nuggets: how bout we do some seasonal bits

I keep coming here trying to decide what to publish. I’ve been writing. About the confusion and truth of life and death — the dance of a life ending the day before a fifth birthday. About grieving with my husband and kids and without our dog. A friend pointed this out to me: the most unfair and painful part is that I want my dog’s love, cuddles and walks to get over her own death.

I will share more here about Alice’s passing. Today I share seasonal bits that make me happy. It’s complicated because the joy of cutting a tree is sad without our girl running up the hillside and the fun in the advent scavenger hunt is unbelievably quieter without our girl wagging and hopping beside the kids as they hunt. I’ve noticed that with every painful moment there is something beautiful to witness, that even the pain can be beautiful in its authenticity. And I’ve noticed laughter. Man I love to laugh.

It snowed a few days ago. The big, meandering quiet kind. Margot said:

Wow. I like, FEEL Alice. It’s like she is in the snow or something. Is that what you mean by her spirit? I really think her spirit is in that falling snow.

Yes, that.

:: I do so enjoy decorating and arranging our home this time of year. It’s a solid shot of brightness and levity. Plus we will have a huge houseful this year, making the jolliness extra amplified.

:: My favorite new addition is the tiny, sparkly peacock that I attached to our bird feeder. I wondered if it would detract the droves of finches, nuthatches et al that feed here but on the contrary, they are unaffected. I like to think they enjoy their new always-gazing-over-shoulder pal.

:: We always cut our tree on our friend’s property the weekend after Ruby’s birthday. This year we went on Thanksgiving day because we had our big feast with friends on Wednesday. Honestly, it was a hard day: the big exhale after birthday party, company, Thanksgiving. We settled into the distraction-free realization that Alice wasn’t there. We all kept seeing her, looking for her, hearing her. On the drive home the strap that held the tree to the car whipped in the wind against the window. Margot pointed out that it sounded exactly like Alice’s wagging tail against the inside of the car when she heard us approaching. It did. We drove under a giant full rainbow set against graphite sky. We saw mountain lion tracks and bushes that looked like dogs.

:: Remember the advent calendar I made and posted about and then one reader gently pointed out that 6 rows x 3 pockets = 18, not 24? Ahem. It was a challenge to keep the goodies hidden anyway so we switched to notes with clues that lead the kids to a treasure (special bonus: I can squeeze two notes into the middle pocket because 6×4=24 you know). A daily scavenger hunt! I like to make it an activity: carousel tokens and then we go; a game (that we already own) that we immediately play; our sled and we layer up and head out. This Friday they will open Nutcracker tickets, a particularly special treat this year as our dear friend and neighbor is Clara! Do you have advent activity ideas for me? I’ll take them. I am usually figuring it out about five minutes before the kids pull the clue, nonchalantly fast-walking ahead of them to hide the {mugs of hot cocoa on their desks}.

:: And the holiday stick! It’s a legitimate pain in the ass to hang this thing but totally worth it.

:: The stick’s BFF: the cocksucker. Who has earned year round placement by the front door.

:: Ruby again plans to ask Santa for a glittery watermelon with the addition of a pot of gold. Margot plans to ask for a stuffed kitten the size of her palm. I sincerely adore our Santa photos:

:: Margot jumps rope. Before breakfast, after dinner. She is on a jump roping team and has her first performance this week. Homegirls has been PRACTICING and it’s always awesome except when one of us takes a rope to the face. Before bed:

:: The first advent gift of the season is always a new holiday book. The books are out for the month of December only and are my kids favorite thing to unpack every year. This year I bought The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge. And a second that I couldn’t resist will be a Christmas gift: Peter and Lotta’s Christmas: A Story.

Other books in our collection:
The Tomten
The Little Christmas Tree
Little Fairy’s Christmas
The Story of the Snow Children
The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas

:: Haaaaaaang a shining star atop the highest booooooooow…

Ruby: Mama? Why does that man saw moooooooooow instead of just saying ‘the highest mountain’? It’s frustrating.

:: Sledding hill bling.

:: Two gifts already under the tree. And Alice, where she liked to lay.

:: Our ski hill opened. It was raining at the base but once we got past the miserable lower lift ride, the top was a wintery wonder. Like so many things in life: there is great reward if you push through shitty weather.

Also: we are lucky to almost always receive handed-down gear for our kids. And we happen to have several skis and ski boots that are now too little for Margot and Ruby. Are you interested? If you pay for shipping, you can have it. Email me at hello @ digthischick . net  <– everything has been claimed! xoxo

:: Wrapping paper making.

:: My kids play the HOW BOUT game every day. This is one example:

How bout I’m a mom and you my kid but you’re a teenager and you have red hair like Ariel.
OK and how bout I’m like really cranky because I want to eat cottage cheese.
Yeah and how bout I don’t like cottage cheese and I want noodles instead.
And how bout we both love to read books.
And so how bout we read books while eating noodles.

This photo’s real life caption: Hey Ruby. How bout we have a dance contest and I’m the judge and I decide who wins are I always pick you.

A few details:

* Holiday stick: ponderosa pinecones, pom poms attached with glue gun. Strung to a found stick with fishing line. Attached to ceiling with fishing line and thumbtacks (this stick is super light, like dry driftwood; a heavier stick would require hooks)

* Tree bling: colored popsicle sticks glued together with regular ol’ white glue. Drilled tiny holes in each and attached to tree branches with embroidery thread.


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Rainbow Friday > giving away and giving back

Last year we inaugurated Rainbow Friday, a way to bring color and connection to the spirited days of shopping after Thanksgiving. This year is even better with every small, sustainable business not only offering a giveaway and great deal but also giving to a non-profit organization of their choosing.

I am blown away by the talent and big-heartedness of every business participating. This is your opportunity to shop; to vote for your neighbors with the purchase of unique, handmade gifts; to use your purchase power to lean in and give back.

I hope you will support their efforts and do some shopping this weekend!

* Each business is giving away an item. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Comments close on Monday, December 1 at 11:59pm. There will be 12 winners, announced here on Tuesday, December 2.

* Rainbow Friday deals run from Friday, November 28 – Monday, December 1.

* I will post the amount each business is donating to their chosen organizations on instagram and facebook next week. Let’s make it impressive! Continue reading

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nitrogen to carbon to nitrogen

I took a master gardening class years ago. I took it after I was fired from a housesitting gig for killing all the plants and before I started my gardening business. I still consult my Master Gardening Manual regularly, its pages soft with dirt and turned corners.

Gardening is meant for writers. From the poetic words like meristem and apical and brassica to the generous metaphors in tending, troubleshooting, growth, harvest and nourishment.

I saw David Sedaris read this week. I went with my friend after we were offered tickets one hour before he was to take stage. We sat high in the balcony and listened to his familiar cadence deliver hilarious and shocking words. I noticed two things. First, when a person is funny, it gives their audience permission to laugh at anything, even the serious and sad stuff. And it isn’t inappropriate to laugh at serious and sad stuff. It’s a legitimate reaction to the discomfort of big feelings. Two, I need to read more books and look at more art. When another shares their genius, an energy field is cast. It’s contagious in the most inspiring way.

I ordered a new computer yesterday. Mine is slowly croaking, keyboard and track pad kaput and the function straining at the smallest requests. Ruby says it sounds like it is sighing all the time. Yesterday afternoon I was on the mac help chat thing with Claire, trying to decide between a new or refurbished computer. I think those chat windows were made for moms. If I’d had to make a phone call, my kids would have immediately been starving, in great need of a glue stick from the top shelf and writhing from some ailment that required lavender oil and a bandaid. The chat allows me to get some questions answered while Ruby summits my body and Margot choreographs a jumprope routine to Frosty The Snowman in the kitchen.

October and September were bright and warm. Continue reading

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To what end?

I wrote this piece two weeks ago. I have written and rewritten it several times, each time unhappy with the lack of direction and the rambling nature. I have felt doubtful and afraid of being misunderstood. Then I heard this:

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

And I realized that sometimes the truest way from point A to point B is a big ol’ meandering zig zag.

:: :: ::

Sometimes I feel like I am letting feminism down. I am aware of the juxtaposition of my pre-kid ambitions and my current ambitions. I hear the roar of the Lean In Movement. I choose to lean differently and that can feel so isolating. I feel the criticism – whether legitimate or of my own imagination (I suspect it is a bit of both) – from colleagues; I wonder if I am a person they think of throwing away potential when they ask me what’s new or if I am making art these days.

While I feel inspired by and sure of my choices and my lifestyle in the giant, oceanic sense, I indeed have waves of doubt and insecurity. It’s remarkable that I can feel lost, when moving in right direction with a functioning compass.

I remain driven, although it feels so different from my ambitions, before child. For me, everything regarding my goals and perspective changed when my first daughter was born. Everything. I didn’t want to admit it for over a year. I was still invested in my work but it was no longer what defined my success.

At a dinner party last summer, I talked with a group of friends about how remarkable it is that in this town – where nobody moves for a career opportunity – we have all found meaningful work. A filmmaker, communications director in local government, reporter, nonprofit executive director, artist, nurse and me. My friend asked if I’d go back into my old work (development director at an art museum), someday. Really, you peaked before your time, she said. She said it lightly, as a nod toward how young I was in that job. But I cringed. You can peak more than once. I am peaking now, I defended. I do believe that. And I do feel defensive about it. Continue reading

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hump day nuggets: harvest

hump day nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words

At the dinner table last week, Ruby leaned back and the entire top half of the chair crashed to the floor. She – with her bendy, snappy reflexes – was unscathed. The chair remained that way for a few days, the top and rungs in a sad heap on the floor. On Friday, I armed myself with wood glue and a drill and fixed that chair and the other three thrifted chairs that were also all wobbly and crooked. We now have four stable seats around our table.

After months of playing outside and several weekends away, it felt so good to button up, mend, fix and make our home this last week. I love ignoring homestead tasks in favor of adventuring and I equally love turning my attention to the details of our homestead. The seasonal change always lures my organizational muse in for a visit.


:: This old grapevine is nearly two stories tall and produces a ton of grapes every year. We’ve had two botched batches of jelly. This year, I’m hoping for success with the grapes we have left – Ruby has been training the chickens to catch grapes.

:: Our mild fall finally delivered a decent frost two days ago, officially turning all those bright blooms into carbon bits for next year’s crops. Continue reading

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