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Super Sophia

Okay, you know how they say that babies get extra cranky right before they master a new skill? I'm not imagining this, right? "They" do say that? I'm not going to google it because just yesterday I was all smug and I googled "12 week old baby wakes up dry diaper" because I just KNEW it was a sign of genius that Sophia almost always wakes up dry (AND SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT, BLESS HER SQUINCHY SOUL). And instead of finding what I expected, which was noted authorities saying, "Some VERY WONDERFUL BABIES have been known to stay dry at night as early as TWELVE WEEKS OF AGE," no, instead I read a screed from some woman who thinks not co-sleeping is child abuse, and if your 3 month old baby is sleeping through the night so deeply that she doesn't wet her diaper, it's too early and you're putting her at RISK OF DYING FROM SIDS. So therefore you should sleep with your baby and sort of wake her up every so often, that is, if you don't want HER TO DIE.

Sometimes I hate the internet. I swan.

But anyhow, as I was saying, I believe, but cannot verify, that babies get extra cranky just before they master a new skill. Also, I am apparently addicted to commas. Sheesh. My POINT is that Sophia is apparently just about to master calculus. Or flying. Or telekinesis.


She is not happy if you put her down.

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She's not all that thrilled with being held, either. (It's blurry because of the rocking/bouncing/ferthelovapete, WHAT?)


Not even hanging out with her big brother makes her happy.


She is a complex creature, and don't EVEN TRY to figure her out.

After a full day of walking her and adjusting her and offering her binky and retrieving it from under the couch where it was spit with EXTREME PREJUDICE and putting her up to my shoulder, then down across my arm, facing out, then in the sling, then out of the sling...after a full day of what felt like wrestling a tiny, angry, bald, frat boy (the only other sort of human who ever threw up on me), after a full day of this, I can honestly say...


...I love every difficult inch of her.

(Did I mention she sleeps through the night? Regularly?)

Bumper sticker wisdom

The other day I saw a bumper sticker - I'm sure you've seen it - that said something like, "Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching." Something along those lines, anyhow. I stood there, in the parking lot, pondering the wisdom there on this particular bumper, for a good minute.

I've decided it's entirely wrong.

First of all, if you work like you don't need the money, show of hands here, how many of you would turn up tomorrow? On time? Does anyone seriously think life should be one endless emotional high? How about instead, "Work like you're a responsible human being even when you don't feel like it"? Because that one works for all of us, even those of us who DON'T actually work for money, yet still need to put on their big girl panties in the morning and tackle the day.

And love like you've never been hurt? Psssht. I suppose that would take me back to the maturity  and depth of my high school days. If there's one thing I'm sure of, love after you've been hurt is very sweet indeed.

And dance like no one is watching? Okay, I can see that. But there's also definitely something to be said for dancing WHEN people are watching. I've watched this video about ten times, and it only gets more awesome.

First of all, let me say that I've never gotten any flack over breastfeeding. I must hang out in uninteresting places or - *gasp* - have uninteresting breasts, because no one has ever objected to me feeding my babies, and by my calculations the ol' girls have been at work for hundred years now. Five years. Whatever. I have nursed 'em in the rain, and on a train, and in a box, and with a...well, near a fox, anyhow. And in all that time, with all those opportunities, no one has ever said ANYTHING to me. I've never been asked to leave a restaurant, never been kicked off a plane, never been arrested, nothing.

Other people have all the fun.

Honestly, though, I attribute my unopposed lactation to two things: I'm comfortable with breastfeeding, and I'm pretty darn good at doing it without flashing nipple or swathing myself in blankets (tome, the blanket over the shoulder is sort of like a flashing neon sign - "BOOB AT WORK HERE"). Once, when Tre was a baby, I was taking college classes and I had a childcare crisis, so I took him with me to my literature class. At the end of the class, the professor walked over to me and said, "Your baby was just as good as gold - I never even knew he was there. Oh, is he sleeping?" I sat there, TOTALLY NURSING THE BABY, and nodded back and said, "YUP. Sleeping." Everyone was happy.

So the other night I was at Raphael's baseball game, and one of the other team moms came over to say hi and admire Sophia. Unfortunately, she also asked to hold her, and stupidly, I said SURE and handed her over, and she promptly got upset. Sophia, not the mom. She doesn't particularly like a) strangers or b) being passed around. Seriously, I should get those facts tattooed on my arm, so I can remember and head off meltdowns. So the mom handed her back, and I started trying to settle her back down. After a few minutes Sophia started subtly indicating that she might like a wee nip o' the milk (face-butting my breast), so I pulled out a blanket and flung it over her head (THE BLANKET WAS MY MISTAKE. AM CONVINCED). Just then the 13 year old son of the other mom walked up to ask her something. She turned to him and held him at bay with a warning hand.


And GOOD LORD, but was the poor 13 year old happy to find some other place to be in that moment. He scurried away, to a land where he was safe from hearing his mother say things like BREAST. I goggled at the woman for a moment, then turned my attention to one pissed-off baby who was both hungry AND stuck under a blanket.

Um...thank you for your support?

Mir was here

Hey, did you notice I fell off the face of the earth last week? Actually, what happened was that Mir came to visit, and it turns out my little brain must jettison one thing before taking on something else. Last week? Blogging was happily flung overboard to make room for sitting around talktalktalking with Mir.

Love Mir.

Did you know she and I met through our blogs? What was it - five years ago? Six? I'm not sure, but we were both freshly divorced, and we spent hours on IM, giving our cold, dead marriages thorough autopsies. We hand-held each other through various traumas and new beginnings, and now here we are, in vastly different places in our lives, yet still talktalktalking. It makes me laugh, because before she got here, I told a few people that my friend was coming to visit, and they asked where we knew each other from, and I said, "um... the Internet." Which sounds a little seedy, ya know? And it's so not. Yahoo Messenger is the back fence over which I chat with one of my favorite people. Where was I?

Ah yes, so Mir came to visit. I must confess here, I was a little intimidated. I've been to her house, but she's never been here. I've met her husband and her kids and EVEN her EX HUSBAND. I've seen her Venetian plaster and eaten her flat-leaf parsley until my tongue was green. They were lovely and yummy, respectively. But she's never been here, never met my kids, never met Clay, never been shed upon by our dog. In a very middle-school sort of way, I really wanted to make my life perfect before she arrived.

Unfortunately, as I've mentioned, I don't even have time these days to finish the newspaper. So. Perfection's not likely to happen, now is it?

I pinged her on IM and told her, "Okay, look. My house is tiny. And a mess. My children are feral. My dog sheds A LOT. And I'm fat." I meant post-partum-ly-plump.

"Kira," she replied, "I'm not coming to judge your house or your kids or your dog. I'm coming to see you and snoogle the baby. And you're not fat."

I accepted that with such grace and maturity that I actually stayed home from church Sunday so I could clean the house before she arrived. Unfortunately, Sophia developed a little wound on her little cheek Sunday morning (NEVER MIND HOW. SHUT UP.), and I was so busy weeping over her and berating myself (speaking of grace and maturity), that I never seemed to get around to actually cleaning much of anything. Sheesh. Is it any wonder I have to troll online for friends?

Colorado has been getting all tornado-y with its afternoon weather lately, so Mir's plane was delayed for an hour. When she got off the plane, I welcomed her with an outpouring of gracious hospitality in the form of prolonged boring fretting over Sophia's wee cheek (NEVER MIND HOW. I SAID SHUT IT.), and my own tomato hornworm story, which is horrible and should never be repeated. (But I WILL repeat it, and I DO, whenever the subject of tomato hornworms comes up, making it entirely her own fault.)

And then I took her home with me, and you know how the story ends, right? I mean, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of their after-school-special-lore knows how this ends. It was just like the first day of kindergarten, when my dad came to pick me up and I ran up to him and informed him with great glee, "It was GREAT and NOBODY noticed the scratches on my shoes!" My kids loved her and she loved my kids and Clay sort of hung back, a little shocked by the sheer volume of words, but charmed nonetheless. Carmi loved her instantly, and proceeded to shed and look guilty, such was the weight of her love. I was worried that Sophia would be uptight, because she's shown quite a bit of stranger anxiety lately. See the tension in that little baby there?


Mir truly is the baby whisperer. I like to think that Sophia recognized in her a fellow delicate flower. They bonded.

We spent four days just doing what I do, trips to the library and baseball games, fighting to maintain the thread of a conversation in the midst of four kids and their various needs and noises, and driving lots of places. Home felt perfectly at home with Mir in the midst of it all, and it was certainly fun to have someone else around to narrate the baby's thoughts. From now on until eternity, whenever Sophia does this:


...I will hear Mir's voice, as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, saying "EXcellent...."

And now she's back home, and things are back to the way they were before she came...except not. Because Mir is the sort of friend who makes me look around myself and see more possibility than I'd realized. And even though today is filled with very mundane details, with laundry that needs to be washed, and a trip to the vet to see what's wrong with Carmi, and two baseball practices, there is also the lingering freshness in the air left by a woman with no time in her life for stale. And that, my friends, is a fine woman indeed.


Even if she does eat babies.

Dear Raphael,

This is what your goofy hair looked like the morning you turned eight.


And this is what you looked like as we sang to you this evening:


See that cake? You put your own candles on, and that's why there are eleven. You needed all eleven to make the shape of an eight. At least, that's what you said. I can't see the eight, somehow, and yet I think it's appropriate.

After all, you shine rather brighter than your average eight.

I love you fiercely, because for you...


...only fierce will do.

Happy birthday, dear one. Thank you for letting me watch you grow.

love you,


Love sees what matters

I never finish the newspaper anymore.

I don't even remember half of what I do read.

There are five compelling novels sitting in my library bag, untouched.

I have no idea what is going on in the lives of many of my favorite bloggers.

I have a friend who keeps sending me emails, urging me toward political action, before it's too late, but I can't seem to worry too much.

But tonight, while her oldest brother made her smile,

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...and the next brother down snapped the snaps on her jammies...

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...I let them give her care while I just watched.

I don't accomplish much, but I see love.

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And love is enough.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

I don't deserve her, but then, who does?

Last night I sat on the couch, Sophia draped across my lap. Her head was at my knees, and her fat legs were folded against my belly. She gazed into my eyes like I was saying something very clever and insightful, while I treated my fingertips to the feel of her tummy skin. She cooed at me and I cooed back and she smiled that sort of smile that babies are subject to - the kind that extends to her entire body and causes her to squirm and churn her legs and pull her shoulders up like she's suddenly shy. And then, as my fingers traced circles on the satin of her skin, she laughed.

It was just a tiny laugh, a hesitant, throaty chuckle, but oh, how it stopped my heart. I called Clay over, and I tickled her under her chin, and together we melted at the sound of her shiny-new, zero-mileage laugh.

So this morning, when she woke up all sunny smiles and squirming glee, I had to try for the giggle again. Soon all three boys were perched on the bed behind me, peering over my shoulder, belly laughing with glee at their sister's tiny chortle.

It was a gorgeous way to celebrate the day, nine weeks since Sophia's birth.

I, on the other hand, decided to celebrate it by hauling her off to the pediatrician's office, where I allowed them to jab her dimpled thighs not once, not twice, not THREE TIMES, but FOUR FREAKING POKES with their wicked needles. She kicked both legs out, rigid with rage, and howled, tears rolling down bright red cheeks. I could feel heat wash over her body as she cried and cried and cried.

I felt like the worst mother ever.

I know, I know, I'm not a bad mother for providing the standard of medical care. I know. (Although my chiropractor would be VERY DISAPPOINTED in my choice to immunize - and I'm sure some of you may be too.) No, I'm okay with that. The reason I feel like a terrible mother is that even as she bucked and wailed, even as I blinked back my own tears, even as the nurse pressed Snoopy band-aids onto my baby's thighs, this thought occurred to me:

We sleep well tonight.

Season opener

The first baseball game of the year was tonight - Raphael's team (they picked the name "Nile Crocs" - not to be confused with your ordinary old Florida Crocs, I guess) played a team named "Fire Breathing Rubber Ducks." Or something.

It was an epic battle, and since we don't keep score at the 7 and 8 year old level, all I can say is that it was a game well played.

Oh, and here's my baby, scoring a run, with a Duck in hot pursuit.


Baseball tends to take up way too much time. Already this first week we've had two nights where dinner was a hurried "grab a sandwich" sort of an affair. I know this pace will get old soon. But for tonight I'm enjoying the memory of Raphi's glowing face, as he strolled back to the dugout, glancing our way to be sure we saw.

There will be time enough to get tired of it all. For tonight I say play ball, boys.


Play ball.

(Btw, not only is that adorable - ahem, excuse me - FEROCIOUS batter Raphael, the handsome first base coach in blue is Clay. Rrrrowl, babe. Nothing hotter than a man who can - with a straight face - tell a seven year old "Good try, buddy" when he's just hit a baseball into his own face. Actually happened tonight. Not my son. I'm just saying.)

A mix of storm and son

It's baseball season again around here, so last night found me huddling under a pine tree with a handful of other moms, hoping the practice would end before the rain began. I was watching Max's practice, having met Clay there so he could leave to take Raphael to his practice. These are the days that require many a high-level strategy meeting.

When the practice was over, the team chose their name for the year (Spartans! Bring on the stomach-gnawing foxes!), and we dispersed. I had been sitting on the damp grass, wrapped around Sophia, trying to convince her that she preferred to keep her arms under the blanket, so I was relieved to be going. Max and I made our way out to the car, me exclaiming over the three times he'd been hit with the ball (and so BRAVE! and TOUGH! and - well - SPARTAN about it all!), him rolling his eyes at my offers of ice and ibuprofen. As we climbed into the van Max said something very clever, but I can't tell you what it was, because as soon as I laughed, he followed it up with, "You're not going to blog that, are you?"

This isn't the first time he's said that, turned and pinned me with fierce eyes, and demanded I not share with you something he's said or done. I hadn't thought too much about it, but I suddenly realized it was a pattern with him, evidence of concern.

"Do you not like me writing about you? Does it bother you?" I asked. He turned and stared out the window.

"Yeah, I guess. It's just...weird, you know?"


"People we don't even know about know what happens in our house. That's weird."

We were silent for a minute, me kneading the steering wheel, him staring out the window that was now lightly spattered with rain.

"You know, Max, I would never make fun of you or tell your secrets on my blog."


Just then we spied a fox running across the road, a prairie dog in its mouth, and the excitement of that was enough to distract us from the subject. From there the conversation went to the new team name, and then how Max was doing at pitching, and how funny it was that two of the times he got hit when he was at bat, it was a parent pitching, not another kid. I asked to peek at the shoulder that had been hit, and he indulged me, peeling up his sleeve. There was another lull in the conversation, and I thought about what he'd said.

We who write about our kids have been accused of exploitation, of using our kid's childhoods for our own ends. I've never been sure what I would say to those critics. I didn't really think it mattered what they thought.

But then, I never expected my son to be the one complaining.

Is it right for him to have to worry about what I might be saying? Is it fair of me to make him feel so exposed?

"Max? About the blog?" I glanced at him. He slumped in his seat, then nodded me permission to continue. "I will try my best not to write about things that you don't want me to. If you'll explain to me what you want me to keep private, I will. But..." I looked at him, his face mostly obscured by a dark sweep of hair. "...but you have to understand that my blog is for me. It's mine, where I write about my life, and that's really important to me. And you are an important part of my life. I will do my best to respect what you need, but I want you to try to respect me, too."

He agreed to that, and we spent a few minutes talking about what was off-limits.

As we neared home, I noticed the sky, a very Colorado scene. Heavy dark clouds were clapped down over most of the city, with pockets of blue sky strewn all around the edges. Sheets of rain were illuminated by bright gold shafts of setting sun.

I looked at that complex, beautiful sky, then over at my complex, beautiful boy.

This is my story. How could I not tell it?