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July 2009
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September 2009

This weekend Jennie was in town with her youth group, so we stole her away for dinner Saturday night. It seems impossible, but she hasn't been down since that disastrous Spring break (funny, that she wouldn't want to rush back after all the fun we showed her that time, huh?), so she hadn't, until this weekend, actually met Sophia.

I don't think she's been intentionally staying away from us, but Jennie's just about to start her senior year. This summer she got a job, and her life is very very full of friends and FFA and a new driver's license, and all the things that fill one's life when you're 17 and beautiful and revving up to take on the world.

We drove to an unfamiliar part of town to collect her, and found a pizza place nearby. It was small and hole-in-the-wall-ish, but the pizza turned out to be really good. We crammed ourselves into a tiny booth, passed Sophia around, and ate pizza and talked.

I was quiet, I suppose. The truth is, I should admit, that I'm intimidated by Jennie. I have been since I met her, and she was a serious-eyed twelve year old then. When Clay and I went out on our very first date, we ended up back at his house, and he showed me pictures of his family. When he pulled out the pictures of Jennie, he said, "She looks like me," and for a moment there flashed across his face such a look of love and longing for this girl, his daughter. And I felt a shaky moment of doubt, because she is so much a part of him...and I would have to find my place with both of them.

Sitting across the table from Jennie Saturday, I looked at her and wondered about that. She held Sophia, and I wished I had a camera. Sophia had her hand tangled in Jennie's long hair (red, at the moment), strands of it gripped in the damp folds of her fist. Jennie winced and pried Sophia's fingers open, slid her hair free. Sophia craned her neck to look up at her, curious. Their noses are the same, identical down to the upside-down teardrop nostrils. Jennie smiled down at her, Sophia made another grab for her hair.

Two girls. One is nearly a woman, poised and reserved. The other my baby, so close that I smell her on my skin. The bookends of my children. They are each their own mystery to me.

Let me not fail either of them.

We wobble, and sometimes we DO whine

Poor Sophia. Her day started so well, too. She was just a wee bundle of joy this morning, all giggles and coos and happy squeals. Her brothers tickled her fat legs and she kicked and laughed and was generally just a ray of sunshine in a size two diaper.

So I took her to the doctor for her four month check.

You know what happened then, right? They jabbed her cruelly FOUR TIMES in the previously mentioned dimpled thighs. Before the first shot she was sitting on my lap, chewing on her fingers and smiling at the nurse, dribbling spit and goodwill down her chin. Then the first needle pierced her skin and she froze, her eyes wide, and then a pitiful keening cry started in the very pit of her belly.


But to backtrack a bit, the good news it that she's healthy. She's growing and developing just as she should. The doctor laughed as he showed me where she falls on the growth charts, because the pattern is just so familiar by now. She looks exactly like the boys did at her age, percentile-wise. Her height is in the 17th percentile, weight in the 46th, and head circumference in the 95th.

I give birth to Weebles.

I guess since Sophia is just exactly as Weeble-shaped as her brothers were, I have to cop to being the bearer of the Weeble genes. If I'm honest, I'm a bit egg shaped myself. Even when I'm at my skinniest, I have a distinctly...sturdy look about me. And at the moment? I am not at my skinniest. This is making me insane, which may explain my own behavior today.

It started out to be such a good day, too.

And then I decided to throw myself under the bus that is Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. Good Lord. That woman is insane. And she wants me dead.

I was RIGHT THERE WITH her for the WHOLE STINKING WORKOUT. She said "push yourself" and I said "YES MA'AM, CRAZY LADY!" She said, "Change requires work" and I said, "My thighs are made of molten lava at the moment, WILL THAT DO?" I lunged and pushed up and squatted and jumped jacks and sweated and swore just a little. And then? Then, on the very final cardio set? My left calf said, "Screw this noise," and it locked up. It seized, as though its intent was to pull my heel directly into the back of my knee.  I made a yelpy noise that was ever so suave and sexy, dropped like a sack of overcooked potatoes, and grabbed at my leg.

In case you're wondering, that doesn't really help.

So tonight I hobbled around, snarling that I was fine, and cuddling a morose baby girl. She moaned sad moans into my chest, I limped like broken limpy person, and together we were very very pitiful indeed.

But we'll get through this, oh yes we will, and do you know why?

August09 009

Because we don't fall down.

Season finale

Tonight Raphael had a baseball game. But not just ANY baseball game, OH NO. Tonight, Raphael had HIS LAST BASEBALL GAME of the year.

*pause to collect myself and dab at the tears of joy and relief*

Don't get me wrong, I loves me some little boy baseball. There's simply nothing quite as sweet as a field full of wonky wee lads, their sliding pants all askew, shirt tails coming untucked, their eyes like lasers beneath their dusty caps. Lasers focused on GOD ALONE KNOWS WHAT.

Raphael's team is still playing goofy little boy ball. They don't really field the ball, they run after the it en masse, like a herd of Keystone Kops. They're pretty sure they won every game, but really they were mostly there for the snacks. There was one boy on his team this year who would stride up to the plate, then spin around and bellow at his parents, "YOU DON'T EMBARRASS ME NOW! JUST DON'T!" And then he would flail away, swinging the bat one-handed, wildly missing the ball. Good times.

While Raphael's team bounced along like a herd of puppies, Max's team is at a whole different level. They practice twice as often. Their games last two hours. They KEEP SCORE. And this Saturday they won their last game, finishing at 5-4, an official winning season. They take the game seriously, and it shows. And it costs.

We've had baseball demands on our time 5 days a week - at least - for the last two months. We ate dinner off paper towels in the car on the way to practice, drinking from water bottles clutched between knees. There are bats and mitts and batting helmets in my van, and empty Gatorade bottles under the seats. The boys have eaten more individually wrapped junk food over the last two months than they  have the rest of the year.

I. am. DONE.

Tonight as we trundled into the van for One Last Game, everyone talking at once, Clay running back into the house for one more forgotten thing, Raphael called to me from the back seat.

"Mom?" he said, cradling his mitt with the sort of affection usually reserved for particularly fine Pokemon cards, "can I play Fall ball?"

"NO." I may have responded somewhat quickly. As we drove off into a golden summer evening, I turned to look at him, all shiny and jewel-eyed in his purple cap. He was thrilled to be joining his team on the field, thrilled to be wearing his uniform and playing the game.

Oh honey, I thought. Not just no, HELL NO.

Sunday scene

Sunday evening is a mess. A literal mess - the Sunday paper seems to have exploded, the kitchen is a tangle of dishes, because everyone prepares their own snacky dinner, and somehow my family seems to celebrate the Lord's Day by abandoning all their shoes in the living room. Clay and Max are sprawled on the floor, playing a hard-fought game of chess, and they pass Sophia back and forth between them. Whoever has her on his lap at the moment claims her as their personal cheerleader, despite my pleas not to lead her down the morally slippery slope of chess cheerleader. Unruffled by any of us, Sophia chews on any finger she can access, and cheerfully yanks at fistfuls of Max's hair.

Tre is fiddling with his guitar. One of his strings has come unstrung, and he is trying to fix it and getting annoyed. He mutters and complains and shows it to Clay. Finally, he manages to get the string wound correctly, and he strums a triumphant chord. It is so wickedly out of tune that we all wince, and Tre laughs and sets to tuning his guitar.

Raphael has just gotten out of the shower, and he is lying on the floor, watching the chess game,  wrapped in his blue fuzzy blanket. His hair is otter-sleek against his head, and Clay asks him why he didn't dry it off after his shower. "But I DID," Raphael insists, and he bursts out laughing at Clay's look of disbelief.

I sit at the computer, paging through blogs. I turn to take in the messy end-of-Sunday scene.

How can such disorder fit so nicely in place?