Somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry

My daughters watch themselves dance in the window reflection. Margot tucks her shirt in, untucks it. Sways her hips from side to side. Tucks it in again. Spins on one foot, her bejeweled plastic heels stomping the turn to a stop.

Mama, when I am 12 I want to fly all the way across the country all by myself with no mom or dad!

Ruby believes she invented the side ponytail. She spends at least 10 minutes smoothing every hair into this intention every morning. The hairstyle changes in one hour. By the end of the day it’s always down, a tangled mess of blond.

Mama, I feel so beautiful.

They visit my sewing studio in search of fabric for the day’s cape. They play kittens, babies, school, family, princesses and vacation. They carry purses full of treasures on their shoulders at all times. Rocks, coins, lip balm, carousel tokens, tiny stuffed sheep, tinkerbell, drawings.

Margot is 6 1/2. I remember wearing a 6x, remember my cat peachy folder, Mrs. Ryding, my mom’s soft brown locks. My girl is promising swirl of thoughtfulness, wisdom, confidence and gumption.

Ruby studies her sister, often torn by wanting to do what Margot does and wanting to do what she wants. She usually does what she wants. Ruby is a promising swirl of tenderness, earnestness, resilience and courage.

I really want my own room but I can’t even handle not sleeping with my sister. Ever.

Our entire family knows every word to every song on the disney pandora station. The girls feel like they win at life, many times a day, when Do You Want to Build a Snowman and Let it Go come on. Recently, the interest has shifted, especially with Margot. She now likes the Katy Perry station. Ruby prefers “princess music.” They talk it through and bounce back and forth until I call it quits and call on Gillian Welch.

You’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
Do you want to build a snowman?
Or ride our bikes around the halls?
You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through

My daughters want to be together all the time. Even when they argue, pinch and hit — they sit with it. Sit with each other. I feel proud of this, proud of them. One of my primary parenting goals is to give my daughters each other. To support them in their authentic love and problem-solving; to give it to them instead of stepping in to manage. To hope for a strong relationship between them that outlives me. To show them what it’s like when someone always has your back. Inclusivity, empathy, compromise, listening, sharing — all these vital life skills are learned in my daughter’s shared bedroom and through their shared experiences.

(the story of the turtle we found in the road, in the middle of nowhere)

(the story of the toad at the river)

My husband and I are witnessing change that is both profound and ordinary, as our kids cut deeper into their channel of self-discovery and personal style, as they sort through this world. Andy and I swim beside them – in our own channels – sharing their light, sharing our light. Together, finding our way.

We leave tomorrow for one last summer hurrah – a 10 day road trip. After a very full few weeks of working to prepare for this time away, I cannot wait to get out and about, exploring. Our family is at its best when out there, I believe. Oh the glory of no cell service! The blessing of nothing to do but talk and play made-up games in the woods! The time to just be, somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry, together.

weekend camp trip details:

first night (forested images): Lake Alva Campground
second night (river images): River Junction Campground
lost turtle: on the road to Upsata Lake
last photo, THE BAG: by Dharma Door, my new favorite everything tote. My friends own Dharma Door, a company that designs & sources Fair Trade, sustainable homewares and lifestyle products. You can have 15% off your order with coupon code DIGTHISCHICK.

14 Responses to Somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry

  1. Kelly Leuck says:

    I was just thinking about your lovely blog, then, magic! There you were. Love your words. I hope your ten days are fantastic!

  2. Maggie says:

    When I miss you and wish that we lived closer– I come here. It feels like I’m sitting across from you. We’re sipping espresso and storytelling, while the kids swirl around us. I’m thankful for this space.

    Oh, and Margot: car mirror and French braid (!!!) Mercy, that’s good.

  3. Nici! Love love LOVE Alice in the river with a BIG stick… happy dog. And the girls are getting so big… I swear they are on hyper-drive-growing-up this summer. Thanks so much for the shout out! (Just sent you an email about our link though… should be to our USA site, not Australia: )
    Hope your vacation is amazing & relaxing & fills you up!

    • dig dig says:

      Eeek! Can’t believe I did that. It’s fixed mama. xo

      • Patricia Earnshaw says:

        Love following your blog. Your children are amazing and really living the good life. They get to embrace so much beauty around them daily. Your camping trips are always so gorgeous and lovely. Your brave taking your girls at times and camping by yourselves. I’ve followed you from Kelli’s visit years ago. Your both amazing writers. Thank you for showing me Montana through your eyes.

  4. Molly says:

    Every.Single.Word. about your girls and their relationship and your wish for them and that relationship came straight from my heart via your fingers and onto this page. I have exactly the same hopes for mine.
    And we’re having exactly the same shared bedroom conversation too!
    Have a lovely trip away.

  5. Oh this post! It resonates so strongly with me. I have twin daughters (age 4) in a shared room who are also beginning to be somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry. I’m lamenting the fact that there is no more ‘baby’ in them but joyful watching how the are growing.

    I love this space. You are so thoughtful and reflective.

    Enjoy your holiday!

  6. Sara Paul says:

    If only you knew how much you are echoing EGGS-ACTLY what is going on perfectly. Right. Now. In. My. Life. But you’re putting gorgeous language to it. I love it. Last night was the night that my oldest pleaded with me to sleepover at her friends house where she was playing. “Please?!? Pllleeeassse?” I have to ask dad. “Ok,” she said on the phone, “But what’s YOUR answer?” I could hear her friend in the background begging her. I packed her a bag, dropped it off, my heart is feeling this selfish weight ‘she’s choosing her friend tonight’. She reluctantly gave me a kiss good-night. “Bye, mama. See ya tomorrow!”

    But – I saw her again that night. Only a few hours later…8:50 on the dot. Tears in her eyes. As I was driving her back in the dark…teeth brushed, nightgown under a sweater, stuffed elephant being tightly hugged…I was thought, “Well, ok. Not yet, I guess. But close. Really close.”

  7. MELINA says:

    Hey Nici, a triumph of a post, as usual. I remember when I first started listening to the radio. Not Prairie Home Companion, but pop music. I was in sixth grade. I had no interest in it whatsoever and then one day, while *literally* playing with my troll collection in my playroom, I switched it on and started to recognize a few songs. I really enjoyed it. I remember my mom coming in and saying, “do you know what that means? it means you’re growing up!” And then I went nuts, making a big show of turning the radio off and taking it to another room. I didn’t want to grow up! This was before Elsa Anna Olaf and even Katy. I would have said I was somewhere between the musical “Carousel” and the spice girls. And….I still am.

    Anyway, I absolutely love your road trip/camping with family photos. They make me really excited to have some kids so I can tug them out into the woods. Oh Nici, I love your writing, your photos, your girls, and you! Let’s talk soon!


  8. This is my favorite of your writing, your intention, your reflection, your grasp of Right Now, and of the ever shifting river. We are there too–shared room, shared life, a swirl of togetherness but with that 2 year difference, a shift of our own. Also preparing for a road trip circling western Wyoming. Been reading your blog for half a decade now, crazy! It’s my favorite. Your writing, your images, your reflection, your drive, your intention. Thank you and have a wonderful cell-free road trip!

  9. I’ve been thinking a lot about sister relationships lately and this post inspired me to get it out there. Thanks! Gave you credit on my blog, of course : )

  10. Bekah says:

    BEAUTIFUL!! the words, the pics, the life, all of it!

  11. trbholt says:

    YOU take my breath away Burb….xo!