Sunday, October 14, 2018

I think it's both

This morning at breakfast, we were listening to WXPN and "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne came on. I told Walter I used to sing that song to him when he was a baby: "Especially when you were crying." "Did it make me stop crying?" "No," said Sean. "Very little did that." "Well, there was one song," I said. "Do you remember?" "Sing it to me," said Walter. "After this song," I said, "We can turn off the radio for a minute."
We chatted over and around each other and through the whole song--I'd wanted to listen to it, but even without the babies crying, our household is much noisier, now. When we first moved to Decorah, Iowa three summers ago a young friend came over to play for a bit with Walter and Sally. On his face I saw a reflection of my own overwhelmed expression every time childhood me entered a house that was less quiet and orderly than my own.  I felt for him, but I also felt differently--warmly--about those noisy houses I visited as a child. "My house is now the messy, noisy house," I thought. "Ok, then. Good to know. And good enough."
When the song was over we stopped the radio so I could sing Walter his song, African Skies. As soon as I started it, he recognized it and was pleased. Just as immediately, Sally started talking over my singing. We asked her politely to stop, but she didn't. I got frustrated and asked if she needed to leave the table. She stopped talking, but raised her hand to let us know she still had things she wanted to say. I sang the just the first parts: "Joseph's face was/Black as night/the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes ..." through the first "ta-oomba-oomba-oomba-whoa-oh-oh-oh-ohhh."
When I finished I turned to Sally and asked, trying not to sound at all annoyed, "Did you have a question?" She complained that waiting had made her forget. With both Sally and Walter, we've been talking lately about how, if you're just waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can talk, you might not actually be in a conversation with them. Then Sally said, "Oh! I remember. I was wondering, do you think Joseph was looking at the moon when he was in the pit?"
It's disorienting, always, when Sally demonstrates that she can talk, listen, and do analysis all at the same time. "Wow, Sally. I love that connection." I said. "I do think he might have been looking up at the sky, then, wondering why his brothers had done that to him. Or when he was traveling to Egypt. Or when he was in Egypt, missing his family and wondering if they were OK."
Breakfast continued and conversation veered in a million different directions, as it does. "Maybe," I said to Sally, "Do you think maybe it could be about the other Joseph? Like Mary and Joseph, Jesus' family?" "They had to go to Egypt, too," Sean reminded her. "Well," said Sally. "I think it's both." The English major in me did internal somersaults of joy. "Yes, Sally, I think you're right. It's both. And maybe more."
Sally is 5, now, and Walter is a week away from 7. When we moved here I thought about how I might close out the baby blog (working entry title: "No more babies, here!") and launch a new family blog, something that might transition us into Walter and Sally's new stage of life as active interpreters of their own lives, with stories that I can both record myself (with their permission) but also start to help them record as first-person narratives. I still like the idea, but life has been a little ... life-y. New house, incredible year of drama selling the old house, new job for me, same job (but working remotely) for Sean, new daycare and then starting school for the kids: big transitions blurring into mundane transitions eventually turning into something that feels like it could be home for awhile.  We are helped by the fact that I love my call--to be a college pastor at Luther College--that my parents moved here as well and are a lifeline of extra love and support, and that for the most part we're able to keep a loving, noisy, messy-but-functional home.
Next weekend we will take a trip to see the C. family, who have also moved away from Stevens Point, and who continue to be the kind of friends who are family. Walter is getting excited for that, and for his birthday, of course. Today he and I watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; we just finished that book this week, and will be on to the third book, soon.  As we watched the movie I said, "Walter, look outside, it's snowing." "Uh huh," he said. When the movie was done, he exclaimed, "Mama, look! It's snowing!" "I know, buddy! Can you believe it?" "I can't. I can't believe it." Walter's continued deep, deep earnestness makes my heart glad. We headed upstairs and Walter and Sally quickly pulled on coats to go outside in the wet, heavy snow fall. They stood on the path to our front porch and lifted their faces to the sky, catching flakes in their open mouths, on their tongues, on their palms outstretched as though in prayer. The flakes caught in their eyelashes and soaked through their sneakers; they came inside and changed into rain boots, then went right back out again. Sally looked like Walter that day years ago at the Elegant Farmer--we were celebrating his birthday with the C's, and on the hayride E. nudged me and said, "Look, look at Walter. He's soaking it in." And he was: breathing all the scents he could in through his nose, slowly, rubbing my sweater with his fingers to associate a touch, looking out all around him as though trying to memorize the scene. Out on the porch today, I watched Sally memorize this October snowfall: the way it gathered on our still-bright mums, the way she felt oddly warm, even without a hat and gloves, the way Walter put his head all the way back to get the most flakes possible, the way the falling flakes tasted (and, being Sally--voracious, curious, bold--the way the light layer from the ground tasted when scooped up, as well.)

This is the story of how we begin to remember...

Monday, June 13, 2016

All I can say, for now

Soon, I will have time to write again. I think. But, for now, I need to record this.

Tonight, in order to get out of saying "please," Walter formed his request for more food at dinner as a riddle. A good riddle.

We are so proud.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Walter knows the way to my heart

Walter: Why isn't Mommy here?
Sean: She's here, just upstairs finishing up some work.
Walter: Let's surprise her with a yummy dinner!

Friday, May 6, 2016


Sean: Sally, did you bring the whole sandbox home in your shoes?
Sally: Not the whole sandbox. Just the sand.

Me: Every day you're getting bigger.
Walter: And every day you're getting older.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Star Wars according to Walter

Walter has never seen Star Wars. But he is something of an expert.

On the force:
"The force is like a bell, which you can hear, but cannot see. And when it rings it calls you to war. To star war."

On alternate plotlines:
Referring to his action figures, "Han and Rey joined the dark side."
Sean: "It's been a disappointing day for the Resistance."

On the best way to simulate heroes being frozen in carbonite:
Raid freezer for ice packs.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Usually, when I wake up in the morning after a good night's sleep, I'm so happy I a little bit shiver. - Walter

Monday, February 29, 2016


Tonight Sally told me she wants to be an astronaut. "A GREAT astronaut. I will need some help building my rocket ship though. I have some paper ...some crayons ..."

A few months ago Walter told me he wants to be a pastor/firefighter/daddy.

I think they're both pretty great, those kids. Not great sleepers, still. But otherwise great. Great people.