I just don't want to forget

the piles of provisions, elaborate worlds where soldiers must be hungry
and the piles of art, churches with columns and stained glass, waterfalls and block letters and drawings of I don't even know
the way Tolliver sleeps with a football and the fastest quarterback dreams
the way Hank sought permission to apply "eye lipstick" when older girls were offering porch makeovers and how he clarified whether his pediatrician would like him to name primary, secondary or tertiary colors
the way it feels to have all three kids in school and a cat on my lap
the way Tucker always has something to tell us, usually accurate and insane (there's a new ocean, with a boring name), the way he is so earnest and sophisticated
the way he reaches for the hand of the kid next to him at the finish line, raising fists in victory
I just don't want to forget these things
or to feel baffled at the wonder of it all


an exercise in supreme attentiveness

Hank continues to wake up with the sun and head directly to his craft table. 
Although I'd prefer to drink at least one cup of coffee before picking up the colored pencils, I will acknowledge the ultimate gift of art - the way it concentrates and consecrates time.


apples never fall

In the car on the way to piano lessons, Tucker mentioned writing an opinion piece. He explained that he'd finished his personal narrative assignment several days in advance, and decided to write something else: 
One paragraph for everything I have an opinion about. It's gonna take awhile.

For several days after school Tolliver has pulled out the same old journal in which his original Quill the Knight saga began, adding chapters and checking in occasionally about words like plummet: One M or two, Mom? 
Yesterday the boys carried a library book about mushrooms into the woods and emerged a short time later with huge grins and bright yellow chicken of the woods. With Andy's approval they cleaned and sliced it into strips, dredged it in honey mustard and fried at the outdoor kitchen, raving about the flavor. Just like chicken.

I continue to marvel at our luck, boys who love to read and write and forage and try new foods.


about last weekend

I wake up to a request for water paints before 7am and I say yes because I can, because suddenly - most days - we're in a hurry to get out the door. I listen to Hank talk about mixing colors to make shades like magenta and vermillion before pouring bowls of cereal. 

While Tucker attends an outdoor youth group the little boys explore a new-to-us playground on our way to pick up pizza for a riverfront picnic. The fountains are on and Hank cools off in the water while his brothers hammock nearby. The boys watch kayakers and wander the bank where they come across things like giant chunks of coal that may've fallen from the train bridge plus small, mysterious spheres they later discover are magnetic. I sit in the sun nearby, vacillating between the pages of a book and their earnest exploration.

Home again, the cats are corralled for quick snuggles before an avid acorn collection is underway. Bare feet and entire bodies roll around in a giant tub of nuts and the boys determine the sensation is worth a fee. Tolliver makes signs and sets up shop for spa treatments and I pretend to pay only to find there is something surprisingly soothing about the texture and weight of a gazillion acorns on my feet.

Three rounds of piano practice and landform project homework, feeding small flakes of cooked pasta to the "twenty four hour" fish that's still here from last week's school carnival,  charging chromebooks and laundering masks, more water colors and spoons of peanut butter and another chapter of James and the Giant Peach plus a million other minor things before another busy week begins.



I knelt on the sidewalk this morning and hugged Hank tight, long enough for my heart to feel the courage coursing through his. I looked into his mud puddle eyes and tried hard to close the circuit, kissed the palm of his hand and promised a chocolate chip cookie at pick up. I love you, I whispered, gently tying the sentence to his ear, double checking the knot. I watched him walk away from the corner with the rest of the small group, clutching the sawtooth acorn cap reminiscent of his own wild hair.

His default answer is Yes, his default attitude Let's go, he gets that from his dad. 
But there's something about the sudden idea of school for thirteen years combined with the dread of more rhyming words today. 

He loves everything about kindergarten - his teacher most of all, but also his classmates and the cafeteria, art projects and music and stem stations and quiet time, but the brief phonemic work of rhyming seems to send him into fits of existential arithmetic. The teacher has called me and the principal has distracted him, he's been allowed to read poems to the class or read books to himself instead. He'll get through this, likely just a blip on the radar, but Oh! his aches will always be mine.


long live boyhood

Summer drifts toward the promise of fall, each sunset a minute or two sooner than the last. 
The boys play hard till dusk and then act like it's a horrible punishment, having to come inside. They basically spend the day doing things that make me want to close my eyes and cross my fingers.
Limping around in theatrical opposition to bedtime, the long edge of a city park the boundary of their kingdom, I am enchanted with and beleaguered by it all.
I try to soak it up the way a camel stores water, the cherry orb sinking through gauzy curtains of light, the protest of tired, dirty boys.


narrating the details

Constant art projects. Paint and glue and scrap paper cuttings on the floor forever.
Dad, vermillion's one of the third set of colors, right? 
Maybe? You mean tertiary?
Yes. And magenta too. Isn't how you make magenta with red and purple?

Me, mostly to myself: How did I forget that? 
Maybe you're just forgetable, Mom.

Building with wooden blocks:
When I grow up I'm gonna be a construction worker, and this is the good news: Everybody can go to Hawaii because I'm gonna build a bridge all the way there.

About Bath and Body Works, at the sample hand soap station: I could live my whole life in this store.

Apropos of nothing:
To us: You guys are so parent-noid. 
To his brothers: Would you rather live without your penis or your teeth?

On numbers:
You need like 101% coffee in your cup, but the 1% would overflow.
How many days do you think it would take an inchworm to get from the edge of the patio to the fence?
Also, over the long weekend:
I woke up at 8:21. Tomorrow I'm going to try to sleep 39 more minutes till 9 o'clock.

Sounds like thirty nine minutes of quiet.


on metamorphosis and metaphors

The boys were recently given a chrysalis to observe, with a fascinating golden thread and a post-it-note hatch date of 9/4. Early Saturday morning, right on time, the monarch emerged. The boys identified her as female, noticing thick veins and no back dots. She practiced opening and closing her wings and made more of a racket in the plastic container than any of us considered a butterfly could ever make. The next day the boys took her to neighbor Deb's cutting garden. Her release was fast, gone in a blink. One beautiful word, next.