“And that’s a wrap!” Lacy, my six-year-old daughter, calls from just out of camera view.
I laugh just as she catapults toward me, flinging herself into my arms without fear. It’s been almost eight years since I married my handsome mountain man. Together, we have three beautiful girls.
I’m still filming my home repair show. The format has changed a couple of times over the years but fortunately, viewers have been supportive. It still amazes me that I get to do what I love, and do it with the people I love.
The girls and Ace are on set most days though our daughters are never on camera. That’s one thing that Ace and I agree on. Neither of us wants our girls to be raised in front of the watching world. They should have space to explore, make mistakes, and just be kids. It’s hard to do that if you’re aware that your every move is being watched by millions of fans.
I capture Lacy in my arms easily, used to the way she jumps first and thinks later. Ace and I joke that she’s a total blend of the two of us. She has her dad’s unshakeable confidence, and my love of power drills. That means she’s never unsupervised on set.
“You did good, Mama,” Ace tells me as he joins me on the set. Adaline, our two year old, is resting against his shoulder as he carries her. She has that sleepy look on her face that means she’s just waking up from a nap.
Tabitha, our four-year-old, is attached to Ace’s leg. Her pudgy hands are wrapped tight around his ankle and every step forward, he drags her with him. But he’s smiling and looking down at her with so much affection.
“I see you found another barnacle,” I joke with him.
My dad and Ace took the kids out on the water last weekend. Tabitha was fascinated by seeing the barnacles on the boat and has decided that’s what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s been practicing on Ace all week, much to his amusement.
“Yeah, this one is kind of cute. Think I’m going to keep her,” he teases right before he passes me an iced latte from Courage Cookies.
Our days are busier than ever with our girls, but he still finds ways to look out for me. Like bringing me an iced coffee after work every day and making our bed every morning because he knows that’s the one chore I hate.
“Can barna—bar—the thingie, Daddy…” Tabitha starts.
“Barnacle,” Ace supplies the word while I set Lacy back on her feet. She’s already swearing that tomorrow she’s going to be here to help with the power tools. Looking back, I don’t know how my dad ever managed to run the hardware store and keep me out of trouble. It must have been a full-time job with me, the same way it is with Lacy.
I reach for Adaline next, smothering her in kisses. She prefers to hang back and watch her sisters’ run the show. I try to always shower her with extra attention because I don’t want her feeling forgotten just because she’s not as adventurous as Lacy and not as loud as Tabitha.
“Can the thingies eat pizza?” Tabitha continues her question. We’re having a late supper. About once a month, I work late at the studio to get everything ready for the upcoming month. My little helpers and their father always hang out with me on these nights. After we’re done, Ace makes a delicious pizza with his special homemade pizza dough.
“Hmm…” He leans down and pulls Tabitha’s little hands gently from his leg. He swings her up into his arms. “Pretty sure pizza is a barnacle-approved food. What do you think, Mama?”
“Oh, definitely.” I nod as I sling the kids’ bag over my shoulder. One thing no one warned me about with parenthood is how many accessories kids come with. I swear that I spend half my life carrying stuff for my girls.
“Pizza for me too!” Lacy explains as the five of us make our way out the front door. Her little hand finds Ace’s, and he gives her fingers a gentle squeeze as we cross the street.
“But I get to make it with Daddy,” Tabitha insists. If Lacy inherited my love of power drills, then Tabitha has her dad’s love of making good food. She spent yesterday in the kitchen with him, making three different kinds of cookies. Actually, she made three different kinds of messes, but you’d never know that. From the way Ace talked, she’s a natural born chef.
“How about you, my little Line?” Ace asks Adaline as he buckles her into her car seat. “Are you hungry for pizza?”
“Ooze.” She shakes her empty cup at her dad, demanding a refill for juice. It just comes out as ooze which always makes the two of us laugh.
He refills her cup while I make sure the kids are buckled in one last time and turn on the TV in the truck.
I always thought I’d be one of those moms who only let their children watch thirty minutes of educational programming. But then I actually had kids and it turns out, mama appreciates a solid hour of alone time while the talking mouse entertains her brood.
After a dinner of pizza that the girls helped their dad make, he guides them through their bedtime routines. He reads them their favorite story, sets out a glass of water for when Lacy gets thirsty, and checks one more time for monsters under the bed.
When they’re settled, he makes his way into the kitchen and clucks his tongue. “Aww, sweetheart, you shouldn’t have.”
While he was tucking in the girls, I cleaned up the kitchen. Between the show and our daughters, I’m pretty busy most days. Ace handles all of the housework. He always reminds me that our family is his greatest joy, and that means he doesn’t mind doing laundry or loading the dishwasher. Anything to make our lives easier and better.
He pulls me into his arms. “You’ve had a long day. How about I run you a bubble bath and you read for a few minutes?”
I smile against his flannel button-up. This man is always spoiling me and never asks for anything in return. “I have a better idea. What if you run me a bubble bath and we splash around together for a few minutes?”
He chuckles and presses a kiss to the top of my head. “Sounds like a good plan.”
I’m a wicked man. I look at my best friend’s little sister and think depraved things. She’s too good, too innocent for the things I want to do to her.
When she shows up at my cabin in her short little dress, I know I can’t let her leave. The beast has been awoken, and he’s claiming this curvy woman.
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