a lot of living to do

“Mama, I just can’t believe there aren’t any clouds. What do you think about that?!”

It is the typical dazzling fall weather in Missoula. The morning just cold enough, the sun just low enough to remind every human to get outside for the last days of sunny warmth this year. 
We went for a hike up the Rattlesnake and Margot walked and ran the whole distance, about 4.5 miles. She and Ruby collected pine needles for their friends. We found a caterpillar and talked about deciduous trees. Our toes felt the painfully cold but so delicious Spring Creek.


Our friend and her two sons caught up to us on bikes and we chatted under the canopy of towering ponderosas. Her seven year-old was on his own mountain bike, tearing it up. Her four year-old on a trail-a-bike with his camelbak. She was effervescent and energetic. Andy and I both thought the same thing, did math in our heads. I don’t even remember who said it out loud first, something like wow, pretty awesome you can all just bike way up here like that!

We moved into the kids- more kids-done having kids conversation. Our friend said she and her husband ultimately decided they had “a lot of living to do,”  that beginning anew with a wee babe wasn’t in their future and then she brightly explained how mobile and fun everything is these days. I get that, and look forward to that mobility. My husband practically nodded his head right off his body in agreement.


When Margot was Ruby’s age my midsection was round with Ruby. I think about this time of year and how, for the last four years I’ve been pregnant and/or with a baby. For the last several years, fall means canning and preserving food, slow walks in the woods, anticipating big change in our family. My body fondly remembers this.


I might daydream about more kids but on that day, on that hike, our family unit felt pretty dang complete and perfect. This year, new memories will cling to these months. Memories of two bipedal, talking kids participating in our family rituals. We’ll all be on skis! Looking forward to that.
Seasons change.

ps In this week’s mama digs, I wrote about My Swiss Army Ride. I carry a lot of stuff around in my car, it is my well-armed tool belt. Some might call it messy, I call it prepared. Click to read.


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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

37 Responses to a lot of living to do

  1. Mama Mel says:

    I sooo understand the conflict about more kids. It seems like everyone I know is pregnant, and while I am over the moon about it for them- I am also sad that it isn’t me too.

    We are out and about enjoying the last few warm days as well.

    Enjoyed your post! Have a great week.

  2. Ingrid says:

    I just want you to know that I got your tomatoes in the mail, they were in perfect shape and I ate every last bit of them :-)

  3. Melina says:

    Either way….I think you’ll be living big. And I’ll be here to read about it.


  4. Daniele says:

    this is me! the last 4 years I’ve been pregnant or nursing or caring for a baby..and this is the first summer/fall I am not. I get sentimental about those days…but I’ve felt the same feelings of, wow, we are doing this or that and we are ALL enjoying it…there is so much fun ahead! We feel complete with our two girls too…

  5. Jenny V says:

    I can totally relate to this post. My babies are 14 and 6…my body fondly remembers carrying each of them…and those delicious baby years. Although I still daydream about just one more…and our little guy Sam would give his right arm to be a big brother, we are totally content with these two. Our family is complete and I love that feeling just as much as I love my every now and again baby daydreams.

  6. Laine says:

    We’ve got two girls too and while some days, I feel I would be perfectly content being done, other days it’s like my uterus is screaming at me to have another one. like now. And really, who am I kidding? Uterus wins. Just gotta get my 1 yr old sleeping through the night first. Which could take a couple years, apparently. I too have those 5 am wake up calls where I’m begging everything that is holy that I’ll do anything if she would just let me sleep another hour. Anyway, I’m rambling. I always root for more kids, and you guys do make beautiful kids…

  7. Oh, I can’t wait for my THREE to be on skis. Maybe a Lolo Pass little lady party is in order.
    Sometimes it’s so hard to plant your feet in the moment and be content when “imagine what it will be like when” comes to mind. I promise, now is gone before we know it.

  8. Sarah says:

    Ohhh this post is so timely. I have been swearing for the past 21 months that I am 110% sure our two boys are it and there will be no more… but just a little bit lately I think I’ve shrunk back to only 95% sure. But our family is SO that family that wants to be on our mountain bikes or in kayaks or tramping up a hill or skiing down a mountain together – all FOUR os us!!!. I love the sentiment about ‘having a lot of living to do’. So true.

  9. We really do feel it, don’t we? Lately I really get the whole “womb itch” thing people refer to!

    Jenn, I often think of your family of five. Three kids do look like so much fun! And three girls! All on skis! I’d LOVE to hook up this winter. So fun. Let’s make it happen!


  10. Mama Mel, well put, my sentiments exactly.

  11. TRB Holt says:

    I LOVED being pregnant; pregnancy so agreed with me! Also SO love motherhood! I too thought of having more that you & your brother,right up until I was 42, even talked with your dad about a vasectomy reversal…you were 16, if we would have you would have a 17 year old sibling right now…which would be just fine…being a mother of two and a Gram of two is also JUST FINE….love you so!

  12. Well, I wouldn’t say my womb is itchy…but something is. ;) I go back and forth and back and forth all the live-long day, but in the end, I usually end up right where I began, with the uncertain sense that we’re not done yet.

    ps – Heading to the post office tomorrow! I had big plans for today, but then I forgot to get out of my pajamas.

  13. trbolt says:

    via mamalode.com:

    OH I am still laughing! I agree with you, it is wise to have a well stocked “purse” even if it is the size of a, ah well……Subaru! Your dad has two mottos..1~ travel light & 2~ always be prepared. It works, HE travels light and I am ALWAYS prepared! xoxo

  14. Jean says:

    via mamalode.com:

    hahaha, what Terri said! And what you said! I’m going to start doing that, too.

  15. Jen says:

    via mamalode.com:

    You always start my Mondays off in the best ways:)
    Thanks for another great read.
    I swear the reason I actually agreed to move up to “maxi-taxi” from Subaru was so that I could have more space for the ever-essential things you mentioned…plus the dog!
    Happy Monday….

  16. Lisa Hensley says:

    via mamalode.com:

    HA! So I’m not the ONLY one!!

  17. Jaim says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I have that same CLINGEDY CLANG CLANK CLONK in my car. When you live 35 minutes from the nearest grocery store or an hour an a half from the nearest Co2 replacement store It is beneficial to always have it with you…just in case. I love thinking that my Subaru is my tool belt…it is SO true! Thanks for the great imagery!

  18. Happiness is... says:

    via mamalode.com:

    BC, my car used to be neater. I always had a small supply of my “life” that Ben was forbid from removing – hairbands, women supplies, a towel, a nail file. Now it’s filled with those same supplies, but SO much more. And you’re right – it’s the over-extended survival kit now filled with girl clothing, wipes, spare girl panties, a picnic blanket, a bag of snacks, paper and crayons, the grocery bags, the bag of coupons, bandaids, & napkins. And you know what – it works. It’s not theirs. But it usually solves my problems with NO stress. And if I can stress less around her, then we all will be a bit happier to cease the day.

    Love how you see it as a swiss army ride. Does that mean it has secret scissors hidden away too?


  19. Happiness is... says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Ok, you can tell I’m thinking about ceasing something. I meant to say seize the day. LOL.

  20. kwqr says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Love this! I call my ride my “purse on wheels” for the same reason… shopping bags, wipes, pull-ups, snacks, dog bowl, towels, beach mat, extra clothes for two little boys… plus so much more. Because you just never know what you will need next or what adventure will be possible because you have that swim diaper & towels at the ready!

  21. Zoe says:

    via mamalode.com:

    LOL! That describes every vehicle I’ve ever had. Once, we were out with the kids, and saw some children seemingly in distress with a broken down bicycle out in the middle of a parking lot. Hubby the bike guy rooted around in my car, found a fork, and managed to repair the little dude’s bike. With the fork. I said, “Hmmm… Good thing I carry silverware around just in case, isn’t it, hon?”

  22. Amy McGregor says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I say the mama who ends up at the carousel with her tokens in hand, at the gfs with her grocery bags, has markers and coloring books for bored kiddos, recycling for when you’re in the hood, and your hand-me-downs you’ve been meaning to get to your friend for her baby… is the winner. here’s to the winners.


  23. via mamalode.com:

    I win! To the winners!

  24. Marlene says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I love this common dynamic. I think it has a lot to do with, typically, the Mama tasking with kids in tow, and the Papa tasking OR doing kidstuff, and so does not have to be prepared for every wayside eventuality. That’s my excuse for the sandals under the driver’s seat, and the shovels in the back, and the perpetual apples. Totally messy though, I agree.

  25. Carly says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I mean, you’re right, what if you want to eat yogurt?

  26. via mamalode.com:


  27. via mamalode.com:

    It’s funny I have thought of so many more…always a coffee cup or four rolling around *just in case* I stop for coffee, always books within a blind grab should my kids need entertainment while at a stoplight, always bobby pins for wayward curls…

  28. Deb Bratton says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Too, funny, Nici! AD

  29. Katie says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Me, the I-can’t-handle-clutter freak, thinks You are pretty damn brilliant! I’d get so much more done if I just threw it all in the car. Love it!

  30. Monica says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I would totally stockpile my car more if the inside of our car did not reach over 100 degrees everyday. I have found many melted snacks, dried up wipes, scorching water bottles and the like that could not be saved. But good idea about the grocery bags. I’m putting those in today!

  31. Kat says:

    I love your story about your car! I don’t even have kids, but have the same situation! Computer, water bottles, changes of shoes, travel mug, trail tools, reusable bags, CD’s!, everything! Thanks for making me feel sane!

  32. Minnesotagal says:

    Love the “and…” instead of a “but…” Like you can have both: complete families *and* a yearning for more.

  33. Ellie says:

    I had that exact same moment this weekend. I took my girls on a mini-roadtrip just for the afternoon, but it went so smoothly-it was so much fun…and so little effort. And I had this “wow, we’re finally at this point, where we can GO DO STUFF!!” moment.

    Sigh, but then again…

  34. Minnesotagal: I had a ‘but’ in there when I first published and when I reread I changed to ‘and.’ It makes me smile you noticed the ‘and!’ Definitely an ‘and’ sort of thing. xo

  35. Sage says:

    Nici, I have missed you and your digs!! My life just doesn’t have the space for leisurely blog reads any longer…. But I do love to catch up! I adore your sense of humor and love LOVED the “swiss army ride” analogy. Although, my car is very spick and spam, I can relate in other aspects. :)

    I wondered how you felt about the “kids and more kids situation”…falling in love with a new soul is the best feeling in the world. 8 months later, I am still in lala land with Lucy.

    For me, I knew the moment my second was born that I was complete. What an awesome and fullfilling feeling that is for someone like me that has lived most of my life always striving, wanting, and needing more. I hope that you too find that sense of completion. Baby hungry is a tough place to be. xo

  36. FinnyKnits says:

    Look at that beautiful deliciously cold creek! Ugh – I would put my toes right in that and shriek happily.

    Happy Fall, you guys – you’re pretty durn perfect from here.

  37. I walked around with a “semi-itchy” uterus for a few years before finally succumbing and having my third little girl. And since the moment she was here I have felt like our little family unit is complete – I even occasionally give those feelings of wanting another baby a try, but they just don’t have that yearning quality so I figure I’m good. Seems like a lot of families I know have a constellation like we do: two really close together and then a third about four years later. It’s that itchy uterus … ;)