Oops… I Did it Again

No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket on the drive home.

No, Sheepdog didn’t knock me up.

And no, I didn’t get in trouble for saying anything ornery or inappropriate (well, no more than usual).

th

Oops, I Did it Again

But yes, I did go to the eye doctor yesterday and have another follow up exam to my PRK last November.  My vision has improved incredibly… I don’t have to wear glasses or contacts anymore because I can see everything almost perfectly.  Except not.  My distance vision is still a little blurry.  I used to be a negative 6.5 in both eyes.  Now I’m less than minus one.  But this is me we are talking about and when I do something, I do it all the way.  So guess what.  I opted to have him tweak my dominant eye.  That way I get perfect close-up vision in my left eye and perfect distance vision in my right eye.  Like the Terminator.

Oh yes, I had laser eye surgery again yesterday.  Sitting in the doctor’s office, signing away rights to life and limb, I started to have deja vu and I got all sweaty and I almost backed out because I remembered all too clearly how bad it was before.  And let me tell you that it hurts just as much as when I had it done the first time.  It feels like somebody took tiny shards of glass or grains of sand and sprinkled them on my eyeball, then closed my eyelid and rubbed it all around for a bit.  Water is leaking out of my eye so much that I slept in a pool of my own tears last night.  Sunlight is intolerable, so I picked up an eye patch to keep as much light out as possible (I couldn’t use a patch last go-round because I had both eyes done at once).  Combined with my peeling face from the idiot sunburn I earned over the weekend, I am quite a sight to behold today.

Are you ready kids?  Aye, aye, Cap'n!

Are you ready kids? Aye, aye, Cap’n!

Sheepdog is being awesome and working from home so that he can do whatever driving needs to be done over the next couple of days.  Pain makes me short on patience and short of temper, so the kids are having a grand, old time with me around.  But, hopefully, this will be a fast recovery and the very last time I have to get lazed in the eyeball.

I am hanging in there and tolerating the pain because I know it will get better soon, and the results will be worthwhile.  But I really hope that this one takes because I really do not want to have this surgery ever, ever again.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

The Hike

I held tight to my daddy’s arm as I walked fifty feet down the satin-lined aisle.  I stood beside an equally nervous Sheepdog and we both swore before God and our witnesses that we would ride it out through the good, the bad, and the ugly, forever and ever until we are parted by death.  Then we had a ginormous party.  It was a record-setting 96 degrees outside, well over 100 if you considered the humidity.  It was our wedding day.  And it was exactly twenty years ago.

This past weekend Sheepdog took me on a semi-surprise anniversary trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to celebrate our milestone.  I say “semi-surprise” because Sheepdog knows better than to try to take me on a vacation that I knew nothing about because I could not possibly prepare for such a trip.  I needed to know where we were going and what we would be doing and who was wrangling the entropy at home.  You say “control issues” and I say “practical preparedness.”  Whatever.

Now, it may be June according to the calendar, but it is still winterish in Wyoming.  It was cold at night (low 30’s) and barely got up into the 70’s during the day.  It was a little too brrrrr for my liking (my “liking” being anything having to do with the warm beach), but it was indeed perfect weather – and a beautiful location – for hiking.  So, after we took pictures with a moose on the side of the road, had a spectacular couples massage and some hotel room sex, we hiked the crap out of that place.

On the best day of our trip we hiked well over 11 miles, with a good 2,500 feet of vertical climbing.  Sheepdog calculated that for me on Strava… all I knew was that my hamstrings felt like we had hiked all the way back to Georgia.  We were in Grand Teton National Park, so we started off walking all around Phelps Lake, which took about three-and-a-half hours, including lunch.  Next we drove 15 miles north to Jenny Lake, which we first crossed by boat.  Then we hiked up to a spot called Inspiration Point, back down the mountain again, and around the lake back to our car.

When we returned to the hotel, we were exhausted but rejuvenated.  That one day of hiking in the woods together was incredibly meaningful and turned out to be more than just a day to us.  It was actually representative of our first twenty years of marriage in so many ways…

*  A mile on flat land is not too strenuous, but a mile uphill can mess with your head.

*  A turkey sandwich made with love by your husband tastes better than almost anything else you can dream up.

*  Sometimes the road signs will say “Rough Road” or “Frost Heaves.”  The best you can do is be alert and hang on tight for the ride.

*  Every once in a while you may cross paths with a girl who tells you she is going to jump into the lake naked.  It is okay that Sheepdog listens for her splash, as long as he is still walking by your side and holding your hand.

*  Occasionally you may also run into a boy hiking in just his underpants.  Discussing what you think will happen when he runs into the naked girl can provide lots of entertainment and giggles.

*  The weather may be too hot or too cold or somewhere in between.  Pack lots of options, and don’t complain about how heavy the suitcase is.

*  Bringing kids on the trip will change everything.  Sometimes you need to leave them at home with your sister.

*  Nobody likes a whiner, even if you get jammed in the leg by an unyielding tree.  Be tough.

*  Someone has to lead and someone has to follow.  Don’t be greedy about your position.  Share the responsibility.  But always let the man drive.

*  Wear good shoes.

*  Bring a book, but be sure to put it down sometimes so you can talk to each other.

*  If he carries all of the water, she will be able to carry the camera.  Nobody gets thirsty and everything is documented, so everybody wins.

*  You may think that you only like beach vacations, but the mountains just might surprise you.  You’ll never know until you try something new.

*  You forget the pain of the climb when you see the view from the top.  Especially if you are seeing it with someone you love.

IMG_8310

“In the name of God, I take you to be mine, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.  This is my solemn vow.

I give you this ring as a sign of my vow and with all that I am and all that I have I honor you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”

Happy 20th Anniversary to my Sheepdog.  Thanks for sticking it out through all of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It has been an incredible and inspiring hike.  Let’s keep going.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Rock Star

I took Dr. Sheepdog’s advice on the life affirmation, and shortly thereafter began exhibiting signs of too much of a good thing.  So I quickly called the office of Hot Doc to see if he could analyze my urine and write me a script that would lessen my urge to pee every three to five minutes.

I knew that I was traveling on a rocky road when counsel with Hot Doc didn’t provide me even a sliver of pain relief.  His killer smile and collaboration on a prank yielded no respite (He told me to tell Sheepdog no sex for four weeks. I chose to tell Sheepdog I was pregnant.  Sheepdog found neither to be funny).

Controlled substances gave me little lull in my torture, so I reverted to witchcraft, sorcery, and tricks of old.  I practiced meditation, controlled breathing and visions of my happy place to manage the diabolical torture my body was going through.  Oh, and I had signed up to deliver dinner to not one but two friends that day, so I had that to distract me.  By the end of the day I was convinced that I was dying.  I tried to pee one more time.

Sweet relief of Jesus.  Afterwards, I dialed Sister C’s phone number and waited.  When I finally heard an adult female voice at the other end of the line I screamed, “I just peed out a rock!”

“Um… this is Mary, the babysitter.  Sister C and House Captain went to a Braves game, so you can try them on their cell phones.  But it sounds like you just passed a kidney stone.”

If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?

If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?

Later, I reached Sister C and she (being the kidney stone expert in our family) confirmed.  But apparently I’m supposed to save the little bastard for lab tests and whatnot (I didn’t).  And I now need to make adjustments to my diet and whatnot (less calcium, lower sodium, fewer animal proteins… basically get rid of all the fun stuff).

Hot Doc sent me a message via secure client portal this morning.  My urine culture returned negative for evidence of urinary tract infection.  Duh.

So I responded with this:

I’m not too surprised, because later that day I peed out a rock… my very first kidney stone! I just figured I was dying because it hurt like a mother all day. After it passed, I felt so much better but it took my body a day or two to completely recover. I did finish the course of antibiotics you gave me.
I guess I’ll just know for next time (fingers crossed there will be no next time) when I have acute lower back pain or throbs in my flank and groin and waves of debilitating agony that make me throw up, that another stone is rolling its way down the chute.
At least I remembered my Lamaze breathing. That really helped! Plus, I’m kind of a badass. That helps too.
I will follow up with my urologist.
Giddyup (that’s a stirrup joke because you are my gynecologist),
Stacy Swiger

Sheepdog says I’m going to get fired as his client.  I’m still on pain meds.  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Good Grief

Things are slowly getting back to normal around here.  School has been out for over a week now, and we have already settled in to a nice routine of whatever activities we have scheduled (mostly the older kids), a little exercise (mostly me), and sometimes a swim in the neighborhood pool or a run through the sprinkler (Kid E insisted that we get one).  I’ve been moving along, day by day, trying not to let death be the first thing that comes to mind when I open my eyes.  And each day it does get a little better.  But I also don’t want to forget Braden and what he meant to our family.  It really is a fine line.  Right now I am a tightrope walker.

My mom mentioned to me last week when she came down for the memorial service that she was more worried about me than she was about Kid A.  I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager.  But this is different.  I was legitimately depressed when Braden was diagnosed.  Surely there were times when I ate and drank too much during the many months when he was being treated.  But when he died, it was like a switch flipped in me.  I reassured my mom that her fears were unfounded… I was talking about my feelings, I was reading a book about dealing with death, I was writing as my therapy, I was exercising every day, drinking and eating in healthy quantities, and overall managing a very healthy grieving process.  I am very sad, but I am working through the sadness.  But I guess you never stop worrying about your kids, so I get where my mom was coming from.

images

Kid A and Kid B did some grief counseling before school let out.  Kid A has a box of memories and mementos that she has been going through.  Kid B has been wearing the soccer jersey that Braden gave her.  We are encouraging everyone in our family to talk about their emotions, and to continue to talk about Braden.  Sheepdog has been more angry than sad, but that has always been his go-to move.  He took out some of that anger on his mountain bike yesterday, with my brother-in-law and one of his employees.  The point is, everyone grieves differently, and on their own schedule.  As long as you work through it, the grief is almost always good.

One day Kid E started crying and said, “I’m really going to miss Brandon!” but we reassured him that Uncle Brandon was just fine (aside from the damage that Sheepdog may have inflicted on him during the very emotional bike ride).  He was obviously still in the first stage of grief… shock and denial (and confusion).

Sheepdog and I were talking about it again last week.  We have obvious concern for Braden’s family, but also for each other and for our kids as well.  We wanted to make sure that everyone was getting the counseling that they needed and processing their emotions in healthy, constructive ways.  We spoke at length about how everyone is exhibiting their pain in their own unique way, and none of them is necessarily right or wrong.  We can only continue to watch out for signs and make sure that no one slips through the cracks without properly acknowledging and dealing with their sorrow.

And then Sheepdog pointed out that some people really benefit from grieving naked, and he felt that a little affirmation of life was in order.  I guess we really are going to be okay.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Good Housekeeping

You may have noticed some updates to the This Is How I Do It website over the past few weeks.  I have been in the process of changing the look of my site and I even wrote a long overdue, much more current version of the Cast of Characters (2013).  Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.

I started writing This Is How I Do It just about two years ago.  Sheepdog and I were out to dinner (alone!) about a month before and I was complaining that I still wanted to write a book, but I could never find the time to actually write.  “It is a process, ” I whined to him, “that requires focus and discipline, but I have all of these distractions – namely Kid A, Kid B, Kid C, Kid D, Kid E and even you – that are constantly requiring my immediate attention.”

“Um, that’s your job, so suck it up and stop whining.  If you really want to write, then start with something small.  Write a blog.  Write about us.  Write about all of these kids and the distractions and our crazy lives.  People will want to read that.  And they will keep reading because you are a great writer,” said my biggest advocate.

So I sucked it up and I created this site.

I can’t believe that it has been two years.  I remember how scared I was to press “publish” on the very first day… it was a Sunday and I was doing a bunch of yard work.  I didn’t tell anybody, not even Sheepdog, that I was actually starting.  I just did it.  Afterwards, I went outside and got to my task at hand, listening to some good, angry, weed-pulling music and distracting myself from the inevitable judgment that I envisioned as people read my first real post (Guess Who’s Pregnant).  Shit, is it “who’s” or “whose?”  Do I even know proper grammar?  This is so scary!

I did not do a very good job staying away from the computer at all.  I left flowerbed dirt footprints in the foyer each time I came back in to check the web traffic (WordPress tracks everything for you so you know how much love you are getting… just like Instagram “likes,” but for blog hits).  Once I saw that I was getting good numbers, dare I say really good numbers, I didn’t stop yelling periodic updates to anyone who would listen.  By the way, no one at my house was listening.

“One hundred people have read my post!  That is one-freaking hundred hits on my first day!  On a Sunday with nice weather!  They love me, they really love me!” I yelled from my office, even though everyone else was outside and no one was paying attention.

“I’m up to one hundred fifty-seven now.  I’m on a roll!” echoed through the empty hallways a little later on.

But my enthusiasm would not be deterred.  It was like crack and I was an addict.  People were really reading what I had to write and I loved the feeling.  I had no measure as to whether they liked it or not, but I didn’t really care about that yet.  The numbers just kept on climbing and I was immediately hooked on blogging.

All in all, I got one hundred ninety-eight hits on that first day.  Over the next two years I have watched as thirty-two thousand more people have visited my website.  Some even commented, which made me feel really special.  My favorite part is that people can often relate to what I am writing, and it is truly why I continue to do this.  Nobody wants to feel alone or weird or like they suck at stuff.  So I share my stories and hopefully remind everybody that nobody is perfect and we’re all just making it up as we go along.  Life is crazy and scary and messy.  But it is also a huge gift.  So suck it up and do your job.

And if you’re really lucky, somebody will tell you how awesome you really are.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Can you define "defective?"

Can you define “defective?”

The Finish Line

Sheepdog has always said, “If you see Stacy running, you had better call the police.  Because someone has got to be chasing her.”

You see, my husband knows me well and he definitely knows that I do not like to run.  I never have.  I’m just not so inclined.  I am more of a cheerleader.

But Sheepdog is a runner.  He is mostly a bike rider, but he is also a runner.  Run, Sheepdog, run.

He has been running throughout most of our marriage.  No, not away from our marriage, silly.  Throughout.  Although, in truth, maybe sometimes he is dreaming of running away.  I know I sometimes do.  Just not while running.  But I digress.

Sheepdog has completed a couple of triathlons, but the swimming part always gets him.  He swims like I would imagine a T-rex swimming… like he weighs in the tons and has disproportionately short arms.  The triathlon I remember best he did in Brigantine, New Jersey, when Kid B was just an itty-bitty thing.  They started off swimming in waves.  Each wave (divided by age and gender) had a different color rubber swim cap, so it made it easier to identify your swimmer when they finished the swim portion through the rough waves of the bay.  I don’t recall exactly, but I do recall that his wave (young, fast men in robin’s egg blue caps) came bobbing to shore first, but not Sheepdog.  Then the young, fast women started to swim in.  Still no sign of Sheepdog.  The older, not-so-fast men, then some kids and even the older women started running out of the cold water.  I think a couple of handicapped people swam to shore, as did a woman who was well over 100-years-old (I might be remembering that part incorrectly, but you get my point).  Finally, Sheepdog wearily dragged himself up the boat ramp and onto his bike.  Satisfied that he did not have to be brought in on a rescue boat, he then took off angrily on his bike as if it were an extension of his own body.  He rode like the wind.

And he ran like the wind, too, all the way to the finish line back on par with many of the fast, young men.  And I stood there with Kid A and Kid B and the diaper bags and the snacks and the double stroller, and I think my parents were there too, and we cheered as loud as our voices would cheer as Sheepdog ran under the marker and clocked his time.  It was a grand celebration at that finish line.

Sheepdog has also competed in marathons.  That same year, he ran in the 39th Atlantic City marathon.  Once again, I stood at the windy finish line with Kid A and Kid B and the diaper bags and the snacks and the double stroller, and we cheered and hollered as he completed twenty-six point two miles of running along the boardwalk and the streets of Atlantic County using only the power of his own mind and body.  And he did it in just under four hours.  And it was again a grand celebration at the finish line, especially because this time he didn’t almost die in some back bay because of his dinosaur flaw.

Sheepdog says, "I was running!"

Sheepdog says, “I was running!”

He went on to run another marathon in Philadelphia after Kid C was born.  He trained so as to not die on the swim portion and he “Tri-ed” again a few more times after we moved to Georgia.  He has ridden in countless bike races, all over these United States.  They are each different but sometimes the races all blur together in my mind.  The end is always a grand celebration at the finish line.  A celebration of athleticism, of willpower of the human mind, of setting and attaining seemingly impossible goals.  And of not drowning.  But mostly the finish line is a celebration of people.

Yes, I have stood and celebrated at many finish lines.  My heart aches for those who were there at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off.  I watched the news in horror, found hope in the helpers and cheered with America when they captured the suspect.  Boston may be strong, but I fear they are a little bit harder inside after the events that unfolded last week.  I know I wondered if I would ever want to be at any finish line ever again.

But then I decided something…  I decided that I do still wish to be there.  I want to celebrate athleticism and willpower and goals.  Mostly, I want to cheer for the people, because mostly, people are good.  I will continue to send my kids off to school.  I will keep going to the movies.  I will continue to live this life that I have been blessed with to the fullest.  I will try to be one of the helpers.  And I will ALWAYS be cheering as loudly as I can at the finish line.  And I hope to see you all there.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Press of Atlantic City article about Sheepdog

Vacation Shoes – Part Dos/ Deux

Have you missed me?

Well, I’ve been super busy working out and learning how to make bread from the wheat grain and adding carbonation to water and giving all of my attention and mommy love to kids who have been sick since last November.  Oh, and then Sheepdog and I went back to Mexico.  (To read about last year’s trip CLICK HERE )

Earmuffs, kids.  Consider yourselves warned.

Ahhhhh, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Say it with me with the accent… “MAY-He-Co.”

That magical land where all I do is sleep and sunbathe and drink and read books.  And that He ‘n and She ‘n thing with my sexy husband.  Maybe that’s how I lost five pounds on vacation.  It’s definitely how I got a nice suntan and lost the bags under my eyes and wiped the scowl off my face.

When we left Atlanta last week, Sheepdog had a full beard.  He hadn’t grown a beard since Kid A was a little bitty, so the mountain man thing was kind of a first for the kids… and most of them HATED it.  And I mean started every sentence with, “So you’re going to shave that nasty beard and…”  But I loved it, so it stayed (Sheepdog’s no dummy, folks).  But then it got itchy and too warm for a Baja vacation, so I told him he could lose it, but only if he would take it off in stages.  And…  It…  Was…  Awesome.

"Me gusta tu barba" - Kesha (when she's in Cabo)

“Me gusta tu barba” – Kesha (when she’s in Cabo)

I found it surprisingly/ disturbingly sexy even though I burst out laughing every time I looked at him (as did my sister and my mom).  My brother-in-law and most of the staff at the resort thought it was spectacular beyond words (the male staff was envious because a new corporate policy prohibited them from having any kind of facial hair… “Nos sentimos como señoras,” they lamented).  Then my dad said something on the golf course about not really liking it because he didn’t want his daughter having sex with a Mexican porn star.  So Sheepdog shaved the very next day (again, Sheepdog is no dummy, folks).

Adiós, bigote.

Now, you may be presuming that I am well versed in the Spanish language, but you would be wrong.  I am, in fact, a bit heavy-handed with the Google Translate today.  Having resolved to learn conversational Spanish after last year’s trip, Sheepdog set us up with a program called Pimsleur, which stresses active participation instead of rote memorization.  All I needed to do was take thirty minutes each day to listen and repeat, without interruption.

It didn’t happen.

I tried, but thirty minutes is an excruciatingly long time to be still and focused when you have a gazillion other distractions and things to do before the kids get home from school.  My lessons would go something like this…

Voices from my iPod: “This is Unit One of Pimsleur’s Spanish I.  Listen to this Spanish conversation:
Perdóne, señorita.  ¿Entiende Inglés?
No, señor. No entiendo.
Hablo español un poco.
¿Es usted un norteamericano?
Sí, señorita.
In the next few minutes, you will learn not only to understand this conversation, but to take part in it yourself.”
 
Me: (to no one in particular, especially since I am alone in my car) “Eh.  But I do want a margarita and some guacamole.  I wonder what shows recorded last night.  ‘Norteamericano’ is a funny word.  ‘Norteamericano.  Norteamericano.  Norteamericano.’  I wish I could take a nap right now.” (turns off iPod) 

Oh, how I wish I took Spanish when I was still in school.  Instead I learned Latin and French, which (fortunately?) stuck with me.  Now, every time I go to places where they speak a foreign language, even though I have toiled (see above) over my adult Spanish lessons so that I may converse on the most basic of levels, it is the language d’amour that sneaks out of my mouth when I’m not paying attention.

The maids in Cabo would come to the house every day.  I wanted to say hello and genuinely thank them for doing the menial tasks that I, too, am familiar with most days at home (also to relatively little applause), but I’m not touching said chores with a ten-foot pole during my glorious week of vacation.  I also wanted to grab my swimsuit and get poolside.

Me: “Hola, señorita. Gracias (internal dialogue: for washing my towels and changing the sheets on my sex bed).  Pardonnez-moi (more internal dialogue: while I lay out in the sunshine and drink a Pacifico with a lime.  Oops, did I just speak French?).  Adiós.”

I meant to say “excuse me” in Spanish (“perdón”).  Ironically, my French slip was a bit Freudian, as “pardonnez-moi” actually means “forgive me.”

Yes, please forgive me for being an idiot but also for having an awesome time in MAY-He-Co.  Especially whilst you have to do all of the crappy jobs.  Gracias, merci, and gracias again.

******************************************************************************************

Along with the facial hair props that heavily influenced our husband and wife activities in Mexico, I brought some awesome shoes to the party.  Sheepdog liked them very much.

Zapatos de las vacaciones, perro pastor aprobado.

Zapatos de las vacaciones, Perro pastor aprobado.  Note the rainy Atlanta backdrop.  Trust me… they looked even better in the Mexican sunshine.

Good thing too because, all too quickly, our week was up and our vacation over and we were on a plane back to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the rain, rain, rain that has turned Atlanta into Seattle-East.  We thanked Grandma and Grandpa with genuine passion for playing Headbandz and minding the store for a whole week and we hugged the kids with genuine passion too because we truly missed them.

Then Kid D threw up in the dugout during baseball practice, less than twenty-four hours after our return.  And Kid C was sick with chest/ sinus congestion and we were dealing with snot and kid puke and diarrhea.

Welcome home.  Welcome back to life with five kids.  Bienvenido a casa and bienvenue à la vie avec cinq enfants.

Sheepdog, we’ll always have Cabo.

As my friend, Fat Bastard, says… only fifty-and-one-half weeks and 1,695 miles to go…

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

******************************************************************************************

I decided to be nice and add a translation for today’s bilingual (trilingual?) post.  You’re welcome…

Dos/ Deux = Two in Spanish/ French
Me gusta tu barba = I like your beard
Nos sentimos como señoras = We feel like women
Adiós, bigote = Goodbye, mustache
Zapatos de las vacaciones, Perro pastor aprobado = Vacation shoes, Sheepdog approved