a perfectly wonderful day

What?  What’s that you say?  This summertime curmudgeon might be switching camps?  Say it isn’t so…

Other than poor Russ having to be on umpteen conference calls, we’ve had a most lovely time here at Amelia Island this past week.

The one downer?  Those new floors we were having done?  Seems every single board in every single box was defective.  Ugh.  Lucky for us, our trusty friend and decorator has been all on it and once the manufacturer in California realized they were about to fork out some serious cash to house a family of five (and board two dogs), they decided a working weekend wasn’t so bad after all.  We’ll hopefully be back in our home on July 3; all fingers and toes are crossed.

Today we were able to go on runs and not suffocate through smoke inhalation.  Thank goodness for a heavy downpour the night before!  Our beach outing featured a sand castle contest run by the great AIP youth crew–complete with snow cones for the victors.


You could seriously offer a rock for a prize and that’s all it would take to stoke Tucker’s competitive fire (wonder where he got that?).  Boys vs. girls–what the boys’ castle (?) lacked in decor, it made up for in height.  Winner winner, chicken dinner.  All three boys were thrilled to get a free snowcone.  And it really is all about the prize, isn’t it?


While the boys were digging their way to China, Russ and I were swooning over the best summertime adult beverage ever:  Caldwell Syrah Rose’.  This ain’t your screw-cap, uber-sweet pink and fruity junk you swilled back in high school, let me tell you.  Russ and I tasted this with the winery’s owner in Napa back in January and it is spectacular.  It’s a syrah that wasn’t left fermenting in its own grape skins long enough to give the wine its usual dark red color so it comes out a very clear light red (which I guess is another way of admitting that, yes, it is pink) but without all the cloying sweetness of other typical “light red” wines.  Served very cold while watching the tide come in…oh, good stuff, indeed.



“What?  We’re going to taste PINK wine at 9 in the morning?” (For the record, that made it noon on the East Coast so we do have a modicum of pride left…).

Us:  “Oh, my stars, this is AMAZING!”
John Caldwell:  “Told you so.”


With John Caldwell, one of our vintner heroes.
Caldwell Winery

We left the beach to retrieve the boys’ snow cone prizes and to take a dip in the pool.  Having scratchy grains of sand clinging to me makes me squirm, but to the boys, it’s the more the merrier.  They adore having giant patches of it plastered to their legs, arms, faces and bathing suits–like the battlescars of a good day on the beach…

From there we did some jumping, some splashing, some dancing, some eating and a whole lot of laughing.


Is it just me or is The Temptations’ song “Just My Imagination” one of the best beach songs ever?  Here, Theo and I break it down.

After a quick jaunt up to the Marche for ice cream, we crashed a wedding.  (Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?)  Signs all over the Plantation pointed towards the wedding, so Russ decided we should check it out; the boys were intrigued by the bride and groom and her bright purple clad wedding party mingling near the water.  Since we weren’t invited and because the boys were loudly asking questions about the purpleness of everything (and, most importantly, since wedding crashing is not a skill we want our sons to learn at such a young age), we turned around out of Walker’s Landing and cruised on down to Drummond Point, our single-most favorite place here.

I could take photos here all day long.  It has the best tree fort in the history of tree forts:


It has one fantastic playground, with monkey bars that are perfect for dangerously hanging upside down by one’s knees:


It has the best boardwalks in the history of boardwalks (at least through marshlands):

There are hermit crabs, giant birds, croaking toads, scuttling wildlife, winding trails and the best sunset view on the island.  When the tide turns, you can also find yourself racing down the long boardwalk from the pier to the mainland, trying to beat the tide (we’ve gotten wet before when we waited too long).  Drummond Point is a hidden gem here and we love it.  Taking a mini-adventure out here late in the afternoon caps off the perfect day.

Here’s to island living (for another week, at least).
Here’s to tired and very happy little boys.
Here’s to summertime.



scattered, smothered & covered

…whooo-eeey.  That was us last week, for sure.  So dive right in…


We are getting new flooring, upstairs and down.  Yes, this is fantastic (and, to be honest, much needed–the carpet upstairs looks like it’s seen one too many fraternity parties), but man, is it a lot of work.  Anything breakable had to be moved (just to get you thinking: china cabinet contents, framed photographs, vases…) and all books had to be removed from their shelves.  Remember, I was once an English teacher; my children could never have enough books.  This is the stack I moved from Theo’s room:


Please note the photo doesn’t include the books in the bathtub (or the closet).  I also had to move books from our room, Jack’s room and Tucker’s room.  While of course I realize a proper (public) library is more economical, I just can’t part with the real deal.  If you’ve ever been in a bookstore with me, you know I pick up various books and just smell them.  There is a difference:  hardbacks v. [gasp] paperbacks; certain presses v. others.  Oh, that’s good stuff, there.  Or as NutBrown Hare would say, “that’s some very good sniffing.”  Try it.  You’ll like it.  P.S. New refrigerators smell just as unique and just as heavenly.

So the flooring folks had me terrified about the hardwood delivery, but honestly, it’s not that bad–other than the smell.  The wood has to acclimate for no one knows how long–the equation the flooring dudes use to figure out if the wood is acclimated is about as complex as that used to determine when Easter is each year.  So we’re just going to take their word on it; they are Croatian, after all (true story: Russ is thrilled they are fellow countrymen of his; the floorers were unsure why I wasn’t more excited about the Mother Country until I reminded them I married into it).


As if all this moving stuff and packing and whatnot weren’t crazy enough, a sassy little bird decided to build her nest in a bin in our garage.  We are experienced in bird funerals (a blue jay built in her nest in Jack’s fort two years in a row and some of her babies fledged into the fort instead of out of it), so we were hoping to prevent a repeat performance.  Luckily, this bird had not yet laid eggs in the nest.  Truth be told, girlfriend is either uber-messy or just in the starting stages of her nest; it was just a huge wad of straw, paper and trash stuffed in the bin.

So Russ, ever-efficient, sent me out to move it.

That’s when Momma-Bird went Momma-Bear and shot into our house.  Because there’s not enough going on in there so far, right?


Crafty and quick, she immediately realized that until that Man-Dude left for work, she was in grave danger; thus, she zipped up to the chandelier in our 2-story entry way.  And hung out there despite the stuffed animals, balled up pajamas and socks the boys threw at her.


(But doesn’t that new paint look nice?)  Marist baseball camp carpool beckoned, so we left the back door and several windows wide open and air-conditioned Sandy Springs for nearly an hour.  When Theo and I returned home, we couldn’t find her.  Case closed–or so we hope.

On to Father’s Day.  I must admit that I usually fail miserably at providing for the dads in my life on Father’s Day, which is especially pitiful since I think Mother’s Day is the cat’s meow of a holiday.  This year, I did a bit better.  The boys gave Popster a selection of useless yet adorable gifts which he seemed to have enjoyed.  We also gave Russ his gifts last week, in case he needed to switch sizes before we headed out to the beach (we being of the ilk that do not want to witness their house being demolished).  Go figure:  the only wrapping paper we had was Christmas paper.  I flipped it over and let the boys decorate their gifts as they saw fit…

First up, a warm and fuzzy Mario-themed package from Jack:


Yes:  Cannons, they’re a blast.

Tuck’s theme:  a smash-up showcasing his genuine religious bent with some Mario to save face with the big bro:



Then sweet Theo B. just did some “red dots, Daddy! Lots of red dots!”

And it just gets better.  Today, Tucker caught (another) frog.  Not a big story, but the fact that he was compelled to introduce “Jumpy” to his “real” frogs,  Tree and Swimmer–who got to ride to the beach in Russ’s car after we forgot them– was pretty funny.


Yep, a frog in the kitchen.  Not so bad, but a frog on the counter?  (I do realize that there are already 2 other frogs on the counter, but they are enclosed in a container so that doesn’t really count, right?)


We’d expect nothing less from this huge-hearted, genuinely spiritual, mega-athletic and creative little fellow who requested to fall asleep tonight to the the song “You Know Better Than I” on repeat (from Aunt Dana’s gift Joseph, King of Dreams):


Happy Father’s Day!!!


the unexpecteds


Summer is here and the timer is on–the timer until school starts back in August…or at least that’s how it’s felt to me for the past 3 years.  This year, however, I am striving to make it otherwise.

It’s a much needed attitude adjustment for me, and I think, so far, that J, T and Theo are all quite pleased (and, more excitedly, surprised) by it.

Don’t The Unexpecteds always throw you for a loop?  I never expected the painters to still be here 14 days later (I know:  we are fortunate to have them fixing things up, but man, alive, could I use some personal space!).  I didn’t anticipate the engine light to go off on the car this morning.  I didn’t think it would really be this doggone hot already in June.

Most Unexpecteds are bad.  They stumble into your day and irritate you and annoy you and suck the wind out of your sails.  No matter how optimistic you may be, toss a handful of unexpecteds into your day and even you, Polly-Anna, have to admit to getting a little squirrelly.  In a nutshell, they are bummers.

I worry that my boys always view me as the “fun-killer”.  I fuss at them for leaving their cereal bowls on the counter; I harp on them about running in the house; I gruff and roll my eyes when they start wrestling once again.  I get frustrated and then they get frustrated and it’s an ugly cycle that drains the life force out of me by mid-July at the latest.

So this year, I’ve turned a corner (yes, Pops, it’s only week 2 of summer break, but cut me some slack; I’m making some serious effort here…).  This summer is the Summer of the Unexpecteds.  Every day, my boys will experience an Unexpected–of the good variety.

Yep.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Think of it as a longer version of a Lenten obligation (with double-accountability because I’ve floated this out there in public by posting it on this blog).  I’ve made it clear to the boys that The Unexpecteds, in no way, shape or form, will constitute a new concrete item each day.  There is no “Gift Fairy”.  This is not a Target shopping spree, after all.


This whole idea began a mere three days ago (yes, again, Popster, I beg you to hold your tongue…) when I started fussing at the boys for taking the moments I was in the kitchen getting their dinner ready to unroll the hose, turn it on and go nuts spraying the driveway, their bikes, the painters’ ladders–you name it.  I came outside and snatched the hose away from them (let me add that Theo had stripped down to his underwear by this point) and not one of the three hesitated or look shocked that I would be frustrated at them for such an act.  The looks in their eyes said it all (they are supremely good boys, after all).

So I waited until they were all in a line, looking sheepishly down at their bare feet.

And then I soaked them.

The laughter alone was worth it, but we kept this up for another 15 minutes or so and got the flowers and lawn (as opposed to the various inanimate objects scattered about our driveway) watered in the meantime.  And sweet Tucker kept saying over and over, “Momma, this is SO much fun!”

That joyfulness alone was enough to spawn this idea.  Yesterday’s Unexpected was a pit-stop at the Savannah Sweets Candy Store at Phipps while dragging the boys through the mall for the seasonal shoe shopping [er, replacing].  It was utterly off-the-wall for us (while I’d never admit to being the fun-killer, I will undoubtedly confess to being the Candy-Killer), completely out of the ordinary and, well, yes:  Unexpected.

Tonight’s was the “biggest bubble bath of all in the big tub…with the jets!” (Tucker’s words).  Such simple craziness on a 7, 5 and almost-3 year old level (face-painting courtesy of VBS)…


May your own summer be filled with Unexpecteds of the catching a lightning bug, being caught in a sprinkler, seeing a rainbow, watching the tide come in, feeling a full moon on the beach variety!  Carpe Diem.