Yo’ Mama and the CIA

I told Sheepdog back at the very end of February that I was bored.  Bored of using my mad Tetris skills to load the dishwasher, bored with devising creative punishments for kids who do stupid things, bored by folding laundry (yes, even fitted sheets).  Bored of driving all around this overpopulated suburban utopia.  Bored by Netflix (gasp!).  Bored with writing, even.  Bored, bored, bored.  Just bored.  Pffft.

This is boring.  I'm bored now.

Sheepdog, being a manly man, went into problem solver mode and sent me away.  In March he put me on a plane to Key West and attempted to curtail my ennui with balmy weather, college roommates, and cocktails.  I had a good time.  I don’t do things half-assed, so Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag (that’s me being bored with reading children’s literature) just kept keeping on.  I came back from my long weekend happy, hungover, tired, and sick, … but still bored.

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Speaking of beach bags, I even tried shaking things up with an impromptu break in spring by taking a (partial) family trip.  Kids C, D, E, and I road tripped on down to the white sand paradise of Cape San Blas, where we roasted s’mores, dug holes to China with the cousins, and avoided sharks.  A great time was had by all (except maybe the shark), but afterwards I was still eh.

I spent April managing schedules, cooking and washing, and – of course – driving.  Why is there so much driving?  I decided to rally and crush my job hand-on-the-plow style.  In the life game of Rock, Paper, Scissors of Behavioral Traits, I supposed that tenacity would beat boredom every time, but it seems I was incorrect.

So by the beginning of May I was bored and wrong.  Even wearing my hair up in a high ponytail wasn’t helping.

And then I got excited.  About the possibility of a short-term, full-time job.

I know, right?  Who AM I right now?

You may be wondering what kind of insanity pool I would even consider dipping my pinky toe into, given that I am currently in the midst of actively raising and parenting five children and running a house while my husband holds down a very demanding and stressful career, complete with out-of-state travel and various coaching/ volunteering jobs.  I assure you, this job would be awesome.  And it would be hard, but we could make it work because it is only for a few weeks.  But I am sworn to secrecy about it and I can not tell you anything else about it while I await a hiring decision.  As I told the kids, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.”

Now they all think I’m going to work for the CIA.

Just thinking about the possibility of something different has breathed new life into my soul.  I wasn’t even looking.  It simply presented itself and now I want it more than anything.  Even though I laughed until I almost peed while I updated and edited my resume.  It took a whole lot of Bondo to fill that 14-year hole in my work experience.  What’s another term for “overqualified ass-wiper?”

In the meantime, I am still a SAHM, and this week is the week of all things Mother’s Day.  I had a tea to attend on Monday, where Kid E recited a poem he wrote entitled “I Love You More Than…”  He included lots of homemade food items and our neighborhood water slide, for which I was very grateful, but Minecraft was suspiciously left off the list.  At least I know exactly where I stand with that kid.

Also this week, Kid D came home with a new repertoire of ‘Yo’ Mama’ jokes:

  • Yo’ mama is so stupid, she got locked in a mattress store overnight and she slept on the floor.
  • Yo’ mama is so short, you can see her feet on her driver’s license.
  • Yo’ mama is so ugly,  Bob the Builder looked at her and said “I CAN’T FIX THAT!”
  • Yo’ mama is so dumb, she played ‘Got Your Nose’ with Voldemort.  Then he killed her.

The kids and I roared with laughter as he told each new joke.  The other kids joined in and added their favorites as well.  Then somebody started machine gun farting or something like that, so I put an end to the stand up routines.

That night as I was tucking Kid E into bed, I was feeling nostalgic about him still being little and sweet and I felt the need to explain to him that Yo’ Mama jokes are actually people making fun of moms and he shouldn’t be mean.  And since Kid E is the sweetest kid ever, he said he understood and then he made up his own joke and then he grabbed my face and said, “Yo’ mama is so fast that she wins every race that she runs.  Like that, Mom?”

Exactly like that, kid.  I guess am totally winning, even if I don’t get that other job for the CIA.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Valentines and Date Night (Jesus-Approved)

It is no secret that I think most holidays are contrived by the powers that be to boost the economy through the sale of needless crap that does not actually mean that a person loves you.  There is most likely a Kay Jewelers in every mall in hell.  Gifts do not equal love.

Say that in your head one more time because it is important.  Gifts do not equal love.

Loving behavior equals love.  Lots of loving behaviors.  Over time.  And rocky terrain.  And loving behaviors on sunny days and during the fun stuff and in the middle of all of the excitement too.  Lots and lots of loving behavior equals love.  Gifts do not equal love.

I will, however, make an exception to my rant to allow sarcastic valentines to squeak in.  I can definitely get on board with these.  I might even go so far as to say that these valentines would count as a little bit of love.  May I suggest a few that should be sent from my family?

From Kid E:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.08.46 AMFrom Kid D:

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From Kid C:

2_Valentines-Day-cards

From Kid B:

images-3From Kid A:

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From Sheepdog:

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Now that’s what I call love, folks.  Lots and lots and lots of love.

*****

A few weeks back I went online and purchased tickets to a predicted train wreck of a movie for Sheepdog and I to see this Valentine’s weekend.  The very popular book series that inspired said film had proven to be a key ingredient to a very memorable vacation for us a few years back in Cabo San Lucas.  Given that we are not going on that trip to Mexico this year, and the fact that Sheepdog tethers himself to the thought of that week as if it were an actual life source, I figured I would throw him a bone(r).  Mr. Grey will see you now.

And then I thought it would be nice to invite my sisters and their husbands to the theater as well.  So I texted them about it.

50 Shades text

Between happily married, consenting adults, that is.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.  Sheepdog’s not going to need any.  He’s got 50 Shades of Lucky coming his way.

Christmas Come and Gone…

In the history of Christianity and the modern world (and without thinking about it too hard), I can not for the life of me come up with another single day for which there are so many preparations, so much forethought, such grand anticipation, and so much egg nog.  The planning, the lists, the shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, stamping, mailing, decorating… all for ONE SINGLE DAY.  And it happens every single year!

I get it.  I really do…  I am trying to hold true to the real reason for the season, while still making special memories for my family.  Don’t overdo it, but don’t make your kids feel like freaks because all they got from Santa was an orange.  I mean, I read John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas.  I get it.

This year, I approached Christmas with calm.  I figured I’d aim for yin and things would all balance out in the end.  I had sprained my ankle in a freak (okay, slightly drunken) slippery, gravel road incident on Thanksgiving, so I had an actual reason not to do a lot of running around anyway.  I worked hard (fortunately, it didn’t take much) to keep the joy of Christmas in my heart every day and to spread that joy to all* I met.

(* Except for that one lady in the parking lot near Homegoods.  There was a bit of a car jam at the traffic light and she didn’t wish to wait.  In the meantime, my cell phone rang and I answered it manually before switching to Bluetooth.  The red light lasted for, oh, about a decade, so her impatience just kept mounting and mounting.  She directed it all at me and screamed through her windshield, “HANG UP YOUR PHONE!  I AM CALLING THE POLICE!”  I was like, “It is a red light.  I’m not even driving.”  So she all-caps yelled at me again.  I may have misplaced my yin a little when I yelled back at her (just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), “Fine!  You’re calling the cops?  Great.  Tell them I said, ‘Hi’!”  Then I laughed out loud and mouthed to her, “You do see the irony in the fact that you are PICKING UP YOUR OWN PHONE to call the police and tell on me for being on the phone, RIGHT?”  And then the light turned green.  Merry Christmas, Lady.)

It has taken a full week for me to recover from my family’s awesome Christmas.  And it truly was awesome.  I am a very lucky girl.

Today is New Year’s Day.  It is the day that represents starting over and clean slates and all things NEW.  I am not a big New Year’s Eve partier anymore, so I usually wake up early on January 1st and I get to enjoy all of the newness by myself for a little while.  It is one of my favorite mornings of the whole year.

So, here for your enjoyment is the Swiger Family Christmas card for 2014.  I know I’m a whole week or so late, but it does say, “Happy 2015” on the back.  Technically, I guess I am scootching in on the tail end.

Swiger 2014

Swiger 2014 - back

But I’d like to think that I am actually sneaking in at the beginning of the NEW.  May 2015 bring you joy and hope and lots of opportunities to live the life that makes you happy.

Wish me luck for 2015…

 

Traditionally Speaking

The question has always stumped me.  I have never come up with a really good answer.  My whole life, I have always been flummoxed when someone puts me to the task of explaining my family traditions or heritage-related stuff.  I guess it is because I wasn’t really raised in any kind of specific, culturally rich atmosphere.

We only spoke one language in my house.  I didn’t have a crazy grandmother always yelling things in Greek or Italian or Chinese at me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I definitely had a crazy grandmother.  It’s just that she yelled, “Dammit!  Who hid my cigarettes again?” and “Don’t be a beer counter, you little jerk!” in English.  Nobody came to America on a boat or was smuggled in a truck (or even flew here on a plane for that matter) for at least a few generations back.  We definitely didn’t celebrate any holidays that weren’t pre-marked in red or depicted in the monthly picture on the linen hand towel calendar in the kitchen.

If Snoopy wasn't drinking a margarita, how were we supposed to know to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

If Snoopy and Woodstock were slinging back sunflowers instead of margaritas, how were we supposed to know to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

There was always talk that my father’s side of the family was German along with some other Western European sprinkles (French, English) and my mother’s side was similar, minus the German, and somehow plus some Native American.  I think that my ancestors have lived on American soil for a really long time, but honestly I’ve never actually entered my credit card information on ancestry.com to confirm or find out otherwise.  I don’t know what is true and what is made up.  I have always just considered myself kind of a cultural mutt.  And I am okay with that.

Until Thanksgiving, that is.

‘Tis the season for unveiling your cultural relevance and family traditions.  The friends with whom we will be celebrating Thanksgiving asked how we could incorporate ours with theirs.  This year my parents and two of my sisters and their families are going on a cruise in the Carribbean.  I was just going to watch football and make stuffing from the box, so… um, just run with yours.  Most of my kids are working on homework assignments and projects that involve where they came from and how we as a family celebrate that.  I think that the kids are as frustrated about the family void when it comes to this subject as I was, so they are finally employing some creative license to get the job done.

Kid B was given the assignment by her Spanish teacher to make and explain a traditional, cultural recipe as it applies to her family.  She asked if she could instead make an old, family dessert recipe* that would represent our heritage, even though it had nothing to do with us maybe being slightly German-English-French-1/16th Cherokee.  The teacher said go for it.

So Kid B went to the grocery store and got the ingredients for cookie dough, a box of Oreos, and a brownie kit.  She mixed them individually, layered the cookie dough on the bottom, covered it with the Oreos, and then spread the brownie mix on top.  And, voila… a batch of “slutty brownies” was made.  Yes, that’s really what they are called due to the wicked threesome of ingredients.

According to family lore, you can make them even sluttier by adding a layer of dulce de lece before the brownies.

According to ancient family lore, you can make them even sluttier by adding a layer of dulce de lece before the brownies.

So now I guess, traditionally speaking, I can finally say we have a cultural identity.  And I am okay with that, although I do hope it translates to something a little nicer in Spanish.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

*Slutty brownies are not, in fact, any kind of old, family recipe.  I have never made them in my life.  As far as I know, they started going around the internet a few years ago.  They are both easy to make and sinfully delicious.  Kid B was just looking for an excuse to make them.

This Is Just Not Funny

Yesterday was the first day of April, or as I would rather call it, March 32nd.  I am not really a big fan of the pranks and jokes and general tomfoolery that accompany this particular calendar day.  I never remember that it is April Fool’s until it is too late and by then I have fallen for a handful of pranks completely, thus becoming a literal fool (archaica person who is duped).  Or, I see right through people’s trickeration and have to pretend.  So, nope.  I’m not really a fan.

But my kids are a whole different story.

A few years ago Kid B contributed to this blog by posting about her favorite pastime… pranking her siblings (Kid B Uses Her Powers For Evil).  Kid C, Kid D, and Kid E seem to have gone the way of Wazaah, so they spent a good part of yesterday afternoon hiding each other’s shoes and pillows.  It was all very annoying, especially at bedtime harmless and funny and made everybody giggle.  Even I couldn’t keep my icy heart from melting each and every time I heard Kid D yell out “APRIL FOOL’S!” followed by a giant guffaw.  He was on a roll by dinnertime.

Sheepdog had ridden his bike to work yesterday, so he came in through the basement workshop and not the kitchen door when he got home last night.  He showered first and then joined us for dinner.  When he came upstairs, he had the remnants of panic smeared across his face.  Then he greeted us with, “Are you TRYING to kill me?”

Apparently, the pranksters got to him too.

This shit is not funny.

This shit is just not funny.

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…

This is Not a Post About Resolutions

Well, with the “winter break” (Ha!  Raise your hand if you actually feel any kind of post-vacation bliss right about now.  Nobody?  Me neither.  How about if I ask who feels “winter broken?”  Yep… me too.) drawing to a close, things are starting to get back to “normal” around here.

I fully acknowledge the overuse of quotation marks in that opening statement.  Cut me some slack as I ease back into this writing thing.

Sheepdog is spending more time at the office, the teenagers are slowly backing off from sleeping during business hours more than nighttime ones, and the littles are walking around like zombies, muttering “I’m hungry” and “I’m sooooooo bored” even after they have eaten us out of house and home and played their way through every single clamshell case and blister package that found its way under our Christmas tree.

What?  Those were legitimate quotes.  Compulsory marks do not count.

So, after just ONE MORE DAY of winter break, Sheepdog will go to work and the kids will go to school and I will…  I will…

Wait.

What will I do?  What will I do?  What will I do?

What will I do?

There are no more decorations to put up or take down.  There are no more presents to buy or wrap or deliver (well, Kid A does have her 18th birthday coming up in a few days, but how do you even begin to wrap a tattoo?).  There are no more goodies to make or bake or eat.  There are no more envelopes to address and cards to mail, no more trips to pack for (or unpack from), no more holiday parties to plan or attend.  It’s like November and December are 100-mile-an-hour months in a BMW hard-top convertible (sometimes with the top down…BRRRR, Green Bay!) – fun but fast.  Then in January you can’t go over 50 m.p.h. because you are driving around in one of those exclusively electric cars, like a Nissan Leaf.

Seriously, what will I do?

SAHM-meme1

Fortunately, there is always something to do around here.  Mostly, there are chores… shopping for, preparing, and cleaning up after meals, laundry, cleaning out closets and the garage to make room for our holiday haul.  Then there’s the driving… lots and lots and lots of driving.  And sometimes I have to take care of sick kids.  And following the hustle and bustle of November and December, I now have to add “pay many, many bills,” “exercise,” and then “exercise some more because you sure didn’t ever say ‘no’ to the shrimp fondue or the wine, dummy” to my To-Do ASAP list.

All legitimate quotes, dammit.

So, I have all of the boring, repetitive stuff, but I also have some fun stuff coming up too.  I plan on being really committed to my attempts at writing a book this year.  I started in November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which challenges people to write over 50,000 words during the month, using inspirational quotes and emails and a really unrealistic timeline.  I wrote a chapter (a good one!) during the first few days, but nobody showed up at my front door to rough me up or chase me if I didn’t keep it up, so then I did the other things first that were higher on my priority list.  Seriously, who has time to flesh out the back story of a secondary, yet pivotal, character while they are simultaneously basting a turkey and making cranberry sauce from actual cranberries and agave nectar for 30 people?

"Ain't nobody got time for that." - Sweet Brown

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” – Sweet Brown

But I do have time to continue to keep up this blog and occasionally write chapters of a book that has been knocking around in my head for years.  Especially during January.

And then there is my workout routine, which over the years has been spotty at best, and non-existent if I’m being realistic.  I have two workout speeds… maniacal and eating raw cookie batter when nobody is watching.  Acknowledging that unhealthy discrepancy, and the fact that I have been blessed with an extremely responsive overall body type, I have decided that 2014 is going to be the year for me to stop making excuses and screwing around and I am going to get healthy.  Even if nobody chases me.

When I go to Atlanta Blood Services to donate platelets, my body can produce three bags at one time.  Every time.  No kidding.  And that is apparently not a normal thing.  I am freakishly strong.  I once moved a couch and a love seat from the living room on the main floor down to the playroom in the basement all by myself.  And then I carried two ginormous leather chairs up the stairs.  I grew five healthy babies from scratch in this body (with a little starter help from Sheepdog, of course), and helped them grow even stronger and healthier by breastfeeding them.  And a year after I had Kid E, I did P90X and I was legitimately rocking a bikini on the beach.  I just got lazy and let things slide after that.  And that’s just wasteful.

Well, no more.  No more sliding, no more excuses, no more cookie batter.  Santa brought me P90X3 and I’m going to go push play.  Right after I finish this post and fold the laundry.

I’m just keeping it “real,” folks.

OK, I’m done with the quotation marks now.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…