on earth

Tucker won the middle school geography bee today. The questions were so hard. Like, expert level.
Tuck is not an expert, but he is curious about the world.
Last week he'd been reading about the Hyperloop, telling us less about the way it could essentially make Columbus a suburb of Chicago, and more about his concern for birds that might build nests on the pods.
This morning's questions referenced things like Greta Thunberg, Hurricane Mitch, the Seychelles and Nairobi.
The final question - about Triple Divide Peak, the only place in the US where rain and snow melt end up in three places - asked into which oceans the water divided.
It was such a treat to watch Tucker's peers celebrate his success!


all of it

Rainbows and wrestling, board games and books. 
Pot and pan bands and breakfast sandwiches.
Porcupine crafts and ballet class.
Chaos and calm, cold coffee and cousins 
and cherishing all of it.


song and dance

Hank loves to dance. His routines are not particularly graceful, but he does kind of shape the air as he goes.
This week he has listened to Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music approximately eighty seven times. He is still very three and has been upset when I ask Siri to play something else. While we have frequent slow dances with impending tantrums, we are also treated to high energy stick ribbon performances.


the middle place

He will pretty much carpe the diem at high speed until he collapses on the living room floor, SO bored.
He is wild, willful, and easily disappointed. He is endlessly curious, irresistibly thoughtful, and full of joy.
These qualities alternate in him at approximately five-second intervals.

He's chatty and tight-lipped, energetic and sluggish.
He is a little person, going through things that feel big. Playing freely and adjusting to rules. Tasting permission and feeling consequences. Managing emotions to fit all the situations.
His smile is a powerful force.
He throws football in the kitchen while I cook. I swallow a thousand mini lectures about things like glass globe pendant costs and try to imagine what it's like for him in the moment.
He tells me about the class book the teacher is reading aloud, the one with chapters so long that they miss second recess.
He tells me he does NOT want tomato soup with his grilled cheese.
We find common ground and rest there.

He is a handful. And his heart a national treasure.



He is an artist. His favorite medium may be markers, his favorite color is definitely still cyan.
He sets up his own studio, bypassing at least two actual desks in the house. He loves rainbows, and coloring books. Will you please print him another coloring sheet? He’s not sure which one, show him all of the coloring sheets on the internet, please.
His pajamas are mismatched and his happiness is golden and I think these might be my favorite colors.


sacred mundane

Turns out a broken heart may not just be the end of something, but also the beginning of everything else.
Sometimes I pretend to wake up ten years from now, and wonder how lucky I'd feel to repeat an ordinary day with three young boys.
The pockets full of things that could ruin the washing machine, the complaints about favorite pajamas not always being clean, the balls and the blocks and the books read aloud, the back door bird watching, the peanut butter handprints, the failed science experiments and the conversations that follow.
I'm not sure what simple or normal is supposed to look like, and often it feels like hard work from dawn to dark, but I am mostly able to appreciate the combination of mundanity and chaos, the joy of just being with them.
Turns out we are allowed to mess up and still declare the day a success, to fall short and deem our effort favorable.


the time she left*

I don't like January.
It's a potent month. Christmas is over, it's cold and it's dark and it's the anniversary of her death. I feel it all in my bones, the gray drizzle of horror.

Time makes a difference.
She died eight years ago.
Still, I wake each day with some sorrow.
Plus high hope.
I wake grateful and astonished and I do not brood.
But I remember the time she left.
Time barely cares.

Her personality, her preferences, all the particulars extinguished before they could bloom.
She died one day in January, but also across the years. She is still dying, really - which must mean she is still living, too?
Mostly my revelations pick not at whether she would’ve been the person I thought she would be, but whether I am the person I thought I was.
There is a casual dismissal of the complexity of my role, mothering children here and gone.
I never meant to stay home forever.
There is privilege in being allowed to grieve, the time and the space and the resources to sit in the pain. I got to stay home and hold her while she lived, and I got to sit with her as it ended, and I get to be with my boys now.

The death of a person is not just the death of a person, it’s the loss of who they were in the world. I cannot stop wondering who she would have been, who I would have been, if time had not bled out between us.

She lingers in everything, the things she touched and the things she didn't.
And in all three of her brothers.

*from a poem Tucker wrote, as a Christmas gift to us. It is called Where I'm From, and mentions things like Macbooks and our Toyota minivan, a small metal cement mixer and the new white house, cousins and grandmothers and great grandpa Jim.
And his sister, somehow indelible:


this stuff, can't make it up

Early morning kitchen mission: Mom, can you go somewhere else? I don’t want you to see me getting the peanut butter.

Curious: So, are there like a bunch of markers inside the printer?

Action figure play: This guy's super power is parallel parking.
*I'm taking notes.

Hey Siri, make it to the biggest loudest volume you can.
Siri: That's very loud. Are you sure?

Who knows: I think there's a factory in my butt that makes feet for the walking toot rainbows.

Feeling a little little and a little left out over winter break: I want to be unbrothered now.

At dinner, over fish and vegetables: I’m not good at cutting this stuff. I’m only good at cutting ice cream and cake.


times such as these

I find a fat red circle on the paper where my initials should've been the past three nights, indicating fact fluency practice. Or lack thereof.

What I want to say does not fit in the parent signature box. Their father took the boys to the bar for nachos and a lecture on super nova. They had piano lessons with a musician who pushes them up against their potential in the kind of encouraging symphony every child deserves to hear.
They read comic books on the back patio, drank after-school smoothies while the sun was shining. They put clean laundry away and watched cartoons.
They did not do flashcards.

There was a shooting here last night, caution tape strung at the corner of the same street I pushed the stroller along yesterday. I pulled waffles from the toaster this morning, squares full of syrup, while fire ravaged a country across the sea. While cocktail glasses clinked in another hemisphere, while college kids returned to campus, while birds sang and babies cried and missiles launched.

It feels silly to worry about multiplication tables, and silly not to. How is a person supposed to do ordinary, mundane things in a threatened world?
The fact that beauty and suffering coincide is both unbearable and remarkable.


the loud ones, too

Aiming not to allow any quiet, routine visits from joy to go unnoticed.