Okay Mom, watch this.  Watch!  Watch!  
You saw that?!

He's a real swimmer now, diving down to retrieve objects, kicking his feet to move forward.

I spend pretty much the entire time at the pool watching.  And re-adjusting goggles.

Mom, you know scientists have trouble classifying centipedes?  Also they are venomous, and nocturnal.
Mom, you know the largest hail ever on record was the size of cantaloupe?  It fell in South Dakota.
Mom, you know that a lot of planets have their own moon?  Actually, Jupiter has like sixty of them.

He unleashes a torrent of unsolicited information.  His sharing doesn’t strike me with strong interest, yet does fill me with a sure sense of connection.

I spend pretty much the entire day listening.  And thinking about how quiet the house will be at bedtime.

*Sign up soon for what was formerly known as Celia's Walk:
The Battling Batten Disease 5K Run and Family Fun Walk
Sunday, November 8 at 10am
Scioto Audubon Metro Park



We drove to Des Moines in the middle of the month.  Although our first stop was Anamosa, in order to participate in the Chelsey's Dream Foundation 5K.  We're expecting a new nephew in November, and the Bildstein family has offered to provide financial assistance in the adoption process.  It was a pleasure to meet such a generous, resilient couple, and it felt a little like their daughter's spirit was with us all week with so many butterflies crossing our path.
And then we spent several days with the Vaudts, listening to outdoor concerts at the local winery, building Legos, playing in the backyard and making flower chains, picking fresh raspberries and refilling our coffee cups two and three times.
We visited their farm too, exploring the creek that runs along one edge, catching snakes and frogs and insects, fashioning a makeshift slip and slide, bunking together in one big room, building bonfires that lasted past midnight and cooking pancakes over open flames in the morning.
It's hard to choose a favorite part of the trip - watching our kids play together is at the top of the list.  And so is the fried fish dinner Andy whipped up.  Walking to the nearby playground to see Celia's bench was pretty special too.  But one of my best memories is the outdoor shower.  It was dark, the air was warm, and looking up at the sky it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was throwing after most humans had been put to bed.
I love getting away and being together.  Time not spent at home sometimes helps me refocus.  Out there I was able to remember that problems are like stars:  When you’re up close, they can burn you, but when you see them from a distance, when you give yourself some space, they are phenomenally small flecks.  Getting away cannot eliminate stress, but spending time with friends sure can shrink stuff and shift perspective.



just today

I woke up to footfalls in the hall, a cold child, wet sheets.  I loaded the washing machine, heated the coffee, poured the milk.
Before I had time to sit and think about how we could spend the day, the other one stumbled down the stairs, hair askew, ready to snuggle.

Where do your sneezes go when they disappear?  Like I needed to sneeze and then I think it got stuck in my teeth?

I do another round of coffee and milk before we dive into cereal and grapes and bagels with cream and berries with yogurt and bacon.  Bottomless pits.  I move laundry through and reconnect Playmobil parts and read books.  We still don't have a plan.  We're all still wearing pajamas.

Mama, do you want to see where I keep all the aliens I capture?  They're right here under my seat on the crane.

Yes honey, I can't wait to see where you store all the aliens.

I peel carrots, boil eggs, roast cauliflower, get caught up in the kitchen.  I think about calling the preschool, about ordering a battery tender, about getting library books returned.

Mom, would you check out this new aircraft I built.  It has a propeller that spins.

Oh buddy, I love this creation.  And I love you.
I pack overnight bags, scrub a spot on the rug, bribe them to trim nails.

Mom, you know what the good news would be if I cut my nose with those clippers?  I could paint with it!  Instead of using chalk, the blood could be my red color!

Days alone with the boys are kind of difficult to describe.  They can feel utterly exhausting and almost perfect all at once, with some very prosaic hours in between those two extremes.  Fixing crocs that are on the wrong feet, slicing apples, changing wardrobes, recapping markers, wiping chins.

I'm not sure I know that purple car with the orange fire, but I will keep my sharp eyes out for it.  Can I help you find a different toy car to play with now?

They're hungry again.  I scramble eggs and rinse blueberries and cut cucumber.
I make a shopping list, clip coupons, look ahead at the calendar.  I ask them if they've considered what activities they might like to participate in this fall.

I have fine fighting skills.  Like punching and grabbing and scratching and kicking and poking.  So I don't need karate like Tucker takes.
They are playing mama and baby, pet owner and cat, aliens and astronauts.  I am marveling at the luckiness of a little boredom.  We spend the rest of the day adding numbers, tying shoelaces, painting frogs, sounding out big words, singing songs.  We spend the rest of the day cooking and eating.  Chicken drumsticks and carrots and cheese.  And ice cream.

Of course there are tears and tough parts.  There always are.  There always will be.

I'm sorry your feelings feel hurt when your brother calls you little.  You are a big boy.  You will always be his little brother, just like Daddy will always be Uncle Adam's little brother.

Raising kids is a good many things.  It is expensive and exhausting.  It is also not certain things.  It is not glamorous or routinely exciting.  But it sure does feel like a privilege to fumble along and figure it out with these boys.


Insta round up

chicken chores #stratfordecologicalcenter
my trio of brown eyed boys
Tolliver via @mkstahl
music on the lawn, books in the street
pretty much a teenager 
salt and vinegar work together to shine a penny just like brothers can work together to do big things
walking for Uncle JD #abta
JD's Braniacs via @mollyholstein  

that one day June called and wanted to play
sidekicks and thumbs up for s'mores
at the strawberry pick park
trying to give up naps is not going well for #littlered
the original #betzboys
playing mama bird
red hair reporting for duty #cosibigmachines
lunch at Lindey's, year thirteen

red, white and block party
red, white and blueberries
book worm
because a soul can only endure so much rain
bison at Battelle Darby
it rained twice in June - once for twenty days and once for nine
when it was not raining, we were at the pool

backyard bluegill fishing via @bflymommy
wack-a-doodle-DONE at Magic Mountain
"boys reading books" water color by RoRo
sister cousins via @mollyholstein
dreamboat, in Aunt Linda's flippers
cousins make the best friends - T2&T3 via @mollyholstein
backyard picnic at Aunt Molly's
Saturday at Scioto Mile