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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

I Blame It All On iOS 7

Since I got such a great response to my last post, I decided to share another story about me jacking stuff up.  Gather ’round, my friends.  It’s a pretty good one…

The very first weekend after I returned from the cruise, Sheepdog and Kid B had to go out of town for a soccer tournament.  I was a little jealous that Sheepdog got to go do all of the fun stuff, but decided to shut my trap because I had just returned from my own fun stuff.  I focused instead on being happy about sleeping in my own bed;  I was totally going to be sleeping spread-eagle in the middle of that king-sized mother.

Friday night was clear and easy, but Saturday was looking to be a doozy of a schedule.  The day was starting very early with baseball pictures that I wasn’t even planning to buy, several kids had to be in different places at the same time on multiple instances throughout the day, and I couldn’t even drink about it because I was the only parent within state lines.

In a glorious turn of events at 6:55 on Saturday morning, I received a text.

“Picture Day has been canceled due to impending rain.”  Sweet.

An hour and a half later I heard another beep from my phone, “Park is closed today.  All games are canceled.  Please stay off the fields.”  Double sweet!  Except for ballet class, which Kid A drives to and from anyway, I had the day off.  It was turning out to be a DVR-catching-up-in-my-pajamas kind of day!  With Sheepdog and Kid B likely playing soccer in the rain, I definitely got the better end of this deal.

The boys were fine with being relegated to the basement to have their own video game marathon, and the girls went off to pirouette and tour jete.

But by mid-morning Kid E started whining.  And he Just.  Would.  Not.  Stop.

I watered and fed him…full belly.  I checked for a fever… nothing.  Had he pooped?  Like clockwork.  I offered to play with him, read to him, snuggle with him… un-uh.  I could not figure out what was wrong.  Technically, he was just being a real pisser.

The only things that remained on our afternoon and evening schedule were parties, and Kid E was supposed to go to one of them.  But there was no way in hell-o I was taking this little twit out in the pouring rain just to have him cling to my leg and act all weird and shy, while the other kids climbed the rock wall and played basketball and had normal, birthday party fun.  And what a great party favor to share… potential illness from one of the other guests.  I decided to text the party mom to tell her we weren’t coming.

I typed her name into my phone.  I thought it was a little weird when I was writing the message that her info came up as “Her Older Son‘s Mom.”  That’s how I put people in my contacts until I actually know them.

Yes, you are ID’d solely by your kid until one or more of the criteria have been met:

  1. We have interacted regularly for a while
  2. More than one of your kids plays with my kid(s)
  3. I feel comfortable enough with you to say “vagina” and/ or “penis” in our conversations

It’s my system and it works.  But it was odd that Party Mom’s ID was so retro… our relationship had surpassed the rules years ago.  She and I have discussed spider bites on balls, for goodness’ sake.  Her name is in my phone.  She earned it.

So I typed in the bail-out message.  I felt like an ass for canceling last minute.  Then, as if on cue, Kid E started throwing another holy fit for no particular reason, so I felt like I was making the right choice.  I took a deep, cleansing breath and typed in two more quick texts.

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Party Mom is a friend who always responds to texts right away.  Sometimes it’s just a stupid emoticon and other times she writes words, but I always know she saw my message.  But this time, I got nothing from her.  I chalked it up to her likely being busy with a six-year-old’s birthday party about to start, and I set off to diffuse my own six-year-old time bomb.  Regardless of my reasons, I still harbored guilt for being a shitty friend who texted we weren’t coming less than 15 minutes before the start of the party.

An hour and a half later I got this message back:

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OMG.  OMG.  OMG.

The reason the name “Her Older Son‘s Mom” came up is because iOS7 pulled her old phone number as the primary cell number from some GD cloud somewhere, even though I deleted it some two years ago.  Shit, I thought, She’s totally pissed at me.  And then, Shit, I thought, She passed her old phone down to her daughter.  I had canceled last minute (and maybe she got charged by the party people for a kid who didn’t even show) AND I texted “douche” to her 5th grader.  I am totally killing it today.

I felt like I was going to throw up, with literal puke in my esophagus.

That message was so cold and formal.  It didn’t really sound like her at all, but maybe I had crossed a line.  Or… OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  What if her daughter got the text and then showed it to Party Mom’s parents or her in-laws because she was busy running the party and one of them sent the response?  Holy hell, I am such a douche.

I immediately texted an apology to Party Mom’s real (I double-checked) cell phone.  The puke stayed right there (puts hands around throat in chokehold) all night.

The next morning I got up and checked my phone.  Still no response to my apology from Party Mom.  I had decided sometime during my totally sleepless night (even being spread-eagle in the middle of the king-sized mother couldn’t help me) that I would go over to her house and apologize in person to her and her daughter because it was the right thing to do.  Then I saw that Party Mom “liked” something of mine on Facebook.

Well, that was weird.  If she was so (rightfully) pissed at me, why would she “like” anything of mine?  My curiosity got the best of me.  I sent her another text.

“Good morning.  Are you still speaking to me?”  She began typing a response immediately.

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The puke slowly started to recede.  I gave her the short-story recap of my douche-baggery, in all of its glory.  And this is what she texted back to me:

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I blame it all on iOS 7.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Well, crap.

So I have heard that nobody can watch the first video because of an error on YouTube regarding copyright infringement.  Which sucks because I paid for every single song I used in that video (don’t ever steal music, kids).  So now you can’t see how awesome I am at moviemaking (Shout out: iMovie!).  I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Or maybe this will work (I do not give up easily)…

Happy 2013!

Hello, friends!  Oh, how I have missed you all.  And I have missed writing my stories, but you know the drill… December is a big, fat, hairy beast.  And it defeats me every single year.  It is my white whale (Call me Five Baby Mama).

I did my best to make our holidays uncomplicated, yet memorable.  Full of quality family time, but not so much that we feel the need to move to a deserted island with no forwarding address afterwards.  I did the planning and decorating and shopping and wrapping and delivering in small increments all month long so I wouldn’t be stuck down in the basement at 2AM on December 24th with nothing but scotch tape holding my eyelids open while I tried to assemble some crazy plastic contraption with more parts than there are letters in the Chinese alphabet.  But December still got the best of me.

The kids started getting sick back at Thanksgiving.  I have hand-outs from our pediatrician with the following titles… the stomach flu, croup, infectious mononucleosis, and pneumonia.  Fortunately, there was no cross-contamination and everyone got their own special disease.  Trust me, that did not happen by accident!  And they were all sick at different times, so the “sickiness” seemed to last forever.  A big shout-out to Kid B for staying healthy!

Then came December 14th and my heart broke so hard and loud that I felt it on the outside of my body.  I don’t normally watch the news because it feeds my anxieties in a very unhealthy way, but no one could escape the horror story.  My tears did not stop falling.  They still haven’t.

Then came Christmas Eve and our new family tradition of Chick-Fil-A and peppermint milkshakes, and our old traditions of Sheepdog re-telling the story of Jesus’ birth and me reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and putting out a note and cookies for Santa.  Our Christmas morning was full of smiles and hugs and Skype and wrapping paper and joyful noises.  We are very, very, very blessed.

Kid A asked Santa for a vintage typewriter for Christmas.  The Big Guy delivered an awesome one with keys en Espanol

Kid A asked Santa for a vintage typewriter for Christmas. The Big Guy delivered an awesome one with keys en Espanol.  Click, Clack, Moo (egg nog).

Then, since I couldn’t manage to get out of it, we had Christmas dinner for thirty people at our house.  No, I’m not kidding.  We had to find thirty places for thirty heineys to sit and eat.  And we managed to pull it off!  So on the night of December 25th, Sue, Tom, Bonnie, Joe, Tooker, Josh, Stacy, Ellie, Braden, Molly, Abby, Cal, Cam, Keri, Charlie, Foster, Luke, Nora, Rob, Kelli, Wilson, Phoebe, Mallory, Quincy, Brandon, Becky, Brady, Cooper and Eden all listened (most without giggling, although Brandon always fails at this) as Reverend Bob gave the blessing.  Then we sat down and ate together and laughed and shared stories and memories and made some new ones too.

And speaking of holiday memories… one of my biggest projects this December came in the form of a request from my dad.

Many, many years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, he fell deeply in love with a girl named Sue Speed.  He loved her so much that he asked her to marry him when they were just nineteen years old.  And being a dumb boy, he did it in a fairly unplanned, unromantic way… in the backseat of a car, with his pregnant teenage sister and her baby daddy up front driving.  In the middle of the Cardiff Circle.  Luckily, Sue Speed loved him back so much that she said YES anyway, and they have been together ever since.

But my dad has always regretted not having proposed with more style (partly because my mom tells him he should).  So, this Christmas he had my cousin Ashley design my mom a fabulous new ring, with both old stones and new ones too, and he asked for his daughters’ help in planning a new and improved proposal that would knock her socks off.  And we did it.  We gathered together as many old (and some new) pictures of our family’s Christmas memories and I put together a DVD that showed them off and then featured our Top 10, with Number 1 being the lame proposal (which we so fabulously re-created using Rob and Kelli as “Uncle Bobby” and “Aunt Janice”), and at the end my dad turned to the camera and asked for a re-do.

We played the DVD on Christmas Day when all thirty of us were gathered together and at the end my dad walked over to my mom and re-proposed.  He got down on one knee and talked about everlasting love and still getting excited to see her when he was driving home from work every day and it was sweet and romantic and my mom thought he was nuts.  Luckily, she still loves him back so much that she accepted once again.

So, here for your viewing pleasure is the fruit of my labor and a peek into our crazy family antics…

And then I recorded the new proposal…

I am so proud to be a part of this big, goofball family.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Here’s to happiness and health in the new year.  Wish me luck in 2013…

The Holiday Wrench

I did all of the laundry so everybody would have clean clothes to pack.  I charged the pump so we could blow up the air mattress for somebody to sleep on when we got there.  I filled the gas tank in the truck so we could get up this morning at 3 A.M. and just drive.  I did a little early Christmas shopping for some bigger items so we could drive them up instead of shipping them.  I’m not even gonna start on the preparations that Grandma and Grandpa made in anticipation of our Thanksgiving visit… the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, the “little” projects around the house.

Turns out they were all for naught, though, because we have kids.  And kids come with a cornucopia of wrenches that they will throw into the gears of our lives at any given moment.  And because of a sick wrench, the seven of us are all milling around our house in Georgia instead of driving somewhere along I-77 watching (or just listening to, if you sit in the front seat and can’t view the screen) a Disney-Pixar movie right now.

Exactly what we were trying to avoid
*photo courtesy of Google Images*

On Monday, Kid A came home from school in tears.  She was extremely nauseous and on top of that another girl in her lit class had written an essay about her (a very flattering one, not a mean one) that made her extremely emotional.  Since naps are my go-to cure-all, I immediately sent her to bed.  She felt a little better after that, but ended up not going to school on Tuesday because she got worse through the night.  She had a fever and didn’t have the energy to get off of the couch.  She was shaky and dizzy and icky, but I figured whatever it was would run its course and be gone after 24 hours.  So I kept on packing.

But by Tuesday at 5 P.M., while standing amidst 6 fully packed duffel bags (Sheepdog, of course, waits until the very last minute to pack.  He also feels the need to run every article of clothing past me as he does it, despite my insistence that I DO NOT CARE which damn shirt he wears to drive home), 7 winter coats, 7 sets of hats and gloves, 7 pairs of sneakers, 7 backpacks filled with charged electronics and books, a soccer ball, a football, a few baseball gloves and balls, the travel pillows and blankets, the sleeve of DVDs, the camera bag, the snack bag and the drink cooler, Sheepdog and I made the decision to cancel our trip.

The kids’ reactions were similar… all of them were very sad that they wouldn’t be seeing their Grandma and Grandpa, or their aunt and uncle and cousins.  Kid D started to cry inconsolably and he continued through bedtime.  Kid E was mad at me.  But I saw an ever so slight look of relief pass over Kid A’s face when she realized that she wouldn’t have to fake tough for ten hours riding through the ups and downs of the mountain roads while trying not to even think about throwing up even though she would have the Tupperware vomit bowl within her arms’ reach the whole time.  We would also be sitting right next to her the whole time, breathing her sick air and coming into contact with her cooties, pretty much guaranteeing that somebody else would have what she has for the trip home.  It was definitely the right call.

The next call I had to make was to my in-laws, who were vibrating with so much excitement in anticipation of our arrival that I could feel it through the phone lines.  Ironically, our trip to visit them earlier last summer was canceled on their end, as they were all dealing with some sort of plague that we couldn’t take a chance contracting, especially since Kid A’s boyfriend had just had a bone marrow transplant and was extremely immunocompromised.  I was scared that my mother-in-law would be furious or cry or have some sort of extreme reaction that would cause me even more guilt than I was already experiencing, but she was understanding and gracious and so sweet about everything.

So now we are all home.  We have the gift of an unexpected day with nothing much on the schedule.  Kid A is recuperating and we are all keeping our distance.  Kid B went to the movies to see Breaking Dawn Part II (which was AWESOME by the way… best of the series) for the sixteenth time.  Kid C and Kid D are running around in shorts outside playing some sort of bucket, snoochie boochie game.  Kid E is shadowing Sheepdog while he changes the air filters and applies wood putty to a broken door and generally performs a bunch of Sheepdog chores around the house.  I am going to take a much-needed nap.  And tomorrow, as long as everybody has been fever-free for at least 24 hours and nobody shows any signs of being sick, we will join two of my sisters and their families, as well as my mom and dad for Thanksgiving dinner down the street.

I sure hope nobody throws a wrench into that plan.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Put ‘Em Up

I got in a fight and lost.  Against the Sun.

I made an appointment with my dermatologist to have her look at a little thing on my foot back in late February or early March, but when I returned from Cabo I had a tan.  I didn’t want my dermatologist to think that I was some kind of irresponsible sun worshiper, so I canceled the appointment.

Then came the summertime, and I was an irresponsible sun worshipper.  I took the kids to the pool or the beach regularly and, while I sprayed their little backs and fronts and ears and noses and even scalps with hundreds of dollars worth of “the really good stuff,” I will admit that there were some days when I forgot to slather it on my own cheeks.

Summer ended.  My tan faded.  It crossed my mind once or twice to make another appointment with the dermatologist, but other things came up which required my attention.  It was laundry day or dinnertime or someone needed new socks or a new hairbrush or it was someone’s birthday or soccer game or book fair.

That’s weird… “book fair.”  Why did “book fair” just come to the forefront of my consciousness?  Wait a minute.  What day is this?  Oh, crap!  What time is it?  I was supposed to be at the book fair for Kid D ten minutes ago.  See what I mean about the other things taking over?

OK, I’m back.  I barely made it to the media center before his class was shipped out.  When I found him, Kid D was just wandering around with his wish list, looking abandoned and sad.  But it was nothing a few baseball books couldn’t cure.

So I finally got around to making (and going to) an appointment with the dermatologist on Monday.  She told me that my foot thing was nothing and then she did an all over body scan.  While she was staring at my cheek I asked, “Oh, so you like my age spot, do you?”

“Sorry, sweetheart, that’s no age spot…” she responded as she blasted my face with her evil freeze bottle.

Mama said knock you out.

So now I have a nasty cut on my cheek that will take some time to heal.  In the meantime, I am wearing a band-aid over it because it makes me look more like a tough boxer than a dumb sun bunny.  I might even keep the Everlast glove on while I run my errands.  What?  Don’t you judge me.

The doctor confirmed that I am still allowed to go to Cabo in February.  And in the summer I can still go to the pool and the beach too.  I just need to be extra vigilant about anything new or interesting, and I have to remember to put the good stuff on me.  Every single time.

Speaking of time, take some right now and make your own appointment.  Don’t brush me off.

Wait.  “Brush.”  Somebody said something about a brush this morning.  Oh yeah, Kid B broke hers and she needs a new one.  I’ll go to the store right now, I just need to find my boxing glove first.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…