this here, now (35 things I love)

Yesterday began in bed. Four small bicycling legs, two on each side of me. Giggles echoing in the down comforter tent. So dark outside, tree silhouettes not yet showing. I groaned that I wanted more sleep but they saw my grin and knew I’d join their buoyant bubble soon enough.

Ruby: Mama, it’s your ‘tend birfday or your real birfday?
Me: It’s my real birthday. Do you remember how old I am?
Margot: 21! 22?
Ruby: 23? 24? 27!
Margot: Not even 27?! Wow. Then, 21?


I remember when anything after 27 seemed roughly the same. That’s a lot of counting for a person who thinks a five-hour road trip is equivalent to one year of life. After 27, we might as well count in tens. 30ish, 40ish etc. Thirty-five does sound older, I do think. As a friend pointed out, I have graduated from checking the ’18-34′ age demographic box to the ’35-50′ box.

Our family has Fridays off together so my birthday on this day felt luxurious. I had coffee in bed and then coffee in the sunroom and then coffee with breakfast. We walked around downtown Missoula and drank more coffee in the 37 degree air, the sun’s rays gossiping about spring. No coats, chilly in the shade we found all the vitamin D-drenched patches. Leaned against buildings. The girls created other worlds in bike racks, sidewalk cracks and alley rocks. We spent hours just like that.


Once home, Andy read books to the girls, encouraging a nap. He was the one who fell asleep. Mama can I have rest time while I dance at the same time? Margot asked.

My girlfriends arrived in the afternoon and we shuffled across slippery snow, over ridges, our feet keeping the conversation’s rhythm. Movement feels so good.


The hike transitioned into an evening of bad pizza, good beer and three bowling lanes. The jovial din of the alley was perfectly met by our energetic crew that represented every age box from ‘in utero’ on up to ‘gets senior discounts’. My kids chose balls to match their dresses and they and their posse danced until it turned disco.


I felt lucky and in love.

In honor of my 35 years, 35 things I love right now.

1. Cooking with my heavy dutch oven, from stove to oven to plates to bellies.
2. Exploring my backyard.


3. Swear words.
4. My husband, the boy I met when I was 11 who turned into the man I feel most beautiful around. Actually, maybe he was always that person.
5. Doing dishes.


6. A little bit of eye makeup, every so often, for the first time ever.
7. Dreaming about how I want to remodel our home.
8. Waking up every morning with both my kids tucked into me, just like newborns except they’re giant and sturdy (ok, this is annoying at first but then it’s lovely).
9. You. My readers. I have sincere affection for YOU and your unique, powerful goodness.
10. My studio.


11. My little brother is getting married in May!!!
12. My electric girlfriends, most of whom I’ve known for 10-25 years.
13. Recently learning to make yogurt (yes, post coming).
14. Cooking with my daughters.


15. Having the high charge and awesome privilege of hanging with these rad kids every day.


16. Besame’s Red lipstick and my blue knit circle scarf, made by my talented friend.  Oh I find them cheerful in all this winter neutrality.


17. Margot’s honesty, kindness, athleticism and drive. She loves finding fleshy deer legs as much as playing princesses. She adores gymnastics.

Photobucketthat’s a fleshy deer leg


18. Ruby’s humor, tenderness, loyalty and determination. She prefers a change of clothes every 12 minutes. And loves cheese, doing what her sister does and cradling bugs and making up stories about their families. She has a special relationship with Cup, the chick she named last spring.

19. Farro.
20. Skiing as a family; all four of us on skis and able.
21. Being completely honest about how I feel and what I want. All the time. And surrounding myself with people who do the same.
22. Ruby says every day, many times, “I just want to be wif you.”


23. Sunrise.


24. Merino wool tights.
25. My new espresso machine.
26. Thrifting.
27. Sideways glances.
28. Considering home schooling.
29. Margot has a loose tooth and wears my grandmother’s clip-on earrings every day.

she went on a glitter date with my best friend last week

30. My mom and dad.
31. Trust.
32. Mountains.


33. My daughters’ deep, sweet love for each other.


picking up Margot from school

34. Yellow.
35. This here, now.


I do this every year and you can read what I loved at 34, 33, 32, 31 and 30).


48 Responses to this here, now (35 things I love)

  1. Minnesotagal says:

    Isn’t it great that with every birthday come *more* things to love! A good reason to embrace each passing year. Love this tradition of yours!

  2. Kelsie says:

    Happiest of birthday’s to you!!! Say thanks to your mama!! :)

  3. paige says:

    you look more beautiful than ever. happy new age bracket.
    love you.

  4. Katie says:

    Love this post, Nici. You are gorgeous and a real inspiration. Happy 35! xo

  5. Oh, this is awesome, Nici! Happy B-day!! I am turning 35 in a month and a half and also feels like it’s a big step too (must be that box checking category thing). I must admit that I am excited that you are considering homeschooling. I have always thought you were a homeschooler since I read Margot was starting school… We are travel/worldschoolers/unschoolers and LOVING it!

  6. Tammy says:

    Just lovely. Happy birthday!!!

  7. *Happy 35th! It’s not such a big deal, being in the next bracket. As I inch closer to 40, I find myself considering eye makeup as well : )
    *No. 21 is why you’re awesome.
    *Ruby is such a doll. We have heard so much about Margot over the years, Ruby seems like the mystery child. I love getting glimpses into that younger child of yours.
    *I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on homeschooling. I find myself considering the same, though we’re still a few years out. I am a big supporter of public schools, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it may not be the cat’s meow after all.

  8. Wesley says:

    Happy birthday, dig! I love reading your birthday lists each year! Hope you have a fabulous 35th year of life. Cheers!

  9. Jayne Barnes says:

    Fleshy deer leg! I love it! And I love that you let your daughter pick that up! Happy Birthday!

  10. Kellyn says:

    Lovely list (especially number 13 – can’t wait to hear how it worked out!)

    Happy 35!

  11. Jacki says:

    This is a wonderful idea, a birthday loves list. So many big and little things to love in life. Ruby loves “cradling bugs and making up stories about their families” – precious.

    Happy 35th!

  12. Kerry says:

    Happy 35th, what a wonderful post! <3

  13. You know I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and have always enjoyed your birthday lists but this one really touched me. I’m so happy for you that your life is so very rich and, yet, so very simple. And, having just turned 45 (gulp!) as January merged into February, I can assure you that it will only get better from here. May this be your best year yet with more beautiful, wonderful, inspiring years to come. Happy Birthday!

    • dig dig says:

      Hi! Haven’t heard from you in a while. I always appreciate hearing from the people I’ve ‘known’ for years. :)

      I do feel rich…and it has nothing to do with our cash flow. I know you understand.

      Happy belated birthday to you.


  14. Wendy says:

    What a fabulous tradition to list the things you love! Oh, the pictures of Ruby holding Cup are stunning. :)

  15. Daniele says:

    Love the list. Good idea to do every year on your birthday. Homeschooling….man, I’ve been thinking about it a lot as I get ready to register my 5 year old for K on Wed (!!!!!) My profession is education and taught 3rd grade before having my girls. I think this has been more of a curse than a blessing (knowing the inner workings of a school a little too well) in making decisions….just SO much to think about.

    • dig dig says:

      SO much to think about! Oh man, we’ve been thinking and thinking and talking and reading. I keep reminding myself that I can always change my mind! I sometimes I find I get stuck in feeling like I am making a choice that will last for 12 years. In reality, we are making a choice that will last until we decide we want change. It brings me a lot of relief.

      • Daniele says:

        EXACTLY. And we need to remember this so that we feel comfortable with our choices. That’s why I’m ok with registering her tomorrow. She can try it out, we can see if it fits her needs, and each year re-evaluate! It brings a real sense of peace to remain cognizant that this decision can be changed in either direction at any time within the next 12 years.

        Last year at this time we were having a hard time deciding on if she should start K at 4 just turning 5 or if we should wait until 5 just turning 6 because her birthday is right near our state’s cutoff date. I would toss and turn trying to make the decision. When I was a teacher with no children of my own I had no clue I’d agonize over such things, I thought it’d all be easy. ha!!

  16. Jessi says:

    Love this post. Love the sweater you wore on your bday. Love that I can feel my hometown through your words and your photos. And I hope this next year is the best one yet.

    (Comment #2 from me! I can probably stop counting them now :) )

  17. Nici girl, love that you had coffee everywheres on your birthday morning. Love that you all have Fridays together (we do too!). Love the sisterly love. So happy for you! Keep shining! See you in Colorado someday, right? Right? xo

    • dig dig says:

      Aren’t three-day weekends the greatest?! Oh man, it feels like so much more time, that one extra day. Thanks for the love. xo

  18. Amy says:

    What a great idea. Beautiful post! Love the picture of lil Ruby holding the chicken– so cute!

  19. Nikki says:

    Oh go on homeschool! You would make such an awesome homeschooling mumma…… necessary “skills” for homeschooling mumma in my own humble opinion…. fiercly loves being around her children & has many passions (having and following a passion is the best thing in the world i think a child can learn ever)… ok you are totally qualified!!

  20. Happy 35th Birthday!!!! I havn’t commented in awhile, but I never miss a post. Your blog is one of my top 3 : D Even though I am older than you, I feel like I learn something from you every time I visit. You are a wise soul, and you remind me of my best girlfriend! Seriously, y’all look alike, are interested in the same things and even have the same maiden name of Holt!!!! Crazy! LOL

  21. #4 got me good. she’d a little tear and made a quick ugly cry face. fucking beautiful. 😉

  22. shed. (autocorrect). and the cuss was encouraged by #3. also I’ve been told I speak like a pirate. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIG THIS CHICK!!! such a fan of ya!

    • dig dig says:

      Oh I love a well-placed f bomb. Hell, I just like the gratifying blunt sound no matter its placement. Thanks for a great comment. :)

  23. Brandi says:

    I love reading your birthday list each year!!! I now do a list of faves on birthday too. :)

  24. Teresa Martin says:

    “My husband…the man I feel most beautiful around” what a sweet, simple testament to your relationship, your marriage, your husband and yourself. Lovely.
    I also really like that your husband came right after swear words. Ha!
    Happy Birthday.

  25. Abigail says:

    Happy Birthday, Nici! I am absolutely enamored with your 35 years. Thank you for sharing. A2

  26. Tiffany Soukup says:

    Gorgeous post. Loved it. It looks like you have started the year with much grace.

  27. Sarah says:

    I love you, too!! Love your blog, your spirit and seeing pictures of your beautiful life. Happy Birthday! :)

  28. Pam says:

    Sometimes I read your blog and forget to fully appreciate your incredibly beautiful photography. It’s stunning and the perfect compliment to your words. Just such a great blog altogether. Bravo for you and your 35 years.

  29. sian says:

    Aw this post warmed my heart. Such loveliness.Happy birthday lovely Lady xxx

  30. Marti says:

    I swear way to much ALL.DAY.LONG. I’ve tried not to but it’s just not worth the effort. Also, people listen better when I swear. Apparently I look like a good little church girl so when I drop MotherFucker in a conversation they usually pay attention.

    I’m so glad you had a Very Happy Birthday!

  31. Trbholt says:

    Thirty five and more beautiful that ever!
    I so look forward to your annual “love” list! Thank you for #30… You make me so proud to be your mother….xoxo

  32. AMY says:

    Oh man you look so stylish in your tight black skinnies, toms and cardi – beautiful!
    Happy Birthday Friend!

  33. Dakota says:

    Happy Birthday!!! I always love reading your age lists of things you love. I look forward to them every year.

    My little sister and I were homeschooled when I was little all the way up until high school (my little sister got put in middle school). It’s really a different trip for everyone depending on the curriculum you choose and the other opportunities you have around you – but if you’ve ever got questions about the experience feel free to email me!

  34. Nina says:

    I love your blog. Your girls are adorable and have such great character! You inspire me. I promise I’m not as creepy as I sound:)

  35. finny says:

    Oh dear – just the biggest old birthday hug from your friend, Finny.

    Here’s to a greatGREAT year and finding that 36th thing that you love for next year’s list.

    I’ll catch up to you in August, so warm up 35 for me. IT BETTER BE AWESOME WHEN I GET THERE.


  36. Caroline says:

    35 reasons why I love you so much. 36 if you include the list (you know how I love The Lists.) xoxo

  37. Annie says:

    I’m loving your blog. Your strength and confidence in who you are. Transcends to my family. Being strong and confident in who I am. Grateful for your blog!!

  38. Jaim says:

    Oh happy birthday Nici! 35 is such a great year, but 36 is even better!


  39. Jennifer says:

    I remember reading these lists in the past and simply adoring the thought that has gone into your annual list. I’m sure most of these come right off the top of your head instinctually, but I know there’s more than instinct involved – I can only guess that your head swirls with depth.

    And welcome to the next age bracket. It’s not all that scary. I feel stronger and more sure of who I am and who I spend it with than ever before.

    Peace and cheers!

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