For the Love of Toddlers

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
February 7, 2017

Maybe it is midnight. Maybe it is four am. I am emotionally and physically exhausted; as I have been for the last few years. Am I still watching TV? Mountains dissolve into the screen answering my question: screen saver is on. A tiny voice yells out. First it cries, then begins saying my name “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” with increasing desperation. Jackson. I open the bedroom door. “Blue stars. Need blue stars.” He says knowing I will be sleeping next to him tonight. I turn on the stars, (part of a toy that shuts off after twenty minutes) reminding my self to continue looking for his missing nightlight. He rolls over, as if the crying never existed, and burrows his head into the space between my chin and shoulders. I kiss him on the forehead and whisper, “love you”. “I luff you Mommy” he whispers back.

Continue reading For the Love of Toddlers

My Not-so-typical Teenagers

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
January 21, 2017

To be a parent to teenagers and toddlers often puts me into a weird parenting tug-of-war. Then I take a step back and realize the advantages I have. This week I focused on a little ode to my beautiful teenage (well Liv, 12, is technically not a teenager yet..) daughters.

I am in my car, with two toddlers. Only a two and half hours until home. I reassure myself. A quick check to the rear view mirror reminds me that I am alone with them. The older two are at home. Help Mommy! Ipad stuck! Jackson shrieks as I pull onto the freeway. He locked it. I curse. Mamamamamamamamamamama!!! Cece chimes in. Her arms reaching out trying to hand me the bag of cereal she was eating. I watch as she sprinkles half the bag onto the car floor I had just cleaned. I see a Mickey Mouse book beyond my reach. Refocusing my attention on the road, I turn up the music. “I had that dream; that you were mine. I had that dream a thousand times; The car seems lonely, I realize how much I miss my girls.  I don’t hear their chatter: silly, sarcastic, intelligent, confusing, and comforting. I want to see their faces when I surprise them with hot chocolate from Starbucks; a gesture of appreciation for them fixing the Ipad for Jackson or replacing the cereal in Cece’s outstretched little arm for the book in front of her feet. My thought haze dissolves as Cece coughs up green Lucky Charm tinted blob of vomit.

Continue reading My Not-so-typical Teenagers

Ode to “Me-Mowe”

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
January 7, 2017

Ode to Me-Mowe

(Pronounced like cow, but with an M. that is Cece’s word for Mickey mouse)

Dear Mickey Mouse-

Let me start off by saying I am a big fan. I have been since I was in diapers. You and your crew were my first friends. It is nice that you now spend so much time in my home again. At the risk of being judged by other parents, I am just going to come clean: I let my kids watch a lot of TV. I don’t mean to, but we are all happier people when the TV is on. See, you still bring joy to my life. But you already knew that, you are a smart mouse. I can’t quite figure out why you are still friends with Pete, he is seriously an asshole. But I am sure you have a reason, I won’t doubt you know what you are doing. You, little mouse, have become generation-less. I like how you have become quite musical in this new generation. The hot dog song? And kids eat it up. (pun intended) Anyway, like Goofy trying to remember quite how to say Toodles, I am stumbling over my words. What I really wanted to say was thank you for being there to help out this week.

Continue reading Ode to “Me-Mowe”

Breathe

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
December 31, 2016

I am running around the house trying to prepare for another holiday gathering. Presents need to be wrapped bought, and my house is in its normal state of cluttered chaos. Why do they need to dump the toy bins to play with one little thing? Cece has attached herself to my leg and Jackson weaseled a bike in from outside and was running over my foot, again. The girls were just waking up and their faces were glued to some device. I was letting Josh sleep in since he was fresh off two double shifts. I stood there, looking down at my ratty sweat pants tucked into my slipper boots and stopped in the now familiar command: breathe

“Hell of a winter we are having, eh?” An imagined passerby calls out to me smiling at the two toddlers playing around in the back yard. I tell myself they are some how missing the piles of dog poop were buried under the snow then thawed back out. Another thing on my to do list. I sigh as I am oddly reminded of the three-inch layer of dust on my windowsill. Jackson and Cece are battling each other with sticks as the dog darts out of the way. They are probably too young to be playing with those sticks. Oh wait, I stopped giving a shit what people thought especially in the judgment free zone that is my back yard. The trees are shaking in the loneliness that comes about when all your leaves have fallen. The breeze causes a ripple shiver in my shoulder. My watch dings. Breathe. I inhale, my gaze softening on the babies giggling around the yard. I exhale these insignificant moments of my day that I
will most likely forget tomorrow. I just breathe.

Continue reading Breathe

The Answer is in the Dunes

The days after my trip have left me with a mess of maps, notebooks, pictures and memories. As I arrange myself back into everyday, real, adult life, I hold onto a longing for the freedom that is the open road and no plan. My vacation was completely immature; an itch to satisfy curiosity and wake up every day to an adventure. I took my baby,my toddler and two teenage girls away from their comfort zones. I risked tantrums and eye rolls and bickering about who has to lean over the seat to grab the truck Jackson has thrown for the twentieth time. We ran out of everything, diapers, milk, cell phone data, patience, money, batteries, tolerance for camping and even sunny days.
Being back to adult life now, I can only relive the journey by writing about it. There are so many pictures and moments and stories that I am excited to share. We did it. We drove six thousand miles in two weeks with four kids. We are better people because of it. The best place to start? right in the middle.
July 14,2016


We are driving somewhere through Idaho. Potatoes, Napoleon Dynamite. Why do I keep saying Iowa? What do I expect? Even now, I can’t fully describe Idaho. It was everything. Farmlands sprinkled with mountains and corn and windmills. Lava rocks, desert, sand dunes. The landscape has more colors then Sherwin Williams and every hue glows. It was surreal, like the way Dorthy must have felt when she walked out of her house to a world suddenly filled with color.

I looked over my shoulder and the babies were peacefully asleep. Tired out from a morning of swimming and another day of new experiences.  They were snuggled into their car seats in the midst of a snoring contest. The girls are in the way back. Like typical teenagers they have headphones permanently attached to their ears and some electronic attached to their hands. Their faces are fixated on the window. The miracle of Idaho. More wondrous then the appeal of YouTube. More interesting then the feed of Instagram. They stopped to stare. We all did. We couldn’t stop looking. The radio was singing Band of Horses to us.
“But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do. No one’s gonna love you more than I do”


I looked over at Josh driving and held his hand. We were all here, in this moment in complete awe. I knew it was coming. I felt the urge in the back of my throat. Tears. I don’t even know why. The sky, the water, the mountains, the music, my family, the moment. It all hit me. And for the first time in a while, I cried over something good.

“Where are you going on vacation?” random person asks.
“We are going to Oregon. Driving from Ohio. For two weeks.”
The reactions were priceless. Some were more polite (while inner questioning of my sanity)
Driving? Yes. With four kids? Yes. 39 Hours. Each way. Six thousand miles, in two weeks. Where are you going to stay? With friends some nights and some nights we will camp. Some are perplexed. Some are vocal. Some are in awe and some tell me they took a road trip as a kid and it was their most memorable vacation. I hear the voices, and the doubtful ones are the loudest. What were we thinking?
The truth is, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Josh and I had one of those nights where we probably drank too much wine and started fantasizing about this magical family road trip. I became Clark Griswold and started thinking about this adventure to Wally World. (Or in our case Oregon). The writer in me took over. It became this Kerouac meets Hunter S.Thompson meets Harry Potter dream world I cooked up in my head. I don’t know what we were supposed to find driving for days and exploring the Northwestern part of the United States. I knew it was missing. It became boggled up in the stress of our life. For me, the stress has become cumbersome. The kids felt it, and Josh felt it. I could no longer function as adult. I needed a break.
Today, we have comfortable settled into our nomadic, gypsy life. We faced uncertainty and found the flaw in our lax attitude toward planning. We had our Wally World moment (that’s for a whole other story). Today, I found the point of this trip – the journey, the adventure, started to reveal itself.  As I actually see “purple mountains and amber waves of grain” I know that my soul feels this. It is happy to the point of tears and every day we are out on the road is another  brilliant  fucking adventure.

We arrived at Bruneau Dunes State park. It was in the middle of vast farmland and we had been the only car on the road for miles. The landscape opened up and there they were: Sand dunes. I had never seen such massive sand dunes before. There were maybe thirty campsite and enough people there that it wasn’t creepy but not too much for over crowding. The sites were shaded under trees in an otherwise desert area. The dunes outlined the landscape like they were looking over the sites and the land ensuring this was a safe place to be. There was no attendee just a card we filled out that claimed site 21 just for us. As we unloaded our tents, I made a pact that I could run to the top of a dune. no problem. (easier said than done). Olivia was anxious to swim. (her goal everyday). We found a lake and it was what exactly we needed. This was our greatest camping experience. It was the reason we took this trip. After our nightly ritual of cooking hot dogs on a fire followed by S’mores, the girls took Jackson in the tent and he fell asleep nestled between them watching the Lego Movie for the millionth time. (next road trip note: have more than two movies downloaded to tablet). Cece was snuggled in my arms asleep with her thumb in her mouth. I didn’t want to go to bed because it would mean the day was over. Josh and I sat there in our American flag camping chairs with our wine under a clear sky sprinkled with stars and the sound of a coyote howling in the distance. We are halfway between Denver CO and Eugene OR and miles away from everything else we know.