spent with family before the football game.


Thursday morning

He cries out for me at too early thirty, tangled in blankets, surrounded by hard books and plush animals, hair ruffled and fuzzy.  He is a bouquet of wild loveliness.
Predawn he plays purposefully, still and focused and calm, but before long his uninhibited enthusiasm awakens, his activity becomes intense and erratic.  He begs for eggs, calls for Tucker, looks for his favorite frog book, complains about his wet bottom... and then pushes them all away, No eggie, No Da-tuck, No book, No dipe-y, in the manner of a two year old who suddenly doesn't want what he just wanted.
At the grocery he gets attention from fellow shoppers who comment on his camouflage shoes, on the toy camera around his neck, on his orange hair, who give him cheek squeezes and a sheet of stickers.  He gives them each a look he could cut steak with.  He will not speak until our strawberries are bagged and the automatic doors close behind us, Guy, big guy.  Stickies.  Bye Guy!
In the car he covers his hands with colorful circles and once we're home he pulls one off and presents it to me.  For Mama he says as he attaches it to my shorts.  By the time I have the door unlocked and get the bags inside he is under the outdoor table with the pint of berries, a single bite taken from the bottom of each before it's returned to the container.  At lunch he is in and out of his chair, sitting, standing, upside down, watermelon in one hand and Tuck's peach pit in the other, fruit juice dripped in figure eights across the patio.
After they eat, he and his brother make mud soup.  They mix dirt and water, stir in ground cherries and holly berries, fern leaves and tiger lily stalks before shoving the concoction in their green plastic dinosaur's over-sized mouth.  Chomp, chomp.
They both need a bath, and I know although he won't eat his and will instead dip it in warm water and watch it melt, I entice them in with fruit popsicles.  We read Down By the Bay and Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site on new blue sheets before he naps.  He cuddles with both books and with his blanket and closes his eyes, nestled into the spot I picked him from hours earlier.



There are just a few freckles sprinkled across the bridge of his nose, a fine dusting of cinnamon that reminds me of his sister's fair skinned spots, and that make me want to plant a kiss on his face for every breath he takes.

**September kicks off the Combined Federal Campaign - designate a gift to BDSRA to benefit research by using registration number 11781.  Scientists are making strides!

**Also, see information under the Current Fundraisers tab before September 28th if you'd like to order Tastefully Simple to benefit BDSRA, or if you'd like to register for the Battling Batten 5K & Family Walk on November 3rd.


on smiling

Where's your smile? he asks me, usually when I'm wiping bath water from the tiled floor, willing bed time to come right away.  Or sorting through the back door shoe pile up for a matching pair, forgetting that should feel more like a privilege and less like a chore.
Now when he's moody or irritable or just four-and-a-half, when he's on the path to becoming someone I'm not quite sure of, I ask him the same thing.  It's hard to hide your smile when someone's hoping to see it.


Small steps

We walked to support our friend little Molly and the FAREwell to Food Allergy campaign this afternoon.  Tuck arrived with a pocket full of acorns and an energetic spirit -- he had to get rid of the tree nuts, but held on tight to his enthusiasm.  We passed discarded pistachio shells at one spot and a pile of sunflower seeds under a park bench, and we had to steer clear of bees and wasps along the route.  We reminisced about Colby's grass allergy, and how although it wasn't life threatening, it sure was a painful inconvenience for a dog who liked to play outside.  We recognized that there are allergens all around us, and felt glad we didn't have to give them much thought.  Tuck left after a solid high five with his friend, and with, I do believe, a little more compassion in his heart.
thanks for the image, MSW.


summer's fading glory

We had a few unseasonably warm days a week or so ago, and since then it feels like fall has settled in -- school started, mums are blooming, darkness drops and the stars sparkle sooner.  Even after what were likely the last lazy heat-filled days, after pulling out hoodies and putting away flip flops, after waving to the sun's warmth for awhile, the boys still brighten every prospect for the future.


when listening feels kind of exhausting

I stepped outside this morning, having sent the boys ahead while I strapped on my own shoes, and caught Tucker, head raised to the sky, yelling Hello through a cardboard mailing tube.  He quickly explained he was just trying to discern whether the folks at Heaven's house were having a good day.

Tuck is verbal and imaginative, describing what he sees and narrating what is happening and wondering about how things work.  And hardly ever using a very quiet voice.

It takes us about ten minutes to get to church, and last Sunday Tuck filled the entire ride with words.  He told us all about the super fast speed car he'll drive when he grows up, about which color helmet each of his five children will wear when they ride with him, about the number four-and-a-half that will be on the roof and the thunderbolts that will stick on the doors, about the engine where the trunk usually goes and the parachute that will be attached.  He did not mention how fast the car would travel, but I'm certain the speed of his story was faster.

It seems like every thought that scrambles through his head sneaks out Tuck's mouth.  What does tropic mean? I want to have a pet dolphin. I can use these pliers to shoot my slingshot. May I have some square cereal in a bowl and also some fresh cold strawberries? How could we catch a kangaroo? Maybe we could build a fence real quick, a circle right around it before it hops out, maybe if we did it like that? Let’s see if I got any longer today.  I know a lot of silly ways to move. You can watch me, if you mind. 

Despite some linguistic precocity, Tuck always says that, if you mind, when he means if you don't.  
And even when we're tired, we don't.



I hope his idea store never closes

When Tucker’s new teacher came to meet him this summer, he intended to show her his collections and inventions. What he ended up doing was drawing her a quick map and then riding his bike down the block, glancing over his shoulder to make sure she was watching.  If his grin did not reach out and grab her then maybe the crawdad he took into class today will.
In anticipation of back-to-school, I made it a point over the past several weeks to ask him what he’d like to be when he grows up, and to record his plans when he offered them voluntarily.
A sampling of his aspirations at four and a half:
I could be a swimmer when I get big. I’m a good swimmer. 
I'm going to have five babies.  I'll be their dad and I'll teach them everything they need to know.  You can help me name them.
I could also be a construction worker when I grow up.  I know how to build things and fix them. 
Or I will open an idea store. I’m full of those and people could come to my house and get one when they need it. 
I have a sliver of guilt, staying at home and sending Tucker to school.  I want Tuck to believe in himself.  And in others.  And so I should too.  I should step aside and let others love him - our neighbors, his grandparents, our friends, his teachers.  They can’t possibly love him as much as I do, but they can certainly love him in ways I cannot.  So I send him forth, with his own map and a wide grin, and a quiet prayer that others might embrace him too.


your turn, shiny star

You like to wear a gold Mardi gras necklace and a green headband, and also your new backpack.  You cried because I made you take off the backpack when you asked to sit on the toilet to pee.
You pull most of the clean hand towels from the drawer, to cover Buzz Lightyear or dinosaurs lined up along the top basement step for a nap, Buzz beez.  Di-roar beez.  Night night Buzz.  Night night di-roar.
Your shoes are often on the wrong feet, because we don't argue with “I do it.”  Your cheeks are usually flushed and full of cherub loveliness.  Your belly still folds over the top of your diaper like an overstuffed envelope.
You say “yo ho ho” when you pretend to be a pirate, and you use strong words like you own them, no and stop and move and mine.  You could talk about helicopters all day long, and you call your brother "Da-duck."
Sometimes I feel like I fail to acknowledge your amazingness, Tollie.  Your brother’s firsts were, mostly, the firsts. And it’s not that yours are less amazing, but they're different.  We don’t document them quite the same way, but we did celebrate when you saw the Viper and said “nice car” and when you pooped on the potty and when you initiated your own version of the Red Light Green Light game. Your brother was there for each of those things, and his pride and love for you matched ours.  So although your accomplishments may come second, you do have an extra cheerleader, another teacher, a big brother who thinks you’re amazing, mostly, too.

*Tolliver started school today. His teacher, the same one Celia and Tucker had for Parents Day Out, reports that after a few minutes of crying, he banged drums and fed new friends plastic play food and splashed around at the water table.  He was all smiles when we picked him up.  First day photos to follow.


mostly #betzboys

the boys might have enjoyed growing up on a farm
post-church visit with papa, salsa on the sidewalk
OSU MICU bake sale for BDSRA, a good reason to consume extra carbs
short glasses after a looong day
daybreak walk to the donut shop
sometimes social media makes everything look fun #foodtruckfestfail

food chain game
date night documented by Tuck
sun's out, guns out
ice cream for lunch
where truth is spoken, children spared, equality achieved

tied to his jet pack kite
rainy day play with daddy
J pops at the Hills, plus a cart full of Way Betters
the neighbors know the boys LOVE bugs
poolside peaches, straight from Branstool
"mine turtle"

corn on the cob + candy corn = balanced meal?
it's hard to keep up
at the shoe, ready to play
preschool orientation
behind the bar with the Pleasure Guild
high-heeled helper