SMDH

Sheepdog worked from home yesterday because he had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.  He has a quiet office in the basement, surrounded by his bicycles, camping gear, and things that go pew-pew-pew.  It is one of his happy places.

I went to the gym in the morning and came home to take a shower afterwards.  Of course it was right at that moment that my phone rang.  Even with soap in my eyes I could see that it was school calling.  I turned off the running water and answered in my most official “no, I’m not naked” mom voice.

“Hi, Stacy.  This is Tracy from the clinic.”

She had Kid D with her.  He had a low-grade fever and felt miserable.  I had noticed The Crud coming on with him earlier and I had actually made a doctor’s appointment for after school so they could diagnose his sinus infection and we could move on.  But he wasn’t going to make it until after school and he needed to be picked up ASAP.

So I texted Sheepdog in the basement: “Any chance you can go get <Kid D> from school? I’m showering.”

His response: “Right now?”

I’m literally in the middle of a shower.  I’m wet.  And cold.  I have soap in my hair and my eyes.  For cripe’s sake: “Come up please.”

So he does and I explain that Kid D says he can not wait, so would he please go get him now.  It will take me much longer, what with my in-the-middle-of-showering dilemma.  Then I ask if he remembers where to go (coincidentally, we had picked Kid D up early on Tuesday to go to Kid A’s Capstone Expo at Georgia Tech so it was fresh in his mind) and he said of course he knew.  So off goes Sheepdog.  I very happily finish showering in peace.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, when I’m dressed again, I get a text.

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Sheepdog showed up at the school.  They buzzed him in at the front desk.  He announced he was there to pick up his kid.  The front desk lady asks for his teacher’s name.

Sheepdog: “Really?  Are you asking just to make fun of me?”  Hats off to her because the likelihood is very high that I would have done the same exact thing.

It turns out the kid was at lunch, so she sent Sheepdog off to the cafeteria to find him.

Kid: “Dad!”

Sheepdog: “Are you ready to go?”

Kid: “(Hell) YES!” (packs up lunchbox and basically runs out of the room, forcing Sheepdog to keep up)

Sheepdog: “How are you feeling, bud?”

Kid: “Great, dad!  I feel great.”

Sheepdog: “Wait.  What?  Didn’t you go to the clinic because you didn’t feel well, and the clinic lady called mom and asked her to come pick you up…”

Kid: “No.  No clinic for me.  I feel just fine.  Where are we going dad?”

Sheepdog: “…”

Shit. He then has to explain his mistake and take Kid E back to the cafeteria.  Fortunately, he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing.

So that’s when I get the text from Sheepdog.

“Don’t know why I thought you said <Kid E>.  Not him.  Off to get <Kid D>.”

Sheepdog literally picked up the wrong kid from school and had to return him.  Then he had to go to a totally different school across town to pick up the right kid.

I’m thinking that five kids in five different schools might be a little much.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

 

 

 

Time for a Check Up

I was at one of those trampoline jumping birthday party places with a friend recently.  While our kids played dodge ball and bounced out some extra summer energy, we had a nice talk.  She shared something with me and then added, “Oh, I hope that’s not TMI.”  I laughed and reminded her that she was talking to a giant over-sharer.  The conversation went on from there and my friend said something to me that others have also mentioned in the past, regarding the state of my marriage.

“I see you as such a strong couple, ” she said.  “You seem like very good communicators, and you make a good team.”

I thanked her, then reminded her of a very critical fact.  Yes, Sheepdog and I work very, very hard at our relationship, but it is far from perfect.  We fight, disagree, act selfishly or immaturely, and go to bed mad at one another just like everybody else.  We have different interests, hobbies, and schedules.  We have dealt with big and little struggles and we have been through counseling several times.  There was a time about nine or ten years into our marriage when we actually decided to get a divorce.  But then we let down our defenses and started enjoying each other and our family and decided that divorce was one of the dumbest ideas we had come up with in a really long time.

Even though we worked through that craziness, we occasionally get off track again we get to a point where we act more like porcupines than dolphins.

This is an excerpt from one of our recent conversations:

Sheepdog:  “What’s wrong?  Why are you so grouchy?”

Me:  “I’m due for my period on Saturday.”

Sheepdog: “You are either on your period, about to get your period, or just getting over having had your period.”

Me: (expertly executing the evil wife death stare)

Sheepdog: “What?”

Me: “I can’t hear you over the glorious sound in my head of me hitting you with a shovel.”

AmericanGothic

So close… if only it were a shovel and she got to hold it.

So, just like you would change the oil in your car every 6,000 miles, or you swap out the air filters in your HVAC system quarterly, or you check the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months, or buy new running shoes after 3 or 400 miles, Sheepdog and I felt like it was time for a marriage check up.  Yesterday we went back to counseling, and we will keep going back until we get things back on track.  And we are both very hopeful.

Today we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.  I say “celebrate” purposefully, even in the middle of a rough patch, because it is certainly something that we are very proud of.  It is hard to stay married to one person for a long time.  It is hard to stay friends with one person for a long time.  It takes a lot of energy.  People constantly change and evolve and life is hard and kids are demanding and work is stressful.  But Sheepdog and I are doing it, and we are committed to doing it for as long as we both shall live.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

Muscle Groups

Oh, hello there, friend.  How have you been?

So busy.

How are you doing?

So tired.

What’s new with you?

Same old, same old.

 

I often feel like I’m living the life of a celebrity.  A jet-setting, paparazzi-hounded, silver-spoon-in-my-mouth rock star who spends my days doing exotic and exciting things, all while getting pampered and reminded how vital I am to society on the whole.

Oh wait.  Back that up and reverse it.  I’m so bored and tired that I got confused.  I am a stay at home mom.  None of those things applies.  I need a nap.  And a maid.  And some mental stimulation.

I would like to thank the Academy, my fans, and especially my family.  They make me feel important every single day.

I would like to thank the Academy and my fans, but mostly I want to thank my family for making me feel special and important every single day.

The 2013-2014 school year is about to cross the finish line and everybody is throwing stuff at the velcro wall in hopes that something – anything – will stick.  Let’s have a party!  Let’s have a Field Day!  Let’s have a concert, a recital, and double-elimination playoffs!  And please bring four cans of pineapple juice, two tablecloths, a photo of your child holding a sign that says something nice about his teacher, a pair of black Adidas soccer socks, a Bat Mitzvah card, a couple of boy birthday gifts, and a white dress.  And lots and lots of checks.

Meanwhile… my body is rebelling against me.  It grew too many babies from scratch and I am now falling apart so I was secretly convinced that I was dying from my core.  I finally broke down and went to the doctor.  He said he can rebuild me, so there is hope.  I was very excited to think he meant I will be like the Bionic Woman, but there may have been some kind of doctor/patient disconnect.  I guess we’ll see.

And to top it all off, I haven’t even been able grip anything with my hands this past week, let alone type, because I spent three hours last Wednesday power washing my driveway with an unloved machine I borrowed from my brother-in-law, Chuck (Sister B’s husband).  It had a broken wheel hub when I picked it up, and by the time I finally got it working (with the help of my friendly and helpful neighborhood stay-at-home-dad), it had two.  It was bouncing around so much that all of the hoses eventually busted off and sprayed wildly around my yard.  I was covered in mud and dirt and grit and whatever it was I was cleaning off the concrete.  It was like actively pumping gas all morning.  The job wasn’t done but at least I had cleaned the Junior/ Senior Wars “artwork” off of my driveway.  My fine motor skills were collateral damage for almost a week.

In summary, I seem to have lost my mind, my core, and my texting abilities/ pincer grip.  Being the supportive husband that he is, Sheepdog said that he knows a hand exercise to help me work on the latter.  My doctor is fixing my body, so I guess that just leaves my sanity.  And I think that’s probably overrated anyway.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

 

 

Joy to the World

OK, so I’ve been a total slacker lately.  First, all of this horrific winter weather crap happened.  I don’t know if I have seasonal depression, or just depression depression, but I was definitely on the verge of curling into a ball in the corner.  Then Sheepdog and I escaped for eight days in Mexico.  It was glorious… sun, exercise, quality time with my husband (high-five to us for breaking the headboard), and complete autonomy over my day.  It was complete and total bliss in paradise.

It physically hurts me to look at this picture right now.

It physically pains me to look at this picture right now.

But everything has a price, so we returned to a gaggle of kids with multiple versions of the plague.  The only place I got to show off my tan was at the stupid doctors’ office.  I mean, the kid who puked on the floor in front of the check-in desk didn’t even mention my glow.  Not once, the selfish little bastard.  What a complete and total waste.

It already feels like a month has passed since our trip, yet we have been home fewer than six days.

But I think it is safe to say that things are starting to turn around for us in the health department.  Antibiotics and other various medicines have started to work, viruses are running their course, and quarantines have subsequently been lifted.  And today, praise generic zithromax, everybody left the house for work and school at their regularly scheduled times.

But not before a few of us had a morning hang-out in my bed, starting somewhere around the six o’clock hour.

First to crawl in with Sheepdog and me was Kid E.  He succumbed to a stomach bug earlier this week, but rallied within 24 hours.  I attribute this exclusively to the fact that he has finally been named Star Student in his kindergarten class, with his reign to begin next Monday.  It also happens to be his exact half-birthday.  “Abuzz with excitement” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing this kid right now.  We even already started filling out his information packet, which lists facts and favorites about him.

Family Pets: Robo Fish.  Why, yes, it is battery-operated.  Mainly because the mother can't handle taking care of even one more living thing right now.

Family Pets: Robo Fish. Why, yes, it is battery-operated inside of an empty, plastic bowl. Mainly because his mother can’t handle one more living thing right now.  Case in point: the dead, yellow leaf in the middle of the potted plant.  Don’t you judge me.

Much of our conversation this morning consisted of him asking questions about himself (Q: What is something special I have done for someone else?), followed by me prompting/ providing answers (A: Well, you brought home all of that homework for your big brother, who has already missed four days of school this week.)

Please, please, please do me a solid and let him be well enough to go back to school today.

As if on cue, Kid D bounded into our room and crawled on in with us.  Kid C arrived shortly thereafter and squeezed in as well.  Everyone was feeling good and planned on going about their regularly scheduled programming.  Joy to the world!

This week I have been overwhelmed upon re-entry to my real life.  I have post-vacation blues.  I am tired.  I am sick of everybody getting sick.  So I am sitting here, watching the rain fall outside my office window, daydreaming that I am out by the pool in the warm sun with a cold beer in my hand.  At 9:42 in the morning.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Speaking of Donating Platelets…

A week ago, on New Year’s Eve, I had an appointment to donate at Atlanta Blood Services.  I have been going there every other month ever since Kid A’s boyfriend, Braden, was diagnosed with leukemia, mainly because he needed blood products (we always joked that he would know when he got mine because he would have a wine hangover afterwards), but also it gave me something to do at a time when I felt in control of nothing.  Even after he died, I keep going back to donate.

It was really hard to go back at first, especially since the infusion clinic is directly across the hall and he and his mom spent a lot of time over there during his treatment.  The very first time I returned, I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and got some treats and a jug of coffee because I wanted to give it to the staff over there.  I even planned ahead and made a little card with a picture of him that said something like “In Memory of Braden Dean Smith” so that everybody would think of him while they were eating their yummy donuts.  I intended to ask the receptionist if I could put them in the break room once I got there.  But I was so overcome with emotion and grief that I was a blubbering, snotty mess and I couldn’t even get words to come out of my mouth.  Instead, I showed the girl the picture of Braden and held up the jug of coffee, all while tears and weird noises kept pouring out of me.  I was like the deaf/ mute people who hand out cards asking for money, except I had a Box O’ Joe and two warm dozen.  She didn’t even bat an eye as she buzzed me through to the back and guided me through the labyrinth of halls to a room marked “Staff Only.”

I was eventually able to calm down and I finally went across the hall to Atlanta Blood Services to start the donation process that day.  Each time has gotten a little bit easier after that.

Until last Tuesday.

Looking back on it, it turns out that last Tuesday, the 365th day of the 2,013th trip ’round the sun, Anno Domini, was a fitting end to a quite sucky 2013.

Each time I go in to donate, I first have to do the dance for the lawyers (reading some legalese, mumbo-jumbo, CYA crap that basically says “I know I can die at any time and it’s nobody’s fault but my own”).  Then I answer a long set of questions on a computer from 1999 in a tiny, private room (questions like “Have you ever had a transplant of your dura matter?” and “Have you ever had sex with a man who has had sex with another man?”), and then they take my vitals.  Following the computer exam, I get poked for a blood sample, and they run tests to see what and how many blood products they can safely and most efficiently extract from me over the next two hours.  They always want my platelets.

Last Tuesday was no exception, as I had just shy of 400,000.  Be amazed, people, because that makes me a rock star, if only in that room.

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So I went into the donation room with the nice nurse (are they even nurses?… I honestly don’t even know) who had reviewed my Scantron and all of my bodily tests (she was new), and she put me in a bed which was not my regular spot.  That kind of thing doesn’t really bother me, so I didn’t say anything, but the other nurses/ people who enjoy extracting other people’s blood products without proper qualifications were all like, “Whoa, Nelly!  That’s not her bed.  She goes over there!”  The new lady and I just laughed at them and I stayed put.  Mistake #1.

The machine was on the other side of this particular bed – the right one, which meant that I would be donating from my dominant arm.  Traffic had been really easy that morning (some days it takes me 2 hours to get there, especially since they started taking down the toll on GA-400!), so I was all, “NBD and whatever!”  I climbed in and snuggled under the warm blankets (it makes the blood flow better).  Mistake #2.

While she was setting everything up, the machine started to do weird things.  It was being quirky and disagreeable.  It crossed my mind that I should suggest a move to my regular spot then, but I was doing a great job of being laid back, so I decided to commit fully.  I said nothing.  Mistake #3.

There was a man donating to my left who is also a true regular.  He comes in every two weeks and donates one or two bags of platelets, which means he donates at least 26 bags a year.  That is super impressive.  It also takes a whole lot of his time, but he teaches yoga and his schedule seemed flexible.  He also video blogs (or “vlogs”) about his donations, because he wants people to see that donating is easy and painless and everybody can (and should) do it.  He had already vlogged on YouTube about his own New Year’s Eve donation, his final one of 2013, but made a big deal about me sitting next to him (remember that I am a triple donation rock star here), so much so that he made an addendum vlog about me!

So, I had fully committed to this different spot, and I was talking to my new friend, and the new nurse finally tamed the machine and got me hooked up and started my actual donation process.  Pinch, release, then slowly and continually squeeze the stress ball to keep the blood pumping.  Eventually, I settled in and everything was A-OK.

About two bags in to my donation, I started watching The Truman Show on my laptop.  When the second bag was just about done, the nurse wanted me to eat a snack and drink something.  I asked for crackers and water.  She brought them to me and proceeded to open the water bottle (I only had one free hand… everybody knows you are not supposed to move the arm with the needle in it).

Then came the slow-motion, yet speeded-up combination of events.

The water bottle was not level on the bottom, as sometimes happens with disposable plastic water bottles (I suppose it is karmic punishment for selfishly destroying Mother Earth with those BPA-laden landfill staples).  When she put the bottle on my tray, it promptly tipped over onto the keyboard of my MacBook Pro.  She reacted and I reacted too.  She yelled something and ran to get paper towels, and I moved my dominant arm (along with my left one) to save my laptop.

Yep.  I did that.  Even though I know better, I moved my arm with the needle plunged into the vein.  It immediately hurt (I don’t know which hurt more… the needle or knowing that my laptop just took a shower), so I quickly brought it back to immobile station zero on the arm bar.  All of the nurses freaked out and checked on me, making sure I was okay, drying off my laptop, and checking on my arm and the apheresis machine.  The new nurse was so freaked out that she came over to help clean up and accidentally dropped the water bottle again, this time into my purse (fortunately, my phone was not in there).  I honestly felt so bad for her.  It was a complete and total accident.  And for whatever reason, I was (honest to goodness) not even upset about it.

The pain in my arm went away quickly.  We determined that the needle likely punctured through the vein and I would have some bruising afterwards, but it was not life-threatening.  I even finished my full donation and they collected three whole bags from me.  I’m still a rock star!

Except this past week, my arm looked like that of a rock star who shoots up (poorly), or maybe a rock star who dates Chris Brown.

“Yes, but you should see the other guy!”

It is getting better every day.  It doesn’t hurt at all.  It just looks awful.  And because Sheepdog took excellent care in drying out my laptop, even the MacBook Pro is recovering nicely.  No harm, no foul.  I plan to go back in 7 weeks or so.  I promise that donating is easy and safe and something that I hope everyone will consider doing.

Except next time, I am sitting in my regular donation bed.  And I’m bringing my own reusable water bottle.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

2013 Christmas Letter

Apparently, I forgot to add “take care of sick kid(s),” “go to doctor’s office and pharmacy,” and “go to doctor’s office and pharmacy (again)” to the run-on To Do list that is giving me chronic whiplash this month.  Kids C and D were both home sick on Monday.  Poor Kid D still hasn’t gone back and we are now on Day Four of the Ick.

I feel so sorry for my kids when they are sick… I dote on them, I baby them, I bring them whatever they need or want.  I let them watch movies and play video games.  I fluff their pillows and tuck (and re-tuck)(and re-re-tuck) their woobies.  I am usually a very nice Nurse Mommy.  But, frankly, by Day Four… I am a little bit over it.  Certainly by Day Four during whiplash season I am so done.  Mama’s got places to go and presents to wrap, kiddos.  How about you get better all ready?  “Sometimes you just have to be tougher than the sickness” has been heard escaping my lips a time or two in the last day, even as my child is unable to keep down crackers.

I know, I know.  I sound heartless.  But the “what if?” guilt always wins out and I’m currently muttering things while I’m on the phone with the doctor, planning our strategy and likely our next meet and greet.  And why couldn’t the kids’ pediatrician look like my OB/GYN?  That would make having sick kids totally awesome.  A girl can dream…

On a brighter note, being stuck at home has allowed me ample time to stuff and address my Christmas letters, which thankfully brought me a little more of the Christmas spirit.  I truly love planning out my cards or letter every year.  I also love hand writing each recipient’s name and address.  I think about the people and their families and what each person means to me.  I’ve even been known shed a sentimental tear or two as I write them out.  It is one of my favorite traditions… the thinking and remembering.  Not the crying.  Because a crying tradition would just be weird.

So I thought that maybe I’d like to share my card here on This Is How I Do It as well.  It required a bit of redacting, but I think it still works.  I may not get the benefit of writing out your names on an envelope, but I am very grateful for each and every one of you.

To all of my readers… Thank you for all of your comments and support.  Thank you for commiserating with me, encouraging me, and even for showing me other points of view.  Thank you for sharing my posts with your friends.  Writing this blog is a true labor of love, and knowing that there are people who care about the fruits is homemade icing on my cake.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2013 Christmas Letter 2013 Christmas Letter 2

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Speaking of Wood…

Speaking of wood, Kid D is about due for The Talk.  Yes, I mean THE Talk.  He is in the third grade.  Too young, you say?  Seriously, have you ridden on a public school bus?  Have you watched a rerun of Friends on television?  Have you heard of a little thing called the internet?

S-E-X is everywhere.  And it has basically been motor boating my son since he was born.  He just wasn’t aware that boobs could be used as anything but food or a soft pillow until now.  And he has questions… I can see them trying to escape from his little boy mouth.  Mostly I see them now when I am showering and he lingers for a fraction of a second too long in my bathroom.  Then he leaves quickly, muttering, “…nevermind…”  because his little boy brain doesn’t yet know the words he wants to use for the things he wants to ask.  And his body will be changing soon and his friends will be saying things.  And I don’t want him to feel like he is an alien growing a fifth limb.

"Erections sometimes don't know when they're not wanted." - from "What's Happening to Me, " written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

“Erections sometimes don’t know when they’re not wanted.” – from “What’s Happening to Me, ” written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

I have several options about how I can handle this.  I can leave some brochures and books on his nightstand for him to peruse at his leisure.  But that seems so isolating and scary, and likely the pages would get stuck together before long.  I could ignore the issue and let him find out on his own, in a more organic way.  But what if he gets the wrong information or has questions or it freaks him out?  At that point, he likely won’t feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions because I never approached him with the facts in the first place.  Then sex becomes a dirty little secret in our house.  And those are NOT feelings that I want my kids to associate with sex, ever (well, the dirty part can be acceptable, but that’s a much more advanced lesson for later).

I learned about sex in a combination of all of the ways listed above.  I regularly organized my mom’s walk-in-closet (honestly, she had a ton of clothes that always ended up on the floor, and it gave me tremendous peace to fold them or hang them back up), and she conveniently left a copy of “What’s Happening to Me?” on a shelf for me to “find” when I was about eleven or twelve.  Little did she know that my cousin, now a lesbian for what that’s worth, had told me all about the nitty gritty when I was at her house for a sleepover.  I was nine.  Any other facts about body development or intercourse or STDs trickled in over the years via sex education classes, Seventeen magazine quizzes, and my friend McWorm, who explained to me in the 7th grade that Dexy’s Midnight Runners most definitely did not want Eileen to hurry up.

Taking what I learned from my own experiences, I went into my own parenting wasteland wishing to make a complete 180 when it came to talking to and teaching my kids about sex.  I’m not judging my parents for not talking to me.  I know firsthand how hard it is to have The Talk, for both the parents AND the kids.  And honestly, my parents didn’t get The Talk from their parents either.  So the dirty little secret is all they knew.  But I was adamant that I would try to make it, if not easy, than at least a smidge easier for my kids to talk to me about all things related to sex.  I would start being open when they were very young and we could build trust from there.  I thought it was a good plan.

When the girls were little, I drove a minivan.  A silver Mazda MPV, pre-sliding doors, but it was still super convenient for the car seat-toting set.  It was also the place where we had some of our best sex talks when they were young.  I was laying the groundwork.  For example:

One morning on the way to carpool, Kid A, who was in 1st grade at the time, asked what I’d be doing while she and her sisters were in school all day.  I took a deep breath and said that I had a doctor’s appointment.

“A well visit, Mommy?  Do you have to get a shot?” asked a very curious Kid B, who was in preschool.  She was used to her own pediatrician.

“Um, no, actually.  I am going to a mommy doctor called an OB/GYN.”  I steadied my nerves and looked straight ahead at the road (talks in the car were most awesome because there was never any eye contact involved).  “The OB stands for ‘obstetrician,’ and that’s a doctor who delivers babies.  I am not pregnant, so I’m not going for that.”

“Whew,” said a smartass Kid A, “‘Cause you’re usually pregnant a lot.”

“No, I am not pregnant right now.  So I am going for the GYN part – the ‘gynecologist…’ ”  I took a very deep breath.  “…and that is a doctor who takes care of your vagina.”

If the girls had brake pedals, we would have skidded out right there in the middle of the road.

“Whaaaaaaaaaat?” squealed both of the older kids.  Kid C toddler-giggled at their reaction.

“There is a doctor just for your your cha-china?”  More giggles from the backseat.

“Yes, ” I answered, determined to be calm and cool and all NBD about sex.  “He will check my weight and my blood pressure and ask me medical questions and do a check to make sure my vagina is all healthy and good. ”

“Well, that’s just like a well visit, Mommy, ” Kid A pointed out.

I was so proud for being straightforward and honest and open about sex with my daughters.  They understood.  I was making progress.  Change is good!  And then Kid B broke me.

“But what about if you make a stinker out of your vagina when the doctor is checking you.  What happens then, Mommy?  If you make a stinker?  Out of your vagina?”

I slammed on the brakes at that point, both figuratively on the conversation and literally on the minivan.  Fortunately, we had just pulled in to the school drop off.  “Have a good day, girls!”  I fake-smiled and waved and completely ignored the final, utterly unnerving question about S-E-X.  I was actually shaking in my seat.  Where was that kid from?

Kids are evil.  They are ornery.  Kids are put on this earth to pulverize their parents’ best intentions into dust particles and then throw them into our faces.  Groundwork, shmoundwork.

Now that I think about it, I’ll wait just a little while longer before I give Kid D The Talk.  He can learn about S-E-X like everybody else, the old-fashioned way… from a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…