still, the world feels so full of everything they haven't said yet

Sometimes, with the boys in school, the house is quiet
the only sound piano keys quibbling in various tones when swiped by my dustcloth
or rain beating steady on the metal roof
but by evening the noise scales up, unceasing.

What's a monetary unit? Wait, which one do they use in France?
I made a mistake in my cross-stitch, can you get this needle unknotted?
Do we have any medicine for a stomachache?
Is my Ohio State shirt clean?
Do you want to see this structure I built?
I need help finding the Lion King song, please.
Can you help me pump up my football?
Can I have a snack?
Will you paint my nails?
Do you have a minute to help me reserve a few books about wallabies?
Can I use your address book?
How do you spell wheel?

These are not truly interruptions - I don't have any real, important work to do. 
Their insistent requests puncture my focus, so maybe I forget to write popcorn on the grocery list or leave the lunchboxes only partly unpacked. I give them my time and attention whenever I can, most often wholeheartedly, but I don't hesitate to ask for a moment, usually in order to respond rather than react, when I feel the thread of patience being pulled.
I know that my reply to every small query matters. The boys are hungry for reassurance and information, not to mention hungry for dinner, and my brain is mush - all the frazzled nerves, relentlessly splintered and patched for years.

None of it is a waste of my time, I know
all of it an opportunity to show love.


fast fingers


when he's not asking where the glue is

The velocity of Hank's questioning almost matches the volume of his artwork.

Are stars the sun's children?

When I write my name in all capital letters there are no curved lines, only straight lines. Do you have curves in your name?

Why are these apples called grannies and not greenie smiths?

I am looking for similarences between these pictures, can you help me spot any?

So if you're doing the air bags, do you have to wear a dress?*

*bagpipes / kilt (It took a minute to understand this one.)


walking with them

through the woods
and test checking strategies 
the idea of dying and how to calculate a tip 
following recipes and reading maps
racism and social media and skipping stones
the way the ripples are unknown and unknowable
keeping a calendar and including others
basic first aid and foraging and how to be a friend from a distance 
making appointments and evaluating information
operating with grace and with gratitude
and in continuous awe


rainbow weaver

Hank can identify a metaphor and describe photosynthesis. He can divide words into syllables and multiply by seven and remember, verbatim, everything his music teacher says. He is actively trying to understand the difference between imagination and a lie. And, after just a few days of practice, he can make a potholder.


elastic schedules

Stretching to fit in so many important things this fall
Remembering there's no prize for the fullest schedule
Remembering that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else
Plenty of time for parties and picking fruit, playgrounds and school projects
Crazy busy is a tempting armor
but we shouldn't be so far out in front of life that the truth of how we're feeling, what we really need, can't catch up with us
Huddling close and holding hands, taking walks and taking naps and trying to make it all easier for one another when we can


every single day

The hostas are leaning yellow and there's a pumpkin on our front porch. 

Last night some of us sat on the couch, elbow to elbow, clicking through Halloween costume ideas - cheese puffs, rainbows, R2D2, Rick Astley...

I walked past the fire station's make-shift pumpkin patch recently, and remembered being there thirteen years earlier. I could feel the air shifting to autumn against my cheeks and found myself nearly moved to tears with the changing leaves, at the growing boys, by the missing girl.

The boys baked pumpkin cookies this morning, without much assistance. They scattered when it was time to clean up and gathered again when the timer went off.

As Ohio opens its eyes to October I want to close mine to so much of it. To the football stadiums full to capacity and to the vaccine-avoiding lunatics, to all the beautiful homecoming pictures being shared and to the pile of post-baking dishes by the sink.

Remember when you were small and could do that, when it worked to close your eyes to both avoid what was right in front of you and also to conjure what was not?

The last time I visited my dad I left with two pairs of reading glasses. My eyes don't work like they used to, open or closed. 

Every single day I wake up to a world that looks different than it might have. The odious, intolerable mystery of what could've been one grand narrative underscores the great fortune of what is.