Monday, January 27, 2014

mtn mama: warm fuzzies

My mind likes to run. Sometimes more gazelle, sometimes more squirrel. Do this, do that, what did he say, what did she do?  My head has been feeling a little fuzzy lately. I can't survive without a good run/walk/romp every once in awhile to clear it out, reset.  This weekend, we put Josey in the Chariot and took a nice walk around a dirt-road loop that has a couple good hills. Continued the routine today.  

Walking is seriously the best thing when you're pregnant.  Keeps your blood pressure down, helps clear the head.  Right now, JJ loves to have her animals with her, and she's happy chatting or zoning out in the stroller.  

Just this Fall!

Miss Josephine has slept with "Sleepytime Giraffe" for over a year now.  It's a stuffed animal that comes with a machine inside to make white-noise.  As an infant at Many Glacier, it was the only way Josephine would sleep.  Eventually, the little noise-machine was no longer necessary, and sucking on "Bubba's" legs was.  

Lately, she's developed a rash on her face which our Doc said was from slobbering on the little guy.  Plus, I'm over slogging the darn things (yes, we have two) to daycare & washing it everyday.  So, we said buh-bye to Bubba.  

So far, she is surviving, but it's hard to see my baby sad. 

Girl was so excited on Friday, "Gonna see the baby!"  

Our midwife says ultrasounds aren't required, but nice to have. She recommended Care Net, a great pregnancy resource.  Although this clinic doesn't do diagnostic ultrasounds, they will advise you to get one if they see anything amiss.
 Your face is all that I see....  

The office was warm and inviting, and James and Josey sat with a book while I went back to the car to fetch the checkbook for our donation.  Shortly after I sat down, they called us back and Josephine screamed bloody murder.  Apparently the office, calling-in feeling was a little too reminiscent of her recent vaccine-filled trip to the pediatrician! She was quickly eased by the fun toys in the room.

A first look at your baby, it's more than words.  With Josey, our ultrasounds were at 8 & 20 weeks, and after both, I felt so much closer with the new life inside me. Same connection here. I feel like I know the little soul better, now.

This ultrasound was a treat, warm gel on my belly, my J's playing on the floor looking up at the screen.  Feeling the baby's strong kicks simultaneously watching them.  Magic! I was tempted to go along with it when the RN said, "Josey, we're going to find out if you're having a brother or sister today!"  Nope, we'll wait a couple more months.

This pregnancy has been going pretty great, other than a painful wake-up call.  One night last week, I shot awake with the worst pain ever in my leg.  Still asleep I screeched,  "It's a link in my blog!  I can't get it off!  Ow!  Ow!  Ow!"

"Wait, what's going on?"  James sat up slowly.  My eyes un-fogged.  "Ack!  the worst leg cramp ever."  My circulation hasn't been prime in a couple of ways... aka time for yoga & cleaner eating.  

Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee is going to help me with my shorter-than-the-average-bear attention span.  A pearl of wisdom from Day 1:

“Being Present means observing and responding appropriately to whatever arises.”  

A great opportunity arose with Josey this weekend. She spent a lot of time "making cookies & pancakes" so, I decided it was time for her to help me!  We made cranberry coco bars from my original recipe, added flax & cinnamon.  So. Much. Fun! I can't wait for more kitchen creations with JJ.

With conviction, I’m channeling less scattered, more zen. 

Ten things to make happen this week:

1.  Structure re-set. 2.  Guitar to XO (anyone else obsessed with this song???) 3.  Connect more at VSA (make a seating chart & address guidelines for rehearsal) 4.  Greet my students at the door.  Exude confidence!

5.  Walk with Josey afterschool. 6.  Continue to reduce multitasking around Josephine.  {Worked on this last week, feel like a 100% better mama when I am present with her.}7.  Be especially comforting/flexible while she’s weaning from Bubba. 

8.  Girlfriend Mix.  9.  Thank-Yous.  10.  Music with James!

Thanks for reading!

Have you had a baby?  How did that first ultrasound feel?  
Oh, and any tips on weaning a baby from their stuffed-love?  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Do Good

A beautiful latte in a beautiful land.
Excitement is brewing- ideas, connections, creations.  Cups of coffee coming up to talk about a huge project at Many Glacier, plus guest-writing opportunities, new music for VSA, a student-teacher, AND album-recording has excitingly commenced for Jamily!  (we saw our littlest yesterday, more on Mtn Mama soon....)

My wheels are rolling, as they do.  A favorite writer recently asked, "how do we do exactly what we feel like because it is also our soul’s greater good?"

I want to be good, always have.  Mom tells me she rarely had to discipline me as a toddler, I was so SORRY when I'd done something wrong.  Somehow, my struggle formed between wanting to be good versus wanting to be good according to everyone.

In my Middle School days, being good became an anomaly.  A strong and talented student, I was baffled.  Why did everyone like the people who weren't being good?  Why were they cool?  I wanted to stand out, be more than just a goodie-two-shoes.  Uncomfortable in my skin, unsure of my talents and passion, placing so much importance on social life.

I needed more confidence then, and really, who doesn't in adolescence?  With more confidence now, maybe I'd be better at following my gut instinct.  Inherent do-gooding backed up with, "yes, I trust myself on this" is powerful, and it takes practice.  When I do good, I feel good.  

I'm questioning my do-gooding after this week in choir.  We took a trip to Bozeman for Celebrate America on Monday, a pretty easy trip, as I've done it several times.  I think the kids had fun, they were well-behaved, focused, and sang well when it was time.  Over the past couple weeks, I've lost several important students.  One in particular completely blind-sided me yesterday, especially after this trip.  I can't help but take it personally when talented, crucial singers decide to leave.  I can't help but think of what I've done wrong- and my first reaction, even after four years, is to be defensive and hurt.  After the exchange, I always wish I had just made the student feel more appreciated.

These past four years in the choir room have been hard- balancing social dynamics of small groups, planning lessons for six very different classes, envisioning & executing performance after performance.  Striving to do the position justice can seem almost impossible when held to the standard of choir teacher I've idealized, as I often fall short in one area while excelling in another.  Part of me wants to recoil into my turtle-shell, give up.  I know, as my grandma would say, I am too hard on myself.

It's time in my career to step back and synthesize.  Share my perspective and created materials with my student-teacher, and with other teachers, too.

If I could visit teenage me, I'd encourage myself to follow my instincts. Meditating on how to do that better in my job and in my life.  I think this is a start:

This weekend, taking a little self-declared unplug...maybe to become a weekend ritual.
Shut the devices.  Do more good.  
Laugh.  Create.  Get outside.  Write in pen.  Read.  Sleep.  Gaze.  Play.  Sing.  Cook.  
Focus on my loved ones.  

I hope your weekend has some of the same.  

Linking to: 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Choir Chatter: Singing Valentines

Singing Valentines was a favorite fundraiser in last year's frenzy to raise money for our tour.  Why? Because the kids were actually singing to raise money, and it was really fun! It's a nice reprieve Festival repertoire, which we love, but can be intense at times!

Gaining awareness/exposure for our choir program by performing as opposed to selling cookie dough or some other fattening, overpriced treat will always be my choice when fundraising.

We are just getting started on this year's "Carltines", and here's a rundown for any other teachers who might like to try this at their school!

  1. Get approval for fundraiser from admin.  Notify other faculty of plan.  We will be delivering the Valentines during each choir's period only.  
  2. Brainstorm songs with each class.  Give them time to work on short, simple snippets to perform.
  3. Start advertising and selling!  Students are responsible for sales and for preparing any special requests they sell. (Timeline: posters up next week, ordering open Feb. 3-7 due Monday Feb. 10, deliver Feb. 13 & 14)
  4. Practice, practice, practice!  This is a great activity to set up while running sectionals on District rep.  The more confident and polished their performances are, the better!
  5. Make a spreadsheet for sold Valentines and a plan for each class period, so that preparation and deliveries can be efficient.  

Below is last year's ad.  This year, we are simplifying things a little bit.  All Valentines will include a paper heart + cookie (we have an amazing baker-mama!).  Songs from our list will be $5, and special requests will be $10.  

On the back, the order form has these columns: 
To / From / Anonymous? / Message /  Song / 2A Class (or whatever period the class is delivering)

(To explain some of the slogans used, we were playing Loyola Sacred Heart that weekend, so "break some hearts" was all around the school.  Our school is Florence Carlton, hence the "Flo-Carltines".  Just silly stuff.)

What is your favorite fundraiser?  Any tips to share?  

Also, I'm over on ChoralNet today, asking my colleagues their advice on mentoring my first student teacher.  I would love you to visit & offer your feedback there or, hop over to twitter and use #choirchatter.  Thanks!

{top Image: Lips by Andy Warhol}

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Anxiety & Me.

Last Spring, a high-pitched noise entered my ears, and my head spun.  I lay stunned on the futon, paralyzed, struggling to breathe.  Thankfully, my daughter was already asleep in her crib. The next day, I heard myself say the words, “anxiety attack” to our nanny.  She, and many other friends have dealt with the same thing.  Until that time, I didn't understand: what is anxiety?

Over the summer, I spent needed time on the trail with Josey, a lot of staring at ripples, feet in the water, letting my slate clear.  So grateful for that time.  Grateful for a couple best friends who kept good tabs on me as I tidied up the puzzles of my mind, too.  During that time, I even shared here about the struggle.  “Mantras for anxiety” happens to be one of the most-searched for terms on this blog.  

One friend describes anxiety as an elephant sitting on her chest.  Yes.  The shortness of breath, the wanting to run 10 miles, but also to crawl under the covers and sleep forever. Usually, I do neither.  I sit, I wait, I procrastinate.  I become more anxious.  It’s a cycle, you see… or a spiral. I'm not done with it yet, anxiety is still here, but I'm learning.


Procrastinating. I am the queen of piles, and I am incredible at starting projects, but crossing them off the list doesn't happen as much as I'd like. One thing I use to battle my time-wasting tendencies online is StayFocusd. I went back to using the chrome plugin today and already notice a better train of productivity.

Sky-high expectations.  I love my wildly imaginative, creative, idealistic mind, but sometimes, it’s hard to handle in the real world.  One way or another, I let myself down (or someone else does).

Gluten + Sugar. I'm really sensitive to the way crappy food makes me feel/act. Otherwise known as the food spiral. When I make the effort in the kitchen to prepare foods that make me feel better, I succeed.

Human interactive needs. Going without talking to my friends, interacting, seems to also have a spiral effect, too. It's an adjustment, living out here, with less social opportunities. I've found myself becoming more of an introvert, more likely to hole up and write than call and go socialize. Still, making a phone call is easy, and I always feel better afterward!

Breathing. I need to breathe. This is why yoga + cardio is essential to my mental health. Even after one day of too much stillness, I notice inhibition, which leads to that yucky anxious feeling in my chest. Yoga, here I come, which leads us back to:


Do you deal with anxiety? What tips or tricks do you have? I'd love to hear.

PS, this is awesome:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

mtn mama: wintery things

Josey received some baby skis for Christmas- just to strap on and romp around the yard.  We tried them a couple times this weekend, with adorable results.  Yesterday, as we skied in a fluffy white forest, I mused about all the things I love about Winter (plus links for fun):

4. Holidays!  Many of my loved ones have Winter birthdays (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!), plus Thanksgiving-Mardi Gras-St.Paddy's and everything inbetween.

5.There might not be a more peaceful activity in my book than cross-country skiing.  

6. Reading.  I have too many books going, and I'm about curl up with this one about having babies.  

7. Leggings + boots.  I have my eye on these.
8. Scarves!  How about this one by my friend Jane?    

9. Games!  This is a Jamily favorite.  

10. Wintery eats

It's hard to believe that we're at 25 weeks around here.  So... 15 weeks until we have another baby.  3 x 5 and stuff like that.  Wow.  I love keeping up with this blogger's updates... right on time with where I'm at!

Midwife visited again tonight, these months are passing by quick!  Sheehan is so thoughtful- she brought me a couple of books to read, her special blend of tea, and we laughed as Josey lifted up her shirt after we listened to the baby.  Discussion has begun about our birthing process, and we are getting excited!

Lately, I've been feeling pretty great.  Fairly energetic, happy, stoked on life.  People ask you how you are feeling all the time when you're pregnant.  It's sometimes hard to pinpoint the answer or know exactly what to say...because there is so much to feel.  People tell you how you look, too.  In my experience, always nice-meaning comment, but still, strange to have your body be so often the topic of conversation.

This week, I'm feeling much bigger- the baby seems to be moving higher, and my belly feels more stretched.  Looking like a possible outie belly-button this time (last go-around, James won the bet as it stayed just about flat).  My hips have been expanding over the past months, and only seem happy with a balanced dose of walking and stretching.  My ribs have been moving too... Make room for baby!

Friday, January 10, 2014

five-minute friday: see

Happy Weekend!

Five Minute Friday

It's been awhile since I've written and linked up for five-minute Friday, and I must say, I've missed the ritual. Today's prompt is "see", and I'm actually timing. Go!


Peekaboo!  I see you!

Toddlers bounce to the music below,
parents smile, talk snow

Skiing, avalanche awareness
Mushroom arugula burger little sips of beer

Bouncing little girl
not afraid to say hello!

Mama knows
she's not shy.

"I see you!"

so much like me.



Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.  Been vamping up this space, and life, for the New Year.  Hope you like it!

PS: A mix for the weekend

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Connect with Confidence

There is something about a new year, a fresh start, that just fills me with joy.  I've always resonated with/placed importance on first days, new days.  This new year, after my first year of blogging, feels good.  Time to refocus my writing and what it means to me, how I'll do it better.  

A year of motherhood, blinking as my girl grew into a toddler, has inspired me in so many ways.  Now girl tells us what she wants, and in the evenings lately, it's to be held.  "MY Mommy!"  "I ont up!"  

Tonight, James was interviewing Boat Co. applicants, she sat in the sling while I cut veggies for an awesome (if I do say so myself) curry experimentation with one hand.  I'll leave you tonight with our green curry paste recipe...  Over and over JJ says, "I ont cereal," changing her tone, expression, volume as I laugh at her. I want to write a book about this kid!  Make a movie!  She inspires me every single day.

Last year was all about R's .  Something about ritual and routine struck a chord with imaginative, flexible me, wanting to create some sort of order in my busy, idea-filled, new-mothering life.  It became a bit of an obsession, R + R = healing.  Today, it's: 

read * reflect * rise  * revitalize * rhythm * resting  * ritual 

Green salad: Repeat!

So much to repeat.  Do it again! Life is full of so much beauty and cycle, how do we live more fully?  How to love adventure but find beauty in the day to day we've been given?

More creating.  

More appreciating what we can do in one moment.  

Less looking back, questioning who's thinking what, 

More question-asking, more conversation. 

Follow intuition for when to start & stop.

I wrote so much last year and really put myself out here online. I'd be lying to say that starting a blog hasn't made me more self-conscious.  To not compare myself in a world of "followers", "commenters", blog stats, "likes", is definitely a goal.  From here on out, my aim is to engage better on a personal level: to communicate more clearly with my dearlies, in all facets of life.  

One of the first blogs I followed, Little Baby Garvin, presented a link-up for the New Year.  If you're visiting from there, welcome!  Harper is a couple months older than Josey- their new siblings are due the same day... so naturally I love seeing Jessica's chalkboards & lists, plus her super-festive spirit reminds me which Holidays are coming!  Before 2013 closed she asked, "what one word would you stick with for 2014"?


and a mantra: 

Connect with Confidence.

Snowy mantra
I am a thinker, a dreamer, an idealist.  An extrovert, most of the time.  I love to communicate, and I find happiness in engaging with others.  Personality tests tell me all this, and so does my heart. In 2014, I'm focused on connecting my vision to my actions, using my strengths and not apologizing for them. Completion, too.

Channeling/working with:
*The present.
*Feature project here on this site!  It's going to be awesome- stay tuned for our first guest in February!
*Choral Net, ACDA, #ChoirChatter
*Glacier Park Foundation and Hoot for Music at Many Glacier.
*Mamalode, Rookie, and other online publications.  
*Phone conversations and walking around our hills.
*Snail mail.
*Making lists, checking them twice.
*My big, beautiful intuition! 
*Mr. Wonderful & Josephine James.


Sharing with this big beautiful world, believing in what I'm doing here, that's what I'm doing these days.  Motherhood + blogging brought out a weird side of me at first.  A second-teenagerhood, wrought with self-doubting & feelings of inadequacy.  While most of my close friends don't have children yet, I had a hard time figuring out how I'm supposed to fit into all of those relationships all while falling in love, over and over again, with my child.  But, my heart is opening more, as I'm sure happens to infinity throughout parenthood.

there is a baby in there.
Josey bean has been full of conversation these days.  So much to talk about.  Lots of repetition, in various expressions and tones.  She will love acting.  And her exuberance at drawing!  Exuberant.  That's her.  Then I think about this child growing inside of me, and I wonder, who will he/she be?  What will adding a new person to this Jamily bring?  I think the answer is just more love.


Kermit is a favorite around here, and we just love these "African ABC's":

We love music!
James got me a new melodica for Christmas this year!  What a sweet guy.  It has an awesome case and great tone.  We've been jamming out to some Vampire Weekend (totally obsessed), and just saw the sketches for our new album cover, and are going to play with our friend this weekend.  I've missed making music for myself, the way I feel performing and recording is like nothing else.  Looking foward to connecting with music more in 2014.

Looking forward to getting my Jamily on more this year.  Making making music a priority.  How's that for a sentence?  Making confidence, trust, connection - priorities.  I am excited to see where that grows!

<3 <3 <3 <3

Jamily's Green Curry Paste Recipe


Every other year, we head to the base of Flathead Lake to meet up with James' brothers, their families, and of course Grandad and Grammy.  During our relaxing visit, we enjoy taking turns cooking dinners for the group.  Great tradition!  This year, James wanted us to make curry for everyone, as it is a regular on our home meal circuit.

Cooking for us usually involvesperusing a recipe or two, formulating a plan, and going for it.  If I'm trying to follow directions too closely, I'm not having fun, and I'm probably messing something up.  So... this "recipe" is to be shared the same way.  Loosely.

I love curry, and have used Thai Kitchen curry paste, which is pretty salty, not that spicy, and expensive.

Making curry paste with your own ingredients is so aromatic- and fun!  Start with:


(Optional: add cilantro, more peppers, a couple recipes 
I found called for shrimp paste...but we didn't have that)

Chop, then mix in the food processor 

Add to chopped onions, carrots, leeks and simmer with coconut oil.

Meanwhile, chop potatoes & green veggie (we went with beans) and combine with 
coconut milk in crock pot.  

Add the paste mix when the onions start to become translucent, let flavors combine & veggies soften on low.

Meanwhile, marinate chicken in:

Curry powder
Juice of lime
Sea salt 
Crushed pepper

(James vetoed the snap of him making the marinade in his 90s Bola hat which was inserted here...)

Toward serving time, add the juice of a lime to the veggies, and taste-test.  I added more dry spice because it was such a big batch. 

Served over spaghetti squash- awesome Gluten-Free noodle substitute!  
(halved, seeded, baked face-down on a pan with water for 45 min @ 350)

Happy New Year to you, and thank you for reading!  
What do you have planned in 2014?

Cheers-ing you with fresh-squeezed grapefruit!
Going to make 2014 count at that teal desk this year!


PS: My favorite song from the new album.  
It's all better with the videos than without... but this song gets me.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grows Features


February: {Puerto, Handmade by Jane}March: {Starry Knight Design by Melanie}April: {Bess Brownlee}

Soon after New Years, my friend Tyler Harrison paid us a lovely visit.  We originally became friends in piano studio at UM, and several years later, he’s finishing on his time at CU Boulder.  His Doctoral Thesis is in Composition, focusing one of the most important composers of our time, who happens to reside here in Montana- David Maslanka.  He shared testaments to 70-year-old Maslanka’s productivity as an artist, and his influence on Tyler's own compositional approach.  Those of you who have been touched by Maslanka’s music may also feel that his music speaks to the core of humanity. Tyler's study in his composition process will be so interesting for composers, musicians, and more.

I'm looking forward to reading Tyler’s work when it is finished and discussing the project further with him. Josey, James, and I were so lucky to hear the first movement, “Joyful,” of Tyler’s Concerto for Piano, Winds, and Percussion played by the composer, in our living room, on my keyboard!  Here’s the piece, played by pianist Nathaniel LaNasa:

During our visit, I shared this project with Tyler, as the idea had just formed weeks before:

This year, PeaceLoveMusicGrows will be filled with interviews focusing on the creative process of a wide array of folks.  I’m starting with lovelies whose work & countenances I’m familiar with.  We’ll see where they take it. I have developed the list of questions with the idea that they stay mostly the same, challenging the participant and giving the reader an interesting view into the process.

Readers are entering this discussion, too. Each artist is providing a question(s) for reflection & commentary, with a chance to win a special giveaway from each feature.  

Grows Feature: {Name Here}

Describe yourself for those who don’t know you.    

Name a few past & current projects you’ve loved.  

Where do you work, and how do you make this environment productive?

How do you capture your inspiration?  (ex: collecting rocks, journaling, the initial idea for a song, clipping magazine photos, meditating, etc.)

Who inspires you?  (would love you to include all three)
1. personal
2. in the media
3. artist we probably haven’t heard of

What materials do you use?  (please be as specific as possible)    

Can you break down your creative process a little for us?

How does it feel when you know you're finished with a project? (or, How do you know you’re finished with a project?)

What are your upcoming creative goals?  (1-3)

Share a piece of wisdom you’ve learned.  (practical, philosophical, whatever you want!)

*Please include 3-6 pictures to share.  

*Please tell us about your giveaway & include a photo.  

*Any ideas for a discussion question?  Something you’d like to know from readers?  I would like to keep the focus in the realm of creativity, making, process, etc.  

*How can I help you grow? (ex. share your etsy + instagram, promote an event you’re involved in, etc.)

Thank you so much for your participation in this project!  So glad to have you on PeaceLoveMusicGrows.  


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