TWO HUNDRED FORTY NINE…narrowly escaping a craptastic day part 4

I’ve had enough distance from last Tuesday to laugh about our morning disaster. It was almost a full-blown craptastic day. I am in fact due for one.

I define “craptastic days” as an unbelievable series of events which come together to break down the individual’s psyche. On those days, I am hanging on by the thinnest thread until mentally, I am on a cold cement floor curled into the fetal position. The moment right before the thread completely unravels, something resembling redemption happens. A kid comes to me, gives me kisses, a picture they drew for me, a hug or just randomly tells me they love me and it makes the whole day worth while.

The song ‘Don’t really know me’ by Snowden plays silently in my head the entire day. I knew I was in for it when 10 minutes before Cecilia and I had to leave the house for her therapy sessions, Abby and Phoebe begged to come with me so we could “do school” while in the waiting room. Right. They NEVER want to do school…especially in the waiting room of Cecilia’s therapy.

As Cecilia made a B-line for the upstairs to get her coveted mini mouse doll for the umpteenth time that morning, the two older sisters casually informed me, they, “didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and…can we stop by the grocery store to pick up some pop-tarts.”

There it was.

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Despite my constant nagging reminding them about pop-tart’s complete lack of nutrients, high sugar content, and their general inability to satiate them…I acquiesced to their tactics.

“Let’s remain calm and maintain some sense of sanity…while minimizing eminent disaster” is the mantra I kept repeating to myself.

I managed to get everyone out the door. Acknowledging the speed limit, we quickly made it down our street. Two stop lights later, I am pulling into the un-named grocery store’s parking lot.

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Knowing I’m on a tight timeline, I am going over in my head the series of events which need to take place

1. I have to QUICKLY run in and grab some generic box of pop-tarts

2. Make it to therapy without going over the speed limit.

Therapy is a 5 minute drive from my house. The grocery store is two minutes away. Ah the benefits of living in the city. So if I have 10 minutes, I should be able to get there within the narrow time frame. Really, how hard can that be?

FLW (famous last words) folks, FLW.

Steps away from the automatic front door, I realize I don’t have my “special” grocery store card. Who cares, right? Just buy the damn thing. I don’t need a discount on $2.99.

So when I answer the cashiers, “Ma’am, do you have your members card” with my, “Oh darn I forgot it” she was scrambling to find a piece of paper and pen to scribble my number down. I repeatedly told her, “It’s ok I don’t need a card for the pop tarts…I’m running late, I have an appointment in like 8 minutes”.  Before I can finish, she seized my computer screen and ran to customer service to “LOOK UP” my phone number while yelling “it’s ok Ma’am, it will just take a second”.

I stood there, red-faced, furious, sweating of course and pissed that we are going to be late for Cecilia’s appointment. Amazingly enough she made it back pretty quickly from the grocery store’s hidden archaic machine just in time to type my ten digit pass code into the computer….and wouldn’t you know it, those pop tarts didn’t qualify for any kind of discount what-so-ever. She looked at me and had the nerve to seize my computer again only to suggest I go and pick out another box of pop tarts that were on sale.

In a rare moment of personal strength, I just looked at her and let my furrowed brow give her the answer she was refusing to hear.

SIDE NOTE: When I was in my undergrad at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, we studied the Alexander vocal technique. As a freshman we were encouraged to carry around famed vocal coach Patsy Rodenburg’s ‘The Need for Words’. It was an integral part of our curriculum and considered to be “the bible” of protecting your voice.

Contrary to my studies at UNCSA, there was no need for words in that moment. Turns out, sometimes a simple blank face will communicate exactly what your inner dialogue is. She nervously smiled and said, “No you probably don’t want to go get another box do you…that’s right…you did say you were in a hurry.”

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Once again, as I’m checking out, the screen flashed its big bold-faced word in size 20.5 font  “COUPONS” with a big green Yes button and an even bigger red NO button. I gently and somewhat sarcastically extended my forefinger on my right hand and pushed the giant “NO” with its  19.5 font.

Of course, you could probably guess what happened next. If your thinking “Oh no, did the printer run out of paper?” You’d be correct.

I mean come on…when my luck goes down hill it plummets into the black abyss. There is no piece of toilet paper gently swaying side to side on an imaginary pillow lined staircase with blue skies in the background. Nope. My toilet paper spontaneously combusts into an enormous fireball and hurdles itself into the cavity of despair.

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“I don’t need my receipt” I gently inform her and wouldn’t you know she comes back with, “Are you sure, It won’t take long I promise”.  “No that’s ok…have a great day!” I yell. Before she can complete her, “Thank you for visiting with us today” I was out the door and waiving like the true derelict I am.

I clumsily shoved myself in the car and chucked the pop tarts in Abby’s general direction.

As I was responsibly pushing 3 miles beyond the city speed limit, I nervously acknowledged the police officers passing me in the opposite lane.

We were in fact 5 minutes late. I was able to sign in, but there was a long line of parents in front of me so I waited for the 15 minutes it took for the line to dissipate. As I approached the desk, the receptionist who jokes with me every single week about how, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…this new system we are learning is so complicated” picked up the ringing phone and was once again distracted.

I sat back down and waited another 5 minutes. By this time I was completely pissed. Twenty minutes have come and gone and Cecilia is still in the middle of the room dancing to the music in the current commercial on the waiting room tv.

Finally the anger propels me out of my seat and I approach the receptionist who had finally gotten off the phone, and I said, “We were 5 minutes late, I acknowledge that but it has been 20 minutes now and I personally don’t feel we should have to pay for the 30 minutes she didn’t have therapy.”

Bracing herself for battle, she squinted her eyes and said, “Oh no, I think we forgot to call you last week to let you know your OT was on vacation this week.” I calmly smiled and verbally affirmed her goof with a, “Yep, you forgot to call me.” To which she made that face where you stretch your mouth in a downward frown and attempted to offer a sincere apology.

Since CC’s next appointment was in 5 minutes I just decided to continue to wait. We made a trip to the bathroom, washed her hands, and by the time we returned to the waiting room, it was time to send her off to her session. With 30 minutes to spare and KNOWING it always takes a full 15 minutes to pay the bill, I just requested to go ahead and pay for her session at that moment.

Of course the receptionist delivered her usual, “Oh this new system we are implementing is so confusing…I guess you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks can you?” In my head I answer with a confident, “No, you really can’t.” But in reality, I just smile like I usually do and signed the little receipt and calmly set the pen down on the ledge and returned to my seat with the explosion in my brain on standby.

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Obviously we didn’t get any school work completed in the waiting room. By the time I finished paying the bill, Cecilia was five minutes from finishing her session. Luckily, the rest of the day carried on without any major upsets. I almost reached the mental fetal position, but looking back, it didn’t fully qualify for a “craptastic” day. When we arrived home for lunchtime, Phoebe June came to me with a hug and kiss to let me know how much she loves me. Abby voluntarily completed her school work and Cecilia played quietly in her kitchen for a whole hour.

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And just like that, the stress flew out of my body. I narrowly avoided a full-blown craptastic day.

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TWO HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT…really scary stuff

I am quietly obsessed with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a band I have recently discovered. I enjoy all their music but my favorites are Hunnybee and Everyone Acts Crazy Now Days.

I write “quietly” because I am exploring music on my headphones while putting CC down for a nap. It’s really great toe tapping music. I feel like I need a disco ball and swivel office chair when listening to this band.

Twirl twirl twirl.

Swivel swivel swivel.

Twirl, swivel, twirl twirl.

Speaking of putting Cecilia down for a nap, lately I just fall right to sleep after story time. My whole “pretending” to go to sleep so she’ll settle down is backfiring on me in a big way. So in an attempt to stay awake during yesterday’s siesta, I caught myself thinking about…if you thought to yourself, ” I bet she was thinking about the horror film The Exorcist”…you would be correct.

I used to be enamored with the horror film genre.

For the longest time, The Exorcist was my all time favorite movie. Of course there was The Shining, Poltergeist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, and whatever else used to keep me and my girlfriends up and scared out of our gourds all weekend long. I don’t know how we managed to survive. We could probably send a thank you card to Pizza Hut and Mountain Dew for starters.

But honestly, I cannot count the number of times I have seen the classic of all classics and suffice it to say, every time that little girls head turns the whole way around and I hear the crunching and breaking of bones in the background, every hair on my being stands straight up.

It never disappoints.

Yes there were more for sure but The Exorcist, for me, was the one that launched my fondness for an honest to goodness guttural scream and consequently the standard for all horror films I would ever be exposed to.

And then I had children. Not chicken as my computer spellcheck wants me to writealthough I probably had a lot of chicken during those times as well.

When I became pregnant, my psyche went through a strange transformation of invincibility to fragility all at once.

I no longer wanted to know or be associated with anything unsavory. I didn’t want to think about death in any of its forms including vindictive justice, which made it very difficult to watch anything from Martin Scorsese, whom I enjoyed immensely.

Through the years I have reconciled with my psyche on certain forms of “death in cinema” and ever so slowly, have begun my journey back to the dark side. And luckily for me I have come to my senses about Martin Scorsese.

But to this day, I absolutely cannot watch the new horror films. They have morphed into something darker, more sinister and worse… kind of real.

With that being said, I take you back to yesterday afternoon, when it was time for Cecilia’s nap.

First, allow me to set the scene for you. Right from the moment we awoke at the wee hours of the morn, the sky had banded all of its clouds together to block the sun from coming through. It just looked as if we were in for something more than a couple of little rain drops.

And holy wha…it was the storm of all storms complete with thunder, lightening, and random power outages.

As I stated before, Sometimes when I put CC down for a nap, I end up falling asleep right beside her. Her rhythmic heavy breathing, pummeling my neck with that warm strawberry breath. Watching her little hand with those jagged dirty fingernails rising and falling on her tummy. Both of these little CC nuances doing everything in their power to lull me into taking an afternoon nap right along side her. Like I don’t have dinner to prep, laundry to start, a bathroom to clean, dust buffaloes to sweep up, Kindergarten, 3rd, and 6th grade lessons to prep for AND implement, calls to make/return, appointments to schedule, tons of stuff to put away…the list goes on.

Sometimes when I don’t want to sleep, I mindlessly search social media. I have been an infrequent voyeur lately and therefore quite happy. Until yesterday, when I needed to stay awake. So Instagram it was.

I was just browsing, trying to pass the time. My finger must have hovered over a button because all of a sudden my camera was on and getting ready to record “my first IG story” whatever that is.

Before I could blink, an older version of me, with forehead wrinkles, sourpuss facial expression, dark circles surrounding my eyes was staring back at me. Scared out of my mind, I scrambled to press what ever button would get that old woman’s scary face off my phone screen.

Mission Accomplished.

Phew, what a relief! Holy cow…what was that?

But wait, that old lady staring back at me was…me. No way! It was straight out of an 80’s horror movie. And trust me, I’ve seen them all. Thus my plummet into the downward spiral began:

And just so you know, I would not under any circumstances post a horrific picture of myself on social media. Nor would I “print” out a horrific picture of myself and frame it for our entryway…or put it in our children’s baby books. In other words, I won’t post the horrific images here either. But since this post is about CC and myself, I will post pictures of us enjoying one another on Busha and Grandpa’s swing a month ago.

Trying to rationalize with myself I thought “No…I don’t look like that without makeup on…right?” So I did what any sane human being would do in that moment and turned on the camera again.

“WOW. How long have those forehead wrinkles been that prominent?” I said to myself.

“Angie Beth, you shouldn’t squint like that, you’ll get wrinkles” my older and wiser sister used to say to me all the time when I was a spring chicken refusing to wear my glasses. Glasses got in the way of the carefree image I was trying to put out there. Clearly. Ugh, She was right though.

“Holy Crevace…those lines run deep…and, are my pores always that big? Is my nose swollen… or are my eyes swollen? Are my eyes AND nose swollen?

I think my phone camera is jacked up. Plus the lighting in this room is wonky.

Ugh, should I start doing Botox? Will botox get rid of that extra fold of skin above my eye lid? Have my eyes always been this different from one another? There definitely NOT the same.

I look like an alien.

Oh my… holy wha… SERIOUSLY are my pores really that BIG? Is this phone on “magnify mode”?

Do I know anyone who throws Botox parties? But then what if I have an allergic reaction? That would be my luck.”

Whatever happened to “growing old gracefully”…there’s nothing “graceful” about those crevices deep DEEP lines.

I typed in the word “graceful” in my search engine and followed with “antonym”… here are some of the adjectives I can choose to replace “graceful” with…

“Growing old Rigidly

Growing old inflexibly

Growing old bunglingly

Growing old stiffly

…ooh here’s one “Maladroit”

Growing old maladroitly

or damn…

Growing old “gracelessly”.

Awe…That one hurt.

Gracelessly.

“I can’t afford Botox. Abby is a growing machine…she needs food, clothes, shoes, possibly braces.

We are re-doing a house… “Oh hey, Greg, when I go to Home Depot to purchase the circular table saw, would you mind if I stopped by my dermatologists office and had him apply some botox…it’s only a BAZILLION dollars a vile…I don’t know how many I’ll need…20 viles, maybe 40…no it only lasts for a couple of months…”

With my heart racing, I gently rolled out of Cecilia’s bed and quietly sprinted to the bathroom tripping over every sharp tiny animal LEGO piece laying on the ground just so I could examine my granny face in the mirror.

With my palms sweating, I stood approximately 1 and a quarter-inch from the mirror poking, prodding, and pulling my skin taught in places where gravity had taken over.

“This is by far the scariest, most alarming moment I have had since the first time I watched “No Country for Old Men” back in…well, it’s been a while. When did this happen? I’m only 41. Aren’t the forties supposed to be the new thirties? Thirties are the new twenties and fifties the new forties?”

I had to self talk…I remembered the first time I saw The Exorcist, the subliminal messaging in that movie always fascinated me…the feeling in my stomach due to my little old brain working over time trying to decipher the images and their meanings. Yesterday, I was experiencing some of my own personal subliminal messaging:

 All of the sudden, I was transported to this older 1970’s decor living room. And there stood this 60-year-old woman. She had short dark black hair teased to perfection, in sort of a Jackie O style, dark tan skin, and this is the truly strange part, bright pink lipstick bleeding not-so-subtly outside her lip line.

She was wearing a house coat lined with gold snaps, over a bold red sequenced shift dress and a pair of open toed house shoes that showed her crinkly old bright red nail polished toenails that were turned aggressively towards her more innocent smaller, helpless toes.

I imagined the ring leader toe…the big one…but you probably guessed that one…would aggressively accost all the other toes if they stepped out of line and viciously scratch them until they bled.

So scary right?

My subliminal messages show her holding a sifter with a giant ice-cube and a quarter of the glass filled with gold liquid, which sloshed everywhere when she walked.

In this subliminal message, she begins to lead me to a bathroom. We walk down into a sunken living room, she misses a step and stumbles backward catching herself on her heels and used my shoulder to steady herself.

As she steadied herself, the gold liquid from her sifter sloshed onto this ugly striped shirt I hated wearing as a child.

Back to the present: I looked at myself in the mirror again to make sure I am still my curly frizzy haired self…when the same subliminal image continually presenting itself in boomerang mode:

She keeps laughing, with her lipstick bleeding outside her lip line and each time she laughs lipstick appears on her tooth…and then she repeats the trip and steady movement as she shows me to the bathroom…and then my striped shirt appears and…BOOMERANG…the scene repeats itself again

And again

and

Again.

“Are these scenes playing out in my mind because I am actually morphing into this lady?” I quietly looked down at my feet to see if Bunyan’s had appeared overnight. Nope. Still my long skinny skellator toes.

And I don’t own a house coat or a bathrobe if there’s a difference. So I’m all good there. Nor do I own a red sequence dress. But as I think about it, I did wear a red sequins dress to prom my sophomore year…hmm.

As thunder rattled the window panes of our current 1940’s bathroom, I leaned my face close to the sink and splashed cold water on my eyes…silently willing them to go back to normal.

Luckily it was around this time I decided I was putting WAY too much stock into this one isolated incident.

Problem solved.

And poof…my version of “the exorcist” and the obviously alcoholic Jacki O person, along with my ugly striped T-shirt disappeared….

As I straightened up, dried my eyes, and blinked several times at myself in our warped ‘Made In Taiwan’ mirror, I had one last image of the lady:

She was standing outside in her driveway that was actually alongside a pretty steep cliff sloshing her gold liquid all around as she waved goodbye to me. And with her lipstick teeth yelled something unintelligible, laughed, winked flirtatiously and turned for a, I’m not making this up, swan dive off the cliff behind her.

What? What does that mean? This whole sequence is so messed up.

For a split second I considered rushing to and looking over the edge. But then, would this damn story ever end?

What is the point of this whole saga you ask? I’ll be asking myself that same question for weeks to come.

All I know is that I feel rattled inside. Like I’ve just experienced something awful. Maybe I should just resign myself to taking the short afternoon naps with Cecilia. Or I could just listen to and purchase music. But last month, my iTunes bill was a little ridiculous.

I will be searching for the meaning to all of these horrific images for weeks to come. But in the interim, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Bat Dad it is!!

I have reconciled that my deep DEEP forehead crevices lines are due to the fact I had horrible sleep last night and I’m most likely dehydrated. It was a scary moment though.

TWO HUNDRED FORTY FIVE…little red houses, for you and me

So…

we bought a little red house almost two months ago. Greg and I lovingly refer to it as our sweet humble dump cottage.

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It’s a fixer upper…and we will just leave it at that.

In September Abby and Phoebe had expressed a desire to settle down, find friends, and get involved in activities. I can’t say that I blame them. Traveling the country, while being an incredible experience for the family, can be difficult for young kids during the school months. There were other full-timers homeschooling their kids, but it was few and far between. And the families always seemed to have kids the same age as Abby or Phoebe.  Rarely did we find families with kids both their ages, so someone was always left out.

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For that reason alone, summertime was their favorite time to RV.

When we began our alternative lifestyle, Greg and I always said if anyone ever expressed a desire to stop, we would not be selfish. We vowed to put our own wants aside, no matter what. So when the kids started making their feelings known in September, we were completely out by October.

A total of 18 months living in an RV full-time. Not too shabby. I still can’t believe we did it. Without a doubt, I can say, both Greg and myself could have gone on for who knows how long. But, we made a promise to the family not to be selfish.

Come October, we spent a couple of months in Greg’s parents basement, two months in my mom’s house, 1 month in a beautiful farm home, and now, our sweet humble  cottage.

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So it’s been about 7 months since we re-entered into normal society of schedules and appointments. On the one hand it’s nice to be back. I honestly never thought I would utter the following words, but I actually missed our daily routines of “everyday normal staying in one place” lives.

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On the other hand coming back to a stationary life is difficult. Right about this time last year we were living it up in Telluride, CO and Park City, Utah. I have so many great memories of the kids and I exploring the little towns, stopping for ice cream and souvenirs, talking with the locals about the best hiking places, restaurants, and parks for the whole family. We would get out and walk every day.

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And quite possibly my favorite thing about out west is the simple fact that my husband went to and consequently got off work a whole two hours before his east coast counterparts. I mentioned earlier how refreshing it is to be able to mentally check out of my motherhood duties a whole two hours early everyday. Well just let me take this moment to confirm my previous statements; it is a joy to let someone else take the lead in putting constant limits on our little inmates to ensure their safety, fret over what to cook for dinner, help the oldest child as she goes about her daily breakdown because of ” how much school she has to endure”.

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People please, before you have a coronary, I’m totally joking.

Well, I’m joking about everything but the dinner thing. Finding something to cook which satisfies everyone’s health requirements, taste buds, appetite is definitely not one of my strengths. So Greg getting off work earlier made it super easy for him to plan out the nightly menu.

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But for better or worse I am back to planning dinner menus, keeping everyone safe, and piling on the school work until at least one child ends up in tears at the end of the day. I don’t consider my duties as a homeschooling parent sufficient until at least one child is in tears, on the floor, curled up in the fetal position. Again, just joking.

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All joking aside, I find myself thinking a lot about all of the experiences we had and how they have impacted our lives. Of course I won’t know until years from now…or at least when I get one of my kids’ first therapy bill, just how much damage we caused in order to experience the vagabond lifestyle.

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BUT I can say the one thing I learned about myself (which I instinctively knew already…it just became more apparent) is that I value intimacy over large group settings. Although I can throw down with the best of them at large parties, I prefer one on one interaction. Along with intimate group settings I also found, and this next one is a biggie, I prefer a smaller home for my family.

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Say What??

I loved the confines of the 300 square foot home on wheels just because we were all so close to one another ALL THE TIME. Does that mean I LOVED having ONLY 300 square feet of space?

No.

But I didn’t hate it either.

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 It worked out perfectly for us.

There were times when I was cursing the confines in which we found ourselves. But it gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction just knowing I can live with much less than I previously thought. I wholeheartedly embraced the philosophy of living with the bare minimum.

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The whole time on the RV allowed me to hone in on these little people we are raising. House work was almost minimal, the kids had chores, learned to cook, wash dishes, sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away their own clothes which in effect too=k loads off my to-do lists…pun intended.

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Looking for a home that would allow us to still be intimate and close with one another without sacrificing the modern amenities (good size yard, centrally located and within walking distance to downtown, good neighborhood, space for everyone but not huge) we’ve become accustomed to proved to be a challenge. So when we came upon the little red house, with oodles of potential, it just seemed like the perfect next step for our little family.

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I will say, when the kids go to bed at night, all in their own rooms, the 1300 square foot cottage seems too big for us. I miss watching them sleep and knowing what they are doing every minute of the day. I’m sure in four months time, I will appreciate the extra 1,000 square feet we find ourselves in. Four months seems to be my magic time frame for getting back into the swing of things. At this time, we are in our two month mark. I’m feeling pretty good right now. I can’t wait to see what four months will give me.

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For now, I’m just going to sip on some lemonade…in my new backyard, watch my kids jump on our brand new trampoline, listen to some John Millencamp sing about little pink houses and day-dream about all the fun things we have planned…

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‘…little pink red houses for you and me’

TWO HUNDRED FORTY FOUR…grocery disas…er…trip

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Trips to the grocery store with the our clan always seem to elicit an array of interesting faces from patrons: sad faces, annoyed faces, concerned faces, contorted faces due to rubber necking, happy to see us faces (although those are far and few between), and scared faces. We probably see the latter most often. Hey, it’s what we’re here for. Most likely it makes them feel great about their lives, their not as “crazy” as they previously thought. Or the more unlikely “Gosh, I should have more kids so I can look the way that Mom looks…so disheveled…but those kids look super happy”. Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED FORTY THREE…alaska sick

I woke up to the vibration of our behemoth vehicle thundering down an unfinished gravel road. I wasn’t sure where we were geographically. Physically I realized I was crammed into Cecilia’s bunk. Abby’s analogy homework pops into my mind in moments like these: wooden chair is to pinched sciatica as bottom bunk is to bulging discs. But giving up the feeling of her little back curled perfectly into my torso with our arms intertwined isn’t something I’m ready to surrender just yet. Plus waking up to a pile of her freshly washed strawberry hair haphazardly twisted into a bun on the top of her head is always a nice way to wake up.

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Once I had my wits about me, I remembered we were leaving Whitefish, YT (Yukon Territory). As my eyes focused on Cecilia’s pink panda pajama pants, I watched her little fingers rise and fall resting on her little tummy. I love watching my little inmates sleep. They are all so peaceful and perfect. They have their whole lives ahead of them and somehow, when I look at their little jaggedly square slightly dirty fingernails, I feel secure as a mom they are using their imaginations and creativity to their fullest capacity.

Basically the only thing as a parent I am certain of.

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We left Homer with heavy hearts and monsoon-like weather on Thursday. It’s better to rip the band aid off  just get up and go rather than to peel it off slowly lingering around looking at everything we will be missing. Abby was making observations all morning long about the dense fog and “Are we sure we want to drive in this kind of weather…it’s raining so hard out and really hard to see with all the fog around” to which Greg replied, “We’ve driven in rain and fog before…we will be extra safe and I know we will be fine.” “She just said out loud what I feel inside”, I remarked. The sideways glance from Greg is an unspoken communication I understand well…his, “I know you don’t want to leave, but this is the plan we’ve mapped out…if we stay, we …” “I know, I know” I answered back with my unspoken glance.

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Leaving the campground, we headed north one last time so I might grab a picture of the ‘Welcome to Homer’ sign. It took a full 30 minutes of crouching down, walking from side to side to try to find the best angle for my sign. As I examined the evidence, one thing was glaringly obvious…I suck at landscape photography. I just keep telling myself to log in those 10,000 hours and my efforts will eventually pay off. At least that’s what Malcolm Gladwell has lead me to believe.

Currently, we are travelling down the infamous HWY 1 (Alkan Highway) through the Yukon Territory. We breezed through customs yesterday and Cecilia managed to charm the pants off the stoic Canadian border guard. She wouldn’t smile at any of us. But when Cecilia came to the window, climbed over Greg and answered the guards questions, “What’s your name” with her confident, “I’m CC” and the guards’ “How old are you” with “I’m six” shooting the guard with her goofy crooked smile, the guard looked at her and tried to withhold a smile, but melted in the palm of her hand. Cecilia then relayed to the guard, “I have a pee pee sticker chart” and “I’m a big girl” the guard responded with an animated, “Wow, you are a big girl” she gave us back our passports and waved us through. It provided Greg and I with a good chuckle for the rest of the 8 hour trip. If those border guards goal is to not smile and remain neutral, she failed…just like the ones who allowed us into Canada. Their all effective, until Cecilia shows up.

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We were going to spend a couple of days in Seward but when we arrived, it was pouring rain. The forecast predicted rain for the next four days. The girls have grown out of their wellies, and we just weren’t really feeling it. Plus, I am excited to see my best girlfriend from college and her family in Minnesota as we make our way to Michigan. Even though we aren’t scheduled to arrive for another couple of weeks, I rationalized that running errands and tying up some loose ends for the RV in Minot (Why not, My not) North Dakota would be a great way to spend the next two weeks.

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Here’s something completely random: When I first heard Kings of Leon back in 2006, I assumed the lead singer was a robust fella who wore button down shirts with fabric gaping open between each button, so his sparse chest and belly hair could get some air. In my mind I just assumed he was kind of greasy and a little dirty with heavy bourbon on his breath. Maybe he had some scratchy corn teeth and always had a cigarette barely hanging onto his lower lip. I always thought of him in month old dirty jeans, well-worn cloudy black combat Doc Martin lace-up boots, along with his ‘devil-may-care’ rock star attitude every time I heard one of their songs.

I maintained this mental picture until Spring of 2014 when I was waiting in the pick-up car line of Abby’s first grade school. I was there early and probably listening to one of their songs on the radio. I googled Kings of Leon…low and behold, Caleb Followill, is neither robust or greasy. My bubble was burst. I still revert back to the picture in my mind, as his voice ABSOLUTELY does not match his face. I want the Milli Vanilli hipster to step aside and reveal the true scratchy vocal lead singer. I was utterly disappointed and desperately wanted him to be this arrogant dirty whale of a man. Until then, I will continue to listen to their overly suggestive lyrics and wailing guitar solos.

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So, we are heading back to the lower 48. I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of my stomach doing somersaults because I’ve left such an incredible place.  Hey if something amazing happens in Homer, Alaska, and I’m not there to witness it, will it still a. happen and b. still be wonderful…even if I’m not there to experience it? Yes, I know the answer and I think that’s why my stomach is doing somersaults. 

I think I am Alaska sick.

 

 

TWO HUNDRED FORTY TWO…my new two favorite words

Homer, Alaska.

 

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“Make sure you visit a grocery store before we head out to Homer because it’s so remote there, they may not have a grocery store. So in other words, shop for the week” Greg warned me before we left Palmer. So naturally I went buck wild and spent a ridiculous amount of money on enough groceries to get us through the week because “Homer isn’t like anything we will ever experience in our lifetime” according to Greg.

 

I was going to be a smart ass and take a picture of the enormous Safeway in town, but let’s just say, the people who live in Homer, Alaska…aren’t “roughing” it as Greg had warned me about. My studious researcher husband claims he was, “misinformed”. “What year was the article you were referring to published?” I ask…to which he responds, “Hey what is that? A Moose??” A successful Subject aversion. I decided to let it go.

 

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The feelings I had when we first visited Bar Harbor, Camden, Rockport, Freeport, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Maine; Montpelier, Burlington, and Newport, Vermont; Mackinac Island, Michigan; Hatteras, North Carolina; Mt Shasta, CA are equal, if not more intense, to Homer, Alaska.

 

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Once Greg finished work on Friday, we explored the fishing village of Homer. We walked along the docks, loosing ourselves in the hypnotic glossy blue ripples in the pacific, all the life happening in the streets, families meeting up with their friends for dinner, watched fishing tours bring in their latest salmon, Halibut, or trout catch so they could hang them up in the center of town, watching the boats bob up and down on the choppy waters of the docks, observing a little group of teenage girls giggling together as their boy group tags behind rolling their eyes, and individuals walking their loyal canine companions through town.  After yelping the best seafood places, we made our way into Captain Patties Fish House. I would have taken a picture but it had begun to rain…maybe next time.

 

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Trust me when I tell you, if you ever find yourself in Homer, RUN don’t walk, I repeat RUN to Captain Patties.

 

I was thinking about getting their Salmon special, because I love salmon…but Greg usurped me and told me to trust him. He ordered the three-pounder fresh Alaskan King Crab, the price of which was a three digit number for the one dish. Within a fifteen minute time period, our waitress told us to take a look out the window and see if the King Crab their fisherman just caught was to our liking. I wonder what would have happened had I said no. I shutter to think. I looked at the damn thing and couldn’t believe how big it was. We can eat all that? Between the two of us?

 

I’ve seen the romance movies out there where the wife wants to be romanced…wined, dined, dancing, and surprised with flowers, candy, and expensive jewelry, which is perfectly fine. My idea of a romantic date night is a night of amazing food, great music, surrounded by people I love, and a nice cold glass of chardonnay or two…In other words, Friday was my idea of a perfect date night. And adding to the list of things that are romantic to me, we were in Homer, Alaska…eating dinner at a restaurant with a fabulous water view.

 

When my time comes, if I can choose how to exit this world, I choose that night, with those people plus a few more, in that restaurant, with that view, that meal, and that goofy classic easy listening 70’s rock in the background.242 f.jpg242 e.jpg242 g.jpg

 

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I went to bed Friday night feeling all the feels. I thanked Greg for being who he is and allowing me to be who I am, and for everything he does for this family, all the love he gives to his girls, and for being such a great best friend. I ran over to the girls and kissed their chocolate stained faces and told them who much they mean to me and how happy I am that I get to be their mother. Then I don’t know what happened but I must have passed out once my body hit the bed because when I awoke Saturday morning, my ears were ringing, the sun was way to bright, the sound of the toilet flushing almost put me over the edge, and I was still wearing my clothes from the night before along with my puffer vest. Needless to say the gratuitous feeling I had the night before was long gone. Vanished. Into thin air. POOF. See ya later happy girl, run along now!!

 

242 aa.jpg242 y.jpgAfter my second cup of caffeinated coffee that morning Saturday, August 12th, we greeted the morning in Homer with a trip to one of their small inlets. We wanted to give the girls an opportunity to fish in the fishing capital of the world. Just kidding. I made that last part up. But it should be called the fishing capital of the world, if it’s not. The inlet we found leads into Kachamek Bay and boasts of large salmon and another fish which I forgot the name of… because really, to me there is no competing with salmon.

 

6176737168_img_1587What do Homerians do on Saturday mornings you ask? Well, let me tell you, a lot of them can be found at the inlets with their families teaching their little toddlers to bait their own hook, catch, and release fish that are bigger than they are and probably just as heavy.

 

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They also walk up and down the fish markets picking out fresh fish for their party they’ve likely been planning for weeks. I saw two young girls who couldn’t have been more than 10 and 12 wearing their wellies everyone wears their wellies, and shorts cause 58 degrees in Alaska to the natives is a warm day, a box of pizza, and bopping onto their little boat parked in the local marina.

 

242 ah.jpgI saw the whole story playing out in my head: the two young girls whom I pretended were Abby and Phoebe planned a night of co-babysitting little Cecilia while Greg and I had a date night out. They went into town like they do every Friday, to pick up pizza and other goodies, hopped back into their little single motor cold tin fishing boat and headed home so the parents could get an early start.

 

Back to reality, I watched as they nodded hello to Abby, then me, hopped in their boat, untied their lines from the dock cleats, used their little size 5 wellies to kick away from the dock, started their engine, and motored across the bay where the lights from their windows welcomed them home.242 ae.jpg

 

242 ag.jpgIt’s a dangerous sign when I start picturing all of us living in an area. Playing out little scenarios about living on an island not reachable by cars is quite charming. So you have to park on the mainland and use your boat to take you back and forth. Big deal. I could do that. I could totally see Abby and Phoebe taking the boat out to meet up with friends to go fishing and have lunch together at The Little Mermaid Cafe, where we would have a running tab…and somehow, Abby has been putting her friends orders on the Spranger tab too. We didn’t find that last part out until the owner of the cutest cafe you’ve ever seen and yes that’s the real name by the way, called me up and hinted at our oldest child’s generous spirit. Clearly, I can get lost in the deep corridors of dreamworld.

 

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Being in Homer reminds me of the first time I visited Mackinac Island in Michigan, which by the way, had the same effect on me. The island is like 8 miles long and doesn’t allow motorized vehicles of any kind. It has horses and buggies, bicycles…and a fairy if you need something on the mainland. But the cute quaint picture perfect little town just romances me into all the big possibilities of a small existence. I love the idea of small intimate towns. The sense of community is so appealing to me.

 

242 ao.jpgI can see us in the fall starting school on the island. I can teach Kindergarten my absolute favorite grade to teach at the little elementary school so the girls and I get to walk to and from school every day. Greg will come and have lunch with us every Friday…and on the weekends, when we eat out and go to the movies, we say hello to everyone we pass…because when you live on an island that is 8 miles long, there aren’t many people you don’t know.

 

242 ab.jpgI have been in a dreamy haze since I’ve been here in Homer specifically. Beauty in my surroundings has the power to take me to all the places I’ve ever been that have had some kind of hold on me…or transformed me in some special way.

 

242 an.jpgJust like the rest of Alaska, the colors in Homer seem to be more vivid. And forget 50 shades of Grey…here they have 50 Shades of Blue. The ocean is a completely different glassy navy blue color but, it is absolutely clear…cold no doubt, but you can see all the way to the bottom. And in different angles the water can also look green. The sky has about 20 different blues all in the same sky just peeking out from behind the cotton candy clouds. The farther the mountain is away from you, the deeper the blue shade gets. so that takes up about 5 to 10 shades right there. I swear, flowers are more colorful here too. Everything is so crisp and specific. I said to Greg the other day half jokingly that maybe because it’s not sunny all the time, things here don’t really ever fade.242 b.jpgOn our way back to the RV, after our fishing excursion, I was enamoured with my surroundings while CC was singing…something, Abby talking about a wolf sanctuary in FL where the wolves are trained to safely be around people and Phoebe who is talking to the air about unicorns, rainbows and her intense dislike for all things Hannah Montana, Greg was talking about going to a fishing store so he can get the girls better fishing equipment and I’m sitting in the car, floating above my body watching and taking in all the chaos. And then the poking and bickering between the girls in the backseat begins.

 

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What would normally drive me to the brink of insanity, left me completely unphased. Why, you ask? Because it’s sunny, beautiful, chilly and dammit all, we are in HOMER, ALASKA.
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H O M E R

 

 

A L A S K A!

TWO HUNDRED FORTY…Aquamanning in Fairbanks

Living in such a small space with the same people day in and day out you find out so much about yourself.

For instance last night I learned that when I vomit, I sound like Aquaman. At least that’s what Greg tells me. I’m sure it’s true. He never exaggerates and isn’t dramatic at all. I must point out my sarcasm in the sentence above, just in case you thought I was being serious.

After eating at a restaurant I came home and didn’t feel well. Two hours later I was heaving over the toilet while Greg was standing in the doorway totally concerned saying, “I can’t believe your really puking right now. Are you ok? Can I do anything for you?” I mumbled something about a cold wet wash cloth and two minutes later he’s at my side with a sopping wet cold dish towel.

“That’ll do” I told him.

A few minutes go by and I can see him out of the corner of my eye. I know that look. He wants to tell me something, but he’s trying to gauge whether I’m too vulnerable for a little jest. Once I tell him, I’m totally fine and that I hope think it’s just a one-time thing he begins to tread lightly with, “I’ve never known anyone to sound like that when they throw up. Are you sure your ok? I mean, did you throw up a lung or a kidney?” To which I encouragingly reply, “What do I sound like when I throw up?” “Honestly, you won’t get mad?” He waits for my head nod and continues with, “You sound exactly like Aquaman.” From here on out, anytime I use the phrase, “I Aquamanned last night’ or ” I did my best impersonation of Aquaman last night” you can be 100% certain I am referring to vomiting.

And with that, I bring you highlights from our 6 day visit in Fairbanks.

Beginning in high school I dreamt about living in Alaska. Sometimes I replaced Alaska with Colorado just because it seemed more accessible. My sophmore year of highschool, I met a friend at sleep-away tennis camp who was from Colorado. She was a lot of fun and had really wild long curly blond hair. Right then I knew Colorado must be a totally cool place.

I’ve never met anyone from Alaska. I watched Continental Divide with Blair Brown and John Belushi a gazillion times so I felt completely prepared to handle anything Alaska might throw at me. Never mind the small fact that the film took place in Wyoming.

At this moment in time, Fairbanks is a jumping off point. A great place to settle down for a couple of days while we figure out the path we want to take. Our plan is to travel down to the coast, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Valdez. I’m enamoured with small quaint coastal towns. On our first RV journey, I was anxious to see if coastal Maine and Vermont were as amazing as the picture books described. Of course, being in both Maine and Vermont, it put the picture books to shame. I was in complete awe of their way of life and the absolute stunning beauty that surrounded them. I can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the quaint Alaskan coastal towns and see how these individuals live.


So while Fairbanks isn’t necessarily an end destination for us, it did allow us to recoup from our mega road trip, celebrate Cecilia’s 6th Birthday which I plan to write about in the next post, and get an idea of what our next couple of weeks might look like.

I was correct too by the way…I only Aquamanned once last night! Thank goodness. I absolutely loathe aquamanning!!

Here we come Seward!