polished dreams

He became a kindergartner half a year ago, entering new phases of reading and writing, autonomy and friendship.

He is like a tiny mollusk, but instead of straining calcium from the water he spins the things he learns at school into polished dreams upon his back.

At bedtime now he holds the book and I close my eyes in order to give myself over completely to the pleasure of listening.

He stumbles on a word and I, miraculously, manage to stay quiet for a dozen heartbeats.  When he stops to think his attention floats up, as though he is scanning the sky for something.  Soon his words come again, like music they sink and rise and settle back to earth.

I listen, and feel as if my love for him could outstrip the limits of my body, as if I were merely a not-so-narrow conduit for another, greater thing.
And then my attention floats up too, giving wings to words like thanks.


pretty much a mathlete

As I led the neighborhood group down the hill yesterday morning I needed fingers on all eighteen hands to count the number of times I said, "We'll have to wait till after school to play in the snow, right now we need to keep walking please!"

After school I gathered snow pants and mittens and mentally prepared for the putting on part.  If I guess how long something like that should take and then double it and then add ten, I can alleviate some stress as the mother.

While we wandered over toward the woods Andy and I quickly talked about keeping an eye on the clock and on the boys, about trying to gauge stamina in order to get them back home and inside before they got too hungry or too cold.
I am usually able to calculate timing in order for the boys to do something without a meltdown in the middle of the street, without me having to carry one of them three blocks back to our house.  I have to compare temperature to water consumption and subtract from their last bathroom break.  I must take into account the amount of energy already used that day and divide it by the hours of sleep the night before.  And then I need to compound all that with the fervor in which their last meal was eaten.

I know I'm not the only parent who understands this math.  And I don't always get the right answer.
But today it wasn't until we reached our backyard again that the boys decided they didn't like the snow.


Tollie says

Let’s play hide and seek.  You count.  But first can you cover me up with these pillows so I can hide?

Jets are like giant bees.  But they have huge engines. 

A week or so ago: Where did all the snow go?  Oh wait, I know!  The sun and the snowplows did teamwork! 

That motorcycle has two tires, just like my body has two kid-a-neys.  
I am excellent at making two fingers, look.  Because I used to be that many fingers.  But now I'm three.

My feelings are feeling hurt. 

I really like dinos and trains. But I don’t like flowers. 
You don’t like flowers?!
I do!  No, I don’t, actually.  But I do like babies.  And rainbows. 

That’s a slug and that’s a centipede and that’s a roly poly.  Roly polies can turn into balls that you can NOT throw. 

My teeth are just like a nutcracker. 
I tried to slow down but when I walk I can feel my legs going faster that means it’s time to run.

He does this thing, probably because he used to hear us do it with Tuck, where he repeats words and tries to identify their beginning sounds:  Teamwork starts with ta-ta-teeth.  Pancake starts with puh- puh-pee.  Crabby starts with cra-cra-crap.  Ceiling starts with… what’s my sister called again?

I need to get my freckles off my nose since I am such a bog boy now and I am done with them.  
Also I need to take a haircut, since my hair keeps coming closer to my eyes. 

To Tucker, flying one of his lego “ship” creations: Does it go upside down or upside up?

I went on a trip with Vanessa and Zane. We went to vacation superhero state. We had to walk all the way there.  And we stayed in tents.  But you can’t go there, only cousins can. 


At the end of the day

I tend to feel a tiny bit beleaguered, but mostly incredibly lucky.


as long as he needs me

We go away and when we return, the boys seem like different people.  Bigger, smarter, more handsome, if that's even possible.
A few days apart cannot rub off the familiarity of a person though, and Tucker's welcome back hug was huge.  He squeezed us both long and hard and actually shed some tears.  Which made me feel a little guilty for being gone, but I know he had a ball with grandparents, who took the boys to Krispy Kreme and the Conservatory, built blanket forts and lego airplanes, devoted themselves entirely to amusement and appreciation.

Lately I've felt as though I need Tuck more than he needs me.  He has, mostly, moved past the hold my hand and tell me everything place.  He reads chapter books on his own, zips his coat, fixes snacks.  Occasionally I need to suggest he turn his shirt around, or help him get his laces tied, but really, he's stepping into independent territory in those very shoes.

No matter how big he grows or how old he gets, no matter where he goes or how much he may not be mine forever, I will always be his.  I will always, always be ready for a four limb wrap around with him.


Chicago in January

Although I prefer our somewhat inadvertent tradition of leaving Ohio in January to visit someplace warm - Virgin Gorda, Puerto Rico, Arizona - I do not regret going to Chicago over the weekend to meet up with friends.
We made a lot of memories, and maybe a few mistakes, ate a ton of really great stuff and saw some really neat things.  It was easy to smile, and drink, through the cold with these guys.
My days become so linked by routine -- tied to nap schedules and twisted around story books and coloring pages, lost in building lego ships and pulling pieces of eggshell from muffin batter -- that I barely notice what’s changed unless I step away.

We are always elated to leave the house, to travel, but the piece of the puzzle that might have been missing, that part that used to leave me with angsty feelings about having to come home?  I found it in my boys.  Now I’m thrilled to be going, and happy to return.  And between the two, I think that covers it all.
1.  the Butcher and the Burger
2.  supporting Chef Allen, who supported NCH Hospice via daytonerwife
3.  brunch at Nookie's
4.  the Signature Room #incrediblyhighinchicago
5.  to life (and to beercades, and to #bogus skin)
6.  deep dish at Giordano's via daytonerwife


no good thing ever dies

It was snowing the day we celebrated Celia’s life, as if someone were throwing confetti from the heavens.  Andy drew his arms around me like a warm coat on our way into the church.  Downtown, we could see the bone structure of the landscape, the whole city glistening.  Or maybe that was just through blurry eyes. What we could not see was the next day without her, let alone a lifetime.

I am reluctant to acknowledge the date, hesitant to spend too much time on the fact that so much time has passed.

Sometimes, though, the things we miss need to be named.

Hers was worth seven points in a game of Scrabble, matched her great great grandmother's, meant heavenly.

Is that where she is? her brothers still ask, At heaven's house?
I don't know.  I don't know.  But she is not here.  She hasn’t been for one thousand ninety five days.
She is extraordinarily dynamic though, despite her condition of being most decisively not alive.  She is a regular presence in our lives, despite her very obvious absence.

I wonder if part of the reason I sometimes feel heavy is because I carry a little bit of her with me.  But that doesn't really makes sense, because she was light.  She was Light.
I am sure her spirit abides with me.  When I struggle to sense life, instead only feel it's absence, I've learned to follow a whisper to find her.  She was bright in her baby brothers, but as they become less her and more themselves we see her elsewhere.  I can still catch her in their smiles, a soft glow, but notice her more in the world around them, in the snowflakes that fall in the winter and the flowers that rise in the spring, in the way music floats through the sanctuary.  In the way sad tastes when the tears reach the corners of my lips, in the charitable donations and in the silences we keep.  In the shadows on my face, in the longing that lingers in all the lines that have formed there.  In a stray pink ballon, a friendly butterfly, a twirling pinwheel, a curly head of red hair, Hello, I'm heres abound.   She is always with us, in our hearts and thoughts, and in our hopes for the future.

And we have big ones, they just no longer include french braids and ballet slippers.  We hope, instead, for her brothers.  For us, the boys practically conjugate the word: I have hoped.  I am hoping.  I will hope.
Uncertainty is the certainty from which we build our lives, embrace our days.  But we do it all with strong hope. We grab an extra carton of milk, plant flowers, plan trips and buy green bananas because we anticipate the days ahead.  A lifetime without her seems like a long time.  But we know that hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.*

*Shawshank Redemption



Where the boys are

Ours is a house where Go Bucks is an acceptable response to any question.
Where the basketball hoop is drilled into the drywall across from the couch.  Where the trampoline rests right in the middle of the family room and a new swing set hangs next to the fridge.  Where the dining room table can be the center of tent city all day long.
Our house is also loud.  Imagine drawing a bow of testosterone against an instrument of energy.
Boys live here.

Raising them is a continuing education for me.  I am hugely invested in maintaining a close relationship with both boys as they grow, though the intersection of our interests feels fairly deserted sometimes, a stark place with some empty seats.
They love jumping and shooting hoops and dodging nerf darts, and I look forward to running.  Away from our house.
They love creating ships with Lego bricks and driving trucks across the floor and describing, in detail, every single Angry Bird in existence and reading books about superheros who give wedgies.  I am deeply ambivalent about most of that.  I'd rather write a little bit, maybe about what they like to do, maybe with noise-cancelling headphones on, instead of do it with them.

I find myself getting schooled over and over again.  The boys pencil me into plans I don't have any part of making - trips into the woods, games of hide and seek, rounds of ridiculous knock-knock "jokes."

I know I could never waste an encouraging word on them.
And I can always find ways for us to connect.  I just hope I always, always can.

Their lives are so full of things to go and do and look at and isn't that lucky.  I am learning.
And I wonder if there is an associative power of awesomeness.


Always, in all ways

Santa sent Tolliver a video from his Portable North Pole, and in the clip referred to the the big red Brio engine that Tollie had asked for.  Specifically, Santa said he knew Tollie was "hoping for a certain train for Christmas."  Since he opened the gift, Tollie has taken it everywhere, even to bed, and has referred to it solely as his "certain train."
I don't even:  Mom, we don’t eat the outside of scorpions. But we can eat their eyes. They have green eyes. Yum. 

Or:  Mom, my brain is blue.  Just like it's blue in the skeleton in the human body book.  But my brain is not plastic.  It's real.

He overuses the prefix "re."  He says restruction for construction and restructions for instructions… For example, he's all Let’s read Goodnight Goodnight Restruction Site or I want to see the fish at the requarium and Where are the restructions for this Lego truck?  He also calls the movie Despicable Me Respictable Me.

When I asked what he'd like for lunch yesterday:  I just want to eat cherry pie yogurt.  We don't eat cherries what are hanging on bushes, they could make humans sick.  And we are like humans.
Also, can I have my cucumbers cut in hexagons?

You know Mom, bar soap holds electricity in it, that's why it stings your eyes.

He's been asking, fairly regularly, if we'll always be his parents.  Mom, I will always be your boy.  Will you always always always be my mommy?  And you'll always keep me?

Always buddy, in all ways.  
Also?  Cherry pie yogurt is just yogurt with cherries.  He's always called it that.


scenes from December

1.  far beyond this day or time of year #decemberprayer
2.  book club holiday dinner
3.  one of my all-time very best gifts
4.  kindergarten craft

5.  for hospice
6.  hoping to help a family feel like it's safe to smile
7.  "That's enough singing." (or caroling gone wrong)
8.  so tender and mild

9.  bedtime books with Aunt Molly***
10.  hammering with cousins at Home Depot
11.  dinner and drinks compliments of La Tavola (eat there and order the scallops!)
12.  quick, quiet run in WV #mountainmama

13.  to the paper thin promise of another new year
14. to wondering whether the light shines on them, or out of them
15.  pool ball
16.  karate kid

*** Molly will make a great mother, and a child will be so lucky to be loved by her and JD.