Saturday, February 28, 2009


There are so many words to go with that little video, so many words that I feel I've said before and, worried that I may become redundant, don't want to go into. But I will say that there is such beauty in watching my child's relationship with her best little buddy develop. It's simple and complex and kind and bitchy and funny and quirky and all other markers of a legitimate relationship. Because they share a babysitter twice a week, there's this great marker of time because I always know that I'll get to watch Moana and Elie in action a few times a week. There's this lovely consistency in those sorts of time markers for me these days. And on Tuesdays, often fabulous babysitter Kelly leaves when Casey arrives to pick-up Moanie. So I get to come home to my two favorite little girls and one of my very favorite big girls. It's icing on the cake. On Tuesday I walked into Elie's room and they were jumping and laughing like little hooligans in El's crib. It's such a happy, happy sight after my wild and focused work days.

I count on it as a super moment in my week. Lots of super moments these days. Eliana loves songs and loves to be sung to. It's something I can count on. She loves her books and she loves breakfast. She loves to watch people come and go from our big front window, loves to wave wildly and say, "Bye bye!" when our friends leave. She adores her friends and talks about them relentlessly. She loves the ABC's and sang the whole song, totally out of the blue, tonight. And her voice got really high in the high parts and I laughed really, really hard. And counting. She loves to count.

But it seems that Eliana's blog is morphing into her mommy's blog or that her mommy suddenly has a lot more to say about her own life, beyond her babe. And I'm deciding that that's okay. So here are some other super things I count on in my week. I count on loving my bath alone, and loving my bath with Eliana. I count on teaching my yoga class and dance class and knowing that something about that studio or the music or the students will bring out my very best self. I count on falling asleep before my husband on most nights and count on wanting to hold him because he's always warm and lovely. I count on feeling infinitely better when the sun shines. I count on adoring my girlfriends and looking forward to any dates that I'm lucky enough to have with any of them. I count on loving my mom's voice on the phone. I count on playing phone tag with my sister and Melissa, but still loving their messages. I count on my second and third graders challenging and impressing me in new and unusual ways daily. I count on loving my community and feeling extremely blessed in my daily musings about town. I count on being totally taken aback by the view of the valley from the top of the mountain. I count on turning thirty five in nine days. I count on feeling old and young and wrinkly and splendid all at the same time. I count on vigor and exhaustion and giggles and depth and feeling like I know everything to feeling like I just learned how to tie my shoe. Actually, I never feel like I know everything. I don't really feel like I know much. But I'm trying. And it's cool to realize that the need to learn, the satisfaction in vulnerability, is part of the glory of the ride.

I can certainly count on learning more.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

to Boston and back

Woah. I just realized that the last two posts have been so totally about me. And now I'm about to do it again. Be all about me. But I think really the bigger picture here is, that I'm finally getting it. That to take care of me and be my best, balanced self, is in the end, good for my girl. So here goes.

I went all the way to Boston on two airplanes by myself and back. And didn't even cry.

Now I was a total wreck the week or so prior. I kept meaning to write about it, but couldn't even summon the energy to blog. I felt nauseous and freaky and scared. It wasn't that I was worried about Eliana. I knew that her daddy and nana and pop-pop would be exemplary, loving, fun caretakers. It was (again), all about me. I didn't know how I could get through that much time without holding her little body. Smelling her funny, I-finally-got-teeth breath. Having her pat me on the back when we hug. Hearing her sing her songs and say, "Again, again?" about everything that she loves.

But somehow, once I got on that first plane and started to go deep with one of my colleagues and enjoy an uninterrupted, meaningful conversation for two hours, I kinda got my groove on. Traveling was ridiculously easy without a tyke, we stayed in a luxurious, high-rise hotel, and the school gave us a generous stipend with which we enjoyed many lavish, citified meals. The conference was superb and not only recharged me professionally, it recharged me personally and made me really examine who I am and how much my actions and perceptions help shape my own reality. I've noticed that upon my return, I've been more willing to take risks with other people, even if it means being mildly confrontational. I have a history of being a pretty intense pleaser, so this new way of looking at my world is an exciting challenge.

And why in the world would we ever choose to stop evolving? There is so much growth to do, always room to understand ourselves better in an attempt to "be the change" we want to see.

Part of my new perception is that I can, indeed, leave my daughter and still be a good mama. Even a great mama. I can eat ridiculously delicious Indian food and take notes vigorously. I can read an entire novel on the plane and reflect on what it means to be internationally minded. And when I come home, I can find embracing, snowy mountains, a beautiful husband, a cared for home, and sneak a peak at my gorgeous girl, snuggled and sleepy in her crib. I can scoop her up in the morning, feel her arms around my neck, and smile when her first question for me is, "Daddy?"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

rockin' it!

How thankful am I for my talented friends! So glad Nici captured these moments on camera for me!

Wowzers, I had a fun night last night. I had an opportunity to dance for a show called, Off the Rack. It's a benefit for Blue Mountain Clinic and a fashion show where local artists fashion attire out of condoms. Lots of splendorious folks, old and young alike, were struttin' their stuff down the catwalk at the Wilma. The same theatre, I might add, where my girl Ani sang in July and my boyfriend, Michael Franti, sang last spring. Something about the venue intimidated me and it took me a while to commit to the gig. I didn't want to overextend myself and have to spend too much time away from my family rehearsing.

But oooh, was it worth it!

Oh how I love performing! It's such a wild rush when it goes well. Such a high. The piece I choreographed in the summer when I was truly feeling like I had recovered my old mojo back. It's a strong, aerobic, sultry number that is a blast to perform. And what a treat it was to dance with Heather. I have very high standards for who I perform with and she's pretty much the top of the line around these parts. We had a blast.

And it's true how empowering it is as a mama to do things that make you feel super fantastic about yourself. I woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks. I was so present with Eliana, so in love with my husband and my girlfriends and my sweet and progressive town.

We went out for a drink afterwards to celebrate Nici's birthday (Nici who rocked it down the runway with sweet Margot in her sprout pouch!) and I felt like all I kept saying was, "I love it here! I love you guys! That was so much fun!"

It's such a wonderful feeling to really embrace your community and know that you live in a place that is totally right for you. Give me some sunshine, a taste of local culture, a round of cocktails with my beautiful friends, and I'm absolutely content. Top that with a wild, chatty, blue-eyed, twenty pound wonder who just wants to snuggle in bed with her mama and papa the next morning -- it truly doesn't get much better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I love my girlfriends. I always have. It's funny, this Facebook thing is reminding me how very important girlfriends have always been in my life. I'm really into through lines right now. The through lines that run across our lives. One of mine is utter devotion and adoration of my girls.

Missoula has always kind of reminded me of being young. When I moved here, I temporarily stepped out of my "adult" life and found myself living in an apartment building with a bunch of college kids, their music and laughter and smoke ringing through the walls of our wacky place on Front Street. Jeff was in graduate school (aka, "gradual school") and I couldn't find full time teaching work. What happened was we had a year of piecing together rent while having a total blast. Everything was new. Gardening. Riding my bike. Hiking. Seasons. Snow. Cold. More snow. More cold. Backpacking and wilderness and feeling safe and feeling silly. And lots and lots of new friends who I thought were totally fantabulous.

That was almost seven years ago. Somewhere along the line, these new friends turned into old friends. And then I got new, new friends. And still was lucky enough to have the old, new friends. So now I just have an amazing group of friends!

When I was fretting over weaning, one of my most beloved old, new friends, Joellen, suggested a girl's trip of some sort as a way to get away from Els for some of the night time routine. We didn't get it together in time to coincide with weaning, but we did manage to get out last weekend.

What started as a fairly small group turned into sixteen, steady and strong, Missoula mamas. After a ridiculous number of group email exchanges, we got our ducks all sorted out and headed south. This state is absurdly beauteous and for a whole lotta little money, you can have one heck of a vacation. We began our journey at Chief Joseph Pass, where we cross country skied. This, by the way, is my favorite old, new sport. In fact, when I moved to Missoula, I wasn't really even sure what cross country skis were. Ah, the learning curve.

I love this sport, by the way. I love it so much I wonder why I even bother with all the yahoo-ness of the downhill saga. But that's another story. I love being out in nature, I love how quiet it is, I love the exercise, I love how balanced it feels. That's my new favorite daily goal. To have some semblance of balance.

So we skied and I had a chance to have some good one-on-one chats with some of my special girls. We then sat in the warming hut and drank hot cocoa and had more good chats. It was then back in the bus (Joellen drove a gaggle of us in her was definitely the cool kids car, the party girls car...I loved it) - and some of the real tough girls celebrated their backcountry ski adventure. Lots of laughs in that car. Loud Michael Franti. All sorts of treats.

We then moved into one of my favorite Montana drives. All of the sudden there just seems to be nothing around you. The landscape flattens out and, as the case is in the winter, you are surrounded by white. Then, as if out of nowhere, this random little hotel appears on the side of the road. It's called Jackson Hot Springs and it's a hoot.

So more of us convened there. And that was even more perfect because the pool is so big that you never felt like it was too loud, or too many people were talking at once. Plus, it was all misty and steamy, so you really couldn't see too far beyond the posse of folks you were talking to. Sometimes in big groups I feel kind of scattered and inadvertently sort of absent. This was so not the case this weekend. And I was a bit nervous because the group got so damn big. But it really was perfect.

Oh, and I could stay in hot, soft, natural water like that forever.

We got out in time to have pre-dinner drinks. Then it was all gazillion at us in a restaurant that moved at a snail's pace, and while the food was great, it took about eight years to come to the table. And, what was one person's eight years was another person's five years so no one really got their food at the same time and it was a bit of a debacle. Luckily, I hang with a generally mellow crew of girls. It's one of the pre-requisites to committing to living in our wacky little valley. Fairly mellow. Athletic. Hot. Adventurous. Smart. Multi-talented.

I'm one blessed mama.

Then it was late night and four of the crew busted out their guitars and beauteous voices. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was my girl Casey finally busting out on the mike. Homegirl is insanely talented and absurdly humble, so I don't get to hear her sing enough. We share the same musical heroine-goddess, and hearing her interpretation of some of Ani's songs was enough to make my weekend. And knowing how blown away the rest of the crew was by Moanie's mama was enough to make my little heart just beat from my chest.

The next day was more soaking and more skiing, more laughing and more yammering. More big, relevant topics. More goodness.

But perhaps the best moment of all was coming home that evening. My little girl was so damn happy to see me. And I just about swallowed her whole. The cool thing was, I only really "missed" her right before I fell asleep. About midday on Sunday afternoon, when my blood sugar dropped after skiing and my wine hangover caught up with me, I got that twinge of, oooh, I've just got to see her right now or I'll get really, really sad! But it passed and we finally got in cell range and I was able to check in with Jeff. Of course, she was okay. More than okay because she was with her Papa and Nana and Poppop all of whom love her incredibly.

And so it goes. This mama is getting better and better at seeking independence and finding balance in her sweet life. And the rewards continue to amaze me.