my best yes

Happily ever after is complicated.
We have had, and we have held.
When we turn around and look back, it appears as though we've been climbing a little bit of an incline over the years.  That's what couples do though, right, crawl up and through it all together.
Perhaps our happiness has not actually been a result of the absence of problems, but our ability to deal with them. Together.
He has figured out the perfect grinds to water ratio for our coffee.  He gives the best pep talks, and even better bear hugs.  His mixed drinks are my favorite.  He fixes leaky faucets and will happily go out to grab late night ice cream.  He lets me run away from home for exercise and fall fast asleep on the couch at night.  He shuttles children to school and mops the floors and simmers dinner and does not complain.

He is a human and has flaws, a short list of which I could rattle off.  But none of them are fundamental, none of them hit upon things that are intolerable.  In terms of his core values, in terms of his plans and his priorities, he has never disappointed me.
Long gone is the starry-eyed wedding gaze, but he is still my best yes.  We can still exchange pleasantries about ordinary stuff, still share dreams and appetizers and sheets, still partner in celebrating big and small things.

And there are several little, living reasons I am grateful we chose each other too.  I love the legacy we’re creating as much as I adore the person I’m creating it with.  I’ve known him for most of my life, and I’ve never seen his eyes light up the way they do when he’s with his children.  I am eternally grateful he’s my one person in the world who knows what it’s like to love the boys the way I do.



Leading up to our trip to Poppy's, Tolliver talked about catching snapping turtles to make soup.
Safe on the dock, he and Poppy spotted snapping turtles in the pond, and Poppy got him a turtle kite instead.  There wasn't much wind though, which turned out not to be a problem - they flew it from the dump bed of the gator, going super fast.  And although they did not catch turtles, Tollie did catch bluegill, crappie, catfish and large mouth bass.
Tucker hoped to catch fish, and when he wasn't as successful as he wished, Poppy distracted him with gator driving lessons.  There were also knot tying lessons, and lots of whittling with the knife he built in Poppy's dangerous room last winter.  And Grammy let him have plenty of popsicles.
Tuck taught her to play his current favorite board game, Quarto, and told a million jokes to Poppy, who laughed at all of them.
Hank enjoyed his first trip to Poppy State Park too.  He even took an inaugural bath in the big red tub!

It was not lost on us that while we enjoyed visiting West Virginia, many who live there were working to recover from devastating floods.


the week with the longest day of the year

We moved here more than twelve years ago.  Our first house, three bedrooms, one bath.  We've added a finished basement, another full bath, a new patio.  More than that, we've added four small pairs of feet to our home and lots of good friends to our contact lists.  It's such a small place, Grandview, with such a big sense of community.

Tucker finished Camp Invention last week, led by the district's chief academic officer.  He had the best time.  Today he got his room placement for second grade, and has already received messages from kids who are excited to be in the same class with him next year.

But the start of school is still two months away.  We have lots of long, hot days to fill.  My perspective alternates between tired and energized.  There's the notion of too many toys and not enough play, the reality of stuff on the floor and screens in their faces I try to moderate.

Earlier this week we walked more than a mile to a friend's backyard cherry tree, depositing ripe fruit into small plastic buckets.  The boys were unpredictably enthusiastic about this activity.  Stained fingers gripped scooter handles on our way home, smiles above sticky red chins.  Eager voices greeted Andy at the end of his thirteen hour shift, a pile of pitted cherries for him to sample.

Neighbors recently passed along a bunch of Batman toys.  Others have brought flowers.  And the boys found packages from a secret admirer near the front door mail slot one morning, chapter books and Lego guys.

Today the boys were invited to play with older friends, where the teenager set up science experiments to do with Tuck and the middle schooler retrieved long forgotten blocks and racetracks to entertain Tols.  The playdate gave me, and my tiniest sidekick, more than a minute of peace.  I drank a whole cup of coffee while it was still hot.  I added real cream, vanilla extract, sprinkled cinnamon on top.

Instead of beans or days or calories, I'm counting blessings.


four Betz babies

All of them, at about the same age (three-ish months):

Original posts --

side-by-side comparison of the first two March babies:

three at three months:


biggest brother

Tucker has a deep, abiding empathy for others.  He reads people like he reads books.

And he has a terrific sense of humor.  His ability to recall and retell jokes is almost as strong as his penchant for making up fairly clever original ones.

He's not much of a box checker, but more of a big wonderer.  He definitely has a think-outside-the-box kind of brain.

He is a critical thinker, with a thirst for knowledge that won't quit.  He is constantly questioning the world.

But the world doesn't always have the best questions for him.
He doesn't really care to discuss baseball or soccer, common queries for the seven year old set.
He'd rather talk about magnetic elements or musical octaves, about what kind of birthday cake he wants when he turns eight or which electronic device he hopes to disassemble next.


what love looks like

The boys spend days collecting ants and coloring comics, waiting for him to get home from work and wishing for the moon.

He spends time cooking pancakes and reading aloud endless picture books, pretending to be a tickle monster and pretty much hanging the moon.


the darnedest

Tollie still says some funny stuff.  And I still try to write it down when I can.
The first few here are from as far back as early spring, because I haven't compiled a list for awhile...
You know there’s another name for rain clouds?  Columbus.
(Close. Cumulonimbus, actually, but some weeks rain clouds may as well be called Columbus.)

Remember when that tree used to be bald?  Now it has leaves!

Discovering an empty Easter egg, surprisingly not disappointed because, he explained, the egg was full of love air.

My underwear are like butt protectors. Apropos of NOTHING.

Retelling a story: You knowGod’s fork. (Andy eventually figured out he meant Neptune’s trident.)

In reference to a fictional character: He is so daft. 

Perched on the back of the couch, sun streaming in through the window behind him, watching:
Why are you cleaning, Mom? You’re really just whipping up more dust. 

Did you know there’s a school for babies named Hank? It’s in New York City. There’s a boy teacher who's 18, to play with him. And a girl teacher who can milk him.  

Watching The Croods: Mom, when we were all cavemen, I think Dad looked like that guy.

Trying to trouble shoot a new racetrack design: What’s your theory?

To me, yesterday, while we chased bubbles in the front yard:  You should grow a girl baby next. Actually three girls.  If you make bottles, I can help milk them.
Before we'd need to send them to school in NYC, I suppose.


strong with this one

Tolliver inherited a Star Wars costume recently.  He wears it regularly, of the strong opinion that Darth Vader may be the best bad guy of all time.  Tollie's been willing to share the outfit too, giving Hank an early opportunity to join the dark side.


as tight as you can

There are moments that the words don't reach.
There is grace too powerful to name.
I was eager to watch the Tony Awards this evening, excited to catch another glimpse or sixteen of the Hamilton cast.  I spent most of the day troubling over Orlando though, the soundtrack in my head stuck on the Quiet Uptown loop.
There are moments that the words don't reach. 
There is suffering too terrible to name. 
You hold your child as tight as you can, 
and push away the unimaginable...


three months with Hanley

Three months have passed, and a few nicknames for baby brother have been thrown around:
Hankers.  Hankerman.  Hankers away.

Tollie sometimes calls him Hanky Diaper or Hank Ham Sandwich.  I don't really know why.

Andy likes Bubbles or Bubs, because Hank is almost always blowing them.

The boys, moderately disappointed that we did not choose a third "T" name, were at one point determined to call him Tank, which is fairly suitable given his size.

Lately though, we pretty much just call him a good baby.


Sideways Stories


utterly ordinary

Our days feel utterly ordinary and marvelously miraculous and seemingly cataclysmic all the same.
The boys are best friends and then mortal enemies.  One morning I possess a vast capacity for patience, and run up against its limits that afternoon.  The house is under control... oh wait, no it's not.  Regularly we reach extremes.  And conclusions.  Like maybe the dirt and the divine are inseparable.
Some days I think, deliriously, that this could actually go on forever, nursing the baby, listening to the Minecraft monologue, all the hours that revolve around the bathtub and the kitchen sink.
It may be the most privileged strain of panic, letting today be dominated by tomorrow.
I remind myself that right now is all that really matters right now.
I remind myself that our worst moments don't tell the whole story in the same way our best ones don't either.  And there are so many of not one or the other, so many somewhere in the middle, so much that's not even worth noting. Except sometimes it is.