Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.
– Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations


Tolliver is two

With penny colored hair and courage to burn, with q-tips sticking out of both ears and cabinet-raiding guilt written across his face, he steps out of the bathroom.  He is curious and silly and sharp as a tack.  He can hold up two fingers and say the word “two,” but when you ask him how old he is he crosses his arms over his chest as if predisposed to noncompliance.  Except he’s not.  It’s just that he has the sensitivity of a divining rod, moods like weather fronts, just that he is experimenting with independence in the way that toddlers do.  It's just that he is two.  If you ask whether he’d like to read books he sing-songs yessir, yessir and the smile that spreads across his face rivals the sun.  
On Tuesdays his teacher tries to apologize for the paint all over this clothes while sand from the playground pours from his pockets and corn kernels from the sensory table spill from his cuffs.  He is busy and bold and wildly amusing.  We derive such pleasure from his company.  Except in bed.  Sleeping with him is like sleeping with the hands of a clock.  Or with an octopus.  Something all arms and legs, a perpetual motion machine.  But during the day we derive such pleasure from his company.  Healthy and hale, he points and we realize there are exclamation marks all over the place.  With a little boy who’s seeing it all for the very first time, we are too.


from the phone

1.  we do. #everyday
2.  Uncle Adam taught Tols that pose
3.  yard work 
4.  Audubon hike #fallfeelslikehcurch
5.  cousins on a rock
6. cousins reading books
7.  first snow
8.  no reason is the best reason

9.  Franklin Park via ccoyle0977
10.  playing with his sister's doll house furniture #ghpl
11.  Hocking Hills salamanders
12.  glow sticks in the bath tub
13.  collecting candy (with hats on!)
14.  play dough for days

15.  Buckeyes and Hawkeyes #nutsbeatbirds
16.  big football fan
17.  tantrum at Target
18.  visiting Uncle John #princetonwitheinstein
19. #baddecisionswithgoodpeople via keg256
20.  ant farmer
21.  Rube Goldberg-ing #32tries
22.  grocery entertainment at the lobster tank

23.  Tollie and WALL-E
24.  best boys in the world #pb&jazz
25.  leaves with frogs
26. Garden of Constants
27.  California cousin #happylap #3Ts
28.  where choice and chance collide #idinamenzel #seeit 


Day-cation in DC

We drove to the city to catch a show, sight-see, sleep... The locale was inconsequential really, but the things that never fail to refresh our patience and perspective felt imperative -- time away to be together, to break routine, to reconnect.  We might’ve spent more hours in the car than on the ground, but we fit in a few fun things.  And no matter how long we're gone, we're always glad to come home to a place that makes us feel like we should wag our tails, and to boys who, upon our return, would if they had one.


table talk

Before it got too cold to dine on the back patio, we had most meals around the iron table.  Once Andy hung a strand of bulbs, we plugged them in when we went out.  Good lighting can make anything feel like a party, and the boys picked up on that pretty fast.  The first night with new lights Tucker proclaimed a simple meal a meatbulb party, and after that we had pizza parties and dance parties, leaf-raking parties and football-tossing parties.  I hope that as they grow the boys continue to grasp opportunities to reframe ordinary.
We're settling in to an indoor routine now, but our meals remain festive.  Tonight at dinner, in the dining room, Tuck said, You know Mom, these meatbulbs remind me of Mars. They’re shaped the same, and the meatballs are red like the planet.  And they're hot, too.  I can't remember if Mars is hot?  I'd like to go there and see.
At the same time, Tollie was hiding chunks of cheddar cheese under his dish.  Alligator no eat meem cheese.  Hide cheese.  I asked him where the alligator was.  Oh.  Alligator all gone.  He kept shoving pale orange cubes under the rim of the plate.  Fox no eat meem cheese.
They are a shifting alliance of talker and listener, performer and audience.
I realize I write these things that make it sound like the boys play with their food all day long.  
And they do, sometimes, but most of the time they eat it, too.  

Hearing Tuck ruminate over red sauce, I wondered whether all of the boys' imaginings and analogies around the table will someday spill into bigger stories, the ones they walk and the ones they write and the ones they tell.  Tollie ought to outgrow his tendency to personify produce, and Tuck's got a long way to go before he'll keep an entire room rapt with his joke-telling skills.  But I do hope both boys hang on to the inclination to clink milk cups and to make marinara less mundane.  And I'm pretty optimistic about being welcome at their tables when they're grown.  I can't wait to hear what they'll be talking about.


chai for the eyes


He's got a lot to say

Early this morning Tolliver was pulling leaves off house plants.  I caught him standing on the red chair, which he’d pushed over to the chest of drawers in order to reach the potted palm on top.  Clutching a sticky purple amphibian in one hand and a piece of plant in the other, he explained Frog eat leaf.
I encouraged him to climb up on his booster for breakfast and pulled out a bag of spinach for him to share with his friend.  He asked for dip dip, and although that usually means ketchup or peanut butter, in this case meant ranch.  To make for a more balanced meal I offered bacon, and he promptly turned his strip into a snake.  Snake eat leaf, too.  I also gave him some grapes.  He carefully stacked three spheres to make a showmeen. 
He calls pizza big piece.  We're not sure how it started, but it's one of those things we'll miss when it stops.  We treated the boys to delivery for dinner after an especially long day.  When he arrived at the crust of his first slice, Tollie studied the shape and then drove it around the perimeter of his plate like a race car.  Fast car.  Big piece fast car.  Andy smiled at him across the table and Tollie asked, Daddy happy?  "Yes Buddy," Andy said, "I'm happy.  You make me happy."  With a mouthful of pizza and a greasy-faced grin he said, Meem happy, too.
Upstairs, undressed for a bath, his hands stirred the air as he spoke, No pee on rug, pee in potty.  He sat and did his business, smiled and sought approval, Good boy, Mom-mom?

Yes, buddy.  You sure are.
A good boy in so many ways.


stuff my future self better remember

Traffic in the dining room is bumper to bumper and snakes crawl across the kitchen counter.

I look around the house and my soul feels frantic, my list feels long.  I actively give myself permission not to figure everything out today.  I'll do the same tomorrow.

They race matchbox cars and roll out pink playdough.  They play with marbles and dream of flying.  They give plastic dinosaurs life, and their imaginations give them life in return.  I see their souls show up on the slate floor in the kitchen, pushing tractors and crashing blocks.

I'm only as busy as I allow myself to be.  All the busy-ness feels like a kind of false accounting anyway.  There is real value in standing there, being still.  Stopping doesn't mean I'm not going to get where I'm going.  Sometimes I am actually moving when I think I'm not.

Days of heavy traffic in the dining room are numbered.  There's still room next to the snakes on the counter to cook.  I stop rocketing through what I perceive needs doing and know that right now is something my future self will want to recall.

I whisper a simple song of gratitude for these busy boys, the best prayer I can offer.  I'll do the same tomorrow.