Ten years ago today I married Andy in the pouring rain.

As a teenager I would imagine my adult self. She would dive into a series of passionate relationships, having her heart broken easily and often. It would be ok because she felt alive and ready for everything that feeling alive involved. She would feverishly make art and travel the world after college and maybe never settle into one place.

I didn’t imagine that, at 19, I would fall in love with the boy I’d had a crush on since I was 11. And that would be it. Just the one passionate relationship. No broken hearts. We were a meteoric collision where two things awaken and strengthen simply by being together. I was stunned to know love like this existed. Love that made me feel the most alive, the most certain, the most vulnerable.

We went to a concert last night. Our babysitter arrived at 6 when I was in the shower, Andy was vacuuming up tumbleweeds of pet hair and the kids were laying in the driveway with stuffed animals. We weren’t ready for her. Or, actually, we were so ready for her. We were tired. We drank espresso, kissed our kids and left.

I didn’t know Todd Snider‘s music very well. But Andy knows me and booked tickets long ago. We paid a little extra to have seats at a table which we proudly noticed makes us in the “older” bracket of concert goers. I remember a time when the cheapest ticket was the ticket we always booked, when we happily stood for hours smushed in the front beer-splashing quadrant of show. Well, I guess we still do that at Pearl Jam but this show felt more like my favorite poetry reading in a friend’s living room.

Elizabeth Cook opened and the beauty of her voice and her words brought tears to my eyes three times in 45 minutes. She told stories that gripped the room and I thought about that power people have when they are doing their thing – the real thing they are meant to do – and the universe shivers with joy.

I leaned into Andy’s side, his two hands clamshelled around my right hand. He has held my hand that way for almost 19 years. I studied it last night. His hands have aged but they hold the same delicate shape, like a prayer around mine.

Elizabeth Cook sang out about trying to be in a room without taking it on and I sat motionless at the relevancy of everything she spoke. She wrote:

But I do tend to fuse things, confuse things, sometimes with sparks, sometimes like a lava melt, sometimes backed by a tank of compressed air ready to blow, sometimes quiet as a slow leak.

Todd Snider came on stage and continued the singing poetry slam, inspiring the room with his humor and voice and word choice. The difference with this concert and others I’ve been to was the attention. People were so tuned into the frequency set by the performers. We leaned in, listened and learned.

Snider’s words hung in the air.

A little out of place, a little out of tune
Sorta lost in space, racin’ the moon
Climbin’ the walls of this hurricane
Still overall I guess I cant complain

We vowed things to each other 10 years ago. We promised to try, to support, to challenge, to love, to tell the truth. We are doing it. I am proud of us. Last night, we listened to our soundtrack. Making out, messing up, faith, practice, terror, wonder, growth, ache, intention, opening. Trying to do things for all the right reasons.




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The last days of August were suffocated by wildfire smoke. Our valley an endless, disorienting, gray haze that hid the mountains and the sun. We woke in the mornings with sore throats and headaches. Ash rained from the sky, blanketing tomato leaves and picnic tables with gray layer of burned up tree. We stayed inside a lot, where the air was barely better.

the sun, 6pm

I found the greatest relief in water. The invigorating, cleansing purity. Jumping in electrified my skin with goosebumps, washed the smoke out of my hair and felt like a giant gulp of fresh air. Submerged, I occupied an unpolluted, hopeful suspension.

The day before school started, I felt desperate to be out of the haze, away from homestead duties, having fun with my daughters. We couldn’t escape the smoke so we drove into it, through it to one of our favorite little lakes.

Ruby and Margot were tucked into the back, eating cinnamon rolls the size of their head, Mabel between them.

Ruby: Margot! Smell my feet! I think they smell gross!
Margot: No way sister. Hey, mom do you think the earth is light or heavy?

The smoke grew thicker, visibility diminishing. We passed a fire crew camp and I thought maybe this was a bad idea. But kept driving thankful for my car’s air filtered air conditioning, thinking – at the very least – we would drive to the lake, jump in and head home.

Turning down the dusty, cracked dirt road toward the lake, Margot was the first to notice the air lighten a bit. Helicopters flew overhead fetching buckets of water from the valley lakes, hauling it into the mountains where the flames thrived.

At the lake, the wind blew just right and we landed in a tiny patch of clean(er) air, letting enough sunlight through to cast shadows. Shadows! We hadn’t seen shadows in over a week.

Oh mama! It’s perfrect!

I smiled at one of Ruby’s very last mispronunciations. Just last week she asked for breakfast and broke my heart. I will forever miss breakfrast. And I hope she forever says Lake Maroony Ann instead of Lake Mary Ronan. Continue reading

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Braid of Change

We’ve been living well this summer. Lots of camping, swimming, playing. Being, breathing outside. I often say that I am at my best when in nature and it’s true. I believe it for my kids too. And I believe it for us, together as a family. I say we don’t subscribe to any particular faith but do: The Church of Outside.

In the tent, Margot still pinches Ruby in protest of her wearing her hair just like her big sister. On the river, Ruby still turns inside out when she feels a thing is taking too long. It’s not like the journey into the wild alleviates all our suffering. But it all feels so much more darling and manageable out there. We escape to a microcosm where we can’t get away from anything (and yet we are away from everything!); where building a castle out of river rocks with the sibling that just hucked a Go Fish! deck at your head is the meditative answer.

I am always completely honest here and this next subject will not be an exception: I feel dread over the start this year’s school start. Yes, I feel excitement and joy with and for my kids, but me in my selfish little brain and heart? I ache with this change. The truth is, even though my daughters are perfectly happy growing taller and getting older, I’d push the rewind button if it were available to me. Without even checking in with them or my husband.

August 26 marks the end of 7 1/2 years where I’ve been with one or two kids most nearly all day, every day. During these first years of motherhood, I have discovered a deep well of fulfillment, peace and mission. The entire trajectory of my career and lifestyle bent with their births in the most surprising and satisfying way.

Well-intentioned friends are quick to remind me that I write and make things and the expansive time of a school day will feel like mimosas on a mountaintop to my creativity. My autonomous siren will be all “Heyaaaay you sexy six hour chunk of time! Wanna have a threesome with the laptop? I’ll bring my attentive self and so much coffee. Let’s go for a run first. We will get shit done.” They remind me that it’s good for my kids to have enriching experiences without me. My imaginings of their unfiltered thoughts are cut the cord; don’t lose yourself; chill on your sentimentality sister. 

I’m not afraid of being alone in our home, or – more to the point – I am not nervous about “what I’ll do with myself” when I’m not with my girls. I look forward to throwing my guts at some projects that have been brewing in my brain for years, waiting for the time…holy shit. This time. Continue reading

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We are all just covered in worm poop anyways.

I mean to get up at 5:30 this morning. 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 how I best fill this time –  before Ruby stammers down the hallway, river-water-bedhead ablaze and ready.

So, instead we dive into bagels with cream cheese and then again when big sister wakes. I hammer out some work that needs to get done while mothering — this duality either leaves me feeling super-heroic or completely lame. Usually a combination of the two.

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.

Hey mom! Look! We pulled all the packing boxes and fabric scraps from your studio out onto the grass! We built a boat. We will put on a play tonight.

The morning is demanding of me from all fronts. I feel stretched and inept. 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 my kids more.

She got it. So did I.

The reality is: my work is in front of my kids. So it naturally seems like 1000% more to their noticing, growing brains. I need to get up earlier. Or work less. Or get better at not feeling like an asshole when I am emailing during the *moment* my daughter perfects a one-handed roundoff. Probs, I need to do all of those things. Or none of them. Or somewhere in the middle.

Today, 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’s 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 Continue reading

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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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