I have been married to James for 27 years. We have five children: Heather (20), Holly (17), Caroline (16), Jay (14), and Sophia (9). It is a very busy household, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. As well as being a wife and mom, I am the Director of Early Childhood and PEEPs at Central Presbyterian Church.
During the rare moments that I have free time, I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, baking (not cooking), and trying new things (as long as it doesn’t include small spaces or heights). This summer I started taking piano lessons. I love trying new restaurants, as well.
My Favorite Place to Live: (written with my husband, James, who probably loved this place even more than me) In the summer of 1990, the door literally and figuratively opened to a new and very wonderful phase of our newly married lives. That is when James and I moved into a “carriage house” (apartment above the separate 3 car garage) on an estate on Upper Ladue Road. It consisted of 3 rooms: a bedroom, a combined living room/dining room/kitchen, and a small bathroom. It was very tiny, but we decorated it to our liking and made it into a cozy home.
In exchange for paying no rent, utilities, etc., we were expected to maintain the swimming pool, water the flowers, drive the family’s son to practices as needed, and make the main home look lived in while the owners were away. We actually enjoyed these jobs. Unlike our friends who lived in the carriage house before us, the Ladue police never pulled us over for questioning upon spying our obviously out-of-place beater cars winding up the road to our home. We were of course, prime candidates for “fiscal profiling”.
Life in Ladue was beautiful, serene, and carefree. James and I had always enjoyed going for walks, but walking through these neighborhoods and the adjacent St. Louis Country Club was a completely different experience. We would often lay awake at night, listening to live music drifting in our window from a party nearby.
One year the family’s daughter got married and had the reception at the home. This wedding, just months after Steve Martin’s “The Father of the Bride” hit theaters, was uncannily like the movie. The owner’s brother, who was a prominent US Senator, officiated at the wedding. Valet parking was provided and hundreds of cars lined the street. A big band played in the huge tent erected in the backyard for the occasion, while the swimming pool was adorned with floating flowers and colored lights. James and I huddled in the shadows of the bushes with the gardener, catching a glimpse of that remarkable evening’s festivities.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. When the owners decided to downsize and move to the adjacent St. Louis country club, James and I moved into a small starter home in Richmond Heights.
We thank God for this great time in our lives, and recall with astonishment that we almost decided not to take advantage of this opportunity when it was first offered to us.
My Favorite Treat: I have a long list of favorite treats such as chocolate anything (probably no surprise to most women), sweet wine, popcorn, a spoonful of Nutella and peanut butter, and coffee loaded with cream and sugar. However, my favorite candy of all time is Lucky’s Market gummy bears.
I was first introduced to them as I was waiting in line to purchase my overpriced items. As boredom and nosiness set in, I began inspecting what the shoppers in front and behind me were buying. They both had bags of gummy bears. I turned to the lady behind me and said, “What’s the deal with the bags of gummy bears?” As she began to sing their praises, she opened her bag and let me pluck one out to try. I was instantly hooked. I checked out and then went back to the bulk section of the store to get my own bag of delicious squishy goodness.
They come in approximately 10 different colors and flavors. I would keep a bag in my car to snack on while driving, until I decided that my waistline was not the better for it. On our frequent trips around town, my kids and I would try to match the colors with the flavors, which is not as easy as you would think. Grab a bag and come on over. Let’s see if we can match them up together.
My Favorite Place to Vacation: My first time visiting California was on my honeymoon in October 1989. It was this trip that sparked my passion for the Golden State. I have been back many times visiting mostly the coastal areas from San Francisco to San Diego. The two times that I have been to San Francisco were very memorable. I was pregnant with my first child, Heather, the first visit and brought her with me the next.
James and I loved watching the sea lions at Pier 42, exploring the beautiful and eclectic towns along 17-Mile Drive, and eating meals at sunset by the ocean. We have dear friends who escaped St. Louis for California over 10 years ago who we enjoy seeing when we go.
This summer, we hope to go back with the whole family and maybe spark a love for California in our children. Lord willing, after retiring, James and I hope to spend a part of each year in California.
My Favorite Holiday Recipe: Over the years we have settled into our family’s favorite holiday recipes such as French Toast Casserole (thanks to Cher Curtis who shared that recipe with me years ago), Cranberry Sausage Quiche (found in a cooking magazine), and the longest standing family favorite – Strudel. Our strudel has a flaky homemade crust stuffed with any flavor of jam, golden raisins, and coconut. However, I am sure it can be made to your family’s likings by adding other ingredients. If I ever neglected to make it some Easter or Christmas, my children would probably start a revolt.
I grew up with strudel gracing the table each Christmas and decided to carry on that tradition with my family. When Heather (now 20) was in middle school, she had to make a recipe for a class project that represented her family’s traditions and write about its origins. She decided to make strudel. I had assumed that this was a recipe handed down to my mom from our ancestors. When I asked my mom who passed the recipe on to her, she said that she got the recipe from the neighbor up the street. What!? Oh well, a tradition has to start with someone. Thanks, mom! Maybe my children’s children will make it for their families. If you are interested in the recipe, let me know. It can a bit tricky to make the first time. I would be glad to make it with you.
My Favorite Picture: I love to take pictures, always hoping for that perfect shot. I can’t say that this was a well done picture but the story that it tells makes up for the lack of exposure and framing. This picture is of my daughter Holly, who is 17 and a senior at Brentwood High School, hearing her name announced as Homecoming Queen.
This was such a special occasion for her and for me. Holly was born with Down syndrome and has struggled more recently with living with a disability. This is a long story, but a God story of how He showed us in a very clear way how much he loves us, sees us, and cares about our deep longings to be loved and accepted for who He created us to be.
I would love to share this story with you sometime. If interested, let’s grab a cup of coffee and I can share the details of how God encouraged Holly and me through the selflessness and loving kindness of a bunch of high schoolers.
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