I decided to step way out of my comfort zone, and try a new style of dress in a wildly new print designed by Stephanie Buscema for Pinup Girl Clothing!


I’ve looked at other Allison dresses before, but never found one I loved enough to try it out. I really love the Snow White evil queen transformation print, though, and was regretting not even trying to get a Jenny skirt in the same print, so when I saw that it was going to be available in this dress, I knew I had to try it out.

The colors and print of the skirt are amazing. And while I know a lot of people weren’t sure about the color of the top, I love the way it brings out that same color in the skirt. It really works for me. It’s also a great fall/winter dress, especially given that I didn’t already have any other dresses in this sleeve length.

The name of the print is kind of fitting for me, as this dress shows just how far my transformation has come since I started dressing in Pinup Girl styles. I’m not into Halloween, but even though this print is part of the Halloween collection, I love it. I’m also not particularly into Disney, but again, this print (and the colors used in it) are so gorgeous, I don’t even care. This dress isn’t “me,” and yet at the same time, it really is! I’m not sure how that even works, but I’ve already found the perfect excuse to wear it, and I intend to continue doing do throughout the colder months!

Volkswagen Memories

In the end, I wasn’t really sad to see our Volkswagen Routan go. And I didn’t really even get to say goodbye, because when Ryan left to go to the Dodge dealership Thursday night, we both thought he was just going to look, and maybe formulate a plan that we would put into action on Friday or Saturday. But he came home with a new van instead, and I realized that I would never lay eyes on that VW again.

Other than the issues we’ve had with it in the last year or so, and the horrid customer service we received from our local VW dealer, as well as the corporate office, in the last week, it wasn’t a bad van. And we made some good memories in it. Unlike my usual “top five” lists, today I’m going with my three favorite Volkswagen memories:

  • Bringing Chickadee home–We had already had the van for over two years at that point, but my first really special memory of it is the day we brought Chickadee home from the hospital in March 2012. We’d brought babies home in different vehicles four times before, but it never gets old, and it was so exciting, from the moment I installed the car seat in anticipation of her birth. And nothing is like the experience of leaving the hospital with a tiny baby, getting all settled in the car, and heading on the journey toward home. We were even rewarded with what looked like an early smile!
  • Cake hunting–In 2014, we drove all over the St. Louis metro area (and beyond!), determined to hunt down all 250+ fiberglass birthday cakes celebrating the 250th birthday of the city. I was skeptical when Ryan suggested we attempt to find them all, but it soon turned into a whole family obsession, and in the end, we were successful…and made it to some other fun STL250 events in the process. I only wish we had kept track of how many miles we drove during our big search!
  • Our first family vacation–July 2015 marked the first time we really took a family vacation, as well as the first time any of us (other than Ryan), saw the ocean. That drive wasn’t without peril (we had to have our brakes replaced in Charleston, SC, after a harrowing drive through the Appalachian mountains, and the air conditioning quit on us, as well), and I was so relieved when we finally made it home, but we made a lot of fun family memories during the course of that week.

Of course, there have been so many other memories that we made in that old van. Trips into St. Louis to visit favorite places like Ted Drewes, Forest Park, Seamus McDaniel’s, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Countless school field trips, including an extended day trip to Louisville, KY, to tour the Louisville Slugger factory and museum. Countless trips to church and the grocery store and Target. Special memories, daily life stuff…that old van saw it all. So, even with the trouble we had with it, I will miss it…but I also can’t wait to see what kind of new memories we make in our new van (spoiler alert: I imagine some of our children will learn to drive it eventually!)!

Legends & Lanterns

If you know me, you know I’m not into Halloween. At all. Five children, and we’ve never once gotten costumes and gone trick-or-treating. Not our thing. But I do like local festivals. And history. And literature. And I love St. Charles, MO. So, when I found out that St. Charles was having a new Legends and Lanterns event this year, focusing on the rituals and customs of Halloween through the years, as well as some of the more macabre characters from history and literature, I figured we should go, regardless of our feelings on Halloween.

Actually, I almost didn’t find out about the event at all. I only happened to see a reference to it on social media, and I did some investigating. But after that, I discovered that three of the children had heard about it on the radio (yes, on a station I was listening to…I guess that just shows how much I actually listen to the background noise I put on!), and knew all about it. None of them thought it necessary to tell me about it, though, so I guess they’re lucky I heard about it at all!

So, yesterday we drove out to St. Charles. Our yearly visit for Christmas Traditions is still over a month away, and yet there were things that were familiar. There were characters to visit (although they were handing out stickers instead of cards), and we actually found them all! The cast of characters included Edgar Allan Poe, Lizzie Borden,Vlad (The Impaler) Tepes, Baba Yaga, Guy Fawkes, Abigail Williams, Madame Esmeralda, La Catrina (The Spirit of Dia De Los Muertos), a Druid Priestess, Stingy Jack, the Gingerbread Witch, Igor (servant of Dr. Frankenstein), Ichabod Crane, and a hoard of angry villagers (who, while peasants, were also talented singers!).



One thing that I thought was really well done was the fact that each character had a “post.” There was a unique lantern stand for each character, and if they weren’t there, a sign explained their absence. This made it really easy to keep track of which characters we had seen, and which we had missed. I think the Christmas Traditions festival might benefit from something similar…perhaps static posts for the most popular characters, which would make them easy to locate, and the rest of the characters wandering as they currently do, which is fun from a scavenger hunt point-of-view.

The stickers that each character gave out were meant to be placed in a booklet, which was available (for free!) at the Visitors’ Center on Main Street. The only stickers we didn’t get were for the hayride (which we could have gone on, but we wanted to walk instead), and the Victorian Mourning Exhibit. In addition to a description of each character in the booklet, there were also activities…word searches, crafts, even recipes. This is a another fun idea which reminded me of the long-ago days when Christmas Traditions used to offer a coloring book.

Main Street was a beautiful sight to see, just as it is a Christmastime:

The Dia de los Muertos Plaza was a busy place, and also very colorful!

At Christmas, Main Street has a gingerbread house completion. Yesterday, we found a scarecrow contest…it was hard to pick a favorite!

The was the first year of Legends and Lanterns (although it was so well-organized, you certainly couldn’t tell that they haven’t done it before!), but if the crowd we saw was any indication, it certainly won’t be the last! I think this festival has the potential to become a highly anticipated annual event in St. Charles, and another great thing for the community!

Fifty-Five Months

Today we visited the first Legends and Lanterns festival in St. Charles, MO. Of course Dolly had to come along for the ride!


We saw pretty much everything, including the Dia de los Muertos Plaza:


And a bonus picture without Dolly…Chickadee really had fun practicing riding a “horse” according to Ichabod Crane’s instructions!


Once we were home, Chickadee also had a fun time showing Dolly all the stickers she had collected in St. Charles!


2016-17 School Year–Fall Break

This week was our highly anticipated fall break. I really needed to take the week off mentally, and I had plans for some fun things we could do with our free time.

You know how they say, “Man plans. God laughs.”?

We did get our Monday activity done. We visited the Missouri History Museum for a homseschool day focused on Route 66.


Other than that, we didn’t get to do any of the things I had planned. We didn’t see the diesel locomotive that was passing through St. Louis, we didn’t get to go spend some time at Creve Coeur Lake, we didn’t visit the Missouri Botanical Garden–nothing. We were basically stuck at home while we figured out what we were going to do about our van.

And so, our fall break, which was supposed to give me a much-needed break, was marked by four days of anxiety and anger, and an inability to go do almost all of the things I had been planning on doing, and culminated with the purchase of a new van late last night.



I’m not sure that our fall breaks are particularly memorable to the children in general, because they tend to be pretty low-key, but I hope they will always remember Daddy finally getting home at nine last night with the new car, and all of us piling in it for a drive around the block before bedtime. It might not have been the fall break I was hoping for, but it’s certainly one I won’t forget!