The Finish Line

Sheepdog has always said, “If you see Stacy running, you had better call the police.  Because someone has got to be chasing her.”

You see, my husband knows me well and he definitely knows that I do not like to run.  I never have.  I’m just not so inclined.  I am more of a cheerleader.

But Sheepdog is a runner.  He is mostly a bike rider, but he is also a runner.  Run, Sheepdog, run.

He has been running throughout most of our marriage.  No, not away from our marriage, silly.  Throughout.  Although, in truth, maybe sometimes he is dreaming of running away.  I know I sometimes do.  Just not while running.  But I digress.

Sheepdog has completed a couple of triathlons, but the swimming part always gets him.  He swims like I would imagine a T-rex swimming… like he weighs in the tons and has disproportionately short arms.  The triathlon I remember best he did in Brigantine, New Jersey, when Kid B was just an itty-bitty thing.  They started off swimming in waves.  Each wave (divided by age and gender) had a different color rubber swim cap, so it made it easier to identify your swimmer when they finished the swim portion through the rough waves of the bay.  I don’t recall exactly, but I do recall that his wave (young, fast men in robin’s egg blue caps) came bobbing to shore first, but not Sheepdog.  Then the young, fast women started to swim in.  Still no sign of Sheepdog.  The older, not-so-fast men, then some kids and even the older women started running out of the cold water.  I think a couple of handicapped people swam to shore, as did a woman who was well over 100-years-old (I might be remembering that part incorrectly, but you get my point).  Finally, Sheepdog wearily dragged himself up the boat ramp and onto his bike.  Satisfied that he did not have to be brought in on a rescue boat, he then took off angrily on his bike as if it were an extension of his own body.  He rode like the wind.

And he ran like the wind, too, all the way to the finish line back on par with many of the fast, young men.  And I stood there with Kid A and Kid B and the diaper bags and the snacks and the double stroller, and I think my parents were there too, and we cheered as loud as our voices would cheer as Sheepdog ran under the marker and clocked his time.  It was a grand celebration at that finish line.

Sheepdog has also competed in marathons.  That same year, he ran in the 39th Atlantic City marathon.  Once again, I stood at the windy finish line with Kid A and Kid B and the diaper bags and the snacks and the double stroller, and we cheered and hollered as he completed twenty-six point two miles of running along the boardwalk and the streets of Atlantic County using only the power of his own mind and body.  And he did it in just under four hours.  And it was again a grand celebration at the finish line, especially because this time he didn’t almost die in some back bay because of his dinosaur flaw.

Sheepdog says, "I was running!"

Sheepdog says, “I was running!”

He went on to run another marathon in Philadelphia after Kid C was born.  He trained so as to not die on the swim portion and he “Tri-ed” again a few more times after we moved to Georgia.  He has ridden in countless bike races, all over these United States.  They are each different but sometimes the races all blur together in my mind.  The end is always a grand celebration at the finish line.  A celebration of athleticism, of willpower of the human mind, of setting and attaining seemingly impossible goals.  And of not drowning.  But mostly the finish line is a celebration of people.

Yes, I have stood and celebrated at many finish lines.  My heart aches for those who were there at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off.  I watched the news in horror, found hope in the helpers and cheered with America when they captured the suspect.  Boston may be strong, but I fear they are a little bit harder inside after the events that unfolded last week.  I know I wondered if I would ever want to be at any finish line ever again.

But then I decided something…  I decided that I do still wish to be there.  I want to celebrate athleticism and willpower and goals.  Mostly, I want to cheer for the people, because mostly, people are good.  I will continue to send my kids off to school.  I will keep going to the movies.  I will continue to live this life that I have been blessed with to the fullest.  I will try to be one of the helpers.  And I will ALWAYS be cheering as loudly as I can at the finish line.  And I hope to see you all there.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Press of Atlantic City article about Sheepdog

Vacation Shoes – Part Dos/ Deux

Have you missed me?

Well, I’ve been super busy working out and learning how to make bread from the wheat grain and adding carbonation to water and giving all of my attention and mommy love to kids who have been sick since last November.  Oh, and then Sheepdog and I went back to Mexico.  (To read about last year’s trip CLICK HERE )

Earmuffs, kids.  Consider yourselves warned.

Ahhhhh, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Say it with me with the accent… “MAY-He-Co.”

That magical land where all I do is sleep and sunbathe and drink and read books.  And that He ‘n and She ‘n thing with my sexy husband.  Maybe that’s how I lost five pounds on vacation.  It’s definitely how I got a nice suntan and lost the bags under my eyes and wiped the scowl off my face.

When we left Atlanta last week, Sheepdog had a full beard.  He hadn’t grown a beard since Kid A was a little bitty, so the mountain man thing was kind of a first for the kids… and most of them HATED it.  And I mean started every sentence with, “So you’re going to shave that nasty beard and…”  But I loved it, so it stayed (Sheepdog’s no dummy, folks).  But then it got itchy and too warm for a Baja vacation, so I told him he could lose it, but only if he would take it off in stages.  And…  It…  Was…  Awesome.

"Me gusta tu barba" - Kesha (when she's in Cabo)

“Me gusta tu barba” – Kesha (when she’s in Cabo)

I found it surprisingly/ disturbingly sexy even though I burst out laughing every time I looked at him (as did my sister and my mom).  My brother-in-law and most of the staff at the resort thought it was spectacular beyond words (the male staff was envious because a new corporate policy prohibited them from having any kind of facial hair… “Nos sentimos como señoras,” they lamented).  Then my dad said something on the golf course about not really liking it because he didn’t want his daughter having sex with a Mexican porn star.  So Sheepdog shaved the very next day (again, Sheepdog is no dummy, folks).

Adiós, bigote.

Now, you may be presuming that I am well versed in the Spanish language, but you would be wrong.  I am, in fact, a bit heavy-handed with the Google Translate today.  Having resolved to learn conversational Spanish after last year’s trip, Sheepdog set us up with a program called Pimsleur, which stresses active participation instead of rote memorization.  All I needed to do was take thirty minutes each day to listen and repeat, without interruption.

It didn’t happen.

I tried, but thirty minutes is an excruciatingly long time to be still and focused when you have a gazillion other distractions and things to do before the kids get home from school.  My lessons would go something like this…

Voices from my iPod: “This is Unit One of Pimsleur’s Spanish I.  Listen to this Spanish conversation:
Perdóne, señorita.  ¿Entiende Inglés?
No, señor. No entiendo.
Hablo español un poco.
¿Es usted un norteamericano?
Sí, señorita.
In the next few minutes, you will learn not only to understand this conversation, but to take part in it yourself.”
 
Me: (to no one in particular, especially since I am alone in my car) “Eh.  But I do want a margarita and some guacamole.  I wonder what shows recorded last night.  ‘Norteamericano’ is a funny word.  ‘Norteamericano.  Norteamericano.  Norteamericano.’  I wish I could take a nap right now.” (turns off iPod) 

Oh, how I wish I took Spanish when I was still in school.  Instead I learned Latin and French, which (fortunately?) stuck with me.  Now, every time I go to places where they speak a foreign language, even though I have toiled (see above) over my adult Spanish lessons so that I may converse on the most basic of levels, it is the language d’amour that sneaks out of my mouth when I’m not paying attention.

The maids in Cabo would come to the house every day.  I wanted to say hello and genuinely thank them for doing the menial tasks that I, too, am familiar with most days at home (also to relatively little applause), but I’m not touching said chores with a ten-foot pole during my glorious week of vacation.  I also wanted to grab my swimsuit and get poolside.

Me: “Hola, señorita. Gracias (internal dialogue: for washing my towels and changing the sheets on my sex bed).  Pardonnez-moi (more internal dialogue: while I lay out in the sunshine and drink a Pacifico with a lime.  Oops, did I just speak French?).  Adiós.”

I meant to say “excuse me” in Spanish (“perdón”).  Ironically, my French slip was a bit Freudian, as “pardonnez-moi” actually means “forgive me.”

Yes, please forgive me for being an idiot but also for having an awesome time in MAY-He-Co.  Especially whilst you have to do all of the crappy jobs.  Gracias, merci, and gracias again.

******************************************************************************************

Along with the facial hair props that heavily influenced our husband and wife activities in Mexico, I brought some awesome shoes to the party.  Sheepdog liked them very much.

Zapatos de las vacaciones, perro pastor aprobado.

Zapatos de las vacaciones, Perro pastor aprobado.  Note the rainy Atlanta backdrop.  Trust me… they looked even better in the Mexican sunshine.

Good thing too because, all too quickly, our week was up and our vacation over and we were on a plane back to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the rain, rain, rain that has turned Atlanta into Seattle-East.  We thanked Grandma and Grandpa with genuine passion for playing Headbandz and minding the store for a whole week and we hugged the kids with genuine passion too because we truly missed them.

Then Kid D threw up in the dugout during baseball practice, less than twenty-four hours after our return.  And Kid C was sick with chest/ sinus congestion and we were dealing with snot and kid puke and diarrhea.

Welcome home.  Welcome back to life with five kids.  Bienvenido a casa and bienvenue à la vie avec cinq enfants.

Sheepdog, we’ll always have Cabo.

As my friend, Fat Bastard, says… only fifty-and-one-half weeks and 1,695 miles to go…

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

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I decided to be nice and add a translation for today’s bilingual (trilingual?) post.  You’re welcome…

Dos/ Deux = Two in Spanish/ French
Me gusta tu barba = I like your beard
Nos sentimos como señoras = We feel like women
Adiós, bigote = Goodbye, mustache
Zapatos de las vacaciones, Perro pastor aprobado = Vacation shoes, Sheepdog approved

Take Me Out to the Ball

This weekend Sheepdog and I went out.  On a date.  To a Ball.

I know, I know.  How did a girl who is – by conscious choice – perpetually in flip-flops and sweatpants, and usually in bed by 8:45 on Saturday nights, end up at a fancy-schmancy ball?  So weird and just wrong, am I right?  Well…

Cinderella’s shoes for The Ball. Sheepdog approved.

Earlier last year I was talking to my dad about travel.  He and my mom are fortunate in that they go on a lot of trips throughout the year.  But one of the things that drives him crazy is the inefficiency of commercial airports and airlines.  Well, duh.  Flying sucks nowadays.  Gone are the days when everyone is all dressed up in the airport like they are straight off the set of Mad Men.  These days you are more likely to see people in their actual pajamas than you are people in suits.  It is no wonder that we are treated like idiot cattle and consider it a “good flight” if we don’t have to sit in our teeny, tiny seat next to somebody who needs more than one seatbelt extender (more often than not this is also the person who has the very questionable showering habits) and/ or we didn’t have to hang out on the runway or tarmac with only recycled air for countless hours waiting for fill-in-the-blank (clearance to take off, repair of the broken filangie, the pilot to sober up, blah blah blah).  So, half joking but half seriously, I suggested that he look into private planes.

One thing that I will tell you about my dad is that he is a big talker.  Not that he doesn’t often deliver, mind you, but he sure does like to make grandiose plans, especially around cocktail hour.  And only about 17% of those plans actually come to fruition.  For example, just last year he brought up the idea of “The Epic Trip,” involving him and my mom, me and my three sisters, and our husbands.  He sent out an email to all of us that explained how he wanted to go somewhere and do something truly meaningful together, so he asked us to submit ideas and wish lists.  The girls dreamed of huts in Bali, the boys named world class golf resorts, and Sheepdog wanted us to work on a dude ranch in Montana.  The best idea came from the Other Rob Fisher (long story short, my dad always accidentally uses a bogus email that he thinks is for my brother-in-law, but in fact belongs to a really funny guy with the same name who always comes up with awesome responses to our group missives, without acknowledging that he is not actually Our Rob Fisher – it can sometimes take a while for anybody to catch on), who suggested we should go surfing in South Korea and he attached an article like this one to the email:

Surfing in South Korea (AT YOUR OWN RISK)

Anyway, I looked into flying on private jets.  What I discovered was a whole new world of luxury and lavishness that I had never before allowed myself to fantasize about.  But after peeking behind that curtain, I was all about it.  And from what I have heard from those who have flown this way before, it is like crack.  You will never want to go back to Hartsfield-Jackson or Spirit Airlines again, sister.

So I reached out to a couple of companies on my dad’s behalf.  We went back and forth for a while and my dad and I finally got our schedules to mesh and we went to a meeting a few weeks ago with a rep from one of the best.  And I think the big talker actually got excited about the idea of a private plane.  We will see once the quote comes back.  But in the meantime…

The rep called me last week to see if I (or my dad, more importantly) had any questions.  I actually did, so I met with him one more time.  He also mentioned that he had two extra tickets for a black tie event and asked if Sheepdog and I would be interested in attending, along with him and his wife.  They also have a crap-ton of kids, like us, so he figured us moms would be all excited about getting dressed up and not having to take care of them, if only for a few hours.

Normally, I would make up some excuse as to why we were unavailable, but I recently made a promise to myself that I would try new things.  I vowed to go out of my comfort zone and be open to new people and experience different adventures.  So far, all I have done is use a telephone number instead of a website, when available, to deal with customer service issues.  And I thought I was making grand strides!  Before I could even control myself on the telephone, I blurted out that we would love to attend The Ball with them.  Gasp.

We ended up having a really fun night.  In typical fashion, I wanted to back out around 4PM.  Sheepdog was sick with a cold, the boys did not want us to leave them, and it started raining buckets.  But I dragged my sorry butt into the shower and proceeded to get dolled up (hair AND makeup… I know!).  Sheepdog put on his tuxedo (he looks fiiiine in a tuxedo, by the way – more incentive for me), and off we went.  The Ball was to benefit the American Heart Association, so there was a silent auction and dinner then a live auction.  It was really fun to watch as people raised their paddles to spend thousands of dollars in support of a great cause (and a trip to Hawaii).  We really enjoyed the rep and his wife too.

One of the funnest moments of the night for me was seeing that another woman had on the same dress as I did.  I pointed it out to Sheepdog and he tried to make me feel better by saying hers was “more purple” or something, but there was no denying it.  I bought it off the rack closest to the cash register at Macy’s, for goodness’ sake, (yeah, I’ve never been much of a shopper) so what did I expect?  I honestly did not care, but thought it would be fabulous if Sheepdog ever so subtly took a picture at The Ball of me and the woman “together.”

photo (1)

Who Wore it Better?

Thus confirming that, despite even my good-hearted attempts to evolve as a person and try new things, you still can’t take me anywhere.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Huckleberry Mountain Adventures

It was August of 1991 and I had just moved to Morgantown for Round 3 of my college experience.  I promised myself (and my parents… because they forced me) that this time would be different and I was going to focus on classes and learning and actually graduating from college.  Not just the fun stuff like partying and boys (which, for the record, was pretty fun).

In an attempt to follow through on that promise, I walked into my Intro to Biology class and took a seat right up front.  Normally, I would sit somewhere in the back so the professor would not necessarily know that I was too hungover to show up for a lecture.  This time, though, I planned to show up every day.  It was a pretty large class – almost a hundred students – and people began filling in every other seat, all the way to the back of the lab.  Then, just as class was about to begin, an old man came in and sat down in the seat right next to me.

Now, when I say “old man,” you should realize that I had the perspective of a self-centered twenty-year-old, so anybody who looked like they could legally buy me beer was automatically “old.”  It turns out that this particular old man was only about thirty.  He kept whispering ornery and sarcastic comments to me throughout the class, and even though he used the word y’uns way too often, I decided that we should be friends.

So friends we became.  We would talk before class and we got to know each other pretty well.  He had been happily married for a few years and his wife, now a pharmacist, worked as a paralegal at a local law firm.  I naturally looked to him for advice and approval when Sheepdog and I started dating a few months into the semester.  It was not hard to see the Marine in him when he met my fiancé for the very first time.  Protective and annoying, he was like the big brother I had always wished for.  We all became very good friends during our time at WVU.  And it was no surprise when he was the one who stood next to Sheepdog as his Best Man at our wedding.  It was also no surprise (especially to the girl who originally befriended him for his ornery ways) that his speech included the wish for our marriage that “all of [our] ups and downs be between the sheets.”

Afterwards, Sheepdog and I moved to Alabama for work and then back to New Jersey to be closer to my family.  The Marine hadn’t yet graduated, so he and his wife (and their awesome kid/ golden retriever, Gracie) stayed in Morgantown.  When we traveled to West Virginia to visit Sheepdog’s family, we would often work in visits to see the Marine and the Paralegal/ Pharmacist as well.  But once we started having our own kids it got harder and more inconvenient to make that extra stop.  And since we kept having kids, our get-togethers became less and less frequent.  They moved away.  We moved again.  And again.  Ironically, we all ended up in Georgia at one point and they came to visit us, but it was not the same.

Then last spring, we caught up with them at a couple of art shows where the Marine was selling bowls that he carves from reclaimed wood.  They invited us up to their home in North Carolina and we all went up the mountain to visit them last May.  We went on long walks and made jam and s’mores and told stories around the campfire.  It was awesome.

We had so much fun that we invited ourselves back this past weekend.  We rode on the 4-wheeler and hiked some new trails and watched the playoff games in front of a roaring fire with an awesome spread of layered nachos, buffalo wings and pizza.  The Marine took me out to his range and let me shoot his .40 pistol, as always emphasizing safety and reinforcing proper technique.  We compared abilities to assemble and disassemble things while blindfolded under pressure in the dark (things like heavy fire or conditions involving vomit or poop) – him an M-16, me a crib.  Still protective and annoying.  Still just like the big brother I had always wished for.

There are many times in my life that I live in the moment.  Then there are times when I am a little more contemplative.  This weekend had both.  I continue to be amazed by the seemingly random circumstances which have brought certain people into my life.  And I will continue to be grateful evermore.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

More of an Indoor Girl

Our family is composed of both extremes when it comes to the inside vs. outside debate.  I would live in a penthouse in the city if I could make it work with five kids; Sheepdog would live outside in a treehouse were it not called “homeless.”  Kid A loves taking pictures of things in nature; Kid B enjoys watching moving pictures on television.  Kid C leaps into the pile of leaves before she looks; Kid D wants to learn all of the facts about the tree on the internet first.  But both of them are up for almost anything in the out-of-doors, while Kid E complains about every last aspect of it.  Yet every once in a while the planets align and we nay-sayers cry uncle and we head out as a family to some remote place where the county flower is poison ivy but the views are spectacular and the air is piney (and DEET-scented) and we are all humbled by the awesomeness of nature.

This weekend we traveled to Tallulah Falls State Park for a picnic and some hiking and to watch the kayakers navigate the gorge.  It was perfect fall weather (sunny in the high 50s) and the leaves in northeast Georgia are experiencing extreme chlorophyll-deficiency, so the residual colors left us breathless.  An added bonus was that Georgia Power floods the dam every weekend in November so the crazies can ride the rush in their little boats of death (insane to do but extremely cool to watch).  The drive took over an hour and most of the kids watched “The Princess Bride” while Sheepdog and I talked uninterrupted like civilized people.  Almost before we knew it, we had arrived at a little cliff-side viewing spot/ antique store/ BBQ restaurant.

After a quick stop in the restroom, I was immediately approached by a bearded man holding a deep pot on the end of a five-foot pole.

“Bald penis?” he asked of me and the girls.  Sheepdog was still in the bathroom.

I protectively put my arms around the kids and moved them all behind me.  Simultaneously, my brain was calculating possible situational outcomes and I quickly realized upon looking into the pot that he was not some local pervert trying to harass the tourists.  He was offering us a soggy, cooked, traditional Georgia snack.

I honestly believe I might never figure out the whole deep-southern accent thing.  It throws me for a loop every time.  P.S.  Boiled peanuts are kind of gross.

The view from 1,000 feet

We checked out the view and decided to get back into the car so we could find the place where we could hike down the trails closer to the raging water.  It was conveniently just down the road as bellies were starting to grumble all around us.  We paid a minimal five dollars to park and soon set up our picnic lunch in a field next to some rocks.  They were perfect for sitting against or upon and also for having Kid E jump off and climb, thus guaranteeing that I would have indigestion for the remainder of the day.  Fortunately, no one got hurt during the meal and soon we were off, with nothing but a trail map, five kids, two adults, a backpack/kid carrier, a full water bottle, three pairs of extra sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, some light jackets, a packet of wipes, a couple of iPhones and a 35mm SLR camera.  Ah, the simplicity of nature!

First, we walked up from the information center to a place called Inspiration Point.  I was hopeful that this was more of a spiritual moniker as opposed to a carnal one.  I mean, hadn’t the peanut guy contributed enough depravity for one day?  Fortunately there were just a bunch of other people with cameras and dogs and walking sticks up there.  While at the point we got to see the remains of one of the towers that Karl (“The Great/ Flying”) Wallenda used to tightrope walk across the quarter-mile-wide gorge in 1970.  Crazy.  But the views were phenomenal, especially with my family safely behind the protective viewing fence.

After that we hiked down the mountain back past the main parking area and then continued on our downward trek toward the suspension bridge that sits just 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls below.  To get there you have to climb down a little more than 300 grated metal stairs.  And unless you want to live out the remainder of your days like a troll under the bridge, you also have to climb back up.  Easier said than done.

By this point in the day we had hiked quite a way and some of the kids were getting tired.  But we didn’t drive all the way out here to hike just the easy part!   Kid E had toughed it out with minimal complaining and walked most of the trails so far, but he was definitely ready to ride in the backpack carrier for the remainder of our excursion.   Being no dummy, I offered to wear/ carry him down the steps.  It was no big deal except that after the first few sections I had to ask him to please stop chanting, “We are going DOWN the steps.  WE are going down the steps.  We ARE going down the steps.  We are going down the STEPS.”  He did not.

I then felt zero guilt when I asked Sheepdog to take his turn carrying Kid E on the way back up.  Even without a person on my back those steps were hard.  I refused to stop on the little resting benches.  I was panting like a dog.  To add insult to injury, Kid D ran the whole way back up.  Show off.  At least I beat most of the old people.  I considered it a great day all around.

If you pick 'em up, O Lord, I'll put 'em down. - Author Unknown, "Prayer of the Tired Walker"

The whole family had a fantastic time.  I even look forward to the next time we get back to the woods.  Maybe Sheepdog can make a nature lover out of this indoor girl yet!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

My Husband Thinks I’m an Idiot

There are a few television shows that Sheepdog and I watch together after a majority of the kids are (fingers crossed) in bed for the night.  After the stories are read and the monsters have been sprayed and everybody gets in one last pee, we sneak down to the basement and go on a pretend date.  And they’re the best kind of dates, too, because we get to stretch out on a couch and we can go in our pajamas or eat cookies or sugar-free fudgsicles if we want.  And the kids know that they are not invited because it is our time.  And my fudgsicles… back off!

Sometimes we don’t even watch that much television.  There are many nights that we may start watching something and it leads to an idea which causes one of us to say, “Pause!” because we remembered something that happened earlier in the day that we want to share.  Or maybe there was something we have been meaning to discuss that we keep forgetting about, or we didn’t want to discuss it with kid ears listening in.  Whether we are talking or laughing or just watching TV, it is really nice that we get to hang out and spend some quality time together.

The other night we were watching a new show on CBS called “2 Broke Girls,” which has been fairly funny in a hit-or-miss kind of way.  It is still on our queue because one of the lead girls has an enormous rack and Sheepdog is always a little hesitant to stop watching big boobs.  We also watch another show on ABC called “Happy Endings,” which was a mid-season replacement last year and is fairly funny too.  Even when that show lost it a little bit we kept watching because all of the women on the show have qualities that Sheepdog finds redeeming (yes, boobs).  Plus, there is a shot of a really great butt in the opening, so I think this show may rank even higher for him.  I digress, because my point has nothing to do with the girls’ body parts.  The funny thing was that both shows had episodes about vision boards that aired in the exact same week.

Vision boards are those things that people associate with The Secret and Oprah or “Field of Dreams.”  You cut out pictures of things you want to have, be or do in your life (eight-pack abs, an Audi TT quattro, MLS#4219301, a successful writer, Ben Affleck) and you glue them onto a foam board.  Then you put the board in a place where you will see it every day and be inspired and passionate so that you can begin to manifest those things into your life.  Supposedly, by looking at these things every day you will put yourself in a better state of mind to achieve/ attain/ earn the things you desire most by activating the universal law of attraction.  Whether we believe in them or not (me: maybe, Sheepdog: you have got to be kidding), we both found it interesting that they were a major plot line in at least two shows that we had just watched.

Sheepdog had never really heard of vision boards before this so he pressed pause on the remote.  Then he posed the question, “How can it be that both shows are about the same random thing?”

I wiped the fudgsicle crumbs from my shirt.  “When you follow pop culture you are exposed to a myriad of information… on television, in movies, on websites, blogs, and in magazines, newspapers and books.  There is really only so much information you can be exposed to and when people see or read the same things it will inevitably lead them to draw similar conclusions and basically have a shared consciousness.  It is only logical that television writers are exposed to similar media input and are therefore influenced into a similar thought pattern.  I can not tell you how many times I have had what I thought to be a completely unique idea come to me, only to have it portrayed on television just a few weeks or months later.  I just figure I read the same “Glamour” article as the show’s writers and we then took our ideas to the same place.  I’m surprised that similarly themed episodes do not happen more often.”

Sheepdog’s jaw dropped to the floor and he sat up straight.  “Do you realize that was the most coherent, well-articulated and logical argument that you have put together in a really long time?”

I feigned offense, but I have been known to refer to my own “self-depriciating” humor on occasion.  Plus, I had those fudgsicle crumbs on my shirt.  I may have scored higher on the S.A.T.’s than Sheepdog, but pregnancies, motherhood and being married to him for eighteen years has definitely dumbed me down.  Maybe I should try making my own vision board with a picture of somebody really smart on it.

How exactly do I clarify to the vision board that I want to think like Einstein, but I don't want to have hair like his or date him?

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Tell Us a Story

It is important that Sheepdog spend as much time with our daughters as possible, else they are more likely to become meth addicts or end up headlining at Delilah’s Den.  Without even being aware of it they are setting their own relationship standards for the future, and they are learning mainly by watching him.  So, technically, if one of them ends up grinding one-night-stands on the dance floor or is referred to as the girl who knows how to “hook a steak up,” it would be all Sheepdog’s fault.  No pressure there, right?

As I am acutely aware of this, I encourage any and all father/ daughter interaction.  Over the years they have tried many activities together.  They have done the standard dinner and a movie date many times, but it does not really allow for enough quality conversation.  They have also gone the more active route of biking and running, but those sports require that the parties be on at least similar skill levels in order for everybody to have a good time (you can’t really talk if you are constantly panting and on the verge of passing out just to keep up).  Hiking was a great alternative until the girls had to go in the woods and got all freaked out over squatting in public and wiping with leaves (they get that from their mother).  So on to other activities they went.  We are not giving up.

Recently Sheepdog has been taking Kid A out to practice driving.  I don’t care if your daughter is Danica Patrick, teaching a girl to drive is fraught with peril.  And frankly, Kid A is not exactly a natural behind the wheel.  She and Sheepdog did not do well together in an enclosed vehicle, especially after he yelled at her (in his defense, she almost ran over two pedestrians).  After I went out to practice with her a few times (promising myself that I would not raise my voice or clench or cry while sitting in the passenger seat, so as to not derail her already wavering confidence), I was so scared that I actually called the local driving school anonymously.

Instructor:  “Good afternoon, Johns Creek Driving School.  How may I help you?”
 
Me:  “Hi.  I am not going to tell you my name on purpose.  My kid has been practicing her driving for a while now and she is still really bad.  I mean REALLY bad.  Just awful.  I don’t even want to let her out of the neighborhood yet.  Actually, I don’t want to let her out of our driveway.  She took your class this summer and she only has three months in which to complete her six hours of behind the wheel.  I don’t think that’s gonna happen.  What should I do?”
 
Instructor:  “It is okay, ma’am.  This actually happens a lot.  We can certainly give you an extension.  But maybe you should have her start her behind the wheel lessons and let one of our qualified instructors work with her.”
 
Me:  “You don’t understand.  I would feel responsible if she hurt someone or crashed one of your cars.  And I feel fairly certain that would happen.”
 
Instructor:  “It’s really okay, ma’am.  The instructors have brake and gas pedals and they have no problem taking the wheel if need be.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
 
Me:  “I don’t care if Jesus takes the wheel.  This kid is high risk.”

Sheepdog decided he was going to try again to teach our daughter to drive.  He figured that he should get her driving in a more relaxed atmosphere, so he took Kid A and Kid C (Kid B was at dinner with her soccer team) to the Andretti Speed Lab in Roswell.  This place is as cool as the name implies.  They have rock climbing, video games, a ropes course, pool tables, bowling, basketball, a comedy club, and the main attraction – extreme SuperKarts, complete with 9 hp Honda GX-270 engines in them.  And it was a twofer in that he got to spend some quality daddy/ daughter time together with the girls.

Is it too much to ask Kid A to wear this while driving a regular car too? Cause I'm certainly gonna be wearing one in the passenger seat.

Round and round the track they went.  Sheepdog had a blast.  Kid C didn’t drive by herself because she was afraid at first, but she and Sheepdog have another date planned there so she can learn to drive soon.  Kid A apparently acquired some decent driving skills on the track, although she still has a way to go before we release her on GA-400.  All in all, it was a great plan.  Way to go Sheepdog!

On the drive home the girls were pestering Sheepdog to bond with them some more.

“Tell us a story,” they begged.  “Tell us a story like mommy does.” 
 
“I don’t know any stories,” answered Sheepdog.
 
“Tell us about your first girlfriend, ” prompted Kid A.
 
“Well… define ‘first girlfriend.’  Do you mean the first girl I took on a real date or the first girl I made out with or what?”
 
Always looking for the more salacious details, both girls responded, “The first girl you made out with!”
 
Sheepdog though for a minute.  Then he began, “I don’t remember the details, but I guess I was in fifth or sixth grade…”
 
From the backseat Kid C (who is in fifth grade herself) yelled, “Well, I’m certainly not ready for THAT!”

I don’t know if Sheepdog is going in the right direction with this whole father/ daughter bonding thing.  He may need a little more coaching first.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…