Tony Woodlief | Author

Snapshots of Life


“Dad,” asks Isaac, “do you think it was disrespectful of you to leave the music playing while we prayed?” “I guess so. I’m sorry. God will forgive me.” I notice the boy is wearing a big triangular colonial soldier hat. “Do you think it was disrespectful for you to wear that hat while we prayed?” Isaac …

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On the giving of thanks, stomach viruses, and giant Christmas ornaments

Yesterday we cooked and cooked and cooked, and ate and ate and ate, and it was delightful, even the cheesy squash casserole that makes my children instinctively gag just from looking at it. Especially the squash casserole, you little ingrates. My friend Johnny Utah, newly paroled, spent Thanksgiving with us. In order to make up …

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This is why old people are deaf

Me to Isaiah: “Go tell your brothers to put on their pajamas and come down for a story.” Isaiah, without taking a single step: “BRUDDERS!!!! PUT ON YOU PAJAMAS AND COME DOWN FOR A STORY!!!!!!” Oh yeah, definitely getting out the whiskey once everyone’s in bed.


Filing off the plane with our recalcitrant roller bags, our ponderous satchels. Ahead on the jet bridge, an elderly woman stumbles and goes down hard, face first. A young woman drops her own bags and kneels beside the old woman, who is disoriented, who is bleeding from her face, who should not be traveling alone. …

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Birthday boy

Today is William Isaac Woodlief’s sixth birthday. At lunch, he asked me how many days until he’s seven. He likes to plan ahead that way. Isaac is full-hearted and brave, and one day I hope to be just like him.

Duly noted

Isaac is standing at my hip as I make omelets. He’s giving advice. “Dad,” he says, “if you have to sneeze when you’re cooking, turn your head.” I suppose that’s helpful, but I can’t help but be a little offended that he thinks I need to hear this.


Wife is gone with the older boys for a few days, leaving me with two year-old Isaiah and five year-old Isaac. We’re going to have some man time, I tell them. This evening, Isaac comes to me before dinner. “Dad, is it alright if I just wear a t-shirt and underwear?” Alright? It’s the classic …

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Enunciate, Dad

Isaac, at bedtime: “Dad, what does ‘thisino” mean?” Me: “Huh?” Isaac: “Thisino.” Me: “I’ve never heard that word before.” Isaac: “You know: Jesus loves me, thisino, for the Bible tells me so…”


You would have been fourteen today. Amidst the chaos of cobbled-together derby cars and robot obstacle courses and four sweaty boys we might have made a cake just for you. I would have made you spaghetti, because it is your favorite. We could have walked across the bridge in the late afternoon, to sit on …

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“Isaiah,” I ask him, “what color is your balloon?” “Green,” he says. This makes me happy, because we were beginning to think the boy is color blind. “What color are your pants?” I ask. They are yellow. He bends at his ample waist to look at them. He looks at me. He looks at his …

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