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What I Learned This Weekend

Smiles are contagious. Bickering and grouchiness are too. The girls’ arguing was  a never-ending stream of “she called me stupid!” and “shut up!”, only to be interrupted with crying and pouting.

The constant snapping and shouting trickled down- or up, I should say- through the family. Conner yelled. Kevin snapped. I wanted a glass of wine.

I told the girls to get in the car. They had no idea where we were going, not that they noticed as they continued the circle of insults and hurt feelings.

I had no doubts that a plethora of parenting books, blogs and experts held the key to how I should have handled the situation. However, sometimes people can get caught in a temporary- and sometimes not so temporary- gray fog that even Dr. Phil couldn’t shine a beacon light on to guide them out.

As we left our gated community, I still didn’t know where we were going. I only knew that I needed to give Conner and Dad some peace and quiet. Five minutes later found me at Freddy’s Burgers drive-thru ordering ice cream sundaes. The girls looked confused.

Another five minutes found us in a nearby tranquil park eating ice cream, rolling down hills and playing.

Before anyone sends out any “bad mom” comments about my “negative reinforcement”, know this- it worked. Some might say I was rewarding bad behavior.

I might say that sometimes we just need a break.

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“Rainy Day”

The recent rains in Las Vegas make me reminisce about past summer rainy days.

Living in the desert I appreciate rainy days more than others.  Raindrops pour down a new perspective on the city.  Nighttime clouds reflect Las Vegas and you can trace the city from the green illumination on clouds over MGM Grande over to the bright light shining from the Luxor looking as though heaven were shining the light down rather than the reverse.  From the Spilsbury home, just miles from the Strip, the transformation engulfs us in a peaceful warmth indoors.  Outside the kids explore the grounds and experience a new aspect to their backyard oasis.  We know this feeling will only last a day before the bright Nevada sun brings back the dry Sierra warmth.


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Rainy Day Rainy Day1

Rainy Day

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A Story of Sisters

In the past, I’ve described the character differences in my daughters, Cassidy and Brooke, in many ways, like Cass is my “rule follower” and Brooke is my “rule breaker” (but in a good way).

Today’s photo shoot gave me a better analogy.  Cassidy reminds me of “Sandy” in the movie Grease while Brooke is ringer for “Stephanie Zinone” in Grease 2.  Both girls are fabulous, smart and beautiful… but in very different ways.


Sandy played the innocent high school student from Australia who was thrown into culture shock in 1950’s-California when she befriended the bad-girl girls of the Pink Ladies and fell in love with Danny Zucko, a boy gang member from the wrong side of the tracks.


Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2 was the rough-edged, gum-smacking beautiful member of the Pink Lady gang who pumped gas after school and fell in love with Michael Carrington, the pretty-boy foreign exchange student from England.


While both have kind hearts, Cassidy loves to follow the rules, while Brooke likes to find ways over and around them without fully breaking them (plausible deniability, I always say).


Brooke loves to antagonize Cassidy as an easy target but is the first to jump to her defense when anyone else gives her a hard time.  I’ve seen Ms. Brooke in action and she is nobody you’d want to mess with- her quick wit and tongue is combined with a finger point and hip action that would make any member of the Scorpions shake with fear (rival gang in the movie Grease).


At the age of eight, Cassidy is already talking about plans for her million dollar Beverly Hills wedding, while Brooke- on the other hand- I worry may one day elope to Thailand with her fiance and get matching tattoos in place of wedding bands.


Cassidy loves to smile and pose for photos, while Brooke is like a moving target who considers you lucky if she decides to stop just long enough for you to snap a photo or two… all the while Cassidy is holding the same pose.


While both have amazingly tender hearts, Brooke speaks from a place of wisdom far beyond her years.  When Brooke likes to make references to her previous lives, Cassidy gets frustrated and yells, “Brooke!  You were born in Henderson, Nevada!”


One day, not too long ago I was dealing with a difficult decision and felt very down-hearted.  Although I didn’t let on to the kids that anything was wrong, I was tying Brooke’s shoe when she reached down and grabbed my face, and while looking deep into my eyes said, “You’re not going to give up, are you.”  She was four at the time and had no idea what challenges I was facing.  But deep down, she always knows.


Cassidy loves to eat healthy food and is always super conscious about avoiding anything deemed unhealthy.  Brooke is still trying to convince me that fries are a vegetable.


Cassidy is protective of her “things” and keeps treasures meticulously stored in piggy banks, boxes and dresser drawers under strict orders for nobody to touch.  Brooke, on the other hand, has the “give you the shirt off her back” mentality and cares very little for keeping possessions and will give Cassidy anything she asked for.


One time after a heated argument, Kevin and I sat like two school children in front of their teacher while Brooke lectured us about “not forgetting about love“, and  how “love is the most important thing“…. yes, these were her exact words.


And I still carry around this note from Brooke that she left in my bag that says, “Listen With Your Heart”.

For Halloween this year, Cassidy is excited to be Hermione Granger from the movie Harry Potter.  Brooke is even more excited to be dressing up as Lord Voldemort, Harry’s evil arch nemesis.

Much like the fact my sister and I are so different- without one being better than the other- my wish for Cassidy and Brooke is that they always appreciate and accept what makes them so individually special.

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An Unexpected Fall Photo Shoot

While in Denver on media tour, my friend and business partner, Noelle, couldn’t resist the urge to take advantage of my girls’ sugar high and snap these fun and amazing photos.









Fall photo shoot

Picking leaves out of the hair before heading off to the airport to fly home.

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