just checking his in-box


like a goat loves garbage

If it's not sturdy, he needs to climb it.
If it's trash, he pretty much has to taste it.
If it's heavy, he really wants to pick it up.
If it's fragile, he just needs to carry it around all day.
If it's sharp, he would love nothing more than to adopt it and bring it home to live with us.



Hey Mom, I know how to spell UFO!  It starts with Y...then O...O.  Y-O-O spells U!

Walking to preschool: I don't need to zip my hoodie because I’m a furnace.

I can name some animals that have cold blood pressure, can you? 

Helping at the grocery: I can find the swiss cheese!  Wait, you mean like cartoon cheese, with all the holes, right? 

I know how to make a carne-raptor. You just need to add a dash of carnosaurus DNA to a velociraptor to make a baby. 


coffee and books

I don't mean to exaggerate, but this might be the best part of parenting.


spring break, and sustenance

The boys are on break this week.  We didn't plan much, but have enjoyed the indoor pool and a trip to the movie theater, the playground down the hill from our house and cooking meals together.

At lunch today, Tolliver asked to make pizza "with naan, and you can hide some vegetables under the cheese, I don't mind.  Actually, can I help?"
And Tucker sauteed, under Andy's supervision, some mushrooms and peppers to mix with scrambled eggs.

Most of what happens in our kitchen is daily and mundane, wiping counters and pouring milk and saying grace. Other things are seasonal and special, slicing summer peaches and licking battered beaters and simmering chili in the fall. We are together in the kitchen every single day, creating and nourishing and sometimes even dancing. And all of it feels like a powerful force for connection, floured counters and pots of soup, dish-filled sinks and rising dough.

With the boys home the past few days, I've made an especially strong effort to worry less about what I should be doing and focus on what I am doing. Today it was doling out vitamins and observing knife-sharpening lessons and solidifying kitchen rituals that seem to be a foundation in our family.



The boys bring us so much joy.  Their love is genuine, yet decidedly disorganized.
They leave us feeling tipsy with pride and delight. 
Or possibly exhaustion.


the luck

There is never, ever any doubt as to how lucky we are.


How old is baby Hank?!

We celebrated Charles Hanley's first year at the Audubon Center last weekend. Family gathered for story time and bird watching and birthday hugs. Tolliver helped make marshmallow bird nest treats and bird seed favors to pass out. Later we put a candle in some chocolate ice cream and sang to our little fledgling.
He's been showing one chubby finger to anyone who'll pay attention - cousins, the pediatrician, strangers, squirrels...


little ONE

Dear Hank,

It's hard to believe a year has flown by.
It feels like not that long ago you were a fresh loaf of bread, warm and with a nervous system.
Birth is insane, by the way.  We spent two nights in the hospital and then were sent home with Motrin, a pack of pads and a squirt bottle. And also a tiny human.
As fourth time parents, with a lot more wear and a little more wisdom, we ought to know what we're doing. (spoiler alert: we don't.) We just hope we're doing right by you.

This whole first year of your life has felt both like reclaiming something I've known so well and realizing how much I have to learn.  I've had to untangle some expectations and some this is the way I do its from you, and I think that might be one of the most beautiful inadvertent things you’ve already done for me. I love you for your very differences.
I'm afraid this is our last time and I’m acutely aware that this is your only time. But baby, none of the sunrises of your firsts have been tinged by shadows. There is so much ahead, lord willing, and I lean toward staying in the moment with you. I know better about that now in ways I didn’t with your sister, or even your older brothers. I laugh with you in disbelief and delight on a daily basis.

I want to remember how your smile looks with just six small teeth, how your baby hair, so wispy and fine, falls into your eyes. I want to remember how you laugh disobediently when we tell you to sit down in the tub and how your legs appear separated into fat segments, like dinner rolls. I don't want to forget the heft of you on my hip, and how we've all thoroughly enjoyed dancing attendance on you.  I want to remember how it sounds to hear Daddy sing Little Black Submarine into the cavern of your crib at night and how you reach your hand around to pat his back or pinch his skin when he holds you. I don't want to forget how you climb into toy baskets and gasp at the antics of your big brothers.  Everyone who sees you exclaims over your handsome face and chubby thighs and happy demeanor.  Our sweet little baby bird.  You've brought such joy to our lives simply by your very existence

Love always,


branching out

We surprised Tucker with a tree house overnight in the Mohicans. Although Hank stayed home (fires and ladders and babies don't mix) the rest of us enjoyed spending part of the week a little closer to heaven.


an imperfect ten

It's been a decade now, and her newborn face still appears on the back of my eyelids when I close them.

As a toddler, she spent many dark hours wide awake.  When I didn't resort to propping her up to watch Moose A. Moose at midnight, I sang to her, my own version of Hush.

She should be ten, and I imagine warm tea might be the thing that could help calm her in the middle of the night.
But there is no tea to steep, no cartoons to turn on, no songs to hum.  There are no carrots to serve, no skinned knees to kiss, no monsters to chase from under the bed.  There are no pictures to take, no cowlicks to smooth, no sneakers to tie, no report cards to sign.
These days, and nights, I'm not sure how to parent a child who is dead.

The first year she was gone, I mothered Cel by being sad. I was sad all the time. I felt that grief down to my fingernails. I felt it shrouding my spirit. I felt it in every corner of my home. I tried to be normal, to celebrate holidays and other people's babies and my own sons. I tried to mother Celia by talking about her. We planted a tree. We had a ceremony. I wore two necklaces engraved with her name. But inside, I was so sad.

And then that thick layer of grief, the misery and the missing, lifted. It just sort of stood up from my couch and walked out the door, slowly and silently so that I didn't even hear it go. And the next time I tried to call on the sadness, it wasn't there. I still miss her.  Like crazy, I do.  But I spend most of my days not sad.

In March, on my own birthday, I am whisked back. I shut my eyes and she is there on the inside of my lids, and even though they're closed, the tears slip out. I am not surprised by the grief that revisits or by how much the tears sting. What I am surprised by, still, is how much it means to me that other people remember her too, that they write her name, that they give in her memory, that they miss her with us.

This week we're leaving ten packets of information around the city, a BDSRA brochure with Celia's story and a dime taped to the top.

Historically, finding money has represented the presence of a loved one. It is often believed that when an individual finds money randomly, a departed loved one is leaving a symbol that she is still looking after him. It has also been noted that people tend to find dimes when they are in a difficult point in their lives.

We're doing the only thing we know, parenting Cel's memory. And we're hoping the folks who find the stuff will feel both lucky, and inclined to learn more...


the annual loop {eight}

Dear Tucker,

The passage of time may be one of the most predictable events on the planet. But I'm not sure how to prepare you to get used to it when I have trouble making peace with the annual loop myself?
How on earth can you be eight years old already?!

Life has a way of flashing before me on your birthday:
You as a newborn baby behind the plexiglass bassinet; you in my arms as I opened the envelope a week later to learn that you were, thank God, not sick; your cheek pressed to the floor providing the universal vroom sound for a favorite chubby plastic dump truck; you in the backyard, singing a choppy version of the alphabet song, distracted by birds and a melting ice cream cone; you, as Clark Kent for Halloween, pushing black frames up the bridge of your nose and pulling apart the top of your blue dress shirt; your face bright with joy at the Kindergarten music concert; your sincere effort to change all the Fs to Ts on the subway in NYC; you patiently explaining blends and digraphs to Tolliver as he learns how to read; your first brave jump from the high dive.

Little fish, big brother, sweet prince, my boy.  I look forward to all the years ahead with you.
You are so lovable, and so loved.


so many photos