The peak of blackberry season

We planted blackberries four years ago, and every year we watch the plant bloom,  grow berries, and then every year birds, squirrels, chipmunks, or some other form of evil gets to them before we can. This year, just like every year before it, we watched the plant bloom, grow glossy red berries, and then, we watched in amazement as

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Semantics

Semantics

If David and Mary Virginia are both awake, they are bickering. They fight in the car, during meals, in the stroller. Whenever I’m on the verge of making me LOSE MY EVER-LOVING MIND, I try to remember that they’re kids and this is normal kid stuff. Having siblings is just one way we learn to interact,

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The arrival – Thomas’s birth story, part 2

The arrival – Thomas’s birth story, part 2

This isn’t the craziest birth story you’ll ever read. It isn’t the most dramatic or fastest or the closest call. But it is my craziest birth story. I’ve already told this story several times, and each time I feel a bit like I’m lying, or at least exaggerating because the timeline just doesn’t feel real. Whenever I tell it, I

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What little boys are made of

The other day during breakfast, David leaned over and whispered into his sister’s ear. Then he looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I just told Mary Virginia she’s going to die soon.” He informed me like it was something we’d talked about ahead of time, and then he went right back to eating his pancakes. The

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Here comes Salty Dog Cottontail

To make this video even more adorable, imagine Mary Virginia wearing a soft pink smocked dress with embroidered bunnies instead of the oversized Salty Dog Cafe shirt she asks to wear every day. While you’re at it, imagine that, instead of screaming “Why’s he not in a cage?” from the other room, David is singing along.

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A cat scorned

A cat scorned

The past few weeks have been really cold and snowy, so we haven’t been letting Brigham outside like we normally do. He’s spending all his extra time looking for places to hide from the kids, and gazing out the window dreaming about…what do cats dream about? …Autonomy? Whenever I write a post about our cat, I use

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Semantics

Semantics

David: Mommy, is tomorrow Friday? Me: No, tomorrow is Tuesday. David: But it’s not raining! Me: That’s because it rains some days but not other days. Since we’ve never really talked very much about the days of the week, I wonder if he’s asking these questions because he’s learning about them in school. So I ask: Me: If yesterday was

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Semantics

Semantics

While I was pregnant with them, I knitted blankets for both of my babies. A green one for David, a purple one for Mary Virginia. They have their initials on them, and as soon as they’re born, I use it all the time to try to convince them to choose it as their comfort blanket. These take a

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King David and Queen Mary

A friend of mine is pregnant with her second child and she asked me for advice on handling two. I drew a blank. After all, we’re still taking it day by day over here. Then it hit me, start praying for their sibling relationship now. Before Mary Virginia was born, I was mostly worried about how

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Portraits of my son

Portraits of my son

One of Tom’s Christmas presents to me this year was a photography class. And, before I go any further, talk about a slam-dunk Christmas from Tom. I got him a jacket he didn’t want and underwear. I want to take a moment to publicly apologize. After we, um, lost our DSLR this fall, we upgraded to a

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Doing our part to perpetuate stereotypes

The other day we went to Target and left with ANOTHER new toy car for David, and ANOTHER doll for Mary Virginia. If you know anything about gender stereotyping and how toys perpetuate gender roles, then my shopping trip is grooming David to be an engineer at Ford Motor Company and Mary Virginia to flunk third grade math. If

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Semantics

Semantics

  Last night we went to a Thanksgiving celebration with friends, and we were driving home a bit later than we should have; not respecting bedtime quite as closely as we promised we would. When we stay out too late, Mary Virginia is not a happy traveller. While she cries the entire way home, the rest of us

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Scenes of fall

Scenes of fall

My mom mentioned the other day that the leaves were beautiful at home — one of the prettiest falls she can remember. It occurred to me that now that I live in Richmond, a relatively flat city, I miss out on the fall colors in the mountains. When I was growing up I took the

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A morning in the salt mines

Mary Virginia is just at the very beginnings of being interested in coloring. She’ll hold a marker, draw a few lines on the paper, and a few moments later try to climb on the table. The only reason I’ve even started “coloring” with her is because she wants to do whatever her brother is doing, so

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Semantics

Semantics

Even though I work really hard to limit his screen time, David is a full-on TV-loving kid. He’ll watch anything, anytime, anywhere and if the TV is off, he asks me non-stop if we can turn it on. He tries different techniques all the time: “I have a good idea, Mommy! Let’s watch TV!” Or my

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Pumpkin patch

If you follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, I’m amandaleighvt), you know that my family’s version of a trip to the pumpkin patch was a trip to Kroger to buy pumpkins. There are pumpkins on my porch; everyone’s happy. No thanks to me, they did get to visit a real pumpkin patch, too. A

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Semantics

David was sitting on my lap reading books, and he started to flop around and get rough like toddlers do, so I asked him to stop… Me: David, please don’t jump on Mommy. David: Why? Me: Because that hurts Mommy. I’m not wild like you, I’m old. He stops and moves on to something else…a few

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Also three years old

David is three, which means this blog is three, too. Just a few days after he was born, in the late morning while he was snoozing beside me in bed I wrote the first post. That’s not entirely true. Tom started it months earlier. He created the URL and wrote the first eight posts chronicling our Fifty

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Naptime hostage

David has taken almost zero naps since he turned three. We still go through the motions, though, every day. After lunch we read a book, turn off the light, close the blackout shades, and I cover him with his blankets just the way he likes it — white blanket first, then green blanket. I give him

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A sophisticated palate

A sophisticated palate

Can you tell what Mary Virginia is chewing on? It’s an onion. A raw onion. It’s the raw onion I stashed under her crib to try to heal her ear infection. She found it and walked around the house gnawing on it. Mary Virginia loves raw onions. Every time I slice an onion, she cries

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When the sun came out

When the sun came out

I already mentioned that our vacation was mostly rainy and overcast. In fact, it was SO rainy and overcast, that I can only remember putting sunscreen on my fair-haired, fair-skinned babies a grand total of one time. I know, I know, you can still get burned when it’s cloudy. But when it’s cloudy, raining, and you’re huddled

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The three-year-old class

The three-year-old class

This silly boy started school last week. My goodness he’s grown so much since last year. He wouldn’t stand still for photos, but I like this next one anyway because you can see his shoes. Just before we walked out the door, David ran to his room and grabbed these shoes. He hasn’t worn them

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Catching up

Last weekend was both my birthday and Labor Day weekend. Wait. No, that’s wrong. It was two weekends ago. Slow down, September. Traditionally, Labor Day marks the end of the summer; pools close, we put away our white pants, and I can commence rolling my eyes at people who actually look forward to fall. But summer can’t

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My water dog

Tom’s parents have a lake house on the same street as the lake house my parents have owned since the 70s. Tom and I were actually dating when his parents bought the property, and when they did we just decided to get married because otherwise it’d be too awkward. When I was a kid, my dad would throw

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Kickoff

We’re celebrating this weekend. The sort of celebrating that calls for standing in the front yard wearing a pajama shirt waving a flag. All before 8 a.m. Today is my 32nd birthday and tomorrow the Hokies kickoff their football season. Here’s to the start of a great year. A year in which maybe we’ll get around to

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Snugglebuddies

Snugglebuddies

Every now and then, especially when there’s a dog-, um, cat-pile on my couch, I like to remind myself why Brigham is in our family. When Tom and I first got married, our first home was near a lot of restaurants, so we had a few unwelcome cockroaches. We heard that cats could help with cockroaches,

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Adversaries

My parents still live in the house I grew up in, and it’s awesome because I get to see my kids exploring the woods I used to explore, swimming in the pool I used to swim in, and sledding down the same hills I used to sled down. And they do things that we never

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Semantics

First, some context. David likes to ask me what people say, what inanimate objects say, or what people are going to say. Then he makes me do a full mock conversation about, for example, what the car in front of us is saying. It’s saying, “You can follow me!” It’s  a cute routine, and it can

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Adding to our arsenal

The other night I snuck into Mary Virginia’s room and put a half an onion under her crib. I didn’t tell Tom because I knew he’d think I was crazy. And, ok, I thought it was a little crazy, too. It’s just that she’s been fussy and pulling on her ears and, by now, all

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Setting him up for perennial heartbreak

Fanatics, the leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, invited me to be part of their Future Fanatics campaign to show how the super-fans of tomorrow are getting their start. Fanatics.com has everything from MLB hats to football jerseys from your favorite college team. Or if you still need a World Cup jersey, they’ve got those, too.

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Semantics

Semantics

Last Sunday we had an unusually hard time getting ourselves and the kids ready for church. By the time we were all dressed and had everyone’s bags packed, and were walking out the door, church had already started. We loaded everyone into the car, and as we drove Tom and I discussed the intricacies of

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Adding to our social circle

Even though Mary Virginia is a freshly-minted one year old, I still think of her as an itty bitty baby. But nothing makes my itty bitty baby seem like a monster, more than seeing her next to an actual newborn. Welcome, Baby Rosie. Mary Virginia would love nothing more than to liberate you from that

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Freestanding

Freestanding

Mary Virginia has been doing this for a while now — standing on her own — but capturing it has been maybe my most challenging photography so far. She likes to stand where support (usually my torso) is nearby, and since she’s so close it’s hard to fit her whole body in the frame. Plus,

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22/52

22/52

I’ve been following along with a photo project at Practising Simplicity: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014. I take pictures of my kids every week — almost every day — but this is one of the few portraits. This photo captured a unique moment and made me pause. An hour

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Spring

SPRING IS HERE! Let’s all pop a Claritin and go roll around in a bunch of pollen because it’s not going to snow again FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS! The transition seasons are wonderful — capricious, but wonderful. And while the chill of fall if foreboding, the warmth of spring is exciting. The only thing

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