Good boys grow here.


little letters

Dear boys,
I'm sorry we've been spending so much time at our computers. And at the tile shop.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: we love you so much.

Dear apple cake,

Dear naps,
I'm sorry I was a jerk to you as a kid.

Dear fall,
Thank you for making Ohio look like a dream.

Dear Andy,
Have I told you lately how much I love you?

Dear walks at the Park of Roses,
Thank you for keeping me sane. I like to cry happy and then sad and then happy again tears. And to look at the trees and the leaves. You're always one of the best parts of my day.

Dear Mom and Rod,
I'm sorry we've commandeered your entire dining room table. And your driveway. And your washing machine. You guys are way too good to us.

Dear coffee,
I love you. That is all.


carefully taught

My fingers have spent a decade hitting publish here. And also a fair amount of time hovering over delete.
Sometimes I struggle desperately to find a way to say something hard and make it come out soft. 
I mentioned to a friend recently that I wish I had the courage to write more, to say more.  
Her response was on point : It's hard to feel brave in a world where someone might shoot you for having an opinion.
I'm not really afraid of being shot. But I am afraid for the people who are.

These days, I live in fear mostly because my children have none. 
They are the boys jumping on the roof of the bounce house. 

I want our boys to follow rules and to break rules, to have opinions and to seek advice. 
I hope that as they grow taller they do not grow smaller, that they gain experiences and perspectives and increased preferences and confidence, but not so much that it makes them too cynical to listen to others. 
I don't want them to pick fights. I do want them to pick flowers.
I am not afraid of being shot, but I am afraid our country is being led by a lunatic. 
I am not afraid to stand up in support of same sex marriage, but I am afraid I might sometimes accidentally think I'm thinking when instead I'm just rearranging my prejudices.  
I am not afraid to eat pizza rolls and ignore gender roles, but I am afraid I might inadvertently kick the next person I run across who is small-minded and proud of it.
I am not afraid to share that I am firmly pro choice, but I am afraid I am not always a good example for my children.
We can always, all of us, do a little better in our interactions with people who are different from us, can't we?

I want our boys to believe in God or in good, to take actions based on grace. 
I want them to filter coffee, not people. 
The boys are inherently fair, and they are learning that when we take time to talk to strangers they don't seem so strange.
I want them to be brave, to declare opposition and to take bold steps, but to always, always remember person over point.



a moment of science

You know their necks can rotate 180 degrees?!
They're actually carnivores. They eat crickets and stuff.
The females decapitate the males after they mate!
I remember they're related to cockroaches. And termites.
Also, they only have one ear.  On their belly.  
I forget why they pray though?


chiseling happiness

There are a LOT of things I admire about this kid.
Lately it's the way he consistently chisels happiness out of pretty much any sort of rough-edged circumstance.



Not the absence of light, but the evidence of it


watching them take off

We do not spend long, fraught evenings dissecting our children’s educational paths. We do encourage engagement with learning. We do spend some time wondering about the boys' budding character, wondering how we might help them take responsibility for their actions, wondering whether they'll get into the colleges of their dreams and whether we'll be able to pay. But mostly wondering whether we can possibly ever let them go.

The boys memorize periodic elements and state capitals and Pokemon characters and not the phonetic alphabet. They remember the fireplace in the Denver hotel suite and the specific granola snack we had once at COSI and the names of the tenth planet and the eighth continent and the new toy that so-and-so opened at his birthday party two years ago.
And we are humbled and challenged and exhausted and inspired.
Tuck is eight and a half, a third grader now. He’s a marvelous young man -- eager, curious, affectionate, funny and full of empathy. He’s most interested in Minecraft and coding, prehistoric man, his own music playlist, the piano and infinite numbers. He asks curly questions like, Going back from zero, what’s the very first number? and Are apes still actually becoming humans? He wants to make an engine and to invent all sorts of things; he collects pieces for projects in his ever-dirty pockets and talks earnestly about multipotentialities. He regularly has his nose in a book. He is a confident swimmer, a kind friend and an almost endlessly patient older brother. The only thing bigger than Tucker's sense of humor is his heart.
Tollie is nearly six wonderful years old. He’s an incredible character -- determined, thoughtful, exuberant and opinionated. He’s a bit of a chameleon, soft and strong, loud and quiet, confident and not quite sure. He is this or that, himself or someone else. He dresses up in costume and has us all in giggles. He loves bedtimes stories and our special X Marks the Spot back scratch routine.  He adores Hank, and manhandles him as much as Hank can stand. He is also astoundingly thoughtful, sharing special things like arrowheads and favorite mini figures with cousins. At the moment, Tols is mostly into Legos and the high dive and this one specific dance move that he's been asked only to do at home. He is full of wonder and opinions and plans.  He has six new best friends, and pizza is the circle of his life.
We spend very little time worried about the boys falling behind and hold more concern over trying to help them press ahead in the right direction. We drag them to the food pantry and walk to advance brain tumor research and make them write thank you notes. We encourage them to save money and force them to do chores and take them on big adventures, but mostly we try to address learning in the tiny nooks and crannies -- hiking along the riverbed we stumble across new words, listening to the radio we discuss with candor most current events. In the kitchen we do mental math, doubling measurements for zucchini muffins, and in the back yard we shoot baskets and bust open rocks and observe humming bird habits and gaze at the shadows of the eclipse.
We hug the boys tight and kiss them hard and gradually let go of the back of the proverbial bike.
We smile, watching them take off.


18 months

Hank is a year and a half old now.
He is not interested in diaper changes or leaving the playground or saying goodbye to his bothers; he shakes his head ridiculously hard, his fine blonde hair swishing furiously back and forth across his forehead.
He throws one hand out in front of his body, sort of like hitting caps lock, screaming NO or STOP.
He has several other gestures which he uses to mean all sorts of serious business - thank you and all done and OUTSIDE!
He uses quite a few words, some of which he even puts together into short sentences.  He talks about socks and buckeyes and MINE.
He finds the bottle of vitamins and holds up his first finger, Vitamin! Just one!
He's able to identify body parts, poking eyeballs and tickling toes and checking on Aunt Kate's injured knee.
He loves pears and apples and berries and bananas, and he carries the stool around at RoRo's to reach the fruit bowl. There are currently five honeycrisp apples lined up on the butcher block, one small bite taken from each.
He frustrates easily and throws top notch tantrums, but he short circuits back to happy pretty quickly.
He loves backpacks.  He points to the empty seat next to him in the van and says backpack, reminding the boys that's where to put theirs on the ride to school.
He imitates a dozen animals, elephants and snakes and cows.
He uses a spoon and brushes his teeth and helps unload the dishwasher.
He doesn't sleep through the night yet.  No one's good at everything, I guess.
He turns switches on and off and opens and closes cabinets, fills and empties buckets, stacks and knocks down blocks, and in general, occupies plenty of time with repetitive practice.
He's very curious but not especially cautious, and insists on doing things like walking up steps without rails and sitting on bar stools without backs just like his brothers.
At the OSU tailgate over the weekend, when he wasn't eating cupcakes or celery or cheese puffs, he used the lid of a veggie tray to slide down the loading ramp of the vehicle next to us. Over and over.
He is full of energy and affection and wonder.
He has generous thighs and glittery eyes and a mama who doesn't mind overlooking a little sleep deprivation, because baby Hank has a way of opening our eyes to so many other good things.


the wrong tree

Did she mean a rescue bear - like it wears a fire helmet and holds a water hose? 
At the zoo, the docent was describing a bear rescued from a poor environment and recuperating in captivity.

Discussing Aunt Kate’s soccer injury - When you got hurt, were you versing the Crew?

What is it we’re going to, a surrendering party?
In the car, on the way to a retirement celebration.

Mom, I forget, what’s Siri’s sister?
Me: ???
You know, the thing Poppy has at his house and you can talk to her.


good stuff

In memory, I don’t know what my fate as their mother may be.
Cutting grapes into quarters and laundering bedsheets and walking them home from school, my role feels mostly relegated to the ordinary and therefore condemned to invisibility.

In real time, motherhood is like a carnival mirror. I see, at times, the absolute worst version of myself, and at other times, the very best.
I hope they remember mostly good stuff.