It's not all about him.

Just mostly.
Hey, where are my underwear?  Underwear don’t have walking feet, they can’t just move away from ya.  Until you put your human legs through the holes, then they can move. 

I want to know about why my heart is making quiet boom booms?  I'll wait and ask Dad.

As I stirred in cream, Look, it's a coffee-tex! (a variation of water-tex, which should actually be vortex)

I went on a trip to Centikobia.  My cousins came with me.  We went to the Centikobia zoo.  They let me bring home a red fox to our house.  I cooked him dinner and put water in a bowl for him.

Let’s read Diarrhea of a Worm (the book is actually called Diary of a Worm)

Do you hear that tor-mato siren? 

Hey, I found an animal what looks like a pinecone! (a porcupine)

I don’t have any more hugs. And I’m empty of kisses too. 

I built our house with the workers.  They gave me a special jacket that was just my size and special shoes that were just my size and all their trucks came here and we worked hard to build this whole house.

And: Just take care of your own self, Mom, which may very well earn its own post soon.


decent work

My coffee cup keeps lying to me about how much I'm going to get done in a day.
But, if I make it my main mission to raise funny people, then I feel like I'm doing decent work.


I need to give us both more of it.

You know how sometimes you can write a word, one you've spelled accurately all your life, and  suddenly it looks incorrect, how you can stare at the letters for too long and wonder whether they're lined up right.

I feel like I do that to myself, glare at my body long enough that it begins to look wrong.

And as hard on myself as I can be, I'm afraid I'm sometimes harder on Tuck.  I mean, we don't wake up to be mediocre around here.  But he should be allowed to make mistakes.  He's six, and he's sensitive and he wants so much to please.
He forgets his lunchbox at school, dumps the last few sips of my watered down iced coffee so he and a buddy can use the cup in the sand pit, he makes a million mazes right next to the door so we're tracking in chalk dust all day, gets distracted by gears and plays instead of pajamas.
Listed here, it is clear to me that none of this should matter.

I fume gracelessly over the uneaten rice, over the absent-minded shower and the wet towels on the floor.  I require so much of him and maybe not quite enough of myself.  Or maybe the wrong things of myself.  I perseverate on calories when I should be making patience my intention.

It's hard to be human.  It's easy to snap when things don't go the way I want, but after a deep breath it's even easier to forgive his minor slips.  He is six and he is far from mediocre.  I sure hope he forgets my impatience and my angry moments and my meal disappointments.

I apologize to him, not for the first time today.  If I want him to turn a forgiving lens toward himself, I must too.  I soak up bath water with the towel that's already underfoot and I remember that he is just a boy, that he is a sponge. I want to be sure that what I pour into him is enough, so when the rest of the world wrings him out, he still trickles grace.  
Grace.  I know how to spell that.



He is three feet tall and seems to be made mostly of questions and salami sandwiches.
Or maybe of heavy machine parts.

If you've ever met Tolliver, chances are he's asked you why your body has bones.  He knows his does, and is very fascinated by what else is inside.  One of my favorite things at our house is when Andy comes home from work and Tollie asks about his day -- whether he has any good stories, how many patients he took care of, what their injuries were.
I love to watch Tollie's very capable body carry him forward through each day; it gives me that same feeling I get from a good book, the way a story can deliver a series of small astonishments, so does he.


busy in all the best ways

1.  grandview education foundation gala  via kristinpotsy
2.  pre party
3.  selfies in the snow  via jferris9674
4.  #forthekids

5.  on the beam @wendysgym
6.  Vday brunch
7.  parents day out
8.  Piggy & Gerald, #betzboys + cousins
9.  soap in the sink
10.  heart on a hillside

11.  brokering boardroom deals over salami and string cheese
12.  stocking up before another storm
13.  admiring winter's work
14.  monday morning commute
15.  #stagedoor
16.  Willy Wonka  #nchpleasureguild  via jnferris

17.  Celia at six months 
18.  flowers from Dot
19.  March seventh-ish at school
20.  baby albums
21.  all the wishing
22.  bike shopping in Cincy  #vanmoof
23.  octopus at the Newport
24.  he wants to be big too 

25.  more celebrating,  #gillsgirls + friends
26.  grandpa's birthday brunch,  #betzboys + cousins
27.  making it true
28.  at the zoo
29.  weekends win
30.  especially when the boys wake up early elsewhere via rht3627
31.  before church
32.  at the end of the day


Every day is all there is

He does all the things, runs and wonders and devours and sings, and generally delights in his whole wide world.  We talk about nothing and I wind up loving everything more because he loves it all so much.

I am on my knees on the slate, music coming from the iPhone on the counter, Today’s Hits.  I send him out to spin and reel him back in like a yo-yo.  What are nephews and “niephews” again, Mom?

There's a plastic baggie stuck to the bottom of his sweaty foot:  Look Mommy, I can hold on to stuff like eagles can.  But not for long, because I don't really have talons. 

It's time for lunch and his brother is at school:  Can I have some of Tucker’s "Fo-ritos" with a cheese stick? 

Reading a book before rest time, reminding me that he is pretty much the perfect combination of ham and IQ, he lets out that pure, contagious laugh, the one I will try to remember all my life:  I’m laughing because that tickled my funny bone.

From his perch in the front of the stroller on the way down the hill for Kindergarten pick up:  How do we get those shadows to stop following us.  Do we just have to wait for them to go to bed with us at night? 

I bend forward for a goodnight nose nuzzle.  In the half light, he is looking at me as hard as I am looking at him, and I sense that feeling I get right before I start crying.  Night, Mom.  I had a great day with you.

I'm not really sure what luck is, but I wonder if we can make some of our own, if it is perhaps a sort of byproduct, certainly of working hard but also of being open to magic and being grateful.  Because I am, lucky in large part thanks to millions of small, nameless moments spent with him.


Art Attack

I know it's what kids do, turn their toys, or their toast, into things.  At breakfast this morning Tolliver's waffle looked like it had teeth along one edge so it became a dinosaur.  They have such a way of seeing things, kids do, and such a way of helping me see things too.  
One son attaches a "lost toy locater" to his ankle while the other slides around with cardboard ice skates taped to his feet.  Paper towel tubes are mashed together and strung along so that ping pong balls can be pushed through them and caught in a basket.  Legos are arranged into shapes that shoot fire or that drop bombs and destroy cities. Targets are created with heavy stock paper and hung using eighteen rolls of washi tape.

I feel at once annoyed with the waste of perfectly good art supplies, and impressed with their ingenuity.  And also exasperated with their weapon focus.  Tree limbs become pistols, rolled up newspapers are swords.  They do not play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers, but they do go to war with each other with little more than popsicle sticks.

The boys engage in heavy battle and I duck and dodge and do not attempt to prohibit the way they pretend.  I watch them swing cheap plastic ninja swords at each other and I try to keep my disapproval, if that's what it is, somewhere across the room.  I don't ask them to stop.  There are legions of words behind that solitary syllable, and I'm not sure how to line them up.  And I'm not sure it's what I want for them, anyway.

They have slingshots and trebuchets, little wooden popguns and brightly colored foam dart shooters.  They know they are not allowed to point things at faces or at people who are not playing.  They only shoot bad guys anyway, they tell me.  There seems to be something about this age that needs the certainty of a binary world.  Everyone from Disney to heads of state tends to divide the world into "good guys" and "bad guys," so it's hard to expect more sophisticated reasoning from my preschooler.  But even bad guys have mothers who love them, I say, mothers who would be very, very sad if their child were killed.  I don't say much more than that though, because I struggle to find a way to say something hard and make it come out soft, because I'm not sure how deeply our discussions will penetrate at this point.

I hope that someday we can have a When might it be okay to kill? conversation, that we can ponder personhood and science and faith and figure things out together.  I know my boys are mild-mannered and empathetic, tolerant and gentle.  And I believe they are simply exploring power and exerting some control over the world, that nothing more than curiosity and vulnerability lie beneath all their bang-bang bravado.