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.

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE…my petal tips are turning brown

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Sometimes I see myself as a flower whose petals are solely dependent on outside factors for their healthy vibrant color. If that were the case, my petal tips are beginning to tarnish. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT…the happy simpleton

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Like every other American I have been consumed with what is going on in the news. I am in the process of potty training Cecilia, painting the toy/play room, schooling (of course), feeding my hourly hungry children and trying to maintain … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN…the pitfalls of homeschooling

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I was unpacking our bicycles from this mornings ride when Phoebe approached me in the garage with a serious tone in her voice saying, “Mommy, something’s wrong with Abby. She is saying she doesn’t want to play dolls with me. I … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE…fruit and poop randomness

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Little Phoebe and her sentence structure is really blowing us away. She stomped her way into our bedroom bright and early and proclaimed, “Guys, I had the worst dream last night.” This perfect sentence from our 5-year-old. At 3 this … Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY TWO…

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I turned 38 years old 20 days ago. My husband and I have a continual dialogue about our dreams which almost always include travel of some sort. Occasionally I dream out-loud about photography equipment and encourage him to fantasize about a … Continue reading

NINETY-SEVEN…blob out

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I have reached a point in my life where, at a certain time of day, my brain stops working. 5:30 in the afternoon rolls around and I can’t seem to form a single intelligent sentence or thought, if I do … Continue reading

NINETY-THREE…memories and anniversary’s

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In 7 days, it will be our one year anniversary since moving to Florida. Greg reminded me today.  on the one hand, it is so hard to believe it’s only been a year We have built a life here, I … Continue reading

THIRTY-NINE…it’s deeper than you think

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I know I said I would ’embrace the cold as long as snow wasn’t too far behind’ but after the beauty that was today, I am afraid I have to change my mind… Oh I am lovin the sun and … Continue reading

THIRTY-FIVE…I am not a prisoner. I am not a prisoner. But I am in a cave.

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I have the rare moment of starting over I had a whole post written, edited and was about to add pictures when lightning hit and knocked out our power. It’s the beginning of the ‘Big Winter Storm of 2012.’ I … Continue reading

TWENTY-SEVEN…here’s something strange

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Allow me to preface this post with my current life soundtrack, ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ by Penguin Cafe Orchestra. If you get the chance, please listen to it, it is exquisite. Every once in a while I will teach a course for … Continue reading

TWENTY-SIX…the big wind-down

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This week has been filled with appointments, therapies, grocery runs for last-minute forgotten items and more appointments as well as more therapies. And one very important unannounced visitor…eheem Uncle Rusty. I really must say with our growing list of doctors … Continue reading

TWENTY-Two…ugh

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Today was definitely a Monday! And we were not here… To my dear friend Lisa, if you are reading this blog, I am sorry I didn’t get back with you…time got away from me!!! I broke my phone on Monday … Continue reading

TWENTY…seriously

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I have one word to sum up where I am in my life at this very moment in time…that word is, yup, that’s right…seriously? I have a gazillion pictures of the beach…of which I am never going to do anything … Continue reading

EIGHTEEN…what are we doing to our kids?

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sweet heart…our power went out at the beach house tonight. It was super windy and rainy all day…we should have seen this coming. Greggy went to pick up a movie and of course like clockwork, 5 minutes after he left, … Continue reading

SEVENTEEN…this holiday season

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Every once in a while I will have a moment with my family where I am teleported from my body to somewhere else in the room. I can see the girls chasing each other and giggling, Greg is preparing dinner … Continue reading

SIXTEEN…I want my own personal life soundtrack

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Vampire Weekend…another righteous band! I was driving to Knoxville with Miss Cecilia the other day and Vampire Weekend came on….I went from an, ‘I’m barely awake moment’ to an, ‘I want to dance out of my skin moment’. I get … Continue reading

FIFTEEN…five

Abby Leigh.

There are words, phrases, adjectives that come to mind when talking about Abby Leigh…

loud

fun

sensitive

non-stop

She’ll give you everything she’s got

Sometimes Abby will spend the night with my mom or this summer she spent a week with her Busha. I was devastated. For the entire week, I slept in past 6:30 am, Phoebe went to bed at 6:30 pm…no questions asked or battles to fight, we had food in the cabinets and in the refrigerator and I actually experienced silence during the day. Yes I will say it again…

I WAS DEVASTATED.

It was the quietest week I have ever lived, since having kids.

You get used to the chaos and talking, singing and squealing, questions and comments about EVERYTHING everyone in the room is doing

Sometimes I need a 5 minute break from the chaos that is Abby

A quick five minutes does wonders

I constantly learn from Abby.

She is a ‘glass is full’ kind of girl. She loves life. I remember one day in the spring, I was pregnant with Cecilia, we were home from a long drive and collecting stuff that had piled up in the car. Greg carried Phoebe up to her crib in hopes of letting her stay asleep a little longer. Abby was out of the car and headed towards the door when she looked back at me. I didn’t say anything, but obviously I was having trouble getting out of the car. I had a lot of stuff in my hands and the car was at an incline, so the door wouldn’t naturally stay open. I was kicking it with my foot and the stuff in my arms was spilling out onto the ground. Abby rushed over to me and opened the car door and said, “I’ll help you mommy”. Tears of pride streamed down my face, honestly. Ok, so I was pregnant, hormonal and my feelings were probably hurt because I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do right in that moment. But she made everything better. How did she know to help me? As parents we are so busy helping our children do every thing…every day.

Here was Abby, at 4 years of age, seeing her mommy struggling and helping her.

Just yesterday I was blowing up balloons while the girls were playing with their dolls. A balloon popped in my face. It scared everyone. Abby and Phoebe jumped and their mouths were wide open. Both of them looking at me in shock. Abby said, “Are you ok mommy?” I just laughed. I asked her if she saw the piece of the balloon that blasted off…we certainly didn’t want Phoebe to get a hold of it. Abby started searching and found it on the opposite side of the room, “I found it mommy…it was all the way over there.”

She has such a wonder about her…

I am consumed by the love I have for this little girl. I am consumed for the love I have for all my children and my husband of course who constantly gives and amazes me with his sensitivity and love for his children.

I am having a moment…

the point is, I am so proud of the little person she is becoming!

I hope she has a wonderful 5th birthday!!!

FOURTEEN…two

Phoebe June turns 2 today…It’s an all-day all-weekend birthday extravaganza!

Sweet Phoebe June. Her birth was strangely easy. Immediately after she was born, I looked at Greg and said, “I could do this again”. When we brought her home from the hospital I remember taking catnaps with her on the couch and sleeping with her at night. She was always my little cuddlebug, always right there with me wherever I was! She still is…she will find a book, locate me and turn around with book in hand and walk backwards until she reaches my lap where she will sit down. She likes our reading time together. She likes to sit on my lap while we watch her afternoon shows…she will let me scratch her back and run my fingers through her hair, kiss her beautiful chubby cheeks and the best part of all, she doesn’t mind it when I stare at her.

Phoebe has such a great little personality, all her own. She enjoys playing with little dolls and animals, she’s a girly girl if there ever was one. At meal time, she enjoys the process of eating the food – the whole sitting down, talking, raising her glass to a good meal and good company. She loves to swing. She enjoys holding hands when she wants to walk by your side, but also letting go of your hand at inappropriate moments and running far away so you have to chase her. Typical…she is two.

Such a sensitive little person. She always has a laugh or a tear ready and truthfully, it always seems like it could go either way at a moments notice. I was so impressed with her when she met Collin Read as a toddler. Greg, the kids and I were having dinner with our friends Tom and Jill and their wonderful boys Brady, Owen and Collin. Phoebe was probably 1.5 years – it was over the summer and she was so amazed by Collin and gentle with him.  It makes me think she might be empathetic towards others…I certainly hope so.

For the most part she is very good at sharing. Abby has been known to just take it from her. Most of the time, Abby gets away with it. Phoebe will calmly find another toy. Sometimes though, when she is tired, she looses it. The sadness overwhelms her and I swear I can read what she is thinking by looking at her sweet face, “I really wanted to play with that toy…I had a whole story in mind for them…I was going to make my little dolls do this and that and Abby took them away without asking”. AUGH…breaks my heart.

She’s pretty sneaky too. She will spot Abby from afar playing with a doll she wants. She scoots near and continues to play just waiting for the moment Abby sets the doll down. When the moment comes, snoopy runs over very quickly, takes the doll, turns and runs in the opposite direction. Leaving Abby clueless. Often times she runs into her Barbie tent. Very savvy this little sister is.

I think she’ll do alright. I am so proud and in love with her. I love getting to know who she is and what her interests are. I hope she had a great birthday! AND it will continue tomorrow…THE SPRANGER GIRLS BIRTHDAY WEEKEND EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

TWELVE…spooktastic, spooktacular, spookteriffic!

I thought it was crazy, Halloween on a Monday night. We had a Halloween Party Saturday night, a perfect fall festival Sunday day and it truly felt like Halloween had come and gone.

Never-the-less, we welcomed the wonderful holiday and dressed for the occasion. Miss Bumble Bee and our little rainbow caterpillar tuckered out pretty quick.

Miss Ariel could have gone all night long…

She was so HILARIOUS…I remember last year at the tender age of 3, she wanted to go up to the houses all by herself. She did NOT want me to go with her! This year, she wanted to hold my hand, she wanted me to go up to the steps with her, she wanted me to ring the doorbell or knock on the door. I loved every minute of it, but as stated before, it was quite a change from the previous year. As we were walking up to one house, she looked at me with those BIG blue eyes and said, “mommy this house scares me, I don’t want to go.” At another home there were skeletons hanging from trees and she grabbed my hand and hid her eyes behind her hands and squealed. Oh these tender moments we share with our kids, they are soon to be gone and forgotten. Faded from our memory.

There’s my little bumble bee…kissing the dresser doors. Another moment I might soon forget…

I might forget that Miss Abby went through 3 costume changes before deciding on Ariel. I might forget that it took me 20 minutes to figure out that the bumble bee costume had a velcro ‘area’ which might make it easier to change a diaper, if such an act was needed. It was needed. The bumble bee costume was exposed to hazardous waste.

I might forget that Miss Cecilia looks extra ‘caterpillary’ with her hat on…but the 6-12 month caterpillar hat was WAY TOO BIG for her beautiful 3-6 month old head and WHILE WE ARE ON THE SUBJECT OF INAPPROPRIATE SIZES…Abby’s Little Mermaid dress specifically said ‘xs – 3-6’ and it looked like it could have been M-6-9. It was hanging off her sweet delicate little frame. Looking at this picture, with her arms above her head, I might have forgotten that little detail.

All these tiny little details…these little nuances…I want to remember these things about my children. I want to remember how I felt about buying Abby three separate costumes and allowing her to make up her own mind. I want to remember how reluctant Phoebe was about going up to someone’s house and the way she held on to me while she was wearing her body-hugging black velvet bumble bee costume. I want to remember how Miss Bumble Bee’s poor little yellow feathers rubbing off on EVERY THING made me giggle to myself! I want to remember how poop got on to her Halloween costume. I want to remember all of the sweet comments everyone made about my little caterpillar. In fact, I want to remember all the nice things everyone said about all of our little cast of characters. I want to remember all of these things. I am a mother now. The weight of that phrase can really sober one up. One day these amazing little people are going to grow up…and they are going to find something they are skilled in, good at or enjoy.

One day, us old folks might be welcoming their little families into our home for the weekend. When I share stories about their ‘mommy’s’ life, I hope I remember all of these wonderful little details. I hope we can all laugh about these silly things together. But for now, I want to spend as much time with them as I can. Get to know them. Hear them when they talk about their dreams. Sing with them…the way they want to sing ‘off key, making up new words and as loud as I possibly can’. Let them pick out their very own little outfits…even if they don’t match or are in the wrong season. Let them eat candy and sugar before dinner and as soon as they wake up in the morning. WAIT – did I really just write that?  Show them all of the opportunities that lay before them. LOVE THEM. Celebrate with them. Celebrate them.

It’s November. WOW. How did that happen?

NINE…yummy goodness

I was so excited when Miss Cecilia woke up at 5 am this morning! I ran up stairs, got her out of her crib, changed her little diaper, pulled down the covers on the spare bed and we climbed on in! We snuggled up so tight to one another. I thought I was going to try and go back to sleep, but she is so cute I just wanted to watch her. She is doing so many new things right now; she has been cooing and ahhing a lot lately…we are having our own private ooh and aah conversation

she has been bringing her hand up to her head – when she does this it looks as if she is carrying the weight of the world on her little 2.5 month old shoulders

she is locking eyes with me…so we are really ‘gazing’ into one another’s eyes right now, and she is beginning the belly laugh stage…so I find myself doing the strangest things in order to make her giggle.

Baby love.

I am knee deep in it folks!

So in love with Miss Cecilia!

She is YUMMY GOODNESS!!!

One…us

I met my husband Gregory Kenneth in 2003 in northeastern Tennessee. We were both working for a small private college. He was a Professor in Computer Science and I was an Assistant Director for an Arts Outreach Program. We were the only two SINGLE people younger than 30 in the small rural bible belt town.

Luckily we hit it off and ended up glued at the hip, despite our default status.

Our first date was pretty amazing…I convinced him to ride along in my jeep Cherokee for 45 minutes of real mountain driving, otherwise known as BACKROADS!

I am a shoulder hugger which doesn’t sit well with middle-of-the-road drivers like Gregory Kenneth. I wanted to take him to the Smokey Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Driving in a car for 45 minutes with someone you have never spoken with could have been nerve-racking. But from the moment he opened the car door, I felt completely at ease. We didn’t stop talking until he was safely returned to his Jeep 4.5 hours later. We had beer and apps, we listened to some great music, walked along the streets in downtown Gatlinburg, and stopped at an arcade so I could ‘school’ him on a civil game of air hockey.

I WON of course!

He doesn’t remember it that way, but when it comes to air hockey, I always win!

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A year and a half later we eloped on April 1, 2004 in the oldest courthouse in Tennessee. Afterwards we ate crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and sipped on cold chardonnay in a quaint little restaurant.  Greg paid the bill and we were on our way. Until the nice waitress ran after us to hand me the marriage certificate I had forgotten at the table. …and I headed back to my part-time job as a front desk clerk in a hotel.

Thus began the quirky story of our little family. After a year of marriage, we decided we were ready to grow our little family. A dog was the perfect addition to our family and would allow us to practice our parenting skills. We decided on a Golden Retriever puppy and chose the name Bear (due to the abnormally large size of his butt in comparison with the rest of his tiny furry body).

In 2004, I began a Master’s program for Early Childhood Education at ETSU. I was two classes shy of my degree when my husband applied and received a position at a state college in northwestern Nebraska. Yet another small rural town.

What is it about us and small rural towns?

We were interested in an adventure, so we packed up and moved across the country. IMG_0041

He was loving life in his new position and after a semester of teaching Kindergarten, I found a job that suited my degree and goals a little bit better…a Director of an Early Childhood Program.

We were fitting in so well into our new surroundings, getting to know everyone in our small town, visiting the park 2 blocks from our house and our New Year tradition of visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

It was in this rural northwestern Nebraska town that we welcomed our first daughter Abigail Leigh on November 6, 2006. We were smitten, nervous, anxious, protective and overwhelmed with love right from the start.

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After Abby was born I had a strong desire to stay home with her. So, Greg went into the computer industry…which meant he was going to travel, sometimes for weeks at a time.

For a year, our little one car Subaru Forester, family drove together to take daddy to the airport sending him off to the big world only to pick him up a week later. It was an hour and a half trip one way. We wanted another child and were quickly growing out of our 950 square foot home as well as my coveted Subaru Forester.

We ditched the cool urban car and went for the mini-van. We searched the area for new homes, but decided with the amount of travel Greg was committed to, we would move closer to my family until we could find out ‘where’ we wanted to live.

Our first rental in TN was in a growing city in northeastern TN. The neighborhood was a little scary and the house was ok. Not completely desirable, but it was a step in a direction. 2 months after moving, I was pregnant with our second child…another girl.

On November 5, 2009 we welcomed our second baby girl, Phoebe June Spranger.

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Our little family was getting a little bit bigger and I was hormonal and growing impatient with our living situation.

My mother had a condo in a neighboring town that was rather large and currently unoccupied, so I persuaded her to let us rent it for a small fee and promised I would make small repairs on the home so she might have better luck selling in the future.

I think now might be a good time to mention I grew up in this condo…all the way from 5th grade to senior year in High School. Here we are, my husband, dog and two daughters living in the home I grew up in.

Low and behold, 8 months after moving in I found I was pregnant yet again.

On July 29th, 2011 Greg, Abby, Phoebe and I ….and Bear, welcomed Cecilia Rae Spranger into the world. Our third girl. I had always hoped for 3 girls…and now my dream was complete…IMG_0316or so I thought.

6 hours after Cecilia Rae was born we were told the on site pediatrician who was observing her suspected she might have Down syndrome.

My body felt like a furnace that had just been lit. Heat began to rise in my body from my feet all the way to the top of my head.

In the hours/days that followed I came to know what the definition of ‘marriage’ meant to me.

The pediatricians suspicions were correct, she did have Down syndrome. I have shared her birth story in another post, but for now…2 months 1 week and 5 days later I am completely consumed with love for this beautiful little girl who continues to surprise us with her development and her emerging personality everyday.

We are SLOWLY getting into our groove as a family of three beautiful, happy and healthy little girls.