on colors, and other things

At bedtime, the night of the Rose Bowl: Do the Buckeyes have beds too? Do they have an extra one for me when I grow bigger and bigger? Is it red and gray?

To Tolliver, feeling blue and promised a pick-me-up by way of McDonalds: Are you going to order a Sad Meal today?

When asked to help fold towels, a real what-on-earth response: Only Mamas do laundry. 

Carrying around a measuring tape: Our house is ten legs! 
Do you mean feet? No, it’s ten legs long, watch! 

At the indoor pool, me in a (not new) red bathing suit: Mama I like your new red floaties.



The boys drew comics all weekend long, moving from the kitchen island to the dining table to the desk downstairs. Labeling folders for finished comics and works in progress. Asking Siri for synonyms, what's another word for steal, for cringe, for annoying. Offering each other ideas and helping each other sketch. Leaving eraser dust and lead fingerprints and paper scraps in their wake.

And I remembered how, for so many years, the boys seemed to inhabit every molecule of my personal space, their needs tendrilling out so compellingly that I couldn’t distinguish theirs from my own. But now, as they inch slowly farther from us, their worlds expanding and their independence growing, sometimes it is us pursuing them, wanting to be in their orbit.

We pushed pause on their projects for a ski lesson and the science museum, interrupted them to offer cereal and crab rangoon, to suggest math homework and piano practice. But otherwise they were drawing for hours on end.

Tucker has a notebook that he carries all over the house, constantly drawing. He sits up at bedtime with his little clip-on lamp, and draws almost every night before he falls asleep. This is amazing to me, when kids do stuff like this, stuff they just decide to do with no prompting, no suggestion, no encouragement, just all them, becoming themselves.


time and numbers

Lately Hank has been asking Siri what time it is. Like so often that her response doesn't change, because it hasn't even been a minute.

Also, he's been asking a lot for a sixth thing. First he wanted another chocolate chip, to put with the five he'd already arranged, because he needed a Celia. I thought he was just angling for more chocolate. But he has been reorganizing the framed photographs in the living room too, to show four siblings. And then he asked Andy to help him make a sixth play doh person to complete our family line up.

Missing someone confuses the truth about time and numbers.


long weekend, happy kids


first line of defense

The boys tend to fight boredom by fighting with each other.
We tend to redirect with wrestling or dancing or hugging it out.


normal day

The day began as most do, awakened by small human alarm clocks, washing berries and slicing bagels for breakfast, packing lunch boxes for school.

I remember the shirt I was wearing when we spent the day at the developmental clinic, nervous and nauseated and sweating. I trashed that pink sweater years ago.

We took the van to be serviced this morning, cooked chili and collected children, helped with homework and dance-partied to nineties hip hop before bed.

I recall the exact aisle of the store I was in when I received a devastating diagnostic phone call. I have not been back to shop there.

I threw away the clothes and abandoned the cart, but cannot skip the day on the calendar. The events of Januarys past threaten to affect the tenor in our house. It's a month that feels like it drags on anyway, a time of year that requires some defending against under ordinary circumstances. Like the card from Cel's grandma said: mid-January sucks.

I remember what my daughter felt like in my lap, more soul than body, rocking together toward heaven.
I've rocked three healthy boys in the same spot.

It's not quite a normal day, but I do my best to breathe through it, promise myself pause and permission to feel it. My sister tried to apologize for her mood recently (she is a little hormonal, but also completely radiant) and I reminded her that she's allowed to feel what she's feeling.
I am too.

It's not a straight line from bad to good, from sad to happy. But there has been so much magic over the years, in the space between heartbreak and hilarity.
We are not in search of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
We have carved out a life where we can be happy, even if it isn't quite the happiness we envisioned.
Turns out happy can be what happens when all your dreams don't actually come true.
I didn't know that being the mother of three boys was my dream until I became theirs.
The thing about death is that even when you think someone is gone, glimpses of them remain in those they left behind. We hear Celia in Hank's voice, see her in Tolliver's face, feel her in Tuck's hugs, and we remember that much of what we're missing lives inside of us.



Piles of white pillows grew around the house over the weekend, a canvas of possibilities.
The wheelbarrow became a wagon ride, the slide became a luge, Hank's scarf became his snot rag.


not too far

I tease that Tuck is all nature and numbers, but that's not too far from the truth.



The weather in Ohio has been... I don't even know? Warm, almost. Like what month is it?
Hank and I have been able to take a walk nearly every day.
Walking is not my only mode of transportation, but it is my peace of mind.
Speaking of transportation, vehicles are one of Hank's favorite parts of the walk. Those, and the snack he gets to choose - applesauce pouch, granola bar, banana bread, grapes, he gets to choose.
He talks the whole time, pointing at helicopters and looking for cats.
We sing - Jingle Bells and Jesus Loves Me, nondiscriminant and definitely not discrete.
He waves to dog walkers and delivery vans.
He likes to dictate what shape our walk will take, whether we should make four sharp turns to create a big square, or curved lines to make a giant oval.
Almost home after school pick up today, the alley was blocked by construction equipment. A dream come true for Hank, out of the stroller and up close to look. One guy moved cones to let us through while the dozer operator cut the engine. The gentlemen watched as Hank worked up the courage to jump over a (very small) puddle in the middle of the path. As he crouched down to ready himself, the guys hollered votes of confidence and then cheered for him after the leap.
He got his feet wet on purpose though - he has footprints to leave...


present, if not productive

There are post-holiday messes in every single corner of the house, half-built brick sets and craft projects held together with washi tape and hope, a drooping tree and nerf darts stuck in the chandelier. Basically this place is trashed.
The calendar is past the date we might've tried to collect ourselves and begin again. Although it's never too late to begin.
I waste some time thinking about things I might like to change, but can't. And more time considering the things I wish would never change, but will. I spend some time sweeping pine needles too.
I'm not really pledging to do anything differently or striving to do everything the same, not worried about cementing routines or chiseling away at habits, rather just sculpting the days as they come.
Along with the other artistic directors who live here. Do I owe them more though, some sort of improved version of myself?
When my head whirs inside with a swarm of worries, messier than the house, I take myself for a long walk. We'll work on tidying, and potty training and spelling, another time.


one year here

We have lived in our new home for one year now.
We've done a bit of landscaping and added a treehouse out back, repaired a water damaged plaster wall and replaced the hot water tank, made friends with neighbors and built a mantel and touched up so much paint, among another million small things. We've certainly finished more than one project with a bit of a better done than perfect motto.
We still need more bookshelves. Like, yesterday. We still need to hang art on walls and curtains on windows, but we believe in sunshine and nothing to hide, so we're not in a huge rush.
The days of chances being taken and changes being made are mostly over, and having somehow managed to survive the renovation process with some veneer of sanity, we are feeling very settled.

Nothing about our house is particularly magazine worthy. I mean, there is no delicate balance of mid century modern and Scandinavian simplicity. It's more like a decade explosion, mostly because we've chosen things we love (and can afford) - rustic farmhouse and hand-me-downs and vintage cottage and IKEA. Although parts of the house are new, it all feels well-worn, furnished with children and scuffed edges and all the usual complications of age.
We actually still have boxes to unpack, but at this point I'm not sure we really need whatever's in them. We have sold/trashed/donated so much shit the past two years. The extra room to breathe is way more valuable. We did not build the house with the intent to fill it with things, but we are so grateful for the space it affords us to fill with our favorite people.
^ and yet the boys tried to convince us to let them sleep here in this tiny nook, like we don't even need their bedrooms.