The Magic Hour

If we're lucky he's home before seven. Some days later. Some days so late, even I'm in bed, not sleeping but almost. And then there are the days when he's home early and it's still light out; before I've started dinner when the kids are still playing with cars and Play-Doh, building cities against windows - cakes with dimpled hands.
I believe in children with green half-mustaches. Of marker on elbows and paint in hair and band-aid tattoo belts. Of mismatched shoes and skinny-dipping in puddles and saving snails from morning sidewalks. So does he.
Kind of amazing how you can start a life with someone, be such completely different people and then, over time, converge - overlap. Not completely but in certain ways until he looks at you one day and says, "you sound like me" and you look back and say in your deepest, manliest voice, "No you sound like me."

Archer finds a snail in the garden and wants to keep him so I build him a habitat in a vase.

"Just for the night," I say and Archer pouts.

From the other room I hear Archer ask Hal the same question:

"Just for the night." he also says.

"But I want to keep him!"

"But he isn't yours to keep!"

Jinks. You owe me a coke. Even though neither of us drink coke. Jinks, you owe me a glass of water. Room temp. Yes and yes.
Before dinner, if we're lucky and he's home, he plays the piano. He plays and Fable dances and Archer sometimes joins her and the house is full of music and dresses that blur like spinning tops. We are dizzy and sometimes we fall down. Stand up, find our way back to the kitchen, or the crafts table, or each other.

"Dinner's ready!" I say but they want to play a few minutes longer. I let them. Even if it means a cold dinner, because this is the time where anything is possible - where Play-Doh becomes her gourmet recipe for "poop cakes" and the daylight wanes just so that it can dance across the parking lot he's now constructing.
Because this is their time, their place, and watching them find themselves in the crumbs and spokes of future artifacts is why I love being their parent. It's why I can't wait to meet their sisters. It's why I watch them and write here and follow their eyes as they think and learn and explore without caring how big the mess. This is their moment. His hour before he has to turn off his train, retire his cars to their parking structure. Her hour before the mustache comes off and the marker tattoos and the orange paint in her hair.
And when the sun has finally gone, we flick the lights and sit down to dinner.



Elaine | 7:59 AM

Posts like this remind of the way you wrote in your book. I love this post and all of these pictures. Such a beautiful family and such beautiful words.

Rachel | 8:04 AM

Beautiful indeed.

Dora B | 8:05 AM

I love the vibe of your house :)

Steph(anie) | 8:05 AM

Oh my. Heaven.

@stephaniebice | 8:08 AM

You know why I envy you? Because I am the complete OPPOSITE of half-green mustaches and markers all over the elbows and orange paint. My genetic makeup just doesn't jive with it. God I wish it did - but I just can't do it. My beauties have lots of creativity - just not with markets and paint ;-)

Roberta | 8:15 AM

Oh. I love this so much. So beautifully written. It tugs at my heart. This is what we do too, just a little longer, let's enjoy every last bit of the day.

Anonymous | 8:19 AM

:) :) :) This was so, so lovely.

Emsxiety | 8:22 AM

Absolutely amazing. The pictures, the love, the home you've made!

Lindserannie | 8:25 AM

Satie's Gymnopédie #1! My favorite too :)

sucker4acoustic | 8:26 AM

This post is gorgeous. It embodies everything I strive to be as a mother. I have a 2.5 year old and am expecting our second boy in less than a week.

Habbala | 8:27 AM

Every single post about your kids and family and the WHOLE thing makes me SO excited to meet my little guy in (less than) 3 months. I cannot wait for it all... and we recently decided we'd try for a 2nd baby too.

Swirls of Happy | 8:35 AM

One of my favorite posts from you to date. I fell in love with the words and I too believe in diaper clad babes running around with sticky fingers and piles of legos (that make me smile when I pass them on the floor) and messy cowlicks that should never be tamed. Being a momma is the best thing in the world. Thank you for this post! Your family is so adorable...

rlutz | 8:36 AM

Amazing and incredibily told and totally true.

Grand Pa Norm | 8:36 AM

This post and so any others give your readers the push to better people, parents, mothers, fathers... even those who can't abide marked up kids will probably think more about - 'maybe we should give it a try'... you make me want to push back time to a place where I was where Hal is - surrounded by little people becoming big people. Wonderful!

Ms. Smoochy | 8:37 AM

Maybe your best post. Others maybe more more more of a lot of things. But this, in it's sweet simplicity, captures the very heart of it all. Love.

cora d | 8:40 AM

Love it. We are learning to do this with the girls - put off chores, at least until they are in bed, if they can't be put off indefinitely. We play on the deck (our favorite game - dap, dap, boom - aka, clap, clap, fall down), take walks, watch "spaceship" (aka, Star Trek the Next Generation), lie down and watch the sky.

Bri | 8:57 AM

Love. Love. Love this. Reminds me a little of my house, but the way you say it makes it all the better.

Bonnie | 9:07 AM

Beautiful post. Inspiring. Calming (even all the say to Saskatchewan, Canada!). Energizing. Perfect.

Dana | 9:14 AM

Rebecca, that was one of the best things I've read in awhile. Wow. Your children are very lucky to have you as their Mama.

Shana | 9:14 AM

You so often move me to tears. I get you, I get you, I get you. Isn't this life, these lives we're all building, just amazing? I love being blown away by the everyday. Thank you for this post.

avb | 9:15 AM

The way Fable holds her heart in the video and says, "my favorite!"

I am dead from the mind-blowing cuteness of that moment.

Glenda | 9:22 AM

Your way with words = this post= beautifully written where you can feel the love. The calmness. The simplicity of a family life. The pictures = priceless. My fav is the one of Hal and Fable kissing and she has a grip on his ear. Love it!! And soon you will add R&B to the mixture of this beautiful family!!!

Reading this makes me miss those moments when my kids were little ones. Dad gets home, they hear the garage door open and they were off running to the door to greet h home from work (as you on the days he made it home early) oh the beautiful memories that we definitely treasure and reminise with "remember when"

Family time= love= our circle = PRICELESS

MD | 9:25 AM

I was just about to say the exact same thing as avb!

I bet you do the exact same thing!


Sara | 10:11 AM


MamaMeg | 10:45 AM

Perfectly stated, expressed and charaterized. A clear example of why I love your writing so much. Unrelated question, what set is Archer playing with? It looks like the pieces fit together like a puzzle to make the streets and lots. I know some boys who'd love that.


MamaMeg - the set is called TOMICA. He fell in love with it when we went to FAO in NYC. They only sell the set at Toys R Us. He has several sets but Tomica has become (by far) his favorite: He's spent his entire summer building cities around the house. You can buy online, here:

xo, all. Thank you.

And AVB/MB - Fable saying "my favorite!" is my favorite, too.

Abbey | 11:05 AM

Now that is good writing and a moment perfectly captured. Hooray and happy thoughts. Love it!

Marie-Ève | 11:20 AM

What a fantastic post. It's what it's all about...

Ray | 11:57 AM

There's such magic and power and beauty in your words. In your love for your family. It makes me want to cry.

Be blessed always. To you and yours. <3

Christine | 12:06 PM

For me, this is food for thought... you've managed to turn what is, for so many parents I know, the "witching hour" into the "magic hour". Something to strive for...

Clandestine Road | 12:29 PM

This was a beautiful and poignant meditation on childhood.

Jen | 12:36 PM

This made me cry. I'm 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby and every day I remind myself to just take a step back and enjoy my boys. Even the one who insists on kicking me in the ribs all day and night

Loukia | 1:05 PM

I loved this so much. You're awesome. And you make me crave a third baby like nothing else!

Rebekah Amy | 1:28 PM

How luck you are to have such a beautiful family.

piper | 1:30 PM

Goodnight, Moon!

larajean1 | 2:57 PM

Is that really the view outside your windows...or are those paintings or something. The foliage outside looks so gorgeous!

nicole | 3:29 PM

Wow. One of my favorite posts. That song is so lovely; it nearly moved me to tears! What a beautiful family moment. Thanks for sharing. xo.

Anonymous | 3:47 PM

absolutely lovely. i wish that all children had parents who allowed them to explore their creativity. i don't have any children, but i do have many students, and i hope to inspire creativity and independence in all of my students.
your children are so fortunate to have such amazing parents.

Nicole | 3:47 PM

I simply loved this--it is so amazing to me how the simplest things in life are the best and your ability to capture that in words is amazing. I would also like to recommend one of my favorite children's books "The Bog Baby" by Jeanne Willis in light of your snail situation. It is about two sisters who find a "bog baby" and try to keep him but learn that he isn't theirs to keep. It is beautifully written and illustrated, I can't say enough good things about it.

Anonymous | 4:09 PM

This makes me look forward to hours like this when Asher is old enough to play on her own, simply for the fact that i can't wait to watch what I created being herself.

Andygirl | 4:17 PM

I adore your posts like this. so magical. and those photos are utterly gorgeous.

anne-Marie | 4:31 PM

Seeing Fable with paint all over her face makes me want to rush out and get pregnant TO-NITE!!!

See what you did? Lol! I love keeping up with your family; they seem so calm and collected, even for kids. It's so great to see a family that works after all the negative stuff I saw as a teacher! Not to mention a TV viewer.

Rachel | 4:35 PM

yes, yes, yes, yes yes.

a thousand times, yes.

anne | 6:29 PM

What's your secret to the calm and serenity at this time of day? Is it the piano playing? The gorgeous light? My house is definitely not this serene at dinner time, but your post is a great food for thought on how I can change that! (btw, I'm finally reading your book, and loving it!)

Anonymous | 7:01 PM

Um, not to be off-topic, but how the HELL are your floors so durn spanking polished & clutter-free clean with you 30 weeks pregnant with twins?!?! That is all...signed, bad housewife.

Anonymous | 7:22 PM

This is beautiful - thank you.

Jason Simone | 7:44 PM

You make me want to be a fierce mommy one day.

sarah doow | 1:27 AM

This is a wonderful essay and I'm knocked down by how beautiful your windows are too! A wonderful home for wonderful times.

Lissa | 3:45 AM

I could see Zadie and Cooper! Beautiful post indeed.

Leslie | 7:53 AM

This is a beautiful post. Absolutely beautiful.


So lovely.

Desi | 11:48 AM

Yes. We do this, too. And I can't think of anything more beautiful.

Anonymous | 1:00 PM

Phenomenal post. I know that piano music, but I can't put my finger on it. What is it?


Erik Satie's Gymnopedie #1 =


Elizabeth | 2:55 AM

Dude, your house is immaculate! If you are still doing the cleaning, I want your stamina! By that hour of the day, my house is a bombsite, and our floorboards just show up the dog fur and toddler grime. I wish I had a maid. Sigh

Evie | 11:28 AM

What a wonderful vignette. I read this three times.

My childhood was a pretty average mix of idyllic and gritty - but every day after work my dad sat down and played piano before dinner. It was magical, and I knew it then, too.

My Bottle's Up! | 2:22 PM

i love your voice.

PopMommy Pam | 5:09 PM

I have to run out and buy that Tomica set for my son's birthday. Archer looks just like my Daniel laying on the floor like that and building parking lots. This post made me cry because it was so beautifully written and it's also another reminder to savor those little moments. Those moments which are the most important of all. So, thank you.

8 | 5:54 PM

Gorgeous. What a perfect post.

Anonymous | 6:45 PM

Such gorgeous simplicity.

Anonymous | 7:53 PM

Just found you tonite! What a beautifully written series of special moments! :) Gorgeous pictures! So excited to read more!

Kristi | 9:30 AM

oh, that video! when you turn around while hal's playing music and the kids are quietly playing, and the sun catches your lens! so beautiful.

Nicole | 7:43 PM

i hope one day to have a house like yours :)

Megg | 2:16 PM

Gia likes to color and stop, and make herself a mustache with all seriousness, and then go back to coloring some more. It's my favorite coloring session she does during the day.