Sheepdog Does Not Like Pregnant Women

This is an email I received this afternoon as I walked into the grocery store:

To: Stacy
From: Sheepdog
Subject: List of 5
Beyonce is off the list effective immediately.  Please install either Gabrielle Union or Zoe Saldana.

That was it.  And I know exactly why he sent the message… he must have just heard that Beyonce is pregnant.  And he took her off of his list because he does not like pregnant women.  And I knew it was coming.  He is so predictable.

I take full responsibility for this.  You might find it strange that the father of five children has such an aversion to those who are ripe with child.  I give you that it may seem odd on the surface, but if you do the math you will realize that I have been pregnant for just under four of the eighteen years that we have been married.  That is almost a quarter of our whole marriage that I have been knocked up, craving weird things, and complaining about sciatica, morning sickness, swollen lady parts and Braxton-Hicks.  No wonder he doesn’t like pregnant women.  As a group we/ they are not always the most fun to be around.  I always say that I loved being pregnant, but Sheepdog remembers a completely different experience.

He also gets really disgusted about what pregnancy can do to a woman’s body.  I think he was in awe of the creation of life and all that jazz when I was carrying Kid A, but that sh!t got old fast.  He was affected more than I was by the weight gain, the body morphing, the waddle-walk… and that’s nothing compared to the horrific pregnancy phenomenon that occasionally occurs where a once beautiful woman changes from head to toe so much that she doesn’t even look like herself anymore.  It’s like the baby pokes them from inside with an ugly stick.

Debra Messing from the television show "Will & Grace," before

... and then this happened

Now, don’t go judging Sheepdog harshly.  Sheepdog is actually a man who thinks that all women are beautiful.  So much that I often have to tell him to chill about it.  I think that man was born with a little extra testosterone or something.  And he is wonderfully sweet to me no matter what I look like, even when I was about-to-blow pregnant.  He is just that much happier knowing that he will never be married to a pregnant woman… never, ever again.

So Sheepdog once again finds himself adjusting his List of 5.  His list at one time or another has included Selma Hayek, Jessica Alba, and other beautiful women who made the mistake of procreating and thus alienating Sheepdog forever.  I guess I’m lucky that he still likes me after all the times I’ve been pregnant.  Not so much luck for Mrs. Jay-Z, I guess.

I will confirm this with him when he gets home from work, but I’m guessing his inner-monologue reaction to seeing Beyonce round in the belly went something like this:

“Wait… what?  My dirty girl is pregnant?”
“Heh, heh… she did It.”
“Crap, now I have to change my list.”

And thus, the e-mail from this afternoon.  He really is predictable.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Tales From the Check-Out


You are shopping at the K-Roger, loading up on your groceries for the week.  It is Sunday afternoon, so unfortunately everybody else in town is doing the same thing.  When you get to the check out there are so many people there that they actually have two full-order lines open in addition to the 15-items or less and the self-check lanes (and why in the world do they build ten regular lanes when they never, ever use them?).  There is a register clerk and a bagger (or two) in each lane so things are running as smoothly as they possibly can.  But the queues are still three or four or five shopping carts deep, so you wait.

While you are standing around you check out the trashy mags and tabloid headlines.  You learn that Plastic Surgery Malibu Decathlete Ken walked his step-daughter down the aisle on Saturday, that somebody is calling out the Fresh Prince as a Fresh Princess and saying his marriage is a sham, and my fantasy elevator tryst with Ben Affleck was not as meaningful as I thought because he and his beautiful wife are apparently having a third baby.  Sigh.

Finally you are on deck.  The cute teenage couple in front of you only has a few items, so it won’t be long now.  Then you notice what the two of them are actually buying…

14 oz. bag of M&Ms candy (2 for $4 on sale);
11 oz. bag of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 for $6 on sale);
a pack of Wrigley’s 5 gum, cobalt flavor;
and a 3-pack of Ultra Ribbed Trojan Stimulations condoms

Now, this is a perfect time for someone to say something to release the tension that has been mounting as all of these people wait in grocery lines.  Many are getting impatient and could use a good giggle.  Several fantastic quips want to shoot out of your mouth like automatic weapon fire:

“Oops, somebody forgot the whipped cream!”

“Candy and sex!  Is it your anniversary?”

“I think I saw a 9-1/2 Weeks DVD in the $5 bin.  You may want to grab that.”

“I guess we won’t be seeing either of you kids on 16 and Pregnant next season!”

It's always smarter to buy the 36-pack

But instead you hold it all in.  After they pay and take their goodies out of the store the bagging clerk remarks offhandedly, “At least somebody is going to have fun tonight.”

Your stuff would have been way funnier.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…


It only took six days.  Yep, just six days of commingling in the public school system, sharing toilets and lunch tables and craft supplies, until one of my kids caught something icky.

Kid D came off the bus on Monday afternoon acting strange.  He didn’t want to go back outside.  He didn’t want to play with a friend.  He didn’t want to swim.  He didn’t even want to play video games.  Wait, …what?  That boy must be ill.

I originally presumed it was the aftereffects of playing outside in the insane humidity (it was still 99 degrees outside at 7 p.m. on Monday here).

“Drink some water,” I said.  “You’re probably dehydrated.”

But alas, he continued his downward spiral and very quickly earned entry into the Sick Males Club (marked by incessant whining with no direct correlation to the severity of the illness, an unquenchable desire for constant attention, and requests for very specific – and usually inconvenient to obtain – food and drink items).  He was running a very high fever, but had few other symptoms.  He has been home for two days.  It seems like two weeks.

Even though I am tired of hearing my name called out every minute on the minute (Enough already!  There is no way that your fingers are too weak to press the buttons on the remote.  I am sensing a scam here.), I have to admit that I enjoy having alone time with my kids occasionally.  I enjoy fussing over them and showering them exclusively with my attention while the others are at school.  I love that my little boy still needs his mommy when he is sick.  I love that I can make him feel better by reading with him and chatting with him and making him comfort food and rubbing his little feet.

But I would love it more if he got all better soon.  It makes me sad when my kids are sickos.

The only acceptable fever

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Bring It

Kid B is playing soccer again this season.  But instead of the Christian recreational league that she has played in for something like six or seven seasons, she is now playing in a gimme-all-your-money, drive-all-over-the-land, players-are-gonna-elbow-you-in-the-developing-boobs-when-the-ref-isn’t-looking, hard-core league.  Well, it sure is different.

There was a fair amount of ability in the old league.  Players ranged from novice to experienced and they did a good job of spreading the talent out amongst the teams so none of them was stacked unfairly.  There was one practice and one game a week.  The coaches were unpaid (and usually parent) volunteers, some of whom knew what they were doing and some not so much.  The kids played all positions and didn’t really focus too much on plays, strategy or anything more advanced than basic skills.  Kid B is extremely athletic and can kick a goal with her cannon foot from mid-field, so she was very much a big fish in the little rec league pond.

We had planned to eventually go to a more competitive league at some point, but – as things go – we never quite figured out which one to join, nor did we really want to leave the comfort and familiarity of the nice church sponsored league.  But then I got a call one day this summer from one of the long-standing, knows-what-he-is-doing, rec league coaches who said they were forming a third string team in a local competitive league, and that team needed good players.  Baby bird was getting a little shove out of the nest.  So we got Kid B to try-outs that night and she was offered a spot on the team.

At this point Kid B has been to a pretty intensive soccer camp and has been attending twice weekly practices, where the (paid and – I believe – European, which is much more soccer-y) coach has the girls run real drills, laps, and other necessary conditioning exercises that bring these twelve-year-olds up to a fitness level where they can at least stand on the field for an hour-long game, and some of them could even run most of that time.  Kid B can get pretty intense when she plays sports.  She usually reported after practices that her team was looking pretty good and she was excited for the season to start.

Then last weekend they played in an Atlanta area soccer tournament.  They had three games scheduled (two on Saturday and one on Sunday), with the possibility of a fourth game on Sunday if they played well throughout the tournament.  Sheepdog took Kid B because I had house projects to do (and, let’s face it, Mama likes to sleep in on Saturday mornings).  He kept me posted on the games via text messages:

Sheepdog: Losing 2-0.  Red (Kid B’s) team has lots to learn.
Me: Is she playing well?
Sheepdog: Not many opportunities.  Blue has been near our goal most time.  She needs to move and hustle more.
Sheepdog: Kid B on bench.  3-0.
Sheepdog: It’s like Blue is kicking the ball and Red is tapping it.  Kid B back in.
Me: Good Lord she’s gonna be in a foul mood.  I don’t envy you.
Sheepdog: Kid B is in goal and they just scored.  Not much she could have done.
Sheepdog:  Kid B just had a great save.
Sheepdog: We’re on our way home.  Horrible.

So, Kid B’s team lost both games on the first day, and they apparently did it in spectacular fashion.  In addition, since Kid B was usually the (relatively) most aggressive and the tallest one on the field (she towers over her classmates, sometimes by a whole head), her opponents often targeted her and managed to nail her in the side and in the back with some elbows quite a few times without getting caught by the officials.  Kid B was indeed in a foul mood and she was extremely frustrated about her situation.

We have to be careful with Kid B, as she does not respond to criticism (even the constructive kind) very well.  I could tell, as she sat there with her ibuprofen and her ice packs, that she was missing the comfort of the league where players graciously stopped play for someone to tie their sneakers and asked if you were okay if they had kicked the ball anywhere near your personal space.  She was tentative about being “mean” to other players or getting caught by the referees, even if she was just defending herself.  But if she was going to progress in soccer as she says she wants to, she needed to grow up.  Not everybody is going to ask W.W.J.D.? before taking a tight shot for a goal.

Sheepdog and I had the same advice for her.  He told her, “Play hard.  Be aggressive.  Kick it like you mean it.  Don’t go out on the field ready to hurt someone intentionally, but (like in a Walmart parking lot at night) be aware of your surroundings.”

And I added, “If you see someone coming at you with her bony elbow poking out, protect yourself subtly with your own pointy elbow, laugh out loud and shake your head at her while you whisper just loudly enough for her to hear, ‘Bring it, bitch.’  Most bullies will back down when confronted.  Then you use your foot cannon to take it to the goal.”

That kid's not playing in any church league. She's wearing concussion-protection headgear. Go Green!

The next day Kid B did just that.  Her team still lost (this is going to be a long season), but her coach commented to the rest of the team that Kid B was the only player who gave as good as she got.

Maybe I should offer to hold a “Bring It” seminar for all of the girls.  I bet that’d go over well.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

My Greatest Fear

I recently responded to a form that posed the question What three things scare you?

I am afraid of:
3.  fire
2.  losing Sheepdog
1.  something bad happening to my children

Answer number three is easily traced back to five or six-year-old me watching in the pitch dark of a moonless night as a house just down the street from mine burned to the ground.  Monstrous, black and gray clouds of dense smoke poured out of the window openings like sand flowing out of a beach bucket that, instead of traveling down to a pile on the ground as sand should, defied gravity and floated up toward the heavens.  I remember standing amongst my neighbors and thinking about the family that lived inside that house, wondering if they had been asleep like I was when the fire started.  Did anyone get hurt?  No matter the answer, their lives would be forever changed.

Losing my spouse, whether to death or divorce, scares me too.  Sheepdog may drive me crazy on a regular basis, but that is mostly because he challenges me.  He doesn’t accept my bologna, no matter how confidently I may present it.  He is my stabilizer and my sounding board.  He encourages and inspires me to be a better person.  He also makes me laugh.  He is my teammate in this crazy relay race.  He is my best friend.  I may get sick of hearing even more than I can imagine about bikes and/or guns, but isn’t that better than the alternative?

As far as my babies are concerned, I worry about any and every one of the following… cuts and bruises, broken bones, heartbreak, wounds suffered at the hands of a bully, sickness, suffering of any kind, emotional scars, terminal illness, death.  And then some.  I don’t worry about them hourly – or even daily – most of the time, but they are there festering in the part of my brain that recalls the smoke and the smell of burning things.  It is the same part of me that is scared to navigate life alone, without someone who gets me like Sheepdog does.

The community where I grew up was turned upside down on Saturday by fatal accidents.  The community where my kids are growing up has been devastated over this past year by more than one unthinkable loss.  And the ones who died were all children.  It is my greatest fear.

The sharp knife of a short life. - The Perry Band, "If I Die Young"

My mind is twisted and tangled with thoughts.  I wake in the middle of the night, wondering.  How do the families affected by these tragedies go forward?  Death happens every day, but some deaths affect us more powerfully.  How do you get through the day when you send your child out the door and he doesn’t come home?  Will something bad happen to my children?  How can things like this be prevented?  Do I have enough faith?  Why, just why?

Words like fate, luck, misfortune and happenstance all come to mind.  The struggling part of me sheds tears for the ones who lived lives that were just beginning, that didn’t get to experience enough of anything.  Moreover, I feel an immobilizing and chest-crushing pain for those who must live the daily struggles that occur in the wake of these incidents… friends, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers.  They are the ones who must overcome and live through my greatest fear.

Rest in peace, young ones.  May God watch over you.

Live in peace, family and friends.  May God and angels watch over you as well.

Sometimes bad things happen.  It is a fact of life.  Neither you nor I have any control over it.  We are defined by how we react to the things that life throws at us.  So speak more kindly, love with more passion.  Be grateful for what you have and the life you live today.  Forgive and have patience.  Leave each place better than it was when you got there.

Doing these things will not exempt you from tragedy.  But you will live a life that means something, and that seems to be the best way to pay tribute to those children who were taken from us too soon, before their lives really even got started.

My deepest sympathies go out to the Mainland community.

Guess What We Learned in School Today?

When we get to have dinner at the table like civilized people we will often go around and everybody will tell a little something about their day.  Last night only Kid B was out of the house for soccer practice, so the rest of us were chatting it up together, all whilst eating a yummy spread of ham, homemade mac and cheese, mixed veggies and a salad (I’m trying to prove to Sheepdog that I really need this new and improved kitchen by reminding him that I can do more than order from the Pearl Lian).  It is a nice family ritual and keeps us all connected to each other.  Everybody had a lot to say last night, mostly about what had been happening the first week of school.

Kid E started with, “I went to school today…” (no he didn’t).  Then he proceeded to tell us all exactly what he ate, what he played, and how many times he went to the bathroom.  I cut him off at the pass and gave the floor to Kid D.

Kid D presumably had something of substance to say, but he is easily rerouted to potty humor (he is the apple and I am the tree) so we then heard some nonsensical story about poop from him.  Enough.  We were eating a nice dinner for goodness’ sake, and I’m trying to butter up Sheepdog for the new kitchen.  You kids are killing me here!

Kid C was kind of giggly and way into her mac and cheese (score for mom’s kitchen!) and she didn’t have much to add to the conversation, so Kid A took over.  First order of business was to ask her father if she could go to dinner and a movie on Saturday night with her boyfriend.  He is a senior and she is a sophomore, by the way.  He’s a very nice boy and I actually like him.  He is very sweet and respectful to her.  At the same time, though, I once dated a boy who was a senior and I remember what was always on his mind.  No wonder Sheepdog feels the need to buy another gun.  Ugh!

Then Kid A talked about what she learned in Spanish class.  I thought she was going to tell a story, but turns out it was a joke.

A guy walks into a bar.  He notices a man in the corner with a teeny, tiny piano player who is accepting song requests for money.   They are causing quite a commotion, so he asks the bartender about them.
“Oh, there’s some homeless man in the alley who will grant you a wish if you buy him dinner,” said the bartender.
So the man buys a pizza and delivers it to the homeless man in the alley.  The homeless man thanks him and then offers to grant him one wish in return.
The man thinks for a moment.  “I would really like a million bucks,” he says.
Before he knows it, hundreds of thousands of ducks start raining down from above.  The man is disappointed and confused, so he goes back into the bar and approaches the man in the corner.
“I don’t know what just happened.  I asked the homeless man for a million bucks, yet he gave me a million ducks.”
“Tell me about it, man.  Do you think that I actually asked for a 10-inch pianist?”
I at least hope that she learned it en Espanol.  So much for a nice family dinner… two poop stories and a penis joke.  I’m never going to get a new kitchen now.

Wish me luck for the weekend…

I’m Bored

Sheepdog and I are always entertaining the idea of moving.  The kitchen is too small, the garage is too small, and I can’t see who is pulling into the driveway because there are no windows on the south side of the house.  Problem is that the real estate market is still swimming around in the toilet, so we would lose money if we sold now.  Additionally, we like lots of things about this house… the general floor plan, the schools, the neighborhood, and the location.

So we continue the crazy dance and we change our decision just about every other month.  Remodel.  Move.  Remodel.  Move.  Definitely we should remodel.  Absolutely we’re going to move.  And so it goes…

You never know which one of us will get the bug to switch up the current plan.  The catalyst can be anything from a shift in the global political scene to an accidental stumbling upon House Hunters.  Last week the stock market was doing a really fine roller coaster impression.  Not much surprise when Sheepdog then called out “Remodel!”  So I drew up a wish list and some rough sketches and we met with our contractor.

What we want to do is a decent-sized project.  We want to blow out a wall to expand the kitchen.  That means taking real estate from the existing screened porch and enclosing that room to make it part of the house.  We might as well put in some mudroom cabinets and a bench and a side porch with a window while we’re fiddling around in there.  We also would like to take the existing deck (which is untapped real estate now because it is either too hot or covered with pollen) put a roof over it, add some walls of windows (that we can close occasionally to keep the pollen out) and make it a 3-season porch.  And back to the kitchen… there are some tweaks in functionality that I’d like to see occur in there, so let’s just gut it and start over.  Oh, and I’d like to re-do the master bath while we’re at it.

Yes… a “decent-sized” project.  We should just move.  Ugh.

This house is currently favorite on right now

It has over 22,000 square feet of house and costs just under $7 million

Sheepdog just shakes his head at me.  What?  A girl can dream, can’t she?

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Time for Snack Monsters

First order of business…  how many of you were compelled to check my spelling of “prerogative” from yesterday’s post?  Apparently, I have been working on the false belief that it was spelled p-e-r-o-g-a-t-i-v-e for many, many years.  I looked it up in no less than five places and I still didn’t feel comfortable spelling it with an “r” up front.  I honestly thought it was some kind of universal joke, like when the idiot masses say, “lemme axe you a question” or “irregardless.”  But with both the ex- Mr. Whitney Houston and Britney Spears (who remade the song) spelling it the way of the former on iTunes, I finally decided to accept “prerogative” as gospel.


I don’t want to jinx anything by saying so, but I think that we are all adjusting nicely to the new schedule.  By this time last year, Kid C had already been sent home sick from school and was battling a nasty virus, which I think went on to crush me and Kid E as well.  Kid D had decided he did not want to go to kindergarten and had thrown a tantrum to end all tantrums by the front office of the school (hello and nice to meet you, school principal!).  And Kids A and B were already crushed by an early onslaught of homework doled out by teachers who seemed to have some kind of anger management issues.  This year, even with Sheepdog traveling for work since Monday, we are chugging along nicely.

But don’t worry.  I am not getting all full of myself because this is just The Wiz version of the fall schedule (where we just Ease on Down the Road).  The real thing starts in a couple of weeks when we have to figure out how to drive to all of the sports and activities (practices and games), all of which are very likely to be scheduled on the same day.  And Sheepdog will continue to go out of town for his job (have you noticed the increase in food-borne illness outbreaks lately?  Holy E. coli-tainted cow!).

But I am not complaining.  Having a full schedule means that we have healthy kids who are active and involved and are getting exercise and all of the good things that come from being part of a team.  And my husband has a good, steady job.  And those are all very, very good things for which I give thanks every day.

In the interim, while we still have the time for it, I have decided to spoil the kids with their favorite after-school snacks.  They’re made with apples, grapes, raisins, peanut butter and Nutella.  I don’t think I have ever seen my kids get so excited over food as they do when I make these things.  The 50’s stay-at-home-mom/ housewife part of me gets gooey with pride.  But then probably I’ll snap back to regular me and make them eat cereal for dinner while I drink some wine.  We don’t need these kids getting spoiled or anything.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

I Really Don’t Like When Teachers Give Me Homework

Yesterday after school was filled with administrative assignments, especially for the older kids.  Middle and high schoolers get syllabi from each class and they have to be reviewed, filled out and signed so that they can be returned to the teacher the next day.  They actually count this as an assignment.  Like, for a grade.  I’m not kidding.  No wonder American kids are considered stupid on the world stage.  Even the Canadian kids are working on long division and memorizing the atomic weight of Xenon, while our kids are getting “Super Fantastic!” stickers when they can remember to carry a piece of paper to and from school.  Maybe we can try to set the bar a wee bit higher.  I’m just saying…

By the time I was done writing down my e-mail address (which the schools already have in their systems, by the by, because I already get many, many e-mails from them every day) no less than 17 times, my hand was cramping.  I’m sure my handwriting suffered, thus lessening the possibility that any e-mails intended for me from one of these teachers will eventually make it to my inbox.  Efficient, right?  Actually, some of the teachers were smart and gave the assignment that the parent/ guardian had to send them a single e-mail with your kid’s name and class period in the subject line, thus eliminating any handwriting confusion.  Those teachers must have gone to school somewhere other than America, eh?

So I’ve been working on annoying paperwork for what seems like an endless amount of time and I started to get bored.  And antsy.  And ornery.  Then Kid B gives me another “e-mail the teacher” assignment, but this time the teacher asks that I please include a little note about my kid.  This was my submission:

To: Kid B’s math teacher

From: Stacy Swiger

Subject: Kid B, 8th period

Kid B didn't get out of her pajamas for almost three months.  
Then today she put on a dress and makeup and earrings.  
Honestly, I'm not sure what else to tell you about her, 
except she is a great kid.  
She plays soccer on a travel team.  
She is very smart but not a huge fan of school.  
She gets good grades and seems to be a leader.  
Her dad and I constantly tell her to use her powers
for good and not for evil.
I hope you have a great year.  Thanks for teaching my kid math.
I sure hope you know what you are doing.

I almost directed her to the “Cast of Characters” section of this blog after that, but I thought that’d be weird.  Then I started laughing maniacally about crazy people (specifically, me) drawing lines in the sand to define what is and what is not over the top.  Then I sang Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” the whole time I was making dinner.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Hop on the (School) Bus, Gus

Today was the first day of school.  Joy to the world.

Did you ever have the nightmare where you show up to high school in your pajamas?  I actually did that this morning.

Kid A’s bus was (a) late and (ii) maxed out like a smart car on Guinness Book of World Records day.  The driver leaned her head out and told the kids at our bus stop that someone would send another bus to pick them up in a bit.  Knowing how that kind of thing usually works, a couple of us promptly offered to drive them to school this morning.  I grabbed my wallet and keys and jumped in the car.

Traffic was predictably horrendous, so they missed the late bell by many, many minutes.  Kid A reminded me that a parent has to accompany tardies to the attendance office because no one trusts anybody in the 14 – 19 age group these days.  So in I went.

After I signed them in and returned to my car in the high school parking lot, I got a good look at myself in the mirror.  I was rocking some serious bed head.  I had on no makeup.  And I was wearing my pajamas.  All I needed was a few straggler curlers in my bird’s nest hair, a ratty bathrobe and a pack of Virginia Slims 100s and I could be “That Mom.”  Cool.  A mere two decades ago I wouldn’t be caught dead without a full-length mirror check prior to stepping foot out of my house.  Now I am threatening to show up to the cafeteria in a bikini (trust me… not pretty) if somebody dares to call me and ask if I could drive in a forgotten lunch box.

A little later in the morning it was time to take Kid E to pre-school camp.  His actual school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, but the last two weeks of camp coincide with the start of public school around here so you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m sending him.

Now, remember that his pre-school is in a strip mall.  There were people in front of the school entrance when we arrived and I wanted a good First Day of School picture of just him wearing his backpack, so I just took one next door.

Mr. Spicoli has been nice enough to offer us some pizza

It’s nice to know that he can get an after school job when he’s ready.  Maybe he can bus tables or work the cash register.  Everybody has to start somewhere.  Plus, we know where his mother will be.  Home brew is awesome.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…