TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THREE…no holds barred

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

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

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

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

I don’t know what I was thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY TWO…my Christmas tree lights are on steroids. Are yours?

So, this is our first year of having a fake tree.

Not ideal for us but with renovating a home while living in it and bringing in 2 puppies, honestly the last thing I wanted to add to my day was yelling at my children to “not touch the Christmas tree or the needles will fall off” all day long.

Let’s not forget how sometimes I get so busy I forget to water the tree. And then of course, when I realize I’ve forgotten send it into shock by filling up the tree stand with a gallon of fresh water. Then comes the inevitable stress of willing it to hang on just three more days and then I promise I will put us out of misery. And of course the constant sweeping up of needles every three hours.

So, fake tree, welcome to our humble cottage.

During the holidays I love to bring coffee into the living room early in the morning before anyone is up and just sit in the silence and awe its majestic luminary gift. This is also our first year of having all white lights. I’m normally an all color lights kind of gal, but had my heart set on white lights this year. Just to try it out.

So, every morning I’ve been coming out early with all the lights off, my little cup of cream coffee and my headphones so I can listen to my book by the glow of the Christmas tree.

Well, on morning #1 of having the tree, there was no such word as “glow”.

It was a full on steroid shine. Woke me right up even before I’d had a sip of coffee.

Hmmm. I was a little disappointed and immediately wanted some sort of dimmer on the switch. Just to take it down two maybe three notches. Make it so my eyes weren’t feeling completely assaulted. And there you have it. The tree shines bright like a diamond.

So I bought a string of pretty white lights and hid them behind our tv console. I turn those on in the morning and sip my coffee and reflect on our life in 2018 by its warm glow. That’s just too damn bright for 5 am. And can I mention waking up at 2 am to go to the bathroom…when I see their bright lights, my brain says, “it’s time to get up now” because when the steroid lights are on, it’s like a having a 100 watt bulb to light the room.

Finally when I make it back to bed, I toss and turn for an hour before falling back to sleep. But then again, not having them on seems so wrong. It is Christmas after all. This magical holiday only comes once a year. Ugh. Major dilemma folks! Major dilemma. The struggle is real. I’m probably going to turn them on anyway seeing as we’ve only got five more days of feeling perfectly normal for having them on. After that guilt sets in it’s a rush to get all the decorations put away and our house back in order.

I do see myself turning into one of those people who keeps the tree up all year round but just doesn’t turn on the lights. Although, our lighting in that particular room is pretty bad. Sometimes the ceiling fan works therefore sometimes the light works…but only if my husband turns it on. The fan/light combo doesn’t prefer my touch. It has to be the special touch of a 6’3″man.

Speaking of getting our house back in order, we do not have a fireplace in our home therefor nowhere to hang our stockings. So I pinterested it and came up with a solution…so far it seems to serve it’s purpose quite well. Although I am willing to concede it is too high on the wall.

With five more days left before I will be taking it down, I refuse to redrill two new holes. We already have a sign that fits in that exact spot. So we are just going to have to wait until next year to reposition it on our wall.

Rest assured, if I need luminary help trying to see the drill bit going into the wall, I know where to look. We don’t need to buy one of those utilitarian workman flashlights. We will have the solution stuffed in a box in our basement. As Charlie Sheen would say, “WINNING!”

And so, to wrap up what I am assuming will be my last post for 2018, our Christmas tree while it won’t be leaving any needles behind or dying of shock, it’s lights are steroid bright. If we were to enter into a “My Lights are Brighter than Yours” Christmas tree competition, we would surely win.

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 EIGHT…really scary stuff

I am quietly obsessed with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a band I have recently discovered. I enjoy all their music but my favorites are Hunnybee and Everyone Acts Crazy Now Days.

I write “quietly” because I am exploring music on my headphones while putting CC down for a nap. It’s really great toe tapping music. I feel like I need a disco ball and swivel office chair when listening to this band.

Twirl twirl twirl.

Swivel swivel swivel.

Twirl, swivel, twirl twirl.

Speaking of putting Cecilia down for a nap, lately I just fall right to sleep after story time. My whole “pretending” to go to sleep so she’ll settle down is backfiring on me in a big way. So in an attempt to stay awake during yesterday’s siesta, I caught myself thinking about…if you thought to yourself, ” I bet she was thinking about the horror film The Exorcist”…you would be correct.

I used to be enamored with the horror film genre.

For the longest time, The Exorcist was my all time favorite movie. Of course there was The Shining, Poltergeist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, and whatever else used to keep me and my girlfriends up and scared out of our gourds all weekend long. I don’t know how we managed to survive. We could probably send a thank you card to Pizza Hut and Mountain Dew for starters.

But honestly, I cannot count the number of times I have seen the classic of all classics and suffice it to say, every time that little girls head turns the whole way around and I hear the crunching and breaking of bones in the background, every hair on my being stands straight up.

It never disappoints.

Yes there were more for sure but The Exorcist, for me, was the one that launched my fondness for an honest to goodness guttural scream and consequently the standard for all horror films I would ever be exposed to.

And then I had children. Not chicken as my computer spellcheck wants me to writealthough I probably had a lot of chicken during those times as well.

When I became pregnant, my psyche went through a strange transformation of invincibility to fragility all at once.

I no longer wanted to know or be associated with anything unsavory. I didn’t want to think about death in any of its forms including vindictive justice, which made it very difficult to watch anything from Martin Scorsese, whom I enjoyed immensely.

Through the years I have reconciled with my psyche on certain forms of “death in cinema” and ever so slowly, have begun my journey back to the dark side. And luckily for me I have come to my senses about Martin Scorsese.

But to this day, I absolutely cannot watch the new horror films. They have morphed into something darker, more sinister and worse… kind of real.

With that being said, I take you back to yesterday afternoon, when it was time for Cecilia’s nap.

First, allow me to set the scene for you. Right from the moment we awoke at the wee hours of the morn, the sky had banded all of its clouds together to block the sun from coming through. It just looked as if we were in for something more than a couple of little rain drops.

And holy wha…it was the storm of all storms complete with thunder, lightening, and random power outages.

As I stated before, Sometimes when I put CC down for a nap, I end up falling asleep right beside her. Her rhythmic heavy breathing, pummeling my neck with that warm strawberry breath. Watching her little hand with those jagged dirty fingernails rising and falling on her tummy. Both of these little CC nuances doing everything in their power to lull me into taking an afternoon nap right along side her. Like I don’t have dinner to prep, laundry to start, a bathroom to clean, dust buffaloes to sweep up, Kindergarten, 3rd, and 6th grade lessons to prep for AND implement, calls to make/return, appointments to schedule, tons of stuff to put away…the list goes on.

Sometimes when I don’t want to sleep, I mindlessly search social media. I have been an infrequent voyeur lately and therefore quite happy. Until yesterday, when I needed to stay awake. So Instagram it was.

I was just browsing, trying to pass the time. My finger must have hovered over a button because all of a sudden my camera was on and getting ready to record “my first IG story” whatever that is.

Before I could blink, an older version of me, with forehead wrinkles, sourpuss facial expression, dark circles surrounding my eyes was staring back at me. Scared out of my mind, I scrambled to press what ever button would get that old woman’s scary face off my phone screen.

Mission Accomplished.

Phew, what a relief! Holy cow…what was that?

But wait, that old lady staring back at me was…me. No way! It was straight out of an 80’s horror movie. And trust me, I’ve seen them all. Thus my plummet into the downward spiral began:

And just so you know, I would not under any circumstances post a horrific picture of myself on social media. Nor would I “print” out a horrific picture of myself and frame it for our entryway…or put it in our children’s baby books. In other words, I won’t post the horrific images here either. But since this post is about CC and myself, I will post pictures of us enjoying one another on Busha and Grandpa’s swing a month ago.

Trying to rationalize with myself I thought “No…I don’t look like that without makeup on…right?” So I did what any sane human being would do in that moment and turned on the camera again.

“WOW. How long have those forehead wrinkles been that prominent?” I said to myself.

“Angie Beth, you shouldn’t squint like that, you’ll get wrinkles” my older and wiser sister used to say to me all the time when I was a spring chicken refusing to wear my glasses. Glasses got in the way of the carefree image I was trying to put out there. Clearly. Ugh, She was right though.

“Holy Crevace…those lines run deep…and, are my pores always that big? Is my nose swollen… or are my eyes swollen? Are my eyes AND nose swollen?

I think my phone camera is jacked up. Plus the lighting in this room is wonky.

Ugh, should I start doing Botox? Will botox get rid of that extra fold of skin above my eye lid? Have my eyes always been this different from one another? There definitely NOT the same.

I look like an alien.

Oh my… holy wha… SERIOUSLY are my pores really that BIG? Is this phone on “magnify mode”?

Do I know anyone who throws Botox parties? But then what if I have an allergic reaction? That would be my luck.”

Whatever happened to “growing old gracefully”…there’s nothing “graceful” about those crevices deep DEEP lines.

I typed in the word “graceful” in my search engine and followed with “antonym”… here are some of the adjectives I can choose to replace “graceful” with…

“Growing old Rigidly

Growing old inflexibly

Growing old bunglingly

Growing old stiffly

…ooh here’s one “Maladroit”

Growing old maladroitly

or damn…

Growing old “gracelessly”.

Awe…That one hurt.

Gracelessly.

“I can’t afford Botox. Abby is a growing machine…she needs food, clothes, shoes, possibly braces.

We are re-doing a house… “Oh hey, Greg, when I go to Home Depot to purchase the circular table saw, would you mind if I stopped by my dermatologists office and had him apply some botox…it’s only a BAZILLION dollars a vile…I don’t know how many I’ll need…20 viles, maybe 40…no it only lasts for a couple of months…”

With my heart racing, I gently rolled out of Cecilia’s bed and quietly sprinted to the bathroom tripping over every sharp tiny animal LEGO piece laying on the ground just so I could examine my granny face in the mirror.

With my palms sweating, I stood approximately 1 and a quarter-inch from the mirror poking, prodding, and pulling my skin taught in places where gravity had taken over.

“This is by far the scariest, most alarming moment I have had since the first time I watched “No Country for Old Men” back in…well, it’s been a while. When did this happen? I’m only 41. Aren’t the forties supposed to be the new thirties? Thirties are the new twenties and fifties the new forties?”

I had to self talk…I remembered the first time I saw The Exorcist, the subliminal messaging in that movie always fascinated me…the feeling in my stomach due to my little old brain working over time trying to decipher the images and their meanings. Yesterday, I was experiencing some of my own personal subliminal messaging:

 All of the sudden, I was transported to this older 1970’s decor living room. And there stood this 60-year-old woman. She had short dark black hair teased to perfection, in sort of a Jackie O style, dark tan skin, and this is the truly strange part, bright pink lipstick bleeding not-so-subtly outside her lip line.

She was wearing a house coat lined with gold snaps, over a bold red sequenced shift dress and a pair of open toed house shoes that showed her crinkly old bright red nail polished toenails that were turned aggressively towards her more innocent smaller, helpless toes.

I imagined the ring leader toe…the big one…but you probably guessed that one…would aggressively accost all the other toes if they stepped out of line and viciously scratch them until they bled.

So scary right?

My subliminal messages show her holding a sifter with a giant ice-cube and a quarter of the glass filled with gold liquid, which sloshed everywhere when she walked.

In this subliminal message, she begins to lead me to a bathroom. We walk down into a sunken living room, she misses a step and stumbles backward catching herself on her heels and used my shoulder to steady herself.

As she steadied herself, the gold liquid from her sifter sloshed onto this ugly striped shirt I hated wearing as a child.

Back to the present: I looked at myself in the mirror again to make sure I am still my curly frizzy haired self…when the same subliminal image continually presenting itself in boomerang mode:

She keeps laughing, with her lipstick bleeding outside her lip line and each time she laughs lipstick appears on her tooth…and then she repeats the trip and steady movement as she shows me to the bathroom…and then my striped shirt appears and…BOOMERANG…the scene repeats itself again

And again

and

Again.

“Are these scenes playing out in my mind because I am actually morphing into this lady?” I quietly looked down at my feet to see if Bunyan’s had appeared overnight. Nope. Still my long skinny skellator toes.

And I don’t own a house coat or a bathrobe if there’s a difference. So I’m all good there. Nor do I own a red sequence dress. But as I think about it, I did wear a red sequins dress to prom my sophomore year…hmm.

As thunder rattled the window panes of our current 1940’s bathroom, I leaned my face close to the sink and splashed cold water on my eyes…silently willing them to go back to normal.

Luckily it was around this time I decided I was putting WAY too much stock into this one isolated incident.

Problem solved.

And poof…my version of “the exorcist” and the obviously alcoholic Jacki O person, along with my ugly striped T-shirt disappeared….

As I straightened up, dried my eyes, and blinked several times at myself in our warped ‘Made In Taiwan’ mirror, I had one last image of the lady:

She was standing outside in her driveway that was actually alongside a pretty steep cliff sloshing her gold liquid all around as she waved goodbye to me. And with her lipstick teeth yelled something unintelligible, laughed, winked flirtatiously and turned for a, I’m not making this up, swan dive off the cliff behind her.

What? What does that mean? This whole sequence is so messed up.

For a split second I considered rushing to and looking over the edge. But then, would this damn story ever end?

What is the point of this whole saga you ask? I’ll be asking myself that same question for weeks to come.

All I know is that I feel rattled inside. Like I’ve just experienced something awful. Maybe I should just resign myself to taking the short afternoon naps with Cecilia. Or I could just listen to and purchase music. But last month, my iTunes bill was a little ridiculous.

I will be searching for the meaning to all of these horrific images for weeks to come. But in the interim, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Bat Dad it is!!

I have reconciled that my deep DEEP forehead crevices lines are due to the fact I had horrible sleep last night and I’m most likely dehydrated. It was a scary moment though.

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

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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 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 FIVE…I blame it on the kerosene

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

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

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

Surely (don’t call me Shirley)

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Back to our very humble dwellings in rural Tennessee…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is thirteen years within the acceptable time frame?

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

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

Rhetorical question.

Don’t answer that!

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

Happy Wednesday evening friends!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE…Middle Middle, chicken little

I am forever in awe of my middle child.

The same child who 7 months ago, demanded we take her in to a beauty salon so she could “spike” her hair.

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Unlike Abby, who has been exposed to peer pressure and is consciously aware of her actions in a public setting, Phoebe could care less about what others think of her. Every floor is a potential dance floor to Phoebe and she wouldn’t give a second thought to breaking out her awesome dance moves in the middle of a crowded store. No doubt, if she did that, Abby would quietly walk away from her and hide behind a clothing rack, begging me to, “Please make her stop, mom, she’s embarrassing me!”

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Phoebe’s choice of clothes almost always reflect her personality for that particular day. If she’s wearing rainbow-colored clothes, chances are pretty high she is having a good day. If, however, she is wearing grey, blue, another dull color…save yourself grief and wait for her to change her clothes. I don’t believe her choice to match her attire to her inner self is a conscious one…but more ‘matter of fact’ kind of thing.

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When we woke up this morning, she requested a trip to Target. She has a “recipe” she wanted to try. I needed to pick up a couple of things anyway, so after breakfast, we all piled into the car. Currently, we are in Springfield, Utah. The local Target is the best Target I have ever been to: It’s huge, they have more than the average Target, and the grocery section takes up half of the store. When we have days like today where the temperature is in the triple digits, I purchase a Starbucks coffee and spend all morning exploring every isle in the store. After we picked up all of her key ingredients (peaches, bananas, whip cream, and cherries) we headed over to the hair section where I proceeded to convince myself that I needed a new brush and some other items I had “forgotten” to write down on my list.

While we were standing in front of the hair accessory section, Phoebe was dancing around. She was singing and twirling and the next thing I knew, she was falling on the floor of the display case. Once she got back on her feet, she turned to me with eyes full of tears and said, “I’m having a hard day Mommy.” There was no surprise she changed from her multi-colored twirly dress to grey t-shirt and jean short overalls when we returned to the RV.

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Around the 2:00 hour, it had cooled down enough for us to go on a walk. We were just going to do a couple of laps around the park. On our first lap, we made it 3/4 of the way around before we reached the playground. There were two boys around Abby and Phoebe’s age moping around the playground searching for something to do. I encouraged them to see if they wanted to play and watched as they headed over to make their introductions. I witnessed Abby tell the boys her name and hold out her hand for a shake. And then I saw Phoebe clap her hands, do an upward head nod, throw her little non-existent hips to the side, prop one of her hands on her imaginary hip, and point with her forefinger…followed by, “Hey boys, I’m Phoebe…my favorite color is purple, and I really like unicorns.”

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I had just enough of a vantage point to see Abby roll her eyes, bury her head in her hands, shove Phoebe on the shoulder and ask her to, “Stop Phoebe, just be normal.” I had this lump in my stomach. I was trying to formulate the words I might use when she needed to be consoled after the boys made fun of her for the ‘odd introduction’ Leaving her to face peer pressure for the first time in her life. But the reaction I was afraid of, didn’t happen. The boys said something like, “Cool…you guys want to play?” Phoebe started sprinting back towards the RV. When I asked her where she was going, she yelled, “I have to change Mommy…Abby I’ll be right back!”

Five minutes later she is running back to the park wearing pink shorts, with her multi-colored bathing suit on and her purple swim skirt pulled up to her chest. She repurposed the skirt into a ruffle top. On any other child, it would have looked ridiculous, but on her, it was totally awesome. It didn’t seem to bother Abby either. She was also sporting the rainbow winter hat I knitted for her three years ago. Did I mention the hat was wool? Did I also mention it was a solid 93 degrees outside. No one questioned her new look.

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They just wanted to play.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY TWO…suspicious eyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There she was…

…alone

…at our table

…without Phoebe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe next time.

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

TWO HUNDRED 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 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 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…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 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 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 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.

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!