Mama’s Got This

Sheepdog and I had just finished playing a fantastic game of hide and seek late last night, when a text came in from Kid A.  A friend had alerted her that somebody just “hit” our driveway with shaving cream.

I like to refer to myself as "highly procreative" rather than "a slut," but to each his own.

I like to refer to myself as “highly procreative” rather than “a slut,” but to each his own.  D-minus for creativity, Class of 2015.

Ah, Junior/ Senior Wars.  A time when high school kids can play lighthearted pranks upon members of the opposing class.  A little toilet paper here, some shaving cream there.  Some call it a rite of passage.  Some call it fun and funny.

I call it stupid and a ginormous pain in my ass, especially when I am hosing off my driveway in my pajamas at 1 a.m.

The police department calls it vandalism, especially if it escalates.  Shit just got real, yo.  On your permanent record.

There are always going to be fartknockers who wreck it for everybody else.

Sheepdog and I do not condone Junior/ Senior War activity and we do not allow our kids to participate.  But I was alerted via Facebook that some juniors’ houses in the neighborhood got TP’d the night before, so I took precautionary protective measures in anticipation of my senior getting a little something-something, just because.  Cutting down the two river birch trees from the front yard a few years ago wasn’t going to be enough.  I tapped into my Jersey Girl/ Boardwalk Empire roots and asked myself, What would 3-Pops do?  But, since the answer to that question likely involved a baseball bat and some knee caps (not really my style), I decided to go a more technologically advanced route.

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If you mess with her cubs, you had better be prepared to hear from the Mama Tiger (Swiger, like tiger).

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

An apology would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

I Once Was Blind

At the beginning of the school year a neighbor walked by wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day.  It turns out he recently underwent laser eye surgery to correct his vision, and light sensitivity was a short-term side effect.  Nonetheless, he spoke very highly of the procedure.

When I went to get my hair cut (and colored, if I’m being honest) last month, my hairdresser reminded me that she had the same procedure done about a year ago.  She also was extremely pleased with the results.

That very same week I got a flyer in the mail about the very same surgery from the very same doctor who those two couldn’t stop raving about.  I figured that it was the universe telling me it was time to stop spending all of Sheepdog’s money at 1-800-contacts.  The flyer had a QR code, so I scanned it with my phone and booked a free consultation for the morning after my birthday.

Bad vision or too much wine?

After explaining to both the tech and the optometrist that “my eyes weren’t normally that red,” (I drank an entire bottle of wine all by myself at my happy birthday dinner) they said no matter, everything looked great and I was an ideal candidate.  The only problem was that the thickness of my cornea was borderline and the surgeon may choose to do something more conservative called PRK instead of LASIK on me.  It has similar success as far as results (some say even better), but it is more painful and comes with a longer recovery time.  They recommended not wearing contacts for a few days prior to the procedure because sometimes that helps to tip the scales in LASIK’s favor.  I checked with Sheepdog about the schedule for the surgery and recovery and he gave me the thumbs high.  Excited about finally seeing the world without corrective lenses (and maybe still slightly loaded from the night before),  I scheduled my eye surgery for one week later.

One week later just so happened to be the morning after Halloween.  Not a big deal, except I forgot to do all of the pre-surgery stuff that they instructed me to do.  With Sheepdog driving, we showed up for early morning pre-school carpool without any car seats in the car.  I realized I had forgotten to fill all four of the prescriptions they told me to fill prior to coming in.  And I left the extremely important paperwork folder at home.  I was a total mess.

Sheepdog thinks I was secretly scared to get blasted in my peepers with a laser and that’s why I was so uncharacteristically discombobulated.  But since most places presume that they will be dealing with idiots, the eye surgeon had me covered and even my juvenile subconscious attempts at failing to prepare were thwarted.  So after signing away my life (or at least my right to have eyes that can actually see) in waiver forms, I was lying on a table with my right eye numbed by drops and clamped wide open.  What was I thinking?  Let the torture begin!

“If you’re going to swap my eyeballs for new ones, will you be sure to give me something really funky… like neon green or amethyst eyes?  I look wicked good in purple.” – Me trying to break the ice with my surgeon prior to PRK.
Photo (and my worst nightmare) courtesy of Minority Report (2002)

Actually, the procedure itself didn’t hurt.  It was definitely weird, but it was not painful (even though I had to have PRK instead of LASIK).  Afterwards, I did mention to the doctor that the smell of burning eyeballs is something he may want to consider warning the folks about.  He gave me a scroll of instructions and a scrip for Vicodin and sent me on my way.

My vision was extremely blurry and I was blinded by the slightest glimpse of sun, but I could already sense an improvement in my vision.  The scroll said that Days One and Two would be tolerable, but during Days Three and Four I “may experience some discomfort,” so I hunkered down and got stuff ready for Sheepdog to be in charge for the long weekend.

I learned several things during my recovery period:

1.  I am a fast healer.  By 8PM on Day One I could no longer keep my eyes open, which meant I was a full day-plus ahead of the scroll’s timeline for “discomfort.”
 
2.  I am capable of hibernation.  I went to bed on Thursday when my eyes started hurting, and I slept until 6AM the next day.  Less than two hours later I was back down for a nap.  Throughout the rest of the day I would sleep for two or three hours, wake for thirty minutes or so, then go back to sleep.  I do not know if I slept so much because my body was healing or because I was so bored.  Probably both.  I could not open my eyes, therefore I could not watch TV, nor could I read.  All I could do was hang out and chat with God, but he was preoccupied helping people in NJ and NY because of stupid Sandy.  So I was basically on my own, without even a bloody-handprinted volleyball to call my friend.
 
3.  Doctors can be tricky little wordsmiths.  “Light sensitivity” can imply that you may need to have a pair of dark sunglasses handy on a bright day.  Yet it can also mean that you have to turn off every source of light inside your home, close every curtain or blind and duct tape the cracks because even the smallest ray will send your brain into a tailspin.  It would be best if you lived in a windowless cave. “Discomfort” is also apparently on a spectrum.  My particular level of “discomfort” was akin to having my eyeballs rolled in sand, boiled, then put back into my head.  The doctor said that my recovery would take longer if I used the pain drops, so I toughed it out.  Fortunately, I am a Jersey girl and Jersey girls are badass.  Also fortunately, the painful part lasted less than two days.
 
4.  You can actually get dehydrated from your own tears.  During Days Two and Three my eyes did not stop watering.  I had a constant river of salty drips streaming down my face.  It was so bad that by Day Four I had a red, flaky fu manchu mustache of dry skin on my face.  I used an entire bottle of Oil of Olay that weekend. 
 
5.  Sheepdog is a lousy nurse.  He is wonderful at many, many things, but caring for a temporarily blind wife is just not in his wheelhouse.  I didn’t look any different to him, so he was over the whole, “But I’m handicapped!” even before that first weekend came to an end.

I am now 11 days post surgery, completely pain-free and able to see so much better than before.  I no longer have to wear my sunglasses at night and I have visual improvement every single day.  I may not have gotten the ‘”I can see!” said the blind (wo)man’ moment that LASIK patients apparently get to have, it is still so amazing to me that I am walking around the planet wearing no corrective lenses.   It is truly awesome.

Oh, and 1-800-contacts bought back all of my unopened boxes of contacts!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

It Was Definitely the Hair

The future has arrived.  I can listen to whatever song I choose, make a phone call and send a message (through the air!), all from one device that fits in the palm of my hand.  I can push a button and whatever flavor coffee I want comes out of the machine instantly (like in Judy Jetson’s kitchen!).  “Space Tourism” is an actual industry.  I can even load a photo onto my computer and the computer will identify the people in the picture.

I am sorry, but that last one freaks me out a little bit.  A computer can LOOK at a picture and IDENTIFY PEOPLE from it.  Like when your kid pulls out an old, square Fotomat photo from a dusty box, wipes it off and asks, “Who is that little boy, Mama?”  And you squint and jog your memory and say, “Um, I think that was my uncle, back when he was young and super cute, you know – before he started smoking pot all the time and living with the crazy cat lady who didn’t wear underpants to your aunt’s wedding reception.  Yeah, that was him.  Don’t do drugs.”

A bunch of different computer applications have face recognition software now… iPhoto has had it for a while and Facebook apparently has it too.  I get how it works (our souls have a fingerprint-like uniqueness and the computers have a way of recognizing those very specific and detailed nuances), but I am leery of it at the same time.  I would feel so much better – and the computers would seem so much less alive – if they were just measuring the distance between the eyes, width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, shape of the cheekbones and the length of the jawbone.

So I was reassured and very pleasantly surprised the other day when Kid A posted her Hermione picture on her Facebook account and the computer identified her as… ME!

Now, let me give you a little background.  Kid A is the first grandchild on both sides, so all of the relatives gathered together in the hospital room when she was born.  My mom was so excited and overwhelmed to have a grandchild.  She stared down at the minutes-old new life, scanned her beautiful baby face and gushed to me with joy, “She looks just like you!”

Everyone in the room responded, “Stacy looked just like Sheepdog as a baby?”

Seriously, Kid A looked exactly like Sheepdog and nothing like the woman who just attempted ripping the rails off of the hospital bed while forcing another human out of her body.  And while Kid A’s looks have changed over the years, she has always most closely resembled her Daddy.  Yet the computer identified her not as him, nor even as herself, but as me the other day.

Why did the software recognition program identify Kid A as me, you ask?  I mean, yes, she is my kid but we really do not look alike.  We clearly have different noses, different eyes, and very different face shapes.

There’s only one logical conclusion.  It was definitely the hair.  Unmistakable, big, Jersey Girl hair.  She DOES look just like me!

Kid A (but Me, according to Facebook), 2011

Me, 1987

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…