I only cried once this weekend. I might blame the tears on an accumulation of things, on missing and medicating and re-cleaning and refereeing and who knows what else. Well, maybe the national news.
Mostly though, I spent a lot of time trying to hold it together.
The boys went from co-conspirators to sworn enemies and back again, practicing every single emotion they'll ever use in life on each other. Over the course of one weekend.
My patience evaporated with the coffee I reheated sixteen times and my muscles ached.
I tried using charitable words, tried helping them navigate humanity in the wake of my own, but everybody was crying and everything needed batteries and nobody felt quite right.

So in search of fresh air and improved moods, we went to the zoo. Driving home, I noticed we all seemed a little less tired and a little more optimistic. The boys spent an afternoon smiling, and I had too.


the climber

When his teachers explained that he'd scaled the classroom shelves a couple weeks ago, I was like Really?



Tolliver woke up this morning talking about the scent of fall, how it makes him hungry for s'mores.

It feels like just last week I cut pants into shorts for the onslaught of spring. Most boasted holes in the knees anyway.
Summer invited polka dot shins, little legs marked with bruises and knicks.
Could a mother tell the seasons this way, I wonder, from pale to bruised to tan?

Suddenly it's time to think about cooler weather again, to find pants that will cover longer bodies. This weekend we tackled tubs and dressers and closets, preparing to embrace a wardrobe of light coats and tall socks and fleece jammies.

And then, shelves stocked with sweaters and jeans that should fit for a minute, we headed outside, enjoying crisp air and sunshine, a fresh crop of acorns and a little chocolate graham cracker treat.


bits of the week



We ended up with an inadvertent two pounds of dates last week. I needed six for a recipe, and I figured I'd shove the rest into the blender for smoothies, but they became a new favorite snack. Hank keeps saying I need another update.

Which prompted me to write a brief one on Hank at two and a half on a random Tuesday...
We read The Greedy Python approximately six times before breakfast.

When I suggest a diaper change, he sits, momentarily, half-hiding behind a couch pillow, hollering I disappeared!

We build forts - in my bed, under the table, behind the couch - with pillows and blankets, until Hank declares each more amazing than the last.

He runs and runs and inevitably runs right into something - the fridge, the island, the banister. He thinks about crying but winds up rubbing the injury and saying But it's alright, I'm tough.

We play hide and seek and I barely have time to look behind the curtain before he yells Here I is, I mean here me are!

He helps me unload the dishwasher and has a little come apart when I try to help get the bowls stacked safely. He recovers quickly when I ask him to remind me where the pizza cutter goes.

We set up the PlayMobil animals and pretend the characters visit the zoo, but not for long because Hank's favorite is the donkey, whom he calls volcano, and he really just wants the volcano to come along for the rest of the days adventures.

We sit next to each other for lunch and, between bites, Hank explains Monkeys have hands to eat bananas. But monkeys not have hands to eat grilled cheese. 
He offers the volcano a bite of his banana and goes on: Volcanoes have feet but cars don’t have feet.
He begs for bites of my salad - specifically cucumber bites please.
And after fruit and a sandwich and lots of cucumber bites, he's still not full, because he asks again for an update.


grateful for every overwhelming wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world day with them

You have three boys? That's a lot! said the lady.
Thanks. I got them on sale and they have pockets, I thought. 
Three means there is always someone to wrestle, to sing to, to read with, to question, to climb, I thought.
Three can feel like a lot, but what would I do without them, I thought.


talking shop

It rained a lot last weekend.
The little boys opened a general store, selling groceries and party supplies, nerf weapons and magic wands. Although there were no coffee beans for sale, Andy and I got a good deal of shopping done, and Tolliver solved some pretty big money math problems.
They worked hard carrying products up from the playroom, spreading them out across every single living surface, creating different departments. I tried to pay attention to the details of their efforts rather than the idea that I may be making lots of trips down the stairs when the time came to reclaim the couch.
It’s all a trick of accounting, parenting is. There may be no tangible evidence of the work that we do, but we do it nevertheless.
Lately, I feel like we wake up and, most mornings, one of the children yells Plot twist! Nothing goes as planned and yet everything works out relatively fine.
The boys' store hadn't been open long before it was robbed. They're getting good at plot twists too.


every friend a brother

The boys watched Newsies recently, and I found myself singing along.
Hank started preschool yesterday, and like one song goes, in his world every kid is a friend, every friend a brother.
Carrying a monkey backpack stuffed with favorite books, Hank began his academic journey with a plethora of ambition and a poverty of limits. He was the first kid to walk into the classroom, and he didn't even turn around to say goodbye. For weeks he's been talking about finding ten little indians and a paintbrush, and we've been talking about taking turns and listening to his teachers.

Turns out Hank was also the first kid to be dismissed, while one of his teachers explained that they'd already nicknamed him "the climber."  Sounds like, at one point, they found him standing in a windowsill.

Apparently every kid is a friend and every shelf is a ladder.


*all by mine own self

I remember how thrilling it felt to wander the farm alone, to steer the wave runner away from the riverbank, to stroll from mom's office to the bakery after school. I looked both ways and buckled my lifejacket, wore a watch and packed a snack. I carried with me a sense of responsibility, and gratitude for my own growing independence. Years have passed and I haven't forgotten those first feelings of freedom.
Tucker is nine and a half now, with possibly less time at home ahead than behind. It is hard for me to imagine him living anywhere but under our roof, but I understand the rules ::
It's our job to keep him as safe as possible, but also to help him become self sufficient.

Once he needed me to feed him and carry him. Then he could do everything all by mine own self. Eventually he needed me to show him how to tie his shoes and to multiply. Now he needs me to give him screen time boundaries and to remind him to brush his teeth.
Someday I will need him to smuggle me ice cream and teach me about technology.

He eats plenty of protein and wears a helmet, packs an umbrella and picks up his own library reservations. And while he is out making the world his own, I am home changing sheets and checking the clock, reminding myself of the larger task, training the people I love most in this world to leave me forever.


savoring ordinary