TWO HUNDRED FIFTY…the puppy post

Has it really been September since I wrote my last blog post? Damn. I’m such a slacker. In my defense, we’ve had a lot going on. Many changes have occurred in the last 3 months.

The biggest change by far is the addition of two new furry members to our family.

Bones and Penny.

Our little 11 and 12 week old Boston Terriers. I’ve missed the companionship a dog brings to my life. I’m thrilled to report, over the past two weeks, I’ve gotten it back two-fold. I’m so in love.

Now I feel as if our family is complete.

So now, in addition to see how horribly we will screw up our beautiful girls, we will have to add our little furry family members to the mix. What can we do to screw up our furry side? I’m sure I’ll find ways in the next 15/20 years.

I’ve grown up with golden retrievers my whole life. In addition to golden’s my family also had mutts. Dogs are just a normal part of my life. I feel out of sorts when there’s not a canine around to cheer everyone up with their free unconditional love, goofy antics, sloppy kisses, and empathetic nature.

But then again, with three kids…homeschooling and working with one kid who is still having issues with the potty, I was a little stressed out about bringing home a new puppy.

So, in an effort to prepare, I read all the books again, researched the best breed for our family dynamic, drew up a monthly spending account for food, toys, vet visits…you name it, I researched it.

Greg and I had talked about it quite a bit and we decided that since the girls including Cecilia were going to be an integral part of the dogs upbringing, we wanted a breed that wouldn’t dominate them with their size…and we were all interested in a smaller breed. We are a mobile family and I thought it would be nice if we were able to take the dogs with us around town and wherever else we choose to venture.

And with that, our requirements began falling into place; we were looking for something smaller with moderate energy level, smart, gentle, playful, cuddly, great with kids… one who would enjoy long walks and be able to learn tricks, but definitely an indoor lap breed.  Boston Terriers it was. Then It hit me…we needed two puppies. Not one.

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So with that information, I set out to do a bit of research on having a puppy again. It has been quite a while since we had Bear as a puppy. I wanted to make sure I got the full scope on the hellacious journey we were about to embark. Has the research on puppy training really changed that drastically in the last 15 years that I NEEDED a refresher course? The simple answer is, no…not really.

Almost everything is the same as it was back when we first brought Bear home. BUT, it certainly helped me to feel more confident. There were some things I had forgotten. Really, it just made me feel more prepared.

The one thing that did change since Bear, was the new addition of “puppy pads”. Apparently taking the puppy to potty outside before their 4th round of shots is now frowned upon.

So you just have to be ready for the urine and poop smell to infiltrate your home. It’s now ok for puppies to pee in the home…on a pad…that’s not great at holding liquid…and that our puppies see as some sort of treat they can tear up. So, really, puppy pads are just another great way to arbitrarily spend money AND add more work.

And since we’re on the subject of adding my work to our my schedule, I’m envisioning the added work I will absorb when the puppies finally do get their 4th round of shots and we can start “re-training” them to go potty outside. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

In the meantime we have 4 more weeks to solidify their current “operation: go potty in the house” routine.

Hmmm.

For all the prep work and anxiety bringing home a new puppy caused, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. Possibly because we got two. They were already sleeping in a crate so it wasn’t a major transition for them the day we brought them home.

I bought one of those metal pens that piece together making room for them to run and play during their first year. I’m trying to curtail destructive behavior as much as I can without causing any major aggression issues. With that destructive puppy behavior, I certainly don’t want them to have full access to our home. Especially those times we won’t be home.

But the particular piece-together pen was outgrown in one week. So on to the next purchase. The new one seems more sturdy and definitely gives them more room to play. Is it too much for me to hope it lasts for forever?

It’s official. I’m in love. And they’re not as calm as they seem in these pictures. I personally think Bones may have been exposed to speed in the womb and is consequently suffering long-term withdrawal effects. He has these short bursts of through-the-roof energy. And then he just passes out.

Penny is the sweet cuddle bug of the two. She just wants to be held, kissed, and given little biscuit treats all day. Twist my arm. She’s definitely my kind of dog.

Having Bones and Penny in time for the holidays makes everything a little sweeter this year. We are all in love with these two pups!! Welcome to our humble abode Bones and Penny!!!

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 SIX…roosevelt was allergic to frugs…what?

I have one word for you today

Roosevelt

No, not as in FDR or Teddy.

I have discovered a new band that is similar to Beach Fossils. Their song moving on, makes me want to lock myself in a large dark warehouse with a multi-colored magenta disco ball and turn the bass all the way up and just watch the lights play off the walls and floor. I see myself sitting in the center of this empty warehouse on a glow in the dark BLACK Adirondack chair, with a straw hat, and a strawberry daiquiri. No. Scratch that…pinacolada.

And no, before you ask I’m not on LSD. It’s just that good. Just listen to it. If you don’t have a similar feeling, that may be a good indicator that we do not have the same taste in music. Which is fine. I think we would still get along. I like all music.

I am now on a quest to acquire all of Roosevelt’s music. Apparently they’ve been around for a while. Why I haven’t I heard them on my Pandora Beach Fossils station you ask?? Well, let me respond with, “My sentiments exactly!” What the hell are those algorithms for? I’m thumbing up Small Black, Kuyuckas, Wild Cub, Washed Up, Fleet Foxes…I could go on ad nauseum.

One thing is for sure, I’m going to need hearing aids and medicine for the tinnitus I will surely develop listening to my Beats headphones on their loudest decibels. That’s assuming all those damn B52’s and Dave Mathews concerts I attended back in the day didn’t already cause all the damage.

I’m laying here, my eyes are itchy, watery. My nose is stuffed up. This happens every night around the 10:00 hour. Finally after 3 nights of staying up past 10 I’ve come to the realization I must be allergic to 10:00. Just like my allergy to housework . I have Elena, one of my 3 best girlfriends to thank for my late nights…

SIDENOTE: Abby, Phoebe and I have decided we are ready to adopt not one, but TWO baby pugs.

And not just any pugs…this is where my friend Elena comes in….she is going to try to impregnate her pug within the next 10 days. She has a most brilliant plan to throw her little Lupi in a room with a French bulldog for the next week. And hopefully 63 days following their “spiritual” meeting, we will be gifted a boy and girl frug (French Pug).

For the past 3 nights we have been discussing our excitement about being PMILS together. “What’s a “PMIL””, you ask. Why it stands for Puppy-Mother-In-laws. DUH. We are already planning Holidays, Birthdays, weddings…vacations together, grandmother siestas. There are so many events that need to be pre-arranged. It’s exhausting.

The Tennessee Spranger’s are ready. It has taken us a solid 3 years to get to the point where we are ready to open our hearts to a new canine member. We obviously looked at golden retrievers again, but ultimately decided we would not feel comfortable putting a new innocent dog in that position of constantly being compared to the one and only Bear Spranger.

Also, the one lone picture of myself in this blog is taken by my other one of three best girl friends…Mrs Stephanie, who also owns a pug. The signs are all around us. I just need to find out if my third best girlfriend Karla also has a pug she is hiding from us. If not, she probably needs to get one so we can all siesta together.

Oh wow, I’ve got to start adding more planning to the list…

I also see myself roller skating in a giant ware house again with a disco ball (blue and green this time though, not magenta…that’s not a good color for skating Gods) again with the bass blasting and it’s just me and my PMILs in our Bikinis, pig tails, and bubble gum. That’s a much better dream.

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 ONE…6 year assessment

Cecilia Rae

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 It took me forty years to make it to Alaska and just a few weeks ago we celebrated Cecilia’s 6th birthday in Fairbanks.

For her birthday we took her to the kid friendly Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. We spent a couple of hours watching her run around enticing her sisters to chase her up the stairs, down the slide, and through the small plastic tunnels. We pushed her on the toddler swings and she jumped over cracks in the sidewalk until she finally sauntered over to us and asked for, “Book time mommy?” which is CC talk for “I’m ready for a nap now”. For dinner, we let the girls do CC’s favorite activity of making pizza bagels for dinner, followed by cupcakes, ice cream, and of course presents. Just a typical birthday.

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I’ve been taking stock of our lives lately and trying to really absorb who we all are in this time in our life. We are closing in on the end of yet another year. Once we pass July 29th, her birthday, we round the corner to all the holidays and birthdays that follow. It’s inevitable decent on our roller coaster-like existence.

As of today, Tuesday the 7th of August 2017, this is where Cecilia is in her life…

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She wears her heart on her sleeve. When it’s raining outside and we are playing alligator in the RV AND I’m on the floor growling and acting like a wild…alligator, she backs herself into a corner and begins to cry. On a normal day if we make a ‘mean’ or ‘scary’ face in her general direction, it automatically brings tears to her eyes. Of course, we all immediately stop what we’re doing and come to her rescue.

But that’s not to say she is sweet and sensitive all the time. She most definitely has her days and issues just like any toddler. If you’re sitting near her during mealtime and attempt to swipe a cracker or other form of carbohydrate, prepare yourself for both a verbal and physical assault. And let me tell you, for a six-year-old, her slaps will leave a mark.

With that being said, if she hurts you on accident, be ready for some serious hug time and a good fifteen minute period of her looking into your eyes, while holding your face in her tiny little hands, and a litany of apologetic, “I’m so sorry Mommy…are you ok…I love you mommy, I’m so sorry…my poor sweetie, you didn’t deserve that” rhetoric. She embodies sincerity and empathy. If I didn’t know and wanted to learn how to issue an authentic apology, I would observe Cecilia for a day.

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She will follow you around just waiting for you to bestow a “job” on her and when she completes the job, will bask in the glory if you brag about how well she did. And when she calls attention to others in the room so they can observe her hard work in action, the smile it brings her when you notice, is worth everything.

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She loves reading books with someone who appreciates a good cuddle. And if you’re laying down with her and you see her little hand stretching out to touch your eye, just allow her to run her forefinger on your lashes. She won’t poke you in the eye, she just wants to touch your lashes.

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She listens better and follows direction better if it’s given outside among the grass, trees, wind, and clouds. She loves loves loves to swim.

As soon as she opens her eyes in the morning, she hops out of bed with a happy heart ready to bestow kisses on the first person she sees. She thrives on routine. If she sees you crying, she will part the ocean to come and give you comfort. If she feels she is competing for your attention, she will up the cuteness factor tenfold. When she dances she loves to swing her little hips back and forth. When it’s nighttime before we put her pajamas on, she does this thing where she grabs the strands of hair that have fallen in the front with both hands and tosses them behind her back. Totally cute. And she does it every time. Such a girly girl.

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She loves to play with play-doh. Her favorite thing to eat for breakfast is cinnamon raisin bagels. Her favorite lunch is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And don’t even think about skipping Friday night pizza time where she competes with her sisters for winning one of the coveted three categories for best pizza: 1. most creative pizza 2. most yummiest pizza 3. funniest looking pizza. She needed help with her pizza in the beginning, but will swipe your hand away if you come anywhere near her pizza today. She is perfecting her pizza-making craft and she doesn’t want any help from those who don’t share her vision.

 She wants to be independent in the grocery store and walk alongside the cart, but she will just up and wander away if you aren’t paying attention.

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She gives two physical signs when she’s tired. The first of which involves putting her thumb in her mouth and raising her other hand to her face so she can touch her eyelashes. The second is when she clicks her jaw open and makes a yawning sound. If we’re in public it’s particularly intriguing to strangers who will openly stare at her and then turn to me with a look of, “why are you taking her out of the house?” To which I smile at them and give her a kiss and engage her in conversation.

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You know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? Cecilia does. She makes use of that phrase when asking for…damn near anything. If you’re not on her timeline be  prepared for, “Mommy, I want ice water please…Ice water please, Mommy…Mommy, water with ice please…Mommy…Mommy, please ice water…Can I have water with ice please” and on and on it goes until she has her plastic cup with lid and straw in her little hands. She will check to make sure the ice is in there as well….so if you think you might get something past her watchful eye, think again.

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Her baby years are long gone. With all of our children, I cherished those years where our days were filled with cuddling, nursing, staring into each others eyes, and celebrating the tiniest of milestones. My words cannot pay homage to the absolute joy I feel as a mother. It is without a doubt the hardest job I’ve ever had: meal planning, clothes washing, house cleaning, school prep, are they getting enough sleep questions, when was the last time one of them had a good bowel movement, the constant worry deep within about whether I am good enough, am I doing enough, will they be happy and productive members of society, do they feel good about themselves, are they kind to others, are they getting enough outside time, how much is this lifestyle choice going to cost them in therapy bills when they reach adulthood, are they polite, are Abby and Phoebe getting enough one on one time with me or their daddy, do I spend too much time with Cecilia, have they all bathed, do they feel safe, do they know they are loved…the list goes on.

On the other hand, it is without a doubt the best most rewarding job I’ve ever had.

My mom asked me one time when I was pregnant with Phoebe, “Are you ever afraid that you won’t love the second one as much as the first one?” I didn’t even think about it…the answer was as clear to me then as it is today, “I have so much love to give…I love being a mother and I can’t wait to have more babies.”

Of course that goes back to the time when we were convinced we would have around five kids. Even though we face tough days and have days where we are constantly looking at the clock only to find three minutes has crawled by, I wouldn’t change our lives for anything. There’s no one else I want to be, there’s no place else I want to be, and there’s no one else I would want to be with. I feel so happy, thankful, and overwhelmed with gratitude.

241 b.jpgUsually around this time of year, right before our roller coaster reaches the summit and inches over the little hill for the final descent to the new year, I become a gooey mess. It all starts with this little girls birthday.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE…I blame it on the kerosene

After Greg and I got married, we lived together at his rental property in good old Chuckey, Tennessee. In the winters (because of the humidity) the cold would permeate every fiber of my being…and because of the lack of central heat/AC, I begged Greg to buy  something that would allow the apartment to reach an inhabitable 68 degrees. The 48 degree apartment just wasn’t cutting it for me. So one day, after work, he came home with a brand new kerosene heater.

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Here’s a little side note: when I was a little girl, around 8 years old, I burnt the skin off my chin from touching a kerosene heater…with my chin. Hmm, did I need to write that? It was probably understood I burnt the skin on my chin because I touched it with…well…not my hands.

I’m not sure why I thouched a heater with my chin…I must have been bending over to pick something up or look over the heater in search of something…Surely I knew better than to touch a heater with any part of my skin.

Surely (don’t call me Shirley)

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Back to our very humble dwellings in rural Tennessee…

So, one night Greg brought the kerosene heater home and despite my mixed emotions, I could not deny the warmth it radiated through the entire apartment. Let’s just say it was more than conducive to my extraordinarily high Standard of living. As the winter months went on and the temperature dipped into the low 30’s, we would snuggle up on the couch in the evenings for an episode of Law and Order or City Confidential.

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It was around those bitter months where we noticed we were falling asleep on the couch, mid-episode. Highly uncharacteristic of us. At first I assumed we were just falling asleep because we were so in love and cozy and that’s what you do in the winter months.

After a couple of weeks of that routine: watching tv and falling asleep together on our couch, I started thinking about the way I felt when I woke up. I was kind of groggy and not really my “normal self” after taking a short nap. Finally, after a few dead brain cells, it dawned on me, we might be blacking out because of the fumes being dispersed from the heater.

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When I broached the subject with Greg he agreed his “wake up symptoms” weren’t exactly normal. We then agreed to get rid of the damn thing. Good riddance brain burner. After we rid our apartment of the kerosene Heater, we no longer “cat-napped” on the couch in the evening during our shows. Case solved!

Fast forward all the way to today and the loss of brain cells could be the reason for…well just about every a skewed decision I’ve ever made since those fateful winter months in 2004. It’s all the kerosene gas pushing me to make poor decisions and not poor judgment as an individual. Shew. I’m glad I solved that case. Jerry Orback would be proud.

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I wonder if the decision I made yesterday to leave an entire bag of groceries (the important ((I need this stuff)) reason I came to the grocery store in the first place) full of perishable items behind in the self check-out line of the Cortez, Colorado Wal-Mart,  could also be linked to the kerosene fumes. What is the statute of limitations on blaming a single incident (kerosene gas) for our current life choices?

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Is thirteen years within the acceptable time frame?

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Alas, this is all just fallacy, lest you think I’m being serious.

Although, I often find myself visualizing the fully functioning brain and then it’s dwarfed kerosene counterpart of today. I’m sure all those helium balloons I inhaled as a child aren’t helping me now either. Is it the reason for my juvenile sense of humor and equally juvenile choices in life?

Rhetorical question.

Don’t answer that!

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Now I must go back to Wal-Mart to purchase whole milk (the ridiculously expensive organic kind), yogurt, cheese sticks, and of course, sticks of butter I left behind on yesterday’s jaunt.

Happy Wednesday evening friends!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE…Middle Middle, chicken little

I am forever in awe of my middle child.

The same child who 7 months ago, demanded we take her in to a beauty salon so she could “spike” her hair.

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Unlike Abby, who has been exposed to peer pressure and is consciously aware of her actions in a public setting, Phoebe could care less about what others think of her. Every floor is a potential dance floor to Phoebe and she wouldn’t give a second thought to breaking out her awesome dance moves in the middle of a crowded store. No doubt, if she did that, Abby would quietly walk away from her and hide behind a clothing rack, begging me to, “Please make her stop, mom, she’s embarrassing me!”

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Phoebe’s choice of clothes almost always reflect her personality for that particular day. If she’s wearing rainbow-colored clothes, chances are pretty high she is having a good day. If, however, she is wearing grey, blue, another dull color…save yourself grief and wait for her to change her clothes. I don’t believe her choice to match her attire to her inner self is a conscious one…but more ‘matter of fact’ kind of thing.

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When we woke up this morning, she requested a trip to Target. She has a “recipe” she wanted to try. I needed to pick up a couple of things anyway, so after breakfast, we all piled into the car. Currently, we are in Springfield, Utah. The local Target is the best Target I have ever been to: It’s huge, they have more than the average Target, and the grocery section takes up half of the store. When we have days like today where the temperature is in the triple digits, I purchase a Starbucks coffee and spend all morning exploring every isle in the store. After we picked up all of her key ingredients (peaches, bananas, whip cream, and cherries) we headed over to the hair section where I proceeded to convince myself that I needed a new brush and some other items I had “forgotten” to write down on my list.

While we were standing in front of the hair accessory section, Phoebe was dancing around. She was singing and twirling and the next thing I knew, she was falling on the floor of the display case. Once she got back on her feet, she turned to me with eyes full of tears and said, “I’m having a hard day Mommy.” There was no surprise she changed from her multi-colored twirly dress to grey t-shirt and jean short overalls when we returned to the RV.

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Around the 2:00 hour, it had cooled down enough for us to go on a walk. We were just going to do a couple of laps around the park. On our first lap, we made it 3/4 of the way around before we reached the playground. There were two boys around Abby and Phoebe’s age moping around the playground searching for something to do. I encouraged them to see if they wanted to play and watched as they headed over to make their introductions. I witnessed Abby tell the boys her name and hold out her hand for a shake. And then I saw Phoebe clap her hands, do an upward head nod, throw her little non-existent hips to the side, prop one of her hands on her imaginary hip, and point with her forefinger…followed by, “Hey boys, I’m Phoebe…my favorite color is purple, and I really like unicorns.”

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I had just enough of a vantage point to see Abby roll her eyes, bury her head in her hands, shove Phoebe on the shoulder and ask her to, “Stop Phoebe, just be normal.” I had this lump in my stomach. I was trying to formulate the words I might use when she needed to be consoled after the boys made fun of her for the ‘odd introduction’ Leaving her to face peer pressure for the first time in her life. But the reaction I was afraid of, didn’t happen. The boys said something like, “Cool…you guys want to play?” Phoebe started sprinting back towards the RV. When I asked her where she was going, she yelled, “I have to change Mommy…Abby I’ll be right back!”

Five minutes later she is running back to the park wearing pink shorts, with her multi-colored bathing suit on and her purple swim skirt pulled up to her chest. She repurposed the skirt into a ruffle top. On any other child, it would have looked ridiculous, but on her, it was totally awesome. It didn’t seem to bother Abby either. She was also sporting the rainbow winter hat I knitted for her three years ago. Did I mention the hat was wool? Did I also mention it was a solid 93 degrees outside. No one questioned her new look.

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They just wanted to play.