Monthly Archives: February 2012

hump day nuggets: glamping

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words, about the last week We are two months into our five month small space camp out. Calling it camping is a a little ridiculous seeing that we have electricity, a couch and internet but it feels like camping in that we all move through our tight space like the synchronized jets I remember from the flight show I went to with that boy from my first grade class…mom, what was his name? I know you’ll remember because I held hands with him as we watched jets loop in unison and if I remember that, then you surely do. When we aren’t surgically synchronized aircraft, we move like drunken participants in a three-legged race. You know when one person zigs and the other zags and the whole bit ends in a heap? My kids have become skilled at carving out the teeniest personal space for their tasks. Margot will lay a blanket over a pillow and declare it her bus and then inform us the buss if FULL and there isn’t any more room. Ruby isn’t as adept at her explanation but there is a lot of hand tossing and shouting that, once interpreted, leads us to know sister just wants to read In the Night Kitchen by herself.  I am especially noticing and adoring how much more snuggling and group activity we engage in as a family. Every night, we spend hours talking while preparing and eating dinner. Like we do around a campfire when camping. Every morning around 5:30am, our girls trickle into our bed. It begins with Ruby who literally rolls out of her bed, takes one step and then sleepily scrambles up into my arms. Margot eventually climbs down her ladder to join us and we lay in our bed, in the dark, in the kitchen. It’s awesome. nuggets. :: Ruby has been feverish and pukey the last few days. She says, “Lay mama, boob pillow,” instructing me to recline so she can press her cheek against my chest and curl her knees up in my ribs. Ruby isn’t sick in these photos, looking forward to having my healthy chicken back (photos by Margot) :: We were suiting up to sled the other day and Margot headed out first. By the time Ruby and I stepped out, Margot, Alice and our neighbor dog Leroy were at the top of the hill. It’s a steep hill and a long trek. Initially I felt uncomfortable and called for Margot to head down bit then I watched her as she descended with the confidence of a mountain goat, laughing with two dogs and I quieted my nag. She’s at home here.  :: “Hey mom. You look beautiful. Can I take your picture with Ruby?” Um, yes. “Ok. Now, dance.” I don’t usually dance like a muppet :: I finally got a PO Box! Checking it is great fun for all three of us. :: I published a piece a few weeks ago about Margot’s disinterest in drawing people and navigating some of my insecurities surrounding the subject. I actually wrote that essay last fall. Months later, she remained uninterested (and I was, thankfully, completely over thinking she should be). A few days ago I looked through her sketchbook and it is full of people. Giants eating babies, tiny people stuck to regular people’s arms, et cetera.  :: I had a gift certificate to spend (thanks mom!) and my kids helped me choose this shirt and these turquoise glasses (that are tucked away until we move upstairs). :: Welcome to new sponsor Twist & Twine! Camilla has deep roots in fiber arts, having learned to knit and dye material from her mom and grandmother as a young girl in Scandinavia. She now lives in Montana where she hand dyes yarn and, holy smokes, her work is exquisite. This mama of four who makes magic happen with yarn. For years I wanted to knit but I didn’t (even after repeated lessons from talented friends) and, finally, I discovered I am a Lover of Knit. I appreciate (and purchase!) knit objects with mouth-watering respect and admiration. It is magical to me. And I like it that way. I find great inspiration from artists who excel at their craft. Camilla is generously offering a skein of Seqoia Fog (seen to the left) to one of you lucky ducks!Skein Deets: 2 ply Fingering weight 100% Superwash Merino 400 yards/3.5 oz Needle: US 1-3 Like her etsy shop and leave a comment for a chance to win. Being the non-knitter /knit-lover that I am, I’d love to hear what you’ll make if you win the skein. Thanks Twist & Twine! :: The skiing! Oh man I am over the moon about skiing with my kids these days. Margot and I have a ski date on Friday. It is when I am out on a mountain with my kids and we move smoothly over slick snow, rock and grass, undeterred by windy cold, I realize how easy it is to get out with my kids compared to the last several years. We still did it with regularity but now it is SO nice to now be able to just leave and hike knowing everyone will ask for what they need, that snacks can happen when we return home.  We are all hardy stock now. At the windy summit! (I was so happy to discover Yak Trax are made in her size) Thankfully, Ruby is on the mend so we are back in action today. Off to the studio and back to work in our camp kitchen. happy hump day out there Read more on hump day nuggets: glamping…
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gradual ride

Yesterday afternoon I sat on our couch to write my mama digs to the soundtrack of four girls (two of them mine) squealing top volume as they careened down the sledding hill. Andy was outside, giving me a bit of space to crank out my column. It was nice to have that space but hard to see that fun out the window. I’d get a few sentences written and then hear Andy say OK! Here you go! And all four little girl screams would echo as they rocketed by in the bright orange sled. “Gillian! Margot! Gillian!” I heard outside. Phoebe, our neighbor stumbled by the window in a t shirt, skirt and moon boots. “I LOST MY FIRST TOOTH! Gillian! Margot!” her red head bounced into the field, arms overhead as Margot and Gillian ran like suited-up astronauts to see the bloody hole in her lower gum. Ruby and Lucy, disinterested, stayed in the sled. There was more squealing and giggling and then Phoebe ran home and sledding continued. I had started to write my column about how at peace I feel about not skiing much right now, how I have so much fun on the bunny hill with my kids. But the lost tooth sent me into this larger thought about how our lives have changed a lot. It isn’t that they were one way and then another. One day I’m cooking an elaborate meal all afternoon, the next I’m typing an essay while sitting on a pile of play scarves listening to little girls shriek over a hole in their friend’s mouth. Rather, it is a gradual ride, a series of events that roll into each other making our lives what they are. Click to read my mama digs this week: Lodge new favorite photo Also, after the sledding-lost tooth and before the tangerine sorbet melt down, I heard the Oscars were happening that evening. I thought it’d be fun to watch the red carpet bit with Margot since my kid is crazy about clothing and accessories. Also, I was a guest judge at our local Project Selvedge fashion show last Friday and bug thought that was totally awesome (me too!). She remembered every design and talked about them at length. She loves fabric, loves color. She notices everything and carefully selects her outfits every day. Margot practicing her runway moves int the bathroom during a fashion show break last Friday. My shirt is a new pattern of mine. When we leave the grocery store Margot will often say something like mama, did you SEE that purple shirt? And those long gold earrings with the longer green sparkly thing?! her two current favorite outfits: a slippery leotard and a skirt I made out of two silky shirts of mine :: the dress I made her for her sun/moon Halloween costume We recently inherited a television so Andy hauled it in from the garage and I felt a little bit like a 50s family watching Leave it to Beaver for the first time. Daddy set up the magic box while mommy made popcorn and the two daughters said oh goody gumdrops! Margot was SO into it and very opinionated. She wore a yellow t-shirt with a sneaker-wearing beaver, a black velvet shrug and a pink tutu and gasped when she saw all that glitz. It was very fun and we had fabulous design conversation about dress construction and color. During the commercials we flipped down one station to PBS where the program was Railway Journeys: The West. It’d be all J Lo’s hot stuff and then locomotive steam in the San Juan Mountains. When Brad Pitt was on the carpet, I said how I thought he was darling and Margot asked me to repeat my statement. I told her I thought he was handsome and asked what she thought. “The boy?” she asked incredulously. “No. I don’t think any of the boys are cute. Only the moms are cute.” I’ll be back on Wednesday with Hump Day Nuggets! It’s been a while. Read more on gradual ride…
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groovy curtains

Yesterday our valley was wiped clean with snow. There was a snow bunny sculpture in the field behind our house. This morning it rained, punching down that smooth, soft layer into a pocky, slick mess. The once-bunny is a phallic lump, melting by the hour. Now the snow flakes blow sideways and then stop mid-flight to steer the other way like a beautifully choreographed dance. surprise snow storm on a walk home from friends My two cats and dog all sit within a few feet of me, their ears back as they try to interpret the whispering wind. It is unsettling and exciting at the same time. Spring knocks on our door. sunny sunny hike with Ruby and Alice I can feel this shift in energy as Margot giggles and dons flip flops declaring it is SO warm at 38 degrees. The seed displays are up, friends plan camping trips. And I have this urge to freshen up spaces. Being that this is our new home, there are plenty of opportunities to transform. Of course we can’t do anything to the main house until June but, oh man, we are dreaming about it. In the mean time, we get to spiff up our apartment, embracing tiny adjustments to improve our feng shui. A well placed plant disguises the litter box in our living room, a shifted kitchen table allows for easy bunk bed access, the removal of chairs allows for some negative space around those cast about books and dolls. One of the first things I wanted to change were the window treatments. In addition to not being a blind fan in general, I have children who have become quite adept at turning anything into a toy. I am not sure why it feels fun to wrap their bodies in the stringy apparatus but every time we neglected to hoist it up high, one or both of my kids would step right into the lasso and start wrapping. Once, I had to cut it off of Margot. Anyway. I made curtains! Margot and I talked on Saturday while Ruby napped and Andy worked on our new chicken coop and his new painting studio (my handy man!!). She turned to me and said, “mama, when are you ever going to make me that pink and orange skirt? And that shiny pink long dress? And fix my sun-moon costume?” I have been saying I’d do these things some day for so long now, as she watched me stitch things for other people every day. On this day I said, “How about right now?” And we peeled out to the studio. I made her skirt and she was so over the moon about it, immediately stripping down and spinning (sorry, no photos!). We had so much fun sewing together, just she and I. I fixed her sun-moon and then asked if she’d mind if I started in on my curtains, the ones I’ve been wanting to make for over a month now. “No mama!” she squealed as she spun on one foot. Holy smokes, it felt good to sew long, straight and fast. I sew so much detail work these days with tiny, precise stitches, seam allowances and thread tensions. On this bright afternoon, I floored it and felt the six yards of fabric zip into curtains, wind in my hair. I found the fabric at Selvedge Studio (Red Work Renaissance by Chloe’s Closet for moda, #32620) and just fell in love. It reminded me of my happy curtains that we sold with our house. Rockin’ textiles are so inspiring. I just couldn’t wait to work with this fabric. Deets: One inch top hem, four inch bottom hem, one inch side hems. I opted for the clips and rings because it is easy for my kids to open and close the curtains. Have you noticed how hideous and expensive curtain rods are? In my opinion, they are most all gawdy and clunky. I wanted a simple, streamlined object that would hold curtains. I didn’t need finials the size of my head or faux-finished marble. Being that I am married to one foxy electrician I thought I’d use conduit and then asked him to think on a bracket. He came through with a brilliant idea. They are called 1/2″ EMT minis and are available at electrical supply stores, 25 cents each. I cut the conduit down and spray painted those the whole shebang turquoise while it was snowing, which was hilarious. four 1/2″ minis, conduit and spray paint for two 60″ curtain rods: $8 a few nails in the plywood held the conduit in place for spraying I needed something to finish off the ends and, for real, I didn’t have a clue what I’d discover and then I remembered I spontaneously fell in love with and purchased four glass knobs at an antique shop in Ennis a few weeks ago! When I brought them home, Andy was all yeah those are awesome but what can we do with only four knobs? Well, darling love of my life, check it. A magic collision of divine awesomeness. Wrapped in bubble wrap, I shoved those mo fos in the ends. When we first moved into this small space the novelty and excitement carried us. A few weeks in, the challenges darkened our enthusiasm a bit. And now, I am so happy to report we are in our new groovy groove: sleep is happening, we are all getting the quiet personal space we need. It took some work to get here and, oh, it feels fantastic. Andy even brought up the possibility of staying in our little apartment for a while longer…hmm. I’m not so sure about that but I am really thankful to be here now. I wrote about our funny everyday and the surprising, bewildering moments of happiness I have in this week’s mama digs: our story. I had fun writing this essay and I am happy with it as I feel like it really captures Us, Now. I love my new curtains. And the creatures they frame. happy hump day out there! Read more on groovy curtains…
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tramp magic

The girls and I set out for our daily outside romp, the one where I beam and my kids beam and we take turns exclaiming at the mountains’ beauty, the sun’s brilliance and how lucky we feel to live here. I just don’t ever get over it, the grounding, buzzing beauty of Montana. And our new home is situated so we have the opportunity to spin circles and sing like Maria on the hilltop and have 360 degree postcard-worthy views. This location is what pulled us to move across town. It’s quiet and open with access to trails that zig all the way up to grizzly bear country. What we didn’t know was how awesome the neighborhood would be, that every neighbor would stop by to meet us, welcome us with pies, cookies and no-need-for-handshakes–straight to hugs. People have fences around their yards with gates on all sides so neighbor kids can just pop over whenever. One guy spent an entire summer de-rocking a city-owned field and irrigating it so the kids could have a place to play soccer. When we bought our house, we had to agree to a few unconventional criteria: one, we had to be groovy with the hood cutting through our property to access the sledding hill and two, the home came with a tractor and we had to commit to mowing 1/3 of the field behind our house so the Tuesday night kickball and after-school baseball could occur. There’s a unique, cozy, invested energy in this valley and we are head-over-heels about that surprise. On this particular day’s outing we sledded and I smiled, proud mama, as I witnessed my kids’ independence and fearlessness. Margot then told me about a secret she and her dad had found the day before, revealed by a neighbor. We raced up the hill and around a tree to find a giant trampoline. Situated right at the edge of a property, these neighbors placed it so anyone could use it at anytime. A secret trampoline on a mountainside. Oh man, I had one of the best experiences of my life on that tramp with my daughters. Just joy. We jumped and rolled, beginning in our snow gear and shedding layers on the sun-warmed black mesh. :: onto another subject about people who are equally in love with our state :: Read more on tramp magic…
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get away, come home.

I got home just in time for my kids bedtime last night, after two nights and two days away from my kids. The longest since Margot was born. It was awesome. Packing up the car with four friends, listening to The Go Gos top volume, talking talking talking about spouses, kids, work, aging, life goals, insecurities, triumphs. Singing karaoke (the singing!! oh man we were so good) and dancing into the wee hours at a tiny town bar, tarot cards, soaking in hot springs, hiking, running, cheeks aching from laughter. We were derailed by a blizzard on Friday night that forced us to pull off just outside of Butte. The rest of the weekend was spent in Ennis, the town where my mom was born. The trip was perfectly timed for me as I have had this realization over the last few weeks that both Ruby and I need a little structured space apart. We’re together always and we love that. And it is time for her to have a bit of her own thing, me to have a bit of space that is completely my own. I’m talking about a regularly scheduled babysitter, one day a week, while Margot is at school. For a variety of reasons I don’t fully know just yet, it’s been hard for me to get here, to taking this small step of predictable separation from my youngest daughter. I have a feeling I’ll be writing more about it… So a comfortable, supportive, indulgent, relaxing, hilarious weekend with four women I trust, admire and adore was beyond perfection. It felt so good to get away. And, man, it felt so good to hug my kids last night. In this week’s mama digs, I wrote a bit about my experiences getting groovy with childhood developmental charts and my own anxieties. Click to read mama digs: different kind of rainbow. Also, I forgot to link up last week’s mama digs where I wrote about being a mama and an occasional diva. Click to read mama digs: fro sho. The randomly selected winner of $50 at REcreate Designs: #3, Lindsay said…The tee skirts are adorable! So cute and creative! (I am also now a fan on FB) Congrats sister! Email to claim your prize. The rest of you can grab 10% off your purchase using coupon code ‘digthischick.’ Wishing you all a wonderful Monday out there. Read more on get away, come home….
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