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March 2012
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May 2012

Also, I am eating M&Ms I found in the bottom of my purse. I think they've been there a while.

So I'm sitting in a Starbucks right now, and the lady who was in line in front of me is a complete nut job. You would not believe the efforts required to make her caramel macchiato right. To sum up: she required her foam in a separate cup. I am just saying.

She was (as I mentioned) in line ahead of me, but because I can order a drink like a normal person, I got to my seat first. That was nice, because I was able to snag one of the two soft armchairs next to each other. I'm meeting a friend, so that was good. But then nut job separate foam girl comes and sits in the other chair. Dang. She was with a guy, and she started loudly telling him to pull over a chair and a table and set the computer there and and and. So I scooped my stuff up to move. Meeting a friend, see. 

"OH NO!" she protested, "DON'T MOVE! You stay! He can sit over there! WE," here she made dramatic hand gestures from her chest toward me, "WE are what matter here."

"It's okay. I'm meeting someone, so we'll just grab a table."

"NO! You stay HERE!"

"Uh...thanks. But I'm....meeting someone...so...." And with that, I scurried off.

Now I'm sitting here, thinking about how annoying she is, and feeling simultaneously bravely snarky for blogging grumpily about her when she's sitting eleven feet away, and also very petty and childish, for blogging her at all. 

Sophia got very little sleep last night, and has been a complete bear all day. There is no slight to small or imaginary to ruin her life right now, and Raphael in particular has been her nemesis. Whenever he bumps into her/looks at her wrong/breathes an unfair share of her air/takes up actual physical space in the world as we know it, she responds by throwing things at him, stomping her foot, and shrieking, "NO NO NO! I woke up MAD TODAY."

And maybe, after all, that is my problem, and not the separate foam lady at all. Maybe I just woke up intolerant.

Although I still think it's polite to ask before sitting in the other armchair at Starbucks. 


Sweet Sophia Ann

Guess who turned three? Her actual birthday was Friday, but we postponed it, because Good Friday seems like such a GRIM day for a birthday. How do you word those invitations? "Come celebrate with us! The party theme is torture and death!" 

So instead we waited until Monday. Sophia didn't even know we'd missed her actual birthday, although the boys keep telling me they're going to tell her about it when she's older. I hope they wait until she's 13 or so, because I'm guessing she's going to be looking for reasons to be furious with me right about then. It's like a delayed-release birthday gift, really!

Since it was HER birthday (more or less), she got to pick what we had for dinner. This explains why we had fries and pink smoothies as an actual meal. Clay and my parents think I'm insane. But it was Sophia's birthday, and she enjoyed it.

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Eventually, as she does with any meal that involves catsup (or chetchup, as she calls it), she moved to a true gourmet's appreciation of this wonderful...vegetable. Totally a vegetable. 

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The party activity was decorating her cupcakes. Her PINK cupcakes. 

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Those bowls of frosting were for her use alone. That was a brilliant move on my part. Genius. I like to set the bar low for myself, in terms of achievement, but let me tell you: that was the exact right thing to do. 

Once the cupcakes were decorated, we stuck three candles in hers and sang to her. This was such a hit with her that once we were done, we were allowed to do it all over again.

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And now she is three, which is very, very big. Sometimes she comes sauntering out of her room and informs me that she was just now, in our house, growing. That is why she is so big. 

She loves to make her brothers laugh, which is not actually so hard. Tonight she sang them a song about tooting, and they were hysterical with laughter...okay, I laughed too. You had to be there. It was good. 

She paints roughly one million pictures a day, and tells that many stories and sings that many songs. She is funny and bossy and animated and strong willed and likes pink. She is our Sophia (aka Camel, Tweety Ann, or Lamination Ann. Max comes up with most of the nicknames. I cannot explain them). 

And someday we just hope she comes out of her shell, just a little. 

 

She is such a joy and yes, a million times yes, she dresses her own stubborn self. She is three, and she takes my breath away.

 

 

 


Saturday I was under a cloud. There were small reasons for this, like when I was planning my meals for the week I realized that I was hosting the Easter meal, then had two birthdays (Sophia and Clay), and then had to write a biography for my grandmother before flying out to California for her funeral on Thursday. And then I had a minor mental breakdown, because SERIOUSLY?

By the way, my grandmother died. It was February 19, the night before we buried Eva. It was so fast that at the luncheon after Eva's funeral, I asked Mom, "Hey, how's Grandma doing today?" And she looked stricken and, because she does not lie to me, she said, "She...died last night." And I cocked my head at her, and the wheels in my head spun for a moment, and then I took that information and boxed it up and there it stays. She was Vivian, my dad's mom. And her mother was named Eva. Anyhow. It's all boxed up right now, you see? So I couldn't possibly talk about her.

So anyhow, after my little (super helpful) breakdown, I took off into my day, trying to get all the groceries bought and errands run and a quick run through the gym because the only thing heavier than my actual weight is the load of self-loathing I carry about my actual weight. And I had to buy a new dress, in a shockingly large size, or wear my bathrobe to the Easter vigil that night. 

And that really was the reason I was so heavy with sadness, that service, that night. The boys were being received into the church, and I wasn't. It's my marriage, still not blessed, because Clay's annulment hasn't come through yet (ohpleaseohplease). So until that's taken care of, I can't take the final step. I'm not in yet.

It's...what? Funny? Humbling is probably more like it. For years I've stood apart from the Catholic Church and sniffed at it. You can't have me. I know better. And now, here I am, with my nose pressed to the glass, and I want nothing more. 

A few weeks ago I sat in the last RCIA class, the course of study you go through to join the church. They were discussing all the details of the services that would bring everyone into the church. I sat there, trying to be grown up about it, because despite how I tell the story, not everything is actually about me. But across the room was a woman with her newly-walking baby girl, and I could not stop watching her lurch across the floor, and suddenly I was awash in longing for things I cannot have. For full communion in my church, for a bright eyed baby girl, for a full, deep breath, for my life to feel like home again.

I mostly hid in the bathroom for the rest of that class, but whatever. I couldn't exactly hide in the bathroom that night, while my sons became Catholic.

A quick aside here: people have asked me if it's hard to have my sons become Catholic when I can't. No, no, that's not what I'm saying. I am grateful that the Church, in her wisdom, does not hold the messes in my and Clay's life against our children. They are completely their own people, and I am so glad that the graces of full communion are available to them. And I'm not saying that I resent this holdup for me, either. If you're not ready to submit to the authority of the Church, well then, I wouldn't think it would be all that hard to have to wait. It's a whole package deal, isn't it?

Anyhow, that's where I was for most of Saturday. Anxious and sad (and fat) and stressed. I didn't want to cry through this very important event in the boys' life. I wanted to be there, I HAD to be there, and yet I wasn't sure how good of a job I could do at being there.

The service started at eight, in darkness. We filed in, carrying candles. There were Bible readings, outlining the story of salvation, and moments of total darkness, save for the light of the Christ candle. Then the people who were being baptized were brought forward. I watched them file by, the adults all people I have come to know over the last eight months. When they leaned over the baptismal font and offered themselves up to the death and rebirth that baptism is, I found myself only able to smile and sing along. It is so beautiful, all of it, the water and the oil and the words. All of it, so ancient and beautiful and true. My sons stood in front of the church and declared their belief in firm voices and were marked as God's own and called by the names of their patron saints, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Frances, St. Anthony. Oh yes, please. Please pray for them.

After the baptisms the priest took a bowl of the water from the baptismal font. He believes - strongly - in really using the holy water and anointing oil. I mean really using it. After he anoints someone with oil, they glisten. He took a pine branch and dipped it in the water and then flung the water at the congregation. Because we were standing directly in front of him, Clay and I got drenched. Like, water was dripping off our chins and I was glad I wasn't wearing a white shirt. DRENCHED. 

We laughed and looked at each other. Life can be surprisingly harsh sometimes. But then again, there are blessings too that take your breath away.


When Screws messed with the screws. And his father's head.

Now, for any of this to make sense, you have to understand a little about Clay, and his particular brand of mental illness. It's funny to me, because he is by nature a very happy and easy-going guy, but he does have certain THINGS in his head that need to be Just So. Not a boy in our family has escaped the experience of wandering up the stairs, outfitted for church (shirt TUCKED IN, belt ON, shoes TIED, thankyouverymuch), and being informed genially by their dad, "Whoa, bud. Your gig line's off."

That is, the line made by the buttons on their shirt, through their belt buckle, is not lined up Just So. It's not an angry correction, see, it's just...so obvious to Clay. That is Not Just So. Why would anyone want to be Not Just So?

Another Just So requirement for Clay is the screws in the light switch and outlet covers. They should all be lined up vertically, although a horizontal arrangement is acceptable, as long as it's absolutely uniform. If we're in a brand new building, and the screws haven't been lined up Just So, Clay can hardly conceal his contempt for the builder. I personally have only ever installed one light switch plate, and I tightened the screw too much and cracked the plastic, so I don't feel entitled to judge. Clay, on the other hand, is entirely qualified to judge, because that is Not Just So. Just ask him.

It's this particular pocket of mental illness that Tre decided to poke for April Fool's Day. This afternoon, while Clay and I were napping, Tre went around the house and fiddled with every single screw on every singl light switch plate in the house. They were wildly askew, not that any normal human would ever ever notice.

And actually, Clay didn't notice either. So Tre started sighing that pranks were no fun if no one noticed, and then we all (having been clued in by Tre) started dropping hints to Clay about what he'd done. Like, we knew he was IN THE DARK, but it would soon be ILLUMINATED. I think tormenting him was half the fun for everyone.

Of course, he noticed eventually, and had to concede it was clever, although perhaps not the surpassing act of genius that Tre was claiming it to be. He's been calling Tre "Screws" ever since, which Tre loves. 

And I think they're both so wonderful that I can hardly stand it. And P.S. our family is weird.