10-4, Master Yoda

Sick kids.  Last-minute Christmas panic.  More sick kids.  Angry, grouchy people everywhere.  Now I’m starting to feel sick.  Everybody wants something from me.  Full moon coinciding with another especially wicked and unholy round of PMS.  Sheepdog is sleeping with one eye open, just in case.

But I refuse to let it bring me down.  I am going to enjoy the crap out of this Christmas season, dammit, no matter what it takes.  There ARE good things happening all around me.  Sometimes I just have to look extra hard in order to find them.

Kid E finally caught a version of whatever ick it was that landed Kid D in the emergency room last week for IV fluids and some anti-nausea medicine.  Fortunately, he didn’t have it nearly as bad, but he was home from school and laying on the couch this week, wrenching my plans to get stuff done during the countdown to Christmas.  And, since he is a kid-in-training, who follows and copies almost everything his older brother does down to the last dangerous couch flip, he, too, asked to have a walkie-talkie by his side so he could call me whenever he “needed” something during his convalescence.

I set him up for success… he was tucked in and his pillow was fluffed, with fluids, toys, and all of his electronics within reach.  Plus, I had queued up Star Wars V in the Blu-ray.  I was crossing my fingers that he didn’t feel the need to use the dreaded walkie talkie.

Star Wars is a fairly recent obsession for Kid E, although he has dabbled a bit in the past.  The original trilogy comes on TV every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so I always record it.  As a result, the kids have seen IV, V, and VI at least a time or two.  Eventually, I just bought the DVDs.  Back in 1977, Star Wars IV was the very first movie I ever saw in the theater (just a seven-year-old me and my seven-year-old date, Kevin Mc), and I immediately fell in love (with the movie, not the boy).  We played Star Wars for hours upon hours.  I am fan for life.  Of Star Wars.  I haven’t seen Kevin Mc since my wedding to Sheepdog in 1993.  I wonder what he’s doing now.

Anyway… Sheepdog shares my love of the franchise, but being much more cerebral than I, he tends to lean more toward analyzing the movies rather than re-enacting the scenes with toys.  Here’s the gist of Sheepdog’s thoughts on Star Wars… Anakin Skywalker’s choice to join the Emperor/ Darth Sidious and the rest of the bad guys as Darth Vader the Sith Lord is a metaphor for the struggles that an alcoholic faces on a daily basis.  Yoda even warned him, “Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”  It is a very compelling theory and I’m sure he would talk about it in depth with anyone who is interested.  Me? I really like the toys.

Fortunately for me, my kids really like the toys too.  Especially Kid E.

"Truly wonderful the mind of a child is," Yoda agrees.

“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” – Master Yoda

So, sick Kid E is all set and I ask one last time (sure it is) if he needs anything before I go do stuff.  He shakes his head and gets to the movie watching.

I settled into my chores and was on a roll in no time.  I couldn’t run errands, but I could tackle the things that were waiting for me around the house, and there was quite a lengthy list.  But I was finally getting stuff done.  I was on fire!

Then it started.  Blip, went the walkie talkie.

“Mom!?!”

Blip.

I took a deep breath and responded on the handheld unit, even though he was in the very next room and I could hear him yelling at me through the open door.

Blip.

“I’m here, honey.”

Blip.

Blip.

“Mom!  They are in the swamp, Mom!  R2-D2 went missing for a while, but Luke found him and they are in the swamp now, Mom!”

Blip.

OK.  So, he doesn’t need anything, but I am still going to get a play-by-play of the movie.  Whether I like it or not.

Blip.

“Mom?”

Blip.

“Did you hear me?” he yelled from the other room.  His hand had fallen off the button before he was done annoying me talking.  I took another deep breath.

Blip.

“10-4.  I did hear you, sweet boy.  Thank you for telling me what was happening on a movie I have seen no less than one hundred times.”

Blip.

Blip.

Static.  Blip.  His sweaty hand must have slipped again, because whatever diatribe he had next came from the next room, not through the walkie talkie.  Ugh.  I got up to go talk to him face to face.  He was still explaining something when I sat down next to him.

“You know, you have to hold down that button the whole time you are speaking, not just when you start.” I said to my little, sick boy, who I noticed was buried under his blanket on the couch, surrounded by toys and all of his gear.  And this time I really looked at him… his face was pale and he had circles under his eyes.  His color was off, too.  He was trying so hard to get better, mostly because he knew how much stuff I had to get done before next Wednesday.  I had certainly said it enough times.

Well, crap.

I told him I’d be right back.  I went into my office and turned off my computer.  I put away my files and turned off the lights.  I was done for the day.  Nothing else was important.

I went back into the living room and I climbed under the blanket with my little, sick boy and we cuddled as we watched the rest of the movie.

"You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." - Master Yoda

“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace.  Passive.  A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” – Master Yoda

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…

Whiplash

“Mom!  I can’t find my North Face jacket.  I think I left it in North Carolina.”

“Mom, my elf didn’t do anything last night.”

“(via text) We need to discuss 2014.  Let’s talk tonight.”

“Stacy, I swear to God, if you don’t get me your Christmas lists right now, I’m gonna make you buy all your own shit.”

It is December.  The smell of fried turkey may still linger in the garage, but Thanksgiving 2013 is already a distant memory.

It is December: put up tree and decorate house http://www.amazon.com buy Sheepdog some egg nog design Christmas cards remind kids of real reason for the season ask them for wish lists Nutcracker end of season team party ding-dong (www.amazon.com delivery) make and refrigerate cookie dough watch “Love, Actually” design photo calendars for family presents class party money collection for bus drivers buy Sheepdog more egg nog ask kids for better wish lists (no, you may not ask for cash) http://www.amazon.com go to stores for things not available on amazon label and stamp and mail Christmas cards decorate gingerbread houses money collection for teachers buy dress for Sheepdog’s law firm’s holiday party buy snowman tablecloths and small water bottles and help with wintry craft at another class party watch “Elf” ding-dong (another http://www.amazon.com delivery) wrap presents Toys for Tots go see Santa get hair cut and colored need to buy Sheepdog more nog go to Sheepdog’s law firm’s holiday party bake cookies drive around to look at lights wrap presents hide presents http://www.amazon.com because there is not an even distribution of presents watch “Rudolph” cousins pollyanna party unwrap presents pack suitcases pack presents pack Christmas socks (that’s what Kid E calls our stockings) ding-dong (whew – glad that last delivery made it in time!) wrap presents hide presents make more cookies because we tore through the first batch Christmas Eve remind kids (again) of real reason for the season visit family deliver presents Christmas Magic wake up early run down stairs make strong coffee open presents open more presents finish off second batch of cookies and egg nog while sitting in sea of crinkled wrapping paper plastic toys electronics and happy faces.  Count our many, many blessings.  Whew.

Stress over Christmas bonus

Don’t forget to stress over the Christmas bonus

It is December.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Choices

Back when we were in college, Sheepdog and I (both separately before we met, and together after we knew one another better) contemplated joining the military.  We were both a little lost and confused and didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up and we saw something in that organization that appealed to our sense of order and honor and patriotism (oh, and Sheepdog wanted to shoot stuff for a living and I liked the idea of shaving my head, but the first few answers sounded a little less crazy when we said them out loud).  We could have furthered our education, learned real world skills and gotten some desperately needed direction and self-discipline, too.  We had a choice, but the Man With The Plan had different ideas for us, and neither of us ended up enlisting.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

It is an issue that weighs on me at times.  I know it weighs on Sheepdog too.  Should I have joined?  What would my life be like now if I had?  Why didn’t I make the choice to do it?  I could have made a tangible contribution to society.  Why wasn’t I more bold and courageous?  What if everybody made excuses like I am making?  What kind of America would we be living in today?

I have come up with different answers to those questions over the years.  I still meditate on the “what ifs” from time to time and harbor some guilt over it, but I am pretty comfortable with the decision I made to not join the military.  My reassurance primarily comes from believing that if I had made the choice to join, I likely would not have married Sheepdog and we wouldn’t have the family and life we have right now.  And we are still able to make positive contributions toward our community and society.  And even though we had to learn the hard way many of the life lessons that we would have learned early on during the course of our military training, this is the life that God intended for me to have.  And it is a very good one indeed.

So, right now I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who have made the choice to serve our country in the past and those who are still serving right now.  Your sacrifices are appreciated more than you’ll ever know.  You made I choice that I could and did not.  I am happy about the choice that I made, but I am also very grateful for the choice that you made.  God bless our veterans and God bless America.

images

Source: Google Images

The Scariest Thing

I have already told you all how I tortured myself by watching scary movies as a kid (Friday the Thirteenth).  I watched almost every scary movie they made.  I did it by myself, in the dark, and usually while babysitting.  As a result, I was SO FREAKING SCARED of everything, all the time.  Scared to be home alone, scared to open the shower, scared to close the medicine cabinet, scared to go camping, scared to go to sleep, scared to swim, scared to drive at night, scared to make out in a parked car (just kidding… I still did that).

But over the years I have gotten smarter and I stopped watching the scary movies.  I saw The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense (those were really the last horror movies I intentionally sat down to watch all the way through), but they were from last century.  I won’t even look at the previews for Paranormal Activity, or The Ring, or Mama, or the one where there is a really creepy old lady in Harry Potter’s window.  I just won’t watch them anymore.  And – funny thing – I’m not as scared of everything as I once was.

Except that I am.

I don’t know who I’m trying to fool.  I am no longer a teenager driving around the woods in the back of a pickup truck, looking for the Jersey Devil.  I am no longer the girl kissing a boy in a Nissan Pulsar in an empty church parking lot.  I am no longer the babysitter who answers the phone and fears that the call is coming from inside the house.  I am no longer any of these people.  I have evolved and changed.  I am different.  Now, I am a grownup.  Now, I am a wife.  Now, I am a mother, five times over.

And parenthood is by far the scariest thing ever.

"It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes." - Norman Bates, Psycho (1960).

“It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes.” – Norman Bates, Psycho (1960).

Happy Halloween!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

I Say It’s My Birthday

It seems like turning 16 just happened to me yesterday.  Well,  for that matter, so does turning 21, 30, 40, and even 42, but… man.  What are the odds that I would wake up today and it is my birthday once again?

One in three hundred and sixty-five, give or take.

Birthdays usually make me nostalgic.  They make me contemplative.  The put me in the mood to evaluate where I’ve been and where I am and where I want to go.  They remind me that everybody is getting older and that time is passing and that life goes on even though we are all going to die eventually.

chickenglass

I’m just kidding about the last part, even though it is true.  If you didn’t know already, I’m one of those pessimists masquerading as an optimist, with a heaping dose of sarcasm sprinkled on top.

Anyway, I have decided this year to forego the standard contemplation exercises of life and death and accomplishments and failures.  I shall instead spend the day making the most of it and enjoying the heck out of it and treating myself like a queen, like so many of my very smart Facebook friends have suggested already.  The kids all gathered in the kitchen before school and presented me with an awesome card that they made, which made me very happy and smiley-faced for a multitude of reasons.  Especially because one kid felt the need to sign his full name, because… “Who knows if you will remember who I am?”  I busted out the bread machine and started baking the first honey wheat loaf of the season to go with a tray of lasagna I plan on making for dinner.  And Sheepdog promised me a professional massage (his are decidedly un-professional, I assure you) this weekend.  All good stuff.

After school the kids have tutoring and ballet and baseball and football, so I’ll likely spend many of the evening hours in my car.  But that is okay, because I will use that time to hang out and talk with my goofy kids, making memories and sharing experiences with them.  Likely that will make me want to kill some, if not all, of them by bedtime, so maybe Sheepdog can take over before that happens and I will enjoy a glass of wine or two.  Then Sheepdog and I can hang out and talk before I finally climb into my super-comfy bed, which is getting switched over today with my favorite seasonal down comforter, courtesy of the Frost on the Pumpkin (it was 37 ° when we woke up this morning!).  Hopefully, I will drift off to a  pleasant dream-filled, yet uninterrupted (by children, husband, or the need to pee), full night of sleep.

Now, that sounds like a very Happy Birthday indeed.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

It Never Gets Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

grocery list

Having sisters is awesome.  I sure do love mine.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…