Tony Woodlief | Author

Snapshots of Life


We are in the minivan, and Wife notices trees outside a store, trees with leaves made of lights, lights that slowly change color from emerald to scarlet to the richest purple. We’ve all been a bit glum, now that the trees and lights and wreaths have all but disappeared from the city. These trees of …

Dance Read More »


One in six children, reports the BBC, have difficulty learning to talk. In other research, exactly four out of four Woodlief children have difficulty learning when not to talk.

They mean well

Well, I caught the bubonic plague, but it looks like I’m going to recover. As I write this, my two littlest boys, Isaac and Isaiah, have taken it upon themselves to clean the house. First there is the predictable fighting over the vacuum cleaner: “No Isaac! I do the cweaner! I do the cweaner! I …

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Her suffering ended ten years ago tonight. A decade can take forever to pass, with each day stretching into the next into the next, yet you can come to the end of it and feel like all those things you lived and thought would kill you were only yesterday. Sometimes you still wake up and …

Caroline Read More »

Do as I say…

It’s guy night at the Woodlief house. Wife is gone, me and the boys are fending for ourselves. I’m making chili. Caleb stands beside me at the counter as I chop vegetables. He sees me pick up a fat jalapeno pepper. “Ooo, Dad, don’t make it too spicy.” I launch into a disquisition, sounding very …

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Birthday boy

Five years ago, he became our laughter. He loves everybody, and everybody loves him. Today he is five years old. Happy birthday, William Isaac Woodlief. Thank you for reminding us how to love.

So, the snake

There’s this scene in Jaws, when poor Chief Brody, chumming off the side of Quint’s boat, has his first honest-to-God encounter with the beast. “We’re going to need a bigger boat,” he mumbles. The thing is, I only have a 28-gauge shotgun. Yes, they come in 28’s. As some of you know, I’ve had an …

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On not being dead

Six straight weeks of travel, several big writing projects, work, children, marriage, property in desperate need of attention, and one gun and machete battle with my resident ginormous pond snake have all conspired to keep me away. I was planning to post something last night, only an accidental overdose intervened. This week it’s DC, and …

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I have just come home, and Eli runs up to me. “Dad, I left you a Boxcar Children book on your nightstand. It’s your Easter present.” “Thank you,” I say. He turns back toward where he has been playing. “Eli,” I say. “Where’s my hug?” He smiles, and walks back in my direction, slowly now. …

Smitten Read More »

Book lover

Isaiah is sitting on the floor surrounded by books. He opens one with a crinkle of its pages and says, “Shoo-chi-joo-sho-nay-nay-da.” He slaps it shut. “De end.” He picks up another, mutters out his own version of its narrative, and flips it closed. “De end.” This goes on for some time. “Joo-sho-nay-di-shoo-chi.” Slap. “De end.” …

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Births day

Something special about the Wife and Eli, aside from the fact that they are mine, is that they have the same birthday, which is today. Eli has turned a big seven years old. Tomorrow he will come to work with me, sit at a table in my office, and do his schoolwork until we both …

Births day Read More »

Here and gone

The sky is steely grey, with sunshine spilling through where it can, at odd angles. It always finds a way through, this sun. She would be thirteen today. I can’t imagine that little girl as a teenager. She has a house full of brothers who have never met her, who miss her all the same. They are …

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Practice makes perfect

Isaac wallows on the floor, cradling his Lamby and watching his mother cut my hair. “Dad.” “Yes?” “How can you sit so still?” “Because I’ve had a lot of practice at it. Do you want to practice sitting still?” “No. I’m going to practice being wiggly.”