Fire and Ice

The landscape changes with snow -- shrubs become unrecognizable blobs, mattresses pile up on roofs and waist high wedges are left plowed beside parked cars.  The ground level rises and the thickness of tree branches doubles and everything familiar is changed.  I try not to see it as a bad metaphor, that everything familiar is changed.
In literature, winter is sometimes used to represent death.  It is bitter and numbing and isolating.  But snow brings fresh white space and beauty and romance and happiness, too.

While two little boys found lots of happiness outside this afternoon, inside tonight a fire burns behind the grate, humming and hissing against the quiet.  The holiday season tends to weight fire with a hefty expressive value -- slender candle flames become strong symbols of illumination while dim sanctuaries and living room hearths draw attention to hope and renewal.

There's a new year heading our way.  All the fresh white space and all the bright flames seem to be pointing to the future.  And I am pretty tempted to see those as fine metaphors.




Yet in thy dark streets shineth

This year's holiday favorite, Christmas Cricket, suggests that angels sing in the voices of all kinds of creatures, even the ones who feel small and worthless in the bigness of night.



He tries to place a fourth block on his tower and the whole thing topples.  He attempts to stab a slice of avocado with the dull end of a fork and it doesn’t stick.  He wants to run as fast as his brother but cannot keep up.  I don’t think of these scenarios as mistakes or failures.  He messes up all the time, but I consider it learning and constantly praise his effort. 
And now I wonder why I don’t give myself the same grace.
I'm not cut out to run a country, but I can run a warm bath for two dirty boys, and most days I can run a household. 
I'm not in any position to make a strong point, but I can make a warm meal, and I can make a small difference. 

I know I'm not the only person who feels like I don't have an ounce of agency, like there’s not a single thing I can do to change the world. 
But I do and there is and I'm trying. 


Tuck Pointing


big and little

My brain turns off and my heart turns on and my body is full of big feelings and little words. 
I go about the day, arm heavy with a child on my hip, opposite hand busy stirring stew on the stove, voice engaged in discussions ranging from fungus to ice cream flavors.  I step over balls to refill cereal bowls, flip cards to make matches and refold piles of clean clothes that became forts.  Tending to the demands of the household brings welcome distraction.  Much as each has been all year, the day - filled with the work of life - is its own solace.
I try not to navigate unruly feelings in front of the boys.  After they're in bed I let loose thoughts lead, eyes spilling fat tears that frame words like shiny parentheses.  The same words that are being tossed around across the country - gun control and mental health, and the same words I've whispered before - how and why and little kids should have big futures.


Gathering, and Gratitude

We spent the week in West Virginia, celebrating Christmas a little early.
We could have taken pictures of computer repair efforts or of eight cups of powdered sugar all over the kitchen, of target practice or magnetic marble games or sleepy baby back rubs.  We should have taken pictures of the after-the-little-boys-went-to-bed dinner and of Aunt Kate's read alouds and of the smile on Poppy's face when he surveyed the living room floor, strewn with kid stuff, and said how much he loved the way it looked.
But what came off the camera card after this trip are mostly pictures of the boys.  They're learning, already, that it's the gathering and the gratitude that make holidays such blessed times.


books in bed

I love these boys so much individually.  But together?  Reading?!


All three of our children may have come from Heaven.

A few days ago, strapped into his carseat, Tuck was flying a miniature rocket ship through the air above his head.  From the back seat, I heard "Mama, let's build a real rocketship.  We need to use it to go get Celia.  I can get Colby and you can get Celia."

I'm afraid if I recorded all of the scenarios in which he brings up retrieving his sister from Heaven, they'd begin to sound contrived.
 Big sister's monkey jammies

I always tell Tucker that he's my favorite three year old.
After saying so today, I asked him who his favorite mama was.  He responded appropriately, followed by "And Andy is my favorite daddy and Tollie is my favorite brother.  But remember yesterday when I said we could build a rocketship?  To go get Celia?  We could also use it to take Tollie back."


On the roll

Recent photos from my phone.
1.  Best social media image from Celia's Walk. via jnferris
2.  Celie still makes the world feel small. via stuartjosborne
3.  T2 looks a bit like Grandpa Rod did pacing the band practice field.
4.  Visiting Grandma Jan on her birthday and reading about Small Hope.

5.  Lunch with Daddy at the hospital.
6.  Our first trip to IKEA! 
7.  Almost equal attention to drawing with crayons and trying to eat them.
8.   Trumpet lessons.  "No, Grandpa, like this." 

9.  Tubby time.
10.  Thanksgiving hugs.
11.  Good morning, Columbus.
12.  Happy Birthday, Kate.

13.  Book Club author Skype.
14.  Birthday baby.
15.  New couch nap.
16.  Victory hymn at BSPC.  #gobucks

17.  Brothers reading.
18.  Boxwood wreath.
19.  Cow-carrying-snake in children's pageant.
20.  Wide-eyed tree shopper.