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…

Things We Share and Things We Keep to Ourselves

As it so happens, more often than not these days, it was just me and the boys at home on Friday night.  Kid C was sleeping at a friend’s house, Kid B was at the high school to watch baseball and soccer games, and Kid A was at a meet and greet for her currently number one college choice (Go Jackets!).  Sheepdog was working late.

I wanted to make a nice dinner since I hadn’t cooked very much since we got back from our vacation.  I bought some steaks and planned to grill them for Sheepdog and myself after I put the boys to bed.  The boys, however, were getting peanut butter sandwiches and calling it a night.  I wasn’t wasting good, grass-fed beef on those ingrates (“It takes too many bites for me to chew it all up!“).  No problem.  More yummy cow for me and your father.

But first, I needed to take a shower.  If you’re going to woo your husband, you need to start with the basics (although ‘dirty’ is rarely a deterrent when it comes to my husband and lovin’).

So I spread the peanut butter, poured the milk, and turned on the SpongeBob.  I set the boys up for success and asked them to please give me ten minutes.  Don’t answer the phone.  Don’t answer the door.  No one goes in or out.  No couch jumping, stair diving, or playing baseball in the living room.  Please try not to hit your head on anything (it happens more often that you can imagine).  Come get me immediately if someone is choking.

I went upstairs.  And miracle of all miracles, I actually got to take an uninterrupted, hot shower.  I even shaved my legs.

I came back downstairs and praised both boys for their excellent behavior and ability to follow directions.  Their faces beamed and their chests swelled from the accolades.  Then I noticed a notepad sitting out on the counter.  I asked Kid D if he was starting a new grocery list.

“Oh, no, Mom, ” said Kid D, matter-of-factly. “Someone knocked on the door while you were in the shower.”

“…aaaaand?…” I prompted him to link it back to the notepad by waving it about in the air.  “Who was at the door and what exactly did you do?”

“A man was at the door.  I didn’t know who he was.”

Awesome.

“So I told him to hold on a minute and I came in here and wrote a note.”

Oh, crap.

“And then I took it to the door and held it up for him to see.  And I never opened the door, Mom.  Because I know that I am not supposed to ever open the door without you right here.  I just showed him the note.  The man smiled and said he would come back later.”

"Gary was just taking a shit."  Bathroom meeting, Weird Science (1985)

“Gary was just taking a shit.” Bathroom meeting scene, Weird Science (1985)

It says, “My mom is in the bathroom.”  Apparently, I need to teach some more stranger danger lessons around here.  And maybe a lesson or two about “things we share and things we keep to ourselves.”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

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

About an hour later, I received a message on Facebook from a friend in the neighborhood.

Mystery man identified.

Who Is In Control Here?

Tuesday ended up being one of those days.  It started off per usual (fighting with Kid E over wearing a winter coat as he headed out the door into, um… what’s that word… WINTER!) and then I did a deceptive little workout called “Isometrix” (I felt almost nothing while I was doing it.  I didn’t even break a sweat, really.  Then, throughout the day and night, I started to totally feel very painful things in places that I forgot I had…).  By midday, I had done my chores, my workout, and I even showered and ran an errand.  I was just about to wonder “What will I do,” when I got an email regarding an urgent request to completely redo the program for a ballet that Kid A and Kid C are performing in this weekend.

It was just me and another mom who make up the Program Committee, so I spent the next few hours mocking up a new one, and then I edited and sent it out for review.  It was a crazy afternoon of paying attention to small details of the program, all while fielding questions about homework, whether so-and-so could come over to play or Kid D could go to his house, responding to requests to make snacks and what was for dinner, as well as getting Kid C to focus and get ready for ballet class on time (Kid A was driving her right after she got home from her tutoring job), and then driving Kid B to her boyfriend’s basketball game before picking Kid D up from his playdate (on time, because last time I almost left him over there…seriously).  Oh, and we were out of milk and stupid Aunt Flo just knocked on my door three days early.

When Sheepdog got home that night, my head was spinning.  He could tell just by looking at me.  I was speaking at high volume and with excessive speed.  I moved about the kitchen like I had eight arms.  I was still doing too many things at one time, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to gear down.  I even predicted the full moon before the sun went down.  So Sheepdog reminded me to take some deep breaths… like a million of them.  I did, and I felt better.  The wine helped too.

screen shot

I had prepared a delicious dinner with my octopus arms and everybody who was home sat down to eat together.  During dinner I announced to everyone  – despite the craziness of the day – I felt like I passed the test.  It had been hard, and my body and mind ached all over, but I had kicked one of those days in its bootie.  Yay, me!  I won this day!  Yesterday was not so good, and who knows about tomorrow, but I felt like I won this day!  On this day, I was in control.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling really strong after a great night’s sleep.  I got in another fantastic workout (this one was not sneaky at all… it was quite forthright in its delivery of pain and sweat), showered, and went over to my neighbor’s house to hear about her new business.  I met some interesting women over there, and I ended up having a really good time.  I came home, ate a healthy lunch, and soon the boys were bounding off of the school bus and into the house.

Kid D was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework, and Kid E was eating (something other than a peanut butter sandwich… Hallelujah! for another small victory in the food wars) when my cell phone rang.  Caller ID said it was one of my friends from the neighborhood.  Our daughters play soccer on the same team and we do a ton of carpooling and soccer travel together.

As soon as I answered I heard the fear and panic and tears in her voice.  She was driving home from work early because her house was on fire.  She had no idea what would be waiting for her when she arrived.  None of the people in her family were home at the time, but she didn’t think that they were able to get her two dogs out in time.

Oh my goodness.  What can I do?  What can I do?  What can I do?

I was scheduled to pick up the girls after high school soccer conditioning later that afternoon.  She asked me to give her some warning when we were on our way so she could prepare her teenage daughter for the devastating news.  Her boyfriend ended up coming to get her before practice ended because word of the fire had started to spread on social media and they didn’t want her to find out that way, but I, like so many people in our neighborhood and the surrounding communities, have spent the time since I heard the news praying for the family and wondering “what if…”

My head had gone right back to spinning.

Fully aware of my life-long fear about house fires, Sheepdog texted me the next morning and asked how well I had slept.

photo 1

photo 2

That Sheepdog sure is a smart one.

So I’m taking deep breaths, and praying for my friends and about my fears, and I am (trying to) let it go.  And tonight at dinner – despite the craziness of the day or not – I am going to announce to everyone at the table that I am not in control, and that’s even better than what I said before.

Our amazing neighborhood has put together several ways to help our friends in their time of need.  Please pray for them, but you can also help in other ways if you are so inclined.  Email me for further information at tihidiblog@gmail.com.  Rest in peace Layla and Bella.

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…

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…

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…