a lot can happen in a month

birthday cheesecake #swiper
River City Leather #galliafirst
frozen fractals all around
goodnight four
truck stop
new club

#COSI #Homage
powering through two courses #notenoughcoffee 
nut butter for grandpa
OSU vet school open house #insideahorse
brown Es (and brownies) #aprilfirst
at the GHPL
at Local Cantina
five year old artwork is the best
sun on his shoulders

 playgrounds wear me out, too
baby Jacob in the grass
post nap snuggle
a good reminder to do more good
sidewalk chalk and rainbow footprints


Too bad love is not a cure.

Andy sat down to dinner one night last week with ace bandages wrapped around both knees.  Tolliver had been taking care of him.  As soon an he walked in the door, Tollie asked for his badge and stethoscope and got to work.
I doctor.  I hard working in here.  I need listen to your tummy.  Your tummy have beans in it.  Your tummy hurt?  You need take medicine.  Here you go.  You feel better now?  Oh, your knee hurts?  I also fix it.
There are two small, clear medicine cups in the boys' medical kit.  After he hands Andy one, Tols always takes the other one for himself and says Doctor need medicine, too.

Tollie wasn't around when the house was full of caregivers, of women who weighed Celia and took her temperature, he did not see us work around the clock to crush pills and measure medicine.  Now there are empty vials and syringes on the coffee table and compression wraps snaking across the hardwood, but they're all just for play.

There were a few times that Celia got very sick and recovered, but we knew all along she would run out of rallies.  Tollie wasn't around for much of that.  This afternoon though, loading rocks into his dump truck outside, and out of nowhere, he asked Andy what happened to Celia's body.  We try never to speak in euphemisms, don’t step around words like dead.  Even at two Tollie seems able to sift linguistic grain from chaff, and so we try to share simple truths, help him grip the hard, unfair concept that some things leave us without our permission.  People die, we tell him, and their bodies decompose.  It's the way of things.

Uncertainty is uncomfortable and missing a sibling hurts.  It's no fun not to feel good, but moving forward through the clumsiness and the aching is important.  We acknowledge Tollie's curiosity and his concern, and remind him that his body is healthy, that his lifetime may be long.  I know, he says, a smile of understanding crossing his face, I eat carrots, I grow big! 
Above, from last fall, but new to the blog.  We were trying to compare Tols to Poppy at this age(ish) in the late 40s, below.


half-dressed and hiding

One likes to build structures, the other likes to knock them down.  One likes to eat watermelon, the other likes to spit the seeds.  One likes to wear clothes, the other, not so much.
They are as different as January and July.
As the seasons change, so do the boys.  They are asserting themselves, the way crooked sprouts are pushing through layers of wet soil.  The one who liked green best now likes blue better.  The one who used to sleep in gets up early.  The one who has always gotten up early STILL GETS UP EARLY.  The one who preferred to be inside under a blanket wants to be outside under an umbrella.
I have boys so I will get out of bed in the morning, so I will not go back to sleep, so I will not stay under the covers half-dressed and hiding.  With them, color seeps into the world.  They repeatedly bring me back to life, water all my wilting parts.
I have them, and they have each other.
They began calling one another "Bro" this week.
Tucker, who fancies himself a gymnast, was tumbling and twirling and teetering on top of the couch while Tolliver and I watched.  Tollie started to giggle and said: That looks awesomesauce, Bro. And that made Tucker collapse into hysterics.  The two of them laughed at each other and with each other, and that almost made me cry.

Together they are a delight to watch.  And a near impossibility to photograph.
And they are both so, so loved.



As Tucker stuck his feet through his star jammies tonight, he sounded sincere when he said that he loves nap time.  Nevermind that he hasn't taken a nap for two years, or that it was actually bedtime, or that sometimes he fights sleep.  He'd had a big weekend and it was rainy today and I understood what he meant - it feels good to pull on clean pajamas and crawl under warm quilts.  I couldn't wait to do it myself.

I slithered into bed benext to him, stomach down, chapter book in hand, ready to read fast.  After a few pages he put his palm on my shoulder and gave a quick rub, leaned in to kiss my shoulder.  I kept reading, slowing the words and savoring the closeness.  Most nights I feel rather depleted, very tired and totally touched out, but tonight I became completely aware of the fact that I may never be this loved.  Endurance is an invisible enterprise, motherhood a rather thankless charge.  Save for, this evening, a small hand on my shoulder that felt a lot like acupressure for my soul.



gloriously routine

Hey Tollie, come here!  I see an unusual bug on the window!

I see it.  And I see a shwir-girl (squirrel) outside!  You can't believe it?!  
He want be my friend, he want play trains with me… But he not have any hands, he not can play with me?  Oh, that be okay, I can still play with him, he like red train, I share it with him.  You want play too, Tucker?


on learning and listening

We had a couple warm days earlier this week, and spent late afternoons at the elementary school playground.  There, Tuck became friends with a few kids in that ferociously urgent way that kids do, say, at summer camp.  In the same way that he wears his underwear on his head no matter who's over, because everyone is family when you're five.

He has no time to mince words or waste moments.  At five, he has an efficiency that feels refreshing, a brusqueness that does not usually bother.  In the span of the pre-dinner hour, aside from swinging and running and kicking a ball, he shared his graham crackers and arranged playdates and was invited to a birthday party.  There were tussles and break-ups, mean words and make-ups, but mostly resiliency and flexibility and high fives.

When I pray about Tucker's future, I often begin with something like Please let him find friends, and please help him be a friend.
I could learn about friendship from him.
Tucker is way more emotionally intelligent than me.  When he is upset and I fail to meet him with empathy, instead trying to talk him out of his sad feelings, he explains that my mistaken method only serves to make him sadder.

I think I need to do less talking and more leaning in, waiting quietly.

At church on Sunday we talked about the importance of demonstrating our availability to listen, to slow down and to stop whatever we're doing and talk to our children now, investing in their future willingness to talk.  I imagine someday Tucker will feel rejected by peers or will fight bitterly with a friend, someday he'll go through serious social upsets, and when his problems and his reluctance to talk about them are greater, I want him to know that I'll listen.

On the walk home, Tuck talked about his new friends, about the way Zach shared his football and the way Toby shared his chalk, about the hiding place Silas helped him find under the slide.  Tuck talked, and I listened, and although I've often thought I could not love him more, in the listening I felt my heart open even wider still.