Leading up to our trip to Poppy's, Tolliver talked about catching snapping turtles to make soup.
Safe on the dock, he and Poppy spotted snapping turtles in the pond, and Poppy got him a turtle kite instead.  There wasn't much wind though, which turned out not to be a problem - they flew it from the dump bed of the gator, going super fast.  And although they did not catch turtles, Tollie did catch bluegill, crappie, catfish and large mouth bass.
Tucker hoped to catch fish, and when he wasn't as successful as he wished, Poppy distracted him with gator driving lessons.  There were also knot tying lessons, and lots of whittling with the knife he built in Poppy's dangerous room last winter.  And Grammy let him have plenty of popsicles.
Tuck taught her to play his current favorite board game, Quarto, and told a million jokes to Poppy, who laughed at all of them.
Hank enjoyed his first trip to Poppy State Park too.  He even took an inaugural bath in the big red tub!

It was not lost on us that while we enjoyed visiting West Virginia, many who live there were working to recover from devastating floods.


the week with the longest day of the year

We moved here more than twelve years ago.  Our first house, three bedrooms, one bath.  We've added a finished basement, another full bath, a new patio.  More than that, we've added four small pairs of feet to our home and lots of good friends to our contact lists.  It's such a small place, Grandview, with such a big sense of community.

Tucker finished Camp Invention last week, led by the district's chief academic officer.  He had the best time.  Today he got his room placement for second grade, and has already received messages from kids who are excited to be in the same class with him next year.

But the start of school is still two months away.  We have lots of long, hot days to fill.  My perspective alternates between tired and energized.  There's the notion of too many toys and not enough play, the reality of stuff on the floor and screens in their faces I try to moderate.

Earlier this week we walked more than a mile to a friend's backyard cherry tree, depositing ripe fruit into small plastic buckets.  The boys were unpredictably enthusiastic about this activity.  Stained fingers gripped scooter handles on our way home, smiles above sticky red chins.  Eager voices greeted Andy at the end of his thirteen hour shift, a pile of pitted cherries for him to sample.

Neighbors recently passed along a bunch of Batman toys.  Others have brought flowers.  And the boys found packages from a secret admirer near the front door mail slot one morning, chapter books and Lego guys.

Today the boys were invited to play with older friends, where the teenager set up science experiments to do with Tuck and the middle schooler retrieved long forgotten blocks and racetracks to entertain Tols.  The playdate gave me, and my tiniest sidekick, more than a minute of peace.  I drank a whole cup of coffee while it was still hot.  I added real cream, vanilla extract, sprinkled cinnamon on top.

Instead of beans or days or calories, I'm counting blessings.


four Betz babies

All of them, at about the same age (three-ish months):

Original posts --

side-by-side comparison of the first two March babies:

three at three months:


biggest brother

Tucker has a deep, abiding empathy for others.  He reads people like he reads books.

And he has a terrific sense of humor.  His ability to recall and retell jokes is almost as strong as his penchant for making up fairly clever original ones.

He's not much of a box checker, but more of a big wonderer.  He definitely has a think-outside-the-box kind of brain.

He is a critical thinker, with a thirst for knowledge that won't quit.  He is constantly questioning the world.

But the world doesn't always have the best questions for him.
He doesn't really care to discuss baseball or soccer, common queries for the seven year old set.
He'd rather talk about magnetic elements or musical octaves, about what kind of birthday cake he wants when he turns eight or which electronic device he hopes to disassemble next.


what love looks like

The boys spend days collecting ants and coloring comics, waiting for him to get home from work and wishing for the moon.

He spends time cooking pancakes and reading aloud endless picture books, pretending to be a tickle monster and pretty much hanging the moon.


the darnedest

Tollie still says some funny stuff.  And I still try to write it down when I can.
The first few here are from as far back as early spring, because I haven't compiled a list for awhile...
You know there’s another name for rain clouds?  Columbus.
(Close. Cumulonimbus, actually, but some weeks rain clouds may as well be called Columbus.)

Remember when that tree used to be bald?  Now it has leaves!

Discovering an empty Easter egg, surprisingly not disappointed because, he explained, the egg was full of love air.

My underwear are like butt protectors. Apropos of NOTHING.

Retelling a story: You knowGod’s fork. (Andy eventually figured out he meant Neptune’s trident.)

In reference to a fictional character: He is so daft. 

Perched on the back of the couch, sun streaming in through the window behind him, watching:
Why are you cleaning, Mom? You’re really just whipping up more dust. 

Did you know there’s a school for babies named Hank? It’s in New York City. There’s a boy teacher who's 18, to play with him. And a girl teacher who can milk him.  

Watching The Croods: Mom, when we were all cavemen, I think Dad looked like that guy.

Trying to trouble shoot a new racetrack design: What’s your theory?

To me, yesterday, while we chased bubbles in the front yard:  You should grow a girl baby next. Actually three girls.  If you make bottles, I can help milk them.
Before we'd need to send them to school in NYC, I suppose.


strong with this one

Tolliver inherited a Star Wars costume recently.  He wears it regularly, of the strong opinion that Darth Vader may be the best bad guy of all time.  Tollie's been willing to share the outfit too, giving Hank an early opportunity to join the dark side.