formations are like none I've, we've ever seen. And all seen by lantern. It was so fun! 

After a leisurely day of exploration we returned to The Wanderlust for Happy Hour. Kentucky Derby Bourbon Slushies were the speciality drink for Saturday. Just another reason to love the RV's refrigerator--boozey frozen drinks! 

D and I had fun playing Jenga. 

On Sunday the three of us discovered our new favorite way to travel the river--kayak style.
It was our first time on the Current River...we fell in love fast! It's so different from the Meramec River. The Current is crystal clear and in spots that magnificent turquoise spring water shows. The canoes and kayaks out number the rafts. No one was ridiculously drunk (like on the Meramec). Everyone was just floating along, bidding summer farewell...kicking back. 

We woke early Monday morning to hit the trail in the park before bidding the weekend goodbye. The trail is nothing spectacular, but would be nice for taking in Fall colors. Oh, and the trail is set up for mountain biking...has ramps and such. 

So, like I said kicking back comes in all different forms!