Monday, October 12, 2015


This weekend marked a really important time for our family; the beginning of the slow season. You see the warmer months in Wyoming are jam packed with events, shows, openings, book signings, gallery talks, art walks, and any other number of art related events in our community. We have been so happy to be a part of the tremendous growth we have seen in the arts, but it has also been exhausting! Many late nights and long hours are spent in support of the arts. So we welcome this quieter season, mostly so we have more time to spend together as a family and to work on our own art. 

We decided to kick off this quiet season with a visit to Montana. If you have been reading my blog for long then you know that Montana has always felt like home to me. So when my friend Lanie invited us to stay with her we jumped on the opportunity to spend time with a dear friend, out in nature, in my home state of Montana. 

We awoke early on Saturday morning, after Eric had a late night of work with an artist's reception at the museum. We loaded the gang into the car and dropped the dogs off with my parents (who kindly watched the dogs. Bumblebee is no big deal, but Betty Sprinkles is a weirdo at their home). Then we hit the road. We drove through the day and made our way through Billings, my old hometown of Harlowton, continuing on through Two Dot and then farther into the remote Montana lands where Lanie lives.

I have known Lanie since we were very young and she was such an amazing girl then---smart, beautiful, independent, and somehow outside of the small town gossip that was really hurtful to a sensitive weirdo like me. We lost touch for a spell when I moved away to NM, but the internet allowed us to reconnect and our friendship has grown into something so very unique and special. She is still all of those amazing things that I remember from childhood, but so much more!

Now I wasn't sure if I was going to share here that Lanie's family is a ranching family, but there it is. We obviously have very different perspectives on that subject. However, we still maintain a close and treasured friendship. How do we manage that you ask? Well, we don't ignore our differences at all (sometimes that is best with non-vegan folk), instead we talk about it and listen to the other's perspective. We really listen, not from a point of aggression or judgement----which is quite remarkable if you really consider the facts. Not that we exhaust the topic either. Honestly I cannot really explain in words how or why it works, but it does and we love each other. Do I love ranching? No. Does she want to be vegan? No. Yet, somehow we make sense as friends.

So...we went up to her land and were a little nervous about the whole thing---not from Lanie, but her family and friends could certainly be put out by our presence. We just really hoped for a weekend out in nature with a good friend and we got that and so much more. Everyone was so warm and it was good. I hadn't seen her mother in nearly twenty years so it was great to see her again! 

When we arrived we all piled into a truck and headed off into the middle of nowhere. We ended up wandering around, watching the girls play in the water and dirt. Lanie's lovely friend Rachel and her daughter also joined us, so we were a happy group enjoying an absolutely stunning Montana afternoon. When it was time to go the children were filthy and happy. A child ended up doing nude yoga in a mud puddle. It was great!


Eric and Elise


Muddy feet

I want you to realize that there was not a town for many miles. Do you have that where you live? The beauty and vulnerability of isolation is overwhelming!

We returned to the house and I prepared a vegan Chana Saag for the group. They had taken a long trip out of town and had picked up all kinds of vegan goodies just for us, it was so very appreciated! Everyone was so open to trying vegan food and it was such a pleasant meal. 

The girls met their rescued pet badger (?!) Gilbert, who was living in his outdoor habitat.  They fed the horses and basically lost their minds.

We enjoyed the quiet and being out of cell phone range! 

After dinner and clean-up we started a fire and roasted vegan marshmallows and made s'mores.

Lanie at the fire

Eric got this awesome photo of the fire

Our gang, minus Eric.

Eric and Peabody really hit it off.

When it was time to put the girls to bed Eric stayed with them while Lanie and I returned to check the fire and thoroughly drown it. Then we drove to the top of a hill and looked at the night sky, it was stunning beyond words! I didn't take photos. I was just there with my good friend talking and looking at the sky. It was just so breathtaking. I felt the great weight of the universe all around us, the Milky Way was clearly visible. Have you ever looked at a sky like that? It has been so long since I last did and it was pretty much a highlight of my life. A good friend and infinity stretching out above us. I will always hold onto that.

After some time I realized that Eric needed to see it too, so we traded places and Lanie showed Eric as well. I love that they got to know each other a bit better too, beyond the friend/husband of a childhood friend relationship. I hung out with Lanie's mother at the house while the girls slept. It was just an amazing night.

The next morning we explored a bit more before heading home.

I am so thankful for a beautiful and magical time away.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Quote: Never Been in Danger

virginia creeper

One cannot answer for his courage when he has never been in danger.”
 ~Francis de La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Virginia Creeper PSA

We have long enjoyed the Virginia Creeper that grows all around our house. The leaves turn a stunning red in the fall. The plant bears gorgeous blue berries which the birds seem to enjoy. It is just quite pretty. We have so much growing out back that it has climbed, canopy style, up and around our back patio. The girls collect and play with the berries, have for years. They know not to eat the berries (not exactly poisonous, but also not great) and we keep an eye on them anyway.


Well a few weeks ago we came inside from playing in the backyard. The girls had been making stew in a bucket for the birds. We washed up, had dinner, and all was well until Cordelia started suddenly screaming that her hand was burning. We looked at it and it was bright red and hot to the touch. We washed it thoroughly and gave her an anti-histimine as we assumed it was some sort of allergic reaction. We covered all of the possible sources for the reaction and finally settled on the new soap I had purchased---it was the only out of the ordinary thing that had happened to her hands. It was kind of surprising as the soap was all natural and gentle. I put the soap out of her reach, leaving another bar for her use. All was well.

Two weeks later the girls were out front, squashing Virginia Creeper leaves while Eric unloaded a pallet with boxes of his books (for sale here, US only for now). I was teaching a class and was not present for the event, but Eric said Elise started screaming in pain from a red patch on her palms. He washed her hands thoroughly, but it was really not fine until the next day.

 It was clear that the Virginia Creeper is to blame. I did some research and found that the sap contains oxalate crystals which can irritate the skin of some people. Who knows why this started causing a reaction now, after years of exposure? Anyway, lesson learned. The girls now steer clear of the Creeper. Consider this your Virginia Creeper PSA. While it is gorgeous and prolific you must look with your eyes and not your hands.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Phone Photo Friday: 10.9.15

We had a week of art and work and school and pig sitting! Let's review the photos.

Cordelia...doing something.

Elise with a dirty face and shades.

We pig sat last weekend and loved every minute of our time with this sweet and funny creature!

So cute!

Pig selfie. 

More pig time.

These nerds.

They are showing me something they made it included a scrub brush, paper cup, rubix cube, googly eyes, and loads of tape. They were so proud of their collaboration.



Work in progress for a Day of the Dead event I have been planning.


The firefighters were at the preschool yesterday. Cordelia and I came along for the fun. 

How was your week?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Homeschool Update

I thought I would give a little homeschool update as I am asked about it on a regular basis.

Let me tell you that Cordelia and I are loving homeschool. Sunday evenings I plan out the week, putting her books and activities into daily bins. We usually work in the mornings. School takes a few hours. Well, the focused and organized part of school takes a couple of hours, but I am finding that we let learning spill over into our lives together. We compare prices and check weights at the stores. We learn about art and nature and anything as the day unfolds, taking any and every opportunity. I save the subjects that require the most focus for the days that Elise will be at preschool. 

We work through our lesson plans and often are able to include Elise in the process; if it is too advanced I will find an activity to entertain Elise while Cordelia works.

We have been at this for a month and I have seen amazing leaps in Cordelia! She  is reading! Not just hobbling over the words, but she is reading and her ability is growing exponentially. She excels and math and science. Art is obviously just part of our daily life. I have also noticed progress in Elise, even though I haven't been focused on teaching her. She has been learning at preschool and has been so present as Cordelia is learning that she too is picking up so much!

We work through areas where she lacks confidence and take our time. We love choosing random subjects and researching them in the afternoons. She is also attending a homeschool science class and will soon be joining gymnastics.

Overall I am really pleased with our decision. Of course there have been challenging times, but really they have been small hurdles. Communication growth with Cordelia has been pretty amazing, just talking and learning and working together. She is so inquisitive and smart. I am excited for the future and so is she!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Not So Fast

Don't grow up so quickly, little girls of mine. There is no need to rush this process along. I know we still have years and years until you are grown, but the years of your childhood are so precious and few. Please keep telling me that you will live with your dad and me even when you are big. I will hold on to those memories in a decade or so when you tell me that you cannot wait to move out and start your own lives.

Please let me hold your little hands and kiss your sleeping heads for a little longer. Let my jokes make you laugh like no other. Please tell me the dreams you had last night, even if it takes forever and I sometimes zone out.

Please continue to ask questions and be in awe of the mystery of life and the world and all of it. Collect berries and leaves and rocks for no apparent reason. Let your interests guide you and don't feel intimidated by others.

Know that your father and I always always want to take care of your hurts and nurture your hopes. Your tears and frustrations will be ours. You are so loved little girls. You always will be loved.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Until Now

You may recall last month when I mentioned that Eric has published his first book! The work spans his entire photographic career until this point in time. The foreword is by Michael Copeland and I have written a bit for the book as well, reflecting upon my time working with Eric as an artist and often a subject. Many of you requested copies and I am happy to announce that they are now available for online purchase. Please click here to check it out and buy a copy, these are limited edition, signed and numbered by the artist.

Thank you for supporting the arts, you have no idea what this means to us as a family.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cordelia's Sixth Birthday Party

Saturday was CRAZY! Eric was out of town for work and had been since the day before. The night before I had made one layer of the cake. The girls and I woke bright and early to check in on the pig we are watching (she is too cute FYI). Then I fed and clothed us all, picked up a bit, made the second layer of cake, and it was time for lessons. I teach private painting lessons on Saturday mornings. Normally Eric hangs with the girls while I teach, but I was rolling solo. So I set the girls up with Frozen and led my classes. Then it was time for lunch, another piggy check, cleaning and party prep. Around that time I received word that Eric was headed home, he would just make it in time for the party.

While I was sweeping the floors (a daily necessity when you have four furry creatures) I had the girls clean their room. I got awesome feedback like,"Why are you doing this to us?" and "How can we possibly clean this room?"

I replied,"Oh you only have to clean up the stuff you want to keep."

Cordelia panicked and started cleaning. Elise said,"Just throw it all away, I am too tired." Eventually they both picked up their room. I got everything ready for the party, but I don't think I stopped moving from 5 in the morning until after the sun set. When the house was fully cleaned and decorated, space was the theme, it was about time for the party to start. Eric arrived with minutes to spare.

 Cordelia's 6th birthday
Waiting for the party

Cordelia's 6th birthday
Cordelia in her space suit. She paired it with flowery sandals.

Elise at Cordelia's 6th birthday
Elise in her helmet.

Cordelia's 6th birthday
Waiting for the guests to arrive.

Cordelia's 6th birthday
Before his out of town trip Eric had made a Pin the Rocket to the Moon game. It was a success.

 Cordelia's 6th 
Black space cake with stars. I made the black was a bit intense.
Cordelia's 6th birthday
Cordelia took her sweet time making a wish. 

Cordelia's 6th birthday
This is what black frosting looks like. ****Note: Never again. Also, this frosting makes a second and third appearance in the days to follow, if you catch my drift, to the delight of my children.

Cordelia's 6th birthday
Cordelia tries for the Mars pinata. I transformed a soccer ball pinata into Mars, with the magic of spray paint. We had talked about making an Earth pinata, but it seemed odd to have kids beat on the planet. So we opted to beat on another planet.

Cordelia's 6th birthday
Elise going for the pinata. The pinata was a big hit (pun intended, obvs).

My mother also showed up and was a big help. This was the first drop off party that we have hosted, meaning that the parents left their children in our care. It was definitely less crowded than parties with 6 guests plus parents and siblings, but it was very wild and loud. All of the kids had a great time, but it definitely took all adults to keep things in line. One guest fell and definitely did not hurt herself, but was crying. I told her we had a nurse (my mom) on hand to take care of her. My mom was such a pro. She rolled back her pant leg to inspect the injured knee and said,"Oh yeah, I can see where it is almost a little red. I need you to keep that leg moving." Like magic the tears were gone and the girl was playing in moments.

My bestie, and mother to one of Cordelia's besties, was basically amazing and returned with a bottle of wine. When the party wound down and the kids went home happy we went and checked in our piggy again, ate dinner and put the girls to bed. I slipped into manatee socks and enjoyed a well-earned glass of wine in front of the space heater.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Quote: Let there be spaces

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
-Khalil Gibran

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pig Sitting

This weekend we are pig sitting. This sweet girl is pretty shy, but easily bribed with carrots. Any pig lovers out there? What is the best way to win a pig's heart?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Phone Photo Friday: 10.2.15

Well I have actually shared many of my phone photos this week. So you are getting a rather abbreviated version of the usual. 

View of my town

Selfie from the Patron's Ball in Cody.

Another photo from Cordelia's ear piercing.

Talking to her uncle and aunt (Ben and Sara) on her birthday. When she picks up the phone she says,"Cordelia speaking."

Cordelia and my dad.

Elise with a box on her head.

Eric and Elise.


My brother Sam and the girls.

Yesterday at the pediatrician for check ups. They are growing, well Elise barely is, she is quite petite and still under 30lbs, but they are both healthy and happy kids.

Hope you are well!

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