That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

I mean to do some random things… wash my car, clean out the storage room in the basement, send a wedding present to the couple who Sheepdog knows but I don’t, and who has now been married for well over a year – maybe even two or three.  I think they just had a baby.  I guess I should add “send a baby gift” to the list now too.  For whatever reason, I am just not inspired to do these things.  Ugh.  Thinking about it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, so I just put it off until later.  Much later.

But when it comes to my blog, I am motivated to write about things as they are happening in my life.  It goes nicely with my intention for “This Is How I Do It” to be a sort of memory keeper for me and my family.  If it is out of order or if too much time passes between the actual event and the time I press “Publish,” then it just seems wrong to me.  I don’t mean “untrue or fake,” because I don’t make up the stuff I write about here.   Maybe I mean it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, like the things on the never-ending, random to-do list.  But lets instead call it “less genuine and organic.”  Yes, that is exactly what it feels like.  Nevertheless, I’m finding out that sometimes it is necessary to break my own rules…

There is a milestone that I meant to address at the end of the school year, but it got pushed aside when Braden died.

(Quick side note:  Man, I really miss that kid.  I continue to struggle with understanding his sickness and his untimely passing.  I waffle back and forth between believing that life is precious and meaningful and I should soak everything in like a desperate sponge, or thinking that it is all a random crapshoot, so why bother?  Fortunately, I loiter most often on the former side of that fence.  There are several songs that remind me of him and they move me to sobbing tears when I let myself listen.  I really want to argue with him about the NFL trades (like Welker to the Broncos and Tebow to the Patriots) and the IRS scandal, and Edward Snowden, and Egypt, and Turkey, and Trayvon Martin, and the list goes on and on and on.  I wish I could talk to him or text him.  But that is no longer possible.  Sigh.)

Anyway…

In May, Kid E finished his last year of pre-school.  They did a ceremony back in April with songs and dances and a picnic in the park to mark the special occasion.  They did it early because his school had two GA pre-K classes and both lead teachers were pregnant and due sometime during the month of May.  Both of them delivered their beautiful babies before classes were out for summer, so substitutes came in to finish out the year.  They were very nice teachers and the kids still learned and had fun, but the end result was that the last day of school was kind of  “meh.”  With everything else that was happening in the last two weeks of May this year, I let the last day of pre-school pass without much fanfare.  Stuff happens, right?

But it is too bright of a highlight to let it slip by unacknowledged.

Starting with Carol and ending with Miss Bethany, my kids had some of the most awesome pre-school teachers on the planet.  They loved them like they were their own children.  Even on the days when I could not have been happier to get them out of my sight drop them off at school.  Especially on those days, and that is something I am very thankful for.  These teachers taught my kids so many things, but they also taught me as well.  And I’m talking about the important stuff here…

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I don’t care how cute those heathens look… this drop off deserves the Dance of Joy!

Carol taught Kid A how to be an outside kid.  She loaded up four or five kids a day and strollered them down to All-Wars Memorial Park, where they ran and jumped and played, until they collapsed in heaps and napped for hours.  Carol taught me the importance of regulating my kid’s day naps so that she would actually go to bed at night.  She also potty trained Kid A for me.  The first lesson was necessary for me to learn, but the second was just plain awesomeness.  Carol also taught me the importance of a margarita after the kids are in bed (her husband rented out the big machines for parties as a side business), which I found to be invaluable advice over the years.  Cheers to Carol!

Rosemary taught Kid B how to soothe herself to sleep when she was almost a year old.  Up until then, Sheepdog and I traded nights of sleep… he would get one, then I would get one.  It was a special time in our lives (and by that I mean e-special-ly SUCKY).  Kid B did not go to sleep unless someone was bouncing her, even during the day.  I don’t know if she had colic or we spoiled her, or what, but it was just plain awful.  And then like an angel from heaven, Rosemary came into our lives, and Kid B started sleeping through the night.  And it turned out she wasn’t a horrible devil-kid.  Rosemary also potty trained Kid B.  I did nothing but drop her off at pre-school and then I would pick up a non-diaper-wearing kid at the end of the day.  So I guess Rosemary taught me that, even after having two kids, you still may not know how to do the basic stuff, like get them to sleep or potty train them.  She also talked me off of the ledge when I was completely desperate and sleep-deprived and wanted to sell Kid B on e-Bay.  I really owe her a debt of gratitude for that one.

Kid C had the least amount of pre-school teachers because I had stopped working after I had her.  Following the adage of quality over quantity, the one that stands out the most in my mind is Miss Cora.  She was from a faraway land and said Kid C’s name in the most awesome way, with about seven more syllables than it actually has.  She taught Kid C about letting her freak flag fly.  Up until then, I had been butting heads with that kid about absolutely everything, mainly because she had/ has a very different way of doing things than I was used to.  Kid C took Cora’s lessons to heart and really started being her true self without reservation, which is a little bit crazy and a lot of bit different.  And somehow, they both showed me that it was okay for me to let it happen too.  It was a very good lesson for all of us.  Oh, and Cora also taught me that when a kid swallows a button during quiet time because her friend dared her to, don’t freak out because it will be just fine and probably just come out in her poop.  Another good lesson.

Miss Carla taught Kid D how to read.  In pre-school!  She was a seasoned veteran when it came to teaching kids (and their parents) all sorts of things, but the timing was just right (he was ready; she was so very patient) for her to instill a love of books and reading that continues with him to this day.  And even after four years I was still adjusting to having a kid with a penis, so Carla’s incredible patience was a well-timed example that I definitely needed in my life right then.  That patience also came in handy when I had to eventually potty-train the last kid.  I guess I had to learn sometime, right?

Kid E started pre-school early, especially given that I was a full-time SAHM.  But he would just follow me around all day, staring at me, muttering, “Where my brudder?”  So, I loaded up his backpack and his lunchbox and sent him out the door when he was barely two.  He had the most awesome teachers… every single one was fabulous.  Miss Lori, Miss Judy and Miss Tina (You’re Not Ugly) at Little Creek, and then Miss Waldy, Miss Robin, Miss Bethany and Miss Erica at Open Arms, just to name a few.  They taught him so many things, but they all taught me that teachers do sometimes have favorites, and it is pretty damn awesome when it is your kid.

Yes, the pre-school years have finally come to an end for my kids.  They were filled with some amazing experiences, and some crappy ones as well (lice letters, anyone?), but overall I can say that pre-school has left an indelible mark on both me and my kids forever and ever.  And for that I am very grateful.

This is a mark that I left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

…and this is the mark that I allegedly left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Oops… I Did it Again

No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket on the drive home.

No, Sheepdog didn’t knock me up.

And no, I didn’t get in trouble for saying anything ornery or inappropriate (well, no more than usual).

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Oops, I Did it Again

But yes, I did go to the eye doctor yesterday and have another follow up exam to my PRK last November.  My vision has improved incredibly… I don’t have to wear glasses or contacts anymore because I can see everything almost perfectly.  Except not.  My distance vision is still a little blurry.  I used to be a negative 6.5 in both eyes.  Now I’m less than minus one.  But this is me we are talking about and when I do something, I do it all the way.  So guess what.  I opted to have him tweak my dominant eye.  That way I get perfect close-up vision in my left eye and perfect distance vision in my right eye.  Like the Terminator.

Oh yes, I had laser eye surgery again yesterday.  Sitting in the doctor’s office, signing away rights to life and limb, I started to have deja vu and I got all sweaty and I almost backed out because I remembered all too clearly how bad it was before.  And let me tell you that it hurts just as much as when I had it done the first time.  It feels like somebody took tiny shards of glass or grains of sand and sprinkled them on my eyeball, then closed my eyelid and rubbed it all around for a bit.  Water is leaking out of my eye so much that I slept in a pool of my own tears last night.  Sunlight is intolerable, so I picked up an eye patch to keep as much light out as possible (I couldn’t use a patch last go-round because I had both eyes done at once).  Combined with my peeling face from the idiot sunburn I earned over the weekend, I am quite a sight to behold today.

Are you ready kids?  Aye, aye, Cap'n!

Are you ready kids? Aye, aye, Cap’n!

Sheepdog is being awesome and working from home so that he can do whatever driving needs to be done over the next couple of days.  Pain makes me short on patience and short of temper, so the kids are having a grand, old time with me around.  But, hopefully, this will be a fast recovery and the very last time I have to get lazed in the eyeball.

I am hanging in there and tolerating the pain because I know it will get better soon, and the results will be worthwhile.  But I really hope that this one takes because I really do not want to have this surgery ever, ever again.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Just Thelma (No Louise)

ROAD TRIP!!!

BY MYSELF!!!

IN THE CONVERTIBLE!!!

FOR FIVE DAYS!!!

To quote Macklemore, “This is fucking awesome.”

I left the house around 10AM on Thursday.  I said goodbye to Sheepdog and the kids and got the hell out of Dodge.  I packed way more than I needed, but mine was the only bag that had to fit in the limited trunk space.  No worries.  I turned on music that I liked and sang along at the top of my lungs.  No one was there to criticize my singing.  I didn’t even care that it had started to rain.

By the time I reached Charlotte, North Carolina, I was driving in a monsoon.  Traffic slowed and the tires on the big rigs were throwing off water by the bucketful.  Still, my enthusiasm could not be ebbed.  I was heading to my favorite summertime place (The Beach!) to attend my 25th high school reunion (Go Spartans!) and I had nobody to answer to or for over the long weekend.  Still singing!

I stopped for the night just outside of Washington, D.C., where I stayed with Braden’s dad and his fiancée.  We had a great dinner and too much wine and talked about life and death and grieving and moving on.  It was emotional and I was already tired from almost 11 hours of active driving.  I slept like a baby that night.

I woke up to more rain on Friday morning, but it was a much easier (and shorter) drive to visit 3 Pops (my grandfather) at the NJ Veteran’s Home in Vineland, NJ.  We went out for lunch and stopped at a roadside farmer’s market to stock up his room fridge (the man loves him some fresh fruit).  It was a great visit and I was glad to see him, but I was even happier to finally arrive at my parents’ house around 4PM on Friday.  It was still raining, and even though I hadn’t turned on the radio for hours (sometimes it is nice to get lost in my own thoughts), I was still singing out loud.

That night my dad treated us to a great homemade surf and turf dinner, complete with salad from a bag, Jersey corn, dessert, and too much wine.  It was delicious and I didn’t have to plan or make it.  My mom, along with Auntie Carol and Uncle Tom, were also there to provide lots of laughs and entertainment.

On Saturday I woke up to much nicer weather.  I leisurely drank my coffee, then I did a grueling 2-hour workout in 100% humidity.  By the time I was done it had clouded up a bit, so I decided to ditch the beach idea and just sit out on the point and read a book/ nap.  Forgetting that these conditions can lead to the mother of all sunburns, I ended up with quite the lobster face for my reunion.  I may be an official shoobie now, but at least I’m still singing.

The reunion was so much fun (more on that in a later post).  We had a fantastic turnout, with the final count at more than a hundred classmates.  I caught up with a bunch of people I haven’t seen since high school, as well as dear friends who I still see almost every summer.  I was definitely feeling every single one of those 25 years as I stumbled into bed well past 2AM.

Today I am lying low and continuing to enjoy my long weekend break from real life with a husband and five kids.  I might work out, or go to the beach, or I may do absolutely nothing.  That is the beauty of these kinds of getaways… there is no one to please but me.  And I’m actually looking forward to getting in the car tomorrow for the long drive back to Atlanta.

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Just me and my music.  Just me and my fun car.  Just me and my thoughts.  Just me and the road.  Just Thelma, no Louise.  Just perfect.

Although I might let Brad Pitt hop in with me if I found him along the side of the road.  I’m just saying.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

It Never Gets Old

Sister C and her husband came over with their four kids to help us celebrate the 4th of July.  We didn’t do anything outrageous… we grilled some burgers and dogs, ate some cupcakes that were homemade by Kid B, drank some wine and fired up a few amateur sparklers in the light rain that has been falling on us for well over a week now.  We are missing our Kid A, who has been away for two out of an overall four weeks, but we had a really fun time together nevertheless.  God Bless America.

Actual warning on sparklers: "Flamable.  Do Not Put in Mouth."

Actual warning on sparklers: “Flamable. Do Not Put in Mouth.”

Somewhere in the middle of putting out dinner I realized that we were dangerously low on ketchup.  And I had no back-ups anywhere.  As far as Sheepdog is concerned, this is an unforgivable offense.  We are allowed to run out of toilet paper in this house before we are allowed to run out of ketchup according to him.  I think ketchup is vile, so I wanted to tell him to squeeze a tomato and some sugar on his tots and deal with it.  Sister C’s husband had already made a last minute run to the store for 17 kinds of Triscuits and the aforementioned sparkle wands, so nobody was going anywhere else in the middle of the meal.  It’s not like we ran out of alcohol, for goodness’ sake.

I promised Sheepdog that I would get more ketchup (and a few spares, just to make him feel safe) the next day when I went on a regular grocery run.  I had a few other things I was running low on anyway.  I asked Sister C to start a new list for me so I would not forget.  The next morning I thought of some more things that we needed, so I just added them to the list.  This went on throughout the day.

I never actually made it to the store on Friday (I made sure not to serve anything that would require ketchup, lest Sheepdog have an aneurism), but sometime over the weekend I had occasion to go out.  In the middle of the produce aisle I pulled the paper from my purse and I began reading over it to make sure there was nothing else I needed to add when I noticed Sister C’s special request.  I burst out laughing and then I remembered that we also needed yogurt.

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Having sisters is awesome.  I sure do love mine.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

All the Way Home

Last Sunday Kid B asked Sheepdog to take her to the park so she could do some goalkeeper training.  Kid C tagged along and they worked out together for a couple of hours.  There was lots of punting, drop-kicking and goal kicking.  I’m sure there were some dive drills as well.  Afterwards, Sheepdog and Kid C got back into the car.

“We are stopping at the grocery store for a few things on the way home.  You should run back from here,” Sheepdog said to Kid B.

Kid B hates running as much as I do, but she is required to do it for her overall soccer conditioning.  Sheepdog convinced her that is was only about three miles to our house, and he explained the route that cut through a safe neighborhood and kept her (mostly) off of the busy main roads.  She grumbled at him, but nevertheless she put one foot in front of the other and soon she was running.

Run, Forrest, Run.

Run, Forrest, Run.

I had taken both of the boys to the pool for a bit that morning while they were training.  But the weather had taken a turn for the worse, so we were back at the house even before Sheepdog and Kid C returned with their groceries.  I inquired about the missing Kid B.

Sheepdog explained the plan for her to run home with a very proud smile.  I knew that he had been trying to get her to do this for months now.  But I also knew that Kid B didn’t know the route very well and Sheepdog is beyond horrible at giving directions.  I was not happy.

“Did she actually want to run home, or did you force her to do it?”

“She knows it is good for her!”

“Did you show her exactly where to go?”

“No, I didn’t show her… but I told her.”

“It has been a while since you left her.  You even stopped at the store.  Shouldn’t she be home by now?  Does she at least have her phone with her in case she gets lost, or it turns out instead to be 10 miles from there to here?”

“Um… (quietly) no.  But I’m sure she’s fine.”

“Great, Dumbass.  I am going to go give Kid E a bath.  Kid B had better be back under this roof, safe and sound, by the time I am done.  Go get back in your car and drive around to find her if you have to.  Don’t you dare lose one of my babies!”

Sheepdog laughed at me, but I gave him a look so he knew I was not joshing.

A few minutes later, I heard the garage door open and his car was gone.

By the time I finished with bath duty, Kid B and Sheepdog were both standing in the kitchen.  Kid B was sweaty and tired, but she was, indeed, just fine.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and then I asked exactly what happened.  This is what they told me:

Sheepdog’s directions were wrong (well, duh).  First, she got lost in the park.  Then she got lost in the neighborhood.  Eventually, she made it out to the main road and started heading back to our house, but only after she had added a couple of extra miles to her run.  By then, Sheepdog had driven out to find her.  He had the top down on the car and he saw her running on the sidewalk and made a gesture that conveyed, “What’s up?  Where’ve you been?  What’s taking you so long?”

At first, Kid B just smiled back at him.  But then, overcome by frustration from him making her run home and getting lost in the process, on the side of a very busy road, my fourteen-year-old daughter flipped her Dad the bird, real big and dramatic-like.  And then she just kept on running… all the way home.

Coincidentally, I would have done the same, exact thing.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…