Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Put Your Dreams on Your To-Do List

A couple months ago, I was searching for guest-blogging opportunities on Twitter and found Blog Secret Santa.  I decided to sign up for a challenge and an opportunity to network.  My anonymous gift was delivered today, and here it is:

image via santabot.com
Put Your Dreams on Your To-Do List

There's a lesson we all have to learn as we dig deep into what adulthood means to us: it's easy to lose sight of your dreams when you're focusing on the nitty-gritty of everyday life. Maybe you've chosen to have kids-- or not. Perhaps you have to tend a lush garden… or maybe it's a single neglected houseplant. You could spend your day in an office or consumed with the business of running your home. Whatever your workload looks like, it's surprisingly easy to forget your dreams while coping with reality. We're survival-focused creatures. Without realizing it, you can bury yourself up to your neck in the little details of everyday life--and only realize what happened when it feels too late to fix it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

mtn mama: presence & mamalode magazine

Solstice greetings from the Snow Bunny, who is now twenty months!  Closer to 2 than 1!  Talking, walking, expressing more everyday- growing into a curious, gregarious little girl.  (Sorry if this post is slow, messing around with embedding from Instagram)

The other night, with 100 choir students corralled for pre-concert warmups, I held Josey while they belted out "Carol of the Bells" and "Betelehemu."  She clung to me in the middle of the circle as I twirled us in the center, smiling at my students who were loving her presence as their audience.

Her blue, enamored eyes locked with mine, stimulated by the voices.

"We're at the concert!"  I said.

"Wow!" she clasped her hands to her mouth, "the concert!"

Everything Josey does or says is amazing to me in the moment.  She is constantly growing, changing, shifting into a little girl.  Figuring out who "I" am versus who "you" are, what's "mine" and "yours", Christmas trees and presents, and "Wow" and "I Funny!"

The present in my belly is half-baked.  We can feel it kicking and moving.  The heavier Josey grows in my arms, the more I want a tiny one wrapped close to me.  Soon enough!  For now, this babe is still sitting pretty low, kicks feeling hollow, a lot of growing to do in it's cocoon.  More often, I imagine a Mister, but we'll find out for sure this Spring!

Our midwife visited this week, and her assistant brought her 3-month-old baby.  Josey was wide-eyed about the sleeping babe in the carseat and the quick thumps sounding from the machine on my belly.  What an exciting process, to witness a growing baby through the eyes of it's big sister.


Time is flying, and I don't want to miss a thing.  I wish I could record every new exclamation & discovery, which why a GoPro is at the top of my list.  Please see the rest on Mamalode if you haven't yet.  Thank you!
What's on your list this year?

Mamalode Magazine Club

I'm Team Mamalode Member, and Mamalode is my favorite online source for Mama-inspiration.  Still, there is nothing like holding a good magazine in your hand, which is the best part of Mamalode to me.  Reading this publication has made me feel more connected as a new mom, when most of my close friends aren't having babies yet.  So, I'm starting a magazine club for the new moms I know, sharing with those of you I know who are starting this journey of parenthood.

What is a Mamalode?  It's a versatile collection of perspectives from many walks of life, giving great perspective.  Tons of great themes, like this month's "Present."  Awesome, especially because it all started right here in Missoula, MT, and is going National!  "For the Whole Mother."

Want to know more?

Let's start with Issue No. 1: First Thing's First.  Great articles & perspectives for new and pregnant mamas.  Local goodness.  

Sign up below in this private google form (when you submit, only I can see your info).  It's a pretty low-commitment club, I will be thinking of some discussion questions, you can too.  We'll have a live meeting at my house for those us who live around here!  Mamalode is meant to be shared.  

{If you would like to buy the whole set of 17 (screamin' deal- trust me, it's worth it), go HERE.  
It can be your New Year's Gift to yourself}

Otherwise, we'll get you the original issue. Thanks for your interest and for filling this out!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Choir Chatter: Heart for the Holidays

Planning concerts, preparing music, remembering the details of concert prep, it can be exhausting.  My last concert of the season, comin' right up!  The contentment of a performing or teaching musician during the Holidays is linked with their completion of the many obliged performances of the season.  So many years, I've felt like my own Christmas was an afterthought due to the excessive energy I spent MAKING the Holidays happen in our classroom, on our stage.  It's easy to see why there aren't a ton of choir teacher blogs, we are busy!

This year, it's been a bit different.  Students decorated my door and bulletin board in the hall, but the smell of pine boughs doesn't greet you when you open the door.  There aren't wreaths and twinkly lights and we didn't go caroling.  Still tired from last year's excessive Holiday engagements.

Caroling last year
Last year, we sang "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", three days after Sandy Hook.  Less than an hour after a choir kid lit a fire in the bathroom, less than an hour after helping me set up risers.  I changed in the ensuing year, disappointed by so much more than him.  I've became more anxious, less naive.

This is my fourth Holiday concert in Florence.  We'll continue with the traditions of starting and ending together, each Middle School Choir teaming up with High School Choir, a silly faculty number, and of course, our traditional candlelit sendoff.

A couple students will be there early to help.  This concert-planning thing is becoming somewhat ingrained. The lists aren't as necessary, but I feel strangely calm and somewhat in control, or maybe just more able to cope.  Of course, there will be nerves!

\\Without a doubt, the unexpected will happen.  
Hopefully, the unexpectedly beautiful will happen, too.\\

Friday, December 13, 2013

Angel Mimi

About two years ago, while pregnant with our first child, Grandma pondered, "what will your baby call us?"  I sent her a list of possibilities I found online, and she and Grandpa decided on "Papa and Mimi".

Perfect, if you know them.

Since then, I've grown even closer to Grandma, bonding over pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood. Bonding over things that make us crazy.

She passed this Tuesday after saying goodbye to her loved ones.  I can't belive it.  It's hard to imagine life without her laugh, warm hugs, and reassuring advice.  I will miss her so.  I try to take comfort in the circle of life, the wisdom she's given me now becoming ingrained in memory.
"You're too hard on yourself."
"That sounds like a great idea!"
"Keep at it."

"I love you."  She told us this over and over, throughout our lives- her six children, children-in-laws, grandchildren, and Josey, the first great-grandchild.  How could we not know that?  There is no way.  You always felt important and appreciated with Grandma.

Since saying goodbye, we've obligatorily returned back to "normal life" for a couple days.  I spoke to my mom on the phone, moments after Mimi passed, moments before leaving to conduct a choir concert.  "Take joy in what you do tonight," she said.

I did because VSA exudes joy, and because she was there.  Angel Mimi.

Yesterday, Uncle Steve sent me her beautiful obituary.  A passage to share:

"Vicki means much more. She is, of course, OJ and Dolly’s daughter: red hair and blue eyes and freckles and curls. She was devoted to her big sister Nancy, providing care and support through her long battle with breast cancer. For her children, she was wise, feisty, passionate, selfless, giving, and courageous. And friends of her children (and grandchildren) always found a warm home, a full plate, and a fair dose of unsolicited parenting. She taught us all the enduring value of hospitality. These things carry on. 

In short, Vicki is a sparkling example. Of joy and compassion. Of endurance, humility, and generosity. Of grace. Of what can happen if, when faced with adventure, a girl is willing to squeeze the hand of the boy she loves, look him in the eye, and say: “Let’s go.” 

We see you in Tony’s constant love, in raucous dinner-table laughter, the joyous echo of a family song, in the soft purple and sharp red of an evening Montana sky, and the formidable, comforting flow of the river. 

And we’ll never stop looking. 

Good night. 
I love you forever and ever. 

Josey and I went for a walk down our road yesterday, and the sky was striped peach and periwinkle over snowy blue mountains.  A bright orange cloud appeared, looking curly, looking inspirational.  Her, without a doubt.  We won't stop looking for Angel Mimi, won't stop trying to emulate her open and giving love, her spunk and spark.

This weekend, I look forward to playing Papillons (below) for her, and joining James to honor Mimi and Papa with "The Wedding Song".  Thinking of everlasting love, butterflies and cycles and new life.

All my love, Grandma Vicki, we will miss you so.

Love, Numero Uno.

Read her entire obituary here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

R + R = romps and roundups

I've taken a couple romps around our space lately. The air refreshes my lungs, and it feels good to get myself moving.  I feel I've transitioned from running pregnant lady to yogi pregnant lady, and I'm feeling a little out-of-balance with that. Although I love daily yoga, I've almost lost my running routine.  Of course, part of that is because I'm pregnant, but it's mostly the cold season.

Yes, it's cold, but the best action for anxiety is to move.  Get bundled up, get out the door. Move!  They say walking is the best exercise for pregnant women, I think its great for babies to grandparents and everyone in between.  When I was pregnant with Josey Bean, I walked during my lunch break everyday (thanks to Yak Tracks/Boots).  Working that routine back in this week to help stay happy and present during the school day.

While walking, I remembered on of my favorite figures Robert Schumann, who was not only a composer, but a music critic.  When working on Papillons for my senior recital in college, Barbara Blegen advised that his music would be an old friend.  Her words struck a gong in my belly.  Schumann had his obsessions, musical/alphabetical formulas and invented many characters in his music, like Florian.  My fingers are ready for a romp around these notes.  "His abilities at times, fell short of his ambitions, but he brought enthusiasm and rare poetic genius to everything he attempted.  His entire being was music, informed by dream and fantasy."  (from NPR's Life and Music of Robert Schumann)

Playing music is part of that regular rooting I need to do, like cleaning the bathroom or going for a run.  Some things just make us feel better.  Having spent so many years practicing everyday, I miss that.  Working on a piece on the piano.  Repeating a phrase over and over until my eyes welled. Falling in love with music.  This time of year makes me think of my beloved piano teacher Cinda even more than usual.  I so loved dueting carols with her, and the angels she'd make her students.  I'm visiting the poem she inspired this summer.  Reminding us to Play, Play, Play.

Now, a seemingly-random roundup.

Winter Skincare

I don't know about you, but my skin is feeling this cold, dry weather!  I've told you about BijaBody before. Well, esthetician/owner Melissa just launched a beautiful new website and I can't wait to see where she goes with this business, I fell in love with her blog & products a few years ago.  Her newest blog-post:

Level Up Cold Weather Skin Care 

Find yourself doing some BijaBody shopping this winter?  Remember you can always save 10% with code PeaceRocks at checkout!  


Striving for gluten-free and light-on-sugar over these holidays (although they tell me Christmas time is No Time to Diet)  I know that the treats will be rolling in shortly, and to say no with this pregnancy hunger I've been having, I need to remember how much better I feel when I eat well!  

#1 = healthy snacks that JJ likes, too.
Balsamic Honey Roasted Almonds from Dig this Chick tomorrow.  Dig was recently recognized in Babble's Top 100 Bloggers for good reason.  Her writing is sincere and inspirational and her recipes are simple and have a lot of room for experimentation.
- PB on celery and carrots.
- Rice Crackers + Hummus + Cucumbers.

#2 = nourishing meals.
-Against All Grain's Crock Pot Mexican Chicken Soup looks easy and healthy enough.  I'll probably work out some sort of variation of this soon.
-This Green Split Pea Soup sounds experiment-able, too!

#3 = citrus!
We are fending off colds here, and thankfully, the Citrus Truck (our annual Music Fundraiser) arrives Monday.  Yay for oranges & grapefruit!  

Gift Guides

Made Fair
I love Gift Guides because they inspire me to think more creatively about gift-giving.  It's easy for me to get in a slump of "oh, he doesn't need anything!"

Cup of Jo puts together some beautiful collections, perfect for getting in the spirit.  You can find all her past gift-guides here.  In the 2013 collection, she's released:  For Hilarious DadsFor Beautiful MomsFor Sisters & Friends so far.

Looking for something for the Mountain Man in your Life?  2013 What's in Marc's Backpack?  While you're there, consider donating to his effort to raise funds for Camp Mak-a-Dream.  Marc has jumped in all of the lakes in Glacier National Park.  Talk about persistence and adventure!

Speaking of gifts that give back: Holiday Gift Guide for Toddlers: Gifts that Give Back.


We're looking forward to a week of Decking the Halls!
Errands, Christmas shopping at Missoula's amazing Made Fair, AND finding our first tree!

More Festivities coming!  Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

mtn mama: To JJ, inbetween holidays

We've been talking with friends about memories and our first memories are all from 2-4 years old.  Sometimes it makes me sad to think that Josey won't remember any of this, but she's forming...impressions.  I want to write more for her.

"Wow!" Texas was a great experience for you.
My girl,

You had a lovely Thanksgiving with family after returning from a great trip to Texas with Daddy. When I held you in the airport after your late arrival, a couple ladies smiled, "she was really such a good girl."

You are.  You have met so much family in the past two weeks, and have learned so many new names.  You love your Grandparents so much and really love Mommy-Daddy, Daddy-Mommy, Mommy-Daddy!  You look and act more grownup, in your face, your strut, the way you're a ham.

Today, when I opened the door to Miss Vickie's, I could hear you giggling.  You had seen our car out the window, and were squealing, hands to your mouth (newest adorable mannerism).

"She has so many new words!" Papa John said.

It's true.  In the teacher's lounge today, I told everyone about your "Mocansins!"

All the teachers agreed that babies' vocabulary grows too fast.  Quirks change.  You never say "wawee" anymore, and you're starting to say yogurt instead of "gogee".  I have not encouraged any of this maturity because I want you to stay a baby forever.

No, that's not true.  Tonight, you were cuddlier and huggier to me than ever.  So sweet.  

About you, inbetween holidays:

Obsessed with chapstick & Kermit.
Love to dance and sing!
Always talking.  Lots of important/nondecipherable conversation, but also a crazy-evolving vocab. Lately:
-"Budder!" -PBJ
-"Gonna getchou!  I gotchou!"
-"Der it is!  Found it!"
-"Money Money Money!"
-"Ah!" "Wow!" and to repeat pretty much anything said in that excited tone.
-All animals and their sounds.  Loving "Gibbit!" and your version of "Cockadoodledoo"!

Bedtime books: Haiku Baby, Sleepy Squirrel, Dino's Binkit.  Also obsessed with your new "Down By the Bay" singing book.

Red peppers and pepper soup seem to be a new favorite food.  Also- kiwi!  You actually took a bite of kale the other day, after giving into green food!

Today, you peed in the potty for the first time.  You had a painful diaper rash, so you just had a skirt on.  You looked worried and whimpered "Mommy podee pee" and I whisked you to your frog toilet. I don't think you were even happy when you did it, it was so new.  Lots of hugs and high-fives!

Probably the most amazing thing about you maturing is that you actually want to go to bed at night.  I never imagined this, you saying "ni-night" and walking to bed.  Bidding your animals "good night.  see you later animals."  Giving me the sweetest kisses!  Maybe a little chatter after we close the door, but not much resistance these days.

I wish I could bottle up this time with you.  Noticing it, writing it, documenting it, will have to do.

This love keeps growing, baby girl.  Just like you.

Your Mama

Monday, December 2, 2013


Happy December and congrats to Kayla for winning the MT coffee mug! A great excuse for me to see this happy yogi & catch up.  Thanks to everyone who commented and checked out Pots by Amy!  These beauties are as functional in real life as they are lovely in photos.

Amy and I are reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking for our teacher's book club at work.  I'm intrigued by the concept so far, only a few pages in.  (More about the book here)

I've noticed myself slipping into more of an introvert personality in real life- writing makes one more introspective.  While the second part of the book title usually describes me, I'm a little quieter in social situations lately.  Josey is exuberant!  It takes it outta ya, listening to her vocabulary advance in fast-forward.

Over the holiday, I asked a couple of my relatives, "Do you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert?" 

Although we may seem like a family of loud-mouths, many of us consider ourselves both.  Yes, groups can be fun, but sometimes people are annoying and we just want to be alone.  Some say that being one way is...better, safer, more fun.  It seems we'll be happiest with balance between interaction and reflection.

How about you?  Introvert?  Extrovert?  Somewhere in between?  Has it changed with age?  Do you just hate labeling yourself?

*I have had a couple reports about comments not working on this site, and found it's a common problem with Blogger (the web platform I use).  So we're using this new comment host called Disqus.  Please do try, let me know if it's easier!  You don't have to enter an account to comment.  Thanks!


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