goodnight 2011…

It’s impossible for a sentimental pack-rat like I am not to have some sort of New Year’s Eve post…


…because it is the season of many lights–

and the things that were at the Botanical Garden were just too cool for words.






From the Botanical Garden to lighting up our own home…

spreading the sparkly oatmeal reindeer food on Christmas Eve…

To trying to see things–all things–in a different light…



Any way you want to see it is fine with us…just take time to look.



We all need family, even when you least expect it–like when faced with touching a giant shrimp for the first time…

And we all sometimes feel like fish out of water–you just hope you get someone as loving and kind as Tucker who will gently toss you back in if you are a hermit crab…and you will, if you are just patient enough…


IMG_6591um, yeah, that sand-dollar…we kept it.  it was perfect.  5 chambers for our family.  we had to.

This brotherly love is just going to grow stronger in the next 365 days.

What are you going to build in the next year?

best sunset in Sea Island…

and the best gift from my Jackers for the year–totally unexpected:

IMG_6590J + M

If this is the highlight of my 2011, then so be it.

Jack + Mommy.

How much longer will I get such unsolicited love from a 7.5 year old who just tonight begged me not to kiss him in front of his friends as I dropped him off for his first sleepover?
My boy is growing up, so I’ll take all the little things I get.

Goodnight 2011.  You were good to us.
Calm.  Peaceful.  Happy.  Celebratory.
We hope and pray for a similar 2012.

We take on the world this year, Jackers, you & me.  It’s a promise.  Bring on the slider; I’m ready to learn to throw and catch it (maybe with Uncle Beardy’s help).

We are ready for Tucker’s 6th birthday in barely 4 days, our little miracle.  The joy of friends and science and piano awaits you, sweet man.  You warm our hearts.

Tiny fellow, how can you be turning 4 this year? Theodore, you make our hearts melt with your questions and statements, all of which are brilliant and honest.

For our 2012:

We will reach for our dreams;
strive for our goals;
work when work needs to be done and
play when play needs to be done.
And, most importantly of all, we will listen to when we, our bodies and our minds, need to rest
and we will learn how to.
And we will try hard to achieve all of this with grace and–for me–lots of patience.
These are difficult, lofty goals for our year, but then shouldn’t we always have lofty goals?

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
or what’s a heaven for?”
–Robert S. Browning

Goodnight 2011, rest well on a job well done.

Welcome 2012!
Time to show us your stuff.

Happy New Year to you all!

dribble, dribble

Many of you know I played every sport a girl could play in high school, and I loved it.  Well, most of it; I could have done away with being “scrimmage bait” for Coach Reid’s Varsity basketball team, and I could have done away with Coach Cravey’s mile relay requirement entirely, but overall, my experience growing up with sports was outstanding, and it had a huge, huge role in developing the girl I am today.  You learn a lot about pecking order when your first overnight camp experience is a 5-day basketball camp, and you learn a lot about respecting elders when your coach calls a time out solely to tell you to tuck your shirt in.  Today, someone who didn’t know any better would probably start whining that their child had been wrongly singled out and ostracized and embarrassed.  Back then, everyone in the gymnasium (including me) knew I simply had not adhered to one of the coach’s rules, and he called me on it.  Fair enough.

In hindsight, basketball wasn’t my best sport; softball was.  Early, early on, my daddy became obsessed with teaching me to not “throw like a girl,” which may be one of the best skills he ever gave me.  (Boys are always so amazed when a girl throws a zinger or can whip a football into a perfect spiral.)  I think I actually cried when I aged-out of the local Recreational League, the same league in which my father had played as a little kid.  I played intramural softball in college, graduate school and law school.  At one point, I somehow found myself on a co-ed intramural team at Georgia, an experience that will toughen you up for sure–you haven’t felt adrenaline until Eric Zeier smacks a line-drive at you when you’re playing second base.  Trust me on that one.

It goes without saying that I am loving every minute of my boys playing sports.  Baseball with Jack is a pure joy.  He’s had unbelievable coaches and has been on teams full of wonderful, fun-loving families–both of which has grown the love of the game in him.  Asked a few months ago, we would have said without a doubt that baseball was Jack’s favorite sport.


Then along came basketball season.  Move over, Fernando Valenzuela.  It’s your off-season, you know.

Jack and Tucker both are playing basketball for the first time this year.  Sitting through basketball practices is nothing like sitting through baseball practice where the non-practicing boys are outside and can run and play and enjoy the lovely springtime weather.  Basketball practice finds you trying to corral the 2 non-practicers in a drab, smelly, crowded gym while it drizzles rain outside.  To say it’s challenging is an understatement.

But the boys love it more than we ever imagined.

the wild and barely controlled dribble of the 5-to-6-year old league…


IMG_6243Tuck takes a shot in his first game…


I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why someone would be against organized team sports or would not let his or her child play.  The world today relies on teamwork, regardless of how unique and individualized we think we are.  We all need to learn how to play fair.  We need to learn how to play with folks we don’t really like.  There are rules, and those rules need to be followed.  We need to help each other.  It’s good to win, and it builds character when you lose.  You are not going to win all the time.  You’re also not going to lose all the time, either.  Exercise is good for you.  Learning life long skills is good for you.  Discipline is good for you.  I rest my case.


IMG_6388#10 on the floor; #1 in your hearts…

In other news, my parental units are pulling in sometime today, and we are ready to get our merry on.  We are also poised for a potential joint visit from Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy (after whacking his mouth on his knee (?) last night, Jack has one tooth that’s grossly floppy and dangling).

The pre-Christmas run-around has slowed down, allowing the full-on frenzy to blanket itself over our house.  Our upstairs is covered with boy-made blanket forts; our downstairs is covered with half-played Monopoly games and chess matches in progress; our whole house is filled with overwhelming excitement and energy.  Here comes Santa Claus, indeed…and he needs to hurry it up.



Two days and counting!!

the Christmas letter we didn’t send

even when it’s overcast, Napa’s still beautiful–January

Every year since Jack was born, Russ and I send one of those typed letters out along with our Christmas card.  I spend more time than is necessary drafting and re-drafting these letters, sifting through a year’s worth of photos to jog my memory of things that have happened, and because I know these letters can often be long, dry and dull, I try really, really hard to make them funny.

When it comes to wanting to blab on about one’s children and their antics, I am guilty as charged.  And more than once last year I had a friend make a joke about needing to pull up a chair and a cup of coffee to settle in for a long winter’s read upon the arrival of our card–well, not our card but the recap of our lives printed in 10-point font (I’m looking at you, book club! 🙂  ).

But honestly, can you blame us?  Life with three little boys is deserving of a recap, if for no other reason than to serve as a warning to all our young friends out there still in the various stages of family-building…


But I listened to my critics and this year, we sent a much more abbreviated letter, directing those who were in the need for a read (or who wanted to see the Christmas card photo runners-up) to this little blog I’ve been keeping.  (So if you’re new here, welcome!  I hope you’ll make it a habit to drop by!)

And away we go…


Jack is truthfully a grown-up in a 7-and-a-half-year-old’s body.  He loves to play chess, fiddle around on the computer, work on logic puzzles with family members and read himself to sleep at night.


He started 2nd grade this year at Trinity and has fallen in love with History and Social Studies.  He still adores math and has been working on projects in Robotics (yes, really!) with a group of other 2nd graders.  He can build an architectural masterpiece out of Legos, and he is into extreme fort-building–a sport which involves the use of beanbag chairs, pillows, a parachute and all available bed linens.


He has played baseball and basketball so far this year, but has truly found a passion in running.  Jack ran in a few small school-sponsored races and did spectacularly well for someone who is only 7.  He keeps after me to sign him up for a “real race,” but we are having a tough time finding one that doesn’t conflict with his other sports.  He is a competitive, serious and very coachable athlete.


Jack still wants to be a vet when he grows up, so you can hardly imagine his excitement at getting to don a wetsuit and enter the water during the Dolphin Experience in the Bahamas over his Spring Break.  Unfortunately, this also coincided with us discovering he is allergic to latex.  Thankfully, the dolphin people had mercy on the little guy and let him come in the water to meet Wee-Tee the dolphin.  Look closely and you might be able to see the gigantic welts all over poor Jack’s body.


We’re pretty sure Jack could subsist totally on foods that begin with the letter C:  Cheerios, chicken, cantaloupe…his latest excuse for being a picky eater is that he has several wiggly teeth.  The tooth fairy has visited our house four times now–the last time was prematurely after Tucker knocked out one of Jack’s top teeth, which was a moderately traumatic moment for Jack since he is the most passive tooth-loser ever.  No tying a string around a tooth here.  We wait until gravity does its thing.

Finally, we have had a great time this year joking with Jack about his hair.  He has crazy, floppy curly hair that goes wild while he sleeps and even wilder if it gets the tiniest bit too long.  His mop of hair has earned him the nickname of “Bird-Nest Head” in our house.  Jack considers bird-nesting one of his special talents and claims the photo below as his best showing, “especially since both sides are flipping up like a real bird nest does.”


Sometimes we are just amazed at how grown up our little guy is.


Tucker will turn 6 a mere 10 days after Christmas and has requested–in true Tucker-form–a “Grossology” birthday party.


He started Kindergarten at Trinity this fall and showed up for Meet-and-Greet day sporting a pair of ridiculous fake teeth he had stashed in his pocket when I wasn’t looking.  Fortunately, his teachers also have a great sense of humor.

He has quickly made lots of friends and is right at home at his new school.  Tuck enjoys science and World Languages (he is taking Spanish) and loves that the Trinity playground has giant rock formations to climb.


This kiddo is turning out to be our athlete.  He can balance on a boogie board in the swimming pool–a feat no one else in our family (including the adults–believe me, we’ve tried) can do.  He decided last January that he’d like to try to ride a 2-wheeled bike, hopped on and took off without falling over once.  He can climb a tree like nobody’s business, and his scooter-tricks are unparalleled.  Sweet Tucker also scored a basket in his very first basketball game.

Airborne, baby!

IMG_3918This little trick? Way, WAY harder than it looks…


We still call Tuck “the Goat” around here.  He will try anything you put in front of him–a nice change from his two brothers.  He currently asks for Chinese or Thai food on a regular basis and has already put in a request to visit the Happy Sumo for his birthday meal (he has definitely outgrown his fear of the “crazy chef-fing” that takes place there).


IMG_6125Tuck’s first University of Georgia football game–October


Tucker is the life of our party; with his sense of humor, kindness, fearlessness and creativity, he’s the type of friend you’d love to have.


Theo turned 3 in late July and hasn’t stopped asking “why?” since then.  His inquiries range from predictable (“why you putting that in the dishwasher?”) to the thought-provoking (“why caterpillars turn into butterflies?”); the narrative (“why we stopping at this red light?”) to the downright random (“why the light go off in the ‘fridgerator when you close it?”).  One thing is certain:  he is full of questions, sun-up to sundown, and we love it.  On the way to school just this morning, he asked, “why ‘flingos [flamingos] only stand on one of their foots?”  Good question, Theo B., good question…

Theo would put butter on a rock and eat it.  Last year, he was caught drinking maple syrup straight from the bottle; this year, he’s been busted several times with a forkful of butter (but we could hardly expect less from a child who claims his favorite restaurant is Waffle House).

no, we didn’t let him actually eat it…


When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Theo will yell out “a train driver man!”  Ok, then.   (His answer is decidedly less concerning than Tucker’s answer:  “a daddy!  Who still lives right here!”) Theo could play trains all day.  It is beyond adorable to watch Jack, our original train fanatic, sit on the floor with Theo and build tracks that go up and down all over the bedroom.

Theo still hauls around a menagerie of items including his stuffed dogs (Dude-Doggy, Little Dog and Barker) and as many “dot-dots” (blankets) as we can stand to let him carry.  He is very particular and meticulous about all he does, often becoming very upset if things are not just right (like if he’s not given the “right” cup or if his banana breaks in half).  While this is sometimes frustrating for us, one of his teachers told us that the children she’d taught who had similar idiosyncracies all grew up to be surgeons–a career that might be a bit more modern than a train-driver-man.


All three boys clearly are best pals.  It warms our hearts to see them running and wrestling (well, sort of; truth be told, it makes me extremely nervous) and to hear them laughing and playing.  The fact that they roam in a pack also means that they have 3 brains working hard at devising crazy things to do.  Jack and Tucker are generally the ringleaders and have truly enjoyed turning Theo into their “minion,” as they like to call him, when they are constructing forts, building contraptions or seeking a contraband snack.





In addition to our child-free trip to Napa at the beginning of this year, we also took a trip to the Bahamas, and we able to spend a lot of time at the beach in Florida this past summer, which was divine.  The boys would live next to the ocean if they could (so would we).  Everything about Amelia Island is just perfect to us…

a sun-bleached bird nest…

Our year was filled with goodness; everyone stayed healthy and happy.  Jack’s Dog, Tuck’s Purple and Dude-Doggy/Barker/Little Dog all stayed in one piece (thank you, Lord!). We worked on our patience and tolerance, particularly when some of us are strapped in car seats.  We caught (and released) all sorts of wildlife, and we explored everywhere we could.  Four-fifths of us can read, and all of us can write our names.  2011 was quite good to us!

We hope Santa is good to you, and we hope that your new year is filled with love, laughter and lots of good times!  Merry Christmas, everyone!


the halls are decked

Welcome to December!  The past week has been spent doing some serious bedecking of the halls around here, and as you can imagine, the boys are boiling over with excitement.

Before we could start thinking about Christmas, we had to get the gobble on.  We headed up the Charlottesville, Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with Russ’s family.

IMG_0147The Herakoviches invade Hartsfield International…

My in-laws’ house backs up to some incredible land and a horse farm.  The boys love going out there to visit the horses and try to feed them.  Some children are braver than others…


IMG_0163This would be the child not in to hand feeding large animals.

We also attend our one and only Christmas parade of the season in Charlottesville.  The Barracks Road Shopping Center parade never fails to charm, mostly because it is hilarious and has a very small-town feel to it…beauty queens of all shapes, sizes and ages…random things like a person dressed like a smoothie from Smoothie-King..a herd of llamas…Santa in a truck.  It’s small town goodness  at its best and never fails to make me miss the Christmas parades I went to as a little kid in my hometown of Vidalia (well, except for the terrifying scimitar-wielding, belly-dancing Shriner; I’m willing to bet that that dude has scared every child in the 912 area code).



We rolled back into town the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and I started migrating decorations up from the basement before we were even unpacked.  One of the first things I unearthed was an ancient white ceramic Christmas tree from my grandmother’s house.  I can clearly remember sitting in front of this as a child, mesmerized by its twinkling brightness as it lit up the dark of the little indented phone-nook beside her kitchen.  I was literally moved to tears when I plugged its dangerous looking, frayed cord into the outlet and the tree began to glow. I loved it then and I love it now even more.  Even better, it seems that many of my friends had grandparents with this same decoration (likely all bought at the same Belk Matthews, circa 1975) and this little picture below warmed many a heart with memories of Christmases past.  Rock on, little white ceramic tree.  Look at all the happiness you bring!  Even Henry can’t help checking you out!

Yesterday was the Great Tree Hunt.  After carefully perusing many, many trees, we all finally settled on one–all of us, that is, except Theodore, who insisted we get a little “Charlie Brown” tree this year.  Here is Theo with Calvin Coolidge, his tiny tree named by Jack.  The tree-people thought we were completely insane (Jack also suggested we name the other, bigger tree John Q. Adams–so “Quincy” it is).


Pulling out the tree ornaments is a favorite of mine each year.  I am a pack-rat and nostalgic to a fault, so I could spend the better part of a day unwrapping ornaments one by one and placing them on the perfect branch.  Of course, my family prefers to go at it at warp-speed, which is probably why we hit a new record of 5 broken ornaments this year.  The boys also tend to stick ornaments on things that are not tree branches.

Theo hangs his special 2011 ornament (a Waffle House one) near the trees.

Each and every ornament on our tree has a story to tell…

What to do with the world’s most expensive clothespin? 
Leave it to Natalie and Jill to devise an ornament!

Love her authentic feathers and that brown patch, Alice!
She also appears to be smiling; perhaps her name is Camilla.

…has amazingly survived for 8 years

…has even more amazingly survived for 32 years!

While I’m taking my sweet time, assuring each ornament is prominently displayed, the boys are overloading the other side of the tree.

One branch.  Four ornaments.

In addition to ornaments, we also have several very special Nativity scenes.  Russ’s mother gave him one a long time ago, and as a toddler, Jack loved to haul around the Baby Jesus.  That Baby Jesus–who is maybe the size of a walnut–has been to Publix, spent the night in Jack’s crib and even attended Music Class.  When he’d tire of carrying him around, 16-month old Jack would head back over to the creche, drop the baby in the manger and say (a bit too forcefully, perhaps), “take a nap, Jesus.”  It’s a true Christmas miracle that we even still have the tiny figurine.  So when I opened up a box from my Mama B’s house that contained the exact same Nativity set and saw that she had rubberbanded Baby Jesus into his manger, I had to laugh.

Our newest Nativity set has already been claimed by sweet Tucker.


Tuck would leave these guys out year-round if he could.  Who could blame him?  That side-staring camel is a hoot.


Twenty more days…


Here’s to hoping the Christmas spirit you’re feeling right now–that warmness in your heart and sense of philanthropy, that twinkle in your eye and pep in your step–is just a warm-up.  Merry Christmas!!