T and T on the treat beat

The boys, dressed as bones and explosives, made it about two blocks to fill bags with candy tonight.  They were happy passing out chocolate from our front steps, admiring friends and neighbors' costumes, and eating lots of their own favorite treats.


October's phone

1.  ready for rain
2.  bike riding buddies via @coyle9777
3.  milkshakes for the win
4.  fireplace season
5.  hydrangeas in October
6.  one dollar, thirty minutes, twenty laps
7.  first grade orchard trip
8.  getting Kinky! via @mollyholstein

9.  granite slide
10.  Littlefield reception #donutlovesbagel
11.  lady liberty
12.  Brooklyn snack & chat
13.  #boxseats
14.  Bloomberg view
15.  sandbox in Central Park
16.  hip hop + history = all the tonys

17.  Laughlin's Bakery
18.  new Legos (thanks, Ben Jay)
19.  House Wine enthusiasts
20.  #battlingbattendisease via @mkstahlohio
21.  this grill is on fire
22.  conservatory date
24.  he is here, and she is not

click on images to enlarge



The boys, in chukkas and collared shirts, bickered in the backseat.

If you can’t be kind, be quiet, I said.

We don’t really subscribe to a list of thou shalt nots, don’t really want our boys to be motivated by fear.  We try mostly, instead, to enforce a gentler code, to live in peace, to connect with nature, to love everyone, to find ways to make hearts sing, our own and others.  We try, mostly, to be kind.

We went to Sunday school together, the four of us, part of an intergenerational lesson.  While Tollie crawled around under the table and begged for more donuts, I built up a terrible sweat.  He put paper and crayons in his mouth, like an animal, and I bit my tongue but let him know with my eyes that he needed to make better choices.  He did, at one point, add to the group's conversation about All Saints Day.  When the minister asked whether pets like dogs and cats could be saints, or whether dead people could be saints, Tols hollered that maybe dinosaurs could be saints too.

At the end of the hour a new friend leaned over and said that his wife tends to cry a lot, especially at church, but they agree that it's fine, because if you can't cry at church, where can you cry?  He went on to say that he thought the same applied to Tolliver; if you can't act like a three year old at church, where can you be three?
He's doing great, the man said.  And you're doing great.

If you can't be kind, be quiet.
And if you have something nice to say, by all means, say it.  Please.


living, lately

Things at our house are generally relaxed and happy, with plenty of normal daily challenges.  I mean, most weeks we do a lot of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkeying our way through parenting. 
I definitely lean toward structure and order, mostly to try to avoid complete chaos.  But still, sometimes I get confused and consider chaos to be a busy schedule or an active child, to be the overturned dress up bin and the oven timer and the empty fuel gauge.  Chaos is when a family member dies.  What these kids are doing is really living.


his way

There’s a story that’s been told several times since summer, the kind that may go down as family legend.  In it Tolliver used a long black umbrella to whack the flowers off all the potted plants on the front porch, and then showed no remorse.  For an hour and forty minutes.  We were on our way to a party a few streets over, so Tuck and I went ahead.  An hour and forty five minutes (and one large glass of bourbon) later, Andy and Tollie arrived to join us.  He had apologized, and helped clean up.
My little tomato headed boy.  I have, on more than one occasion, let him out-stubborn me.  Sometimes I just do not have stamina to match.

Lately, though, he's doing more and more things that make some of the ideas I had about him reshuffle inside my head.
I watch him put on clothes without putting up a fight.
I hear him speaking to his brother just like we speak to him, using admiring, appreciative words.
I see him unload the clean silverware, pick up the loose Legos, put away the stray books.
He is less contrary, more kind.
And still very opinionated.

I know that this part of him, this uncensored enthusiasm, this dogged determination, will serve him well in the future.  I love that he knows what he wants to do, to be, and goes after it full throttle.  No waffling, no wondering whether he’ll be good enough, no assuming he is not.  He rises early, like he’s carrying the sun around inside himself, strong and hot, bold and bright, ready to take on the day.  No vague plans of maybe someday, maybe later.  He claims it all, right now, his way.


Every day with them is.

Nothing special is sometimes my very favorite.  Swimming laps and the library, choosing peaches together at the grocery and walking over for a new bag of coffee beans, cleaning the car and building Lego benches, making soup and playing baseball in the backyard, warm baths and short naps.  Nothing special, and yet everything is.
Days like this are both sharpened and obscured.  They’re growing fast, and I know once the day is over it’s gone.  There’s so much to do,  but none of it really has to get done, and almost all of it is bound to be forgotten - laundry and thank you letters, scrubbing and snack-making.
Today was certainly not worth forty-five party hat emojis, but it was worth something.
Every day with them is.


more from New York

For weeks leading up to the trip, Tollie asked all sorts of question about You Nork, an error so endearing I refused to correct it.

The mispronunciation turned out to be not all that remained of his babyhood.  He fell asleep everywhere, in taxis, on the airplane, in the stroller, on the metro.  As excited as he was to ride all the things, he could not stay awake. The only time he did not sleep was after 5am every morning.
So as the sun came up over the city, we visited playgrounds.  Coffee shops and playgrounds.  We found several in Brooklyn and in Battery Park and Union Square.  The boys' favorite was the Billie Johnson part of Central Park, with the granite slide.
They were also intrigued by dinosaur bones and gemstones at the Museum of Natural History, enjoyed building miniature Millennium Falcon Lego figures, were impressed by the size of the ostrich eggs at the farmer's market, became adept at subway etiquette, got to go to the top of the Bloomberg building with our friend Mandy, were treated to pizza several times throughout the city and loved the donuts at cousin Judd's reception.
Tucker, on the subway in Manhattan: Hey Mom, do you have a pencil? If I change this first letter here where somebody wrote on my seat, I can make it say my name!
Tolliver, near tears, on wearing suspenders and a tie:  I just don’t like to look handsome.  Looking handsome makes all the girls like me, and I don’t want the girls to like me.  I just want to look awesome. 
Because we were there for a family wedding, we were surrounded by willing sitters and were still able to sneak away to see shows.  Hamilton, a mix of hip-hop and history, is sure to win all the Tonys next year, and Fun Home won most of them last year.  Both musicals were fabulous.
The boys are already asking about a return trip...