There’s a scene in the second Night at the Museum movie, Battle of the Smithsonian, where Owen Wilson’s character Jed is trapped in an hourglass, and the sand is raining down, slowly smothering him.  The added torture to his impending long, drawn-out demise is that Jed can see it coming; the higher the level of sand in his half of the hourglass, the closer he is to suffocating.

There have been times this past week where I felt just like Jed, staring up into the waterfall of sand that just won’t stop pelting down.

I’ve never, ever been one of those people who marks off a calendar, heaving a sigh of relief at the close of another day.  Never.  Even way on back in 1987, as much as I longed to be 16, I also had realized that we are only given so many days.  To X off the days gone by with a big, permanent black mark seemed so ungrateful.  Rather than a countdown to something new and exciting–like the coming of a brand new year on New Year’s Eve–to me, it feels like a countdown to the end.  The Big End.

Which is not to say that there are some days (or weeks, even) that I wish would go by faster.  Take this week.  It’s a fine example.

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin! Jack, Summer 2007

I attacked this summer using various coping methods–the Unexpecteds, red wine, short bursts of intense exercise, lots of beach time–but the main thing that kept me plugging along and not yanking my hair out strand by strand was the finish line:  August 22.  The first day all three boys would finally be back in school.

August 22.  It had a great ring to it.

I could not decide exactly what I was going to do that day, come back home and crawl into bed and sleep until I needed to leave to get Theo or bike up to a hardcore, hour-long exercise class I’d missed all summer.  Both choices were equally delicious.

But then Theo and I attended his orientation and I got the news.  His start date was not actually the 22nd.  It was the 7th.  Of September.

I honestly almost started crying, which might sound like the most terrible reaction a mother could have, particularly when it concerns her last baby going off to school.  But honestly, it was like I was a mere 2/10 of a mile from the marathon finish line and the race coordinators went “Ah, well, no.  You see, we’ve decided to add another 3 miles.”  Pure deflation.  Magnified frustration.  I was fresh out of ideas and fun things to do and, quite frankly, out of patience.  Fresh out, I tell you.

So we’ve been flipping hourglasses all week.  We have good hours; we have bad hours; we have long hours, we have (many, many) train hours and, for some reason this week, we have sleepless hours (that also happen to fall in the middle of the night).  I won’t lie; it’s been a long, long week.

School did start back for the big boys this week; we went to the Meet and Greet Day wherein Tuck made a superior (and, no doubt, lasting) first impression on his new Kindergarten teacher when he met her while wearing Dr. Buck’s Fake Teeth (I believe he was sporting the gap-toothed variety).  No, folks, that “T” on his shirt isn’t for Tucker…it’s for Troublemaker.  I would have taken a photo of the offending pseudo-dentures except they are long, long gone in the Trinity trash by this point.

We’re talking big HUGE personality on this guy and it just keeps growing:


And just where did he stash the fake teeth?  A fist? A pocket?  His pocket?  It was definitely a pre-meditated move and these two definitely look like they are up to something…


Our little comedian had such a blast at his Meet and Greet that he left the building and could not tell us the names of his own teachers.  He had no idea where his classroom was (this is actually understandable as the school is pretty large).  Panic set in the next morning.  Tuck didn’t want to wear his name tag, stating it was “too embarrassing” (because being lost in a new school without having a clue of the names of your teachers isn’t embarrassing enough, right?).


In comes Big Brother to the rescue.  Jack walked Tucker all the way down the stairs, past the bunny Oreo (who, by the way, is not even remotely on the direct route to Tuck’s classroom) and to his room.  I think this philanthropic deed went on all last week.  Such good brothers.



Jack takes his job as big brother quite seriously, always leading the way.


Not all of the past week has been tedious, however.


Before the big boys started school, we had two days to unwind and recover from a lovely week at the beach.  The boys begged to go to Fernbank and going to Fernbank always piggy-backs with going to F.R.O.G.S., a semi-dive-y fresh mex place near Virginia Highlands.  We love the Aussie who owns it, and he is quite tolerant of us and our double cheese dip ordering sons.  We still don’t know what F.R.O.G.S. stands for, but we’ve made our guesses–none of which are worthy of being typed out here.

Don’t mess with him.
He’ll bite you with his fake teeth.

For what it’s worth, the deck at F.R.O.G.S. is splendid and, in addition to housing a full-sized surfboard in a tree, also presents oodles of most excellent and eclectic people watching.  Oh, and good light to try to take normal pictures of your children, too.



I did say to try to take normal pictures.

Fernbank never, ever fails us.  Money was well spent on that membership, for sure.

Moose-Ears for Theo




and weird reflective things…

and mermaids?  no…

and bubbles…(oh, my)

Don’t worry! That’s not Hurricane Irene (or Jim Cantore)…
it’s Jack with a Bird-Nest-Head rivalling the cold front for screen space

Just when you think you’ve passed the sand-in-your-eyes feeling resulting from strings of sleepless nights with a crying baby, BAM.  You’re right back into it, knee-deep.  This little dumpling has been waking up several times a night and traveling into our room, all because of “a tiny bit of bad dreams.”


His dreams are apparently vivid and quite scary; there have been several times when he’s run into our room screaming and shaking (and wide awake…so, no, these aren’t night terrors.  We’ve had our fun with those with Tucker.).  He has pale blue camping lights strung on his bed’s headboard, so it’s not too dark.  He has Tucker’s Native American Dream Catcher, given to Tuck by his devoted teacher Ms. Chandra during his own nightmare-having stage, hanging over his bed as well.  So far, he’s gotten no relief.  We’re on day 5 of being up with him at least twice a night–which means we’ve gotten no relief, either.

By mid-week, all three boys were cranky, the excitement of the return of school taking its toll on them (well, on two of them, at least).  By Wednesday, the smothered feeling was starting to strangle me.  One of them took a mere 6 minutes to destroy the playroom I’d spent all day organizing.  I had built train tracks and played trains with the littlest one all morning long.  I had not exercised in three days.  I had one sleepwalker traipse downstairs before 9 p.m.  I was not looking forward to another night of the revolving bedroom door.  I’d put in a 14.5 hour day so far.  Then I stumbled across the blog of an old acquaintance from college.

The tale of her family’s days since losing their youngest son to the flu a few years ago rattled me.  He was not quite three.  I could not get them off my mind, despite how exhausted to the core I was.  I flipped and flopped all night long, my stomach knotting up each time I tried to imagine the grief, the desperation, the all-encompassing frustration they had to feel.  I guess that’s why I wound up breaking one of our family’s Great Commandments around 5 a.m. and pulled Theo into bed with me.

He finally fell asleep, his little hand wrapped around my thumb.  I lay there and stared at him, all tiny and adorable, wrapped up in his dot-dots, on his side facing me.  Every time I tried to pull my hand away, he’d flinch, so I took the last half-hour nap of the night holding my three-year-old’s hand in mine.  He was just as exhausted as I was.  Night terrors, regardless of their form or content, are no fun for anyone.


Despite my steadfast devotion against wishing time to fly by, I recognize that it does, and I’m also recognizing that it happens much more quickly the older you get.  The first few grains in an hourglass hardly seem to move, but if you sit there until the end, the grains appear to start falling faster and faster, being sucked through and down and away on their own–way quicker than those first little grains leisurely went through that rabbithole.

Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.





And sometimes when it’s hard–nearly impossible–to find the fun in all these days and hours and minutes whipping you in the face, you have to dig a little deeper.  You have to push the envelope–maybe wear funny looking teeth (or trespass on a construction site)–to find a way to make someone, even yourself, smile.



Too often we let the big picture take over.  The big picture is that hourglass with its constant measurement of time gone by, of things we’ve done and left undone, of the finite time we have left.

In the spirit of our Unexpecteds, I’m trying to move past this view and re-center.  I don’t want to look up and think chaos is raining down all the time.  I don’t want to keep looking backwards, trying to recreate days we’ve already lived.

Doing all that makes you miss the good stuff flying at you head-on.


So face-forward and chock full of eager anticipation–that’s going to be us.  Throwing a curve ball our way?  Bring it.

We’re ready.

I was able to get Theo’s start date moved up to September 1st.  Jack has started fall baseball again and his team, the Grasshoppers (yes, really) took the field last night for their first practice.  Tucker is bubbling with excitement about his piano lessons which start in less than 2 weeks.  The mornings are starting to have a slightly crisp taste to them, if you stretch your imagination a bit.

We’ve put our hourglass back on the shelf in the library where it belongs.

It’s on its side.  And now, it’s on our side, too.

72 hours in photos with a few words

OK, Ok, I know the “few words” part is far more challenging than stringing together random pictures from the past 2.5 days, but I’m clearing out a photo card in anticipation of a big day tomorrow and found the last bits of the beach there, smiling up at me, asking to be shared with whomever.

And you, kind reader, who hopefully by now has made it a habit to return to this little blog and dig around (and for whom I have utmost gratitude), you are precisely this “whomever,” so please stick around.  We’ll make it fun.  Or at least fun-ny.

And away we go….

night time putt-putt in a light rainstorm with the speed-putt-putt champions of northern Florida…
aren’t all putt-putt places just a stone’s throw across a 4-lane from a neon-lit beach store?


Russ, Tucker and Theo debate jumping waves


Our big, crazy, spontaneous picnic out on Drummond’s Point with everyone’s favorite picnic vittles?  Rained out.  So Super-Daddy improvised and whipped up this fancy tent…worked like a charm, providing the most unique dining experience on the island (at least for a human).

it’s a little shabby-chic, but the gatekeeper agrees it serves a fine purpose.

Now, let’s entertain the large group of post-college aged single boys and girls who had overtaken the pool.  Since their fellowship and beer buckets likely were not doing it enough for them, we decided to enact Cirque Du La Piscina, featuring the High-Flying Herakovich Brothers.




Although the crowd loved us and called out for more, we decided to take our horse and pony show elsewhere…because with skills like these, the High-Flying Herakovich Brothers don’t need no stinkin’ swimming hole.

Daredevil Sandcastle Jumping:


Extreme Kite Flying:


When overly tired, the future Cirque do Soleilians do what every other carny does:

Wii.  (Right?)


And, finally, the end of the trip photo shoot…I look at these shots and can see exactly how each of the three of them will look as men one day and it scares me because they are growing up so fast.

This next to the last one may be one of my all-time favorites of them, huddled up and caught in the act of…being best brothers.

The long, strenuous march through summer is almost over.  It was twelve hefty weeks to plow through at first sight, but it wound up being fun beyond measure.


We didn’t count the days left or the days that had passed by already.  Rather, we endured the here and holy-cow-it’s-so-hot-right now and made it through.  We are going to miss staying up late only to lounge in pjs until well past an acceptable time.  We will miss unexpected playdates in the cul-de-sac and field trips to Fernbank or the Science Museum or to this dive joint called F.R.O.G.S. which we all adore.


But what I’m really going to miss is all the nonstop, verbose, challenging, hilarious, fun, educational, silly, boredom busting time I had with my three sons this summer.

And I’ll admit it:  for me, that is one heck of an Unexpected.  I’ve grown to realize this and, more importantly, to embrace it.  Even give it one little shout out:  yay, Summer.


p.s.  I dare you to play Jack in Chess.  Bring some kleenex ’cause he’ll make you cry like a baby.  My boy can throw down the moves like nobody’s business.  In the time it takes you to sit down with your coffee, he’ll have left you with only 2 safe moves. (And those moves won’t really be safe because, see, he can think in advance and now you’ll just fall into one of his traps.  And he’s 7.  Kleenex time.)

p.s.s. the “few words” in the title were a flat-out lie, weren’t they?  Enjoy your own wind-downs into the next season…

10 days left…

…of summer, that is.

In ten days, we’ll have a kindergartner and a second grader (and in fourteen days, we’ll have another first year primary child at the Montessori school).  In ten days, we’ll be done with our long beach trips for the year, relegated to the humdrum of city life instead of carefree living, some of which we enjoyed on Amelia Island for a tiny bit of the summer.  Just ten more days.

I made what I thought was a valiant effort at maintaining my sanity this summer.  Perhaps it’s just because the boys are all getting older or perhaps it’s because I am getting older (and mellower), but this summer was the first that seemed to fly by since we’ve had two or more children.

What, exactly, did we do these past twelve weeks?

Jack, apparently, grew some hair.

This hair earned Jack the nickname “Bird-Nest Head” this summer.  Little Dude can grow some curls.  Some girl is going to love this in about 15 years…

Theo turned three; Tucker perfected his bicycle riding; we lost a frog and two teeth.  Baseball camp was a hit, as was Vacation Bible School.  We caught fireflies and a virus that coated Theo’s mouth with ulcers (but, remarkably, his was the only illness we endured this summer–a first for us).  We got creative with Unexpecteds, and we became absolute masters–sort of–at sand castle building.


IMG_5207That’s 2 levels, baby.

We took as many outdoor showers as we could.


We spent long afternoons with good friends and family–just what you should do on lazy, hot days.


Best of all, our three little brothers have all become the best of pals–though they still are not easy to photograph in a group.




It has been a good summer…a very good summer.

But we are tired and ready for a change.  We are so ready for fall.  We’re so ready that we’ve already bought our first Halloween book of the season, breaking our already ridiculously pitiful record-start-date (that would be September 1st) for getting our Halloween on a bit too early.  I can’t wait for the predictability of the school day, for the crisp bite in the morning air, for Harvest scented candles, for long sleeved t-shirts and worn-in flannel pajamas, for pumpkins and scarecrows and–yes–gigantic, inflatable neon-green skulls to all come out in full force.

This is one of T’s birthday gifts from this past year.  He was born in January.  You can get things like this for next to nothing at that time of year, in case you are wondering.  You know you want one.

 Get me to October.

But we are still climbing the ladder to that wonderful little slide down into our favorite time of year.  We have ten days left.  So we’re winding down our summer back where we kicked it off:  Amelia Island.

Ahhhh.  If you’ve not been here, start MapQuesting it and planning your trip.  It’s like wrapping a cloak of relaxation around you.

Last night after dinner, we went to our all-time favorite independent bookstore–one of the few remaining ones around.


This place is spectacular.  The children’s book section is just magical:  so well planned, so well organized, so well stocked–with off-the-beaten-path delights.  We never walk out empty handed.  Like a book store should (and despite the “plus” part of its name), this place only sells books.  No cards, no games, no toys, no extras.  Just books.  And loads of them.

We got back in the car to head home after our visit there last night, and our oldest made my heart smile when he said, “Oh, Mama!  It smells just like a BOOK in here!”  If they made Books Plus scented candles, I’d buy the lot of them.  Best little store in Fernandina, without a doubt.  Rock on, little indy book store!  You are one of a dying breed.

Despite the heat and absolutely oppressive humidity, we are going to charge head-first into this week, Don Quixote style.

We’re not just jumping the shark; no way…we’re touching that sucker, too (at least some of us are going to readily attempt do it).



We’re going to run into the waves, despite how big (or small) they are.


We’re going to try to dig to China, because that’s what you’re supposed to do on a beach.


I’m going to somehow try to slow down my children from growing up so quickly, at least for just a few short days.




And we’re going to drink in all those last juicy bits that summertime has to offer.



the best laid plans…

We had a weekend of non-stop birthday-ing.  Theo turned three (three?!  how did that happen so quickly?) and had his very first real birthday party:  a red train party (his request).

I will admit to going a little hog-wild on the entire concept, but in my defense, it was his first party and we are in the dog-days of summer vacation, a time when we’ve done every craft there is to do and visited every museum there is to see.  Simply put, we are fresh out of time-killers, so ridiculously crafty party decorations it was.

The boys helped me make the banner above.  We hung it in our house a few days early, clearly establishing the “party all weekend long” mood.  On the day of Theo’s party, we hauled out a 12-foot ladder and strung the banner over our driveway between two trees.  We floated a few (red) helium balloons from the branches, just to add to the mood.

We put a big “3” balloon on our mailbox, along with a sign pointing to where the trackless train was going to set up.


We even had silly little wrappers for the water bottles.  Martha Stewart would have loved it.


We set up a Train Wheel Trinket area where guests could make necklaces from “train wheels” (wagon wheel pasta that Jack and Tucker had dyed with food coloring a few days before).


We baked and decorated a train cake.  I insist (much to Russ’s chagrin) on making my boys’ birthday cakes, but they are usually of the round or square–or once, just to be really crazy, the rectangular–variety.  I once had a surge of mock-creativity and for Tucker’s 3rd birthday Snowman Party made three (get it?  three for being 3? clever, no?) round cakes stacked together like a snowman.  It was, without a doubt, quite pitiful but was made with love and sweet Tucker adored it, which is all that mattered.


So, using the above catastrophe as a base, just check out Theo’s train cake–also made with love at home by yours truly…


(I know, I know…cake decorating is not going to be my future profession…)

Ok, so for those of you playing along at home, we had a homemade banner hanging from trees, oodles of helium balloons, a red tub filled with fancy water bottles, a “dining car” with sliced strawberries and watermelon, a table set-up with dried pasta…all looking cute and ready to go.

Then came the thunderstorm.  And not just a quick little summer-sprinkling; no, this was a power-deluge akin to Noah’s flood.

The banner fell apart.  The balloons deflated.  The pasta got mushy.  The fruit bowls filled with water.

And the birthday boy fell asleep.


All of this action (or, in the case directly above, inaction) took place in the fifteen minutes or so before guests started showing up.

My mom and I ran around like maniacs trying to salvage things while the guests began arriving.  Luckily, the guest list was a bunch of unassuming, easy-to-please toddlers, so they marvelled at the train track Jack and Tucker had built that morning for Theo while we roused the Birthday Boy and waited for the train-guy to start rides.


The train rides were a huge hit.  Huge.  Here, the birthday boy takes the train on its inaugural jaunt through part of our neighborhood.




The cake was a hit, too.



Even the ridiculous macaroni project dried out and the children all really enjoyed it (amazingly).



We wound up having a hot and sweaty, loud and funny afternoon with eight of Theo’s pals running back and forth between the train and the snack table.  They decorated our driveway with chalk and they squealed with delight when the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song came on.  We wanted a party our Theodorable would not forget and I think we got it.


Happy third birthday, little guy.

From the very moment you arrived, you’ve been nothing but a joy.


You are easy-going and a very good sport (a trait that’s required, I think, when you are the third little boy in a family)…



You smile more than anyone we know…


You are a champion hair-grower (though you’re still not wild about having it cut).

Theo at one week

IMG_5143Theo at 9 months, having his third haircut…


You are cuter than anything.

First birthday, July 30, 2009

Second birthday, July 30, 2010

IMG_4146-1third birthday, July 30, 2011

You are (and always will be) our Theodorable…and we are so, so proud of you.