He loved me for 30 years and I will love him my entire life. He loved me from the moment I took my first breath and I held his hand as he took his last.
Father’s Day…Father’s Day is hard for me. The strongest, bravest man I ever knew left this earth and when he did, my heart broke. It broke for me, my children, my mother, my brother, it just shattered. After four years, I still haven’t been able to pick up all the pieces and I am not sure that I want to.
My dad was my best friend. He was brutally honest, he loved me beyond measure, he was the hardest working man I know and I lost him. I lost the tickle of his mustache on my cheek when he kissed me hello or goodbye, I lost him shaking his hips licking his fingers when something was tasty, I lost the person that I called to chat with daily.
Around the time my daughter was 1, we learned my mom had stage 3 gastric cancer. It was a brutal, unexpected blow. 9 months of treatment, surgery, and continuous monitoring, we took a deep breath, because we were one of the rare cases, the survivors. We lived, we laughed, we loved, until a month later when we would get the news…stage 4 lung, terminal, 18 months.
I don’t know how to explain to you the roller coaster ride. That one month, that glorious month when we were free from the burden is a dream that even when I close my eyes I cannot draw up, because that life is gone, that world doesn’t exist. With one phone call, my whole world went spinning off its axis and try as I might, I barely held on. I cannot tell you what some of those conversations I had with my pop were like, because those are mine, locked deep down inside. We laughed, we cried, we raged, we loved...together, because that's who we were.
In those last 16-17 months of his life a lot changed. I had a son—I went into 1-minute contractions out of nowhere sitting on my front porch with my dad, the day he had a treatment, while my husband mowed our yard. I brought a beautiful baby boy into this world just six months before my hero would die and a week before my parents moved in with my family. I learned how to take care of a toddler, a newborn, a terminal cancer patient and my mom. It was hard. It hurt. It broke me in ways that I cannot be fixed because I never had time to process, deal, or grieve. Up until the last 3-4 weeks of his life, I took care of him, I cooked for him, made sure he had his medicine, checked on him, went to chemo when I could. I worked, I had a baby, a husband, a toddler, but that feeling of doing it all on my own, all alone is still there. It's on this week, every year, I am reminded of all that I lost. The person who could help me figure it out all and take whatever emotion I had and help me deal with it.
Death is final. So very final. There are only so many pictures, so many videos and without those, the memories fade so very fast. Lucky for me, some homemade cards, a home cooked breakfast, and an afternoon spent with his wife and kids makes my husband happy. Easy peasy. Lucky, because on this day, like his birthday the week before, I have a hard time just going through the motions, but I do, go through the motions.
So on this day, whoever it is, make it special however you can- a homemade card, a visit, a phone call. Love the ones your with.
Happy Father’s Day.
Summertime...one of my most favorite times of the year. Home to spend times with my babies; relax in the sun; sleep in; just be.
I read something the other day that has really resonated with me and that is...we only have our children for 18 summers. That's how long they are ours before they go out and take on the world. I have 11 left with one and 14 left with the other. When I really think about that, it scares the absolute crap out of me. 11 years. It sounds like a long time, but she's already wanting to be gone away from home, hanging out with her friends more than she is interested in me.
Except today. Boo, hiss...even in the beginning of summer we have caught some sort of bug. Lots of icky and sicky going on in this house. She only wants me to be near her...Melt my heart, but gross because sickies. I won't lie to you and tell you that her being sick in the summer doesn't freak me out because anytime they are sick, I feel like I am getting ready to flip off the edge of a cliff with hot lava at the bottom. More on that another day.
So, today has been a pj and bed day. Let me tell you, I am a okay with that. The less I have to do some days, the better. I like to have the occasional chill day where everyone is just as they are. So we are still in bed--no shame in my game and hoping whatever bug she has passes quick and passes everyone else.
Toilet paper...we all use it, I hope. The debate is...over or under, how do you prefer to pull down the paper? In my house, in my world, it comes over the top. I like the overall look better, however, there are times that I myself have to take the paper off the holder and flip it around because one of 3 other residents of this house has put it on.
My point? Life is messy and complicated. There is no escaping some of the issues and challenges that we as humans face on a daily basis. It's our response, our reaction to those challenges that define us. The toilet paper debate, at least in this house is a simple response, a simple fix...take it off and turn it over, viola!! No discussion or frustration needed. There are far bigger problems I can choose to focus my attention on.
Think about the little things and how they turn into the big things and remember, if it's a simple fix, move on. Don't be afraid to color a little bit outside the lines.
'Cause I got issues
But you got 'em too
So give 'em all to me
And I'll give mine to you
Bask in the glory
Of all our problems
'Cause we got the kind of love
It takes to solve 'em
-Julia Michaels Issues
I read. I read a lot. I read news articles about the world and what's happening; about education and politics; about religion; I am no expert on any subject. I won't pretend to be. What I do consider myself is well read and able to discuss these issues- minus politics and religion. Politics and religion are always off limits. I won't tell you who I voted for, why I voted for that person, or press my religious ideology off on you or anyone. Those issues, those ideas, those beliefs are mine. I don't hold those freedoms of ideas against anyone, unless they are directly threatening, racist, homophobic, sexist, etc.
Lately, in the news, there has been a lot of stories about education and what needs to be done. The steps that need to be taken, etc. I do consider myself a little bit more than well read in this area as I have been on the front lines of this for the past 11 years. And baby, I've got issues. I have issues with the radio personalities that I was listening to today who were bashing education because they have read a few articles and decided that teaching and tenure, firing and hiring, and TEACHERS were an issue. I took offense to their comments because I am on the battle field of this issue, trying to do my job, and they are taking articles of information and bashing the entire education field. I take issue with people who think they have the "end all, be all" answers to the education problems in the world and they have never stepped foot into a classroom.
I don't pretend to know what my husband's day to day job entails, what stresses him out, if he's doing something right or wrong; in fact, I am there to listen to him vent or sing praises when they are needed. He doesn't pretend he understands my profession and issues--"but you don't judge me, cause if you did, baby, I would judge you too." We aren't those people. We haven't always been, in fact, it took a lot of work to get where we were.
Everyday in my profession there are successes and there are failures. There are trials and there are errors. There is constant flexibility, adaptions, growth and goals. I think, I want to hope, it's like this for everyone. More successes than failures, more growth and goals attained.
See, weeks ago, at least three of them, I read an article by a teacher who, like most of us (yes, I lumped us together, but I am on the front lines), where she expounded on some of the issues. I never went into teaching to make a mint, in fact, I knew I'd be lucky to look at my bank account and be lucky to take a vacation to the backyard with an inflatable kiddie pool and a beer. I am a-okay with that choice and that type of vacation.
What I am not okay with is the constant bashing. The constant let downs. The CONSTANT changes from people who are not or have not ever been into a classroom. Every August, back to school supplies come out, I spend over $300 to equip my students with the materials they will need: pencils, pens, paper, folders, notebooks, binders, erasers, index cards, so they do not fail, or have an excuse to fail because of material. I then spend the same amount on EACH of my children because that is my job as their parent. Back yard, inflatable, pool and beer. Districts are taking hits, losing funding, and not able to provide their teachers with adequate budgets to supply our classrooms. Staples, tape, that comes out of my pocket. Does it come out of yours for your job? Should it? Would you be okay with it if that was the case?
Summer vacation...lord, help me. Jesus take the wheel! You get summer off. You only work 9 months out of the year. My husband, who is the son of two retired teachers, has said the same thing to this effect, wherein I ask him why he did not enter the same profession. His reply...crappy pay, long hours, no overtime, and no raises for performance. He's not wrong, but it is what I chose. It's what I love. It's what I do. I spend hours grading papers at home, planning lessons, making copies, worrying about my students and if they have enough to eat, if they are safe, if they have a cold, are their needs being met...all day, everyday, even during the summer.
Safety, protocol, etc. I am on the front lines. Every angry outburst by a student in my room or during the passing period, is something that I have to deal with. When I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter, a fight between 2 high school boys broke out in the hall and I had to wade in to stop it because that is part of my job description. Lucky for me, once I pushed through and yelled and they saw who was responding and a few seconds after my belly arrived, the rest of me did, they stopped, apologized and walked with me to the office. Other teachers in my building and around buildings in the country are not as lucky. They have been hit with that fist, or an elbow...I won't go into the other sacrifices teachers have made when it comes to school violence because those articles and stories are out there, we have all seen them.
Snow days, inclement weather delays. Maybe it's just me, maybe I have issues, but I would much rather that my own personal children are safe at home if the weather is bad. If that two hour delay for ice, snow, or whatever protects their lives, then so be it. If 16 year olds, with brand new shiny licenses don't have to test their capabilities and other drivers, then I am happy. It is a boon.
Okay, so what's the point? I am not really sure I am making one. It's just that with any job, any profession, there are issues. People have an opinion. The more you read about something, the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you are to argue your point.
I guess the whole point is, as people, we have to do our best to see something from more than one point of view before we become so vocal on that subject. We need to be more compassionate, more understanding, more educated to make better decisions.
When that fails...inflatable pools in the backyard and a beer.
https://www.facebook.com/WillowCreekPhotographyIL/Wow! Our May event at The Loading Dock in Grafton, IL came and went! We had some great vendors! These ladies were full of energy and knowledge! It was a great time to come out and connect, learn some new tricks and try out some super cool products!! We were blessed with an absolutely beautiful evening; stunning view of the the river; an awesome venue; and of course, some delicious food and beverages!! If you haven't made it out to one of our events, you are missing out!
We also partnered with Willow Creek Photography. Trish took some awesome photos throughout the evening. She got started as a photographer in a unique way, by making cakes and she still does( – check out Sifted Bliss on Facebook!). One day that she realized that she needed to learn some of the basics of photography so she could capture better images of her beautiful cakes. Needless to say, her love for the art developed (no pun intended!) as soon as she got her hands on her first camera. Trish said, " I absolutely love the beauty of capturing my clients and giving them memories to cherish for years to come. I specialize in female photography such as Glamour, Boudoir, Seniors, Stylized Maternity, and I have experience with Girl’s Couture, Birth and Newborn photography as well. I have studied hands-on under some of the best in the industry including; Don Hales, Meg Bitton, Sandra Bianco, Anja & Tracy Joy, Craig Lamere, David Beckham, Curtiss Bryant, William Innes, Tom Tussey, and Kelli Leavens. I have had the honor of traveling and shooting alongside some amazing photographers from around the country and have found pure joy from sharing the passion of photography with my colleagues, many of whom I now consider dear friends. I have worked extensively to perfect the craft so I can give my clients the best possible experience while providing quality heirloom products. I believe in empowering women by showcasing their beauty as every woman deserves to look, and most importantly, FEEL beautiful! I am located in the Madison/Jersey County areas but will travel within reason to adjoining counties including St. Louis, and I offer destination photography for anyone that has ever dreamed of getting their photos taken in an amazing location."
Check out her amazing images!! https://www.facebook.com/WillowCreekPhotographyIL/
As summer draws near and the school year winds down, I have to start making plans! Lucky or unlucky for me, my career allows me to be home throughout the summer. This is a blessing and a curse...boredom versus fun. Since they are getting bigger, I am able to plan a better list each year. 10 activities we are going to partake in on Traveling Tuesday:
1. The Saint Louis Zoo- it's magical! I love the zoo, we spend all day there!!
2. City Museum- what a crazy cool place! I cannot wait to experience this with the kiddos this summer!! If you haven't ever checked it out, do yourself a favor and type it in that search bar!
3. Busch Stadium- a tour. How cool is it to be able to take the kiddos on a tour of the stadium and not attempt to make them sit through a game!!
4. Grant's Farm- history and wildlife for the whole family, yes please!
5. The Loading Dock- my kids love to watch the boats and eat at this fabulous restaurant!
6. The Magic House- the name says it all!!
7. Six Flags- every kids needs to go here, at least once or twice!
8. St. Louis Science Center- why yes please, a little learning and a lot of fun!
We don't go crazy everyday of every week. We pick one day as our go day and that's when we plan our BIG adventures. The other days of the week...well, you'll just have to wait and see!! What are your plans for the summer?
Music, drinks, a diverse menu, fun, causal, kid friendly- what’s not to love? Set in the historic town of Grafton, IL, located right on the heart of the Mississippi River, The Loading Dock Bar and Grill is not a place to be missed or passed over. With multi level patio seating, an assortment of food to appeal to even the pickiest of eaters, and a wide range of drinks, the Loading Dock has something for everyone. It’s a great place to take the kids and grab lunch; grab friends and listen to live music; or sit and watch the river. Open from mid March until fall forces it to close- the experience and atmosphere that The Loading Dock offers is not one to be missed.
I am so excited to say that on May 18, 2017, we will be having our monthly Girls Night Out event at this awesome venue! This is one of those places that’s warm, welcoming, and you always see a friendly place! Come check it and us out if you haven’t already done so! Click on the picture of the boat for more information!
As a non-native of the St. Louis metro area, I love to spend summer days exploring and learning about new places.
The Loading Dock (Grafton, IL): http://www.graftonloadingdock.com/
Starting east of the Mississippi River, I have found The Loading Dock in Grafton, IL to be one of my favorite bars and places to hang out during the summer time. Right on the water, with bright umbrellas and pretty drinks, The Loading Dock is a fun place for family during the day and adult time at night! The whole bar scene and Grafton scene is reminiscent of the beach and a laid back lifestyle. It is close to feeling like home!!
St. Louis Zoo: https://www.stlzoo.org/
I also enjoy taking my kids to the best zoo in the Nation (my opinion), the Saint Louis Zoo. Famed for its beautiful park setting and world-renowned natural exhibits, the Saint Louis Zoo offers a fantastic experience for every one of all ages. From train rides, to petting stingrays, to watching Kali the Polar bear, there is fun to be had for the whole family!
Ball Park Village: http://www.stlballparkvillage.com/
Ball Park Village…if you haven’t had the chance to check it out, you are totally missing out!! There are not enough words to tell you what an amazing experience going to Ball Park or to Busch during baseball season really is!!
Laclede’s Landing: http://lacledeslanding.com/
What an awesome, fun place to be! Dueling pianos, a wax museum, live music and food. Laclede’s Landing is a great place to get lost in a crowd or shut the city down with a group of friends.
The Arch, The Fox Theatre, The City Museum, The Magic House, Forest Park, The Missouri Botanical Garden, Grant’s Farm, and so many other places are great places to find yourself when you are looking for something fun to do. Our beautiful city and surrounding areas, have so much to offer anyone and everyone!!
What are some of your favorite places? Let's talk food soon, too!!
Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. Robin Sharma.
Life has a way of changing and sometimes is hard to keep up. I recently became St. Louis’ Housewife in the City! What an amazing opportunity for me. I realized with this opportunity came challenges, trials and successes. One of those personal successes is the fact that I have to be accountable. Accountable to a whole new, amazing group of people. Accountable to myself. Just accountable. With life’s changes, this concept of accountability can be a reminder of changes that have been needed for a long time.
A little over 2 years ago, I weighed at least 40lbs less than I currently weigh. Wait, what? Yep, I was running, eating healthy…but with life, it is never constant. I was injured training for an event and was told that running was no longer an option. My knees could not bear the pressure, the strain, and the challenge. A knee replacement is one of my only options. This discussion with doctors sent me spiraling down a poor choice path. Poor eating and lifestyle choices. Sad, unmotivated and too easily able to accept defeat, I have given thought back to that accountability.
I owe it to myself, my family, my friends, to be the best me I can be. So, as I write this, I am now going to be accountable for my lifestyle and the changes that need to be made. I am going to find that girl I was over a year ago; that body; that lifestyle; that motivation; and bring her back. She was motivated, energetic and most of all, accountable.
I know there will be stumbles, tears, and frustrations as I find my way back, but with all of that, there will be successes and opportunities. Stay tuned, I am going to need all the help that I can get.
Holy moly! It's almost MAY!! That's such a busy month for everyone, everywhere...okay, so for certain- moms and teachers. May means graduation, semester exams, summer in the air. It's that month where every weekend trapped inside means one less step closer to completing whatever task you wanted to finish. It's long plans, turned into short plans, that change from day to day, with the ultimate goal: surviving this school year!
Welcome to my month. I had to make a decision...teaching, blogging and events, selling a makeup line...I could not find time to manage all three to the best of my ability, so I let one go. Bet you'll never guess which one! ;) I managed to plan out my last month of school and my finals for my kiddos!!
My first grader is prepping to be a second grader; my pre-k'er is going back to pre-k (his birthday is in September). I'd rather he was the oldest in his class, not the youngest. Plus, years down the road, I couldn't imagine sending a 17 year old off to college. Eek! I cannot believe she is going to be in second grade and he is almost done with his first year. At the beginning of the year, the first few days, he was the picture of utter devastation. He did not want to go, he did not want you to leave him, and now he looks forward to school everyday. I cannot believe the changes in my babies as they continue to grow! They are on the move constantly and keep a pretty busy schedule!!
With the monsoon rains we have had this last few days, I am really behind on yard work. It may be a jungle; send help when the weather is dry and we can finally mow! Spring really is a fabulous season, minus the over abundance of rain we have had this last week. I was lucky enough to get some flowers in pots and picked a purple and blue theme this year. Fingers crossed they aren't over watered to the point of no return!!
Hey! Hey! Hey! I am ashlee or madix.
Hey y'all! I am a mommy of two, a high school teacher by profession, a lover of all books, quotes, music and coffee. I am so excited to get to know all of you and introduce you to Housewives in the City through networking events!