"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for July, 2014

Food Truck Fun

One of my favorites to visit!

One of my favorites to visit!

 

Where we live, Food Trucks are somewhat still a novelty. They’re downtown and in places like Clayton, where there are a lot of offices, but here in the burbs, the closest thing you’ll find to a food truck is the ice cream man. Not really a good comparison.

Over the past few years, local municipalities have started having events that feature these restaurants on wheels. During our weekday evening run at Creve Coeur Park last summer, we discovered how great these little events are. The first time, we couldn’t figure out why the parking lot at Sailboat Cove was full and we had to park in a small side lot. The event, Feast in the Park, is held at various parks in St. Louis County and features a local band and about 10 – 12 area food trucks.

You can find a complete list of their schedule here:

http://www.stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation/ThingsToDo

The aroma alone was enough to get us to pick up our pace on the four-mile loop around the lake. We learned then that if you want the good stuff, you need to get there early because once they run out, they’re done. Especially the cupcake truck. Yep, learned that the hard way.

This past Wednesday, armed with all this knowledge and experience, we ran in the morning instead and just went for the gorge-fest. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, the band played at a volume that one could enjoy without having to scream over, and the food was divine. We took the girls and met up with a group of friends to enjoy the gorgeous evening.

Luckily our friends had more foresight than we did and brought some chairs (we only had a blanket and an old towel). They also packed drinks in coolers, something I definitely recommend whether you’re drinking water or Chambourcin. Sitting there on our blanket, laughing with friends and family, we could have been a cover photo for Perfect Summer Evening magazine (if there were such a publication).

One of my favorite things about the food truck events are the variety. From Italian to Greek to plain ‘ole burgers and fried chicken strips, everybody can get what they want. It’s a little like a more charming version of a food court at the mall with much better character. I’m disappointed that it took me this long into the summer to discover the fun of these free concerts in the park. But better late than never as the saying goes.

If you’re in the St. Louis Metro area, check out one of these evenings on the flyer on the above link, while you can, before summer gives way to another fall and its jam-packed schedules. I found that Florissant has “Florissant Food Truck Knights” at their Knights of Columbus on St. Francois on August 22 and October 10th from 5 pm – 8 pm. And I definitely want to recommend my hometown of O’Fallon, Missouri’s “Food Truck Frenzy” on August 16th at Ft. Zumwalt Park.

The Search is On

college-choice

Our family is in the throes of checking out colleges for next fall. In truth, Darrell and I had wished this whole process would have started a few months ago, but the person at the heart of where to search did not feel it was necessary at that time. Consequently, with early August application timelines just around the corner, we’ve looked at one college so far, with two more scheduled for this week and the next.

We really liked the college we toured a few weeks back. Drury University is a small, private college in Springfield, Missouri. I was surprised that the dorm featured its own bedroom within a four-person suite. The students share the bathroom with just one other person—that’s a better gig than Tyler has at home! Tyler seemed to like the school, but we’re checking out larger schools as well. I don’t think he realizes what a totally different atmosphere there is with a larger, state school. So those are still on our “to do” list in the coming months.

One of the things that’s made this process difficult is the fact that Tyler is just not sure what he wants to pursue for a major. I don’t think that’s so unusual—how many seventeen-year-olds have the life experience to know what they want to do for the next sixty years of their life? Over the past two years we’ve attempted to get across to him that he needs to start thinking about where his skills and interests lie. And while we’re trying to steer him into getting a feel for what classes are really interesting to him and go from there, he seems overwhelmed with the notion that he will be making a decision that will affect him for his entire adult working life.

Ironically, many of his good friends have already graduated from high school and have gone through the process of selecting and attending schools. Some have gone away to colleges, some have gone to the Community College and at least one will be living in a dorm on campus at the local University here. He seems to be waiting to get a great epiphany from how their experiences turn out. Not a bad plan as long as he realizes that he is his own person with unique talents and interests.

My college experience was as close to community college as it gets. I went to the University of Missouri in St. Louis, which, at that time, was only a commuter campus. I went to class full-time and worked part time all four years. I was in a sorority, but other than that, it was pretty much going to class and going home/work. I changed my major from Elementary Education to Communication about halfway through, when I decided I loved kids, but not necessarily their parents. After I graduated, I worked in the student loan industry; a far cry from my major that involved Public Relations, but I did get to use my writing skills on the company newsletter, developing training and commenting on federal regulations and policies. All of the things I did in my first job out of college were not things that I had even really considered as career choices when I was choosing what to major in.

So the search continues and we are learning together how all of this works, from FAFSAs and admission essays to student housing and meal plans. It’s a lot different from Darrell and my college experiences. Mostly, I wish Tyler would realize that he has great potential to do whatever he chooses, and now is the time to see that blank slate stretched out before him—before he has a mortgage. I can only hope that his dad and I can hammer that point home!

Do you remember making these decisions? What motivated you? How did you decide where to go to school and what to study? I’d love to hear your comments!

Anniversary Poem

Look how young we were!

Look how young we were!

Twenty-one years ago on July 17, Darrell and I were married after knowing each other for four years. We met in college, where so many love stories begin. I’m biased, I know, but I think we have a romantic, beautiful love story. To mark this happy occasion, I’ve tried to put into words what it’s been like being my husband’s bride. You can laugh at my clumsy attempt at rhyming if you’d like. (Just don’t let me see you doing it.)

 

This love story that we call ours

Could be written in a book.

Joined fates aligned across the stars began

When the seat next to me you took.

 

You started off as just a friend

Parking Lot H conversations lasting hours;

Who knew then the “perfect angle” line you said

Would lead to wedding flowers?

 

The seventeenth came bright and sunny

In a summer plagued by flooding rain.

We joined our hearts as man and wife

With a reception party quite insane.

(Not really, but give me some creative license here.)

 Our Wedding Party

The early years of just us two

Seem so long past I can hardly remember.

Two became three when Tyler arrived

Emily and Erin, our final family members.

 

Our family has fond memories

Of the good times that we’ve had

I never dreamed that guy I fell in love with

Would be such an awesome Dad.

 

You take us all out on the boat

When we go to the lake

It’s fun to see kids fly in the air

With the wild tube rides that they take.

(This stanza was requested by Erin.)

 

As we promised in our vows, we’ve made it through

In times of sickness and in health.

We may not own worldly treasure

But of laughter and love we’ve much wealth.

 

You make me a better me

With your generous and loving ways;

With you I can be who I truly am

Throughout each mood and phase.

 

I’m so glad that in this great big world

I’m the person that you chose.

I mean it when I say you’re my better half

And my love each day for you still grows.

 

002

Happy Anniversary, Darrell

Thank you for making these past 25 years amazing!

Vacation

Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake

In case you missed me last week (I kinda hope SOMEONE out there did), I was on vacation with my family at Table Rock Lake. My husband, Darrell, tells his boss he pays extra to NOT have phone/WiFi access while we’re there just so he gets some peace and quiet, but it does make it hard to do anything online. One day I got out the computer to write overlooking the beautiful view, but in addition to my laptop having technical difficulties, I found myself not wanting to miss out on precious time with our family. So I put it away. However, I did enjoy some wonderful time thinking of more things I wanted to explore in my writing, so I didn’t actually “lose” a week writing.

For one thing, my father-in-law, Mike, got some dragonfly pictures for me when we were out on the boat. So I swapped out the blog’s graphic. (Thanks, Dad) These are the gorgeous little creatures we always see out there at Point 15, near the St. James River. It’s kind of the end of the Lake, so it’s usually pretty quiet during the week with only a few other boaters. If we are ever able to have a vacation home, there are several in that little area in Cape Fair I would love to take off someone’s hands. Of course, that might be a loooong while—another thing we did on vacation was visit a college with Tyler (blog post forthcoming on that) Having three kids going through college in the next ten years will most likely preclude any second home purchases in the near future—as if that’s the only reason! Since we can’t afford to buy a house there, we did buy an island this year…and yes, it does fold up nicely on a shelf in the garage.

Harrelson Island

I am happy to report that I was able to get plenty of reading in while on vacation. Time spent reading is such a gift to me. So often I feel that I need to be writing, writing, writing, that I don’t balance it with reading very well. We also got in a lot of boat time—tube rides, water skiing, knee boarding and swimming. If you look really close at the picture in the big splash you’ll see me falling off the tube as the girls look on. Sympathetically, right?

a cropped Tube falling 2014

The most important thing about our vacation is the time our family spends together. It’s a nice surprise to have your seventeen-year-old son post a photo collage on Facebook saying he’s having a great time with his family. Our kids loving seeing their younger cousins, and just hanging out with their grandparents and aunt and uncle they don’t see as much as we’d all like. As a married couple, we’ve gone on this vacation annually for over 20 years, but Darrell’s family has been coming out here longer than that. Over the years, our once large group has gotten a bit smaller, but the lake vacation is a tradition our kids look forward to each and every year. Even if it’s the five of us sharing one tiny bathroom. Talk about your family bonding.

View from our Room

Happy 4th of July!

Congrats Erin for taking 3rd in the 14 and under category for the Firecracker Run 10K!

Congrats Erin for taking 3rd in the 14 and under category for the Firecracker Run 10K!

This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Book Club—Okay, Well Maybe It Is

 

Seventeen years ago I was a first time Mom that had gone from working full-time down to part-time. Not that I couldn’t keep myself busy with just that, but I craved being around other adults outside of work. I can’t remember exactly how we began, but a small group at church started a Book Club and being that a nice, hot meal seemed rare for me with a new baby at home and I enjoyed a good book, I joined it. We took turns meeting at each other’s homes and in the beginning, our Associate Pastor informally led our discussions about books we selected from Oprah’s Book Club list.

While I love discussing a good book (or even a bad one) and our meals are phenomenal, what I get most out of Book Club is the wonderful friendships that have been forged. Even though most of the people I’ve gone to church with since I was a little girl, I didn’t really know them except by name.   In the beginning, my friend, Kristin and I looked forward to a night where we could leave our babies, just months apart in age, at home with our husbands. Believe it or not, although we are distant cousins (I think our dads were second cousins), before Book Club I only knew Kristin casually—as in we’d wave if we saw each other. Through the years, both of us had two more daughters just months apart who have grown up together and are very close. Had I not joined Book Club it’s possible that I may have gotten to know her eventually because of our kids, but being in Book Club together was what really connected us initially.

If you saw a picture of our little group, you may be inclined to think we’re some nice little church ladies sipping tea and exchanging casserole recipes. (We do exchange recipes, but generally we sip wine.) In fact, one time long ago, a few of us went to the wrong apartment when our Associate Pastor who lived in the City was hosting Book Club. We went up to his neighbor’s apartment thinking it was Pastor Kirk’s address and knocked on the door. The guy who opened the door was probably early 20s and I think his jaw dropped to see the four of us standing there with our cozy little casserole dishes all wrapped up with books tucked under our arms. I think he was a little disappointed we weren’t coming to serve him some dinner!

Needless to say, we weren’t a very intimidating bunch standing on that front stoop, but you’d be surprised to find that, though we might fit the image of a stereotypical ladies’ church group, we are actually very diverse. We have a great mix of political views, types of favorite book genres and opinions. We have been full-time career women, stay-at-home Moms, world travelers and have grown up in different generations in different parts of the area. Our discussions are fantastic—about church, books and life in general.

As you can imagine in seventeen years, several of the people in our Book Club have come and gone. A few have retired or moved away, and sadly, some have lost spouses or passed away themselves. While we do occasionally still read an Oprah pick (we just discussed Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings), we now read all sorts of books. One of my favorites, ironically about a Book Club, was Lorna Landvik’s Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. But what hasn’t changed in Book Club is the safe forum we’ve created for discussions with respect for our differences. Oh, and the food is still wonderful.

Whether they realize it or not, these women have given me so much through the years. We’ve shared a lot of laughter—a time when one of my dogs was licking Pastor’s toes through his sandals while he was saying grace before dinner comes to mind—and we’ve shared in riding out the storm during times of transition at our church. We’ve celebrated births and grieved together over the loss of loved ones. I’ve collected many recipes and found new authors I’ve come to love. I expected Book Club to deepen my love of reading; but never would have thought that something as simple as a little Book Club could strengthen my love for my faith community. And that’s almost as good as having three desserts.

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