We're in Treble

With two capital Ts.


Nine months in, nine months out

Dear Tolliver,
There are so many wonderfully magnificent things that make you perfect right now.  At nine months you're still new enough to know heaven, and you've brought it right into our house.
Tollie, you ball my shirt, your diaper cloth or the corner of a beach towel, whatever blanket-like material you can reach, into a tight fist against your chest, up to your cheek, into your mouth and, like magic, your eyes close.  I love that you've worked out this sleepytime routine for yourself.

You are mobile and vocal and generally very happy.

One of your father's favorite things about you is the way you move with reckless urgency.  You travel at lightning speed, plowing through barricades and climbing over obstacles.

You are an enterprising adventurer, an observant little sleuth, so focused on learning that I sometimes feel like I must be quiet in your presence lest I ruin your concentration.

There are little things you do - shake your head left to right, sniff your nose repeatedly - that make you laugh at yourself, which makes us laugh too.

Your favorite toy is a shoe.  Always, always, you go for the shoe.

You play games and have tricks: How Big and I Take My Little Hands and Where's Tollie, waving and standing and stepping and clapping. 

You sleep through the night.  This is huge, buddy.  This.is.huge.

Anxiety is becoming an issue, separation and stranger.  This isn't really wonderful or magnificent, but it helps me know you're right on track.
You’re like a vine, baby boy, growing exponentially overnight and commandeering every opportunity to cling. 
Keep it up.

All my love,


Rainbow Bubbles

This project may look strategic but the truth is we pretty much awoke to it.  It proved to be the perfect way to spend time on one of those days when the sun seemed to be anchored to the morning and the clock somehow got stuck on not-naptime-yet.


Bicoastal Cousins

Families may have been meant since water ran over rocks in the basement of time. 

The incredible convergence of those who have gone and those who remain seems irreducible.  Our time with family is something that refuses to come through in the description; the absurdity of it increases each time I try to parse it for retelling.  Maybe pictures will suffice.
Although it proved mighty hard to capture a decent picture of all of them together, it was such a joy, SUCH a joy, to watch the cousins play together this weekend.  And it ought to go without saying that we missed those who were not with us.


Tuck and the Beanstalk

Andy slept most of the day, after working overnight.  The boys and I played in the basement, quiet activities like matching cards and coloring monsters.  We met a new friend for ice cream, and then walked over to the library.  Tollie chewed on books while Tuck gave plastic zoo animals a tour of the dollhouse and chose movies to borrow. At home, while they napped, I threw together marinara, sauteing mushrooms and garlic and onions, chopping fresh tomatoes from the neighbor's garden, baking chicken to spoon it over.  All three boys awoke for dinner.  Tucker declined what I prepared and asked instead for a bowl of peanuts and a cup of yogurt.  While I fed Tollie black beans and bananas, Tuck sat across the table eating, and thinking.
There's a large box in the dining room that has served as all sorts of things this week, including a rocketship, a kennel, a castle, and primarily the number one hiding spot for every game of hide and seek.  Tuck looked at it, finished chewing, and wondered aloud whether we could turn it into a big, big machine that would grow a long, long vine that could reach all the way, all the way to Colby and Celia and then they could climb down.  He explained that we'd need to start with soil and a seed before he described the holes we'd need for water and the pipe we'd need for the vine to curl up and around.
After dinner we headed out front, to read books on the porch and draw with chalk on the cement.  Tucker drew a snake and then searched for food, making a pile of grass and leaves near its head for him to eat when he gets hungry so he don't eat Tollie (who was sitting near by, eating chalk).
Andy and I have not shared the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk with Tucker; it's not been a purposeful omission, it's just that he wants to read May I Bring a Friend? over and over and over, which leaves fewer opportunities to introduce new stories.  Perhaps he's heard about the beanstalk from someone else.  Regardless, while he's feeding squiggly lines on the sidewalk, something's feeding his imagination.
At least something's feeding him, because if it's not a hot dog, he hardly likes what I cook.




And the Livin' is Easy

Looking at the calendar, and living the days, I realize again that we're lucky.  Right now we still have lots of time for sweet corn and swim suits and plenty of opportunities for playdates and popsicles.  Morning routines and bedtime rituals cushion our out-of-the-house adventures. And so, like summers before, we're inside just long enough to notice that our home needs some serious attention. I'm learning to love it, seeing the remnants of yesterday’s activities and today's dramas -- the pitchers and pots and spoons and straws, makeshift marching band instruments that litter the floor, the balls under the table and the playfood under the chairs, the abandoned puzzle pieces on the rug, the abandoned tracing templates on the dining table, the abandoned laundry, well, everywhere.  It’s an archaeology of the living. Living. And when I think of it in those terms, it doesn’t feel like such a mess.



They are not always kind and gentle toward one another.  But when they are, it makes my heart explode.



I would have liked to waste time pouring over first day ideas, Pinning my favorites and planning the details. I wanted to shop for a lunchbox, to hold an internal debate about whether to buy the cute one she wanted, or the higher quality one that might last the year. I envisioned cutting her PB&Js into fancy shapes and jotting sweet notes on napkins.  I imagined crossing off items on the student supply list and tossing tiny bottles of Elmer's glue alongside big boxes of tissues in a brand new bag far too big for her back. 

Celia should have started school this morning.

But she wouldn’t have gone to school anyway, I hear. True, she wouldn’t have, but the daughter of our dreams did not get sick and die, the one whose hair I would have braided, the one whose crown Andy would have kissed as he wished her luck.  She would have spent the summer losing teeth and diving off the board and learning to read, and we would have sent her to school today. We would have clutched the camera, giving each other nostalgic glances as we watched her clean sneakers step into the classroom.

Celia's illness and death sort of reset the beginning for our family.  We won't have first-day-of-school photos to share for a few more years.  But, as Andy reminded me earlier this week, we might not have had him either.


Southside (aka Poppy State Park)

There are complex methods and thick books, and I’m not saying I shouldn’t subscribe to those ways of parenting. But my mom read to me and my dad took me outside, and I can do that with my boys. I know that I will make mistakes, and I know I can’t give them everything. But I can expose them to music and mountains and manners, and I can give them time with their grandparents. And there may not be much more they'll ever need than that.



Before we disassembled and packed away the exersaucer, we tried to recreate the same photograph we have of his siblings in it. 
Tolliver is a pretty good smiler.  In fact, he's like his sister in lots of good ways.  His red hair makes him an obvious repository of her looks, but his heft on our hips reminds us of her too. 


4 Shadow

Foreshadow: a literary device used by the author to suggest certain plot developments that might come later in the story.

I went back to Jenni's first post in August of 2008 and was struck by the foreshadowing.

If you go back and read that, just be careful -- you might get lost (like I did) re-reading Jenni's oft ambiguous prose. I can't help but think back to those anguishing days of late 2008 and wonder why we didn't share our worry with our readers.  To call that post foreshadow implies the author knows the plot twist. We worried, but we didn't know.  No parent would ever write this story. 

But when you click back to the first post, the opening volley sure seems to be right about one thing.  She’s one epic baby. She’s nothing short of sunshine. She's pure goodness, crystallized. She, in my opinion, deserves to be chronicled in song and legend for centuries to come.

Epic? Indeed.
Sunshine? Her light continues to shine through everyone who knew her.
Crystal goodness? Clearly.
Chronicled? Certainly; but, this blog will never suffice.
Legendary? Undeniably.



"Chunk and Charm"

I don't have any words.  I think those three, and her photographs, say it all.
See the rest of Amy's images here.


"Fair"ing Well

We woke up this morning and went.  And I'm not entirely ashamed to admit that the freedom to do that, to not have to worry about making arrangements for the dog or for our dying daughter, felt good.
It ended up being one of those days when the soles of our feet were dirty and our cheeks hurt from smiling, one of those good days when we kept looking at each other and at our boys, recognizing that the other was experiencing the same having it all(ish) feeling.  And we don't have it all, not even close, but what a nice experience, no matter how short-lived.