Together we’ve grown a history, a family, laugh lines, perspective.
There's a Morse code of married in the way I catch an I love you smile tossed at my feet and recognize it as a plea for me to do the bath-books-bedtime routine, in the way our eyes meet at a dinner party, telegraphing time to go, in the way a hand stretches under covers in silent apology.
Ten 29ths later, my hands meet in the same spot behind his back as I lean in for a kiss.  His lips taste like sunshine, just like every summer, just like they did when we were sixteen and sneaking kisses at the swimming pool.  I’m so glad we picked each other for all these days.



Crib Notes

Tollie is asleep in his crib, worn out from growing up. 
Someday, maybe, he'll find these words, written on the eve of seven months.
My wide eyed, two-teeth wonder,
Yesterday I held you against a hospital gown and next week you’ll be standing on a skateboard.  In what seems like a single blink you're pulling up, smacking kisses, learning to wave.  This week, your father has been telling people that you're DNC (darn near crawling).  Your brother has been giving you lessons.
You like being naked. And banging on things. You love to eat. And to be held. You snap into your spot on my right hip, my body having evolved once again to accommodate your growth.  You cling to my shoulder, my little primate, and we dance about cooking meals and sorting laundry, your torso tucked against my ribs, your convex tummy the exact shape of my waist.  We move through most days as one. When we’re not physically connected, your voice travels to me like a tin-can telephone. The early morning soft song, the energetic squeals, the attention-seeking gagaga, the drowsy bedtime babbling, syllables that aren’t really language yet, but still, I get the message. And it feels like a thousand kisses.
You're awesome, James Tolliver.  And not in the casual way it gets tossed around, but in the truest sense of the word.  Awesome.  It is absolutely amazing to witness you grow, to see you blossom in mundane yet marvelous ways.  I catch myself wondering whether, all along, you'd been sitting out there in our future, waiting for us to find you. 
We're so glad you're here.  You help us spend life smiling. 


Photos from (M)iPhone

1.  Tollie eats carrots.
2.  Layer Cakery: Good to hospice, good to eat.
3.  Ten inches. Donated.
4.  Both Tollivers. Baptized.
5.  Time to sew.
6.  Pizza "delivery," per request.  (This might not work once he learns to read.)
 7.   Time for work.
8.  Time for play.
9.  Two Tollivers, hotel napping.  (via rht)
10.  Early morning toons.
11.  Dressed for church, vintage family romper.
12.  Bearing rings.  And frogs.
 13.  Columbus Commons with cousins.
14.  Tollie says "ga."
15.  Mmm, mashed blueberries.
16.  Drinking buddies. (via mkstahl)
17.  Feeding ducks with Daddy.
18.  Cheers, to ten years.



I know that mess can be a good thing, can mean that living happened and that learning occurred.  But when it takes me longer to gather supplies than he spends using them, and when there are more scribbles on the table than there are on the paper, when brushes need rinsed and markers need capped and counters need scrubbed, when all the cleaning up is painfully inefficient because he needs to help, I wonder whether the effort is worthwhile.
I watch him while he works, watch him stick out his tongue in concentration, watch him smile when his vision comes alive, watch confidence and pride color his face.
And then I watch him give his work away.
It's worth it.



Instead of saying "looks like," when he's especially excited Tucker just says "likes."

Glimpsing the bride for the first time last weekend, he exclaimed, "Maggie likes a princess!"
Reaching the crust of his pizza at dinner, he observed, "It likes a crescent moon!"
Standing in the tub before his bath, watching urine arch toward the drain, he declared, "My pee likes a fountain!"
Noticing the lavender shade my nails are coated in, he covered his own feet with purple chalk paint and said, "My toe polish likes yours!"
There are a lot of things I like about Tuck at age three, but his linguistic idiosyncrasies might be my favorite.



Big Boy

Tollie's a big boy. But he has a lot of personality, and he’s got to store it somewhere.
He’s beautiful, too, and I tend to believe it’s because his spirit swims so close to the surface.


True Love

We traveled to Culver, Indiana for a family wedding over the weekend.  The boys got to spend time on Lake Maxinkuckee.
They also got to spend time with lots of cousins.
The ceremony was at Culver Chapel.  The aisle was very long.  At the rehearsal, Tucker ran to the front, right on cue.  
Clearly, bearing rings is exhausting work.

The next day, he made it nearly halfway down the aisle before Andy needed to carry him.  Again though, the effort left him entirely exhausted.
At the reception, outside under a tent, Tucker found a second wind.  He also found a toad.  Before we could stop him, he caught it and ran straight to the bride, interrupting the father daughter dance to show her.  She could not have been more gracious.
Big congrats and best wishes, Maggie & Ryan!


Do Dad

Among the millions of things he does, Andy keeps the cupboards full, the dishwasher empty and the boys happy.
Father's Day 2012