nuggets: thanks and three

nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words

I looked back on my blog to last year at this time. I first scrolled through the photos of my tiny children, a swell of nostalgia and ache for them to return to that age for just one full minute. In those 60 seconds I’d meditate on their little bodies, their voice, their movement. I’d press my face into their eyelids and kiss the soft, hollow spot behind their earlobes.

My post was written several days after Thanksgiving and started with this:

I know Thanksgiving blog posts were like so five minutes ago but that’s cool with me. I still wear bootcut jeans too.

I found solidarity with my last-year self. I considered going back to 2007 — that Thanksgiving my belly was round with Margot — and rolling through the last five years of photos and words at November’s end. But in my sniffling sentimental state and with both kids at school, I have elected to focus on this year’s holiday. I’ll save that memory stroll for another time, one where my kids are asleep down the hall so I can visit and rub my nose against theirs when I feel a heart surge to touch their aliveness.


:: We spent Thanksgiving on St. Mary’s Peak, in a friend’s cabin. Seven of the steepest switchbacks I’ve ever seen; I am too chicken to drive it in the summer. Add 5 inches of snow and I was out.


Andy put chains on the truck and muscled his way up, literally inch by inch, while I pulled a 65 pound sled of children. We beat Andy (who of course made it safely) and, holy smokes, was I exhausted after that climb.


We then hiked into the cabin, a small space on stilts overlooking the Bitterroot valley. And there we stayed for two days.


:: The cabin has a small oven run on a generator but no running water so we made everything at home, the night before and morning of. I woke at 4am to put our 23 pound bird in the oven. Ruby fell asleep while the brussel’s sprouts were baking and Margot fell asleep at the table in Andy’s lap so our dinner was quiet and happy, just Andy and me toasting and eating, in our socked feet on a mountaintop by candlelight.


:: Ruby turned three.

talking to my mom and dad after pancakes

:: If there were an Extreme Family Sled competition, I feel certain we’d win.


And here, my family waits for me to hop in. With all four of us, we were a rocket of laughter, screams and squeals. “Come on mom! Let’s GO!”


:: She had a good birthday, I believe.


:: I loved on my girl at 10:08, the time she first gulped oxygen into her lungs three years ago. This tradition of ceremony around the exact moment of birth comes from my mom who has told me she loves me every year for 34 years at 7:38pm on February 8.


:: We left the cabin to prepare for Ruby’s birthday party, which I wrote about in this week’s mamalode column. Click to read mama digs: perfectly three.

:: I gave Ruby her doll the on Thanksgiving morning. Why wait? Be still my heart, she loves her so much. She named her Dolly.


Many of you asked for pattern details (especially the hair!). I’ll do my best to make some sense out of my spontaneous construction and post it soon.

:: Saint Mary’s Peak from the valley:


:: Andy swings an axe to a chorus of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.


:: Endless rounds of Go Fish and book reading.


:: Friends hiked in for a visit (more Go Fish) followed by Andy’s dad and stepmom joining us for an evening (more Go Fish).


:: “Mama I have a great idea. How bout I just sit wif you and eat snow all day night!? Because I like you.”


Ruby, darling girl:

I like you *so* much that it squeaks in my bones, way deep, deeper than I knew existed before I met you. I like you smooth and steady as my blood through veins, a river of love into an ocean of life. I like how you drop the “s” off of beginning of most words. I like to ‘nuggle with you and ‘leep with you. I like your cheeks and your fuzzy eyebrows. I like to hold your hand and read you books. I like that you paint every single day. I like how much you love animals. I like your curiosity. I like the hugs you give your big sister. I like you grumpy and happy alike. I like that one blond curl behind your right ear, the one that waves at girlhood.

Yes, I’d love to sit and eat snow with you all day night. Because, before I know it, it’ll be next year at this time and I’ll wish for 60 seconds of just that.


36 Responses to nuggets: thanks and three

  1. Terri Holt says:

    The glorious photos take my breath away! A beautiful tribute to one VERY special 3 year girl…written by one VERY special 34 year old daughter….I love how you love.
    Your mama
    ps….a few tears here….

  2. Trbholt says:

    pss….Alice truly is a Wonder Dog!

  3. Lisa says:

    Beautiful writing – Making me all teary and melancholic reading this, wish my girl was home from school as now I am aching for a cuddle with her. What a beautiful place to spend the weekend – so love sledding. Happy 3 rd birthday Ruby.

  4. Maggie says:

    That cabin view is killer!

    Beautiful photos, beautiful words. I feel like I know your girls-through the click clack of the keyboard. I can’t help but think- we they are mamas, they are going to read your words and feel *so* grateful for YOU and their childhood.

  5. Jacki says:

    *sniff* Lovely, lovely. My heart aches for a place like that cabin and for the love of a little one who wants to sit and eat snow with me all day night. Happy birthday to Ruby.

  6. tracey says:

    My son’s grandparents came out to visit for a week and we played endless rounds of FEAST Bingo! Great fun for all, and the winner gets one hershey kiss. Which prompts my son to want to keep playing until everyone wins!

  7. Oh, the love. 60 seconds, my wish exactly.
    Happy Birthday Ruby! I started following your mama’s blog just before you were born…crazy eh? Now, a focused 60 seconds (or more) for my little cherub who just turned one on a Thankful day….

  8. Ani says:

    This all looks too fun and awesome! Happy Birthday to your little gal.

  9. Brandi says:

    What a lovely holiday/birthday weekend!!! I read through most of this with tears in my eyes. I miss Montana. My biggest little guy is turning 3 next month too. Your pictures are gorgeous!!!

  10. Angie says:

    Oh Woman,
    I love the little letter. I have jotted down little notes to my kids before, but I am so going to write them letters from here on. It’s important.
    Tons of admiration for you.

    ps – I’m always wishing for those 60 seconds… we moms always will.

  11. Angie says:

    I totally left you a comment but I think it evaporated.
    I basically said you’re awesome. Love the letter. I’m so writing letters to my kids now, along with the little notes I jot to them.

    • dig dig says:

      I am trying to mitigate spam and many comments are queued up waiting until I ‘approve’ them! Sorry about that. And thanks for your words.

      • Angie says:

        I see me now! No worries at all. I figured my computer was doing its own thing again. It does that from time to time. I just wanted to make sure you received the comment, because … without getting really deep into it … I really appreciate your writing; your ability to put into words the celebration of being a woman, mother, daughter, friend and alive. You’re good people, Nici.

  12. 6512 says:

    Happy birthday little snow-eater!

  13. Tina says:

    Why must you make me cry?!!? Going to squeeze my own two girls right now!

  14. JenH says:

    Oh Nici,
    I am so glad for your posts but especially for this one as we get ready to celebrate Leah’s third birthday.
    As Leah tells me, “I love you a lot of little bits”.

  15. Ariel says:

    Tears! Your way with words touches me deep. Every time. Love you and your beautiful family!!!

  16. KayDeeGee says:

    I was doing great until I read those wonderful words your mama wrote about those wonderful words you wrote. Oh be still my heart!!!

  17. Amy says:

    i love your birthday love letter to her. i need to start doing that. won’t be as beautifully written though. great job mama!

  18. Helen says:

    Dig, good heavens, is that cabin Heaven on Earth? How marvellous that you were able to be there, just the five of you (I include Alice) and such a great tradition to love on the Rubester at the exact ‘moment’ ….
    Perhaps time for number 3? Just sayin’ …….
    With love from our house to yours

  19. Liane says:

    Wow.. What a breathtaking post. The writing, the photos, the feeling. You have a very special talent and are such an inspiration to me.
    Happy belated birthday to Ruby!
    Liane x

  20. Caroline says:

    Absolutely LOVE this one. Happy Birthday, Rubes. So much to be thankful for. xo

  21. Jen D. says:

    This made me so teary. Thank you for sharing your lovely family with all of us. You are such an amazing mama, and I get so much inspiration from you for what kind of mother I want to be when I have children. It looks like a perfect, celebratory weekend. Especially loved the pics of Alice running with the sled…my pup does that too!

  22. Jeanne says:

    Your words and love are SO descriptive! Thanks for writing your blog and posting your pix! It’s something I look forward to every week. Wish I could convince my daughters to do the same….it will be such a keepsake for your girls when they’re grown.

    Love Ruby’s doll’s hair….how did you do that?!

  23. finny says:

    ACK! The absolute sweetest post. Brought tears to these eyes.

    You may just be the greatest mom in the world.

  24. shannon says:

    tears streaming….
    the way you love your children is the way I love mine … yet the way you are able to express it through words rocks my world…
    Please write a book! I would buy it!

  25. Kara says:

    I love your blog! You captured the feelings in my heart for my little ones so well in this post! I am from Dallas, visiting Missoula right now, and I found your blog several months ago. It made me fall in love with Missoula. Is there any chance you have time to talk with me this weekend about your town?

    • dig dig says:

      Hi Kara,

      Welcome to Missoula! Hope you enjoyed yourself despite our soggy weekend. If you are still around tomorrow, it’d be fun to meet up. Thanks for asking. :)

  26. angelika says:

    I do the same thing with my boys…that exact minute that they are born (thankfully both were afternoon babies and not wee morning hour babies)…squeeze them even tighter. I find it interesting that men don’t generally remember the exact time…my husband always says, “Oh around 1:00.” No. 1:05 and 1:38 – life alterting minutes both times. :)

  27. Monique says:

    Oh so wonderfully beautiful!! I absolutely love this post!! It brought back so many awesome childhood memories of sledding. My siblings and I would fly through the forest trees down a self made trail. I can hear the screams and the belly aching laughter…thank you for the memory!! You are an amazing Mama raising two sweet sweet girls…

  28. Bee says:

    Aww Happy Birthday, sweet Ruby!
    Ohhhhhh how sweet does Alice look- so strong and free galloping through that snow! : )

  29. Val D - Yaya says:

    My granddaughter, Kaylin Rose, was born Feb. 8, 2012 at 7:13am! So, I’ll think of you as I celebrate her arrival each year! And Dolly is lovely, who wouldn’t love her?

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