We are all just covered in worm poop anyways.

I mean to get up at 5:30. To go for a run and get some work done before the kids woke. But I keep re-closing my eyelids until 6:40 and then I have 23 minutes – just enough time to make a coffee and sit to think about what I want to do before my kids wake –  when Ruby stammers down the hallway, river-water-bedhead ablaze and ready.

So, instead we dive into bagels with cream cheese and again when big sister wakes. I sew and email around pinning capes over shoulders and reading books.

Mama can we design and make this dress today? I think it will be really easy!

Hold on, babe. I have to finish this and then I really want to see your design.

Mama I am STARVING. I have never been this hungry in my life. I know I had two breakfasts but I think I have two stomachs and this one is empty.

Ok, love. I’m on it. One sec.

Mom! Look! We made a list of all the things we want to do with you today and tomorrow. But if we get to them in three days, that’d be alright too.

I love this list and I love you. I hope we get to so much of this.

Mama my sister jumped right on my heart! I seriously feel like my actual heart is bruised! Or maybe even broken! And it hurt my feelings!

Come here and snuggle and then we’ll go talk with your sister.

Mama, I need your help finding that pink sock with the kind of white stripey things. I saw it last winter and I really need it right now.

I don’t know that sock. I will keep a look out. Can I help you find another for now?

Moooooooooom! You said you’d make more food! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh…

On it. Coming.

The morning is demanding of me from all fronts. This is the meat and potatoes of work-from-home challenge for me. My kids know I have to get things done but my work is so nebulous to them. Their dad leaves and comes home; his work is a romanticized mystery. I am “always working” as Margot recently noticed out loud. After I pulled the dagger out of my heart, I over-explained to her that my work is at home and allows flexibility and freedom and I choose this to be with her and her sister more. She got it. So did I.

This morning, I work and mother as best I can. And at noon I say,

What do you want to do? Let’s go.

We decide on a picnic of almonds, apples, graham crackers, goldfish and jolly ranchers. And picking huckleberries.

We unravel as we drive north. Cake plays on the radio and I know all the words. My kids are awestruck.

Windows down, from the valley floor brown to high alpine green.

I need your arms around me,
I need to feel your touch,
I need your understanding, I need your love,
So much

I should get the oil changed, I think. And rotate the tires.

So mom we turn left and then right? And up? Right again? This looks so different without snow. It makes me kind of sad. I miss winter.

We turn corners, more corners over washboard, a dust cloud behind our aging car. My kids squeal with joy. I smile big. Ten and two.

I need to remember to order envelopes when I get home. I need to pick peas, prep that order and haul recycling.

Mama do you know what I don’t like about fire and death?

What’s that?

They can both happen at any moment. I mean I could die right now.

Well, yes.

But that would be, like, super rare.

Yes. (long pause)

Anyway, I wonder what the rarest pokemon card is?

You tell me that you love me so,
You tell me that you care,
But when I need you,
You’re never there

We pass one car. He waves. I love that people always, always wave on Montana back roads.

On the phone,
Long long distance,
Always through such,
Strong resistance

Mom, how do you know these words to this song? I’ve never heard it. Can you turn it down?

When first you say,
You’re too busy,
I wonder if you,
Even miss me

Mom you know what I don’t get? If you open your mouth there’s no blood pouring out. But if you cut yourself, blood pours out. Also, what exactly is a tornado?

Never there,
You’re never there,
You’re never, ever,
Ever ever there,

I suddenly wish for the Cake album I gave to Goodwill 10 years ago. And Weezer. If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away. And Violent Femmes. Let me go on like a blister in the sun.

Things lift as we ascend. Windows down, sucking air into the metal container that carries us up and into.

Mama, can I look through your purse? Do you have a book in there or something? I want to find something that confuses me. I like figuring stuff out.

We park and walk. And walk. And enter. I tell my daughters we are foragers. I define foraging and they make up songs about foraging as we wander in search of the little navy blue berries.

Margot. Don’t move. Don’t talk. And then butterflies and crickets will come to us.

We find them on a slippery shale slope. We each fall at different times, giving the other two an opportunity to stand strong and help the fallen upright. The girls wear leotards, mismatched socks and side ponytails. With skirts in my back pack, *just in case*.

We spend hours up there, wandering and wondering and collecting. Foraging. Ruby proudly, carefully collects all her berries in her basket. Margot ditches her basket and elects to eat as she goes. Ruby falls and spills the whole lot. We help her pick them up but they’re dusty and busted open. She’s heartbroken. And Margot bemoans her own empty basket.

Pride and anguish are cousins.

Margot says she’s happy to have eaten her share because she feels good and can’t spill. Ruby says she’s ok with what we couldn’t pick up because maybe her berry seeds will grow more huckleberries next year.

And besides, she says. We are all just covered in worm poop anyways.

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hump day nuggets: full-on(ly)

When driving up to Flathead Lake last weekend, Margot said,

I am totally, full-only so excited for this weekend.

(pronounced like full on lee)

And, just like that, full-only is my new favorite descriptor of commitment. The Full On! of the 90s needed to turn into an adverb.

Our good friends just got a boat and for two weekends in a row we’ve been the lucky tag-alongs. Perhaps it is their increasing strength and confidence in the water, perhaps it’s my increasing awareness of the preciousness of our cool, clean water, perhaps it’s because my life for the last seven years is about to change with my youngest starting kindergarten in two months. Whatever the case, I’m noticing it all. The strength, confidence, water, the time leading up to our daily rhythm changing.

I am so happy to have had Ruby at home this last year, schooling by my side. It went even better than I could have imagined: she thrived and learned, I thrived and learned. And, we have decided to enroll in public school this fall. I haven’t responded to many of your questions about our educational choices because it is a subject that belongs to my daughters and because we are figuring it out as we go — fully (full on-ly) aware (and expecting) that what feels right for our family can change. For now, our local school is right. We do plan to homeschool intermittently over the next years. And, of course – as my husband always reminds me when I am spinning out over what is best for us (oh I do think about and read about this all so very much) – we always school at home through our own love of learning and desire to be and grow with our children.


:: Mermaids.

:: Always the first one awake.

:: Over dinner a few weeks ago, we developed a family summer mission statement. Continue reading

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It’s hot. Make coconut rice with peas + sage.

It’s summer. I don’t recall a time when temperatures were 104 degrees in June, when fishing was halted for the season, campfires so cautionary, when the creek’s water feels like August.

Tomatoes reaching to hold garlic’s twisted hand, kale leaning on cabbage’s shoulder. Flea beetles feasting on potatoes and beans. I plan to blast them with some chrysanthemum love this week.

I shared a photo on instagram a few days ago with this caption

Summer dinners must be ready in 7 minutes or less: fresh baguette oven-toasted with hummus, pesto, sharp cheddar. Piled with lettuce and arugula. Barely blanched peas, Cherries.

This season – with it’s sunset frisbee, playing at the creek until 9, falling into bed smelling of the sun and the earth – well, I don’t take much time to cook. Thankfully, this season – with it’s bounty of fresh food at the ready – allows for easy, delicious dinner in a few minutes. Maybe more than 7, but that’s a good thing to shoot for.

I am inclined to start a new series of Simple Summer Dinners but I think I have proven I am not much the serial type. There was Hump Day Nuggets, In My Grandma’s Kitchen, Heirloom Kitchen

I miss those series a little bit. I think I like the structure until I don’t. Or maybe I get distracted by other, more pressing things in my brain. The truth is I have piles of stories I’d like to tell, recipes I’d like to share, etc. Maybe someday everything here will be tidy and contain my thoughts as they unfold. But I don’t think so; really, that’s not honest for me. Life seems to tug me deeper into the woods, further down stream, higher up the mountain. For now, the woods, the river, the mountain — they keep my ideas safe.

Anyway! I made a simple rice number that got the thumbs up from both kids and grown ups, several times over. In fact, Ruby asked if we could have it every day for the rest of the summer. I told her it is a deal if she promises to pick up the 317 tiny pieces of paper she cuts and tosses all about the house every day. She’s thinking on it. Continue reading

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what do you believe in?

Mama, what do you believe in?

The question fires from the backseat as I steer our car down the hill to town.

I believe in love and kindness and honesty. I believe my perspective and approach creates the powerful current I get to swim with.

Over the railroad tracks. Right hand turn. A woman biking with tattooed legs. Friends sitting with coffee. I stop for a family to cross the street.

I believe in nurturing a strong connection to nature. I believe in good communication, trusting your gut and dinner together every day. I believe is all kinds of things.

We stop at a red light. A woman in heels hurries across the street while laughing into her phone. Cars drive. North, south, east, west. People are heading places.

In the rearview mirror Ruby sits, tucked into her pink carseat. Her fuzzy blond halo catches the morning sun, her hands crossed in her lap. She wears her current favorite uniform of capri leggings and a tight-fitting shirt. We are on our way to gymnastics.

What do you believe in? I ask.

Oh I don’t know. I’m just trying to figure it out is all.

Last week I came across a photo of Ruby. It is one of the only photos I took of her in the hospital. I was afraid to document anything that might be too painful to look at in the future should she die. It also felt wrong to take pictures of her so fucking helpless. Instead I sat and stared at her, willing my dark thoughts and increasing detachment to brighten, reattach. Continue reading

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putzing: deck nuggets

We spend the cold months shut in our home, fire blazing, puffy coat layering, soup eating. It always feels like a miracle when we can leave the sliding glass door open all day, the scent of cottonwood a welcome guest in our living room.

Our home gives us plenty but sometimes we do feel packed in our small living space. When the sun is high and the air warm, we enjoy the ease of eating, sitting, living in our outside spaces.

And I just love putzing (as my grandma and mom say) around, arranging and readying the additional “rooms” we have for five months of the year. Just as the chives emerge and the bees stir, I can be found digging around our garden shed for pots and chairs.

I get asked a lot on instagram about where did you buy/what kind of plant/how did you make. I love these conversations as I pour a lot of thought and heart into my home and I enjoy interacting with others who do as well. There are so many good ideas out there. So, today I thought I’d do a little peek of our cheery deck! Come on. Have a seat.

Wait, first let me show you what our deck and living room look like right this minute. We are in the middle of laying tile in our kitchen – the exciting next phase of  our ongoing project.

When curating our outdoor spaces, I carry the same set of guidelines as I have for our indoor spaces: Continue reading

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