Shortly after 2 this morning, this cuteness turned 5:

When my oldest son turned 5, I was stumbling through days with him, along with a 3.5 year old and a 10 month old. I thought life couldn’t get any busier.


The past 5 years have been a blur of days, of strep throat and broken collarbones, loose teeth and lost pets. Of crying children, of exhausted parents, of finicky eaters. Of baseball practices and school meetings and playdates. Of laughing, bike riding, rock climbing and domino track building. 

That’s around 1,825 days of unrepeatable wonder.

It’s a blur of wonderfulness that’s zooming by as fast as the earth can spin, which is way too fast for me.


…and now


…and then

That whole saying about the days being so long but the years being so short is spot-on.

Our baby is now 5 (“that’s a quarter of the way to 20,” Russ reminded me).

That’s gonna leave a mark…

July 30, 2008

10 days old

July 30, 2009–1 year old

July 30, 2010–2 years old

July 2011–3 years old

July 30, 2012–4 years old

July 2013–almost 5 years old!

We started our day building domino tracks and playing inside with outdoor toys (a favorite beach activity, it seems). Theo has requested a nice, steamy pot of pasta fagioli for his birthday supper–just what the family wants on the sweltering 30th of July. It doesn’t matter though; when it’s your birthday, you get to pick your own supper. So I’m about to start chopping up a pile of vegetables to make my youngest son his favorite meal. I plan on using that onion as a scapegoat. Birthdays always bring tears to my eyes.

Happy 5th birthday to our sweetness, the best little brother, the happiest child, our Theodorable. Thank you for making the last 5 years the very best years of our lives…so far.

Riding the Waves

Tuck had his second surf lesson today. Dude’s got it down.

Like, totally.

Our final beach trip of the summer has been jam-packed.

Dominos. Of course.

Putt-Putt…which took a violent turn yesterday when Jack dove into a rock wall and split his head open. (OK, it wasn’t exactly split open, but any amount of blood coming from one’s son’s head is enough to rattle a mom.)

Nighttime walks on the beach with the Brown Dog.

He’s here, somewhere, trust me–off doing his best sand sniffing…in honor of Henry.

Trying out a new sport (Lord help us).

Lots of relaxing, reading (summer reading review coming soon) and regrouping before the mayhem of the school year starts.

We’ve stuck a lot closer to the sand ever since Jack overheard me telling Russ about my old college roommate’s husband’s (got that?) run in with a certain toothy ocean dweller. Little pitchers have big ears, indeed.

Seriously, why on Earth would anyone volunteer to be buried in sand? Ugh, squared.

And lots of celebrating the last days of being 4.

Big birthday post coming up tomorrow. Happy last day of being 4, sweet Theo!

Our Eagle-Scout-Level-of-Mothering Summer Project

It’s summer…8 weeks into summer, to be exact. We’re getting a little squirrelly.

This child’s summertime obsession has been dominoes.

Not playing dominos, mind you; playing with dominoes. This would be called “building domino tracks” to the initiated. And, oh my friends, we are not just in the club. We are the freaking Grand Poobahs of the Domino Track Club, Local Lodge #85.

I remember the days long ago when Jack went through a construction vehicle phase. Never did I think I’d know the difference between an excavator and a backhoe loader, between a jackhammer and a tamper. And who’d have ever thought a cherry-picker could send us looping back around the block for another look?

That obsession with dump trucks was nothing compared to our current one with dominoes.

We’ve seen every YouTube video on the subject. My vocabulary has expanded to include things such as fallbacks, towers and switchbacks.

It’s off the chain.

[Now, before we continue the story, let me remind you that we are eight weeks into summer break. Eight weeks, people. We are hitting the wall here.]

Jack and Tuck are gone during the days this week from 9-2. Which means, obviously, that I spend about 4.5 hours a day building domino tracks and knocking them over with Theo, which differs only slightly from the other 8 hours a day we spend building domino tracks in the fact that we have no brothers here to assist us.

By Tuesday, I was going bananas. So I decided we needed some bigger dominoes–for his upcoming Domino Track themed birthday party, you know. (Yes, seriously. Still trying to figure out how we’re going to pull that one off.)

A few Google searches planted the seeds. So off to Home Depot we went.

After some insanely complicated math (I’m a writer, not a wizard, you know), we pulled our boards: three 10 foot 1″x4″ ones.

These don’t fit in a cart.

They don’t even come close.

By the way, the only folks at Home Depot first thing in the morning are the hardcore, legitimate builders. They use all those huge rolling flatbed carts.


Next, after dodging multiple forklifts and half of the construction work force in Atlanta, we made it to the Cutting Center. Danger, Will Robinson.

We pushed our way into the line and stood there like we knew what we were doing. The good news is that when you are at Home Depot at the crack of dawn with your not-quite-5-year old, it’s obvious you are knee-deep in a Mother-Son project–which makes you look like SuperMom, even if you haven’t showered in 2 days, have dark circles under your eyes and are wearing unmatching workout clothes. Score one, Mom.

A regular domino is 2″ by 3″. After nearly melting my brain, I figured out that we could expand that size to 4″ by 6″ on our 10 foot board and get a yield (see that mathy term?) of 20 dominoes per board. We just needed the Super-Radial-Arm-Saw-Jedi-Master to cut each board at 6″ increments. Super-Radial-Arm-Saw-Jedi-Master then informed me that the first 3 cuts were free; after that, each cut would cost $.50.

Too. Much. Math.

Radial-Arm-Saw-Jedi-Master saw that calculating the cost of that was about to make my head explode, so he just started cutting.

And then he told us that he wasn’t going to charge us. You gotta love tough guys who are softies at heart.

Let’s pause here for a quick grammar lesson. IT’S is the contraction; ITS is the possessive. Just saying.

“The saw blade should return to it’s original position and at that time push the STOP button.” 

Hey, they do math; I do English. 


Somehow we ended up with 53 dominoes, not 60, but who’s counting? (Not “whose” counting, btw.) We also have 2 dominoes that are bigger than the rest, so maybe calling him the Radial-Arm-Saw-Jedi-Master is a bit of an exaggeration.

Seeing as we’ve just recently moved, we have a cabinet stocked to the gills with paint samples that doubled nicely as colors for giant dominoes.

My assistant pulled all 53 pieces of wood from the back of the car.

We then decided we needed to sand the edges since most of them had splintery shards poking out of them. Quality Control (a.k.a. Theo) decided this step was a bit tedious about 6 minutes into it, so he took his break back in the air conditioned house and set up tiny dominoes while the Project Manager completed the job.

It was indeed tedious.

Next step:  painting.

Luckily, we have about 700 empty boxes just lying around. We spread one on the driveway, laid the wooden slabs on top of it, and began to paint.

We were ambitious out of the gate: we picked our 10 favorite color samples and were going to paint 5 dominoes with each color.

But the native got restless about 15 minutes into this segment of the project. Thus, we have several giant dominoes who maintained their natural state. They are our hippie dominoes.

Thankfully, it was about 93 degrees yesterday, so the painted dominoes dried pretty quickly.

We added a spray-coating of clear something-or-other to make them shiny. This helped them aesthetically; they went from being a weirdo’s collection of painted slabs of wood to a weirdo’s collection of shiny, giant [mostly] colored outdoor dominoes.

We are shiny. Pigeons dream about us. 

I must admit:  these things rock the planet.

They are way easier to stack than the smaller dominoes. They also fall slower so in the event of a bobble it’s possible to stop it mid-fall without losing one’s entire track. This also prevents the younger sect from pitching temper tantrums which is crucial to the older sect’s sanity.

The boards were $15.36, the sandpaper was $5.47 and the clear glossy stuff was $3.76, bringing the total cost of the project to less than $25. (Of course, having 18 leftover cans of paint samples saved us a ton–or cost us a ton–however you want to look at it.)

In the end, this was a project well worth doing. I even got to tell Theo about the fabulous stilts my Popster built for me when I was a little kid. I’d pay good money to have a picture of them here with me. They weighed more than I did. But that afternoon spent with my Daddy hammering and nailing wood together after our trip to Handy Andy is one of my most beloved memories of growing up. I can only hope Theo will remember our project just as fondly.

We just spent our entire morning outside building tracks.

Click here to see his amazing video of these babies in action—>The Domino Master hopes you enjoy his video.

Surf’s Up!

This boy…

…my goodness, he’s always been busy.

When he was only 11 months old, we caught him on top of the dryer. He could not even walk yet. We plunked him back down on the floor, asked him how he got up there and then watched in amazement as he palmed his way up the [closed] door of the dryer and flung himself up and onto the top in about 5 seconds flat.

A week later, we heard him calling for us–clinging from the top bannister of the stairs.

Again, the child still wasn’t officially walking yet.

Those straps that come on a highchair? The ones we cut off because we didn’t need them with Jack? After Tucker flipped out of his highchair at 6 months old, we figured out why they were there.

Here he is at not quite 7 months. Jack looks on in awe.

Not enough hands for the task? No worries, man; that’s what a mouth is for.

On tippy-toes looking over a balcony in Cashiers, NC. Tuck was 21 months old, and the drop to the lake below was a good 20 feet or so.

Tuck first went rock-climbing when he was 4.

By age 4 & 1/2, he’d mastered “Route 10,” a crazy hard route which requires one to hang upside down (as in parallel to the floor which is 20 feet below), and defy gravity to shimmy across one stretch in order to complete it. He was the youngest person ever to complete that route atAtlanta Rocks.

The boy has some mad athletic skills and tons of courage.

I love the look of the little girl’s face behind Tucker in this one. He was 2.5 and would jump into the pool whether an adult was there or not.

Tucker’s first time on the SkyWalk at Stone Mountain. He headed straight for the 3rd level.

We figured he’d be a natural at surfing.

We were right.

Russ called up Pipeline Surf Shop in Fernandina and asked if they gave lessons to 7 year olds. The brave souls there had no idea what they were getting into, so they threw a valiant dude named Nick under the bus.

Nick won the surf-school lottery that day. Tuck is a great student when it come to learning about daredevil activities. Nick told us afterwards that most folks only get up one time during their first lesson (which lasts about an hour in the water). Tucker got up on his very first try…and then proceeded to have 10-15 more good rides on top of that one. The last one was amazing; there were random folks all along the beach who were cheering for the tiny kid riding the wave all the way in to the shore. You could see Tuck’s grin as he neared the edge of the beach. To say he was pumped is an understatement. The kid was glowing with pride.

“High five, little dude! That was awesome!”

Tuck’s surf coach, Nick. Tuck adored him, as you can imagine.

How Tuck celebrates a good day on the waves: a fresh strawberry daiquiri at Sliders.

Tucker is already asking to take another lesson when we go back to Amelia towards the end of summer. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes this time out.

Well done, our little athlete. Thanks for making it look so easy. You make the rest of us want to give it a go, too! Hang ten, man. Hang ten.

(And thanks a million to Nick and the awesome crew at Pipeline Surf Shop! You guys are the best around. We’ll see you in a few weeks! Looking forward to a SUP Yoga class!)