All the Way Home

Last Sunday Kid B asked Sheepdog to take her to the park so she could do some goalkeeper training.  Kid C tagged along and they worked out together for a couple of hours.  There was lots of punting, drop-kicking and goal kicking.  I’m sure there were some dive drills as well.  Afterwards, Sheepdog and Kid C got back into the car.

“We are stopping at the grocery store for a few things on the way home.  You should run back from here,” Sheepdog said to Kid B.

Kid B hates running as much as I do, but she is required to do it for her overall soccer conditioning.  Sheepdog convinced her that is was only about three miles to our house, and he explained the route that cut through a safe neighborhood and kept her (mostly) off of the busy main roads.  She grumbled at him, but nevertheless she put one foot in front of the other and soon she was running.

Run, Forrest, Run.

Run, Forrest, Run.

I had taken both of the boys to the pool for a bit that morning while they were training.  But the weather had taken a turn for the worse, so we were back at the house even before Sheepdog and Kid C returned with their groceries.  I inquired about the missing Kid B.

Sheepdog explained the plan for her to run home with a very proud smile.  I knew that he had been trying to get her to do this for months now.  But I also knew that Kid B didn’t know the route very well and Sheepdog is beyond horrible at giving directions.  I was not happy.

“Did she actually want to run home, or did you force her to do it?”

“She knows it is good for her!”

“Did you show her exactly where to go?”

“No, I didn’t show her… but I told her.”

“It has been a while since you left her.  You even stopped at the store.  Shouldn’t she be home by now?  Does she at least have her phone with her in case she gets lost, or it turns out instead to be 10 miles from there to here?”

“Um… (quietly) no.  But I’m sure she’s fine.”

“Great, Dumbass.  I am going to go give Kid E a bath.  Kid B had better be back under this roof, safe and sound, by the time I am done.  Go get back in your car and drive around to find her if you have to.  Don’t you dare lose one of my babies!”

Sheepdog laughed at me, but I gave him a look so he knew I was not joshing.

A few minutes later, I heard the garage door open and his car was gone.

By the time I finished with bath duty, Kid B and Sheepdog were both standing in the kitchen.  Kid B was sweaty and tired, but she was, indeed, just fine.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and then I asked exactly what happened.  This is what they told me:

Sheepdog’s directions were wrong (well, duh).  First, she got lost in the park.  Then she got lost in the neighborhood.  Eventually, she made it out to the main road and started heading back to our house, but only after she had added a couple of extra miles to her run.  By then, Sheepdog had driven out to find her.  He had the top down on the car and he saw her running on the sidewalk and made a gesture that conveyed, “What’s up?  Where’ve you been?  What’s taking you so long?”

At first, Kid B just smiled back at him.  But then, overcome by frustration from him making her run home and getting lost in the process, on the side of a very busy road, my fourteen-year-old daughter flipped her Dad the bird, real big and dramatic-like.  And then she just kept on running… all the way home.

Coincidentally, I would have done the same, exact thing.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

I’m Sitting in the Bathroom

… but not doing what you’d expect.  I’m on my computer while everyone else in my hotel room sleeps.

I am currently in a Westin in Huntsville, Alabama, along with Kid C and Kid E, and of course Kid B as her team is playing in the US Youth Soccer Region III Presidents Cup, representing Georgia in the U14 Girls division.  Kid B is the team’s goal keeper and she rocks.

We drove here Thursday on a few highways, but many more country roads.  After passing four hours worth of farms and swimming holes, we finally arrived.  Then I realized Kid B was burning up with fever.

One day into the playing part of the tournament, and lots of water, ibuprofen and rest later, her team is leading their flight in points.  They play again this afternoon, but regardless of the outcome, they will be playing in the semi-finals tonight against a wildcard team.  The winner of that game goes on to play in the finals on Sunday.

The hotel brought in a rollaway last night.  Kid C slept in it.  Kid B is in one bed, Kid E and I are in the other.  I woke up at 6:30 (7:30EST) to Kid E playing a DS game that requires tap-tap-tapping on the screen.
This is how we do hotel rooms (and this is us down two kids and one Sheepdog)

This is how we do hotel rooms (and this is us down two kids and one Sheepdog)

Tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap.

Then he had to poop.  So we did that as quietly as we could (but my kids like to chat while they are on the toilet… so there was that).  It wasn’t even 7AM and I knew I needed to let the girls rest more (Kid C was showing signs of illness last night too), so Kid E and I put our bathing suits on and headed down to the hotel pool.  But first he insisted we go out to the car to fetch his goggles, so as to ensure that even more people saw me with early morning bed head and my pool cover-up.  Thanks, Kid E.

After about forty-five minutes of brand new swimmer, half-swimming-half-drowning by my youngest child while I stood right next to him to fish him up after the drowning halves (lobby coffee in hand the whole time) in the “heated” indoor pool, we headed back up to the room.  I use quotation marks because, two hours later, we are both still shivering.

I put Kid E back in his pajamas (at his insistence) and tucked him into the warm Westin Heavenly bed.  Then I went to take a hot shower.  When I was done, all three kids were sound asleep, so that’s how I ended up here… in the bathroom on the third floor of a very nice hotel, trying to keep myself quietly occupied.

I am hopeful that they will all wake up rested, fever-free, and ready for another day of awesome soccer.  Go Ambush!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Animals Gone Wild Kingdom

Sheepdog quite possibly killed a rabbit.  Or maybe he did not.  He could just be hopping around totally unharmed.  We will never know.

This is what I do know…

For a decade Sheepdog has been working in Buckhead, which is the uptown district of Atlanta.  It is about 25 miles (approximately 3.17 hours in ATL real traffic time) from our house.  For at least a couple of years now Sheepdog has been taking public transportation to work.  This means that he wakes up during the 5 o’clock (Good Lord, I didn’t even know that was humanly possible) hour, drives his car to the MARTA bus stop at Windward, rides the bus to the northern-most Red Line MARTA train station at North Springs (exit 5C on GA-400N), then takes a train to Buckhead.  Finally, he walks the last block or so to his office.  It saves us a ton of money in gas and he is often able to work, make phone calls or read/ sleep during his commute.  According to Sheepdog this really sucks, especially when gas prices skyrocket and public transportation becomes SRO (standing room only).  But he is the ultimate team player, so he endures.

Then sometime around the end of October Sheepdog came home and announced that he wanted to start commuting to work on his bicycle.  And no, I’m not joking.  My immediate response was that he was certainly NOT riding a bike to work because he would surely make me a widow (with five freaking children!), especially given the fact that drivers despise cyclists around here and often try to nudge them off of the roads.  And it’s not just me that does this.  Soooooo… End of the Crazy Discussion.

Whenever Sheepdog talks about wanting (in fact NEEDING) to ride his bike, I always start singing the song "Bicycle Race" by Queen in my head. It is awesome (the song, not my singing)

As always is the case when I flex my muscles in the “And That’s Final!” way, the jokester that is my God immediately brought a new person into my life to expose me to a different perspective on things.  On Halloween night I walked around our neighborhood shadowing Kid C and her friends.  With me were a few of the friends’ parents, some of whom I did not know.  At some point during the night I talked to a dad who, as it turns out, does triathlons and is an especially enthusiastic cyclist and thought it was just the best thing ever that Sheepdog was considering a 2-wheeled commute to his office.  He proceeded to tell me all of the reasons why throughout the long evening.  Awesome.

I then went home and told Sheepdog that he could look into riding his bike to work.  As long as I was convinced that it wasn’t a suicide mission, I would consider endorsing his plan.

The word “tenacious” was brought up by my dad during a toast to Sheepdog and I at our wedding all those many years ago.  My dad explained that it takes tenacity to have a successful marriage, and I believe that Sheepdog took that sage advice to heart.  Moreover, he also applies that same tenacity to other aspects of his life.  When Sheepdog gets an idea in his head, he is more often than not tirelessly persistent until that idea comes to fruition.  I knew that once he started considering riding to his office, he would figure out a way to make it happen even if I wasn’t totally on board.  My dad also said during that same speech at our wedding, “Stacy’s personality is such that it takes a very special man to live with her,” but I forgave him for that because it is kind of true.

So Sheepdog promised that approximately 90% of this commute would take place on “very safe” bike path routes, and after he successfully dispelled my fears that he would be on said bike path routes when it was mostly dark outside (“…and do you know who is on bike path routes at these insane times?  Undesirables fleeing from the law, serial killers, sex offenders and vampires, that’s who!”), I agreed with the plan for him to ride his bike to work.  But I had some conditions.

1.  No intentional riding in the rain.

2.  Always be defensive and alert while riding, especially on the 10% of the ride that is not classified as “very safe.”

3.  He must text me every day when he gets to work to let me know that he has arrived safely so I can cross “call life insurance company” off my To-Do list (at least on that day).

I will have to say that the arrangement seems to be working out fine.  Sheepdog has gotten caught in some sudden and unexpected (Me: “Why didn’t you check the forecast, dummy?”) downpours, but he hasn’t melted yet.  He says he is very careful, yet he insists on listening to his iPod while riding, which I am less than thrilled about because it means he is not paying attention as fully as I would want him to.  But he wears a very bright, flashy light thing and he does text me that he is safe every morning, even though I forget I have a phone and often don’t check my messages until after 10 a.m. or sometimes not at all.

Then one day Sheepdog posted this on Facebook:

Rabbit run! Crazy commute this morning. Lots of rabbits on the bike path. Hit one but we are both okay (think he bounced off of the crank).
app.strava.com
commuted 21.9 miles by bike.

What the what?  A rabbit?  Here I am worried about angry drivers crashing into him, or murderers and the undead chasing him in the dark woods, and he gets attacked by Little Bunny Foo-Foo?  Then today I saw about eight deer running through our neighborhood around 7:00 a.m. when I was driving some kids to school.  And don’t get me started on the darting, schizophrenic squirrel population.  They could all easily hit my Sheepdog.  It is like Jumanji out there.  It just goes to show that you never know what dangers may be lurking, even in the “very safe” sections of the world.

Please be safe, Sheepdog.  And please take off the damn headphones. xo

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Fight Like a Girl

Sheepdog and I both are firm believers in teaching our kids how to protect themselves.  The boys seem to have some instinctive fist fight/ wrestling thing that I am guessing brothers bring out in each other.  I have no first hand knowledge of this, but I am watching Kid D and Kid E beat the feathers out of each other and I find myself screaming, “Take it down a notch” or “Take that outside so you don’t break my house” no less than twenty times a day.  Neither Sheepdog nor I taught them these moves, and they still primarily watch only Disney shows, so I’m guessing it is most likely hard-wired in them.  But these girls are a different story.

They are lovers, not fighters.  They like make-up and they spend ridiculous amounts of time on their hair.  They play(ed) school and dress-up and beauty parlor.  They never once pretended that they were in a G.L.O.W. match with each other.  They might put on costumes and skates, but they would never do it to have a roller derby.  And although they follow the first rule of Fight Club (“Don’t ever talk about Fight Club”), it is only because they have never heard of Fight Club.  No, these girls are not prepared at all.

We have been looking for a self-defense class for the girls for a while now.  We looked into karate and it seemed to be a good solution, but many places around here were requiring a three year contractual commitment, which was not something that would work for us, especially since the girls were already involved in other activities.  We have a friend who learned self-defense at the hands of an (ex-CIA/ black ops) expert and she was going to give them a “lesson” based upon what she had learned, but we just can’t seem to make our schedules work together.

So I was excited when I heard about a local class that teaches teenage girls how to make smart choices, recognize safety compromises, react in dangerous situations, and generally protect themselves.  They even encourage the moms to sit in on the class, so I would also get a refresher course.

The class was pretty good.  They used a DVD format to show certain potential attack/ kidnapping-by-a-stranger situations (bus stop, ATM, parking lot) and they showed two different girls – one who always reacted the wrong way (she got taken away in the van every time) and one who reacted the better way (she was more aware of her surroundings and used some fairly simple defense moves to successfully evade her attacker).  They also briefly covered date/ acquaintance assault (including rape and other acts of violence) and showed the girls a Dating Bill of Rights that reminded them that they have to stand up for themselves, even against someone they think that they love.  They showed them how to “fight like a girl”…go for the eyes (poke them out), ears (rip them off) and then groin (knee as a battering ram into) anybody who was threatening or menacing to them in any way.  They showed them things that even tiny, little girls can use against much bigger and stronger opponents.

Sheepdog was a little disappointed that they didn’t get more slam the base-of-the-hand-to-the nose-of-your-attacker training in the class, but I am not looking for them to go all Million Dollar Baby into the boxing or MMA rings.  If that were the case, I would just enroll them in a Brazilian jiujitsu or Muay Thai class and call it a day.  I just think that is a little bit of overkill.

What I want is for my daughters to be prepared to instinctively fend off an attacking stranger or a bad date.  I want them to be aware of their surroundings.  I want them to have self-esteem and confidence.  I do not ever want them to be victims.

So here’s to praying that bad things never happen.  But if they do, at least my daughters will know how to fight like a girl.

George I, George II, George III, George IV and George V... Foreman, that is

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Protecting the Family Jewels

Youth sports can definitely be a highlight of childhood.  You get to play hard, get sweaty, experience teamwork, learn how to take direction and constructive criticism, and set and reach goals.  You know… the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  But youth sports can also be fraught with drama, expense, parents’ expectations, coaches’ shenanigans, and injuries.  While we are always shooting for the good stuff, and we can’t really control the coach who wrecks the fun by cheating during the 9-year-old’s baseball finals, we do have the ability to take reasonable precautions against the injury part at least.

Last season Kid D played with a tee ball team and they recommended that the kids wear a heart guard under their uniform.  I didn’t even know that they existed.  A heart guard is a light, compression shirt with a tough, high density, dome shape over the chest that absorbs impact energy and forces it away from the heart.  They wear them to reduce the chances of commotio cordis, which is what can happen when an impact to the chest is transmitted to the heart muscle.  Depending on when during the heart cycle the impact occurs, it can affect the heart’s electrical activity, causing an arrhythmia and possibly death.  Scary stuff.  The kid wears a heart guard.

This year he plays machine pitch baseball on a 7/8-year-old’s team.  It is the first time that they don’t have the coaches’ (semi-) controlled pitching AND they also rotate in the position of catcher.  Guess what protective gear is recommended this season?  You guessed it… the kid needs a cup.

"If you can't be an athlete, at least be an athletic supporter." - Principal McGee, Grease, 1978

Since the purchase of anything penis-related falls under Sheepdog’s parental jurisDICtion (heh, heh), I sent the boys out to buy a cup together.  Apparently the sales clerk was a young girl, so when Sheepdog inquired as to where they might find the protective gear, she directed them to the display and then made a hasty exit, adding quickly, “I’ll leave you two to figure out the sizing…”  Um, isn’t that her job?

So Sheepdog calls me to ask whether Kid D is a Pee Wee extra-large or a Youth small.  I tell him to check the sizing recommendations on the packaging and give him the kid’s current weight.  Besides, how am I supposed to know?  I have no brothers and I have no penis.  I’ve never bought a cup before.  I’ve only seen jock straps in the locker room scenes of 80’s movies.  I can’t even picture how my six-year-old is going to wear those elastic straps around his tiny heiney anyway.

Turns out, they don’t have to wear the strappy things anymore.  Now they make compression underpants with a pocket in the front.  In this pocket you put a plastic (highly protective with names like “ultra carbon,” “bioflex,” and “titan alloy”) cup.  As always seems the case with boys and their family jewels, protection of them is of the utmost importance.  I will bet money that NASA develops this stuff.

And as always seems the case, Sheepdog would never buy anything for a jock that had the word “small” associated with it, so of course he came home with the extra-large version.

Kid D thought the whole thing was hysterical and he spent the better part of the afternoon making completely inappropriate (but funny) ball jokes and acting out shots-to-the-crotch in slow motion, all while sporting his new plastic bulge in his shorts.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…