TWO HUNDRED FORTY TWO…my new two favorite words

Homer, Alaska.

 

242 aae.jpg

 

“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.

 

 img_8691

 

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.

 

242 az.jpg
242 aaa 1.jpg242 aab.jpg242 ar.jpg242 ax.jpg

 

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.

 

242 aak.jpg

 

242 aaf.jpg

 

242 aaj.jpg

 

242 aah.jpg

 

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

 

242 h.jpg

 

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.

 

242 ap.jpg

 

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.

 

242 av.jpg242 aq.jpg

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.

 

242 au.jpg
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.
242 am.jpg

 

H O M E R

 

 

A L A S K A!

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.

237 A.jpg

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.

237 j.jpg

 

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.

237 d.jpg

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.

237 feature 4.jpg

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.

237 k.jpg

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.

237 hh.jpg

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.

237 o.jpg

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.

232 i.jpg

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.

232 k.jpg

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.

232 d.jpg

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.

232 b.jpg

“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).

232 f.jpg

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.

232 g.jpg

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.

232 q.jpgI calmly scooted out of my comfortable booth seat, grabbed Cecilia by the hand and took her to the potty.

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 NINETEEN…marshmallow boobs and other stories

I had one of those mornings again: me, barely coherent waking up to little Phoebe June crawling into bed with me. Her warm strawberry smelling self snuggled in for what I was hoping was going to be another successful hour of sleep. We were facing each other and, like she’s done since she was a baby, she put her hand down my shirt in between my modest mammary glands. All the kids at one point do this…I’ve never taken their hands away, in fact I see it happen with a lot of my friends, so I just assumed it was totally normal and all kids do it. Why argue, It looks warm and cozy.

It’s the equivalent of cat-nip for toddlers. The space between just lends itself to warmth and security. I fee like it holds some sort of magic elixir for a worried toddler. It never failed; anytime a kid would get upset, one thumb goes in the mouth and the other hand finds the magical mammary place and voila…instant calm.

So, she stuck her hand in the crux of my breasts then promptly brought her hand out, smelled it and said, “Mommy, what does this smell like?” Horrified…let me write that again, HORRIFIED of what she is about to say and glad Greg was not in the room I said, “I don’t know Phoebe, what does it smell like?” “Marshmallows…your boobs smell like marshmallows mommy.” Thank God it was marshmallows versus something worse.

I did not see that one coming.

e

And that’s when I knew, today was going to be a nice sunny day for this little family.

I can tell a lot from early morning statements from our girls. Their statements almost remind me of a weather mans ability to predict the highs and lows of the day. They don’t even have to be statements. Like the other morning when Cecilia brought her new Giraffe book into my bed and slammed it down on my chest demanding, “Here Mommy…I love you…you read” I ended up spending the whole day following her around and doing whatever she wanted to do. It was a glorious day: no struggle of wills or wet noodle bodies laying on the floor in protestation of everything that comes out of my mouth. Rather, just an honest day in discovering new things with Cecilia. AKA, her dream day. She presented herself in the morning and I went with it. For that day, it was sunny and there was not a single cloud in the sky.

 Monday, was destined to be stormy, cold, and grey with high percentage of rain when Abby climbed in bed with me and asked what my plans were for the day. When I told her I was planning to do a little bit of schooling, she let out this long, loud, pathetic, and agonizing whine, “Mommy, no! It’s the holidays…nobody else has to do school.” I should have known then it would take me all morning along with all of my patience for the week not to start banging my head on the table.

Phoebe, whose usually the most enthusiastic of learners, was indolently trying to avoid any type of work as well. Honestly, I don’t know why I was so surprised about their  attitudes for doing school on a Monday. We go through it every week. It’s the week after my 40th birthday and the week of my husband’s 42nd birthday, “Birthday’s” aren’t  “official holidays”…why should we take the day off?” I asked.

I will refer you back to Abby’s early morning moans and groans just to give you an idea of how our day ended up shaking out. What normally would have taken 2 hours, ended up taking 4 hours and I will admit, 2 out of 3 kids ended up in tears. Don’t worry, they were totally crocodile tears trying their best to get out of having to do anything…like I wrote before, we experienced storms and grey clouds the entire day.

ff

d

And then of course there was New Years Eve a beautiful sunny day with dark ominous clouds in the distance. The day looked promising…the sun was out (literally) and the kids all seemed to be in a good mood. Greg and I had discussed the possibility of driving to Joshua Tree National Park, which is over 90 miles away. Greg had it all planned out. He woke up early, made everyone  a spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet. The day was coming together, we just might have a nice calm day, a few clouds to be expected, but it really felt like the day was there for the taking..

Until Phoebe said, “No daddy, I don’t think that’s such a good idea…I don’t want the eggs and stuff. Can I just have cereal?” I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I knew her statement sounded important somehow, almost like the sounds reverberating from her vocal chords were carrying a bigger truth…BUT, Greg and I have had this discussion numerous times and for one of our New Years Resolution, we vowed to stop being short order cooks. If we make the effort to make a meal, we all at least have to try it. Fast forward to later in the morning when we were heading to the national park and we hear Abby’s voice yelling at us to, “pull the car over, Phoebe’s throwing up!”

It was then I realized Phoebe’s statement was more prophetic than anything else…she was in fact throwing up the spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet we forced her to eat. And by “forced” I mean bribery…”If you don’t eat your breakfast, you won’t be able to have the wonderful surprise I have for all you girls this afternoon.” And there you have it, the start of the day was bright sunny and full of possibilities but there were those dark all-knowing clouds in the distance…which I chose to ignore.

ee

But the boob story from this morning leads me to believe today just might be a happy, bright, beautiful sunny day. With boobs that smell like marshmallows, how could the forecast be anything but?

TWO HUNDRED EIGHT…our own private island

It’s official.

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

208 2 (1 of 1).jpg

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

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

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

208 3 (1 of 1).jpg

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

W H A T?

208 4 (1 of 1).jpg

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

208 5 (1 of 1).jpg

At least for now.

TWO HUNDRED…what the what?

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

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