TWO HUNDRED FORTY ONE…6 year assessment

Cecilia Rae

241 vv.jpg

 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.

241 a.jpg

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…

241 h.jpg

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.

241 d.jpg

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.

241 k.jpg

241 m.jpg

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.

241 r.jpg

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.

241 g.jpg

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.

241 p.jpg

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.

241 n.jpg

241 f.jpg241 o.jpg

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.

241 s b.jpg

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 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.

238 g.jpg

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.

blog 143o.jpg

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.

blog a 4

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.

155 1.jpg

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.

d (700 of 1)

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.

238 d.jpg

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.

img_7954-1

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.

238 e.jpg

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.

238 c.jpg

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.

238 k.jpg

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!

 

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY NINE…my roller coaster, I mean my life

Gallery

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Right around Halloween is usually when our rollercoaster hits the very top of the highest peak and heads for its rapid decent to the bottom otherwise known as the end of the year. And then all of a sudden January begins and … Continue reading