Muscle Groups

Oh, hello there, friend.  How have you been?

So busy.

How are you doing?

So tired.

What’s new with you?

Same old, same old.

 

I often feel like I’m living the life of a celebrity.  A jet-setting, paparazzi-hounded, silver-spoon-in-my-mouth rock star who spends my days doing exotic and exciting things, all while getting pampered and reminded how vital I am to society on the whole.

Oh wait.  Back that up and reverse it.  I’m so bored and tired that I got confused.  I am a stay at home mom.  None of those things applies.  I need a nap.  And a maid.  And some mental stimulation.

I would like to thank the Academy, my fans, and especially my family.  They make me feel important every single day.

I would like to thank the Academy and my fans, but mostly I want to thank my family for making me feel special and important every single day.

The 2013-2014 school year is about to cross the finish line and everybody is throwing stuff at the velcro wall in hopes that something – anything – will stick.  Let’s have a party!  Let’s have a Field Day!  Let’s have a concert, a recital, and double-elimination playoffs!  And please bring four cans of pineapple juice, two tablecloths, a photo of your child holding a sign that says something nice about his teacher, a pair of black Adidas soccer socks, a Bat Mitzvah card, a couple of boy birthday gifts, and a white dress.  And lots and lots of checks.

Meanwhile… my body is rebelling against me.  It grew too many babies from scratch and I am now falling apart so I was secretly convinced that I was dying from my core.  I finally broke down and went to the doctor.  He said he can rebuild me, so there is hope.  I was very excited to think he meant I will be like the Bionic Woman, but there may have been some kind of doctor/patient disconnect.  I guess we’ll see.

And to top it all off, I haven’t even been able grip anything with my hands this past week, let alone type, because I spent three hours last Wednesday power washing my driveway with an unloved machine I borrowed from my brother-in-law, Chuck (Sister B’s husband).  It had a broken wheel hub when I picked it up, and by the time I finally got it working (with the help of my friendly and helpful neighborhood stay-at-home-dad), it had two.  It was bouncing around so much that all of the hoses eventually busted off and sprayed wildly around my yard.  I was covered in mud and dirt and grit and whatever it was I was cleaning off the concrete.  It was like actively pumping gas all morning.  The job wasn’t done but at least I had cleaned the Junior/ Senior Wars “artwork” off of my driveway.  My fine motor skills were collateral damage for almost a week.

In summary, I seem to have lost my mind, my core, and my texting abilities/ pincer grip.  Being the supportive husband that he is, Sheepdog said that he knows a hand exercise to help me work on the latter.  My doctor is fixing my body, so I guess that just leaves my sanity.  And I think that’s probably overrated anyway.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

 

 

Crash and Burn Upon Reentry

I am officially back, both in the real world and here in This Is How I Do It-world.  Great trip.  Fun times.  Incredible experiences that gave me a little of the travel bug.  But for now there will be no more exciting travel-around-the-globe stories that are posted two weeks out because I didn’t have internet (gasp!) when they occurred.  I am back to real-time, this-crazy-shit-happened-yesterday posts.

It is very easy for me to leave behind my roles as  Mrs. Sheepdog/ Five Baby Mama any time I go on a trip like I just did.  Right up until the moment I walk out the door, I am making schedules and washing laundry and planning meals and rides and doctor’s appointments.  But the second I pull out of my driveway, I let go.  I figure that I have done my best at preparing for coverage in my absence, and at that point I no longer have control over what happens.  I just let it all go and really enjoy every second of being away.

It’s the reentry that is usually so much harder.

The other day Sheepdog and I were in the kitchen discussing the kids (ours) and the state of the union (also ours).

Sheepdog confessed, “I don’t like where we are right now.”

Ugh.  You’re killing me, husband.

Sheepdog and I are fine.  We really and truly are.  Even he admitted it later.  I promise that I’m not ignoring any problems or issues so that Sheepdog is going to turn to a sympathetic boob-job at his office for comfort.  It is simply that he is not getting enough of my time right now.  It’s also likely that I’m not giving him enough of my vagina right now (I am hormonal and tired, people; I’m not a sex machine), but mostly he just wants my undivided attention.

But these pesky kids are demanding my attention even more loudly.

How in the world did two weeks away lead to so much craziness?

I won’t bore you with the details, but every single one of our kids has something happening in their lives right this moment that requires my immediate attention.  Nobody is sick or in a major crisis or anything, but there are things happening that I need to deal with, or they could get out of control.  It’s pre-crisis management time.

And I’m doing my job as best I can.  But it is definitely stressing me out.  And making me a little snippy.

To make things worse, my home phone rings about six times a day.  Every single call begins with a pause… and then comes the “exciting news” about a painter/ home improvement/ security company that will be in my neighborhood and would like to tell me all about what they can do to make my life better.  I’ve started to ask them point-blank if they can cure teenage depression, or stop a 3rd grader from calling my kid a “fucker” during playground kickball, or cure cancer… easy stuff like that.  Usually they hang up on me.

One day last week I was wound way up in the throes of crazy.  It was after school and I was emailing a teacher, making dinner, supervising homework, and trying to get somebody dressed and ready for baseball.  We had to be out the door in less than ten minutes and I had at least thirty minutes left of shit to do.

Kid A came home from 121 Reach (high schoolers tutoring middle schoolers) to pick up Kid C because both of them have ballet at the same time.  Even though I told her to be ready by 5PM, she wasn’t.  I was standing half in the kitchen/ half in the garage yelling at her for being inconsiderate, holding a spoon covered in red sauce (I was making lasagna).  Kid A had gone back to her car in a teenage huff because she was definitely going to be late now.  Another sales call came through on the house phone.  The boys were running around the yard throwing a football, but nobody had their shoes on or put their gear in the car, like I asked them to do.  Kid B was moping around the house in the middle of it all.

Next thing I know, an inconspicuous white minivan pulls up to my driveway.  I don’t recognize the car or the driver.  I automatically presume that it is a cleaning service or a painter about to put rocks or tape on my newly painted mailbox and I scream at her from the garage, “DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN THAT MAILBOX!” in an admittedly scary, I-am-so-about-to-lose-it-on-you tone.

The woman looks at me quizzically.  Then she says innocently and apologetically, “I was just dropping off an invitation for my daughter’s birthday…”

Well, didn’t I feel like a complete and absolute jackass?

I dismissed the tardy Kid C to Kid A’s car, shook my head and took a very deep breath.  I apologized as best I could to the innocent bystander.  “I’m sure you’re going to totally want to have my kid come to your party now!”  She laughed nervously, said, “No worries” and waved goodbye.

Turns out, I agree with Sheepdog.  “I don’t like where we are right now.”

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Wish me luck for tomorrow…

A Mother of a Holiday

“That’s it!”

“I have had ENOUGH!”

“I am not going to put up with you ingrates any more!”

“If I have to say it one more time, my head will explode!”

“OK, I’m done.  You have broken me.  Are you happy now?”

So, it’s been fun at our house the past few days.  Please, sense my extreme sarcasm.  I have said all of the above, or comparable paraphrases, at least once in the past 24 hours.  I don’t know if it is a full moon rising or shark week right around the corner, or what, but I am a right angry mother.

Kid D has been home sick all week.  It is not his fault that he is sick, but for-the-love-of-all-things-holy, why do boys have to be so freaking needy when they are sick?  It is a cough and some mild puking.  It’s nothing to get in a kerfluffle about.  I realize that the whining is a genetic male defect, and I know that you’re bored, but please let me sit on the toilet without you knocking on the door so you can tell me that Craig Kimbrel had his 100th save against the Giants last night, and he’s the second youngest pitcher in the MLB to do it, and you’re hungry for something but you just don’t know what.

And Kid E has decided to stop sleeping through the night again.  For no reason.  He says he gets lonely.  I’m too tired to even come up with a response to that.  The broken sleep thing kills me.  There is not enough coffee in the world (especially when Sheepdog and Kid A take the very last K-cups in the house) to fix me right the next day.

And the girls are in full-on battle mode with each other.  Kid C came to me and complained that Kid B is a tyrant.  They share a bathroom, and Kid B has apparently set forth some rules that Kid C does not necessarily agree with.  They fight over time limits in there, closed doors and lights.  This morning Kid C was straightening her hair in the dark so as to not awaken the Kraken.  They fight about who left what in the shower.  And Kid A and Kid B constantly fight over clothes (clothes that NONE of them ever put away after I have lovingly washed, folded and delivered to their rooms each week, even after I have reminded them daily).  I tell them they have to learn to figure it out on their own, otherwise they will get eaten alive in a sorority house or in the workplace with dudes or on the playground with the other mommies when they grow up.  Stand up for yourself, but be kind and thoughtful to the people around you at the same time.  But nobody listens to me.

Until I have had enough.  Then they all had better lend an ear.

It got so bad with Kid A that I gave her a Come to Jesus in the kitchen when she got home yesterday.  She has had a really rough year, but enough is enough.  Enough with the disrespect.  She is dismissive to the other kids and rude to me, unless she wants something.  Her phone, laptop and car are all up on the block for repossession if things don’t improve ASAP.  She is never home and when she is, she is usually disagreeable.  To a degree she is “just being a teenager,” but there are some behaviors that are simply not acceptable.  So the rest of the kids got dressed down last night or this morning as well.

Did I mention that Sheepdog is in California for work and some biking?

Motherhood is hard.  There are no instructions or rules, so you just have to make stuff up as you roll along.  And not only do I second guess some of my decisions, but everybody else around me does as well (don’t worry… I most likely judge you right back).

Also, motherhood never ends.  You have to do it when you are sick, or tired, or sick and tired.  You have to do it on weekdays and holidays (even the federal ones).  Sometimes you have to do it when you husband is on a business trip, or crappier yet – sometimes moms have to do it all alone.

This is getting really negative.  I need to make a U-turn.

There are also a ton of rewarding things about motherhood.  I can’t articulate any of them right now, but deep down I know that there are a lot of great reasons to purposely choose motherhood as your life sentence.  There really are.  I swear.

OK, not such a great effort, so I’m heading back to my rant.

Do you know what I really hate?  I hate Mother’s Day.

There, I said it.

I hate all of the commercialism, the flowers (dead in a few days) and the cards ($5.99 for folded paper, really?) and the candy (did you not see me struggling to work out every day this week?).  I hate the stress of coming up with the perfect gifts to let my mom or mother-in-law know just how much they mean to me.  I hate that dads and kids are forced to create a perfect day for moms on this randomly designated Sunday in May, because it rarely rises to meet the mark – for the dads, the kids or the moms.  I hate that my annual trip out of town over the second Sunday in May (Mother’s Day – Run Away and No, He Didn’t!), got canceled again due to scheduling conflicts.

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So, here’s what I propose.  Get rid of Mother’s Day.  It is too much pressure on everybody involved.  Nobody has a relationship with their mother that is simple enough to be tied up with wrapping paper and a bow, and everyone involved knows it.  Just make sure to tell your mom (and any mom, for that matter) how great you think she is, whenever the thought strikes you.  You don’t have to save it for any particular day.  Crappy jewelry turns green or goes out of style; a compliment is forever.

And maybe you could also put away your clothes, stay in your own bed, don’t talk back, and be nice to your sister.  Oh, and get well soon, Kid D.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

This… Is… Walgreens

You know how especially this time of year everybody has to have something weird and specific for school or sports or work or a hobby or whatever and they need it right now?  Just within the past week or two I have had to provide six individual flowers, a funny hat, Swedish fish, a baby picture, a bag of pretzels, a foam roller, a metal dog bowl, a plain white t-shirt, a South African recipe, a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano Double Fudge cookies, a food that starts with the letter “U,” an unopened sleeve of plastic cups, 2 inflatable pool swim rings, seven metal stakes, and a cut-up lemon.  And there’s never much notice because everybody is trying to cram everything into the last few weeks before school lets out and summer begins.

Plus, we are still attending all of the regular season practices and classes and now their accompanying End of the Year/ Season parties and celebrations as well.  So our family calendar and all of the driving and carpooling and shuttling has been kicked up a notch.  And not even my regular stockpile of supplies can be counted upon for all of these strange and urgent requests.  (My father-in-law thinks that between my garage, basement and pantry I have my own Kroger going on and he’s not too far off the mark).  Still, I find myself running to the store almost every afternoon lately to fill the demands that I do not have already on hand, and that means “running in” with some, if not all, of my kids.  Ugh, the herding turtles suckfest.  My patience is at an all-time low.

I have tried bargaining with what I have available, but my kids never agree to bring in freezer-burned edamame when they are supposed to be showing up with Sour Patch Kids.  Picky, picky, picky.

Since I am rarely up for carting these kids around with me to the stores last minute, I like to ask Sheepdog to stop instead.  I can justify this pass off of parental responsibility because (a) he is either alone or only has the older kids with him and they can get in and out of the car by themselves and they can usually be trusted in a parking lot, (b) it is way past dinnertime and when he goes out and the odds are reduced that he’ll get caught in the middle of a bitch-slap fight for the last rotisserie chicken from the heated display, and (c) he will use any excuse to go out and pick up a few extra Hershey bars or sleeves of Smarties for his late night snack… “they just fell into the cart!”

Sheepdog is a great team player and he always goes without complaint.  But even patient Sheepdog gets frustrated with the traffic and the scavenger hunt and by the time he has gone to a second or even third store to get some rare item, he has little or no patience left with the people at the register.  This is how it went when he was once checking out with a disposable camera, a very specific (and not easy to locate) type of long-hair conditioner, and some candy.  He was already tired and overworked and ready to be home eating his treats.  Calgon, take me away.

“Will that be all, sir?” asked the clerk.

“Yes.  Oh, and I have a CVS card,” replied Sheepdog.

“What?”

“I have a CVS card,” he said again with his irritation showing itself in tone and volume.

“Huh?”

“I… Have… A… CVS… Card.”  I believe his patience evaporated completely with the last syllable.

“Sir, this… is… Walgreens.”

Oops.

Wish Sheepdog some more patience for tomorrow…

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was also a Monday, so it was laundry day, grocery shopping day and Kid A had an interview in midtown at 7PM, so she and Sheepdog were not home for dinner.  Best birthday ever, you say?  Wait… it gets better.

The day started around 12:15AM when Kid E moseyed into our bedroom and asked to cuddle with me.  As I took him by the hand and led him back to his own room, I cursed him silently for waking me.  This back-and-forth routine continued over the next three hours.  The silent cursing did not last long.  Every time I would start to fall asleep again, Kid E would tap me on the shoulder.  By the hundredth time I felt like I was being tortured.  On one trip back to his bed I told him congratulations on giving me the worst birthday present ever.

His confused response was, “But I didn’t even get you a present.”

If somebody is up during the night I always try my best not to disturb Sheepdog, because he has to get up early and go to a real job.  By 3:45AM I was exhausted, infuriated, desperate, and on the verge of tears.  I no longer cared about Sheepdog and his stupid job.  So the next time Kid E came in I ignored him.  Sheepdog finally heard him (“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…”  Seriously, how does the man NOT wake up?) and he jumped out of bed.

“WHAT?” whisper-yelled Sheepdog.

“I have to pee,” said Kid E, very matter-of-factly, with a hint of “What would you have me do…urinate in my bed?  I’m no savage!”  So Sheepdog took him to the bathroom and then back to his room.  At last, the kid was sleepy enough to stay in there.

“Happy Birthday, ” Sheepdog whispered to me when he came back.  “I’m sorry you’ve had a crappy night.”

“I’m thinking of moving out,” was my very serious response.  I don’t remember if I dreamed over the next three hours, but if I did it was probably about locking myself behind multiple doors with heavy deadbolts.

I wish for world peace. And for skinny thighs.

I woke up later to Kid D screaming that his stomach hurt as he was running past me into my bathroom.  “I don’t feel so good,” he sighed as he crawled in bed next to me.  I didn’t even care if he had washed his hands first.

As I was zombie-walking down the hall to put Kid C onto the elementary school bus, I realized that Kid B had overslept and she would need a ride to school.  This keeps getting better.

Actually, it did get better.  Kids A, B and C went off to school.  Kid D felt fine, so I dropped him off as well when I was taking Kid E to preschool.  Then I went home and collapsed until I decided to make my own birthday cupcakes for dinner.

Sleep is a funny thing.  I am a girl who needs a good nine hours, so I rarely hit my mark.  I make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends (Shout out! Sheepdog for helping me do that) and taking occasional naps.  You’d think I would be used to interrupted rest after having five babies, but I never adjusted.  The cumulative effect of sixteen years of sleep deprivation has left an indelible mark on my personality.  I’m meaner and even more sarcastic.  I have even been known to growl on occasion.  I have to use more under eye concealer.  It is not a good thing.

It is a good thing that Kid E has some sixth sense thing happening, because he was one more sleepless night away from being put up for auction on eBay.  Last night he went to bed without incident and then slept through the entire night.  I am a different person today than I was yesterday.

Today I feel like I can take on the world.  Today I feel like I am a Disney Princess and everyone around me is a singing animal.  Today I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.  Today I feel like Wonder Woman and Laura Croft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all rolled into one, except not all fit and and wearing some sexy ass-kicking costume because I’ve just been too tired to work out lately.

But today I have the energy to fix that!  I’m gonna go work out right now.  Then I’ll probably take a nap, because who knows what tonight will hold.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Summer Has Jumped the Shark (Week)

Da……….dum, da………dum, da……..dum, da…….dum, da……dum, da…..dum, da….dum, da…dum, da..dum, da.dum, DAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Did I feel it?  Was I paying attention?  Do I remember what I was doing when I first felt that this summer could be O-V-E-R, dead and gone as far as I was concerned?

No, no and odds are either standing in the neighborhood pool making sure nobody was dropping a deuce near me or sitting inside my air-conditioned house because it was so hot I couldn’t even contemplate stepping outside to walk down to said pool (the pool water is now hovering near a lovely ninety degrees – refreshing!).  But I don’t really remember.  I just know that it has definitely happened.

I am sick of the unrelenting, unholy heat that qualifies it as child endangerment to send your kids outside even just to get the mail, let alone to play outside all day (you can drink from the hose and pee in the bushes!).  I am sick of my kids being in the house all day, every day.  I am sick of hearing them bicker with one another.  I am sick of hearing loud crashes, having a mini-heart attack, then hearing a (not really) reassuring “I’m/ He’s OK!”  I am sick of the middle-of-the-night thunderstorms that wake everybody in the house up with their thrashing winds and window-rattling thunder and bone-jarring lightning strikes, yet they don’t even cool anything off the next day.  I am sick of stepping on teeny, tiny Lego pieces that have been strewn about my house for months now.  I am sick of washing bathing suits and pool towels (well, let me be honest – I stopped washing towels around mid-July), and I am especially sick of trying to put those tiny little liners back into bikini tops after they fall out every single wash.  I am sick of reruns on TV, I am no longer friends with Netflix, I haven’t been able to find a great new book, and I am even a little bit sick of the internet.

Bruce: Hello. My name is Bruce. Anchor, Chum: Hello, Bruce. Bruce: It has been three weeks since my last fish, on my honor, or may I be chopped up and made into soup.

Then I stumbled upon Discovery Channel’s Shark Week Top 10 Shark Attack videos.  This stuff is SICK!  I mean I am scared to death to watch and have to pretend it is not real, yet I can’t stop looking at the ocean train wreck/ shark porn that is unfolding before my eyes.  Even the reenactments are realistic and as frightening as my imagination can handle.  Being a girl who loves the beach and ventures out into the waves on a regular basis, I have to know that there is always the possibility that a shark could be out there looking around for some num nums.  I just figure that it’s not going to happen to me.

According to the Top 10 Shark Attack videos, neither did those people.  Well, except the guys who jump into the water in aluminum cages simply because sharks are there and they want to film them/ study them/ get penciled into their dance cards.  I mean, thanks for all of the great up-close, color pictures of humans being shark brunch and all, but who does that?  Those dudes are loco.

I am simply amazed that people get back into the waters in those locations where shark attacks are prevalent.  I was really surprised to learn that the United States leads the world in shark attacks, with 36 in 2010.  Australia (which I would have guessed was the leader) only had 14 and South Africa had eight.  After looking into the numbers in more detail, I have decided that I will never go into Florida’s waters ever, ever again.  But I really didn’t like Florida all that much to begin with.

So I’m counting down the days until that big yellow bus pulls up to my driveway (one of the perks of having so many kids is that the bus stop unofficially relocated to our house).  Today marks eleven.  I can do anything for eleven more days, right?  I can put up with my kids as they are fighting and whining and circling around me, seemingly ready to attack at any minute.  I can even refrain from punching them in the nose (because that’s what I’d do if they were actual sharks).

Yep, Summer 2011 is almost over.  Then comes Fall, with school and alarm clocks and schedules and activities and sports and homework and projects and da……….dum, da………dum, da……..dum, da…….dum, da……dum, da…..dum, da….dum, da…dum, da..dum, da.dum, DAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Rant #1

Let me just warn you all right now.  The tally on this tangent could get pretty high.  I certainly have more peeves than I have nuggets of advice.  My tombstone will probably be inscribed with, “You know what REALLY pisses me off?” (of course my answer in that case would be dying, but I digress).  I have some pretty strong opinions on just about everything.  Lucky for you I like to share.  So, you’re welcome.

Rant #1 – Complainers

Look, I know that it is a contradiction for me to list complainers as my number one complaint, but I am running this show so I get to make up and break up the rules as we go along.  I also am not referring to complainers in general.  Where would we be today if everyone just sat around complacent all the time (we’d still be back in England under Her Majesty’s rule and we’d be able to watch the Royal Wedding at a decent hour – not 4 AM – for goodness’ sake)?  The malcontents who complain to raise consciousness in order to affect change are super stars in my opinion.  My gripe is with anyone who says they don’t like something but they don’t do anything about it.  Complaining just for complaining’s sake is lazy and annoying.  What other purpose does it serve but to put icky vibes out in the world?

You have such sick thoughts. That is a clam.

You know that those icky vibes just float around until they land on some unsuspecting, random person, right?  That is my theory as to why you’re just sitting on the beach and a bird might poop on you.  Or you get a flat tire.  Or you are about to host twenty kids for a birthday party at your house and the kitchen sink clogs and your kid throws up and your spouse announces that he has to go out of town for three days next week, leaving you to single parent while he is gone.  It has nothing to do with merit.  I just think that’s how stuff goes around.  It also helps me understand how bad things happen to good people.

Here’s the thing.  You should be allowed to complain about something, but only once.  It is good to evaluate the problem and state it aloud in order to identify it.  But then you should be required to do something about it.  No, you can’t fix every problem yourself.  There are practicalities like money (you need it) and biology (you can’t really change it) that sometimes can not be circumvented.  Be practical and get creative.  You hate your thighs?  Eat better and work out more.  You hate being short?  Wear high heels.  Your spouse doesn’t help out enough around the house?  First, ask for his help (nobody is a mind reader), then print out a To-Do list that you can tackle together.  Your kids don’t listen?  Discipline them.  All the time, not just when it is easy or convenient.

Life can be really hard sometimes.  Some people just get a really bad deal, but most people are pretty lucky.  You can be in control of your own life.  You have the power to make it different if you are unhappy.  It probably won’t be easy or pretty or fun, especially if you’re thinking about a massive change.  But you will be taking charge of your life and living it the way you want to live it.  Keep your hands on the plow and your eye on the prize.

Once upon a time Sheepdog and I were completely unhappy and on the verge of divorce.  We lived in a house that was too expensive for us and we both worked all the time in order to pay for it (barely).  I was going through the motions of being a wife/ mother/ daughter/ sister/ friend/ employee/ homemaker, but I pretty much sucked at all of it.  I was miserable.  Sheepdog was miserable.  I was the “yelling mom” so I’m sure the girls were miserable.  We complained all the time.  Then one day we just realized that we had the ability to change things if we wanted to.  So we sold our house and moved down South, where real estate was more reasonably priced.  Sheepdog got a new job that enabled me to stay at home full-time.  It was scary and insane and the best thing that could have ever happened to our family.

So suck it up, people.  Stop complaining unless you’re going to do something about it.  Teach your children how to do it.  Lead by example and enlighten your friends.  Empowerment is contagious!  But so is a throwing up kid, so please stop your complaining.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…