TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR…early morning musings

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Morning contemplations: It was on a Scorching day early morning in July of 2004. I recall myself sitting on my lifeguarding post at Dolly Splash Country when the lead guard asked me (from across the wavepool) what I wanted for … Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY ONE…cold white fluffy stuff

Before I delve into tonight’s post, I wanted to let everyone know that it is official. My computer and I have parted ways. After 6 long intimate years, my MacBook Pro from 2012 has chosen a much more simpler life of playing educational DVDs and providing services in terms of educational games as well as mind-numbing games, to three little giggly girls. In my mind, I have created a beautiful montage of magical moments of the MacBook and myself together complete with amazing music. It is a great visual. Wish you could see it.

Without further ado, and with Snowden’s ‘Black Eyes’ gently serenading me in the background, I bring you this evenings post…which technically, was written over the weekend. But I was extremely busy laying around and just couldn’t seem to muster up the energy to hit the publish button.

I was in college when I first learned about the term sensory processing disorder.

Halfway through the middle of my first semester I wrote a research paper on my findings regarding tactile issues, for the special education course I was taking. Because of this assignment I was able to identify or make sense of my odd proclivity for scratchy materials against my skin. Of course, with the powerful information I had uncovered about myself, I didn’t seek rehabilitation.  Rather, I used it as a way to excuse some of my peculiarities.

Like the time I just had to have those $80 brown leather Oluki flip flops. They had this incredibly gorgeous design on the footbed…you know, the part of the shoe no one ever sees. I needed them to be mine.

Fast forward to the day I paid for and brought them home. As soon as I slid my feet in I had this twinge of buyers remorse, which of course I chose to ignore. This nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me the ‘all leather’ footbed, because it was slick, wasn’t going to be my favorite shoe.

Rather than returning the extravagant purchase, I convinced myself they just needed to be “broken in”.

I won’t tell you how one year later, I took them to our local resale shop, barely worn to be sold for a measly $15 dollars, because who in their right mind pays more than $15 dollars for a pair of flip flops for everyday wear?

Certainly not a native Floridian.

During this time of year, my sensory issues become more apparent. Just like the time I first tried on the flip flops and immediately took them off to scrape my foot on the cement sidewalk, I replace all of our 200 ply cotton bed sheets with rough flannel sheets and a scratchy heavyweight electric blankets. I pull out my old scratchy wool sweaters and purchase a brand new set of stiff socks. It probably goes without saying, but every year I enjoy knitting a set of hats, gloves, and scarves out of the itchiest 3~ply wool or mohair yarn I can find. And I cannot forget my most coveted winter apparel must have item, the one and only heavy pea coat.

So basically if it’s high in texture, I’m all in.

If I’m being honest with myself, I prefer scratchy cotton sheets all year long. Hence the measly 200 thread count sheets. In the summer I like heavy-weight canvas shorts, scratchy cotton tee shirts, and of course, now we are all aware, the scratchier the shoes, the better.

I don’t know what makes me this way, any more than I know why certain people have PICA.

All I know, is that if it’s lightweight, and silky soft against my skin, this girl is NOT INTERESTED!

And yes, before you ask, I do like weighted blankets at night.

All this to preface the real point of this story which is to explain why I spent half of my Monday morning looking for the girls snow suits in the basement. After last years experience in the northwestern Michigan snow, I vaguely recall storing the fancy snow suits I found on consignment, in the basement.

Yet, I also vaguely recall taking them to my favorite local consignment store in town after Phoebe and Cecilia kept dragging them out in the middle of June, just because they were laying around, demanding we find a snow hill.

Who knows if I actually reconsigned them or not but one thing is for certain, the bin I thought they were in, sits in the corner of my very own painting room with all the other empty bins. So, pajamas underneath jeans and sweatshirts to keep the kids warm while playing in the snow it is.

The kids on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind one bit. Fall and get your pants wet? No biggie. Get smacked in the face with a powerful snowball thrown by Daddy, while I’m sure it hurt, still no problem. Wear long socks with rain boots and feel your feet frost over…they can handle it. “We’re fine Mom…we don’t feel anything and it’s really not even that cold outside” my oldest insisted while the snot dangling from her nose began to solidify.

“Okay fine” I said as I withdrew myself from the bleak conditions of the frigid outdoors to the warmth of our car, where I continued to watch my lovely children frolic in the snow with their purple lips.

The skin tight silky smooth moisture wicking workout gear from their spring and fall wardrobe didn’t seem to bother them or deter their spirits in any way. Obviously, if my only choice was my adult version of the kids workout clothes underneath my jeans/sweatshirts, I wouldn’t be able to partake in all of the fun without throwing myself on the ground and thrashing up against a rose bush or a rock hill. I would need those waffle knit long johns my mom used to make me wear underneath the puke green snow coveralls and matching jacket. But then again, lucky for them, they are not me.

Sadly, two hours later, all that beautiful white fluffy stuff was gone. But, for three whole hours in the frigid grey weather, fun was had by all.

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 SEVEN…the trenches of parenthood

“Good morning sweet pea…I love you too! No you cannot have the Ipad. Please go peepee on the potty…yes I want you to go peepee on the potty…should mommy put you back to bed, cause you aren’t being a good listener right now…very good…thank you for listening…big girls go peepee on the potty…are you a big girl…yes you ARE mommies big girl. Yes I am getting ready to make your cinnamon raisin bagel, just like we do every morning. Cecilia, please be patient…I can’t do everything at once…I am making your bagel, and can you say that magical word that makes mommy happy…oh good girl…yes we say please don’t we? No Daddy went to work remember? Yes daddy works in our basement…yes daddy is downstairs…yes daddy loves you. Here’s your bagel…yes I’m getting your water, please be patient and say that magical word that mommy loves…very good… Thank you. Yes, I will let you have the Ipad, if you’ll let mommy watch some news…thank you. CC, can you please turn it down, it hurts my ears, it’s too loud…yes it’s too loud. No Cecilia, you cannot go upstairs to wake your sisters up…Cecilia, I said NO…No CC!…ok now your sitting in time-out…yes I see that your crying….your in time-out because you didn’t listen to mommy, remember…that’s right, you weren’t listening, you need to listen, mommy and daddy are trying to keep you safe and happy. Yes daddy is downstairs…yes Abby is still sleeping…yes she is upstairs…Yep, Phoebe’s up there too…oh you love Abby…you love Phoebe too don’t you….Of course you do…you can’t forget about Phoebe…do you know who mommy loves….that’s right, Daddy, Abby, Phoebe and CC….no, you cannot go upstairs to wake up your sisters…Cecilia, what did I say. Okay, do you think you’re ready to listen…you can come out of time out now….but only if your going to be a big girl and listen…are you going to listen…I hope so…big girls listen Please turn the Ipad down….turn it down or I will take it away…Excellent, yes, thank you for listening. No Busha is at her house…she is at her house with Grandpa…No Busha isn’t sleeping here, remember, she’s at Grandpa’s house…yes we will got to see Busha and Grandpa very soon. Of course mommy loves Nana…Nana is mommy’s mommy…that’s right she is mommy’s mommy…yes you love Nana too. Yes mommy and daddy love Busha and Grandpa…you cannot have both the ipad and the t.v….no that’s not fair…yes mommy is drinking coffee…hey CC, can you go get a new pair of underpants and put them on without waking your sisters up, please, and thank you…no this is mommy’s coffee…I love you too CC…are you mommy’s girl…yes daddy is downstairs…no, we aren’t taking a bath this morning, you took a bath at Nana’s yesterday remember…no CC, it’s too early for crackers and you just had a bagel. Cecilia, you turned your Ipad up again…Please turn it down…yes, turn it down or mommy gets to take it away…no, it’s too early for crackers remember. Yes I know Uncle JB…What did you say…oh, wow yes, Scout is a sweet dog…I can’t believe you remembered her name…good job…No, remember, this is mommies coffee…Yes, where is Nana…that’s right….Where’s Busha…and Daddy…what about Abby and Phoebe…your so smart…what about Mommy…where is Mommy? Uh Oh, I see a little girl who needs to be TICKELED…tickle tickle tickle…yes yes yes…tickle tickle…ok I’ll stop…uh oh, tickle tickle tickle…oh don’t cry, mommy was just playing…oh the couch hurt your leg, you mean couch, don’t you hurt my big girl CC…mean couch”…

I recorded our dialogue for 45 minutes this morning. It is roughly the same every single day.

Just a glimpse at the first 45 minutes of every morning of my life. Because I know you are just DYING to know.

Sometimes, I can’t believe I am the same person who was once planning on a career in theatre. I don’t know what happened, but I just didn’t want to hear myself talk anymore.

And here I am…talking..talking…talking….ALL THE TIME. It never ends. I mean, this is just a guess, but maybe this repetitive conversation has something to do with the reason I turn my brain off around that 6:30 witching hour. Oh that’s funny, did I write 6:30? Of course I meant 5:30.

Fast forward to this afternoon when I treated the girls to a Wednesday matinee. As usual we were waiting in line and I put Abby in charge of CC. As Abby chased her around the theatre lobby trying to make her listen and stand still, I felt so warm down in my body. All this running around after her takes away from spending time with Abby and Phoebe. Is it too much to ask to be able to go out to a public place and just enjoy being with one another?

I feel like it is sometimes.

Fast forward and somehow, amazingly enough, we made it through the movie. As we are leaving the theater, the shit hits the fan and all cecilia wants to do is run away from Abby and myself, scream when we come near her, hit us, and stiffen her body so I can’t possibly pick her up.

I’m getting all these stares from other families, and the “pouty” lip from adults who clearly pitty us. I don’t want people to see her like this. She’s such a smart little girl but when she acts this way, no one sees that.

I was so deflated and disappointed. I just came home, locked my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I needed to release that pent-up energy and frustration. As always, after a good honest cry, I felt ready to try again.

I was thinking about how to convey my two conflicting emotions; complete adoration and unconditional love along with frustration and of course anxiety sprinkled in there for extra measure.

My sister-in-law once asked me if it was difficult raising a child with special needs…Cecilia at the time was a mere 3 years old.

She was so tiny, so sweet, funny, still wanted to be carried everywhere…wanted to please me and her daddy…wasn’t really into voicing her own opinion and her protestations manifested themselves in the form of the cutest pouty lip I’ve ever seen.

So, at the time, I answered as honestly as I possibly could, “It’s just like raising any other child…I am not doing anything for her, that I woudn’t do for my other kids.”

I would probably have a different answer today.

In so many ways, it does get easier. For example, she is now all about dressing herself, going number 1 on the potty all on her own, she can now nap without a diaper, she goes to the grocery store with me and pushes her own little tiny cart, randomly tells me she loves me, gives me kisses of her own free will.

She is able to communicate her needs, she can turn on her own music and dance and sing whenever the moment strikes her, as long as it’s within reason, although we frequently discuss how, “early morning is not a good time to blast Joan Jet’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me There’ on your iPad” especially at it’s highest decibel and by the way anything at it’s highest decibel is never a good idea…unless of course, it’s mommy’s music, and when I tell her this she makes the correct adjustment per my request.

She can brush her teeth by herself and frequently chooses to do so at various times of the day.

She loves to help with laundry, dishes, and cooking. She loves to help me put the clothes into the wash, dryer and then the clean basket. With the dishes, (because we don’t have a dishwasher) I’ll dry the silverware and she puts them away.

And cooking pancakes is her most favorite Saturday activity.

Her maturity has really allowed her communication and therefore her independence to reach another level. And she likes to talk. A LOT. I love getting to know who she is and how she sees herself fitting into our crazy family dynamic.

There are so many more positives I am confident I am forgetting…but sometimes all the wonderful little nuances to her little being, become overshadowed by the things she still struggles with…

Like playing independantly for more than 10 minutes. Let me restate that, she has trouble playing independantly in a NON-DESTRUCTIVE way for more than 10 minutes. I know why, but it makes it hard when I have two other kids who also want to talk to me about… e v e r y t h i n g.

When we are in the grocery store and she is pushing her own cart, she is awesome for about 15 minutes…and then she begins acting out; running away from me, running into the shelves or other people with her little cart, randomly walking off, not listening when I demand she put ALL of the items back on the shelf after she has either pushed them off or put them all in her cart.

AND of course, and this is a big one, taking advantage of me when I cannot devote all of my attention to her. The word D E S T R U C T I V E just doesn’t seem to cover it. And it’s not always convenient or realistic for me to adjust my time or schedule based on her 15 minute time period.

I feel like I have to keep going about my daily life and she has to learn to adapt or the consequences are a stressful parent/child relationship.

Who wants that?

As soon as she hits a mile stone, we check off a goal on her list and replace it with another one.

So, in a lot of ways, as she gets older it does get easier. And in other ways, it also gets a little more difficult.

Ebb and Flow.

Here is my hope, and I am only basing this on the fact that I have experience with two other children who are becoming mature. I know she has special needs and though it may take her a little bit more time, She will always be able to scaffold her knowledge…and her opportunity for growth is far reaching.

Like every parent, I want what’s best for all of our kids. But more than that, I want a true relationship with her. I don’t need to be her “best friend” but I do hope they all confide in me.

I want to get to a point where we can walk the isles of the grocery store together. Enjoy a movie and popcorn with each other. Walk calmly, side by side in a store. Walk into her therapy waiting room and be able to sit with one another, while waiting for her sessions to begin. I would probably pass out if she actually walked side by side with me in a parking lot, but I would love to do it just the same.

I know one day I will look back and read this post and think to myself, “I should have just relaxed, not been so stressed out, put my trust in time and faith, enjoyed every minute, kissed her little chubby cheeks, scratched her back more, and recognized these moments for what they are…fleeting.” It seems I have to constantly re-learn the lesson that time really will bring answers to my questions and also peace.

I’m working on that.

It’s just hard right now because I’m in what I like to call the “Mattel and Fisher Price Trenches”. I’m right smack in the middle of just trying to make it from one day to the next in a healthy, productive way. One day it will get better. I know it will. I’m just in the middle of the parenting trenches.

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 FOUR…grocery disas…er…trip

Gallery

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

TWO HUNDRED FORTY THREE…alaska sick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I am Alaska sick.

 

 

TWO HUNDRED FORTY TWO…my new two favorite words

Homer, Alaska.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

A L A S K A!

TWO HUNDRED FORTY 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 FORTY…Aquamanning in Fairbanks

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

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

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

“That’ll do” I told him.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Here we come Seward!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT…ADD = Awkward & Abrupt

I don’t know what I ate last night but I woke up at 4 am ready to take on the world. My ADD is in full effect. I woke up thinking about our upcoming trip to Alaska, a collie dog, Cecilia’s birthday which is ten days away, new shoes, a new computer because my computer and I are in a huge fight right now…the list goes on.

Because my ADD is in full effect, you’ll have to give me some space to ‘get it all out there’. Most likely this post will not have a cohesive linear flow…it will be choppy. Not that my posts ever have a cohesive linear flow. But, I just wanted to give some context up front.

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It’s a cool 62 degrees this morning in Minot, North Dakota. We have all of our windows open…all ten of them. We have some fresh cool air breezing through our humble abode and I feel so alive and refreshed.

I cannot believe in one day we will be starting our adventure to Alaska. Since I was in high school I have had an inexplicable intoxication with Alaska. A love affair with a location I have never been too. Most people dream of a tropical island…not me. I dream of frigid, isolated, vast landscape filled with friendly small towns. Clearly I watched too much Northern Exposure when I was a spring chicken. My brother loves Seinfeld, I love Northern Exposure.

I tried to convince my mom to let me drop out of college my junior year so I could work on a fishing boat in the elusive state. I’m glad she didn’t allow me to forgo the amazing education I was lucky to have, especially now that we are going to experience it first hand for a whole month.

I’ve been doing some research and “The land of the midnight sun” is going to blow my mind literally. I’ve always been so curious about the daytime hours in the summer up there. Being in North Dakota, it is hard to become accustomed to the sunset not happening until the 10pm hour. I think the whole going to bed with the sun blaring through our windows is going to be very difficult for the Spranger clan. I’m not sure how Phoebe will be able to wind down with the sun being out until a quarter till 12 am and then rising at the 4 am hour. Thank goodness our rig comes with blackout shades.

My mind is going to explode. I CANNOT WAIT.

And of course, I woke up thinking about Bear.

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Our beloved dog who passed away over a year ago. It really hit us hard.

Phoebe likes to say the blessing before we eat dinner and she always prays for Bear. She always asks for Bear to have a, “New chew toy and some really good food.” It breaks my heart every damn time. I hate to think about getting another dog, to “replace” Bear. No dog could ever live up to the ridiculously high standards he set for us.

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But I am ready to open our home and my heart to a new family member. It’s certainly not going to be in the form of a human baby, that ship sailed long ago. But I think I am going through some sort of “Oh Wow I’m out of the baby stage” as a mom. Instead of dealing with those emotions, I want to quickly replace them with a fluffy canine.

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I find myself lately doing research on different collie types. Growing up, my family always had Golden Retrievers. So naturally, when it was time for Greg and I to adopt our first baby, we met Bear a 6-week-old golden. I know and am so comfortable with the breed. I was 100% confident a Golden would be great with kids. They fit our lifestyle with their love of being outside and being active.

Greg grew up with a mix and later a Sheltie who had the best temperament. So I am expanding our horizons. I always said, “while we’re living our gypsy life, we would not get a dog.” But I truly miss the companionship a dog brings. I miss taking long walks, brushing, throwing toys, and the physical relationship a dog brings.

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I think I am finally ready.

And I think Cecilia would absolutely love having the responsibility of all that “taking care of a dog” brings. Seriously. I am not trying to make excuses. She is my little helper. She always helps put the dishes away, helps me put the clothes in the washing machine and then transfer them to the dryer, throw away her trash and even pick up after her sisters. She also thoroughly enjoys slapping dead flies with the fly swatter. She is such a funny little person.

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Which brings me to my next point, in ten days Cecilia is going to be six years old. I am so excited. I absolutely miss our kids in the infant and toddler stages, but it is awesome being able to get to know and interact with them as they grow. I love the relationships I have with all my girls.

It’s so much fun to talk with Abby and Phoebe about and help them cultivate their interests. They are each so different.

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The older Cecilia gets, the more we can do together. She loves grocery shopping with me. Yesterday, we travelled to a ridiculously expensive health food store. That was redundant wasn’t it…”a ridiculously expensive health food store”…is there any other kind? Anyway, Cecilia demanded to be allowed to put items into the cart and of course when we were in the check-out lane, place the carted items on the belt.

Her eagerness to help always garners affectionate responses from onlookers, which of course I love. She plays it up too…she’s such a little ham. Yesterday, our cashier asked me if it was ok to give Cecilia a “sugar-free” sucker. Cecilia looked at me and then at the cashier and said in her high-pitched voice, “Oh it’s fine” and with excitement showing on her face she reached out her chubby little hand and promptly said, “Mmm, Thank you!”

I also love it when people understand her. It means her speech is becoming more clear. The days where Greg and I interpret for her are fading more quickly. Yet another reason to love the fact she is growing up. We get to have conversations with her.

Like all toddlers, she says the funniest things. Her, “Oh Mommy, you’re okay” “you stop that now” “you are being a bad girl/boy Mommy/Daddy” “Use your fork Phoebe” “Come here Abby, you’re mine, go away Phoebe” “No this is mine, get away”, or just “get away”. I know there are some more nuggets in there I am leaving out, but these are the ones she uses on a regular basis. Coming from Abby or even Phoebe at their current age, it would definitely be offensive, but from the mouth of a five almost six-year-old, it’s the funniest damn thing.

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I tried to figure out a creative segue into the topic of “shoes” but it proved to be too much work for my little ole brain. So I am just going to dive right in…my husband and a dear friend of the family, Laura Brewer, are forever giving me “helpful” ideas about shoes. I am notorious for picking out “clownish” shoes that would look awesome on petite females with an equally petite foot size. My feet are not petite in any way. Finally at the age of 40,  I am figuring out, in fact, I cannot get away with the shoes I really want to wear.

 

Goodbye Keens. Sayonara long-tongued Converse. It was great knowing ya bright pink pointy toed flats. The dark cocoa colored Ugg boots which have provided so much warmth in the colder climates, we almost had it all. I think the goal now, is to draw attention away from my feet. Not with a new “homely style” been there done that, but something a little more subtle and female oriented. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. I am on the lookout for an appropriate shoe in this next phase of my life. When my computer is cooperating and working with me, I am viciously scouring and pinning ideas on Pinterest. I’m close…I can feel it.

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Which brings me to my final topic this morning…my computer. We have a tumultuous relationship. When I want to use it, it won’t cooperate. When I’m just looking for something to kill the time, it’s always available.

I’ve put so many raw picture files on this hard drive it takes an honest to you know what 45 minutes to boot up and by that time I have completely forgotten why I wanted to use the damn thing in the first place. We have been together for a solid five years now. It’s an Apple…and you know what they say about Apple products…”Once you go MAC, you never go back”.

I’m not quite ready to make the monetary commitment an apple product requires. I just can’t justify spending a small fortune this time of  year. We are end of the year heavy with birthdays and holidays. My bank account charges my brain $2.00 each time I THINK about the following six months.

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And just like that…I abuptly end this post. It was both fun and therapeutic to get this off my chest. Happy Wednesday…or as we say in the Spranger household, happy camel hump day!

 

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN….don’t mess with me, I’m ebbing

Today almost became the day, where I remove the tops from our jeep, turned up the bass and blasted the Foo Fighters on the car stereo, bought a pack of Marlboro Lights from the closest gas station, put my favorite baseball cap on, and drove 45 miles north from Minot (pronounced ‘my not’), North Dakota until I reached Canada.

ALONE.

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Yes, I envisioned myself running away from home. It happens once a year, where my sanity is taken to the edge of a Grand Canyonesque drop and dangled off to the side of its highest peak. I don’t smoke, but today I contemplated starting. Just a big fat inhale of nothing but carcinogenic badness and an exhale of Abby’s constant pleads for taking the summer off from school, Phoebe’s inability to concentrate on the most basic task, and Cecilia’s blatant and defiant deafness to my voice…it seemed like running away with my jeep, the tops off, music blaring, cigarette in hand was the better alternative.

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But then Greg would be all alone with the inmates (as I always LOVINGLY refer to my wonderful children). If I could have my druthers, we would be running away together. And in this day-mare (like a nightmare and a daydream all rolled into one) our kids are seen in the last scene relaxing on the ground outside and bragging, “Wow, that was hard! I thought they were never going to leave. Ugh, they put up with so much…my kids will never do this to me!!!” and then they raise their chocolate milks to one another and eat their favorite peanut butter with pickle sandwiches.

The scene ends and lights fade to black.

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Today was one of those days where I question my decision to not only home school, but live with all five family members in a 300 square foot mini-assylum-on-wheels. What was I thinking? I’m looking in our pathetic manufactured in Thailand bathroom mirror (that distorts my face…and not in a good way) watching myself age rapidly and not even recognizing the person looking back at me.

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After a shit (pardon my french) morning, I thought we could all use a little break, breath of fresh air, a minute or two in nature to recalibrate our rhythms. Oh, who are we kidding, Mommy needed to recalibrate her sanity. I am referring to myself in 3rd person. I had hopes of taking the kids to the park and taking pictures with my old friend, TANK (aka my Canon) in an effort to bring us all some much-needed peace. Nature always brings me to a good frame of mind.

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NOT TODAY.

No cooperation from anyone what-so-ever.

The evidence is all around…every picture.

I was on the verge of a Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford moment, in the infamous ‘no more wire coat hangers’ scene in the 1981 classic film Mommy Dearest, when I waved my white flag of surrender high in the air.

  I  brought Cecilia back, set her up at the table with some goldfish crackers, ice water, and her fully charged iPad. I needed a break. I isolated myself in my bedroom, laid down on the bed, cried, and had myself a 30 minute pity party. And within 30 minutes, I was perfectly fine.

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Cecilia came into the bedroom, climbed on the bed, sat down on my lower back and bounced up and down for a while, then laid down beside me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Mommy, I need more water, ice, and fishies.” As aggravated and frustrated as I was with all three of our inamtes, they are so damn funny.

Such is life.

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Ebb and Flow.

Clearly I’m ebbing right now…I am anxiously awaiting the flow.

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 ONE…wellness

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There are so many great blogs out there related to travel. Blogs about food, full-time RV life, historical landmarks in each city, state parks across the US, …etc. Some blogs give you insight on the best RV parks/cities for families with young children with a plethora of options to keep the kids entertained. Some give you great suggestions if you have pets. Of course, there are the blogs for the older crowd trying to keep busy as well as staying far far away from campers with kids….most of those can be found in Arizona.

Some blogs give advice to couples who may be tandem camping. There are even blogs out there which cater to specific activities. For example, if you love off-roading or four-wheeling, there are a lot of campgrounds in western California, Nevada, and Arizona with actual off-roading courses built right in. Some of them even have their own restaurants and convenience stores so you can hunker down and never leave your little oasis.

I considered, before we started this adventure, specializing in something. A food blog was out of the question. A. I don’t have the genetic makeup which will allow me to eat my way through the U.S. and be happy B. Nor do I have the energy to research, visit, and write a critique all the amazing food choices. And, although not necessarily in blog format, it’s already been done….thank you Anthony Bourdain.

I could have pulled from my various habits, like photography, knitting, writing, and working out…I wasn’t jazzed about doing a blog where I focused on the best campgrounds to get a great workout. That could get old quick and I am sure I would have to get into webcasting which doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t knit often enough to do a blog about the best campgrounds to knit and people watch. You can and should be able to take pictures anywhere…same goes for writing so neither of those ideas sounded appealing.

I just decided to continue writing about our lives on the road…it’s my favorite subject anyway.

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But looking back with the information I have now, I am convinced I could write a fairly thorough blog detailing the best Urgent Cares each city has to offer. Or the cleanest, most kid-friendly, and efficient ERs out there.

Mississippi has a pretty good Urgent Care in Diamond Head. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as kid-friendly or even clean but when I took Cecilia in for “clear drainage” from her right ear last Monday, they sure were efficient…and nice. Even more-so on her follow-up visit this past Monday.

I hate to compare other ERs to Newport, Vermont’s ER but I’ve never seen an ER look so immaculate, react so swiftly, and process the patient so efficiently. They are truly impressive. The ER in Gulfport, Mississippi was pretty clean, the doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon were able to see us within an hour of arriving…but it would have been unfair to compare the efficiency of the administration in Mississippi to that of Vermont’s. Some administrations simply aren’t concerned about efficiency.

So, when Phoebe broke her right wrist on Monday after falling off the monkey bars at the park playground, we were able to experience Gulfport’s Emergency Room first hand. As soon as we arrived, we were processed and asked to wait in any of the three available waiting rooms. We turned around and as always, my goal was to pick the one with the least amount of “sick” people.

The two on our right had patients who were close to hacking up a lung and there was a peculiar gentleman taking up an entire couch with his feet up and shirt way above his enormous hairy belly. The one to our left boasted of a family who were verbally accosting one another and it looked as if it was soon to escalate to a physical confrontation. So…we chose the deathly ill, scantily clad waiting room.

Great.

So just to recap our Monday, early in the morning, I drove Cecilia to the Urgent Care in Diamond Head approximately 25 miles north of our current campsite. Later in the afternoon (three hours later) we were heading back to the ER in Gulfport which was 45 miles north of our campsite. That’s a lot of back and forth driving from the same areas in one day…in other words, backtracking…this very thing would drive Greg to the brink of insanity.

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We were in and out of the ER within a three-hour time period. The X-Ray showed yet another ‘green stick’ fracture on her right wrist. It was the same exact type of fracture, in the same exact place, on the opposite arm, as the last time in Vermont, 10 months ago. The Ortho wrapped her arm in loose material and settled it with a sling. We knew the drill: The material, which is not allowed to get wet, has to stay on her arm for three days to allow for the majority of the swelling to subside; In a couple of days, we return and she gets a hard cast.

Fast forward to the ‘hard cast fitting day’ and she is presented with a choice of fifteen colors to choose from. Pink, green, purple (which I for sure thought she would pick because its her fave color), green and pink camo, blue etc…She ended up choosing white. Luckily for her, it was a glow-in-the-dark cast.

Rewind to last night, when I woke up to check on her around the 3 a.m. hour. Imagine my surprise when I found her wide awake and proudly proclaiming, “I know why my cast isn’t glowing right now mommy…because the window shade is letting in light from the street lamp!!” At 3 a.m. I did not want to encourage her to stay up any longer, but I had to acknowledge the humor in the situation…here she was bright and early on a random Saturday morning trying to solve the mystery of the not-glowing ‘glowing cast’.

After I pulled the window shade down, we tested her glowing cast. She sighed a big joyous breath of air and settled her head on her pillow. As I tucked her back into bed and kissed her good night, I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t enjoy writing about anything else. These are the stories I want to tell. Our story.”

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And of course, I have no pictures of Phoebe in her cast, because I have been too busy to take pictures of her cast. Those will have to come next week.

Have a great last week of April…where did that time go? Eleven months, right around the corner. Almost one whole year of being on the road. So hard to believe.

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 SEVEN…typical monday

I have this perfect night alone all carved out for myself.

And lately, for the past nine months, the word “alone” can mean many different things. For example, tonight, Greg went to the movies and my “alone time” came in the form of time to myself where the girls were successfully pre-occupied and Cecilia was down for the night. I have a whole chunk of time, two and a half hours, to myself. I can see the neurons and axons lighting up in my brain creating synapses at all the possibilities.

My dream this evening was to situate myself on my bed, with my giant ear phones enveloping my ears in the rhythms of Tycho, a nice cold Corona with lime, and a medium-sized bag of salted Virginia peanuts in the shell. A perfect combination for a night of writing about how much I love being a mom.

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As soon as Cecilia gives that double inhale, I know I am safe to escape. I make a b-line to the refrigerator for the Corona I just purchased on Monday of last week…a whole seven days ago. I know their in the frig, cause I’ve only had one…and I also know in our relationship, I am the only one who imbibes in the Corona experience. It’s been a favorite since my college days in good old Winston-Salem, NC. But when I open the fridge, there’s only the unopened bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay staring at me with its “What? I’m not good enough? ” face.

I am forced to confront my shady memory, most likely due to the fact that I eat a lot of Kale or just have a crappy memory to begin with…I vaguely remember Greg drinking one or more of my Corona, even though they don’t satisfy his complex beer palate. I even vaguely recall him opening, sipping, and dumping an entire bottle of Corona down the drain of the sink without thinking twice. In my dream I say, “Hey, that’s my beer”, but in reality, I’m quite sure I just watched him.

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Ok. I will settle for the glass of Yellow Tail. I thoroughly enjoy a nice cold Chardonnay. It might be a little odd with Salted in the shell Virginia peanuts, but I may come to love it…you never know. When I open the cupboard, cause I’ve been reading a lot of classics lately where they refer to “kitchen cabinets” as “cupboards”, I discover a Jumbo bag of UNSALTED, in the shell, peanuts.

Damn that sucks.

That sucks.

Time to switch it up. There will be no ice-cold Corona with lime. There will be no salted in the shell Virginia Peanuts. There will be no Tycho. This calls for ‘Burn you down’ Beach Fossils anthem at a full on decibel of 28. A mere two decibels shy of the maximum volume..just enough to aggravate my, one too many B-52’s in concert no doubt, Tinnitus.

But not when my phone is sporting a mere 10% battery life.

So, my perfect night “alone” has to be amended.

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Ugh, Feck.

I think I’ll just go to bed.

We’ll try this again tomorrow.

It’s definitely a Monday and one thing is for damn certain…I need to find “hiding spaces” somewhere in this 350 square foot beast.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE…a story of addiction

…And we’re still in the desert…

How many times can someone write about “loathing” their current situation without sounding like a broken record…a negative Nancy…a sour puss…a Debbie downer?

I think this will officially be my 3rd negative post while in the state of Arizona. It certainly seems as if I’ve “got it in” for the state but that particular sentiment couldn’t be more wrong. Nothing against Arizona and Arizonans, but being forced to stay anywhere is the absolute antithesis of this adventure.

On Friday we will officially have been in the RV for 9 months. I am not sure if the newness and sense of adventure has completely worn off at this point or if our stagnation is the culprit for my general negativity. Whatever the reason, I need to snap out of it. The negativity is permeating every fiber of my being. Although I will admit, for a Monday, yesterday was not only supremely productive for me in terms of schooling, laundry, cleaning, and organizing, it was also a generally happy day.

Perhaps my unusually happy feelings on a Monday of all days is due to the obvious light at the end of the tunnel. We are making plans to head back to Phoenix on Wednesday for repair of our leaky jack on Thursday. Then we will finally be able to sayonara to the western state who favors the color brown.

So, at least for now, escape with me to the far regions of Angie Beth’s brain.

I intend to share a carefully crafted and somewhat sensitive story of addiction.  I have characteristics which might lead some to conclude that I have a slightly addictive personality. I do not deny the evidence of my past. I tend to latch on to something which gives me a feeling of euphoria and complete satisfaction. Especially when I am feeling out of control of my environment or circumstances.

For the past 35 years, I have had a secret addiction to 2 things. I’m 75% serious, 10% jovial, 8% bored out of my gourd, 5% looking for my next “fix”, and 2% hungry. It is 6 in the morning and due to the confines of our living quarters, I don’t want to make breakfast at the moment, fearing I might wake someone and thus ruin my hour of alone time. So I quietly click away in the darkness.

This is hard to admit…But here goes. My Addictions include 1. chewing gum and 2.sticking Qtips in my ears. 

Chewing gum is my most complex addiction to date. It all began at the tender age of 5 when I locked myself in my granddaddy and grandmothers bathroom. I was a spoiled little girl who refused to come out unless they magically produced a puppy.

I feel so sorry for my grandparents and often wish I could go back to that very day and tell them how sorry I was for my asinine behavior. Thank goodness for my Grandaddies unconditional love. He was able to lure me out of the bathroom with my favorite Bryers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a pack of grape Bubblicious Bubble Gum.

It was that very day I discovered my first addiction. I couldn’t get enough of that sweet grape juice flowing freely from the little squishy purple square. I remember sitting in their downstairs bathroom looking out the window watching my granddaddy, the true gentleman farmer, tend to his flower garden. While watching him work, one by one, I annihilated the entire pack of gum in 30 minutes flat. Today, I stay away from Grape Betty. I find the pleasure I derive from grape Bubblicious today isn’t worth the half hour it takes me to tear through the entire package.

Not when there’s Big Red on the market which can last an entire hour and a half. So yes, I have moved from Grape Bubble Gum to Big Red.  That’s about as complex as my gum chewing habit gets.

Feeling out of control on Sunday, I folded and bought two packs of Big Red. As I peeled the wrapper off of 3 pieces of gum, I was reminded of the time my mom and I drove the kids to Beach Mtn., NC for a weekend getaway. It was the height of my gum chewing obsession.

Greg knows about it. He just sits and watches me. He’s very accepting. It’s nice.  

But just for a moment, I forgot about my mother not being aware of my addiction. Abby and Phoebe were in the backseat and I believe I was pregnant with Cecilia.  I was desperate for a pack of Big Red. I zoomed into the parking lot of CVS and slammed on the brakes. “I’ll be right back” I yelled to my mom, running frantically into the store. I returned with 2 bottled waters and two packs of Big Red. One for the drive and one for after the drive.

Before we made our way back onto the highway, I tore open my usual 3 pieces of gum. My mom was busy twisting the cap off her water bottle and luckily for me, wasn’t able to witness the insanity. As usual, I masticated the hell out of those first three pieces. After 15 minutes, I spit out my fat wad and reached for 3 more pieces. My mother, being the natural helper she is, saw me reaching for the gum and said, “Oh here, I can do this for you…you drive.” “CRAP. She’s got the gum” I thought to myself, “Maybe she won’t notice my maniacal need to shove as many pieces in mouth as possible.”

As she handed me a piece I casually asked for a second. She made a face, but unwrapped and handed me another piece. “Should I push it and ask for a 3rd?” I thought. I decided to let it go. But of course, 15 minutes later, when my gum had lost all flavor I was once again jonesing for my next 3…er…2 pieces. I tried to confuse her with a super positive and energetic attitude, “Hey, Mom, would you please hand me 2 more pieces, please?” I quickly turned to the backseat asking Abby and Phoebe to, “Stop screaming” in hopes of thwarting her attention from my ridiculous fanatical gum request to the kids horrible behavior. “Maybe she won’t notice” I rationalized.

Too bad for me, the kids were not screaming at all, but quietly playing with their toys. She was on to me and replied with a concerned, “Angie, this is crazy.”

I immediately felt ashamed, “She’s right…normal people don’t do this…I never want to do this again…I will stop here and now….after these 2 packs because I don’t want that money to go to waste. I will label these next 2 packs of gum, ‘2010 gum chewing final farewell, spring edition’.”

I wanted a toothbrush to wash the taste out of my mouth. With the dull taste of cinnamon lingering, I tried to forget about the way it tantalized my tongue with its sharp peppery sting. I had to be strong for the last 20 miles of our trip.

Almost like a smokers’ withdrawal symptoms I became somewhat irrational and jumpy. The more I tried to “put it out of my mind the more I focused on the pure enjoyment of chewing a ridiculous wad of gum”.

How was I going to get the gum back? Is this going to be a situation where I need to get everyone settled in and escape to the bathroom for an hour so I could chew the entire collection in peace and quiet? She had the gum in her clutches and was full on aware of my need now for sure. Could I somehow divert her attention again? It didn’t work the first time, what made me so sure it would work a second time? How was I going to remedy this situation? I was in a dire straits indeed.

I can’t remember if that weekend became my official, “I don’t do these things anymore” weekend, but suffice it to say it was a very serious situation.

Today, I am proud to say, I have kicked the habit of obsessively chewing gum. occasionally, like Sunday, I fall off my “I don’t do those things anymore” wagon. I splurged on two packs of Big Red and went to town. Otherwise I have managed to steer clear of the juicy goodness.

Sunday was the peak of my negativity…not only did I buy the two packs of gum, I had my way with a cutip. As always, it was a lovely experience.

I’ve had a closet relationship with the Qtip for years. Then in 2012, after the most intense ear ache of my life, I made a decision to put it down. I’m sure, if you are a normal person and don’t shove things in your ear, you might not know that the more you rotate the Qtip in your ear, the better it feels. The orgasmic affect it can have in your ear is mind-blowing.

Now is not the time for you to try it yourself. Don’t start the habit. It’s not worth it. Ok, at the time, it’s worth it. When you first start twirling it around it just feels ok. Then you pass that threshold where your fingers become a little achy and you start to get little tingles on your neck. And then the shiver happens and you feel giddy.

The moment comes and goes so fast and it feels so good…but weeks later when you’re forced to lay down on a heating pad, trying in vain to stop the piercing pain because doctors offices aren’t open on Sunday, your rational side will conclude the few moments of pleasure are just not worth the pain.

I could never figure out why, in my early to mid-thirties I was all of a sudden getting earache. It just goes to show you how aware I am. I was getting earaches because I was shoving the wax further down my ear canal instead of letting it do its natural job. It’s a miracle I didn’t bust an ear drum.

Most likely due to absolute and utter boredom Sunday, I had a moment of weakness. And then came Monday. I hopped back up onto my wagon and made a mental note of why I don’t do those things anymore. I hereby proclaim, I will refrain from purchasing both the gum as well as Qtips.

And this concludes my tale of addiction. Looking forward to busting out of this state Thursday afternoon. I’m sure, once I regain some sanity, I will miss the desert…but right now, we just need to get the bleep out!

 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR…The Septuagenarian Police

…And, we’re still in Arizona.

We left the glorious casino parking lot in Sedona, Arizona on a frigid 56 degree Sunday afternoon. We returned to a park we had previously bunked in for 2 weeks. 

Wait…let me back up. All parks, including state campgrounds, have their own “unique” rules and this park was no exception. In fact, it might be the park with the most restrictions on the planet. The most RIDICULOUS restrictions on the planet.

This park, located in Tonopa, Arizona (pronounced ‘toe’ as in hey guys look at my toe: ‘No’ as in No, you may not go to the store; and ‘Pa’ is in Pa is that you?) But you have to say it really fast. The first time I saw the name, I resorted back to my high school church youth group theme song ‘Constantinople’ from They Might Be Giants. I was pronouncing Tonopa like they do in the song along with a little bit of my own southern flare, Constantinopa. The pronunciation goes something like this, (Toe as in hey guys, look at my toe; Nope as in Nope, you make not go to the store; Ah as in Ah, I see, thank you for explaining it to me.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed pronouncing it this way, punching those explosive vowel consonant  combinations with my enthusiasm. The first time the town’s name left my lips in the local Wal-Mart, I was immediately rebuffed by a small group of people who had surrounded me. These Arizonans were filled with questions like, “Oh my gosh, can you say that again…Where are you from…Where are you staying again…Oh you poor thing…That’s not the correct pronunciation…etc.” Much like those foreigners who come to North Carolina and Tennessee and pronounce ‘Appalachia’ like (Apa; Lay as in Lay the blanket down; Sha…I have no sentence for this utterly annoying sound.)

Luckily, the group was kind enough to give me the correct pronunciation.

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So, back to the campground with its “unique” set of rules. So their rules only allow people to stay for three days or one month. No more, no less. So, if your waiting on a part from La Mesa RV and they say, “It will arrive in four days Ma’am”…we can stay there for three days, but on the third day we have to pack up our things and go. They also only allow two people per RV to stay over night, so if you have kids, your pretty much boned. Four weeks ago, when we stumbled on the campground, their unique “rules” were not displayed in the open anywhere. With it being the weekend and the office being closed, we just pulled into an open overnight space and set up camp. We were planning on staying for a month knowing the slowness of most RV companies.

The following morning I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing. It was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground from the front office with a screeching, “Angie, Spr..Spring..ker, this is the front desk letting you know you have three too many people in your RV and therefore we cannot honor your request to stay. Im so sorry. Check out is 11:00 am.”  I explained my situation and they VERY RELUCTANTLY allowed us to stay for two weeks, way beyond their “better judgement”.

Somewhere in that exchange, they may or may not have said, “But you cannot return to the campground EVER AGAIN.” If they made that statement, I didn’t hear it.

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Which brings me back to the infamous “Monday” February 20th. When we pulled into the same campsite on Sunday afternoon, I filled out my pay information and indicated on the  envelope we were intending to stay for a mere ‘two’ days. TWO days. TWO.

Picture this, a mother and her child sleeping cosily in bed and the sun shining through the morning window. When my phone rang and caller id, displayed “Phoenix Arizona” on the smart screen, I assumed it was the RV center calling for us to come on in so they could finally fix our broken jack.

Alas, it was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground. A scary, feeble, coarse voice on the other line screeched out, “Angie???” “Yes” I said. She sternly introduced herself, “This is the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground…and I understand your back in the park?” “Yes, we are. We came in last night, we are still waiting on our piece from the RV company. We should only be here 2 days. I hope this isn’t a problem.” To which the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground replied in her scary feeble crotchety voice, “Well, yes it is a problem Angie. I told you, you could never come back to the campground. We helped you and extended your stay the first time and that was enough. We need you to leave. You are not to come back.” Stunned, I replied, “Really…we’ve paid, we won’t cause any trouble, you have plenty of room, it’s not like we’re blocking business…there are miles of empty slots…and we’ve paid already, are you sure you don’t want that money?” “Check out is 11:00 am sharp” the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground barked…and then I heard a dial tone.

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I felt like a teenager who had been reprimanded for smoking pot or sneaking out of my mothers basement to go meet boys who had just been released from prison. As we were pulling out of the parking lot for the last time EVER…I imagined the Septuagenarian administration making a mandatory change of the rules to add, THIS IS A 55+ RV COMMUNITY ONLY, as most RV campsites in Arizona do already.

So to sum up the events which transpired Monday February 20th at Tonopa, Arizona: We were officially kicked out of our first campground. I felt a rush of emotions: anger, embarrassment, annoyed, confusion, still sleepy, rushed, panicked, and finally disbelief.

I took the girls to the park while Greg prepped the RV for departure. In case we were going to be on the road for a couple of hours, I wanted them to get their wiggles out.

I have nothing against the average well-behaved and respectful Septuagenarian. It’s the Septuagenarian who are generally angry, that rub me the wrong way.

Luckily, we were able to find another campground in Yuma which had an opening for the following 2 weeks without many ridiculous restrictions. This campground is also run by Septuagenarians, but they seem very nice. I guess we’ll see.

Without a doubt, this was the most interesting Monday I think we’ve ever had.

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And I spoke with the repair company…looks like we will be here for another 2 weeks.

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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 TWENTY TWO…damn desert

I am so done with the desert.

I’ve sat down to write this post 20 times within the last month. I write for 20 minutes, proof-read, realize it’s just a bunch of crap, erase, minimize the screen, close my computer, put it to the side and walk away. I have reached a point in my negativity where pithy statements reign over being “creative”. Day after day, I just walk by the sexy sleek green-cased Apple computer and day-dream about the words flowing freely from my hand.

I set my camera down at the end of January and haven’t touched it since. I have zero motivation to take pictures of the girls for the umpteenth time standing or playing in the desert. But we are stuck here until the RV company can replace our broken jack. Yes, in case you were wondering, we have already had one of our 4 jacks repaired 1 month after we purchased the behemoth, so…..theres that.

As soon as they repair it, we are making a B-LINE to Texas. This southern girl is missing the feeling of plush grass beneath her feet, leaves on trees and the natural shade they provide (perfect for taking pictures mid-day), humidity in the air, gently rolling vibrant green hills, natural hospitality, bodies of water, occasional rainstorms, dreary grey days,  offensive religious billboards which challenge my personal beliefs, and the general color green.

It’s so bad right now, I have been pinning dream houses and dream yards with overly manicured lawns in my Pinterest account. No doubt, if I grew up in the desert, I would be totally enthralled. Being surrounded by trees, understandably might make me feel as if I were being encroached upon.  BUT, I was born and raised in the south…surrounded by trees and real grass. I feel too exposed in the desert…I like to play hide-and-seek with the sun. I love when it’s out in full force and we find shade to sit and take pictures in. There’s nowhere to hide here, no matter how much sunscreen I lather on, the sun just beats down on my skin and I can hear my skin aging rapidly.

I will take pictures again…one day. I desperately miss my camera…and writing. Needless to say, we have completed quite a bit of schoolwork and for once, I am proud to say, we are ahead of my schedule. So the desert has been good for us in that regard.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE…war of wills

As of today, the 31st of January, I am proud to say I have a 5-year-old who is day-time potty trained. SHEW. That was a long arduous battle. And, if I’m being honest, one I stressed over a little too much.

The Down Syndrome population is famous for their strong will and determination to succeed on their own terms. This will and determination is very prevalent early on. When I was nursing Cecilia in the hospital after her birth, I received many “helpful” hints that a child with DS is akin to a child having an extraordinary will. Somewhere in the fall of 2015, I kept hearing these stories of “How difficult it was to potty train a child with Down Syndrome” due to their “extraordinary will”.

At the time, I was proud of her for having that characteristic: Individuals with Down Syndrome are capable and able, but they want to succeed on their own terms. “Good for her”, I thought.

I had no idea.

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Sometime in the fall of 2015 I joined  a  “Mom’s of special needs children” and “Moms of Children with Down Syndrome” online support groups. In each of the groups “Potty Training” had its very own page with thousands of stressful stories from parents around the country. Knowing my own limitations for potty training with my typically developing children and knowing Cecilia’s “will” at 4, I had a flash of what our future might look like if we didn’t do something about bathroom independence sooner rather than later. So suffice it to say, I was spooked.

Also during that time, I was taking a monthly class with my friend Amy about how to “help” and “advocate” for our children in the educational world. I was acutely aware of those parents who were at their wit’s end with their double-digit, not yet potty trained kids. This combined with my online support group’s Potty Training pages did more to exacerbate the stress I was already feeling. In fact, I allowed their stories to ignite a feeling of anxiety toward potty training Cecilia.

So Aug 2015 was the beginning of the long tumultuous road to bathroom independence. I was diligent in my efforts:  I had a plan of action which included songs, videos, books, a full arsenal of candy, mini-toys, potty charts with daily success stickers, and a kitchen timer with the loudest most annoying ring. Together, we embarked on a 6 month training period at 30 minute increments 7 days a week.

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6 months. Every 30 minutes.7 days a week.

Needless to say, I began living life in half hour increments. It is very difficult to start and finish any task within that time period, but I was resolved. I kept repeating the mantra: patience, perseverance, consistency.  After 3 months, she became accustomed to releasing her bladder every 30 minutes regardless of whether we made it to the potty or not. But I was in the trenches. I couldn’t peek my head out to gauge the situation because I was buried so deep. We continued this crazy schedule for 3 more months.

Finally in February of 2016, we sold our house and began packing everything up. I decided the whole stressful ordeal of moving was only going to make potty training more stressful. Putting aside my pride, I had to admit to myself I couldn’t pack up, sell our belongings, give my children the attention they deserve, move across 3 state lines,  potty train, and maintain my sanity.

Something had to give.

Looking back with the knowledge and experience I have now, I have to forgive myself. It wasn’t a failure on her or my part. She simply….and if you know me and have read this blog for sometime, you may recognize a theme which keeps rearing its head around here…wasn’t ready.

She wasn’t ready.

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No matter how “ready” I am, if she’s not ready, her stubbornness will butt heads with my stubbornness. At that point it becomes a war of wills. Children’s wills usually win. Especially when it comes to their little bodies. It is the one thing in their lives they have full control over…or in this 4 year-old’s case, it is the one thing she is trying to learn how to have full control over. I was not interested in breaking her spirit or our relationship, so I decided to walk away. I had to trust we would pick up our bathroom independence with full force when it was a little more convenient for everyone.

Just last week, I finished reading (for the second time in 2 weeks I might add) the most glorious self-help book I have ever read. The author is all about setting goals and future thinking. He encourages visiting the decisions one has made in the past to see if, “knowing what I know now, would I make the same choices”. If so, why?  If not, why not? The idea is supposed to encourage seeing your mistakes, admitting them or owning them, finding the lesson learned, not repeating them, and then letting it go or forgiving yourself.

So with that in mind, knowing what I know now, would I put all those arbitrary pressures and deadlines for potty training  on myself during that 6 month tug-of-war? The clear answer here is a resounding “HELL NO”.

So I put this story out here for those mothers of young children with Down Syndrome who may potentially be going through the same situations I was going through. Or maybe attempting to prepare to go through the potty training stage. Have patience. Don’t lose hope. Trust that your child wants to be potty trained, she might just need a little extra emotional support, your understanding, love, and encouragement.

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On this beautiful Tuesday, I am proud and relieved to say she stays dry during the day and asks for help when going to the restroom. She still has the occasional accident, but it happens once every week, rather than once a day.

As I add another check to her major Developmental Milestone list, I have to say, I am visiting Pride Avenue today folks.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY…paradise vs. reality

In the wee hours of Monday, January 16th, we were all slowly waking up in our new existence. For the next week we are camping out just south of Tucson. We finally moved from paradise. It was time. We were ready. As ready as we thought we were, it is a little sad to wake up and suddenly, 1. you have a neighbor again, 2. you not only have one neighbor but many 3. the amazing view of the Colorado River has been replaced by a parking lot of other RVs and Finally, 4. the sand from our private island has been superseded with miles upon miles of asphalt.

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When you stay on a private island for 2 months and 2 whole weeks, you have some mental hurdles to overcome when re-entering civilization: Getting out the door is the first step in the re-entry process, familiarizing yourself with the new town goes a long way, Grocery shopping at the local grocery store seems to quell my initial pangs of “Oh wow, I miss the campsite we just left!” I also noticed my habitual task of cleaning and straightening up once we get settled into our new existance…putting everything back in its place is a good way to create a “homey environment”. For me, cleaning and grocery shopping are my goto’s for making the process of getting used to an area a little easier.

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Regular life keeps on going…and soon the private island longing turns into good feelings and positive memories. I am now free to reflect on what the private island gave to our little family. We learned so much about ourselves during our extended stay: it was our first experience with major holidays away from family and on an RV, making holiday’s more merrier for the kids was both laborious as well as easy: It took a lot more imagination and creativity to prep for the holidays but it was easier because it was a much smaller space; I got into the habit of waking early to do some writing; due to the fluctuating temperatures, I now prefer layering more than ever; and school works best when mommy has a plan! I’ve always known that last one, but staying in Paradise reminded me, we will just amiably roam around unless I have an agenda!!!

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We were able to accomplish a lot of tasks and make some pretty amazing memories there. When we left Sunday afternoon, the feeling of excitement flooded my being. I can’t help getting excited and eager to see and experience new things with my family. But as always, when we pulled into the campsite late Sunday afternoon, I suddenly had a longing for the paradise we had left behind. There’s nothing new about this feeling. I have learned to recognize the pattern of ‘uneasy feelings’ when first arriving at a new destination. It happened with paradise as well: I was wary about the isolation of being on a river far away from the actual campground.

But it always turns out to be a positive.

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Upon arrival of a new site, I always see my surroundings in a “literal” way. Which makes sense, I have no experience of the new place so I cannot draw from the good feelings I had when we visited here “that one time”. I only see what’s right in front of my face. Later Monday morning, when we took our morning walk around the campsite and the girls were riding on their scooters weaving left to right on the open roads, my “literal” view began to change to a more figurative one.

The figurative view allows me to look beyond the not-so-great aesthetics of our current surroundings and see it for what it allows our family to experience. The more memories we make in this area/town, the more warm feelings I will have toward this campground. It’s liberating to recognize a pattern for what it is…a recurring feeling…and it’s attachment to an emotional feeling I have. Once the pattern is identified, I can sit back and watch it  take an active role in helping it blossom into something more. I might add, there has yet to be an instance when the negative feelings persist.  Even the ugliest campgrounds have a special place in my heart.

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ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN…foxwrapper

With the mere 2 days we have left until Christmas morning I am working undercover and using my very own specialized covert ops to discretely wrap presents and…stuff…well… stuff those things that need to be stuffed in the holidays. That’s what she said.

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I have to use coded language even now, because Abby sometimes reads my blog. As a parent I still strive to maintain some sense of privacy for myself as well as an overall sense of naivety and wonder for our kids. It’s hard to believe I am talking about maintaining a “sense of privacy and wonder” when I haven’t been to the restroom alone in the past 10 years. I haven’t gotten dressed alone or even participated in weekly ritualistic grooming habits in that time either.

My phone, try as I might with a secretive 6 digit code and my 1 minute automatic lock screen, still gives some of my secrets away. My texts appear in lock mode…and like clockwork, Abby runs to tell me Elena is trying to get a hold of me and she wants to know if, “In all the clothes I gave Lydia, did I also want her to have the light grey thong she found in the bag as well?” “I can text her back mom, just tell me your password and what to say.” Sweet Abby,  always eager to help out.

I was already formulating a response in my head and was tempted to ask her to respond with, “Oh is Lydia not into adult thongs yet? If not, I can take them back and give them to CC. LOL…just joking…how embarrassing” and “good thing we’re such good friends!” But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to explaining my sarcasm as it might impede our efforts of maintaining her naiveté.

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And yes, before you remind me, I know I can remove my texts from lock screen, but then I would be completely cut off from the outside world. I am one of those individuals who pay attention to or look at certain things when they are right in front of my face. I can’t help to hold fast to the belief there are still some important secrets I can keep hidden.

For example; Cecilia and I did laundry at the campsite yesterday. There’s hardly anyone ever in the cold damp room, which due to the unfavorable conditions of the room, oddly enough emits the fresh odor of dryer sheets. In the corner sits a large metal table designed for folding clothes, but secretly perfect for wrapping presents in isolation. I was constantly looking over my shoulder in the anticipation of Abby and Phoebe strolling into the room, but I was relying on the fact the rain, frigid temperatures, as well as my husband’s knowledge of my covert ops would be a sufficient deterrent and help me make the most of my 2 whole hours of freedom.

Cecilia and I threw the clothes in the wash and used the 30 minute timeframe to organize those unmentionable things which need to be “stuffed”, little outfits put into perfect little gift bags, and new little purses from mommy and daddy stuffed with sunglasses, mints, Lip Smacker flavored gloss, tissues, hand sanitizer, and anything else I can find to shove in there…all the while my heart was beating confidently in my chest with the hopes of the girls loving their gifts!

Once the clothes were ready for the dryer, I did the inadvisable and stuffed them all into one giant dryer, put in my quarters, and set my phone alarm for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I knew we could get a lot accomplished…Cecilia and I drove 15 miles into town to pick up some wrapping paper, bows, extra tape, and an extra pair of scissors because I forgot mine at home. For the 15 minute ride back to the campsite I was subtracting the half hour from my overall time…with one hour left on the clock, my secret operation…we can call it ‘giftwrapstone’ like ‘Treadstone’ in the Jason Borne films. Honestly, that’s too long. I can hear Greg’s voice in my head telling me, “You have to get the syllable count just right.” I am going to rename it ‘Foxwrapper’, cause I was being sly like a fox. BOOM! Operation Foxwrapper 2016 was sure to be an open and shut case.

The objectives were simple;

Objective number 1; organize gifts: put them in the corresponding bags or boxes, insert tissue paper, and for God’s sake label them! We’ve had issues with labeling gifts in the past…it actually led to surrendering a gift meant for one child to a younger sibling…which in turn led to a bout of jealousy…and then of course as you might suspect, led to fighting…and from there, led to a feeling of parental failure…Finally leading to the only choice of spending more money in order to purchase the exact same gift for the intended recipient. So ‘labeling’ is maybe the highest priority.

Objective number 2; wrapping the gifts with the cheap dollar store paper while trying not to rip the wrapping paper. Dollar store paper is the way to go in my opinion, but it comes with a warning “DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT TO WRAP IF YOU ARE IN THE SLIGHTEST HURRY OR YOU WILL DESTROY THE THIN SHEETS OF PAPER!” Wrap when you have time to spare. Yesterday, unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to spare. Needless to say, there will be many gifts under the tree for the children with fun little creative patches of matching paper on the outside of the box, to cover up all of my “oopses”.

Objective number 3; the final but maybe most important part…aside from the labelling, I really can’t stress that enough is to successfully transfer the carload of gifts to the “basement” of the RV without the kids seeing any of it. It was a miracle.

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My own Christmas miracle! Operation Foxwrapper went off without any major guffaws. It feels good to know I am keeping the naiveté, wonder, and magic of Christmas alive for our kids all under the guise of my excellent fox-like covert op skills. They will never know…until they read this blog…and then of course, they will know. But for now, they are none-the-wiser.

It also feels pretty damn good to know I am still a fantastic secret keeper…mostly because my short-term memory is for…well lets just say it’s not something to brag about. With 2 days to go, I can officially relax.

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Foxwrapper file is now considered to be closed and sealed.

TWO HUNDRED SEVENTEEN…synthetic fibrous dramas

We are dealing with a major tragedy in our most humble of humble abodes.

and of course my pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the story...

Last week, Wednesday to be exact, the kids were playing outside. When the kids play they drag every stuffy they own along for the ride. On this particular day, they had lined their stuffies in 3 separate rows of 5. As far as I could see, they were holding a tribunal. Rainbow Puppy Bunny had attended a forest/desert class in the nude with poop on his bottom…his crime was that he didn’t pay any mind to the others in the class and began wiping his poopy bottom on his classmates.

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On a sidenote, poop is a major source of entertainment in our house at the moment. I don’t know why I just wrote “at the moment”, it’s not as if we’ve just discovered our love of all things poop…this is an ongoing subject in our house…years to be exact. It seems to have reached its pinnacle recently. A story becomes far more interesting if it involves poop. If you add “poop” to an ordinary joke, it becomes the most amazing joke ever told. If I am losing the kids in a school lesson, adding “poop talk” to our studies turns the most doldrum lesson into the most engaging lesson there ever was. I have been considering myself a very astute teacher as of late, thanks to my juvenile sense of humor…I am really taking advantage of our socially unacceptable bodily functions.

Back to the tribunal of stuffies…the girls were really making the stuffies come down hard on Rainbow Puppy Bunny for exposing his poopy bottom to his classmates. I recall a little bit of peer pressure from his synthetically stuffed classmates, including but not limited to mocking, pointing, and isolating him behind a group of cacti in the desert. It was actually just a small collection of dead brush, but we have recently studied cacti and its awesome characteristics.  So the dead brush went from blah to a fully armed and loaded cacti just waiting for one wrong move.

I watched them develop their storyline for quite some time and then Greg came out to proclaim, “We are getting the bleep out of this site and going out for dinner”. And yes he actually said, “Bleep”. He says it a lot. The girls gathered everything, per my request, and began throwing it inside. I take you through this agonizing culmination of events to set the stage for what ensues.

On a random but relevant note, existence in the desert means we have our fair share of 40 plus mile an hour winds both during the day as well as night. Not always, but when it is windy, it is significant. Hence the reason our super cute Christmas tree is pathetically laying on the ground. So to get back to the original story, Phoebe, whose never met a synthetically stuffed stranger, is attached to every single one she comes into contact with. She not only has a name for them but also a whole history of how they have come to be as well.

As we were getting ready to leave, the wind at this particular moment in time was truant. So when Phoebe made the decision to leave Rainbow Puppy Bunny outside as part of his punishment, I didn’t think anything of it. As soon as we drove the 15 miles it takes to get out of our campsite, ok I am exaggerating, it only takes 8…we hopped on 95 and immediately noticed the wind pushing us around.

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Again, I was busy and not thinking anything of Rainbow Puppy Bunny. We had an uneventful dinner in Lake Havasu and I was able to do 3 loads of laundry within an hour and a half timeline. The wind at this point had been aggressively throwing its weight around and we were feeling it as we were making our journey back to our modest living quarters. When we reached our campsite, the wind took hold of our car doors and propelled them to their limit. We all made it inside and the first thing out of Phoebe’s mouth was, “I have to go get Rainbow Puppy Bunny!”

Sadly, Rainbow Puppy Bunny was nowhere to be found. Like all the other weightless inanimate objects in 40 mile an hour wind storm, we assume he was taken away to his new home. I knew Phoebe was going to have a very hard time with this one. If your thinking, “oh good grief… it’s just a stuffed animal… she will get over it in an hour… get a replacement…or don’t…make her toughen up.” You obviously don’t know Phoebe.

Here we are one week and a day later dealing with our overly compassionate 7-year-old laying on the floor, tears streaming down her face professing her absolute love for Rainbow Puppy Bunny. “She was my number 3 favorite stuffed animal. She was beautiful. Fun. Playful. Blankie is my first. Monster is number 2. Puppy Bunny is number 3. I love her. I miss her. What if she’s not ok? Can we go look for her again? What if someone has her? Or worse, what if someone has her and they are playing with her right now” throwing herself into full-on ‘my life is ruined’ mode.

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We walk a fine line as parents of helping them live in reality, maintaining their innocence and wonder, feeding into their dramas and quirky behavior, and probably eventually coercing them into becoming just like everyone else. Yes, on the one hand it would be really nice if Phoebe could get over the whole Puppy Bunny being gone, but on the other hand it is wonderful that, Rainbow Puppy Bunny is her only source of stress at the moment.

While on the RV, Greg and I have been hyper aware of birthdays and holidays. We knew it was going to be hard around this time when we usually spend a majority of our time with family. But with limited living space and a 5 person vehicle flying family in, is not an easy feat. I was resolute in not allowing Rainbow Puppy Bunny to tarnish the joy Greg and I have been working so hard to bring this season.

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So, as usual, I did what any soft-hearted but also kind of annoyed parent might do and told her, “Maybe, just maybe Phoebe, Rainbow Puppy Bunny was feeling homesick and wanted to be with his mommy and daddy…and his brothers and sisters at Christmas time. We should be happy for him” “Rainbow Puppy Bunny is a girl Mommy…not a boy!” I weighed my options, apologized for calling her a “him” and kept my mouth shut to see how she might respond. Keeping my mouth shut is one of my better choices today, she came back with, “Do you think she’s ok Mommy?”

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My cruel imagination produced a picture of Rainbow Puppy Bunny laying facedown completely drenched on a set of rocks on the Colorado River miles from our campsite. And with that image, I lied, “Of course I do Phoebe…I bet she’s snuggling up with her Mommy on their couch right now drinking hot cocoa, eating pop corn and telling her family all about the amazing little girl named Phoebe, she got to know.” “Okay Mommy, your probably right” and with a hug and kiss, we were able to put the lid back on our can of ‘life with a toddler’ box.

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A major tragedy was brought to a close and our hopes and efforts of having/creating a wonderful holiday in our RV will continue. Tonight I will definitely be taking part in a coffee mug of wine.

 

 

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 FIFTEEN…oh Christmas tree

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

…And the holiday’s are upon us. The magical day is rapidly approaching. Let the stress begin! Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED FOURTEEN…Grand Canyon and the Sprangers

We ventured to Peach Springs, Arizona  to see the western rim of the Grand Canyon with the kids on Saturday.

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It was both breathtaking and nerve-racking all at the same time.

As a self-proclaimed airheaded clutz, with 2 out of 3 children who follow in their mother’s footsteps, the no barrier between the edge of the canyon and the 6,000 foot drop was enough to make me develop a severe case of the dreaded ‘what-if’ disease. I am no stranger to the disease, but it took hold of me on Saturday and seized all of my rational thoughts.

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My mind kept running through different scenarios. For example, at one point Greg was walking along the rim looking down into the abyss. Two other ladies were walking towards him also looking down into the void. They were talking and not really paying attention and that’s where my imagination kicked into high-gear and all of a sudden, I saw Greg side-stepping the ladies in an effort to avoid a head-on collision, but the girls lost in their own world, became startled and also began to step to the side…causing Greg to lose his footing and just sort of tumble off the side of the canyon. He didn’t of course, but like I’ve stated before, my imagination is very vivid.

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There was another scenario where Phoebe was being herself and jumping on and off the rocks trying to avoid the cracks. several times, she came very close to the edge and in my mind, the story went something like this: There she is, Phoebe jumping from one rock to another and with all of her gusto and curiosity, she runs right up to the edge. Not realizing the depth of what lies beyond the canyon wall, she just sort of forgets to stop running and runs right off the canyon. News paper articles flash through my mind with titles saying: ‘Little Girl Risks Everything’ ‘The Little Girl Who Couldn’t Stop”Little Girl Leaves Without Goodbye”Christmas Won’t be the Same for RV Family”Mother Flings Herself over the Side of the Canyon to save her daughter’…and they just kept coming.

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With my palms sweating, I became the “Girls, please don’t do that” “Can you just walk in a straight line Phoebe” “Phoebe stay with me” “Phoebe hold onto the stroller and don’t let go” mom on Saturday.

I kept asking myself, “If it were just Greg and I, could I then relax?” The answer was very clear. Absolutely not. I would be equally afraid of my own clumsiness and mis-steps. Like those stories I used to read about people who do things to ‘self-sabatoge’ themselves, I could just envision myself accidentally slipping to my death. All those nightmares I had as a child of falling down stairs and off the side of very high structures laid the foundation for a true fear of heights.

Not to mention, the horror of letting go of someone I love and not being able to at least try to save them would haunt me forever. And there’s no way my 5’6″ frame could save my 6’3″ spouse. Maybe if something magical were to transpire and I could surpass the height and weight differentiation between us…like maybe my love for him would allow me to gain all this strength and lift him, with one arm from the edge, and bring him to safety. But then I think about the 12 pound dumbbell I carry in my gym bag that I can barely do 12 reps with…and subsequently manage to dissolve the dream on the spot. Plus, I’m not a big believer in magic.

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So no matter what, I was way out of my comfort zone. Abby is a lot like me…very curious, but equally cautious. She, like me, didn’t go near the edge. We maintained the safe distance of at least 1 yard from the edge of death.

Then of course there’s the more adventurous/daring/risk taking side of our family: Phoebe and Greg. Phoebe would run right up to the edge and jump, laugh and peek over…I couldn’t handle the over-active stories going on in my mind.

Honestly, if I didn’t develop an ulcer that very day, it was a true miracle.

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Greg was equally brazen with his constant pleads for Abby and I to come to the edge. “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I kept saying, “Can’t you just love me for who I am…instead of trying to turn me into someone you wish I was?” Seemed like a rational question to me. To appease him, if that’s possible in this scenario, I agreed to walk the famous “sky walk”. Even the skywalk was way out of my comfort zone, but I thought it might quell his desires to see his wife do something out of the safety of her little bubble. It didn’t. He continued to pester me throughout our visit.

With all of the vast harrowing depths, I cannot deny the magnificence of this natural feature of our landscape.

After 3 hours of braving the 43 degree weather to visit the 3 areas of the western rim, we stopped for some lunch. Greg, Abby, and Phoebe wanted to climb the “anthill” so they could have a 360 degree view of the canyon. And then it would be time for us to head home. Cecilia and I sat at the base of the hill ready to take a picture of that special moment when Greg and the girls would wave to us from the summit.

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When I heard Greg’s voice echoing, “No Phoebe, come here”, my heart sank to my stomach.

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Moments later, they were making their way to our picnic table with a story of “Phoebe was crawling around up there and actually crawled underneath a man’s legs” Greg said rolling his eyes. “Time to go”, I proclaimed. A feeling of absolute relief came over me and in that moment, I was thankful we were all able to witness the magnificence of the Grand Canyon together. We hiked the treacherous mile back to the bus stop and I watched as Abby and Phoebe chased each other around the poles of the bus top.

I would have asked them to stop, but there wasn’t anyone else around and frankly, I was tired of hearing myself repeat the word, “No” all day long. It was right in that moment, two men came around the corner. Somehow, Phoebe, who was not watching where she was going, ended up right in front of one of the men as he was walking toward the bus stop. He tried to move to the side in an effort to avoid her. Completely unaware of her surroundings, she continued her twirling and ended up moving to the side as well. He was desperately trying to avoid her and damn near ended up falling. It was only when I yelled out at her to, “Watch where you’re going Phoebe” that she realized what was happening. She finally stopped in front of the man and he stumbled out of her net of confusion.

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Apologizing profusely, I took Phoebe by the arm and sat down with her on a nearby bench. I bowed my head, took a breath, ignored Phoebe’s constant, “Mommy are you mad at me” questions, and counted to 25.

On our ride back to the Visitors Center, Greg was asking the girls what their favorite part of the Grand Canyon was. Abby said, “climbing all the cool rocks and seeing everything” was her favorite thing. Phoebe  proudly proclaimed, “It was my very first time riding a bus, so riding the bus was my favorite part.” And there you have it. Riding a bus to the Grand Canyon surpassed seeing the actual canyon.

 

It’s hump day!!

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTEEN…new desires 

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Always looking for the next thing to capture my attention. The next project. The next goal. I never stop wondering what’s around the corner. Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED TWELVE…it’s finders keepers friday

I woke up this morning to the sun bouncing off the Colorado River right outside my bedside window and filling our bedroom with a light so strong it practically pushed me out of the bed. Pushed is too mild of a word. It shoved me out of bed! I’m feeling good today folks.

It’s Friday!

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It’s December!

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Christmas is right around the corner!

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My phone was buzzing something crazy this morning, with texts from my lovely sister who operates at a 10 right when she wakes up. It was 7:30 my time, so that’s 10:30 her time. She’s probably already had 3 shots of expresso. I had no hope to catch up to her energy level anyway, but after 3 shots of espresso, I definitely can’t hang. I’m working on it Lisa!

I am trying to be better about answering texts and phone calls! Cecilia keeps swiping my phone. On Wednesday she snuck it from the kitchen table and placed it in her super secret hiding place until Thursday night. We tried calling it several times, but it was low on batteries to begin with. I assumed, correctly as it turned out, she didn’t find an outlet to plug it in. I was ready to give up. I only found it, when I put her down for bedtime and discovered it in between the wall and the mattress. “No!” she screamed. HAHAHA!!! I WIN!!

5 points for parent, 3 for kid who did a remarkable job of hiding my phone.

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Going back to the subject of time, I truly believe we are on some sort of time zone line. If I take my phone to the front of the home on wheels, it is an hour later. When I am in our bedroom, it is an hour earlier. It is unbelievably confusing. If I check Greg’s phone, it is set to eastern standard time. The Jeep’s clock is set to Arizona time which is 2 hours behind eastern standard. So basically, the long incredibly drawn out point I am trying to make is that I along with never knowing the day and date, I am now never really sure what time it is…or what time zone we are operating in for that matter.

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But I am not going to let that stop me from having an amazing weekend!!!

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Happy Friday Everyone!

TWO HUNDRED ELEVEN…all the right buttons

Two holiday’s, two birthdays down. One more major holiday and two birthday’s to go. Argh, I keep forgetting about New Years. Two more major holiday’s and two birthdays to go. There! We are checking off our lists one by one.

We were busy over Thanksgiving. We took the kids to Las Vegas for a nice dinner and a spectacular light show at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was a glorious 45 minute drive through 4 million lights. We drove around the speedway under brightly lit tunnels, past lighted story stills from The Grinch, Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Frosty, just to name a few. Everyone had a small cup of hot chocolate and some kettle corn from the concession stand at the beginning of our journey. It was magical.

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I LOVE color and there was just the right amount to tickle my taste buds. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the business of it all. Which is a true first for me. I have a tendency to become visually over stimulated…which results in a true inability for me to focus on anything.

It was perfect for the kids…I have been adamant about making sure birthdays and holidays are more exceptional than usual: letting them decorate for the monthly or weekly event, hanging twinkly lights everywhere, and incorporating crafts.  It’s important to Greg and I for them to have a positive experience while we are forging ahead on our RV journey.

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I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the Christmas Holiday! It really put everyone in the spirit. Even Greg kept saying, “We need to get a tree!” That’s usually my line.

While we were eating our Thanksgiving meal, the girls were playing with the table top tablets the restaurant provided. With the occasional, “Mommy, help me” from Cecilia, It was a nice, calm, quiet dinner for once. I was able to have a conversation with Greg from start to finish. Sometimes that’s all I need. A quiet moment to connect with my best friend. And that’s exactly what we did. It was a memorable holiday.

Speaking of Cecilia, if earth soon found itself in a precarious position like the giant meteor crisis in Armageddon…I think that’s the right movie and the only way to save our planet would be to have a giant room with thousands of buttons which needed to be pushed non-stop, I truly believe Cecilia would be a fantastic candidate for that position. Her inability to keep her hands away from buttons and knobs is  both annoying and funny at the same time.

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When we returned from our Las Vegas Thanksgiving extravaganza, I needed to get Cecilia ready for bed and I wanted to catch up on the news. I did what I always do, turned on my news program, carefully hid our Apple TV remote and sat her on our bed so I could brush her hair. Just for a split second, I stood up to grab a ponytail holder and within that time, she located the remote, swiped it, and single-handedly switched the ‘language’ of my news program from English to French and added Spanish subtitles. She accomplished all of these feats without visiting the settings tab once. Greg and I were both amazed. And annoyed.

We scrambled to locate the language and subtitle profile in settings. She completed the act, without leaving the current screen. Greg and I were completely amazed, oddly proud…and equally annoyed. I really think she could have a lucrative career saving the planet by pushing buttons. What can I say, she has a gift.

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As usual, she knows how to push all the right buttons.

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It’s Wednesday…I plan on celebrating hump-day with this nice coffee mug of red tonight. Cheers!

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 NINE…you had me at “bookstore”

209 j (1 of 1).jpgI am watching my children tickle one another on the floor while my ears are covered with Greg’s massive headphones. I’m lost in the rhythms and lyrics of ‘Breathless’ by Small Black. So I cannot hear them as they giggle, squeal, and protest one another.

It is lovely.

This morning Abby said she wanted a new book. She’s double digits now and conscious of everything I am into. I know she is aware of my affections for aimlessly wandering around bookstores. I am guessing she is beginning to suspect I have a unique borderline unhealthy relationship with them.

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I wonder around bookstores the way most people wander around department or clothing stores. And if you were to see the way I dress, it would all make sense. The way some people touch the fabrics to feel the weight or softness of the material trying to decide if it is something they might like to have against their skin, is the way I touch new books hoping to feel the connection to its weight and softness shiny smooth paperback flesh or am I going to go for its cold coarse hard cover counterpart?

The reasons some people read the fabric’s care instructions, are the same reasons I read the reviews: I want to know how much work is involved, is it an easy read or will I have to re-read paragraphs,  will it sustain my interest or will my mind wander, will I be able to put it down for months at a time or have a week of sleepless nights because I cannot imagine putting it down?

The assessment of the garments style, I would argue is my way of accessing whether or not I am in the correct mindset to take on the book in question. For years after grad school, I was only able to read resource books. I couldn’t get enough of them. Since my focus was in early childhood development, I couldn’t walk into a bookstore and not pick up and eventually purchase a new theorist’s take on brain-based learning. If I was on the verge of finishing a knitting project, I needed a new knitting book for my next project. “Doh, Phoebe is a right-brained learner? Well, let’s get a book on the best way to teach those who are…you guessed it, right-brained learners.”

Having a child with Down syndrome, definitely took my love of resource books to a new level and eventually I hit some sort of resource book wall. I began and finished my first book of fiction within a weeks time over the summer. And not-so-patiently waited for the movie release. It was a cathartic experience. And in my interim for finding my next work of fiction, I am once again reading 3 resource books. So I guess my resource book wall is not as high as I thought.

 So when Abby tells me of her desires for a new book, she’s tapping into an addiction I try to keep beneath the surface. I haven’t been to a bookstore in almost a month. Actually if I retrace my location by weeks, I didn’t visit a bookstore in Chowchilla, CA…we were in Pismo (for 3 weeks) and I walked by a Barnes n Nobles 2/3 times but it was Halloween and why would I go in a bookstore on Halloween with kids that would make me super selfish, I’m selfish for sure, but I don’t know if I’m super selfish…before Pismo we were in the unmentionable town for a week and there was definitely not a bookstore nearby…Idaho, once again walked by a Barnes N Nobles but I was late for my movie so I couldn’t go in then…again, we were there for a week…Mount Shasta, CA I didn’t visit a bookstore then either and that was 3 weeks…Oregon for 4 weeks and definitely no bookstores there. Oh man, I haven’t been to a bookstore in over two months.

Well, it was certainly time. Abby scratched an itch…so we drove 90 minutes in the jeep, on the highway, with the tops off, going 75 with a surf rack on top. We couldn’t hear a damn thing, but who cares? We were going to a bookstore.

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“I want one of those really old classical books from like 1980’s, where there hard covered and really long” she confessed. “Oh wow, 1980’s? Do you think you’ll be able to read and understand the language of that really old-time” I asked dripping with sarcasm. Of course it went right over her head…as I hoped it would to which she responded, “Yes, I think I will understand it…I just want to read something old”. “Yes, you said that already” I reminded her. “What are you hoping to read about” I asked her trying to see if I could point her in the right direction…

…and she thoughtfully replied “Oh just something really…”.

“Old” I replied?

“Yes” she boasted.

I could tell she knew, I knew what she was talking about.

“I have just the thing” I told her.

I had been holding off on my childhood favorite ‘Anne of Green Gables’ hoping for this very moment.

When we walked into Barnes N Nobles in Nevada, a full 90 minutes later with our wind-blown hair, we made a B-line right for the children’s section and there it was, basking in a the brightest spotlight shining on its light mauve hardcover color complete with gold lettering, attached satin bookmark holder, and gold trimmed pages. It was small and perfect.

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I reached for it and grabbed it with my all-too enthusiastic hands. I was too excited. I turned the book over and read the synopsis…handed it to her or more like shoved it in her face and more or less said, “Here, this is what you’re looking for” with utter confidence.

Looking back I now see how that definitely could have been a turn off. I went for the one I wanted first. I should have gone with ’20 thousand leagues under the sea’ first or ‘The Swiss Family Robinson’ first although it would have been my second choice. Both Anne of Green Gables and The Swiss Family Robinson were smaller hard copies. “A manageable read” I thought.

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Annoyed with my over-excited aggressive omniscient attitude, she put both of them back on the shelf. “Oh rats balls, I’ve just lost her…she’s going to go for Peter Pan or something else…but I really want her to choose Anne of Green Gables…should I push her, give her an ultimatum or just get her the book I want her to get and completely ignore/discount her feelings” went through my mind in a split second.

She bent down, picked up The Tales of Peter Rabbit which for the record, was twice as thick, twice as heavy and of course, twice the price of my pick.

She’s gone through her chapter books, graphic novels, and series books, Harry Potter and Roald Dahl phases. The classics are of interest to her now. But I really wanted to read Anne of Green Gables with her…and then Greg’s voice popped into my head with his, “Why does she have to go with your pick? Peter Rabbit is just as much of a classic if not more than Anne? If she picks yours and doesn’t finish will you blame her or yourself? If she picks Peter Rabbit and doesn’t finish will you blame yourself or her? She can always read Anne of Green Gables next can’t she? Or is it out of print and this is the last copy anyone will ever see?”

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“Ugh, shut up. Even when you’re not with me, you’re in my head…rationalizing and weighing out the pros and cons” I argue with myself. Ultimately I have those “What would Greg say” moments when I have this nagging feeling I might be imposing my desires for my children on my children rather than allowing them to forge their own path. “FINE” I quietly concede defeat to my husband in our imaginary argument, “You’ve won again…are you happy now?” I just had to get that last dig in after allowing him to gain the upper hand.

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“That’s a great choice Abby, I just want to make sure you feel confident about taking on a book this large. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed and not finish” I explained. “I love Peter Rabbit!” she gloated. “Peter Rabbit it is then” I took the book from her hands and put it with the books I had picked out for Cecilia. I then allowed Phoebe to pick out some of her own graphic novels and chapter books.

On our 90 mile drive back to the RV through the desert, she read a quarter of the mammoth book. If she keeps this up, we might be going back this weekend to pick up Anne of Green Gables after all. Two visits to a bookstore in one week…is it my birthday?

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ONE HUNDRED SEVEN…desert vs dessert

Greetings from Needles, California! Otherwise known as the desert. Not dessert, but desert.

I have not taken any pictures in a week. We Cecilia is dealing with Perioral Dermatitis yet again and we are anxiously awaiting for her face to heal. It’s frustrating and not something I care to share at this point. So, I am using photos from our July 2016 getaway into the mountains of Beach, NC. and listening to Phantogram.

Phantogram…thank you…now I’m in a good mood.

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I have a somewhat embarrassing faux pas to admit, but if you know me, it probably won’t come as a shock. Somewhere along our travels, I have added a month to our journey. So I need to  rectify my calculations from a previous post. We have been on the road for 157 Days for a total of 5 months. There, I feel better. On December 10th, it will officially be 6 months.

157 days isn’t quite the same as 184 days I had written earlier. I kept counting the month of May. We didn’t even get this beast until June.

Any who…

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Lately it seems a lot of my posts are about sleep or lack there of…this one is no different.

I had a difficult time falling asleep last night…I was so excited about being in warm weather and having a great campsite. And if I’m being completely honest, I had a difficult time putting my phone down. Damn Pinterest. So I made an executive decision to sleep with Cecilia. She’s a really good cuddler right now. It hasn’t always been that way, so I enjoy the little opportunities to snuggle up with her.

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So I contorted myself to fit inside her single bunk just the way I do twice a day, every day for nap and bedtime. As usual, I fail to remember and correctly estimate the closeness of the top bunk. As I’m taking my right hand off the top, like clockwork (not cockwork as spell check wants me to write, which, by the way, isn’t even a word spellcheck inventor people) I bump the right side of my head. Last night was no exception. I pressed on the bump that has developed on my head like I do twice a day every day to try to relieve the pain. Once the pain had subsided, I settled downright beside her warm body. Her face was turned toward me and I bent my head down to smell her strawberry toothpaste breath. Totally worth the pain. It was wonderful. I took a deep breath, nestled close to her, and closed my eyes.

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Unfortunately after the 4th time of being kicked in the legs and stomach, the 2nd time of being punched in the face with the backside of her hand, I decided to go back to my bed. In that moment, Greg happened to peek his head into her bunk looking for me. “Just checking on you” he whispered. I motioned that I was coming out. He gave me his hand to help me up, but it’s much easier if I just sort of fall out of the bed.

I like to slide my right leg out and plant my foot on the floor…followed by my right arm to brace myself and then I hike up my left leg to my chest and much like a glob of wet play-doh I just sort of flop onto the floor. Jello might be the better visual here folks. So let the sentence above read, much like a glob of jello, I just sort of flop on the floor. The dilemma I have with getting out of the bottom bunk is very similar to getting in. Clearly entering and exiting the bunks weren’t intended for a full-grown adult. Once in the bed though, it is quite comfy. At this point I am just trying to help my scalp/skull retain some of it’s natural shape.

Back to the adult bedroom.

The temptation to reach for my phone when I’m not even the slightest bit tired is so strong. I tell myself, “Just a couple of minutes on pinterest or reading the news” and before I know it, an hour has gone by. So, once I got back to bed, I chucked my phone into the bathroom and shut the door. And by chucked I mean I tried to gently throw it onto the counter, I usually have wicked aim, but missed it by about 4 inches hearing it flop onto the floor.

Fast forward to this morning and I wake up to…wanna guess? A cracked iphone screen you say?

And there in lies my rational for what my Monday might look like…a bit bleary.

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No, just kidding. My screen didn’t crack. Are you kidding? I have to have a sheet of armer on that thing to withstand the beatings it recieves everyday from the Spranger girls.

Nope, it’s just a regular old Monday in the desert. Hope yours is a good one.

ONE HUNDRED SIX…and the UEL award

What is it with our kids wanting to hang out with us all the time?

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Yesterday was a busy day of getting things back in order, laundry, school, grocery shopping, and taking the kids to the pool. Of course laundry and grocery shopping entail a lot more than their names imply.

They were with me all day Tuesday driving through Yosemite, I dragged them all over town yesterday for errands and ingredients for dinner. As usual, we ate dinner as a family, took a nice evening stroll around the campground, watched the girls ride their bicycles and roller blades around. Seriously, don’t they ever just want to be alone together…playing with dolls or something? I know the answer to that question…but why can’t they feel that way when I feel that way? Why can’t our desires for a little alone time coincide with one another?

Not to mention trying to find solace in a 300 square foot rectangle is as impossible as trying to find sunlight in a cave.

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Greg and I both wanted to do a little work last night, so when we returned from our evening stroll, we tag-teamed it: I began washing the dishes and Greg set the girls up in our bedroom for a movie. Thirty minutes later, we both sat down and began to work. It was nice and quiet…for all of 15 minutes. Then Abby and Cecilia came thundering into the room plopping down on the floor beside us playing, screaming, and giggling while one is tickling the other. Followed by Phoebe strolling in, seemingly in the middle of a conversation about her love of the color purple. She went on to let me know her feelings on pink, blue, red and green…which took around 30 minutes before I realized what was happening..they are usurping my me time!

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NO!

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I politely asked Abby to go back to our bedroom and find a movie they want to watch, preferably something Cecilia also wants to watch. I looked Phoebe June straight in the eyes and told her, “I love this conversation we you are having, but could we you continue it later…like maybe tomorrow?” And as if I was completely invisible, they all just kept on going about their business. Phoebe went on to tell me about her Mr. Purple Blankie and her feelings on girl colors versus boy colors. CC was stomping around the living room trying to “run away” from Abby who was chasing her.

My brain was hurting with its current inability to process the information my eyes were taking in. “Doesn’t anyone listen to me?” flashed through my mind and I saw the color red.

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Thank God Greg knows me as well as he does; before I said anything, he looked at me, laughed and said, “stay there, I got this”. He herded everyone out for a 2nd time and I assume he set them up with another movie. I had high hopes this movie would be more effective than the previous one in holding their attentiion. But 3 minutes later, Cecilia comes out to retrieve Puppy from the toy bag, flops his I used to be Greg’s puppy when he was a little boy so I barely have any stuffing left in my droopy puppy body on the floor and starts pressing his chest repeatedly towards the floor. It looked as if she was performing CPR. “What are they watching in there?” I asked Greg. He smiled, gave me his headphones, turned on Tycho’s ‘Awake’ for me, and just like that, I floated back to my own little cloud.

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 …I could live in this corner, this beautiful bright blue corner with it’s perfectly placed decorative tiles…

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I know one day, I will regret this contemptuous feeling I sometimes have when the girls just want to be around us all the time. No doubt there will come a time when I will want to be with one or all of them, years from now, but they won’t have time for me…they will be so busy with their own extremely important lives. I’ve heard it all before. But for now I need some peace and quiet.

A glass of wine would also be nice, but I drank the last drop on election night.

Water it is.

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It’s Friday now. We are going to try this again tonight, with a much better, more well thought out plan of the best way to capture their attention. A good hour of alone time, a solid night’s sleep, a shower in the morning, and a nice early morning walk should put me back together again and make everything right as rain. At which time we the girls and I will recommence our relentless daily schedule of being with one another all day/night long…carrying on important conversations about the various colors of the rainbow, if and where unicorns exist, when to start our Christmas list letter to Santa, and whatever else pops into their little big minds.

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I am mentally prepared for the moment when the parenting gods have their private messengers descend on earth to hand out the UEL (Understanding, Empathetic, and Loving) Parenting Award to all the amazing moms and dads out there. When the UEL messengers reach in their bags, for mine, and they come out empty handed and embarrassed, I will understand. I am prepared. Last night, I was willing to take that chink in my rusty parenting armor if it means an hour of peace and quiet!

206bb (1 of 1).jpgHappy Friday and wish me luck!

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 FOUR…goodbye holiday hello birthdays

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holiday #1 done, Birthdays #4 and #5 quickly approaching. The chaos and anticipation of planning two little girls’ birthday parties has me all jacked up!! Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED THREE…missing our furry side

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What do you do when your 9 year-old wants a puppy for her birthday…but your not quite ready? You gently explain, “Daddy and I are not quite ready to fill those big holes in your hearts just yet. The day will come…just be patient. I love you. Pick another gift.” Playing the mean mom today. Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED TWO…lady of the night nails

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I love to send Greg out for female related items like tampons, pads, girly razors, bakini waxing kits…I could go on. He comes back with the craziest stories. But this last errand, almost granted him an official “I will never have to run another errand for her ever again” pass. This time, the joke is on me. Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED ONE…rv’s, trains, and automobiles

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I never thought I would suggest using my children’s voices to lull me to sleep, but here I am suggesting we do that very thing. I just need their voices to drown out the train and car noises I hear all night long. Continue reading

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 SEVEN…the slowest week E V E R

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This is for the times when perseverance eludes us. A mini-guide on how to maintain sanity when you are slowly loosing your mind… Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY SIX…go on and feel it

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Sometimes, doubling back is necessary before moving forward. Feeling all the feels today folks. Continue reading