hump day nuggets: Fisha in da hizouse!

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week

Margot’s giant, joyously pleading eyes led to us coming home with a betta fish a few weeks back. She was exceptionally decisive in picking the fish and the name. It seemed like she already knew this would happen so I trusted that and went with her. It went something like this:
“Oh mama! Look at all those fish! They are so beautiful to me!”
“Well…perhaps we could get a fish if you help me care for him everyday and…”
“Sure. I want that one right there. He’s a boy and his name is Fisha.”
I like to pronounce his name like a hip hop gangsta might. Fisha, Puhleez!

Fisha is chill. He swims around in a bowl and likes the music box. My husband last changed his water and the bowl broke and sliced clean and fast through his thumb. Andy placed Fisha in our liquid measuring cup until we could find another vase and when I went to fetch the homeless fish, he wasn’t in the pyrex cup.
I immediately saw him. Dry and lifeless like a post-rain worm on a sidewalk. Margot was napping right next to me so I couldn’t even verbally respond. I picked up our dead dude and he twitched and I about twitched out of my skin. I tossed him in the bowl and he sunk and then floated sideways and motionless. I thought maybe he had some nerve response like a chicken after it’s head is chopped off.
I was about to dispose of him when I saw his itty gills erratically moving. I reached in and swirled the water and, sure enough, Fisha in da hizouse!
It took several hours of slow recovery but now he’s resumed his daily activity of swimming in small figure eights on top of Margot’s bookshelf. It’s unexpected and surprising. I could have easily tossed him had I not given him one last hopeful glance.
I find relationships to be this way. The more I look, the deeper I dig and give the benefit of the doubt, the more people rise, sashay and move with life. The more I believe in greatness and inspiration, the more I find it.
I was moved in meeting my blog friend and her Florida family this last week. Kelle and I talked a lot about similarities outweighing differences….like people with or without down syndrome, women with or without kids, moms with or without mountains.
I think, at our core, we all know this.
We are born without judgement and with trust. We learn to assess situations and form opinions and while those are essential skills, I think we eventually (especially in our thirties when we learn we know nothing and mortality is real) try like hell to revert and practice that child-like wonder and appreciation for a hug, a cool bug, a perfectly prepared bowl of oatmeal, a favorite song on the radio.
nuggets. This last week, we:
:: Rolled around in color.
:: Believed there was nowhere else we’d rather be.
:: Taught those younger than us what’s in store.
:: Danced.
:: Found wonder in tall, honey-colored grass.
:: Smiled a lot.
:: Stretched and grew.
:: Realized we didn’t have to go far or do much to discover new, exciting things.
:: Played.

:: Understood how little one really needs to have fun.

:: Wrestled thirty of the sixty pounds of peaches lounging in my kitchen.
:: Got to know old, new friends.

A common thread in my conversations with Kelle was competition versus camaraderie among women. And how we all have insecurities and if you were able to deconstruct them (as we did with each other’s) they are the exact same.
She shared this beautiful excerpt with me. It’s about writing but substitute any word you like and it is wonderful. “Mom” works beautifully. “Blogger” works beautifully.
From Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg:
Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers. That’s how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses and sees. That’s what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else’s skin. Your ability to love another’s writing means those capabilities are awakened in you. It will only make you bigger; it won’t make you a copy cat…great writers realize they are what they are in love with…

…So writing is not just writing. It is also having a relationship with other writers. And don’t be jealous, especially secretly. That’s the worst kind. If someone writes something great, it’s just more clarity in the world for all of us. Don’t make writers “other,” different from you: “They are good and I am bad.” Don’t create that dichotomy. It makes it hard to become good if you create that duality. The opposite, of course, is also true: if you say, “I am great and they aren’t,” then you become too proud, unable to grow as a writer or hear criticism of your work. Just, “They are good and I am good.” This statement gives a lot of space.


And lastly, from Fisha, the insanely strong fish with new street cred:

I never would have known what it felt like to be land-dwelling had I not taken a risk on that cartwheel out of the bowl. Turns out, it wasn’t for me. I now have great respect for all you creatures with limbs. Water works for me and land works for you. Thankfully our world gives us both. Peace out and Happy Hump Day.

64 Responses to hump day nuggets: Fisha in da hizouse!

  1. Katie says:

    “The more I believe in greatness and inspiration, the more I find it.” Amen.

    Fisha. Love!

  2. very good, true and wise. n, i love this space here. you rock.

  3. Yup, loved it! Oh, and that skirt Nella is wearing in the 2nd pic, is that one of your creations? It is just gorgeous!

  4. carmen says:

    Love, love, looove! Fabulous words and pictures! I’m gonna have to the second that “you rock”.

    Carmen in Boston

  5. Meredith says:

    Thank you for writing exactly what I needed to hear today. Always finding everything from wisdom to amazing recipes (peach butter rules). You truly rock.

    And long live Fisha!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nici…! Lovin’ you and your blog from upstate NY! Can I come visit for a week like Kelle did? Your home, your girls, gorgeous. You are inspiring me to plan my first garden next spring. Take care!

  7. sarah says:

    Nici, I’m a new stalker, um er uh, follower of your blog and love it! Love the color and brilliant word pictures you paint to go along with them. I love a mama who so captivates the beautiful wonders of her babes! What a gift your girls have. And yes, I have tried supressing my jealousy for you and Kelle’s girl time. Love the creativity and the mama bond y’all have! Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration! Peace out. :)

  8. Great post Nici! So, when are you going to Florida?

  9. Amy says:

    Mmmm… peach butter!!
    I was shamelessly reading old posts of yours and see that your man is quite the skier… I think you need to check out our sleepy little town and ski hill for some real skiing!

  10. Conkit says:

    I’m new to your blog. I’m one of Kelles followers and now I’m going to have to follow you too! I like your quote and I substituted “wife” for writer. I’m a new wife and step mom and I’ve noticed that I like to read blogs from other wives and moms that ENJOY being wives and moms. I think its because I’m really falling in love with my new role. So I love great role models and Especially ones with a positive outlook who encourage and lift up other women.

    It’s great to be a wife, mother, and woman…thanks for highlighting this in a world that sometimes overlooks this joy:0)

  11. Krystal says:

    I love this Entry. “I reached in and swirled the water and, sure enough, Fisha in da hizouse!”…I totally LAUGHED OUT LOUD.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Great post. Yeah, there’s something about leaving your 20′s behind that allows you in your 30′s to find your real self. You’re right – maybe it’s a sense of mortality. Or maybe it’s because we (finally) drop the insecurities and become proud of who and what we are; and appreciate the bag of gifts that God grants us. I know personally it’s less about competition and the rat race; I chose to care less about the noise. As Lily Tomlin did say, “Even if you win the race, you’re still a rat.” Ah!

    I’m not sure if motherhood also gives us the better set of lenses to focus on life; but I know that it helps me recognize that I’m never too old to appreciate the little “wins” of the everyday. And motherhood is powerful. Yes, get that “yes I can” belt out!

    Thanks for sharing the nuggets…and I love the shot of Margot standing in the bucket of chalk. Classic.

    -Jennifer in Annapolis

  13. J Scheppl says:

    Great post!!! You make me laugh- I LOVE that!!! THANK YOU!

  14. Tammy B says:

    Great post Nici! Love the fish story. And I love, love, love! That picture of Margot and Lainey by the fence. It should be on the front of a greeting card. Margot looks like she is thinking something very evil, or she is smiling very hard! Her hands are even balled up in her effort. So cute.

  15. Eva Marie says:

    Oh fisha fisha
    im loving all thing beautiful in this world.. my daughter Liv is 8 months, before I had her I was focused on my education and than my career – ive always been nurturing and trying to find the good in people but now .. now my daughter has brought that on like no other.. my job although I love i find should be caring for her, nurturing her to appreciate all things beautiful in this world, accepting others.. i just yearn to connect with people, people that are real and want good .. i yearn to grow and develop..
    this bog inspires me as does kelle’s – thank you for sharing and being real

  16. Jenny V says:

    The exact same thing happened in our house once, while changing the bowl water. I set Moby in a cup of water on the side of the sink. One minute he was there, the next minute the cup was empty and I found that he had taken a swan dive right out of the glass and onto the kitchen floor. Apparently Betas are all about the extreme sports. He lived for more than two years…they’re tough little guys!

  17. Marti says:

    Can I get an AMEN?!?!?!?!?

    Fisha is a prophet!

  18. Malissa says:

    Love the pic of Nella holding Ruby’s arm…so sweet. And I really adore the thoughts and feelings expressed in this post! Hey, I canned beets for the first time! You inspired me to start canning…I am hooked. Next project: jalapeno pepper jelly! Happy Hump Day NIci! x. M.

  19. Tonya says:

    OMG, that last “quote” from Fisha is awesome and SO true! This whole post is so true. I find that as I get closer to 40, only a few months left, I am so much more embracing of the differences in everyone. I can still have my beliefs and values and also appreciate and celebrate the beliefs and values of others. I am also a lot easier on myself. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that young Mom in her early 20′s and tell her to just chill out! LOL

  20. “in our thirties when we learn we know nothing and mortality is real”…this sums up my life over the past year, since we learned our baby had a health issue. Powerful stuff, when you go through those realizations.

  21. Kelle says:

    Second read with my coffee and this awesome perspective of just having been with you for all these discussions and now at home in my different, good world while I read it. And I imagine the moment you thought of using Fisha to tie all this good shit together was one of those rare moments of brilliance and glory where you’re all smiling and thinking this is gonna be good shit. And guess what? This is good shit. So true. And maybe Fisha actually threw himself out of there on purpose because he was wanting you to dig deeper for the epiphany. Either way…it’s so good and beautiful and after all our talking and loving, I feel like I just returned from a women’s retreat. My mama comes today and while we may not be making peach butter, there will be good kitchen stuff to come. Love you. Missing you!

  22. TRB Holt says:

    Oh Burb, this rang true to me on so many levels ~ especially ~ “competition versus camaraderie among women” ~ this unfortunately, happens throughout life, as you know just recently to me at my new vocation. The good news, I have discovered, is as you get older you recognize it sooner, if not instantly & bolt toward camaraderie! I recently had a new really great friend say to me, “I am so glad you’re normal”, to me, high praise! Yes it is so right to give the benefit of the doubt….but I have also realized sometimes is best not to necessarily, “flush” the Fishas in my life but release them into the sea; not letting them swim in my lagoon….this too I do much more quickly as I get older.
    I love the idea of substituting words, brilliant really!…it can apply to anything. Like ~ ‘Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers’ or Skiers or great lovers they fall in love with other skiers or Sisters to sisters, seamstresses to seamstresses, Mothers to mothers…ANYTHING! What a simple and perfect concept! I see great beauty in passing along a passionate talent; watching as your apprentice evolves into the master. Obviously this post was very thought provoking for me….thank you for a great start to my day! I love you….
    xoxo ,Mom

  23. j.j. says:

    Nici! Very nice….another inspiring and enlightening read from you!! THANK YOU! You are wise and beautiful and have a great ability to awaken new thoughts and feelings in people.

    Lots of love….

  24. Jean says:

    Excellent post, Nici. Thank you.

    I’m so happy for you that you have such a good friend. Long may you run.


  25. Donna says:

    Nici, I love the way you love and observe life. I know too many folks who are burdened…burdened by life, by kids, by husbands. It is so nice to see others just Love.

  26. Lisa says:

    Hi Nici,

    Lovely post, as ever :) I wanted to drop you a note on the fish story. I’ve had a couple of bettas. One was very well-behaved and we had him several years until my cat ate him (oops). Anyway, the other one, Bud, was suicidal. He leapt out of every home we gave him (bowl/beer-stein/vase/etc) every chance he got. I do think it might be a common behavior. We scooped him off the floor more times than I can count. Then one day he did it while we were gone for several hours and that was it. They can come back from a short time on land, but they do have a limit, it seems.

    Anyway, I tell this story because I have a suggestion. Some people keep bettas in vases with a water plant that grows out of the top. The roots help clean the water, and they block that ever-so-tempting path to freedom some of them seek. I’ve never tried it, but it might be worth looking into so that Fisha can avoid Bud’s fate…

    take care :)

  27. Sage says:

    Nici, reading this post this morning was like getting a shot in the leg. One of those moments, when you have a sort of out of body experience, when you know you are experiencing just what you needed, when you needed it, and you can’t get enough. This quote from Natalie Goldberg is like finding a missing piece to this puzzle I have been trying to put together in my head. A puzzle about why I adore your blog, you and your life, and why I think I was meant to find you, and the perspective it gives me of my own life. I have so much more to say, but I don’t feel I want to write it hear. But, maybe in a email to you later. I will think more on it and try to surmise this “aha” moment i am having.

    Love to you always. xo

  28. Anonymous says:


    I have been a blog lurker for some time, and was also recently introduced to your glorious~ness~ness.

    Thank you for putting a smile on my face, for keeping it real, for reveling in your children, and family, and peaches.

    I am really enjoying these glimpses, and look forward to loggin in. I am glad that fisha is swimmin. I am doubly glad that you didn’t just toss him (now that clearly says something about you, doesn’t it?)


  29. Elizabeth says:

    I was introduced to your blog through Enjoying the Small Things…I love how this wonderful blog world works…each place/person introducing you to another special place/person. Thanks for some great thoughts and inspiration today! xo

  30. Joan says:

    This is really great Nici. The Fisha incident is wild. Love the whole post. Great job honey. XOXO

  31. Amie says:

    Fisha is da bomb!

    Love your writing and photos-you’re on my short list of favorites!

  32. Annie says:

    GREAT post! Some of my favorites:
    - relationship analogy to Fisha
    - competition versus camaraderie among women
    - word substitution. WOW. I had not thought to do this and it really impacted me.
    - the pics :)

  33. RMAinMD says:

    ,,,nici this is why i think you have it all figured out,,,this “hump day” is my favorite!,,,

  34. Jennifer says:

    It’s Jennifer Ruffin, well now Reynolds. I emailed you a couple of days ago. Anyway, just read up on your birth stories and Ruby’s sickness. May I just say that I am jealous I couldn’t put into words what you did so perfectly about having a sick baby in the PICU. And also, I know you are probably anxious about the anniversary of it all. I found though, that once it passed, that was it, I was healed so much more in my heart knowing how much stronger my little one was.

    Enjoy the Fisha!

  35. Ellie says:

    Lovely analogy with Fisha. I think sometimes friendships require the sort of sustained and repeated effort that very much resembles ER resuscitation. In my experience, limited though it may be, the effort is always worth it.

    As for the quote, I think probably any word works better than writer because, honestly, writers love to hate each other. They may like to profess otherwise, but often the greatest are those with most intense feelings about their (living) rivals (Shakespeare & Jonson, for instance); they do sometimes like to admire dead rivals.

    All the above applies to writers of “literature.” Blogging is a whole new beast, and I hope that “bloggers” turns out to work really well in that quote, because blogging is as much about living as it is about writing, and we all really should be learning from each other.

    Lovely post, as always. I especially like the photo of Ruby crawling towards the flowers.

  36. Noelani says:

    Hi Nici,
    I’ve just now become addicted to your blog and wanted to say thank you for your wonderful insight and writing and beautiful photos. It’s so strange to me because I’ve met you in person (through Lindsay) and now I feel I am getting to know you on such a personal level, though you don’t know me at all. So here’s my virtual introduction to you at least. Every post I read inspires in me many thoughts and emotions, all bouncing around with growing energy inside me. Thank you for that.

  37. Marlene says:

    I love the picture of making peach butter with baby on hip. I can stir apple butter for ever with 25 lbs on my hip, but I find carrying a 20 lb sack of birdseed super awkward and annoying. Odd.

    Thanks for sharing! Lovely!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Dude, I am IN LOVE with your fisha story. It totally rocks!

    Love love love it all.


  39. KWQR says:

    Oh those are some rich nuggets this week! Love the quote from Natalie Goldberg. My copy of Bones is so thrashed & dog-eared & practically the whole book is highlighted (hi-lit?!)… such good stuff.
    For me, one of the greatest parts of having a child with DS is learning to see the world with softer eyes. I am a big believer in ‘we find what we seek’ & taking time to see beyond the surface of people is such a gift.
    Mad props to Fisha & peace out.
    p.s. Thank you for visiting my blog… it is so nice to know when people are actually reading what I put out there. :-)

  40. Burt Fam says:

    A Kelle Hampton faithful now discovering your blog. Love this post — spot on for motherhood and our female relationships. A great reminder. Thank you!

  41. Katherine says:

    Big like! Great writing & beautiful pix.

  42. jen says:

    no joke. i had the same exact thing happen with spike. our black molly.
    managed to get another 3 years out of him.
    i heart you and your fishy talk.

  43. Anonymous says:

    So, after you two drink like fish to the point that you are so hungover that you can’t open both eyes, do you still nurse? That’s just great for the kids. What hypocrites. The two of you posting like you are super mommies meanwhile the booze from the night before is going right into the kids. The picture of Hampton downing a beer like a college freshman while holding her baby, real classy. Will she ever grow up?

  44. Great writing. I think you summed up what I have been thinking a lot lately in: “especially in our thirties when we learn we know nothing and mortality is real”. Let us all appreciate each day and live life to the fullest!

  45. MyRayOLite says:

    Live on Fisha! What a great story!

    To add to your writers in love with writers…. Without change there is no growth. Kelle changed her environment when she visited you and it was a change for you too to have them in your home. You both gained so much from each other’s presence and grew spiritually, mentally, and lovingly. You both gained so much with this visit and it impacts many aspects of your lives and your writing will just continue to bloom now that new seeds are planted.

    I hope I made sense!



  46. Holly says:

    Nici- I have so enjoyed hearing about you and Kelle’s visit together, and have loved getting to know each of you through your blogs! It’s so refreshing to see real women sharing similar experiences in life..raising kids and enjoying the simple pleasures. There really is nothing like wonderful friendships. And although we have never met before, I feel like I have befriended both of you through your blogs. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life. And to anonymous–talk about competition versus camaraderie! Now don’t you just sound like the perfect mother? We need to support and encourage each other, and not be so condescending. Please do not put others down who so openly and willingly share a piece of their heart…and please, go elsewhere if you are unhapppy in this little piece of blog world.

  47. Hi! I recently popped on over here from Kelle Hampton’s blog. Loving your style! Loving your inspiration! I enjoyed the quote about writers being good lovers, and I enjoyed the quote from Fisha even more. And that picture of the purple flowers with your daughter in the background is positively magnificent! Keep rallying, my friend. Keep rallying. :)

  48. Amy says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    Dig could not have said it better when she talked about competition vs camaraderie – there you go being judgmental, mean and well – bitchy. When you have no idea how many drinks they actually had or if the fact that they can`t open two eyes was because they had shared stories about losing some of their most loved ones and were crying all night. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I hope to hell you arent a mother, because I like to think that another mother would be high fiving these two amazing women for giving their life everything they have, enjoying every second they get to share with those they hold near and dear.
    Grow up? Seriously? Grow up and be what? The mother that screams at her kids and doesnt for one second of her day get to have fun because she is so concerned with being an “adult” that appears to have it all together and does the proper “adult” things? Be the mother that really wants the fucking martini but doesnt have it for fear of being called irresponsible and hypocritical? You obviously need to grow up and realize that life is all about balance baby, and that means being a parent that has to break up fights over pink hoola hoops, staying up late giggling and having a glass of wine with your best friend, cooking, cleaning, laughing, dancing, playing, working, paying bills, taking the extra five minutes to read one more story, taking five minutes to regain your sanity after a wicked hard day and slamming a beer like a college freshman if you should choose to at the appropriate times. Which is exactly what both Nici and Kelle like to show the world on their blogs – that they are all about the balance!!!!
    Maybe you should try chugging a beer….

  49. “They are good and I am good.” This statement gives a lot of space.

    Anon, You made a lot of (false) assumptions in your comment so I the only way I can think to respond is this:

    Drinking and nursing is a hot button topic. I find Le Leche League to be a great reference for moms so that they can make the best choices for their families.


  50. sarah says:

    Nici and Kelle share a beauty that can be shared by all mamas if we are opening our hearts to it! Thanks to you two fabulous mothers, so full of love and life and color!

    Could we all make a blog pact to completely ignore the ridiculous comments and accusations that are trying to rob the joy from this beauty??? I declare we should give them the attention they deserve: none!

    SO THANKFUL to have the inspiration and encouragement I draw from these lady’s blogs!

    Peace. :)

  51. Malissa says:

    Yes Amy! Well put. There is only lovin on this blog. Nici, I love Le Leche. I refer my patients to our local group all of the time! Love that you mention this wonderful organization. Peace out sista.

  52. Jill says:

    Thanks for the smiles, you are a great writer.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Yes, drinking plus nursing always equals fine. You people are twisted. God help the kids. Chugging the beer while holding the baby is SUCH a great example And Amy, I hope to God YOU aren’t a mother if you think it’s OK to drink and nurse. Morons.

  54. Jenny says:

    One of my favorite blog posts so far.

  55. appledapple says:

    I will be marking this one so that I can read it again and again. Thank you, I am so very enriched and inspired by this goodness!

  56. Sage says:

    I would totally agree to not respond to Anon’s comments. I would bet that without any response, anon would find some other place to lurk.

    Terri put it so well! The older you get the more you find you can recognize right off the bat what folks you choose not to give any energy too. Anon’s comments take away from the goodness we are all finding here. I for one, find her comments pretty ridiculous.

  57. TRB Holt says:

    As I said in your post…’well that was fun’…”A good mama is ALWAYS ready to fight for her kids…as you know I STILL and always will have that in me!” I DO and would love to take on Anon…but won’t, rather remain a silent supporter of my rock star daughter, because I know that’s the best way to spend my energy. BY the way…A HUGE HI-5 to you Amy!

  58. Marti says:

    I think Anon needs a midol…just sayin’

  59. Oh I truly enjoy your blog. I just wanted to share a story about a beta I once owned. I was moving out of my apartment (in Missoula as it was!) and the days were sunny and warm. As any Montanan knows the nights can get very chilly and I left a window open in my all but empty apartment. When I went back for the last few items including my fish, I found a layer of ice on the top of the bowl about a quarter inch thick. And my fish was not moving at the bottom. I simply set the bowl out in the warm kitchen and about a half hour later that little bugger was swimmin’ away!! I was so surprised and happy! They are tough little creatures not much different than a resilient child or mother! Keep up the good work.

  60. Very inspiring, indeed. Love the picture of Margot in the chalk bucket.

    Seems like your visit was a smashing success. Woohoo.

    Writing Down the Bones is awesome. Love that book. Love your blog, too.

  61. Joann says:

    If Anon is a mom, I’d like to know how much high fructose corn syrup, splenda, and other chemicals she downed while nursing. And is probably feeding daily to her own. Get you facts right before commenting! Or better yet, don’t comment. We don’t want or need haters. I feel sorry for you.

  62. Melina says:

    Hi, I want to introduce myself. My name is Melina and I started reading Dig a few weeks ago. I frickin love it! I love reading a blog that envelopes me on so many levels….we share the same passion for creativity, and food, and kids (although I don’t have any yet) and the outdoors, and art, and all that good stuff, and politics. I am a writer and photographer, I live in Seattle and grew up in Vermont, here’s my

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into beautiful posts and gorgeous photos and really engaging writing. Your rad life is inspiring!