SMDH

Sheepdog worked from home yesterday because he had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.  He has a quiet office in the basement, surrounded by his bicycles, camping gear, and things that go pew-pew-pew.  It is one of his happy places.

I went to the gym in the morning and came home to take a shower afterwards.  Of course it was right at that moment that my phone rang.  Even with soap in my eyes I could see that it was school calling.  I turned off the running water and answered in my most official “no, I’m not naked” mom voice.

“Hi, Stacy.  This is Tracy from the clinic.”

She had Kid D with her.  He had a low-grade fever and felt miserable.  I had noticed The Crud coming on with him earlier and I had actually made a doctor’s appointment for after school so they could diagnose his sinus infection and we could move on.  But he wasn’t going to make it until after school and he needed to be picked up ASAP.

So I texted Sheepdog in the basement: “Any chance you can go get <Kid D> from school? I’m showering.”

His response: “Right now?”

I’m literally in the middle of a shower.  I’m wet.  And cold.  I have soap in my hair and my eyes.  For cripe’s sake: “Come up please.”

So he does and I explain that Kid D says he can not wait, so would he please go get him now.  It will take me much longer, what with my in-the-middle-of-showering dilemma.  Then I ask if he remembers where to go (coincidentally, we had picked Kid D up early on Tuesday to go to Kid A’s Capstone Expo at Georgia Tech so it was fresh in his mind) and he said of course he knew.  So off goes Sheepdog.  I very happily finish showering in peace.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, when I’m dressed again, I get a text.

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Sheepdog showed up at the school.  They buzzed him in at the front desk.  He announced he was there to pick up his kid.  The front desk lady asks for his teacher’s name.

Sheepdog: “Really?  Are you asking just to make fun of me?”  Hats off to her because the likelihood is very high that I would have done the same exact thing.

It turns out the kid was at lunch, so she sent Sheepdog off to the cafeteria to find him.

Kid: “Dad!”

Sheepdog: “Are you ready to go?”

Kid: “(Hell) YES!” (packs up lunchbox and basically runs out of the room, forcing Sheepdog to keep up)

Sheepdog: “How are you feeling, bud?”

Kid: “Great, dad!  I feel great.”

Sheepdog: “Wait.  What?  Didn’t you go to the clinic because you didn’t feel well, and the clinic lady called mom and asked her to come pick you up…”

Kid: “No.  No clinic for me.  I feel just fine.  Where are we going dad?”

Sheepdog: “…”

Shit. He then has to explain his mistake and take Kid E back to the cafeteria.  Fortunately, he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing.

So that’s when I get the text from Sheepdog.

“Don’t know why I thought you said <Kid E>.  Not him.  Off to get <Kid D>.”

Sheepdog literally picked up the wrong kid from school and had to return him.  Then he had to go to a totally different school across town to pick up the right kid.

I’m thinking that five kids in five different schools might be a little much.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

 

 

 

3/5

Originally, Kid A was planning to take a nanny job with three little kids in a nearby neighborhood for the summer.  But then she was offered a summer internship at my dad’s law firm in southern New Jersey.  She weighed her options: Babies or the beach?  Wearing t-shirts covered in finger paints and spit up or dressing up for an office job every day?  Living at home with your parents who are always complaining about money or staying with grandparents who basically buy you whatever you ask for?  Kid A is smart, has always been independent, and has had one foot out our door since she went to Spanish immersion camp the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school.  Obviously she chose the internship.  She has been gone (with the exception of a long weekend when she came back to GA for college orientation) since the beginning of June.

Kid A and I texting a few short weeks after she left

Kid A and I texting a few short weeks after she left

Kid B was relied upon heavily during the house selling and buying phase of the summer.  Basically, she raised the other kids for us.  Well, she did along with all of the video game systems we have in the house.  Do you know what happens when you leave a 15-year-old in charge?  I’m talking no bathing until the weird smells start to offend, cereal/ peanut butter sandwiches/ frozen chicken nuggets as the “fancy” meals, and a glazed look in everyone’s eyes as a result of 8 – 10 hours a day of electronics exposure.  I wasn’t paying attention to how bad it had gotten until one morning, after dropping Kid B at the soccer field for training, Kid E and I were having a nice car conversation.  Then he asked me if I knew what a K/D spread was.  I did not, but said I could look it up when we got home.  Imagine my horror when I learned it was short for Kill/Death ratio (basically, how many kills you achieved before your character was in turn killed), tracked in Halo, a military science fiction video game.  Parenting Fail #1,024 for the summer.

Me:  Um, you know that this is a video game and you NEVER, EVER shoot anyone in real life, right?  Because when you die in real life, you don’t get more lives.

Kid E: Yeah.  Yes.  Of course, mom.  I know.  Everybody knows that.

Eh, they’ll survive.

Fortunately for everyone, I was quickly jolted back into a lead parenting role as Kid B had a trip of her own planned this summer.  She went to Europe to guest play with a team from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in an international soccer tournament.  She was gone for almost two weeks.  She traveled to several cities in Spain (including Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Madrid) as well as the beach in Biarritz, France.  She had the trip of a lifetime and didn’t miss home very much at all.  As a matter of fact, she admitted to crying on the plane ride home because she couldn’t stay there for the rest of the summer.

For me, the time with both Kid A and Kid B gone was amazing.  Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy both of them tremendously and love that they are my children.  But let’s be honest about the Catch-22 situation involved in raising independent, strong-willed, powerful women (which is my end game in successful parenting Kids A, B, and C, by the by).  There is the occasional tension and butting of heads between teenage girls and their mothers.  And I’m saying that in the nicest way possible.  Add in PMS, some OCD, the DMV, a deficit in R-E-S-P-E-C-T, plus a pinch of sarcasm, and you likely get one or more parties CRBT (crying real big tears).  I already knew it, but while they were gone I was hit once again by the fact that raising teenagers is really hard.  I’ve stopped counting all of my parenting fails with them.

Eh, they’ll survive.

But will I?

Oh, of course I will.  I used their time away to thoroughly enjoy the three littles (well, Kid C is not so little anymore, but you know what I mean).  We went to the movies and the pool and we played games and stayed up too late and went out to dinner (it’s much more affordable with less people!).  It was relaxing and light and fun.  No matter how many kids you start out with, it turns out having fewer is kind of a vacation.

But when it was time to pick Kid B up from the airport, we were all excited and ready for her to be home again.  Especially the ‘kids’ that she raised for us.

Kid B airport pickup

Now we are back to 4/5.  And even though it is only for a little while, I can’t wait for all of my chickens to be home.  Having Kid A go off to college in August will definitely be interesting.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

 

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…

Tales from the Trip – Part Two

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. - Robert Frost (this many miles, to be exact)

Three a.m. announced itself with a crappy song on the alarm clock radio.  I did not get nearly enough sleep and I had none of the “I’m going on a family trip today!” excitement that fueled me through the drive there.  But Sister B was due to arrive that afternoon with her three kids in tow and we would be even more hard up for decent sleeping arrangements if we stayed.  So I reluctantly got out of bed, made myself some coffee, and woke up some kids (best part of the day so far… just a small payback for all of the times they have done it to me).  Kid E woke up crying.  I don’t know if he was still going from the night before or if he was starting fresh, but he was working up a mighty fine fit.  What do I do about that?  Let’s all strap ourselves in to a confined space for about fourteen hours.  But first I shall spill about half of my freshly brewed coffee on my seat.  Awesome.

What is nice about the trip in this direction is that we are on the highways pretty quickly, so the kids would be melodically lulled back to sleep.  What is decidedly not nice are the number of toll booths on those same highways that are preceded by those things in the road that sound like machine gun fire when you drive over them so that if you are by chance sleeping while driving, you will indeed wake up just before you pull up to/ crash into the toll collector’s booth.  And so will everyone else in your vehicle.  Super cool.

I have my iPod in one ear while I drive and I had loaded some excellent new music before the trip up, so I was verily entertained even whilst everyone else was sleeping (/being woken up/ falling back to sleep again).  Traffic was pretty light and the weather was remarkably clear given the hideous storm just hours prior.  We even made it to the other side of Washington, D.C. by about 7:45 a.m., where we stopped for some breakfast, refueling and a leg stretch.  I noticed a party at a long table behind ours that seemed like it had a lot of kids.  There were car seats everywhere.  After watching them while we waited (forever) for our food to come, I realized that there were actually more adults than there were kids… about one mom and dad for every 1.5 babies.  And when I got a true head count I also became aware that there was only one more kid in their party than in mine.  So I realized that I have a lot of kids.  Then I think we contracted a mild case of E. coli from the food because we have all had shooting stomach pains ever since.  Fantastic.

Back on the road we continued to roll along nicely, but with eight hours still ahead of us it seemed like the never-ending road trip.  Certainly the antics from the peanut gallery would help us pass the time…

Every single time there was a noise on the highway or from the vehicle Kid D said, “That was probably a bike falling off.  You should check.  No, really Mom – I think a bike just fell off of our car.  I heard it.”

One time during a period of relative quiet on I-85 just south of Richmond, I began to pass an oil truck.  About mid-way through there was a BANG! that made me presume that someone in the backseat was setting off fireworks.  After first asking if anyone in our car had been shot, I quickly assessed the windshields.  None were cracked, so I can only assume that it was a piece of debris or a rock that shot against our undercarriage.  Holy Crap!  Now I’m definitely awake.

Kid E was in no mood to travel.  He made it clear in the driveway prior to takeoff when he started crying something about how his pillow was “broken” and such.  His lines of the day (meaning he said them no less than a bajillion times) were, “I want to go home.”  I responded with, “That’s what I’m doing, Big Man, driving us home.”  He would then reply, “No!  I want to be home NOW!”  Don’t we all?  “Here, have a roll of Smarties.”  He was clearly buzzing high on sugar by the time we got home.

“I’m hungry,”  “I’m thirsty,” “I want to watch a different movie,” and “I’m bored,” “Where are we?” and “How much further?” were frequent fan favorites of the day.  We also had a couple of the predictable “I have to pee!” and “I have to poop!” emergencies, so we got to see more rest stops on this go around.  Rest stops have gotten a bad reputation lately with the whole foot tapping thing and the sexual predator hangout stereotype, so I had forgotten how clean they usually are.  I was pleasantly reminded each and every time we had to swing into one.  They also have a lot of pretty landscaping now too, which was also nice.

Speaking of rest stop predators, maybe they were keeping all of the police officers busy because I did not see any of either of them.  Well, that’s not totally true, as I did see a few state police cars in North Carolina, but only in the northbound lanes.  I wonder what determines where the police lie in wait to hassle people who just want to get where they are going keep the roads safe from dangerous speeders.  I’d like to know the answer to that so I can avoid those routes whenever possible.

This is how we roll (at the Equator)

Our last stop for refueling was in South Carolina at about 3:30 in the afternoon.  When I stepped out of the car I was assaulted with a chest-crushing heat.  The whole time I was filling the tank (“Jersey Girls don’t pump gas!”) I struggled just to breathe.  Welcome back to Summer in the South.  And so begins two more months of never leaving my house during the day, else I will be soaked through to my underpants in sweat within sixty seconds.  Super Sexy!

Finally, around 5 o’clock we pulled into our driveway.  Yeah!  We were finally home.  It was still an unholy kind of hot outside, but the truck needed to be unloaded so I could pull it into the garage.  As I wrestled the bikes, disassembled the bike rack, climbed atop the truck to empty and detach the cargo bag, pulled everything out of the inside of our vehicle and piled it all in our driveway (I didn’t have five kids for nothing… they were going to carry all of this crap into the house for me), I realized that it was only by a Road Trip miracle (or undetectable extension charm) that all of these things fit inside.

So while the chickens were putting stuff away, I got a nice, cold shower.  Sheepdog was still on the West Coast riding in the Tour of the California Alps Death Ride 2011 (and yes, just based on the name alone I confirmed that his life insurance policy was up to date prior to letting him ride in that race) and we had been gone for close to four weeks, so our cupboards were bare.  I quickly ran out for some necessary groceries and Mexi-food for dinner.  By the time I finally sat down I was too tired to even open a bottle of wine.  Now that’s tired.

… but I would have gotten right back into the car the very next day just to go back to the beach.  Sigh.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

The Toothless Ladies Loved Me

Not one, but two of the younger kids got up in the middle of one night over our crazy weekend.  They were each complaining of some malady for which I would normally prescribe a simple dose of ibuprofen, so I dragged my still sleeping body to the medicine cabinet and rooted around in the dark for the familiar bottle.  Problem: no ibuprofen.  No big deal, as I can just give them acetaminophen instead.  More rooting.  Bigger Problem: no acetaminophen.

I actually had to turn on the light and check, but I had absolutely no kid pain relievers in my entire house.  No liquid, no pills, no melt in your mouth things.  Nothing.  To their utter dissatisfaction I gave them each a drink of water and said that the problem was probably just dehydration and I sent them back to bed, vowing not to forget to buy every kind of kid pain relief medicine the very next day – just in case.

I did, in fact, forget to buy them the next day, but I remembered that night as we were passing a drug store on the way home from my niece’s birthday party and asked Sheepdog to stop so I could just run in quickly.  I hit the pain management aisle with a vengeance and a hand basket, which I quickly filled with every flavor and style of ibuprofen and acetaminophen that they sold.

Missing a tooth doesn't always mean that you are trashy

At the sole checkout line (which was at least four or five people deep… big rush at the drug store on a Saturday night) people were waiting and bored, so they were checking out the candy display, the magazine headlines and each other’s baskets.  Mine must have caught someone’s eye and a couple of ladies in line behind me started asking me what was up with all of the drugs.  As I looked up to answer I noticed that they were both missing several teeth.  No big deal, but I just wondered how they had each lost their teeth… poor oral hygiene, too much Mountain Dew, bad genetics, bar fights?  Being toothless tends to convey a less than Miss America kind of image to me, but I wasn’t going to be rude or treat them any differently.

Our wait in queue went on, as the clerk was apparently unable to press buttons and put things into bags at the same time, so my conversation with the toothless ladies also continued.  I sneaked a peek at their future purchases and saw that they were buying some kind of ointment, the latest National Enquirer, a couple of tubes of potato chips and a twelve pack of some really cheap beer.  They seemed ramped up for quite a night and based on their shopping haul I had so many great questions on the tip of my tongue, but opted not to ask most of them.  They did tell me that their other friend was coming from a few towns over to hang out for the night, but first she had to settle some things with her boyfriend.

It was finally my turn at the register and the clerk also commented on the quantity of drugs I was purchasing.  Maybe there is a new screening that they have, similar to the one where you have to show your driver’s license when you buy Sudafed because it is used in making crystal meth?  I don’t know.  I explained again that I had completely run out of medicine for my kids and I was restocking.  Then the standard follow-up question to that statement was posed, “Well, ma’am, just HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE?”

“Five,” I answered, somewhat bored with the common reaction that inevitably was to follow.  I usually hear comments like, “You must have your hands full!” or “That sure is a lot of kids!”  But these folks didn’t say any of that.  I was actually kind of let down by the lack of enthusiastic response to my revelation of having borne an entire basketball team.  I may be tired of the standard responses, but I wanted them to say something.

So, as I grabbed my bags and receipt and walked out the door I looked back at the clerk and the toothless ladies and I added, “…and they all have the same Baby Daddy!”

As I walked through the drug store exit I heard roaring peels of laughter and even a couple of woo hoo’s.  Those toothless ladies sure loved me.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…