on riding brooms and sugar highs

We didn't carve any pumpkins here this year, but we did carve out time for lots of other fun things. 
We enjoyed being BOOed, and eating ghost bananas and monster muffins, re-reading Halloween stories and watching The Nightmare before Christmas. 
The boys had multiple opportunities to wear their costumes - school parties and trick or treat events downtown and in our neighborhood.  Tolliver was thrilled to borrow a real storm trooper outfit, and Tucker was lucky that RoRo could help make his geode design come to life. Hank just played the part of chubby baby, and was loved on by lots of ghouls along our street.
Tuck and Tollie agreed that more than anything, the best part was passing out candy from our front steps. The real treat was that Andy could join us, now that he's finally done with the most recent round of graveyard shifts.
Right before bedtime tonight the big boys sorted their stash, kept a few favorites, and happily traded each of their piles (to be donated) for new books.
Also at bedtime: already talk of what they'll dress up as next year, and what kind of candy we should distribute.


The kids are okay.

The year of Tuck’s birth feels a little lost. Each day I got out of bed, drank coffee and cried, stayed in pajamas and pondered whether a mother so sad could raise an emotionally healthy child.
Together we got to know a few monsters by their first name.  We lived through so much misery and collected so many memories that right now, solid ground, feels very sweet.

Solid-er, I guess. I still fall into bed most nights unsure about what needs to be done. Is he okay?
There is love coupled with the responsibility of keeping him alive, the desire for him to grow up paired with the fear for his future. It all feels slightly contradictory.
Is he sad? Is he lonely? Is he bored? 
Can we protect him from physical danger yet simultaneously encourage him to take risks?  Will he control his impulses, think independently, ask for help when he needs it?
Will he be a responsible voter, a kind partner, a capable professional?
Sometimes I let him play video games for too long, and lots of times I don't bother washing his fruit and once in awhile I just nod and say yes and I'm not really listening and have I done permanent damage?

I wonder if suffering can be passed along from one generation to the next, like flexibility or dyslexia, like grace or big brown eyes?
I worry that dimly lit scenes of his dying sister, pale and gaunt, will play out behind his eyes forever, even when he smiles.

I think he's okay.  I think he is happy and confident and thriving.
I imagine him as a man and can almost see that he's followed his heart, but taken his brain with him.
And taken part of his sister, too.


and I feel fine

I don't often feel like I have time to do the things that make me feel better.
Like getting a handle on the laundry, for example.  Or organizing the pantry.  Or taking a bath.

I did take a walk this evening.  I do not want my body to be my project, but I do want to be healthy enough to tackle some.  I am pretty sure I might not get to much on the list for another five years, when all three boys are in school, but I'm training to be in excellent project-tackling shape by then.

Our house is under construction and if I had the opportunity to sit long enough I could likely watch the drywall dust settle on every single surface.
I try to restore order, and sanity, in small ways.  I've been organizing our bookshelves.  And I finally cleaned the van.

And I know, I KNOW, these are the best of times.  They are!
But you know how sometimes, for a split second, when everything is happening at once or when nothing is happening at all, these can feel like the raging dumpster fire of times?

The whole world is whipped and messy, leaves swirling and politics spiraling, and life seems like a depressingly chaotic approximation of some vague but perfect fantasy.
I need to feel in control of something.  My sleep is interrupted and my body does not belong to me and the boys are wild and the house is a hot mess.
We line up on the couch to read books.  Because when in doubt, that's what we do.
And so here we are at the end of another day, alive and fed, clean jammies and warm fire, plenty of books and plenty of bourbon and all the love in the world.



considering this diem carped

Charles Hanley was baptized today at Broad Street Presbyterian Church, and celebrated afterward at a local park.
I wish we'd taken more pictures of the gathering - the cousins and the cupcakes and the pulled pork and the people who travelled so far.
It was such a good day.  I hope Hank always knows how loved he is.



There's a sign on our fridge that says All you need is love & WiFi.
It's funny because it's true.
Sort of.
But also I should amend the sign to add & a kitchen fairy.  


who he is, and how he is

We don’t wish for him to win all the chin up contests or the spelling bees or the cocktail parties.
We don’t need him to be the best at anything.
But we do hope he will continue to find activities that leave him feeling like he had fun, things that give him some measure of joy just in the doing, friends who are interested in the same stuff.
We try our best to help him unlock his potential, to let him pursue his passions and develop his own purpose.
Even if that means there are cereal crumbs all over the kitchen counter because maybe the iron fortified flakes are magnetic?
Even if that means his Halloween costume is slightly unconventional slash cannot possibly be purchased online or at the store.
Even if that means he's not scoring soccer goals or spending overnights at scout camp.
We do not want him to tie his identity to what he has or what he does rather than to who he is and how he is.
As parents we may be partial, but we are regularly amazed at the original ideas he brings into the world, and entirely besotted with our big boy.



We've noticed recently that Tolliver gets a kick out of interacting with young girls.  I mean, it'd be fair to call him a bit of a ladies' man.
At tailgating last week he was quick to deliver a bottle of water to a lovely high school coed.
One afternoon not long ago, as I spoke to a group of third grade runners, Tollie vied for their attention by interrupting me repeatedly to tell the girls what he remembered about Celia.
And at church, during part of an intergenerational game, he would not let me or Tucker help with his playing cards, but carefully took turns picking each of the pretty gals from the youth group to read for him.

The good news is he's not yet singularly focused, and still has plenty of game in other arenas, too:
building arsenals with wooden blocks, playing Bug Bingo and exploring the physics of fulcrums, to name a few.


seven months

and I can literally feel my heart swell when I look at him.


So many Saturdays

in Old Columbus Town.