to do

Stay glad.
Take stock.
Make stock. Or muffins, whatever.
Help plan a wedding.
Watch the birds.
Write more love notes.
Organize closets.


turns out

Turns out you can count on it to happen, on little things to go wrong.

I put the boys to bed this evening, preheated the oven for Andy's dinner right before he texted that he was heading home. Poured wine. Began to unload the dishwasher, putting a few vases away in the old hall cabinet. The entire shelving system collapsed.  Glass everywhere. Good news: the cacophony did not wake the boys. And although pretty much a million mason jars were shattered, none of the blue vases I'd been collecting for my sister's wedding were broken.

Several weeks ago our water meter broke and was leaking in the basement, the unfinished part, fortunately. The city worker who came to fix it actually created a much larger problem, accidentally. Water flooded our driveway and froze, a private ice rink. Neighbors knocked on our door daily, to make sure we were aware of the situation. The sump pump ran non-stop for weeks and the front yard has been bull-dozed. But water did not sneak into our new home. And we hadn't begun to landscape. And the boys LOVE mud.
We needed to mop after men traipsed in and out, through the mud, replacing the meter, again.
Grandparents offered to have the boys, and the clean up work was much easier without "help" from small people.

We wrecked a rental van, twice, on vacation a few months ago. We received notification in the mail that it has been repaired and paid in full by the credit card company through which we arranged the rental.

All this recent rain and our chimney is leaking, a lot. A big masonry bill looms, but also, our tax return is on the way.

Last week, my sister didn't have all the official paperwork she needed to get married next week. At the courthouse, they were sent away from the probate desk, taking what they did have down to the magistrates. They watched various interactions from the end of a long line, and hoped they'd wind up in front of the guy on the left, the one who seemed most affable. The one who was able to verify information online and send them back upstairs to the marriage license clerk.

Turns out you can count on it to happen, on little things to go right, like choreographed grace.


Brain Blast

The boys have been working on their science fair projects for several weeks.  
Tucker studied genetics and evolution, distracting DNA from an onion and gathering related facts -- his favorite: humans share half of our genetic material with bananas.

Tolliver investigated flight, looking at wings on both birds and planes. He learned about thrust and lift, and liked reading that some soaring birds' feathers actually weigh more than their bones.

Both boys set up their display boards tonight and promptly ran off to see what their friends brought to share -- wind turbines and water cycles and sound waves and stress balls.
And baby Hank, not one to be left out, had his own small sticker display.


February redeemed

Just when I thought I couldn't take it any more, the sun started working again.
I mean, we picked this city-shaped refrigerator, decided to spend our days in central Ohio knowing that one of the seasons would be winter. But it's like someone left the door open for a minute, and we escaped the frigid air for a few days.


taking turns, taking care

On the way home from school last week, in the alley behind our old house, I asked Tolliver not to step on my feet. He had on hiking boots and was happily stomping in puddles. {And also stepping on my heels.}  The snow melt was a welcome walking home distraction -- he hadn't asked for a snack or whined about how far we still had to go. I had worn my Uggs instead of my rain boots and the trek was soggier than I anticipated.

I explained that my Uggs kept my feet warm, but they weren't meant to get super wet. Or particularly muddy.
Tolliver looked up from the middle of a puddle and smiled at me.
Oh, but if you take care of them, they'll take care of you? So like if you don't step in puddles, your boots will keep you warm.
Like the world should be, if we take care of other people, they'll take care of us when we need it. Riiight.

We are all just taking turns walking each other home.

And suddenly I was wearing that smile he'd given me.


what does February have going for it?

Sometimes February can feel like a terrible one-act play.
The best thing I can say about it is that it ends early?
And maybe that there's a whole day devoted to love. There's that.


to my ears

I hear Hank first, singing from his crib. Morning music.
Mama, Daddy, awake!  Milk! Coffee! Mickey Mouse!

Beans whir through the grinder and the dishwasher hums its descending final cycle whoosh.
There are feet padding on oak planks, and the fridge door shuts softly. The clang of cereal spoon to porcelain bowl, the bickering, the laughing, the scrape of chair legs against hardwood, the whole house is awake.
Hey Siri, play Luke Bryant. HEY SIRI, HE MEANS LUKAS GRAHAM.
Hey Siri, play the Greatest Showman.  
Hey Mom, where are my socks?

Toothbrushes turn on, water drips, the toilet flushes. Singing, laughing, more bickering. Backpacks zip shut, accompanied by nylon jackets brushing against each other as the boys fight for shoe space on the mudroom mat.

Hey Mom, see ya later. Love you.

Three children, three engines of need, of want. All music.



When I think hard about it, I know it’s not about how much time we’re spending on technology. Really, it’s about how we might have spent that time elsewhere. Might we have done something productive? Inspired? A spontaneous walk in the woods to fend off restlessness? Reading the BFG on the couch while dinner simmers? The chance to serve someone else? A craft to counteract boredom, a puzzle, a baking session, a snack? A rousing round of Dutch Blitz? An actual, real-life conversation?
I loved, last week, when an aunt assumed the boys did not have their own devices.
Our people first rule is pretty firm.

I have been looking, concertedly, for things to do that make me forget to look at my own phone.

As eager as the boys were for a gaming console, I was equally unenthusiastic about having one in our house. I just have this awful vision of them holding joysticks while missing out on true joys.
Plus, I feel like we have enough responsibility monitoring television and computer and iPad use, which skyrockets when we are desperate for things like productive time and sleep.

We set limits, we get lax. I want conversation, I crave quiet.
I quit. We start over.
Today the boys joined African drummers at church, worked on classroom Valentine cards, took ski lessons and played the Switch.
They're doing fine. We're doing fine.
But, I know that our days become our lives, and our choices become their stories.
I want the light in their eyes to shine brighter than any screens.


such a mess

Sometimes, when our place resembles a natural disaster more than, say, a living room or bedroom
I remind myself that I am a mother of children, not a museum curator.


not his hat

And yet he wears it all day, every day.


the privilege of time

*Tucker's not in the pictures because he was around the corner playing Happy Birthday on the piano.