words without end

Before we leave the house he asks for his sunglasses.  He’s already wearing a watch, the one he wanted to put on right when he woke up.  It's so bright out here, he observes.  I need my sunglasses before I can go.
I believe his best accessory is still his smile.
He is a child of passionate convictions.  He tries to tell us about those convictions in the car and at meal time, when we're hurrying to get somewhere and when his brother is trying to tell us something too.  Especially when his brother is trying to tell us something.

Slurping noises come from the backseat as he explains that he's licking himself, trying to remove small spots in shades of gold and pink.  Because I'm trying to get my freckles off, he says.  You can watch me when you're done driving.  I'm licking my freckles and they taste like food.
Instead of watching, I wrote down what he said.

Mom, could a whale be my pet, a little tiny one? Please? he pleads.  He asks about this, lately, more often than most folks make small talk about the weather, often enough that a whale seems to be the only thing he wants more than his own big bowl of unlimited lollipops.

Resting on the bottom step by the back door, he shares a fish story.  Some people sit on the moon and fish.  With a fishing pole.  But they’re not fishing for fish, they’re trying to catch words. 
What kind of words, I wonder.
Big ones.  They catch big ones that are special.
I notice the hard "k"s in sharp contrast to the brush of his "sh"s.

Looking out the dining room window at some workers near the alley he asserts:  That's a tree eating truck.  It makes wood chips for people.  Those guys need to do all that work right now, before the rain turns on.

He has turned his life’s ambition from driving a dump truck toward capturing ghosts.  He runs through the house in his favorite fast orange jogging shorts, a lanyard belted tightly around his belly and a heart full of courage, yelling I have no fear, Mama!
I have no fear is his new anthem.  It goes well with his accessories.




Mail shingles the floor by the front door and as I watch Tolliver sift through it I'm still mulling over the same message that's been stuck in my mind all afternoon.  I'm feeling acutely aware of the way one nice thing can mean the difference between a good day or not.  The way hearing or reading one not-so-nice thing, one small observation, can leave a wound like a poison dart and make an entire day feel dour.

I am reminded of the way the world depends on the small beatings of every single heart.  The way all of us have the potential to be the difference for the hearts that beat near ours.

Maybe it was supposed to be a reminder, maybe I need to tell more people more often that I appreciate their kindness, that I enjoy spending time with them.  To call my mom, to tell my sister I'm proud of her, to let a friend know I admire the way she mothers.  To write more notes of encouragement, to bake more cookies for neighbors.  To tell you thanks for reading here.

Tolliver is a pro at spreading smiles.  I'm trying to channel all those nice feelings, the ones that make hearts beat happy and make humans feel loved.
I want to send more out.


We do not have plans to fly to New York.

I had to wake Tuck, had to rush him through getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing his teeth.  I kneeled in front of him and he opened his mouth wide while I zipped his hoodie, gulping air before he spoke his first coherent thought: Why do people yawn?

Although I interpret my own yawns as silent screams for coffee, I didn't have a scientific explanation.  I suggested he ask his father.

Tuck is like a groom married to inquiry.  I mean, he's a polygamist: he loves soccer and chips and salsa and Legos, too.  But boy is he always puzzling over stuff, voicing important questions I've never thought to ask.  I did find myself wondering whether the way his brain works could be contributing to his exhaustion.

After school the boys got flu vaccines.  Tucker lamented the car trip and the waiting room wait, complaining that it was taking time away from kicking his soccer ball.  I began to explain why the appointment was important, and he interrupted:  I know, Mom, now when I fly to New York on an airplane and I sit next to a guy from Mexico, the New York people and the Mexicans will not get sick.  He went on to say that if the guy from Mexcio flew to Italy, and the Italian guys flew to California and then those guys flew to France, none of them would get sick.  Part of me wanted to give him a megaphone.  The other part of me, the part that needed another cup of coffee, asked him to finish the story inside his own head.

Tuck's mind is not the kind of thing I can uncover with a metal detector or observe with a magnifying glass, and his queries are rarely the ones I expect.  Still, I don't need to see it or anticipate it to appreciate his way of thinking.
We do not have plans to fly to New York.  And I cannot explain the physiology behind yawning.
But I did always wonder a little about what it would feel like to hold a moonbeam in my hand.  And now I think I know.


He fills the day with action verbs.

The toy that Tolliver is holding launches a foam airplane, in this case at the dinosaur/giraffe/horse target.


Flying Lessons

He worried all morning that he might miss the bus to school.

He played with the pizza van he'd earned for using the toilet.

He thumbed through books borrowed from the library, pausing on pages with garbage trucks and diggers.

He peered out the passenger side window, watching a cement mixer pour concrete.

While he obsessed over trucks and trains and busses and big machines, I thought about things with wings, and about the ways his teachers will help him grow his own.


More curious

Pondering the literacy of pets: Are there any animals that can read?  

And the edibleness of creatures: Can you fry komodo dragon and eat it?

Watching me cook breakfast: Eggs are really cool structures.  Maybe people could build buildings shaped like eggs.  How many buildings are there on earth?

Hearing the oven timer, indicating dinner ready: That pizza is gonna be so good I can smell it with my ears! Is that even possible?

Totally random: How do our eyeballs stay wet? Celia was blind, right. Did she know what I look like? 

After spanish class at school: I wonder if, where people speak Spanish, the keyboards look different. You know, because they have more than twenty six letters, like they have an extra “N.” 

Working on a diagram: Tollie, I asked you not to bother me at my desk. This is the last time straw.


enjoying the weekend

^^^ apple picking
^^^ back yard make believe
^^^ football games
^^^ cousins


end of summer video

My favorite parts?  
Orangeph Spongeph and It's science!

Special thanks to our new friend Mark for sharing his quadcopter and footage from its camera.


I love who they are.

I lie beside them at night, sing, or don’t sing, as they request. 
I listen all day long, take note of breakfast worries and bedtime wishes and most everything in between.  I pay attention to fickle desires, acknowledge grudges and fears.  Affirm greatest dreams, and salute smallest steps.  Greet bug discoveries and robot voices, take note of progress and of what prompts belly laughs.  Watch them test boundaries and notch belts, recognize failure and try not to interfere.
I do my best to be with them, to look at them with eyes that say things like amazing, and hope they receive the love. 
Mostly, now, ours are the ordinary terrors and everyday miracles of raising boys, and our children’s challenges the old familiar ones of learning to live as themselves in the world. 
It’s our challenge, too — I catch myself trying to narrow the distance between who they are and who I want them to be.  The durability of parental love, though, is that they can be themselves, plain kids, any kind of kids they want to be.  They are already every day miracles.


hardwiring happy

The brain is primarily shaped by what we pay attention to.
1.  fan from Andy's grandpa, rewired and #cool
2.  reading on the go
3.  hot air ballons
4.  birds #columbuszoo
5.  hotcakes and goldbug
6.  a few of the stickers made it onto the birthday card

7.  birthday annex #betzcousins
8.  chaperoning Sebastian
9.  not letting go of summer
10.  Burr Oak beach
11.  morning
12.  bug journal

13. third & hollywood 
14. dunk tank rules
15.  columbus + houston = cleveland
16.  #becauseshelived
17.  hanging on to hot days
18.  flower shopping for friends

19.  work to do at the miracle center
20.  hold the phone #gmc
21.  swim trunks and knee socks
22.  pink balloon blowing through the back yard
23.  savoring slow mornings
24.  #bunappetit

25.  first day
26.  four ears must mean he's a really good listener  #letshope
27.  survived, and loved it
28.  fresh strawberry muffins
29.  taste of New Albany
30.  Inglis on Cambridge

31.  not often he gets tired of digging
32.  jello shots with spoons #pinkiesout
33.  church
34.  church