Home for the holidays!

Three nights in, and a LOT of boxes to go, but we're home, and Christmas happened here!


large and looming

Sometimes I have to put things here, to remind myself of their truth.
We postponed the moving company three times this month. They're coming tomorrow. {Or else.}
It will take awhile to get settled, to unpack boxes and to locate bed sheets and to stock groceries, and for it to really feel like home.
But real happiness isn't something large and looming, it's little every day joys all lined up in a row ::
a warm breakfast and enough money to pay the bill, a long hug, an ordinary sunset, growing boys and good books to read, a new wreath on the chimney, a tall glass of bourbon at the end of the day... simple things, small and numerous and already right here.


getting gone

Dear Mom & Rod,

Thank you for welcoming us into your house for eight months.
Thank you for putting up with all our messes, literal and emotional.
And all our noise.
Thank you for living with couch cushions on the floor and cartoons on the television.
Thank you for sacrificing your dining room table to serve as our command central.
Thank you for making extra bacon and extra space in so many rooms, for sharing the washing machine and the apple cider.
Thank you for taking the big kids to school some days, and for keeping them all here so many times when we needed to run out for cabinets or grout or door knobs.  Or sanity.
Thank you for raking leaves and ripping out honeysuckle at the new house.
Thank you for taking care of all the grocery shopping and so many of the meals.

Our boys have benefited so much by living with you.
You know the Dorothy Law Nolte poem, If children live with this, they will be that...?
You guys are solid examples of good humans, calm and flexible, optimistic and patient, persistent and curious. Thank you for sowing seeds of peace and love and kindness, and even scattering a few that look like People get mad when you bite them and kitchen drawer handles are not ladders, too.

This has been a bonus year.
And we all love you both so much.



Like lots of little boys, he makes spears and swords and arrows out of backyard sticks.
He created a tomohawk from modified found objects held together with dental floss, which turned out to work a whole lot better than expected and required adult supervision or risked actual injury. Fortunately the only foul was to a case of Diet Coke, and he helped clean that mess.
When a cardboard tube becomes a rifle to be used against imaginary enemies, it is not difficult to imagine the rest of the storyline, to feel the anticipatory anxiety. I've read novels and seen films and know about the knock at the door. I understand that it may be unwise to borrow worry over this now. Fighting a war and finding a career are choices for children who get to grow up. I am grateful for his growing. Even the part where he's learning to fight with language, wielding sharp words.

Right now I try to remain neutral on his military interest; I mean, I can't even begin to formulate a lecture on the convoluted and not always conscionable history of American interventions in the world. He does know about folks - family and friends - who have served honorably and bravely, and I don't mean to disparage their commitment. But I can expose him to other kinds of activities I’d love to see him pursue: art, nature, science, literature. I can impress upon him the need for seat belts and ballistic vests. I can pray for his safety, and for his growing up. And I can remind him, with sincerity, that he can be and do anything.


a crowded place

A crowded place, a merry mess, long cold days, no lack of love...


December, so far

While it's easy to get carried away valuing fun and excitement in the form of lots of shiny new things  this time of year, we're leaning toward simplicity and connection, wonder and tradition. There's nothing worth more than time with friends and family. We're looking forward to more of this in the month to come...


full of ideas

There seems to be a fine line between creativity and mischief.


being busy

It's December, and our to-do list might be longer than Santa's toy list.
Remembering, though, that there's a big difference between being busy and being overcommitted. Everything changes when you realize there is exactly enough time for the important stuff.
When the things you need to do aren't happening, it may be because you value what is happening instead.


you've been "thumb-oned"

Unless he's eating, Hank needs two thumbs at all times: his own in his mouth, and somebody else's in his other hand.
Sometimes he just wants to hold a thumb and snuggle, other times he grabs it to show someone what he's working on.  RoRo calls it "being thumb-oned."
He's going to be sad when there are fewer folks in the house for him to sit with or summon.

photo credit to Aunt Sally... so grateful she captured this





Dear Tolliver,

I sent you to school this fall, letting go my role as your daily protector, making a bit of peace with time and its robberies. I think I felt the same bittersweet pang of separation as most parents waving from the school door, but comparing age to the alternative left me not quite as maudlin about it as I might've otherwise been. Still, kindergarten has a way of echoing the growth of a child with particular clarity. And you are getting so big.

I have faced your dwindling babyhood, parts of which required small ceremonies conducted in private (and, admittedly, in tears) studying socks that would not cover your big toe, folding now threadbare swaddling blankets that I still tuck around your long body at bedtime, stashing a few favorite but foregone mispronounced words in my memory.  It's like nature's best magic trick, the way you were planted in my arms yesterday and leave giant footprints on the planet today. I did have some idea how quickly your early years would vanish. How grateful I am to have been there for them.

You are the sort of child the older ladies at the checkout counter identify as "all boy."  There's usually dirt under your fingernails and bruises on your shins. And your feet usually stink, which you think is hilarious. For your birthday you asked for dinosaurs and Legos, a football jersey and wrestling shoes, books and a jaw harp. You prefer to choose your own clothes, decidedly something soft and camouflaged. You go from styling your hair in the morning to snuggling with with your favorite stuffed turtle at bedtime. Your mind accommodates a seemingly inexhaustible catalog of insect facts and car models and military trivia and human body basics and Hamilton lyrics. You are interested in writing and addition, in Star Wars and baking, in pranks and Harry Potter. You are a bit of a budding artist, intrigued by VanGogh and skilled at detail with a ballpoint pen. Your spirit shines with curiosity, and it seems as though a spark of fire inhabits every cell of your being. Your list of friends is long and the freckles on your face are my favorite. You love and play and eat with ferocity. You are brave and curious, loud and dramatic, loving and so loved. Tollie, you are often the reason I smile. And sometimes the reason I drink.

I hope you have some idea about what happiness you bring us, how grateful we are to have you in our family. May our years with you continue to unfold like a magician's scarf.

All my love,



good shape

We make shapes with play dough and pipe cleaners. Hank has the typical toddler toys that support the construct, shape sorters and wooden puzzles. But he's mostly learned about shapes incidentally. And he seems to have a mild obsession.
First it was stars. He still points them out all over the place, never missing the one on the cardboard coffee to-go cup.
And then it was circles. Circles on necklace chains and on billboards and in his bowl at breakfast.
Currently it's ovals.  He wants to build oblong train tracks and identifies eggs and mirrors and footballs and sinks as ovals.