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August 1, 2014

Coming to you live from Under the Dome

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It’s four thirty in the morning and I just spent the first night of her life away from my one year old. Do I even call it a night when I was awake for most of it? I’m up extra early for Bryant’s six o’clock call, for the season finale of CBS’ Under the Dome. I have to get a jump on it so I might avoid discomfort or even mastitis on set today by pumping excess breast milk, liquid gold as I’ve come to regard it.  Liquid gold because, for me, it is a time consuming proposition. I always say filming is not for the faint of heart. The hours are incredible and the overall demands can push one to the limit. Ava was conceived on location in Moab, UT, she was near delivery while I was on location in Charlotte so weaning on location seems appropriate. I’m one of the lucky ones who only gain weight while breastfeeding and I stay in a post partum depressive state until I wean and allow my body to return to normal. This “normalcy” is my sweet husband’s main incentive to support Ava over the next few days as she learns to cope without the comfort of nursing.

Bryant Prince hanging out with the other cast of Under the Dome  Coming to you live from Under the Dome UnderTheDome OffSet

Bryant Hanging with the Cast of Under the Dome

After failed attempts to wean gradually at home and prior to Bryant being cast as Aiden Tilden, I’d planned to wean Ava Gail all at once by leaving her with Spencer when I go to California at the end of the month. I’m going to see my mother who I cared for up until my youngest was born when her Alzheimer’s progressed to the point that my tiny children were actually in danger caused by her disease. Now she is in a nursing home that her sister helps administer and is receiving better care than she’d get anywhere else. I owe my aunt an enormous debt of gratitude for her sacrifice. It’s a difficult thing to be on end of life watch for a loved one. Believe me when I say it is at a personal and emotional sacrifice for me to have her so far away.  When my nanny couldn’t travel with me but could tend my youngest two children at home, we opted to wean Ava now.

Melanie and Payton Prince at Britt's Donut Shop  Coming to you live from Under the Dome PaytonMelanieShareDonut

Melanie and Payton Sharing Donut

Last night as we waved goodbye to our family who was here on location with us in Wilmington, NC all week, we said hello to our dear friend and acting coach, Estes Tarver. He and Bryant look forward to working together playing father and son in this, the final season two episode. It’s a treat to only have to travel a couple of hours for Bryant’s work especially since we are at the beach!

The big kids, have had a blast going just five minutes away, to Wrightsville Beach each day. I only braved the beach once with the little girls before Spencer joined us. With dad on board we trekked the thirty minutes to Carolina Beach. The sand at Carolina is white and fine and a lot friendlier on the soles of the feet. My true incentive?  Britt’s Donut Shop! Since 1939 they’ve been serving up the most delicious, one kind fits all, donut on the face of the earth. I buy a dozen served fresh and hot and before I know it half the loot has been inhaled by yours truly! My children and I enjoy watching the process through the viewing windows as sweet treats progress through the assembly line from dough, to fryer, then extracted using a long wooden dowel where is hangs,  is spun and iced and dropped by the dozen into the coveted white bag.

Prince Family at Britt's Donut Shop  Coming to you live from Under the Dome BrittsDonutShop Family

Prince Family at Britt’s Donut Shop

Because Bryant is 12, he can only be on set a total of nine and a half hours. The weaning process is very uncomfortable and it’s going to be a long few days so now more than ever, I’m grateful there are time limits in place for child actors! For most, the days are much longer. Film sets and crews roll into town like a carnival and I often wonder how on earth the out of towners survive such long durations without their loved ones. Crews complete their work on one project with no guarantee of the next. Moviemakers are a special group of individuals. They are kind, passionate, dedicated, hardworking, nonjudgmental and talented. The cast and crew of Under the Dome have been delightful and gracious. Tonight, after we’ve had a chance to wrap on the set and rest, we will clean up and join members of the cast to watch this week’s episode.

It’s rare for me to be on location without my little crew. For the second half of our time in Wilmington Spencer is home doing that juggling act with the help of our nanny. She is helping while he works and while he drives Payton and some friends four hours away to a camp in Virginia.  Bless him! People always ask how we do it all. The answer, Spencer is a hands-on dad and a solid teammate. We are incredibly busy but making memories and experiencing life are what drives us.

Feeling blessed!

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