A Summer Story of Strawberry Sisters

Summer’s almost over? What?


I agree, Hannah. I feel like I blinked and summer is over.  I know we still have our amazing family vacation to Maine to look forward to next week, and we have had a lot of fun as a family, but it’s hard to wrap my brain around how fast the clock is ticking toward a new school year for my kids, a new career for me, and a new way of life for all of us as we begin the juggle of becoming a household with two working parents.  Good thing the kids had wonderful weeks of camp, awesome adventures with friends, and great days like this one the girls and I shared when Jackson was at VINS camp to remind us to slow down and stop and pick the strawberries.


Don’t mind if we do!



Yes, we drove 40 minutes to pick them ourselves, yes I arrived and only had $4 in cash (enough to buy a pint!), and yes I got pulled over for speeding on the way there.  Almost the most expensive strawberries ever!  Luckily I was let off with a warning so I took my $4 in cash and we headed for the strawberry patch.

It was hot and sunny (note the squinty smiles), but Emmy was very happy to eat her way through the rows of berries all the same.  She was in heaven.

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Hannah doesn’t love strawberries, so she was there more as an observer and a fair weather helper, but it was a good sister adventure regardless.  We had to do something memorable when it was just a ladies day!
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I know we’ll have a few more memorable days before summer really winds down, and I have the perfect company.  These girls are as sweet as they come.  So were the berries!

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A 4th To Remember

A little late commemorating the 4th, as always, but these smiles are too sweet to just forget.  It was the first 4th of July my kids were big enough to wander–a little!–without adult supervision.  You know, Okay, you can go get an ice cream right THERE and then come straight back and I secretly watched them them the whole time.  But they felt big and I knew they were big and I handled it, for the most part, pretty well.  Good thing I have the baby who still needs me! PicMonkey Collage

This year was like every other year–fireworks, face paint, bouncy houses and carnival games–but it was the first year all three felt, well, big.  Notice a theme here?  Maybe I’m nostalgic, but having all three stay awake for the fireworks no problem was a bit mind-blowing to this mom who sometimes thinks that the 4th of July sleep-deprivation hangover is more trouble than its worth. (Shhh! That’s sacrilege! Don’t tell JDubbs!)

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Although in Hannah’s case, I do love a good set of fireworks!  PicMonkey Collage1 IMG_9061

So does she, apparently! Not to be outdone, here comes Emmy, who asked for a 4th of July princess or something? I think she was thinking more along the lines of Elsa, but with all the compliments she got about her original, patriotic facepaint, she didn’t take it off until the next day, after she’d been in the pool and had no choice!

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In the end, everyone was happy, especially me when I have my family up from Massachusetts–including two busy teenagers–and my dad, plus Jason’s family.  It just doesn’t feel like the 4th without lots of family gathered around picnic blankets and late-night snuggles waiting for fireworks.
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Maybe next year we’ll sign up for the family pentathlon! Now wouldn’t that be memorable!?

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My Emmy is the bravest, silliest, sweetest, most wonderful girl I know.  For six months this year, she took ballet classes after school in preparation for her first recital showcased in a real theater on a real stage! Every Monday we drove to her class, scurried inside, whipped her into her leotard and tights, tucked her hair into the best bun Mommy could accomplish and then off she went to class.  She learned the five positions, how to tendu and plié, and she learned self-discipline and the rewards that come with hard work.  Being a ballet dancer is no easy task, but she looked forward to class every week and always bounced happily downstairs at the end.

As the date of her recital neared, Emmy was very excited.  I look back and wonder, Did I imagine her excitement? Was I being a stage mom and pushing her onstage? but the answer is no.  She worked hard, she loved her routine, she wanted to please her teacher and dance with her classmates, and getting a fancy ribbon and flower for her hair was just a plus.  She was a little nervous, but at the rehearsal, she was hamming it up and having a great time dancing, and my heart was so excited for how she had grown.

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She was all smiles as she took her seat and we waited for the show to begin.  I was so happy to be right across the aisle from her, where I could send her an encouraging wave and smile or blow her one more kiss before she went on.  This is the last picture I took of her before the lights went out…


…and it was almost my last of the night.

After the house lights went down, she absolutely panicked.  I mean panicked.  Hyperventilating, sobbing, trying to get to us, losing-her-mind meltdown.  I didn’t thinks he’d go on.  I didn’t think she would even make it through the show.  I scurried over to her spot and she sat in my lap and sobbed while I frantically thought of what to say.  How do I encourage her to go on if she is terrified?  How do I push her if she isn’t ready?  But then I thought, I know she is ready.  I saw it in the rehearsal.  She danced in groups of three with her friends, holding their hands and smiling as she peeped through the window between her classmates.  I know she could do it, and that she would regret it if she didn’t.  I just had to remind her that she could, while making her think it was her decision and supporting her if she decided she couldn’t.  Going up there for herself wasn’t persuasive enough. I needed something that would make her put aside her terror of being onstage in front of hundreds of people, the fear of messing up outweighing all her pride and excitement.  So I reminded her about her routine–thank goodness I had seen part of dress rehearsal or I wouldn’t have known any of it–and about how dancers depend on each other for spacing and for transitions and to tell a story.  I reminded her that she was the middle of the group of three, and that without her, her friends wouldn’t know where to go in their windows.  That’s when she put her head up and considered.  Maybe she couldn’t get up there and dance for herself and for all the hard work she had put it, but she would get up there for her friends.

And she did.

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Maybe there weren’t any of the excited smiles I saw throughout that day, maybe she wasn’t exactly as sassy as I knew she could be.  But she stuck it out and went up there to be there for her friends, and for that, I was even more proud of her than I could have thought possible.


Of course, as soon as she was offstage, all fear was forgotten and she was thrilled and all smiles once again, pleased with her accomplishment and said she had fun.  The trauma was over, and she enjoyed the rest of the performances and was happy to go up with the big girl dancers for their final bow.  I’m so proud of my little dancer, not only for how dedicated she was to dance this year, but because she really did learn what it takes to be a friend and part of a team.

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Brava, my amazing ballerina!

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Who Has Time For The Big Camera Anyway?

This summer is absolutely flying by.  The girls embark on their first week of camp together today–Hannah, at camp! How is that possible!?–while Jackson and I have one week of mornings together, just the two of us, for the first time since he became a big brother.  A delightful chance, amid the chaos of a whirlwind summer, and three kids growing up faster than I would have imagined possible during my first few years getting to know my life as a mother in Vermont.

Now I look back on those long summers at home full of small moments and happiness with bittersweet nostalgia, especially since preparing for my new job and enduring two graduate courses are enough to keep my every spare moment occupied. I have had some really great adventures, including spending the better part of two days alone in Boston while Jason was at a conference, meeting up with dear friends, shopping for my new professional wardrobe, sleeping, reading, and relaxing.  Jackson spent a wonderful week at a new camp that he really enjoyed but left him quite exhausted, taking the girls strawberry picking and last but not least, Emmy has learned to swim!  All in a busy summer month’s work!  I cherish these smiling faces!

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Even though I barely have time to remember my name, let alone my camera, I am ever the more grateful for the tiny little camera in my pocket at all times in my cell phone, if only to record the fleeting memories of the fastest-flying summer I can remember!  Fast or slow, every summer with these three is memorable, and I’m glad I have the pictures to prove it!

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Family Love

What started out as our annual Father’s Day photo gift showing how much we love Daddy, which is just shocking when you compare it to years past (who are these children and when did they get so darn big??) turned into a fabulous family-filled Father’s Day weekend with cousins and memories galore.  I hope our very favorite Daddy of all enjoyed his celebration!

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They spent days at the pool and evenings laughing and riding bikes in the driveway with cousins, and with all five of them at Nana and Papa’s house, it was a bustling, funny weekend to remember.  Who brought the Nerf guns??

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I tried desperately to get all five of them to take a decent photo together.  But when you are nearly 8, nearly 7, just six, almost 4 and just 3, following directions can be a bore.  A for effort, though, my loves!

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I could show you the two photos I took at the Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival, before all hell broke loose and we left with two girls absolutely losing their minds and crying their eyes out over sand art and lemonade, but that wouldn’t be the real story.  The real story is that Jason and I high-tailed it out of there as quickly as our exhausted children could follow, crashing from late evening fun with family and long days in the sun.  This wasn’t the year for portraits, but these kids sure do love each other, as we love the best Daddy in the world, JDubbs.


We’ll just keep those memories in our mental memory boxes this year, shall we?

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Jumping For Joy! The Way Life Should Be!

Boy, do our kids love Maine!  We do, too, and when we surprised them with an unexpected trip to celebrate my birthday/Father’s Day/the end of the school year, they couldn’t contain their excitement.  They were jumping for joy!

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We all love the glorious family time that comes when arrive in Maine–cell phones suddenly don’t work, Daddy gets a couple extra days off, bedtimes get thrown to the wind.  Plus there’s a big old ocean that we don’t get to see very often.  If you have been to Maine in early summer, you know that ocean can be COLD!  But these little Vermonters are not afraid of a little chill, and nothing can keep them from exploring and leaping and frolicking from the moment we get to the shore until we drag them away.

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Little H was not a fan of the ocean last year.  She kept her feet firmly planted on the sand.  All winter, when we talked about our upcoming trip to Maine, she would say, “But I don’t like big waves, right, Mom?”  I kept suggesting that maybe she does like waves, perhaps just the little ones, and she was willing to be brave this time around.  I was proud of her, my little sassy pants who doesn’t back down easily.

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Maybe the joy of the older two was just too contagious to resist.

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I haven’t had my big camera in my hands for this long in months.  I was enjoying myself as much as them.  There’s nothing like the ocean and my kids to inspire me once again.  Oh, yes, and Jason is pretty darn great, too!

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Even I got in the photos every now and then, thanks to Jason and the kids!

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I can sit on the shore and watch the tide bury my feet for hours.  Hannah was happy to join me.  I think we started a trend!

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Maine! The Way Life Should Be!


We all certainly think so!

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Small and Special

Our life is so full of transition right now–transitioning to our summer routine, later bedtimes, less structure, more spontaneity–that picking up my camera has become a bit of an afterthought.  It takes a momentous occasion, like our trip to Maine last week (photos forthcoming) or Father’s Day weekend for me to remember, Oh yeah! I should probably bring my camera!  But some days, when the moments are not so earth-shattering, but small and special, taking a mental picture just isn’t enough.  I need to remember the light and the moment and everything about them forever, without trusting to memory.  After all, a girl is only six once.


I was walking out to the front yard and stopped dead in my tracks.  Maybe it was the light behind her, dappling the newly sprouted leaves of the magnolia tree.  Maybe it was her hair or her skirt or something about her expression that made me think of the older girl to come, but I couldn’t just walk on by and a cell phone photo just wouldn’t do.  Lashes and tendrils like those deserve the big camera.


Now the question becomes, better in color or black and white?


My big camera may not always be in hand these days, but with moments like these, it’s worth stopping to commemorate the small and special.

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