We Knew Her When

I love the smell of a high school gymnasium. They all smell the same: a heady mixture of mustiness, floor wax and sweat. Like the wiff of an old perfume or my Grandma’s Sunday roast, the smell transports me to another place and time, one that still feels like yesterday but in reality is more than 20 years in the past.

We traveled to Stephenville, Texas this weekend to watch my 6-foot, 2-inch Freshman neice play in a varsity basketball tournament. Pei Pei (Cado’s name for her) comes by her athleticism quite naturally. Her dad played basketball for Texas Tech, one uncle for Baylor, and one for Oklahoma. Now it is her turn. She loves the game and she, and her family, have aspirations of an exciting college career. For the record, when I was a freshman in high school the only aspirations I had were a new pair of Pepe jeans, some Sperry topsiders and for someone to pleasetell me where the football team hid my 1969 orange Volkswagon Bug.

In my husband’s family sports is the central theme. It really doesn’t matter if it is little league, high school, college or professional. It could be kick ball, tetherball, baseball, basketball, football or table tennis … just give them someone to follow and cheer on. I am pretty sure the only sport they don’t call a sport and wouldn’t be caught dead following is any form of cheerleading, which pretty much makes me a non-entity in most conversations. I feel like Barbara Streisand in her role with Ryan O’Neil in The Main Event. Remember that one? I love the part where she is sitting around with all the boxers telling war stories of injuries and she tries to fit in by telling about a paper cut she got on her tongue licking and envelope. That’s me.

Back to Pei Pei. She has already made a name for herself as the only freshman on the varsity team. Like most things high school, she is having to prove herself to her coaches and teammates, and is learning some valuable lessons along the way. Her skill has come naturally to her and until now, she has not had to push herself in order to stand out among her peers. But the stakes — and the competition — are higher. Everyone from her teammates to their parents want to know that she has earned the right to take a starting position from an upperclass-woman. Even her coach pushes her perhaps a little more than he might the others, but only because he knows where she ends up in four years will have everything to do with what he can help teach her now, both on the court and off.

Big Guy has followed every single game of the season from his perch in front of the computer an entire state away. Via text messaging, he receives constant updates on the stats of every game, and I am sure is the first to view the rundown of the games online. I look forward to the day when he can start coaching our kids in whatever sports they try. Even though his family is extremely competitive, I admire his desire to teach them the games, not just coach them to win. He is a coach trapped in an attorney’s body.

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Here is Aunt Kelly (Pei Pei’s mom) with Dutch and Cado. She is married to Big Guy’s oldest brother, Richard.

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Aunt Pattie, Big Guy’s sister, came over from Ft. Worth to watch the games. Dutch was lovin’ him some Aunt Pattie. Each time she held him he just snuggled into her.

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Here is Pei Pei with Cado and Jalyn. How cute are they? Jalyn is Aunt Kelly’s great-niece (I think!). She is the cutest darn girl and Cado absolutely had to do everything she was doing the entire weekend. Pei Pei is so great to the girls and it just makes me love her even more than I already do.

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They girls were decked out to support Pei Pei. Cado made sure to explain her shirt to anyone who would listen. During the games they would shout their support with no real understanding, but with great enthusiasm.  Cado would yell, “Go Pei Pei! You can do it!” when she was on the bench. I love optimism.

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By the last game, the cheerleaders were needing something else to do. Enter Officer Kennerly of the Stephenville Police Department. No, come on. They weren’t so desperate and un-checked that they required police supervision. I think it was quite the opposite. I think Officer Kennerly was the one needing something to do. So he deputized them and made Deputies In Charge of the Door, which they took quite seriously. I found his gentle, good-naturedness to be a little disarming (no pun intended). I tried to imagine him in a serious, weapon-waving, authority-exerting situation, and I just couldn’t make myself go there. Which, in retrospect, may be why he was guarding the door at a sparsely attended girls’ varsity basketball game.

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Here is Dutch intimidating his cousin Grant on the free-throw line. Big Guy even looks ready to be schooled by him. Look out boys.

That’s all folks. It was a great weekend made even greater by the family that came together to cheer on Pei Pei. We have some other games on the calendar in January that are an easy distance from our lake house. It will be fun to watch Pei Pei mature as a young lady and as a player over the next four years. Oh, and Coach Coale, since I am sureyou are reading this, you’d better get your foot in this door asap. We are counting on Pei Pei playing for OU (he for obvious reasons and me because it will cut down on travel time). Pei Pei and her parents don’t know that yet, but Big Guy and I think it is a smashing idea.

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I Love Photographers

Since I am totally on the ball not on the ball at all, I was forced into taking pictures of my kids for a Christmas card. Let me be more specific: a picture of a three year old who still hasn’t decided what her signature smile will be and a 10-month-old who really just wants the camera so he can slam it to the ground. Which by the end of the night seemed like the best idea I’d heard.

To make matters worse, I am not a good photographer. Think of your Aunt Edna. The one who cuts off your head off or leaves the entire right half of your group picture out of the frame. That’s me. Factor in the antiquity of my Kodak EasyShare DX7400 with a time delay of oh, 97 seconds, and the chance of getting a decent picture of both Cado and Dutch is less likely than a recount claiming America really did elect McCain.

So here is a rundown of some of the shots we took. We=me and Big Guy. I have the camera in most shots and Big Guy is doing acrobatics like he was auditioning for the role of a clown in a traveling circus.

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Here we go! Not really off to a great start. I do like that this is a rockin’ shot of their pimp Christmas pajamas. (Note: should the words “pimp” and “Christmas” really be in the same zip code? Probably not.)

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In retrospect this one is not that bad if you ignore the red in Dutch’s eyes. I realize the length on his bottoms is a little long. When you have a 27-pound 10-month old in the 96th percentile in weight and 60th in height, this is just a fact of life. I’m hanging on to the thread of hope that we are going to cycle back through some of his clothes as he lengthens and thins. Which he will. Just watch. It will happen. Really. I didn’t merge my 5-foot family with a family of leaf eaters for nothing.

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Yep, he’s not so interested in staying put.

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Give. Me. That. Camera.

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Who needs Dutch? In fact, most of the people we are sending this card to might not even know we had another baby. Maybe we should just pretend, momentarily, that we meant to just send pictures of Cado. Yes. I think we are on to something …

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He didn’t like that idea. He caught wind of it and was really hurt he was being cut out of the picture. Literally. You can see the distress on his face.

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So maybe he really is more of a behind-the-scenes-kind-of-guy.  But hey! At least you have your first glimpse of Big Guy. You know what they say about big Rolex watches. Oh, really? They don’t say anything? Well, I’ll be. He really had me!

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Plan P. Use a ball to distract Dutch. Much to the utter delight of Big Guy, Dutch loves to play with a ball of any size … and with a little help you can actually convince yourself he is playing catch. This tactic would have worked if it weren’t for the hinderance of the DX740. Like I said, a shutter delay of 97 seconds does not make for great pictures (at least on purpose). For about every 951 pictures you take, one or two might cause your heart to leap within.

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IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII ssssuuurrrreeeennnnnddduuuurrr  aaaawwwwllllllll …

I wish I could tell you this was the extent of the picture flops. Not a chance. I have 70 pictures and the ones here are a random sampling of a torturous night of frantic picture attempts with delayed shutter speeds. My cards, however, are ordered.

You might be wondering which picture made it to the final cut. Well, you are just going to have to wait until you get your card in the mail. But at this rate, we considered saying “Happy MartinLuther King Day!” We’ll just have to see if the Free Rush Shipping! is just for the hopelessly naive.

Next year I’m getting their pictures taken in October by a professional photographer so like other respectable moms our cards will be beautiful and in the mail Dec. 1. Let me just think that until Dec. 1 2009 rolls around.

In the end, the card is not about us, our kids, their pajamas or even when it arrives. It is about acknowledging Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. What there is not space to say on a 5×5 card we will say here: It is our family’s prayer for you to know the depth of The Father’s love experientially in your life.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

John 3:16-18 /The Message

Party Girl

There was a time when that meant something entirely different to me. I won’t take you on a sordid trip down memory lane. Okay it’s not that sordid. Really. Maybe. Who have you been talking to?

Either way that is not the trip we are taking today. In fact, we will just leave that a road less traveled.

The trip we are taking today skips over the posts I have in my “drafts” section that muse on everything from religiousness to baby dedications to running. We are going straight to a quick update on Cado and her recent Christmas party. This is not a deep, thoughtful post. It’s just a post of some fun my girl and I had.

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Baking cookies with an independant, strong-willed, opinionated three-year-old is a lesson in How To Live Life In The Spirit. Even when they are this adorable. Partiality noted. It is also a lesson in creativity. I think I stand to learn a few things from her.

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These are my peeps. From left to right: My Decorator and general Woobie, my go-to Child Developer/Christmas Party Book Reader, and my Party Consultant. They are very official in their posts and they made this venture infinitely more fun.

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In my silly little mind, I thought the girls would decorate one or two cookies, uh, beautifully, and then skip away to play ring-around-the rosy. I got that about half right.

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You have no idea how much dusting sugar (WHAT was I thinking?) six little girls can put on a single cookie. See that pile of green sugar just underneath Cado’s green hand? Yep. There is a cookie gasping for air under there.

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Look at these girls! This picture reminds me of one of my Kindergarten class (about this size, actually). I look at it now and can remember the names of each person, know today where most of them are, and still communicate with a few of them. When I look at this little gaggle of girls, I wonder if they will still be frosting cookies together when we moms are not around to make them.

I consider the party a success on the single basis that not one of their outfits was ruined. Hooray! Also, they really did all have a great time. Or at least that’s what the moms told me. They also did a craft project and listened to Miss C read the Christmas Story.  All in all, I can check “Three Year Old Christmas Cookie Decorating Party” off of my list.

For 11 months.