I am so tired of having the same answer to how are you? Truth is we are nuts right now. So, that is what I say and then find my brain and mouth taking off in all the details of the craziness. This buying and selling homes business in the midst of birthdays, holidays, company, travel, work has us running, making phone calls, signing documents, waiting for emails, rearranging schedules while gifts languish half-made and party punch bowls patiently wait to get washed…


Andy and I keep reminding ourselves how right this feels for our family, how it is all working out beautifully when one looks at the general productivity graph. A big, simple, sweeping arch is what we see. However, if we grab a magnifying glass and we can see at all the volatile, chaotic points that form that tidy arch. Some moments I am frying under the magnification, others I am happily observing the big, thankful picture.

Our friends watched the girls last weekend so Andy and I could go on a date and talk. As in have more than a two sentence exchange before Excuse me mama? Look! I can do a cartwheel off the couch! or any variety of very important things a two and four year old must interrupt to show/tell us. We brought a blank book and a pen and made a list of what we want with this change. It was so GOOD to get it down on paper, to see the list of dreams that are becoming reality.

We were curled over a dimly lit table in the corner of a restaurant talking in dreamy, seamless conversation when 12 of our friends dressed in all white came skipping and hooting to a large table next to us. There was a party that night, one that we decided to not attend at the last minute in favor of this date. Turns out a pre-party was at the same restaurant. We talked with the group and explained why we were in pedestrian clothes and taking notes. “Maybe we picked the wrong place?” Andy laughed at one point, gesturing to our partying pals. I told him I thought it was perfect. We achieved some good stuff and got a little contact high from our tribe. At one point a friend tossed me a gauzy white skirt and shirt and said, “Have Andy drop you off on the way home. You can be a hippie.” I considered it for a hot second. But I didn’t go. We fetched our kids and were in bed by 10pm. We are so going to the Snow Ball next year.

I bristle at this chaos. It is uncomfortable and I can’t wait to feel a steady life cadence again. I also find it an exceptional opportunity to notice. To pay attention to my last days in our home, stop the boat-rocking activity and make eye contact. I like the challenge.

Taking notice of:

:: Walks around the block. Our hood for only a bit longer.

Andy remembered Margot’s head-over-heels devotion to this little purple pony from Ace Hardware a while back. He wrapped it up for her birthday, unsure if he’d bought the right horse. She held her breath, mouth open, she was over the moon. The nameless pony who is “definitely a boy” hasn’t left her clutch since. Good job, papa.


:: A totally awesome birthday party that ended in our friend juggling cupcakes.

Margot’s party day was an exercise in flexibility, in letting go. I am the Limbo Queen. Read more in this week’s mama digs: bendy.


Also, remembering last year, when my bug turned three.

:: Toys that are played hard and left, quietly waiting for the next round.


:: Winged kids collecting eggs.


:: Lingering party decorations that feel continually encouraging and festive. I think I’ll leave them up until we move.


:: How simple and free gifts can be.

The kids painted cardboard, I cut circles and folded in half and glued together (held with clothes pins until dry) with sewing notion scraps in the middle. Once dry we painted with glue, sprinkled glitter. Lastly, we glued and glittered the corrugated edges.


:: The awesomeness of grandma (who arrives with cooking ingredients and matching leotards for the girls. I am still waiting for mine.)


:: My endlessly optimistic dog with a graying face.


:: Exploring an icky old ditch as if it contained gold.

Really, discovery and wonder are a choice.


24 Responses to noticing

  1. ashley says:

    We are a better when the basket is full family too. Craving the busy rush of too much to do but also trying to find that balance that makes you suck in each moment. This journey can be all about that balance really. Look forward to seeing your leotard;) x ashley

  2. Melina says:

    Hey Nici! You sure have a full plate, sister. You are doing a spectacular job. I’m in awe. Happy 4, Bug!

    Much love

  3. Kristi C. says:

    Sometimes you just have to stop in the middle of the rush and remember how to take a deep breath. Those cardboard ornaments are lovely!

    Happy Holidays, Nici!

  4. Our family is so right there with you! Holiday, birthday, business, house selling/buying…it’s a hurts-so-good kind of exhaustion :) And being grateful/thankful in the midst…it’s definitely a choice!

  5. Caroline says:

    You will look back at this and be so very impressed with yourself, if you aren’t already. Love this post.
    (BTW, that juggling friend is HOT.)

  6. Callie says:

    We’re also mid move and you so eloquently summed up how I feel right now. Holidaying and Moving all at once and while the arch is towards productivity, I feel like there are seventy thousand explosions and things being forgotten each day. It’s nice to have your reminder of how it’s all moving towards dreams and while this move is overwhelming (and even bittersweet) it is net total so very good.

    Happy Birthday Margot and Merry Christmas to your family and Smooth Move!

  7. Catherine says:

    Nici, I so know how this feels! We just sold our house last summer to move to a smaller one, while our busines was booming and our girls more demanding than usually with all the change… But now, we are in Costa Rica for 5 months, living our dream. The dream of traveling together (the house we bought is easy to rent, that’s why we moved). It was so worth it. And it is so worth it for you too… Just take it one hour at a time and remember to breath… and laugh!

  8. TRB Holt says:

    It is a blur now, but in no time of all it will be a fond memory…I PROMISE!
    I love you….

    ps…3 days and 7 hours & COUNTING!

    pss….help is on the way!!!!!!!

  9. I love your idea for a date – go to a quiet restaurant, make notes, talk about change … the hubs and I are doing exactly that next week, taking full advantage of my parents’ visit. :) Thanks for the simple suggestion. Happy holidays to you, mama!

  10. Annie says:

    This is one of your posts where I just feel SO good after reading it.

  11. ~ jessica says:

    That photo of Alice makes me ache for my dog; I still miss her so much some days.

    You are right: discovery and wonder are a choice. But we here are wired to choose them. I wish more people were wired like us. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. Merry everything! :)

  12. Susan S says:

    Nici! This morning walking with my dog, I was a little dismayed to see all the cheesy, tacky, plasticky lawn ornaments scattered around our neighborhood. The kind that must be plugged in and/or inflated in order to get the full effect. Other people in my neighborhood are not able to pay their electricity bills, so they’re living cold this winter. Such waste sometimes literally next door to such poverty was getting me down.

    So, even in your chaos, the joy you take in your cardboard/glue/glitter decorations and construction paper garlands bolsters my faith in humanity. And a cupcake juggling friend to entertain at a birthday party? Perfection.

    Thanks for that,

    p.s. It won’t be much longer before the brave, patient, wise, intrepid, long-suffering Alice has a FABULOUS new place to romp and play. Just THINK of the smells! Merry Christmas, Alice! :-)

  13. I remember moving into my house on Christmas eve day. 15 years ago, swollen and 7 mo. pregnant. The highway was closed for emergency travel, (we were supposed to leave for the holidays to be with family) the house had boxes packed high to the ceiling. We ate cold pizza and I cried my eyes out. So many changes…new baby, new house, new job, new business. Yet I look back now, years later at fondness on those same details. Savor. It really is a choice.
    Have a spectacular holiday and Happy Birthday to your big girl!

  14. KWQR says:

    Happy birthday Margot! Am just catching up after 10 days of newborn haze… baby Soren decided to arrive three weeks early just like his older brothers. What a treat to have so much of your writing & reflections to enjoy in one sitting. Embrace the chaos of moving… it is sometimes hard to see while you are in the middle of it, but the energy of “new” & “unknown” is so exciting! Can’t wait to hear more about the new digs.

  15. WHat I wouldn’t give to have someone juggle cupcakes at my party. Awesome moments. A full plate indeed, but you are a strong woman and I know that you’ll be in the now to relish it all.

    Thanks for reminding us to stay present in the now. Happy Birthday bug.


  16. ctb says:

    good morning and happy solstice to you dear ‘friend’.

    oh those gray hairs. love my (your)alice. so wise that one. living in nothing but the now.

    such a gift to realize your dream. so many people are stuck, in this market, with houses they cannot sell. you will be free of this stress soon enough. and with it will come such a lightness.

    keep calm, carry on.

  17. Amy says:

    “Really, discovery and wonder are a choice”
    So true friend, and thanks for the reminder.
    Happy Birthday to your spirited, hilarious, quirky and beautiful little 4 year old.

  18. Kelly Cach says:

    “I am so tired of having the same answer to how are you?”

    So many of your thoughts are my thoughts lately! I’m so tired of saying I’m so busy, but also tired of not being able to leave it at just that. I have a need to explain all the details. At least, sometimes, I can say, “I’m so busy….it’s all good stuff, though.”

    And still so in love with Margot’s hair-cut :)

  19. FinnyKnits says:

    Enjoy that full plate, friend – it’s piled high with really delicious stuff. And I LOVEloveLOVE that perspective of Alice. She’s a wise old gal.

  20. erin says:

    That first picture, the one of the red light – that is my childhood Christmas right there. Old Christmas lights like that give my eyes the coziest feeling when I see them.

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