cold hands, warm hearts


make believe

My phone is brimming with puppet videos the big boys have been producing. Odd props litter the floors and a symphony of cooperation drifts through the house. I'm pretty sure filming is one way they've determined to avoid actual school, dismissing Pythagorean theory and fractions plotted on number lines, but cinema feels a little like art and english and I don't mind slash they're GETTING ALONG. 

Meanwhile Hank's been working on his first book report, recreating a scene from the story, planning wardrobe and set design. He made a list of materials he'd need to look just like that brilliant young man, Iggy Peck - a pencil, a pointer, green shoes and hairspray.

If the process of noticing comes first, all three boys have moved from fairly conscious consumers to pretty imaginative makers. Exploring, copying, creating... perhaps boredom's best gifts.


a better witness

Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, you're a better witness for what is beautiful.


the heres and theres

except basically just the heres, because we don't go anywhere


today, and tomorrow

How would you like to help? I hear Andy ask the boys in the morning, knowing they'll find something to contribute, unloading dishes or sorting laundry or cat care routines, knowing this invitation will land better than any assignment.

The arc bends, but only with help.

We listened to the story of Martin Luther King Jr. today, between diving into a "how do rice paddies work" rabbit hole and classifying types of triangles. 
The boys understand that we cannot only venerate civil rights leaders after they're dead, that we cannot just quotation mark the words of a hero from the past.
Perhaps we have the opportunity to help define justice today. Perhaps we can actively bend the arc right now. 

It's clear that the work must continue. 
How would you like to help? I ask the boys.


the longest month

There've been other Januarys, I keep reminding myself.

The one when we traveled to an archipelago in the Caribbean sea.

The one when a neurologist with a slinky for a backbone called to tell us our daughter would die.
The one when she did.

There've been other inaugurations and cold fronts, other dark days and new years.
There'll be more Januarys.


come gasp with me

Mom, look! Watch me do a flip! Watch me write my whole name!
Hank gathers my scattered attention and points me toward his own delight, like it's some sort of sacrilege not to share.

See the cats play, see the snowflakes, see the new neighbors across the street?
He summons the rest of the house as if it'd be negligent not to invite us all to love the world with him.

The boys are, have always been, a bulwark against bad days, contagious in their joy.

I appreciate the recent side-tracks, something else to do *instead* of panic.

Smell this soap, taste the chocolate buttercream, feel my new wool socks.
A million little pleasures.

Listen to me tell this joke, listen to me sing, listen to me count to one hundred. 
Help me make a list.



I remember leaving Grandma Eleanor's house as a young girl, the way she'd stand at her storm door while our car backed down her driveway, waving and blowing kisses. I could feel the love her eyes sent through the glass to the backseat where I sat. 
It was always lovely to visit. It was always hard to leave. It was both.

Overnight, one year quietly blended into the next.
I've been trying to think of something nice to say about 2020, minding Bambi's mother's rule, maybe not saying anything at all.

It was basically a shit show. But part magic show, too?
There were double rainbow sunrise hikes in Hawaii, remarkable piano skill progress via instruction on a tiny rectangular device, small folds of cloth over faces that had the potential to save scores of lives. All basically magic. I want to believe that, but I want to protest it, too. Too many people died, too many seasonal celebrations were called off, too many lives did not seem to matter.

It was a disaster. It was a miracle. It was both.

I think our boys will remember sidewalk air hugs and safe-distance patio visits and Sunday baked good deliveries the same way I remember Grandma Eleanor at the door. These smaller moments tell a bigger story about the different shape life has taken during the pandemic, about the again and again of it all. The boys missed school, the state fair, the neighborhood pool, crowded streets, the collective pulse. They missed people they love.

The five of us found value in the nothingness of everything, gathered around the front room fire for family read aloud, walking in the woods. We have been reminded of so much this year. Some of it trite and annoying, but man, the importance of the world beyond ourselves, the increased ability to be at ease with sadness. Patience and fortitude. The way bliss lives in a thousand ordinary moments. To look at everyone else with grace, and to give some leeway to ourselves too. And sometimes to screen-time limits. How hard it is to stand on principle when it leaves you standing alone. How challenges may be faced best with courage, plus kindness and flexibility. How to surrender. How little we need, and how much we have. 

Bless the magic.