Is This the SAME PLACE?

Some beautiful imagery and inspiration from blogger Terry Marotta….



The view from my study window The view from my study window

Right now the air is so damp and sodden!

I feel like I need gills instead of lungs to keep on living.

And the vegetation outside is just drenched with chlorophyll..


Even the inchworms are green, to say nothing of the mold growing on that one clementine that got stuck at the bottom of the fruit bowl.

It looks like a fuzzy green bowling ball for Dopey and Sneezy and pals now.

But seriously..

Can this really BE the same block?

The same state?

Nay, the same hemisphere, that used to look likeTHIS?


Can this be the same hemisphere where, when  the sun began to set and the icicle below halted whatever dripping it had been doing OUTSIDE the house and instead got busy dripping secretly INSIDE, painting so many of our walls and windows a rich caramel brown?

sunset Feb 10, 2014

I mean can this above picture really be  taken from the same…

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Happy Birthday, Cheeky Street Friends!!!

We made it!  One year ago today, I launched a “little blog called Cheeky Street,” and it survives today!  This gives me enormous happiness.  And hopefully, a few of you, too!

In the next year, I plan to really focus on delivering more thought provoking, family-focused pieces because I think my audience is primarily middle-aged parents.

But I love lifestyle pieces and cannot keep from sharing my favorite memories and family recipes, so today’s “Birthday Blog” is really dedicated to my Beautiful Momma, Rhetta Greenwell Killion, and her adaptation of a traditional St. Louis salad dressing made famous by the Historic Mayfair Hotel.


Back in the late 1940’s early 1950’s, when my lovely parents were attending college and going on dates in St. Louis, Missouri, they dined in the Mayfair-Lennox Hotel in downtown St. Louis.  There was a wonderful salad they enjoyed – similar to Caesar but with more “oomph” – and it became known as Mayfair Salad Dressing.


[recipe title=”Mom’s Mayfair Salad Dressing”}


  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cans flat anchovies (including oil)
  • 2 tab lemon juice
  • 2 tab water
  • 1 tab prepared mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 teas pepper


1.  Blend ingredients well in blender.

2.  Slowly add 3 whole eggs and 2 cups olive oil.

3.   Serve immediately on fresh greens.

4.  Enjoy and say “mmmmmm” like Miss Rhetta!!!

He wrote it down.

I have known many women that this atrocity happened to. But not until reading this do I fully appreciate the significance of being heard, of there being a safe “witness”. This is so important and gut-wrenching. Thank you for illuminating the darkest of subjects.

In Others' Words...

Our intention was to dance on his grave.


My beautiful cousin, who I’d not seen in 35 years, and I set out to dance on our grandfather’s grave. Our first dilemma was, of course, song choice. You have to have the right song. We bandied a few song titles about, Alanis Morrisette was a front runner.


We drove to the town where he lived, and where he is buried. We drove to the town where we were abused. Driving down the picturesque New England roads, I felt a little faint. Mary felt a little barfy. We pulled into a store parking lot, and Mary spent some quality time behind a dumpster, hurling. It happens.

We weren’t entirely sure where the cemetery was, so we pulled into a police station to ask for directions. I said, jokingly, We should go in and file a police report. Mary said, What would…

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Aunt Malin’s Beef Pot Pie


Aunt Malin's Beef Pot Pie


3 lbs beef cubes

3 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup flour

2 chopped onions

3 cups frozen veggies (e.g., green beans, peas and carrots)

4 cups (boiled) water with 4 beef bouillon cubes in it

Enough pastry to cover ingredients in 9 x 13 pan


1.  Cut beef cubes into small pieces, put flour in bag and shake cubes until well-coated.  Brown in olive oil.

2.  Stir in onions and saute.  Cover and cook 45 minutes.  Add frozen veggies and cook 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Transfer to 9 x 13 baking pan.  Cover with pastry.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until pastry is brown.

Dear Snarky – My Sister-In-Law Screwed Me Over

Dedear_snarky_logo-1ar Snarky,

Recently my sister-in-law volunteered to make, what I would call, a coffee table photo book for my mother-in-law’s birthday. The book was supposed to be photos of ALL the grandkids. I thought it was a great idea so I submitted pictures of my kids and paid for half of the book. Fast-forward to my mother-in-law’s birthday party and when she gets the book it’s all pictures of my sister-in-law’s kids with only ONE photo of my three children. WTH?

Do I ask my sister-in-law for my money back as a way of showing that I’m super ticked off and do I need to tell my mother-in-law the back-story? Because, as of right, now it looks like I didn’t get my mother-in-law a present since the book contains 53 pictures of just my sister-in-laws kids!

Signed, Bummed

 Dear Bummed,

Yes, I would ask your sister-in-law for your money back…

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I’m Riding the Imperfectionism Wave!

me at 31018141059 Momma Bloggers like Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery are giving me the courage to pursue my original dream for Cheeky Street:  by sharing my quirky worldview, give other Moms (and people in general) “permission” to be themselves and enjoy the many facets of imperfection.  Brene Brown and Martha Beck also publish widely about how to free oneself from the shackles of perfectionism.

We all intuitively know this as children but the world beats our colorful souls into humdrum submission….and only a lucky few awaken soon enough to learn how to nurture their individuality back into their personalities and enjoy life!

So here’s my REAL-LIFE CONFESSION (my daughter and a few of her friends know this):  I want to sell muffins under the brand “Yes Ma’am!” and share with the world this joy I experience from my love of bread, baking, and all things breakfast-related in one big glob of LOVE known as the MUFFIN.  I even had a venue picked out in our cute little community:  it become a bank!  Drive-throughs are essential, you see, because when you have a craving for a muffin, you don’t want to mess with parking and going inside an establishment.

So, this morning, in my humble little kitchen, I am enjoying a part of that imperfect side of my baking self and making an Autumnal concoction known as the “Pumpkin Oat Muffin.”  Except I had to substitute apple juice for lemonade in the recipe so it may be too tangy for the uninitiated muffin palate.

So this is what I think I will be doing:  Once a week, right here on Cheeky Street, I will feature a different muffin recipe and photo and share with you my “Testing Panel’s” opinions (be prepared to be selected as an esteemed member of this exclusive group).  This endeavor will, hopefully, bring me closer to my “Yes Ma’am!” ambitions, and you, dear Readers, more thoroughly convinced that IMPERFECTIONISM is fun and worth pursuing!!!!

Why Do We Ignore Hurting Souls?

Like many people, I am deeply saddened by the death of Robin Williams.  In retrospect, his unimaginable act of courage that led to his death says more about our culture of blindness than it does anything else.  We prefer to remember “the funny man” who gave so much to others than the human being suffering from depression and addiction.  We will talk about it for awhile at parties but nothing will change in the end – people who are hiding in places of extreme darkness will continue to end their lives and we will say later what a shame it is.

You see, Robin Williams’ death has struck a personal chord with me.  I, too, suffer from major depressive disorder and addiction.  I will take antidepressants the rest of my life but there is no guarantee I won’t experience lapses into frightening voids where nobody can reach me.  Mental illness does trick our minds into believing ridiculous lies about ourselves and reality.  I watched my own Dad suffer and struggle with depression and addiction my whole life.  He was so brave to have weathered what must have felt like insurmountable pain and conflict to protect his wife and 7 children.  Of course, there were happy times.  Like Robin Williams, my Dad was extremely intelligent and most often the funniest person in the room when he chose to socialize, which was not often.

I dream of this image over and over.....
I dream of this image over and over…..

Like Robin Williams, people sought my reclusive Dad out – they were uplifted by his company when, all the while, he believed himself to be a weak and unworthy person.  It was the trap of depression and addiction.  He did not talk about it, we just knew, as kids, when Dad was not feeling well.  We hugged him and he hugged us back even harder.  But it was only a temporary fix for his pain.  Ultimately, he felt alone.

"I apologize for superfluous!"
“I apologize for superfluous!”

My Dad was the first person to admit he had made a mistake.  Among other traits, this was one of his most endearing.  He was humble and honest and kind even though, most of the time, he just plain wanted out – out of pain, out of suffering, out of this life.  He visited me once when I was single and dating a hot-shot young lawyer and I was embarrassed during a conversation in which my “super lawyer” boyfriend corrected my use of language at the breakfast table in front of my Dad, the DICTIONARY NAZI!!!!  I was shocked when my Dad took “super lawyer’s” side but, as expected, the minute he got back home Dad pulled out his dictionary to see if he had been correct – and discovered he was wrong.  I received a beautiful note of apology from the MAN WITH THE DICTIONARY himself.  And he even took a moment away from his own pain to comment on the pain of a colleague whose daughter was dying from cancer – wishing her well.

Instead of burying his greatness, somehow the struggle with depression and addiction made my Dad even more brilliant and beautiful to me.  He felt broken, for sure, but that is what we all saw and loved and admired about him.  On the morning he passed away, our Mother had a look of absolute serenity and relief on her face.  She said, “I’m glad – your Dad is free and happy for the first time in his life.”  And so is Robin Williams.

I don’t know why some of us are dealt the shitty hand of depression and addiction in this life.  But I do know we are all capable of comforting one another and touching each other’s wounded souls even from the unreachable depths of darkness.  I am proud of my Dad and Robin Williams and everyone else who admits, in this culture of shame, silence and blindness, that things are NOT okay with us most of the time.  Maybe, little by little, the world will come to recognize that people who have been marginalized by the pain of depression and addiction aren’t weak or pitiful at all – but really “special angels” sent to us so we can practice compassion and empathy.  That’s how I choose to view it, anyway.

3 Ways Downsizing Made Our Family Stronger




4 years ago this week, our family experienced a massive downsizing and relocation from 34 acres in the middle of the country to a quaint corner lot in an established urban neighborhood 200 miles away.  For my husband and me, the move was a relief and felt like returning “home.”  But for our children, then 11 and 9 years old, it was the most horrible, frightening thing that could ever happen in their lives!

Other happily downsized families told me de-cluttering the “stuff” from their households and paring down to the bare essentials was a psychologically and spiritually liberating experience.  For me, “purging” just felt like flushing a dream down the toilet.

While life in South Central Kansas was not easy for me, a huge consolation had been the amazing life my husband and I had been able to give our children.  An enchanted, carefree childhood with land to roam on and critters to enjoy – not to mention countless bonfires, campouts and many loving friends we would have never met in a typical suburban neighborhood.  But our dream had to end because my husband’s job ended.  And rather quickly, we were going to have to come up with some pretty convincing reasons for the kids to want to move with us!

The transition took much longer than I expected but it is complete, thank goodness.  Looking back I can pinpoint 3 distinct parenting approaches we took to help our children move through each phase of their journey from country kids to city kids:  Reassurance, Respect and Reinforcement.

Of course, any parent with any nurturing instincts at all will understand that the first thing you have to do is reassure your children that, even though many things will be changing, the fundamental things about your family will always remain the same and they will feel happy and strong.  It was reassuring to our children to know that we were all going through changes together and we would all find comfort in one another.  Our family, like many that face job and location changes in the middle of a school year, decided that my husband should move to Kansas City and start his new job at the beginning of the year and the children and I would follow after school was out.  This gave us all time to prepare for the change and when we saw each other on weekends, the reassurance that our family was intact and in sync lifted our spirits enough to face the coming weeks and months until the move.

As the time of the move drew closer, I became more anxious and focused on the details of the move rather than providing reassurance to my children – so don’t think I am a saint!  In fact, there were a couple of times I did not have the energy to reassure my kids at all.  I just wanted the whole ordeal to be over!

After we got into the new house and started growing used to living in such close quarters (downsizing from 5,550 square feet to 2,400 square feet is noticeable!), it was time to start thinking about the new school and making new friends.  I expected the kids to make friends and be happy again overnight.

 But like adults, my children’s transition would take giant leaps forward – and then there would be setbacks.  I was feeling impatient.  This was a problem that an ice cream cone would not fix.  I needed to find a way to respect each child’s loss while helping them find their future.

When we would hear the kids talking about people or things they missed from their old hometown, my husband and I started talking with them about steps they could take to get invested in their new school and neighborhood.  This gave them the sense of control they needed to establish the path of their own choosing.  In particular, it helped each child find new things to look forward to.  Once we realized how valuable it was to the kids to put things in terms of having things to look forward to, it made respecting their journey seem like less of a monumental task and more like a day-to-day coping strategy.  “What will you do tomorrow to have a better day than today?” gave each kid a tool to empower themselves. They began to thrive.

The best part was getting to reinforce each child’s success by pointing out all the new challenges they had each tackled and overcome independently.  We talked a lot, as a family, about how important it is in life to have to learn how to function outside of your comfort zone.  Some people never get that chance but we reinforced with our children how invaluable to a successful life it is to learn how to adapt to new and different people and situations.  Fun, even!  I will never forget how proud I felt when both of my children reached out to “the new kids” their second year in Kansas City – because they remembered what it felt like to be the outsider.  It proved to me that they had learned something only life and a nurturing environment can teach a person:  you have the power inside of yourself to make a difference to someone else who may be feeling the way you once felt.  Compassion!

4 years later, I think our family is much stronger as a result of the changes downsizing and relocating thrust upon us.  We appreciate what we have and require very little to be content.  There are far fewer disappointments because, in the end, we have all learned that any day you have the strength to meet and overcome life’s challenges can be a good day!  We have choices and we have power.