forever is composed of nows

We've been married for fifteen years.
He reminds me, often, that I am not the worst things I tell myself about myself.
Together, I know that we are a lot more than the hardest decisions we've ever made.

Eight years ago we sat in a patient conference room while concrete set slowly around our ankles.
I twirled my wedding ring as if it might unscrew my finger. He sat next to me, stone faced, like a fifth head on Mt. Rushmore, speaking in a serrated voice, as if the conversation could end with any sentence. His eyebrows left the spot where eyebrows should go and shifted toward each other; with steel in his eyes he asked only one or two questions. The hands on the clock measured the same second over and over while the neurologist with a slinky for a backbone and the soul of a rented opossum tried to respond. But the only one that mattered had already been answered.

Celia's absence underlines our family's fortune. We’ve learned what it’s like to leverage hope against fear, to have more babies. Together our desire to raise children was just a little stronger than our doubt. Thank god.

He is a much better father than I expected him to be. And I expected him to be a really good one.
He is the kind of father who cares less about grades on a report card and more about teaching the boys how to unload the dishwasher. He worries less about trophies on the mantel and more about kindness on the playground.

Recently his mom mailed the boys pictures of little Andy doing things that they enjoy doing at about the same age - fishing and playing baseball.
I really love these photographs. They remind me that he existed in the world before he came into mine.

Earlier this week we spent the better part of a day in the new yard, moving flagstone and foundation rocks, digging holes and cementing posts for the boys' tree house.
I am strong and capable, but I can't say that I've stacked rocks on pallets before. Andy grinned at my effort and then shifted the expertise outside of our dyad: “They say the best way to create a stable pile is to stagger the seams” he instructed, rather than, “This is how I’ve been doing it successfully for twenty five years.” 

He does the same thing with the boys, building their confidence with positive praise and gentle guidance. He talks to them about chemical changes and congressional lines, listens to terrible jokes and mind-numbing tales, teaches them how to make good decisions even when it's hard to feel proud of some of our own. He is a calm co-pilot and forever their parachute.
We've been married for fifteen years. Most of my words have about a two second half life in his head.
Move the clothes to the dryer if you have a minute. 
Do you mind changing the lightbulb in the hall? 
Help me remember to send snacks to school tomorrow! 
But those things aren’t really important anyway. Maybe I should put the important ones on the mirror where he brushes his teeth, maybe I should voice record them on his phone, say them out loud more often, post them here.
I love you. 
You are the boys' favorite person on earth. 
Thank you for doing so much.
Till death do us part.


just add water


at the end of most days

we all smell like dirt.


rest periods

On the way to the pool this morning Tolliver asked us how many whistles we'd stay for, and I remembered exactly what it felt like to measure summer days by the rest period whistle.


They might be the luckiest boys in the world.

I can't get them all to look at the camera, but they do all look at their dad with the same wide-eyed awe that I have. With the same big brown eyes that he has.
Aside: those dairy cow eyes aren't the only good thing the boys got from their father.
Whether we're sitting in traffic or spilling his coffee or swearing about something that hurts, he is patient and level headed, always listening and forever putting himself last.
He knows that flowers fix most any hot mess kind of day, and that hugs and chocolate and queso and kisses bring us all back to happy in a matter of minutes.
He is totally devoted to our family, and I feel fortunate to be his partner in parenting these kids.


some of the best seconds

February 2017 - June 2017


paying attention

Summer is so full of Watch me!s
Cannonballs into the pool and scooter races on the driveway and monkey bar tricks at the playground.
(And babies headed straight for the street.)
The boys are so full of wonder.  They gather my scattered attention with Look! on a constant loop. Look at the baby birds! Look, a cat! Look, the praying mantis egg hatched!
We're trying to spend most of our time outside. I'm trying to put down my phone and soak up the glow of the kids. Brown skin and bare toes. Pajamas till noon and popsicles before dinner and long stretches of time to do exactly as we please. Adventuring, and paying attention.


Poker Face


biggest brother

Tucker and I participated in a 5K over the weekend.  Just the two of us, the outing was not prefaced by consideration for every relevant child limitation - weather, endurance, time, gear.  He grabbed a hat and I filled a water bottle and we hit the road.
It's not often that I get time alone with him, the colt-limbed person solving algebraic equations in the backseat, the kind young gentleman who is almost half grown. The one with adultness emerging like the face of David, if Michelangelo had been chiseling from baby fat.
I do not believe it is my job (or within my power) to soften every edge, but I desperately wish a gentle future for him.


all the food

He eats much of Grandpa Rod's breakfast and then all of his own. An hour later he's hungry again, asking for bites of whatever anyone else might be having. 
The older two are both bottomless pits too. Tucker had a second serving of orange roughy for dinner a few nights ago, and then, still hungry, suggested we maybe order a pizza.