TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THREE…no holds barred

“Ok, go as hard as you can. I mean it. Don’t take it easy on me. No holds barred. Give me everything you’ve got”, I remember saying to Greg as I was buckling into my safety gear.

“Are you sure?” he answers back in his quizzical way when he’s not sure if this is a good time to reveal to his spouse, whom he loves and really enjoys getting along with, that she is not the same spring chicken she once was. I could see the wheels turning in that big ol’ brain of his…”We’re having such a good day…If I do what she tells me, who knows what will happen. On the other hand, if I tell her she can’t do the same things she used to do she might turn into mean Angie Beth. No one likes that version.”

“Go on, I can handle it” I assured him.

I was reminded of those famous last words I spoke 4.5 years ago at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. I demanded my husband spin me in one of those shuttle simulators where you put on a seatbelt of sorts and hold all your limbs tight to your body, in order to experience centrifugal force. The tighter you hold your limbs to your center, the faster you’ll go. Pushing your arms away from your body and raising your head, slows you down. And when I say “pushing” your arms away, that’s exactly what it is. The faster your going the harder it is to move your arms. I’m not underestimating my reader. I’m merely attempting to set the stage for the events that followed that fateful day.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

While I was spinning, I felt like I did when my cousin Hal used to swing me in circles by my wrist in my grandparents yard. I couldn’t stop laughing. Just like being spun in my grandparents yard, the experience was exhilarating.

Finally when the spinning began to wind down, I unbuckled and climbed, or more to the point, fell out of the simulator. I was unable to walk in a straight line for an hour. Oh hell, who am I kidding, between the shuttle simulator and kerosene heater back in the day, I’m still waiting for my brain cells to return. Fingers crossed on that one folks.

Immediately following, I had to sit down and rate my up-chuck factor, which If I remember correctly, was on a sliding scale in the 80th percentile range. The high-end of the 80th percentile range.

The longer I sat, the more the world around me started spinning. “I need to get up and walk around” I said to Greg. I quickly found that wasn’t the solution either. Panic was setting in, “What if this spinning and unsteady feeling doesn’t go away?” I thought. I needed it to stop right then and there or I was going to have a full-on panic attack.

Luckily, we were nearing the end of our visit to the museum. I attempted to walk myself to our car but five steps in, immediately stopped to steady myself against a garbage can. At this point I recalled a few flashbacks to my college years.

I was feeling a bit left of center for a good three weeks, if you know what I mean. I say “left of center” because my world really was gravitating towards the left side of my body and eventually turning into a full on spin.

I have since recovered from that experience but occasionally I come back to it when I randomly pass trash cans in parking garages or when I stand up too fast on an empty stomach.

It also reminded me of the time Abby began her acrobatic phase. All of the sudden busting out into hand stands and cartwheels  at random moments became the norm.

And somewhere down deep inside, I just knew I could still do it. So the only thing to do in that particular moment was to just go for it. Did it matter I hadn’t done anything remotely acrobatic in a decade? I laugh in your face and loudly proclaim, “it’s all about muscle memory”…right? How about warming up the old brittle muscles for my first attempt at acrobatics in a decade? Yet another dubious question worthy of a spat in the face. I want everyone to know, I did neither. No you pussies. I put my all into it. Go big or go home, Right? I went outside in the comfort of our back patio and attempted my first ever handstand in over a decade. Against our concrete constructed home. With our concrete floor. Even though there was ample grass space in our back yard, I chose to do everything on the concrete floor.

Suffice it to say I had a wee bit of trouble the rest of the day.

Naturally, I needed yet another reminder just this week, that I am no spring chicken.

My mother-in-law bought the girls a trampoline almost a year ago. I always wanted a trampoline growing up. So naturally, I get on it every now and then with Cecilia.

I’ve been too busy with life to make it a regular occurrence but every now and then I’ll knock myself out with some of my impressive tricks. Like the other day when Greg took Abby and Phoebe to the movies leaving Cecilia and I behind so she could get a nap in. Before I put her down, I thought to myself, “I should let her get her wiggles out and spend some energy. It was a gorgeous day…the sun was shining, it was only 58 degrees, “Perfect”, I thought, “this will give me a chance to perfect my old school acrobatic skills. I’m going to tear that trampoline up!”

Cecilia only had to ask me once to, “Get on Mommy!” At that moment, I thought, “If I do something completely amazing like I think I probably will, there won’t be anyone here to acknowledge it.” On the flip side, the thought of getting hurt briefly entered my mind and then was immediately dismissed with delusions of grandure.

I won’t go into specifics, but rest assured, my “tumbling career” is in fact, over. Not because I hurt myself, although I did do that, but the grace with which I fly through the air is just gone. If there were any doubts on my part, I completely eradicated them on that fateful day.

Well just as in my centrifugal force experience, my attempt at hand stands, back-end, cartwheels, and now jumping on the trampoline in my middle years, I can now add shoulder tweak to my growing list of physical complaints. I fell victim to the whole 5 minutes of bravery and gave it my all. I honestly hope my neighbors were out and about or at the very least, nowhere near their windows. I can’t imagine what I must have looked like. I half expect to find myself on YouTube making a complete fool of myself.

This can’t really be my stopping point can it? Am I really never going to do another cart-wheel again? I used to be pretty good at hand stands and backbend. I wonder if I started taking yoga to improve my flexibility and balance…if in six months time, I would be able to slowly ease into my old tricks. I know Yoga is a great way to warm up the body. I could do Yoga. It’s only an hour or so. Is now a good time to acknowledge my intense dislike for “calm talking” and someone telling me to “breathe through the pain”.

Thats ok. As far as I’m concerned, I have plenty of other interests I can involve myself in without causing any physical harm. Unless I accidentally stab myself in the eye with a knitting needle. Rest assured, if something that horrific were to happen, it would be in the spirit of “balls to the wall”. There’s no “half-assing” going on over here friends. We just don’t do things half heartedly at our house. The Spranger’s a more of the “no holds barred” philosophy.

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.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY TWO…suspicious eyes

We went to a great seafood restaurant last night downtown Longbeach, MS. It was nice, intimate, low-key and super casual. We beat the dinner crowd and I got all the girls in and out of the bathroom before our appetizers came out.

I like to take the girls to the bathroom when we first arrive at a restaurant so that I can spend the rest of the night bribing Abby with candy and toys if she will take Cecilia to the bathroom every-time she asks. Otherwise I am up and down, up and down, up and down every ten minutes, as all liquids run right through her.

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Phoebe begs to tag along too. It usually buys me at least 30 minutes of face to face time with Greg before Abby, upon Cecilia’s 3rd bathroom request, waves her white flag to surrender.

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So when Phoebe volunteered to take Cecilia, Greg and I looked at each other and said, “Well, I don’t see why not.” There were maybe 2 other couples in the restaurant and I had a pretty good visual on the bathroom door. “Let’s see what happens” I thought. Phoebe has been asking to help out a lot more and showing more initiative.

I watched Phoebe and Cecilia hold hands and walk together toward the restroom. Before Cecilia let go of Phoebe’s hand and tried to run away from her, they were actually having a sweet sister moment. Greg and I watched as Phoebe regained control and clasped little Cecilia’s hand in hers and firmly said, “No CC! You stay with me!” to which Cecilia complied.

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I watched the girls disappear into the private bathroom and resumed my conversation with Greg.

About 5 minutes later the appetizers came out along with refills for the kids drinks. As the waiter was walking away, Cecilia appeared from behind him. 

There she was…

…alone

…at our table

…without Phoebe.

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“I will give Phoebe a couple of minutes to finish up…if she doesn’t show up, I will go check on her”, I thought.

Five minutes later when our food came out, I scooted out of our booth to check on her in the bathroom.

As I was approaching the door, I had a series of thoughts running through my cursed brain: Phoebe has flooded the bathroom…they made a mess and Phoebe is trying to clean up…there’s a poop mess on the floor and Phoebe is trying to clean it up but of course, making it worse…Phoebe put too much toilet paper in the potty and when she flushed it – you know the rest…Cecilia tied Phoebe up and trapped her in the bathroom (that one made me chuckle)…Phoebe had an accident (that one made me sad).

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As I laid my hand gently on the knob, turning it slightly, surprised it was unlocked, I opened the door to find Phoebe dancing and singing, “We can’t go on together, with suspicious eyes, with suspicious eyes” in front of the mirror. 

She had used sink water (I hope) to wet the sides of her hair and was really swinging her non-existent hips while waving her left arm in the air and holding on to her makeshift toilet paper microphone. 

Influenced no doubt by the YouTube video of Elvis singing ‘Suspicious Minds’ I was watching the night before. It was really something. I think she was just repeating the “suspicious eyes” phrase over and over.

In fact, she is correct, it would be very difficult to carry on a relationship with suspicious eyes. 

When she caught me looking at her in the mirror, she spun around and said, “I just love that song Mommy!” “Me too Phoebe…that was really good singing and your dancing was on point”, I said in my most dry and serious “MOM” tone. “Yes I know…I’m actually a really good dancer”, she informed me.

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I motioned for her to follow me back to our table and told her, about her yummy mac and cheese waiting for her. 

When we settled down, I asked Phoebe how it was taking Cecilia to the bathroom and she promptly said, “Uh oh, I forgot! Sorry Mommy…I’ll take her this time I promise”…to which Cecilia took Phoebe’s dinner spoon and chucked it across the room to another table.

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It was my first time trying “cold” steamed clams.

Maybe next time.

WE CAN’T GO ON TOGETHER, WITH SUSPICIOUS EYES…SUSPICIOUS EYES

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY…April fools = anniversary 

So, yesterday morning (Saturday) I was so moved by the sun’s steroid rays’ blasting through our bedroom window, I wrote a 1500 word blog on my phone in record time.

As always, when I write a blog via my phone, I don’t always hit the save button or add pictures right away because really, it’s on my phone in a super secret hiding place and I have a wicked, ridiculously long password and I take other precautions besides “saving” which will allow me to keep the draft open until I’m ready to publish.

It was one of those really happy blogs about how much I love my family…being a mom…a wife. Basically all the stuff that’s super annoying if you’re not in the mindset to read about someone’s “great day” blah blah blah.


My professed love and adoration of my awesome significant other and how yesterday April 1, 2017 was our 13th anniversary. How thoughtful, considerate, fun, curious and fun (did I say that already) he is. All the good mushy stuff.


We had some responsible adult-like errands to run before we could begin celebrating our scandalous nuptials from 13 years ago. We eloped in a courthouse…on April 1st, aka: April Fools Day. I’ll share the story one day…it’s a great one.

He was taking Abby and Phoebe fishing while I wanted to take Cecilia to an Urgent Care in Long Beach, MS to get her ear checked out.  We are in Mississippi now by the way…also a good story and one I intend on sharing. I also wanted to indulge in my biweekly Saturday morning habit of Dunkin Donuts.

He put D&D and Urgent Care addresses in my Google Maps so my trip might go off without a hitch and save me from getting lost, which is usually a guarantee with me. He also put addresses to the Waffle House, and the fishing pier in my google maps so I could find them after their super fun morning of fishing and eating at a fun smoke-filled Waffle House, when I returned in 3 hours from doing responsible adult-like things. That was meant to be sarcastic.

Once we reached the Pier, he handed me my phone and said, “you’ll find all of your addresses in “recents” on your google maps”. “Awesome!” I thought.

On the way to the pier, I thought of something I wanted to add to the story I had written a couple of hours ago….

So…

I click on my blog link and it’s not there. “Hmm…I know I didn’t save it, but I should be fine because I also know I hadn’t closed it in my history yet” I thought. I checked the three separate areas where it would have been…because I know I didn’t make that mistake of closing the file before I hit the save button. I wouldn’t do that. That’s a rookie mistake. The more I looked, the more frustrated I became.

I know I didn’t close it.

And then it came to me…I know “I” didn’t close it…

…but I know who did.

All the amazing stuff I had just written about my totally awesome, thoughtful, considerate, sensitive but not too sensitive, spouse who respects me and my things was completely and utterly wiped from existence. Gone. Obliterated. Never to return. Sayonara.

I was so frustrated…all I could do was laugh.

13 years.


When I write, I leave apps on my electronics open, sometimes work best when surrounded by chaos, usually when the moment strikes,  and always when I’m listening to amazing music. I don’t always save my work.

I collect Coastal Living magazines like their my go-to drug for anything that ales me. I’m having a rough day cause the kids aren’t listening to me (everyday)...my quick solution is to pull out any Coastal Living magazine and forget about reality for a while. It’s therapeutic. And it works. Every time.

I like to eat shelled peanuts and drink Corona Extra with lime on Fridays. I stick stuff in my ear. I double back a lot, A LOT when I drive. I suck at following directions.

I do laundry and don’t always fold it right away so it gets all wrinkly again and sometimes, SOMETIMES, I just leave it in the basket until someone needs one of its inhabitants.

I let my kids pick their own clothes


I chew gum like a complete maniac. I almost always have a stain on my clothing somewhere. And I have a thousand mini receipts jammed into a pocket of my purse which I never intend on using but am just too lazy to throw away.

Just a few of my “peculiarities” at a glance.

If my 6’3″ partner can live with some of those issues and still be the father, friend, and spouse he is, I can certainly look past his incessant need to delete all of the important information I like to hoard on my electronics.

My ice-cold glass of Chardonnay and the meal my husband spent all of his tireless energy retrieving from the Italian restaurant 3 miles away while our children screamed and ran around the campground fishing pier like little gorillas was a great way to celebrate our life together.


Happy 13th to us…and I’m changing all of my passwords yet again.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE…we’re in Texas sha moe part 2

In trying to stay on point with part 1 I stated we were in Texas in the title but that’s no longer the case. We are now bunking in a small rural town in Louisiana.

We went from moderate humidity, cool breezy nights, and sunny warm days to overwhelming humidity, stagnant warm nights and equally stagnant warm days. Despite the continuous rain we’ve experienced, I know it is beautiful here. And I am pleased to report, the Pelican state has plenty of grass and trees.

When we woke up this morning, I informed the girls of my plans to re-organize the past ten months of schoolwork. It’s constant work to keep everything neatly arranged in its place and the girls are moving up a grade. So we are making room for the new curriculum and sending their old work back to my sweet unsuspecting mother. Out with the old, in with the new. They helped with Cecilia, taking her to the potty, keeping her occupied and fed while I hacked away at our school clutter and WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT AS SOON AS I FINISHED and the rain held off for a couple more hours, we were off to the campground’s pool, playground, and splash pad…due to the monsoon-like weather, I did not take any pictures.

Please allow me to backtrack for a moment. When I called to make a reservation Monday afternoon, the gentleman on the other end of the line sort of chuckled at me and remarked, “We got plenty a room…you ain’t gotta make no reservation”.

SWEET! “So this is a great time to visit this part of the state…it has to be…who would pass up a campground like this, especially when kids are involved!”  This particular campground boasted of a pool, splash pad, playground, big pond with gazebos and footbridges, and a small catch and release fishing pond.

As I finished the last of the clearing out, the girls scrambled to get their swimsuits on. We made our way to the front office where I was hoping to settle our bill, but just like it was on Tuesday, the sign on the door said “closed”.

We schlepped our way over to the playground.  The pool was pretty close by, but was an odd color. I thought it was the reflection of the dark blue tile on the inside wall…but upon further inspection, I realized the water-color was in fact black.

I rounded the corner to take a mental picture of the “splash pad” covered in 3″ deep standing water. The word BACTERIA flashed before my very eyes in bright red neon lights.

When I turned to peruse the playground, I was equally unimpressed. This week is going to be a bust…at least in terms of getting out and enjoying our surroundings.

Thank God it’s Thursday. Only 2 more days and then we’re heading to the coast of MS. Well, 3 more days actually, but Saturday doesn’t count as we have a major excursion planned.

The point is, we are not here…

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Lacking in stimuli here in our campground in rural Louisiana, I would like to continue with the second half of the story about our beach time fun in the good old state of TX.

Before we embarked on our epic journey 9 months ago, we decided it would be fun to buy a beach tent.

We aren’t really beach tent kind of people, but thought it might allow us to extend our beach stays past the normal three and a half hours.

Knowing this Spranger family and my husband in particular, it couldn’t be just any tent. It needed to be the newest most minimalistic and indestructible tent on the market. Introducing this crazy-ass tent.  It takes a strong understanding of directional wind and a very precise placement of support beams otherwise known as poles.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I believe, thanks to the pictures below, that I am Justified when I write, the tent and I have some issues. I am convinced this tent exists to point out my wind calculation inadequacies. Below are pictures of the tent throughout the course of one day. I would get it up, after 15 minutes it would fall. This continued for a period of five hours.

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229 l.jpgBut dammit I kept trying. Hoping with the tents’ billowy graceful falls to the ground the girls would see, that I was not readily relinquishing my goal to get that damn tent to stay up. I know onlookers noticed me not relinquishing.

I even had one man stand within a few yards of me while I was struggling with the tent poles. He had a quizzical look on his face. If I were to interpret his facial contortions I would say he may have been trying to figure out if I was a performance artist or just a regular mom of three struggling to pup a tent. I could tell he wanted to help, but I was determined to figure it out on my own.

I entertained the thought of jumping from behind the fallen tent, taking a bow, and holding out my baseball cap just in case he wanted to give me some money for the 15 minutes of entertainment I no doubt provided. I just continued to struggle. He finally moved on. He didn’t leave any change. Voyeur.

Then of course there was the whole ordeal of the girls covering one another in wet sand. I’m sure I don’t need to write about the state of our shower after that fiasco.

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229 c.jpgFinally, we are the family who shows up at the beach with every sand toy known to man. If you can imagine it, we’ve got it. And every toy is used.

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I feel good about the hundreds of dollars we have spent on beach toys because I know they are being used and abused. The big hit this year is the dump truck. Not just with Cecilia… it has become the toy Abby and Phoebe fight over.

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The toy that launched a thousand screams, “Its my turn Phoebe…you’ve had it all day” “No Abby, you had it all day yesterday…and you picked the movie last night” because young people use logic to justify their arguments…”Well Phoebe you hit CC earlier and took her doll away from her this morning” and as you can imagine it escalates from there.

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I have been trying to let the girls work their issues out on their own, hoping they will find a peaceful and egalitarian resolution without my having to mediate. Either that or I’m just too tired to referee knowing that particular argument won’t be the last.

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229 w.jpg“It’s mine”, CC aggressively informs them. I can’t help but laugh as she grabs the dump truck and bolts in the opposite direction as fast as her little legs can take her. “CC, give it back to Phoebe…she had it first…your not being nice!” “No CC give it to Abby, it was her turn not yours!”  CC throws it down before they can yank it from her pudgy little hands. Conflict resolution 101 folks. Throw logic to the wind, just sit and wait. Eventually, it will all work itself out. Once again, we are not here,

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Sha moe…I’m going to make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, ya know it, ya know it, ya know it, ya know! No seriously, I’m going to change my current position in order to make Greg a coffee, and it will feel real good. Sha moe!

Enjoy your Thursday!

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT…we’re in Texas, “sha-moe” Part ONE

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It’s official, Texas is quickly becoming one of my favorite states. We just spent a glorious week at South Padre County Park where we were mere steps away from the beach. Ok, maybe the word “steps” might be exaggerating a wee bit…our beach journey was more like a short jaunt. I would like to take this moment and express my happiness in the form of song lyrics of Michael Jackson, “Sha-MOE”.

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Which brings me to my story of the day. It doesn’t matter where we are, Florida, North Carolina, California, Oregon, New York, Vermont or Maine, I am the human equivalent of a pack mule heading on a long journey for a daytime destination.

I can see it in my mind and am certain it is a comical sight. I wish I could capture the image for you, heck, I wish I could capture the image for myself…but it would most likely make me sad. Suffice it to say, my enormous beach bag now being used as a bag for transporting sand toys, a medium-sized drink/snack bag, giant beach blanket, 5 towels, and my camera bag all while pushing Cecilia in the stroller makes me feel as ridiculous as it sounds.

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It’s no surprise for those who’ve been reading this blog or know me…I’ve always been open about my over-packing issues. BUT, I really do need all those things, assuming I want to have a relaxing day at the beach. If I don’t bring toys, the girls will pester me to play with them the ENTIRE time. If I don’t bring snack and drinks…our four hour stay will turn into a dismal 45 minute wine fest with impulse to pack everything back into their special bags and head home. Same goes for towels and blankets. And any time I don’t bring my camera, I just sit and watch all these wonderful picturesque moments pass me by.

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So, I am owning it.

With each step getting me closer to the beach, the load I would carry, reaffirmed my current life motto, I am a pack-mule. The looks, the crazy stares, and as always the, “You’ve got your hands full” commenters…I don’t care anymore…it’s totally worth it.

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We spent all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the beach. Since we needed recoup days, we used Tuesday and Thursday as “school work” make-up days, much to the girls’ chagrin.

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Cecilia as always, is the DJ for the entire day…controlling my iTune downloads and adjusting our portable Bose speaker volume. Phoebe was the self-appointed dj for the longest time until Cecilia relieved her of her duties when she refused to play Cecilia’s favorite Dr. Demento’s Star Trekkin for a fifth time.

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Despite having to chauffeur Cecilia around in the stroller, my duties at the beach have been greatly reduced. Everyone is getting older. I can sit, relax, sip on water, listen to Star Trekkin a gazillion times, and just watch my little inmates run wild on the deserted beach. Occasionally, I step into the DJ booth. I have rediscovered my 90’s all-time favorite bands The Police, The Black Crows, U2…and then ‘Fool in the Rain’ comes on and I just can’t contain my good vibes. I have to get up and run to each of them, kiss their little foreheads, dance like an idiot with them in the water, and tell them how much I love them.

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But I swear to everything holy, if I have to listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ song one more time, my head will explode. Abby has discovered and fallen in love with Michael Jackson. “…As I turned up the pot of gold, my favorite winter cold…a broken bottle top…they follow each other on the window sill…and no mess is gonna man in the cliver…

What the crap is a “cliver”? I’m afraid to ask…yet, I need to know.

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“MOM, those aren’t the words” yells Abby disapprovingly.

Nah nah nah nah nah…uh huh…there is love with no home and not a nickel to love, could it be, would it be pretending that their not alone…a willow deep blue sky…Ja know…whew, whew, whew, whew, whew…Im’ gonna make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, sha-moe, you got to move, sha-moe…whew, whew, whew, whew…” before he whispers, “Make that change“. And don’t even get me started on the cowbell in the background. If you ask me, it really adds to the immediacy and importance of the message, “Man in the mirror…make that change”.

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Abby eats it up, “Mom, can we play it again? PLEASE??? And don’t mess up the words this time Mom, if your going to sing, sing the right words!”

Join me for the next blog entry where I discuss other issues I have with our beach trips, including but not limited to our haphazard tent  escapades, girls and their beach toys, and kids who love to get dirty… Until tomorrow…

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“Sha-MOE…make that change”

Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…We won the lotto

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As of February 10, 2017 we have officially been full-time RV’ers for 32 weeks which ultimately translates into 224 days, and 5, 376 hours. We are still in the desert…But we recently ran into a bit of luck at a casino. Yes you read that correctly. I said casino. I know what some of you may jump to right away, “Oh wow, they won a boatload of cash”. Alas, we did in fact win the lottery, in a big big way. Yes my friends, I am proud and happy to say the Cliffs Castle Casino located…somewhere in Arizona…awarded us with a whopping …

…Hang on, I have to back up a bit…

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As I stated previously, we have been full-time RV’ers for 8 months and a week. Before we started this crazy journey, we had a loyal babysitter twice a week for 4 years. It was the same beautiful, smart, kind-hearted girl named Amanda. We all loved her. We had her twice a week. Did I say that already? It’s a hard pill to swallow going from twice a week babysitter for 4 years to 8 months of no date night to speak of.

A couple of nights ago, Greg and I were having a conversation about how we would just be so grateful for one night alone together. Just dinner, drinks, and conversation without interruption.

…which brings me back to our major lotto winnings last night…

We drove to this tiny little town in Arizona to visit Montezuma’s Castle. It was a cold rainy day and we spent something like 2 hours walking around the grounds and learning about the fascinating lives of the Hopi Tribe.

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Since we were only staying one night, we decided to  boon-dock in a vacant parking lot just below the casino. Greg read somewhere about a kid arcade or something they boasted of. It was around 2 in the afternoon and Cecilia was asking for a snack. So we agreed he would take Abby and Phoebe to this arcade or toy store, whatever it was…while I stayed back with Cecilia.

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I dropped Greg and the girls off and headed back to the RV with CC. We had just gotten inside our humble abode…Cecilia had asked to go to the potty (YEAH!), I took off my shoes, made myself a warm cup of tea, turned on the news, and prepped a small snack. Cecilia and I had just cozied up on the couch when my phone lit up. It was a text from Greg, which I ignored at first.

I was about to enjoy my first sip of warm tea and noticed my phone was lighting up again. “OK, something might have happened to him or one of the girls, even though I just left them 10 minutes ago”. I checked the message and it read,”Dude, get back up here now! Bring CC with you! They have a giant play center for the kids….BABYSITTERS!!! We can have some time ALONE!!!”

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I jumped up from the couch, threw my tea in the sink, put CC in a new pair of socks and shoes and bolted out the door. “HELL YES!!!” I said to myself.

Thus winning the best prize I could have asked for in that moment.

Together Greg and I checked CC in and practically ran to the nearest bar where we talked non-stop and uninterrupted I might add, for 2 whole hours.

We peeked in on the kids twice. Both times they were all playing with friends and climbing this awesome giant jungle gym of nets, running around carefree, and dancing with the music. We didn’t feel guilty at all when we decided to have a 2 hour dinner at a nice steakhouse in the casino.

It was so refreshing. I felt so relaxed knowing the kids were having a great time, running around, using their gross motor muscles, and playing with other kids their age.

Suffice it to say, I was not surprised when I awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. I am ready to begin again. Last night we definitely won the lotto…hit the jackpot…experienced a full house…had a royal flush…and any other term you can think of…

…great food, great music, great company, great conversation…and a blissful 4 hours alone.

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Feeling appreciative today folks. 

I’m one lucky lady. 

TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN…the Spranger’s take Vegas

Today, on the 19th of December, it has officially been 6 months on the road for the Spranger’s. 6 months. 187 days. 4,320 hours. Yes you’re correct…I had to use a calculator to come up with that figure. But I was curious…and I suck at math. 187 days.

 

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We had a fun, busy, and jam-packed weekend. Saturday we ventured to Las Vegas for the day. We were headed to the Magical Forest, a winter festival for kids, which doesn’t open until 4:30 p.m..

Arriving in Vegas at 10 a.m., we had a little time to kill. I had the brilliant idea to stop by an urgent care. BOOM! Nailing it!

Cecilia has been limping for the past 2 days…we just wanted to get an x-ray just to be safe. Abby mentioned her foot had been hurting, and Phoebe has a rash on her foot. All the girls have feet issues this month. I will gladly take feet issues over high temperatures, chills, whining, and vomiting any day. The Urgent Care helped us kill 3 hours 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Each of the girl’s will be able to keep their right foot, everyone will live, and continue to see another day. Let’s hear it for Urgent Care…hip hip Urgent Care!!

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We ventured out for some lunch 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. “Hey lets go downtown Vegas and see the Bellagio fountain show and walk around” Greg suggested. “Great!!” I thought. We parked the car, took a gazillion pictures inside the remarkable Christmas display in the Bellagio Hotel and headed out to walk the strip where there were lots of cute cartoon figures just hanging around. The girls of course went crazy, “Mommy will you take our picture with Minnie Mouse?…Mickey Mouse?…Spider Man?…etc.” “Absolutely!” I squealed. I was planning on taking picture after picture of each of the girls and their favorite characters.

As we were wrapping up with Minnie, I gathered the girls, said thank you to Minnie and she held out her hand. Being the naive believer in the kindness and generosity of mankind, I assumed she wanted to shake my hand. I held out my hand and fit it perfectly into Minnie’s warm black glove. She quickly slapped it away and in broken english demanded, “You tip to me?” Oh shit. Of course. That’s why Greg took off with Cecilia in the stroller giggling and looking back at me shaking his head like a little school girl. “What is he doing”, I kept thinking to myself? He was watching me get hustled. Thank you very much.

Thank you sweetie! I love you.

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I made the girls run after him to see if they could grab a couple of bucks, because I haven’t carried cash since 1998. I saw him shake his head and push the stroller further away from me…of course he was still looking back at me with this enormous grin on his face. I politely told Minnie, “I no cash…sorry” and I heard her sigh as I quickly bolted. Phoebe was headed to the next character when I stopped her and steered her over to Greg who was bent in half with laughter at my naivety.

“Hey sweetie…why didn’t you tell me I was getting hustled? Why did you run? I felt like such a moron!” I scolded. Again, he just laughed and proclaimed, “I thought you knew”. In that moment Greg’s face lit up and once again like a small child seeing all his gifts under the tree at Christmas time. I turned to see a truck sporting a giant billboard of naked girls with large busts stopped in traffic behind me. Of course. We were in Vegas.

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We watched the water show which was totally awesome, only 15 minutes long, but still completely worth the effort. This killed a total of 2 hours. By this time it was 5:00 and the girls were whining about being hungry. We weighed the pros and cons of eating at the strip before making the 15 minute journey to the Magic Forest OR grabbing fast food on our way to the forest. Abby, being our girly girl, chose to eat in a fancy restaurant. We drifted back to the Bellagio and found a quaint little eatery. We dined, conversed, relaxed, and people watched for 2 whole hours. It was a wonderful dinner.

By the time we paid the bill it was 7:30 and the temperature had dropped well below 60 degrees…even my ridiculous Ugg boots, which Greg loathes, were no match for the frigid temperatures we found ourselves in. The girls were moderately prepared for the temperatures but after a wonderful relaxing meal, Greg and I began plotting how we could get out of walking through the Magical Forest. We negotiated and bribed with ice cream and promises to come back really soon. lucky for us, they took the bait.

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By the time we got home, it was close to 11 p.m.. A day chock-full of Dr’s visits which turned out just fine…everyone is healthy and Cecilia is most likely limping because someone stepped on her foot, the rash on Phoebe’s foot is eczema, and Abby might need inserts, ended with wonderful memories and some rather embarrassing moments, by yours truly.

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4, 320 hours on the RV and I have learned so much. Facts of life which include but are not limited to:

1. Do not trust cartoon Characters wandering around city streets…they are there to take your money just like everyone else…they want to rob you of those dinosaur papers people used to carry around to purchase stuff in public places.

2. In terms of finding ways to convince my husband to give me what I want, I might want to use my own magical powers: my BOOBS. Sadly, that took me 39 3/4 years to learn.

3. Bribing kids with ice cream ALWAYS works!

And that concludes my post on this fine Monday morning 6 days before Christmas.

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Happy Monday friends!

TWO HUNDRED TEN…my day was craptastic how was yours? part 3

I’m visiting yesteryear with Dave Mathews Band’s ‘Live at Red Rocks’ this evening. There’s just something about ‘Granny’ that makes me envision myself lounging in the back of a pick-up truck wearing one of those old-school red plaid bikini tops with jean shorts, driving down a sandy beach road soaking up the sun, watching the clouds pass by. I always think of my friend Justin my brother-from-another-mother when I listen to DMB. Out of the 15 DMB concerts I went to, I don’t think any of them were with him…but he is the first person who pops into my mind anytime I hear this band.

So, I had another craptastic day last week. Why do my craptastic days always begin in retail stores?

I took the girls into the Lake Havasu, Arizona Wal-Mart on Friday. We were doing a little bit of food shopping…a little bit of school shopping…a little bit of craft supply shopping.

Despite not really knowing the town, I made it to Lake Havasu from the outskirts of Needles, CA without any whoops I missed the exit U-turns. It is an amazing feeling to arrive at the destination solely on memory,  without detours. It was an accomplishment for me honestly and it was Friday to boot. It was going to be a good day. I could feel it!

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During our visit, Cecilia and I made it to the potty twice, we had picked up all the groceries, visited the school and crafting section with no hick-ups. I was feeling it. I was proud of my crew. We were having a successful shopping experience. No-one was crying, no one wet their pants, the girls were walking by my side…not asking for everything in sight and I remember thinking, “OMG, this is it. We have turned a corner. My inmates are getting older. We are to the point, where we can all visit the store and make it in and out without any major dramas or catastrophes. This is it.”

We were in the check out and Cecilia said, “Mommy, pee pee” and seriously it was all I could do to hold back the tears of pride.” I gushed over her and took a moment to look her in the eye, rub her sweet face and shower her with verbal praise and kisses. A little over-dramatic…definitely. What can I say, I was submerged in gratitude and feeling appreciative. One by one, I was running down my list of people I needed to call and thank like I had just won an Academy Award.

I finished my praise-a-thon, paid for our items and politely asked Abby and Phoebe to stand with the cart outside the bathroom until we returned. We got into the stall and it was a thing of beauty. I didn’t have to coax her to “Go ahead and pee sweety” she did it all on her own. I swear it was a moment of moments to be treasured for years to come.

When we came out Abby and Phoebe were standing there like the good little girls I knew they were. Guarding the cart with their vigilant eyes. I proceeded to put CC in the cart and was quickly jolted back into reality when Phoebe started screaming at the top of her lungs.

Turns out, her finger was stuck in the cart and when I sat Cecilia down in her seat, it forced Phoebe’s finger into a more precarious position. I quickly picked Cecilia up from her seat and set her in the main part of the cart so I could focus on PJ. Yup, her finger was definitely stuck and bless her heart, I couldn’t get her to lower her voice. If you’re lucky enough to know PJ, you know she doesn’t do anything half-way. She’s a “Balls to the Wall” kind of girl. And that’s especially true with her volume. “Why speak at a 5, 6, or 9 for that matter when you can always speak at a 10” is her philosophy.

By that time, I had a small crowd gathered around me…watching to see how I was going to “save” this tortured soul. I began to sweat. I licked my fingers and was hoping to free her finger with my spit…but soon realized I was too nervous and suddenly had a severe case of dry-mouth.

“Chapstick” I thought. As an non-official chapstick spokesperson, I have every flavor all shoved in my “make-up” bag, because you never know when you’ll need a hint of wintergreen with a tint of strawberry followed by a splash of the forgetful blue one. I can do this…I whipped out the chapstick and within seconds her finger was free…black and blue for sure, but it was free.

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I got to one knee in preparation for hugging it out when a hand touched my shoulder. It was a petite lady fashionably dressed who had been watching nearby, “I saw the whole thing” she said, turning in an instant and vanishing into thin air. I thought she was going to say something else, which would have been fine, but she just turned and walked away, leaving me to ponder the purpose of her comment the entire weekend.

Phoebe and I had a private moment in a crowded store and all was well again…until she said, “Ok Mommy, you have my glasses right?” I blinked then squinted my eyes and stood with my mouth agape, like I normally do when I have absolutely no recollection of the words just spoken. Frantically searching through my purse and then the grocery bags to no avail.

“Phoebe, I don’t remember you wearing your glasses” I confessed. She then assured me she had in fact worn them and matter-of-factly had them on in the crafting section. I could hear the panic in her voice escalating. I could feel my body getting a fresh shot of adrenaline. My gut reaction was to take flight: GET OUT OF THIS STORE AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE…but my head was telling me to put it all aside and help her…all the girls are watching me now. I needed to take the time, put aside my uncomfortable feelings and desire to get the hell out of there and give them a good example of what it means to “take responsibility and care for your things…and of course retrace your steps”.

We walked through the produce section, the cereal section, over to the kids sunglasses section. She assured me it was Abby trying on sunglasses, not her. Sure enough, they weren’t there. We made a B-line over to the school notebook section, the coloring book section and finally the crafting section. We scoured the rainbow looms, the wooden letter section and paint section where they lingered for minutes at a time trying to pick their activity, with no luck. During our frantic search, Abby and Cecilia became the supportive sisters and complied with every wild twist and turn of our storewide search.

It was in this moment, I contemplated telling her she actually didn’t even need her glasses anymore because her eyes had already improved. But I decided to forgo that piece of information because in reality, they did belong to her and she was taking responsibility for them. So many little lessons happening all at once, I couldn’t just throw my hands up in the air. We traced our steps all the way back to our self-check-out line where the empathetic cashier suggested we visit customer service.

When Customer Service said they did not find a pair of children’s red prescription glasses, Phoebe broke down once again. And again, I knelt down on one knee to commence a new hug-it-out session. Cecilia sensed the inner turmoil of her sister and naturally fell in line to help make little Phoebe feel better. Little Phoebe June, as beautiful and unique as she is, has inherited her mother’s sensitivity gene. It is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because she will naturally empathize with others. A curse because she could turn into an over-sharer and a “yes” person much to her chagrin. I hope she fares better than I have in walking the fine line of being too open, caring, and eager. 

I was down on my left knee with CC who was so overwhelmed with worry for her sister,  She was holding on for dear life to my right side and Phoebe mirrored her on my left. Abby wanted a piece too, so she hugged us all. I have no doubt we put on quite the show at the Lake Havasu, Arizona Wal-Mart. A wee bit dramatic…definitely. The talk of the store…maybe.

When Phoebe felt better, we picked ourselves up off the ground, placed Cecilia back in the grocery cart seat, made it out to the car, and made it all the way back to the RV again, with no hick-ups.

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And wouldn’t it be great if the story ended there?

Naturally, I insisted on taking the girls to the park, because who needs to relax after the kind of morning we just experienced?

We rode our bikes up the mile and a half trail to the playground. The kids were getting along with each other, running around, chasing each other down the slide, under the platforms, over the steps, and through the little tunnels. I turned my back to check out some of the other RV’s in the park, when I hear Abby’s nervous voice yell, “CC!” followed by Cecilia’s screaming and crying.

I didn’t even think, I just turned and ran in the general direction of her voice. I hadn’t gone a full 2 steps before knocking my head on the steel platform above. The blinding pain brought me to my knees. With my hand over my forehead which I was amazed to find it was indeed NOT covered in blood I stumbled to my feet and made my way over to Cecilia. She  had tripped over a post and skidded on the right side of her face on the astroturf covered playground. She was standing there with that perfectly pouty lip holding her arms out toward me, needing me to kiss the pain away.

I laughed through the pain thinking to myself, “If someone had been watching this, they have surely just reached their quota for hardest laughable moments of 2016.”

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Poor Cecilia with her PD on the mend, she now had a huge cherry on the side of her face. We picked up our bicycles and peddled the mile and a half back to the RV.

The rest of the afternoon went off without any major hick-ups: Cecilia went down for a nap, the girls did their best at school, dinner fell into place, and as we were winding down the night, I thought to myself, “I need a glass of wine after this day”. I retrieved the only wine glass we had, since I had broken the other one, washed it out, set it out on the counter to dry while I reached for the bottle of Merlot. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the wine glass tumbling off the counter and turned just in time to watch it shatter in 3 large pieces on the floor.

Carefully, I picked up the pieces and threw them in the trash.  I kissed Greg on the cheek and pulled a Kathleen Kelly: I made it to the bed and fully clothed complete with running shoes and baseball cap, flopped into the bed, pulled the covers up to my head, and proceeded to sleep sound until the following morning.

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In the morning, Greg took the kids out for breakfast allowing me an extra hour to sleep in.

And there in lies the memory of my craptastic day #3. A day so unforgivable, it is worthy of the Craptastic title.  With ‘Proudest Monkey’ on in the background, I picture my friend Justin having a good laugh at my expense…I know I sure am.

TWO HUNDRED EIGHT…our own private island

It’s official.

There is a place in eastern California on the border of Arizona that gives Mount Shasta, California a run for its money.

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Let me be more specific…the camping spot we are currently in might just beat all other campgrounds put together. Mount Shasta is still one of my all-time favorite small mountain towns on the west coast. I’m talking about campgrounds only. We rolled into Arizona late Sunday night but backtracked to Cali the next day for a potentially better campground. Boy, was it worth it. Due to our experiences thus far, our hopes were not very high…this campground boasted of a water splash pad/park for the kids, Colorado River views, and private beaches.

“Well, I’m sure there’s a catch” I said to Greg, “They probably don’t have anything available…it’s probably one of those places you have to call a year in advance to book a site.” I tried to book a site online but the website was telling me “no availability” for the amenities I was checking off. “I will just call and ask” I thought. Even though when I’ve “just called”in the past, it has always been the same information as the website, no availability for the criteria I was checking off.

I am so glad I didn’t go with my head this time around. When I got the front desk on the phone, I was able to get everything I wanted and then some. We not only scored a River view in the middle of nowhere, we have our own private beach. We share a camping cul-de-sac for lack of a better term with 3 other sites, but have not had to share it since we’ve been here. I guess we nailed the time of year, although we will have to move one night next week. But even then we come back to an even more secluded part of the river with an even bigger beach. I feel so lucky.

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It is so magnificent, we extended our stay for a whole month…and with that came a discount.

W H A T?

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From the entrance of the gate, it is about a 3 mile drive to our site on sandy back roads. There are approximately 20 River Beach Cul-de-sacs or whatever you want to call them. Each cul-de-sac can have 4 RV’s. Right now, there are only 4 of us between 20 campsites. It is Glorious. If I wanted to go in the buck all day, which I don’t, I totally could.  We do have the occasional people who drive by to check it out. And every day, I find myself rubbernecking just to make sure the cars barreling down the deserted road aren’t turning into our special island. I know we won’t have it to ourselves for long, so we are all doing our best to enjoy every minute of it.

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At least for now.

ONE HUNDRED FIVE…making memories

One holiday, two birthdays, one presidential election down… two holiday’s and two birthday’s to go.

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184 days 6th months on the road as of today. Just like those times I wake up and cannot believe I am a mother and a wife…I still have moments where I cannot believe we have done this.

On Sunday, we drove 188 miles north of Pismo Beach to Chowchilla, CA.

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Segue: In High School, I discovered and became enamoured with Ansel Adams. I always envisioned myself living in the mountains surrounded by nature and he captured what I felt in his photography. His work emotionally effected me, spoke to me, and inspired me.

Instead of paying attention in Mr. Packs English class, I was daydreaming about little details in my future dream home in the middle of an Ansel Adams masterpiece; the way the sun would bounce off the wooden floor and fill the room with golden light, the way the fire in the fireplace would crackle while I read books on the oversized couch, the modest wooden cabin which smelled of banana bread, and the socks I would wear. I know, that last one was random. What can I say, I had a sock and sweater collection that would put Jay Leno’s car collection to shame.

This modest cabin was always nestled in the middle of an Ansel Adams photograph. I think I watched the movies Continental Divide and Aspen Extreme one too many times. It was a dream I carried with me from High School all the way until my 5th year of marriage. It was in that 5th year I discovered I actually liked warm weather and preferred to be outside a majority of the time.

But I never let go of my dream to visit Yosemite National Park. And yesterday I had the opportunity to fulfill that dream. The girls and I drove 62 miles north and took the morning and early afternoon to explore the wonders of Yosemite. In many ways it was overwhelming. It reminded me of the time I cried the first time I saw a whale up close. I was overcome with gratitude and emotion as we drove the windy path with our windows down and listening to Tycho. I used the pull-overs to drag the girls out of the car and experience the wonder and awesomeness of nature.

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Eventually, we found a pull-over with restrooms and several different walking paths. Since it was just me doing the driving, I really didn’t have time to look at the park map. I kept seeing all these people walking around with the highest quality lenses Canon makes. When we got out of the car, I found out why. We were right beside Bridalveil Fall. It was 620 feet of gushing intensity and beauty. It’s almost impossible for me to bring my camera along with all the kids by myself, so I only took pictures of the girls enjoying nature. But the pictures I took with my mind will always be with me.

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And we experienced fall for the 6th time this year.  This is a great month to visit the park. The leaves are vibrant shades of yellow, red and orange and covering the ground of the pull-over. The girls played in the area for over an hour, until the temperature began to drop and the sun started to disappear behind the mountain. On our way back to daddy and the beast, we talked about the amazing things we saw and what our favorite parts were. I hope the girls remember yesterday’s adventure for years to come. I know I will.

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At least once a week I will experience that feeling of I can’t believe we did this. Yesterday was that day for me. We are making some amazing memories together.

TWO HUNDRED…what the what?

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Sanity has come back to the Beaver! Hip Hip! Everyone, grab their favorite beverage and join me on the playground!! Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY NINE…our very own Wilford Brimly

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taking a drive down Memory Lane with Wilford Brimly. Such a lovely street. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY FIVE…accepting blunders while postponing maturity

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Another day, another inanimate object destroyed! I just postponed maturity for another day. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE…lessons learned

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While there are many advantages to living minimally and being mobile, it is not without its challenges. I’ve learned so much in the 118 days of being full-timers. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX…warm breezy beach or cool snowy mountain

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108 days on the road and there’s so much more to see. Feeling the love today folks. I am in love with our life choice. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR…seeking stability within mobility

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being mobile full-time makes me realize how much I love and value my family and friends. There are some definite cons for travelling full-time. But you won’t ever hear me complain about the 3 hour time difference! At least not while I am in Pacific Standard time! Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE…stop, look, touch and smell

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what’s that saying…”don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing”…I recently had my own version of that which went something like, “don’t let your right brain know what your left brain is doing” and then there was this weird interaction with a plastic canister of butter. Never a dull moment over here. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY…just swinging

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What’s more romantic than a tree swing which allows you to watch and capture moments of your life as a family together? I can see the girls (at various stages in their lives) in a montage of images with music playing in the background…maybe playing at their weddings many years from now. I can see the girls keeping the videos for their own kids to watch and I can imagine how “old” and “Long ago” it will seem to their children. Musings of the traditions of a simple yet beautiful tree swing. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SIXTY SIX…Spring Chickens and Ceramic Bunnies

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Random minis: We spent last week at my brother’s vacation home in Beech Mtn. NC. On Wednesday, for dinner, Greg and I were in the mood to try something new. Whenever we visit Boone, Banner elk and Blowing Rock we … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE…this southern girl is feeling appreciative

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Crisp cool evenings chilly air wafting through the house at night through the open windows the constant smell of freshly cut grass the constant sound of birds of different species singing to one another in all their different languages the … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR…daddy the hero

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We went to church on Sunday. Abby and Phoebe attend the Childrens’ moment in our church. It’s always interesting to hear what Phoebe is going to say in front of the entire congregation. People enjoy her random verbal diaharea…as long as … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FORTY FIVE…toddler inservice

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I went to dinner the other night with some girlfriends. We were having a nice chat, a glass of wine, and we were able to carry on a conversation without being interrupted. It was glorious. Then I noticed a family … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FORTY…our own personal lotto ticket

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When we had Cecilia, it was almost as if we had a new lease on life. Our luck changed. Our outlook on life changed. Our priorities changed. She brought something different to the family. More than the joy of babies, … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED THIRTY TWO…we have located heaven on earth

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Just like Tennessee, when we headed to Michigan, I had a list of things I wanted our family to experience. And of course, staying 2 weeks didn’t allow us to do all of those things. So once again, I had … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED THIRTY…short and sweet

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It’s so easy for us to put everything down and dash away for the week. Or two weeks. Or in our current case, three weeks. It’s a lot of fun to be so flexible and mobile. We are on the … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE…beach, acrobatics and hidden talents

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I have fully adopted the southern beach lifestyle…I really don’t call it summer until, 1. the water hits the perfect 83/84 degree temperature 2. the tourists have all gone home and therefore the beaches are less crowded with grumpy unknown … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY SIX…sisters and their acrobatic dolls

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On Thursday Abby, Phoebe and I met my sister at good ole’ Yeehaw Junction. The girls were going to spend a couple of nights with her. Their plans included visiting the American Girl Store for an afternoon of tea, a … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…I will dance and you will watch me dance

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There are so many fun songs out right now…and Cecilia is all about dancing. Who am I kidding, we are all about breaking it down! I will be in the only room in the house I can’t seem to get out … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETEEN….hello pussycat woahwoahwoah a wo!

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I poured myself a cup of coffee this morning. It was quiet and dark and everyone was still sleeping. I really like days like this and it makes me think about that ‘Folgers’ commercial the networks run every holiday season … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED ELEVEN…3 is a good number

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My baby girl turned 3 at the end of July. I had this *brilliant* idea that I would go through each and every picture file on my folder and pull out my favorite pictures of Cecilia over the past 3 … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHT…worth celebrating

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All week long I have been waiting for Friday.  I wanted to remember the special day in March. I forgot it last year until the very last minute, which made me feel like the WORST mom on the planet. Friday … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVEN…let ’em eat cookies

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A day off from school is equal to a day of absolute and total chaos in the kitchen. WE MADE COOKIES!!!!! butterfly cookies heart cookies circle cookies star cookies, triangle cookies, dragonfly cookies, apple cookies, Teddy Bear cookies, flower cookies, … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWO…dysfunctional appreciation

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We have taken dysfunction to a whole new level in this house. I know we have reached our “dysfunctional family” monthly limit when my newly seven-year old wanders into our bathroom and sees a tampon (still wrapped in its store-bought … Continue reading

NINETY-FIVE…new dreams

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We have turned a corner at the Spranger house. Cecilia has adopted a personality and she wants everyone in this house to know.  The above picture is a moment captured in a day in the life of Cecilia.  If Cecilia … Continue reading

NINETY…shake it like a polaroid picture

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Thanks to Abby and her sudden discovery and thus interest in Katy Perry and Justin Beaver (I like the way she pronounces it!!) I too have Beiber Fever! “Mommy can we listen to Katy Perry please…please…Mom, please put Katy Perry … Continue reading

EIGHTY-NINE…that’s a wrap!

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Wrapping up the holiday’s while the sun is shining, is far less depressing as it would be if we had grey in the skies and snow on the ground! I love where we live! I am a sentimental kind of … Continue reading

Eighty-Eight…

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Lately, Phoebe and I like to play this game where I ask her what her name is and she responds simply by saying, “Chris-mis”, then she proceeds to sing the ‘jingle bell’ song and finally following up with a, “Santa, … Continue reading

EIGHTY-FIVE…holiday ramblings

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I don’t know exactly what it is about this little girl, maybe it’s her chubby cheeks, her adorable little nose, those amazingly bright eyes or that incredible emerging personality or the way she rocks her sassy stance when I am … Continue reading

EIGHTY-TWO…it’s all good

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When Abby was born, Greg and I had the brand new tv monitors. We placed it in her crib angling it perfectly so it would look right into that amazing little face. By the third night, we had to unplug … Continue reading