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.

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

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

Maybe next time.

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

TWO HUNDRED 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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