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.

 

 

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE…I blame it on the kerosene

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

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

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

Surely (don’t call me Shirley)

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Back to our very humble dwellings in rural Tennessee…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is thirteen years within the acceptable time frame?

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

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

Rhetorical question.

Don’t answer that!

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

Happy Wednesday evening friends!

TWO HUNDRED 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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 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