Lego League

Tucker scrutinizes Lego bricks like a jeweler studying gems.
You can almost see his brain turn into a carnival while he works, lights switch on and flash rapidly.
He's made all sorts of creations at home: back scratcher, dog, telescope, race car, porch swing, pirate ship, police jet, dune buggy, limousine.
Tucker participated in the district Lego League this fall.  For the past few months his team of first and second graders have gotten together after school and on weekends to construct a model facility - with moving conveyor belts and a robot - that could recycle old television sets.  The robot sorted parts, plastic from metal and wire from hazardous materials like lead, and the conveyor split to take trash one direction and recyclable materials another.  The boys presented their project to judges over the weekend.  At one point Tuck threw some tiny plastic Lego pizzas on the conveyor belt and hollered "Order up."  We've a long way to go on poise and public speaking, I guess.  But he had so much fun throughout the entire process.
Through involvement in clubs like this, I remember that it's less about what Tuck wants to be when he grows up and more about what problems he might want to solve and what he might want to learn in order to do it.  We're grateful to learn with and from him along the way...


falling short

The trees have been showing us how lovely it is to let things go.  Dead things, dull things, all of it.

I know it's just November, and fall still has its days.  But it's dark early, the last late night outside over, leaving me nostalgic and it's not even winter yet.  It's hard not to walk around thinking about the pastness of it all.

Or thinking about the future.
The worst part of parenting is not the work.  It's not the diapers, it's not the lack of sleep, it's not the tantrums or the fevers or the crumbs.  It's the fear.
Love, coupled with the responsibility of keeping a person alive, is a crazy cocktail.  The burden does not lighten when they become competently ambulatory, when they learn not to touch electrical outlets, when they can cross the street safely.  Worry actually worsens.
Let me at least be afraid of the right threat.

Like a cow chewing regurgitated thoughts, it feels obscene to gnaw on my fears.  But what if I don't deserve it all, or worse, what if I'm messing it all up.

There is so much going on in the world.  And in the our own zip code.
I know that our big and our busy is not any better, that our wonder and our worry are not any worse, than anyone else's.
We're not dealing with a terminal diagnosis or a tragic deportation.  We're not looking for food to fill our plates, for gunmen around the corner, for a safe place to sleep.
We do not lack too much of a single thing.

Thinking too far back or too far forward removes me from the opportunity to stand at the intersection of right now, under naked branches, and swoon.

Shedding is part of a tree's strategy to survive, to conserve energy.
Let me at least let go of the right things.


A Grand Adventure

You have to be out of the sea, really, to know how good it is to be in it. - Boris
One of the boys' favorite picture books is Amos & Boris, the story of a mouse and a whale.  It's a story about friendship, really, particularly the long-distance kind.  And that's what the past week was about for us, too.  We met friends in Grand Cayman, under the guise of an emergency medicine conference.   While the boys may have learned a few things, we mostly did stuff like snorkel and nap.  We swam with stingrays and flipped through magazines, sipped blended drinks and did dinner dishes.  And we laughed so much together.
As grateful as we are to have been afforded time away, we are glad to be home again with our boys.  And glad to have more memories with the kind of friends who have hearts bigger than themselves.  


Walk and Awe

It is still rather hard for me to understand, when I pause to consider it.
We live in a world with sunsets and giant sequoias, chardonnay and dark chocolate and birdsong in the spring, waterfalls and kitten whiskers and the scent of jasmine, and yet there are things -- afterthoughts or oversights, I don't know -- like terminal childhood disorders.  Things like Batten.
Humans are capable of space travel and cloning sheep, but four year old kids can die of disease.

One of the event organizers referenced Margaret Mead's words this week, and they seem so apropos:  "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Except the group that gathered over the weekend didn't feel very small.
We are in awe, still, at how many people showed up at great inconvenience to themselves -- they could’ve slept in, could’ve gone for pancakes instead, but came to support the research that is so important to us.  We are humbled by the willingness of so many to sacrifice time and money, to step into the muck and to climb the mountain of hope.  We are amazed that there are people who will invest in getting to know a little girl they never met.
You all keep us from wallowing in grief and give us more reason to be glad we are alive in this world.
Andy talked about the promising new clinical trial at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, the first of its kind in our country. And he thanked everyone for coming.  We really can't ever say that enough.
Nursing students, whom Andys only known since August, surprised him by showing up on Sunday!
Just a small sampling of local school age children, several of whom have a classmate with Batten, which must make something like a terminal diagnosis feel far less abstract.  
Happy birthday, Grandma Jan!
(find Buttercream Bakery on Facebook)
These three give a whole new meaning to turning compassionate awareness into action.

There are hundreds more wonderful photographs on the Battling Batten Facebook page.  Special thanks to Mark Burch and Karen Raver for framing so many great shots.