Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Masseys Gone Wild!

Spring Break. It's an awesome concept, really. But I sorta forgot about it. It was a regular part of my life for 18 years or so but seeing as though it's been another 14 since I observed one, I totally forgot how awesome it is to be totally carefree and wild. Okay so "wild" may have a completely new connotation in my old age, but either way I am welcoming Spring Break back into my annual routine for the next 20 some odd years!!

For anyone local and interested, we had an insanely awesome trip, stayed at incredible places where babies, preschoolers and giant newfoundlands were all welcome and treated like family, and we experienced some of the most gorgeous Rocky Mountain geography this Rocky Mountain girl has ever seen.

We headed south on 93, up the Bitterroot and over Lost Trail Pass into Idaho for a 4 day loop through Sun Valley. We stayed in Salmon at Greyhouse Inn and in the morning hiked a few miles to Goldbug Hot Springs.

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I won't bother describing how amazing it was, just that somewhere between phenomenal and magical was our day trekking to and from Goldbug, together, without a timeline or a phone or a care in the world. Moana hiked a good 3.5 of the 4 mile journey, Richard came damn close to catching a Steelhead with his bare hands and I'm just surprised that Ophelia and I ever agreed to get out of the hot pools at all.

Heading south past the Craters of the Moon, that afternoon/evening we made our way to Hailey, Idaho (just south of Ketchum) where we stayed at Spruce Inn. Straight from the IKEA showroom floor this place screams "too cool for messy toddlers and dirty wet dogs!" Only it doesn't. No. It was like having our cake and eating it too. I almost bagged it and booked us in a nerdy motel that had a pool because more often than not it's more fun to settle on the new us, than try to maintain the old hipper us. But not this place. It was kinda like a hostel for grown ups - and I mean that extremely complimentary. The owner was so cool and warm and hip and whatever other cool things a mountain mama can be. We all made ourselves right at home there - quite literally.

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After a little jaunt through Hailey, which rivals Missoula (and the whole of New Zealand) for friendliest folks we've ever encountered, op-shops in Ketchum, chocolate and ice cream in Sun Valley, we headed north for Stanley. Hoping for a cute little cabin nestled on the banks of the Salmon River under the wing of the looming Sawtooths, we settled for the Motel on the corner because the sign read "private hot springs for guests only." The place refers to itself as Mountain Village Resort, but in my book it weighed in much closer to motel than resort. HOWEVER... and that's a big however... with its two queen beds, a hot shower and a toilet, it was right up our alley and well beyond what we were expecting in Stanley in the first place.

And then there was the private hot springs.

We had to reserve a time, then were given a key and told to walk 400 yards through the snow, down the hill, along the river and we'd see it. Bathing suits, snow boots and babies in tow we headed down the hill, past three big elk across the river and found the tiny little wooden shack. Who knew that "giving in to the new us" would lead to such a profound embracing of who we have become. Richard swung the barn doors open and we soaked while Pukunui scoured the river. The view of the Sawtooths was so intense with the coming storm usurping any semblance of sunshine and the three elk checking on us as often as we were checking on them. That hour was filled with playful moments, warm, wet, snugly moments, pure blissful loving moments and was impossible not to reflect on the simple, raw, deeply powerful beauty of our little family nestled together in the wild of our own private Idaho.

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The walk back was warm despite the blizzard of blowing ice. Soaking in hot springs is always amazing, but there was something extra divine and spiritual about this experience. We thanked the elk for sharing their home as they too moved on to find shelter and we hunkered down in our room, jumping from one queen bed to the other, over and over and over again.

We made a beeline home on Sunday, stopping in Salmon for lunch and then in Florence for ice cream to get us through that last little push home. We pulled into the alley and each of us immediately dispersed into our own thing. Richard unloaded the car, Moana dug in the dirt, Ophelia threw gravel in the raised beds and I pruned plants that finally after a long, cold winter were starting to show signs of life. Spring was breaking! It's funny how going away makes you so appreciate coming home, but oh how being away together makes you realize that being together is really all we need to come home to.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Radio Silence



Dearest Ophelia,

A year ago today, the sun came out on a Sunday afternoon in March and I chalked the pangs in my gut up to good riddance for another winter survived. I felt funny that day. But we all feel funny on that first who-cares-if-it's-a-fluke, Spring-is-in-the-air, beautiful, sunshiny day. We feel giddy and funny and full of life. The end of pregnancy, like the end of a long, dark winter, is full of pangs and longing and a desire to shed the comforts of getting by for the buoyancy of getting through. Still, I didn't know that by morning you would have gracefully, hastily made your way from your own comfortable darkness to the bright weightlessness of my love for you. Today, one year later, it was that same kind of day in March and I have to wonder if that same eagerness to embrace life is what propelled you out. Today may very well have been a fluke - it's still too early to get Spring Fever. But today reminds me of the days surrounding your birth and the literal and metaphorical sunshine that you bring to my life. You are new and refreshing every day. You are hilarious and bold, determined and willful, soft and precious. You ARE happiness. And for me, you are a journey down a path of perspective that I want to thank you for on the eve of your very first birthday.

I have been writing this blog since Moana was born as a gift to our family, to bridge the gap of distance and time; as a baby book and a memoir of the most incredible years of our lives; and as a personal journey of self reflection. Over the last three and a half years my writing has ebbed and flowed but it has never seemed more remiss than it does now in its absence. The last time I wrote about you was in June. You were three months old. I had to go back and calculate that because I write about you every day in my head. Every day you do something worthy of documenting and memorializing and saluting. Every day you teach me something new. And what I want to say to you is that instead of cataloging memories as a series of blog posts or photoshopping the perfect sequence of photos to accompany them, I have spent your entire life WITH you, WITH Moana and Richard, with ME... because I have gained and earned the insight and the gumption to do so. You, the inception of you, gave me that.

At some point since June I swore I wasn't going to blog until I dedicated a whole post to just you. Just you. Just you and all of your perfect youness. Not Moana and what an adoring big sister she is. Not the two of you together and what an unstoppable little unit you are. Not our family and how it exponentially blossomed when you hit the scene. What else would there be but radio silence when up against a promise like that? I haven't been remiss in not writing about you, I have been remiss in thinking I could build a forcefield around everything but you and still have anything profound to reflect on. Sure you are deserving of your own post, your own blog, your own bronzed statue of every monumental thing that you do. But as Gill put it a long time ago... you were born into a package deal and that's about as profound as it gets. When I have written about you it has been about how full circle you make everything. You are the thing that completes the thing that came before. And you will never know life without the things that came before you - one of which is your sister. I will always, always, honor you both as individuals but I will never again paralyze myself in trying to do so. You guys are a package deal and I find so much strength and inspiration in your relationship.

To be honest, I think there is an inherent fear of negating emotions and revelations of the past by seeming to trump them with new ones of the present. The perspective you've given me in the last year is exponential, as is everything you are and represent. You have brought more happiness to my life than I could have ever imagined. You bring it by being you and you bring it by being everything you are to everyone who loves you. Loving you is like trying to comprehend the universe. I just accept that it is infinitely bigger than anything I can ever imagine. Believe me, I see the irony in this letter/post and my so called gumption as here I am reconciling my guilt of not honoring you enough, or as much, or at all in this way. But my sweet Ophelia, I write this to you now so you know that just as you are your own, so is my way of honoring you.

I love you Ophelia. I love what it feels like to be your mama and to have a lifetime ahead of us. Happy First Birthday little monkey.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Under Myself

I met up with an old friend when I was in Denver this summer and when she asked me what I do, she prefaced it with, "I've read your blog, so I know you're a writer." I am not a writer. I don't claim to be one just because I self-publish this here blog. I am a woman with an innate need to express herself and writing - no, talking then writing - is my preferred means of expression. But that comment, or compliment rather, has gone on to float my boat ever since and make me think hard about why I write and why, when I love it so much, I don’t add writer to the list of thing that I am.

I've written before about my inner-blogging-conflict. How every time I click "publish" the get-over-yourself siren goes off in my head. But I still do it. It ebbs and it flows, but I still do it. I'm proud of the fact that when it ebbs, it's because I'm too busy living blogworthy moments to blog them. And when it flows it's because my jar doesn't overflow, it implodes unless I express myself one way or another. My thoughts and emotions are like tangible little fuzzies that live inside of me. Sometimes they're a cozy little bit of fluff that I like to keep all to myself. And sometimes they fester and need to get out. And sometimes just talking about it doesn't work. For me, it's like a puzzle. Figuring out which words will honor the fuzzy fluff enough for them to attach themselves, exit the warmness of my inner Casey and live out their days in writing, wherever I choose to put them down. For the last three plus years I have chosen to put them here, on weemassey.

It's not writing that I am conflicted about. It's blogging. It's social media. It may surprise the parents and teachers at Moana's preschool who see me socializing in the halls at every drop off and pick up, or anyone I have ever gone to school with who knows that I would gladly skip class just to finish a conversation, or anyone I've ever worked with who remembers how long it took to get me out of the building on a Friday night because I needed to say goodbye to every last soul in the office, that I find social media to be exhausting and counterintuitive. Don't get me wrong. I love it for connecting and reconnecting, for ease of sharing anything with anyone. But there is such a fine line between anything with anyone and everything with everyone. The breadth of social media and networking is hard for a person who can spend an hour writing one thank you note or three hours honoring her inner fluff. I am a social person through and through but I don't do surface very well. The number of friends I have on Facebook feels like an unmanageable social circle at times, even though I am truly grateful for the connectedness it allows.

If I could just redefine social networking and eliminate the piece of it that for me screams LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!, I think I could fully embrace it. So that's what I'm doing. I'm redefining it. I lean on integrity and consistency and honesty and truthfulness to get me by in this world. I'm not going to talk about how great I am, I'm just going to be great. So there in lies my conflict and I do believe my new definition: social integrity. If I keep that in mind I can do away with the reality show of it all and let the networking piece radiate novelty in all its technological glory.

In that same conversation with my friend this summer I told her I'd been sewing and singing and making a go of it around town. She smiled and said something like, "That's so you. You were always the one who sewed the ruffles on our jean shorts!" Funny the places we find meaning... I found huge amounts of it in jean shorts. It reminded me that I have always been me. And I don't often forget that, but I am often surprised at how good it feels to be reminded. My birthday this year found me surrounded by three of the most amazing women I have ever known and they said the most amazing things to me that I have ever heard. They said the things I say to myself. Things I don't ask people to see in me, things I just strive to be. There is a difference between feeling validated because you seek approval and being honored for being you. That experience was one hundred percent the latter and one of the proudest moments of my life. I had a similar Facebook encounter with an old friend who come to find out reads my blog. When I write, there are three people I know of who read this and about ten that I have a hunch stop by. That works for me because otherwise I think I would feel pressure to write for an audience. But I have to admit there is something pretty special about writing for myself and sharing it with a few and then being surprised when it reaches past the obvious extensions of my universe.

I started writing this to reconcile my need to give modesty and integrity their own pages in the Book of Casey. I do things that I'm proud of. I write. And I make stuff. And I started a band. And sometimes I want to shout it from the rooftops. But my modesty won't allow me to do so for fear of undermining my integrity. But they are not synonymous. My intention today was to use weemassey as my rooftop to practice shouting things about myself because this is a safe place for me. Because (though this post is all about me and seemingly not about my wee princesses) I want my girls to know the kinds of things I think about and what I was up to when they were tiny and the values that I hold dear. Especially the ones I hope to pass along. I hope that I do reconcile what feels like a contradiction in terms because while technology and social media is something I am integrating into my life, it is their life. And I don't care what means of expression we choose... writing, blogging, sewing, singing... networking, skyping, instant messaging... fashion, photography and photoshop... I want the roots, underneath their foundations, beneath the building blocks of their person... to be integrity.

I'm going to push publish here in a second and disconnect the siren. I'm getting under myself from now on.

Moments from a blogless summer :: 2010

BFFs
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Snowbowl with Haley
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Flathead with Kelly, Vinni and Isabella
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Montana State Fair with Isabella
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MoJoes in Denver :: Clarke and Diane in Missoula
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Summer lovin'
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Cutting shapes with Eliana :: Snackin' with Luca
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Dad's helmet/Dad's hat
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Isabella's Birthday :: Bonner Park
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Random weekday fun with Haley, Eliza and Lucille
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Daddy's girls.
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First day of Preschool!!!
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Heaven:
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blooming

Moana is off to school tomorrow! Preschool. But still, school and the fact remains that this is it, this is when the little sponge will start absorbing life's lessons at an incomprehensibly absurd rate and making her own memories of her own experiences that have absolutely nothing to do with me. And if you want to know the truth... I'm sooooooooooooooooo excited for her! A year ago when I was encouraged to tour some preschools and get on the waiting list for Fall 2010, I still had to do the math to figure out how old that would make Moana because wasn't she only two at the time? Two. Not far into the conversation (of course I was pregnant) I melted into a puddle of oh-my-god-I'm-going-to-have-to-let-go-of-her-someday, and I started getting ready to get ready, emotionally, to think about possibly doing that... someday. Since January Moana has been at a little montessori school two mornings a week which definitely counts as her first school... BUT... at that age, a bunch of two year olds sitting on little tiny carpet squares learning how to pour their own milk into little tiny bowls, it just seems different than this. Which, I reckon, is exactly what it will be like when she goes from elementary school to middle school to high school to college or her OE - each step seems so juvenile in retrospect and so monumental looking forward. I made peace with having to let her go (a little at a time) when she was six months old; when I realized that showing up cribside at every peep or toss or turn was actually me standing in the way of her needing to spread her little tiny wings just a little tiny bit. I think about that a lot as her mom... about the delicate balance out here on the limb of transition and how to support her without holding her back, how to empower her without pushing her too far, how to let go without abandoning her. This little dance is one that, just like her, gets more complicated everyday but one that gets exponentially better every time we do it. Which is why I can say with no fluff or frills or sugarcoated spin that I am sincerely excited for her to spread her wings even further and not even mildly sad to let go tomorrow. Of course we are talking about a three year old so "letting go" seems a generous exaggeration but even loosening the grip can be overwhelmingly sad. But this time, it's just not. I'm so proud of her and quite frankly I'm so proud of us, the two of us as well as our whole unit, for being a confident team that encourages each other to bloom and benefits from watching it happen.

Happy First Day of Preschool, Moana! I love you, so much.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

*BIRTH*day

My birthday has so much more significance to me in the last four years than it ever had in the previous 30. I get that it's MY day to celebrate ME and the fact that I'm here and loved. And I LOVE that! But I also have my own little private (well, not now that I'm blogging about it) celebration now for HOW I got here in the first place. I was awake around 3 am this morning and I was thinking about my mom on the eve of August 4th, 34 years ago, and what she was thinking as she tried to sleep knowing she would be giving birth in the morning. And it was that phrase, giving birth, that I couldn't get out of my head. Birth is the most extraordinary process. And no matter how we are born we are all products of our mothers' most extraordinary experience. It is, beyond anything else in this Universe, the most extraordinary gift: birth. Thank you, Mama, for the gift that I celebrate today: the fact that I am here and I am loved. For that, on my Day of All Days, I also celebrate you. xx
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p.s. My mom is not hatching. The 34 year old polaroid is just cracking a little bit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seven Seven Seven in July

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above: July 7, 2010 presents, cake, Splash Montana, birthday party!
Moana is three. Just because it went without blogging doesn't mean that it wasn't a huge deal! She is THREE! I mean, that's nuts. And the thing is... she's rad. She is such a wholeheartedly *good* person right down to the bone. She is caring and considerate as the day is long and intuitive and accepting and it blows my mind that I use those kinds of words to describe a three-year-old. IknowIknowIknow... I'm her mom... I get that I'm biased, but in this here journal of motherhood/baby book for our wee masseys it can't go unwritten that she really is something special. And as to avoid making any blog-readers nauseous with my accounts of her endearing thoughtfulness I thought I would instead record some of her little Moanaisms as she crosses the threshold of her fourth year.

may i please have some holding? (Spoken when reminded to use her manners instead of saying "up, up, up, mama, hold me!")

baby uh-uh, it don't work. (A sassy little phrase she learned from Happy Feet which general leads to her breaking into song.)

boogie want to land (Direct translation: Boogie Wonderland - the afore mentioned song of which she knows every word.)

that's heaps bro (That's her getting her kiwi on!)

agh, i got-for my ____! (gotfor = forgot and this little mix up is as consistent as her putting her shoes on the wrong feet)

i was just choking! (What she means is: I was just joking!)

mom, i have a bat in the cave. (This is actually a Vinni-ism she picked up from our friend Vinni and it means she has a booger. One worthy of discussing... which is any of them, really.)

helllooooo little monkskin (Moana speaking baby talk to her sister is the cutest thing I've ever heard. Usually it's "ahh, sweetie, you want me to hold you?" but my favorite is when she sees her for the first time in the morning and she lights up and says "hellloooo little munchkin, did you have a good sleep?! can i touch ophelia mom? can i kiss her?" Every day.

chimmy chocolate (her favorite dish at the Mexican restaraunt: chimichanga)

mom, i'm a little bit busy right now. Or i'm getting busy. (busy = dizzy)

Here's a little excerpt of a conversation we had last night:
MOANA: hi mom, i'm making tea. and coffee. which one you want?
ME: Coffee, please.
MOANA: you want me to make it out of bread or syrup?
ME: Syrup sounds good.
MOANA: okay. do you want it out of orange special thing or special lemonade?
ME: How 'bout special lemonade.
MOANA: with bubblegum?
ME: Of course.
And it just went on from there. The stream of not-so-random randomness that she comes up with is so fun to watch pour out of her. Last night we laid in her bed and just talked. No books. No usual night time rituals. Just talked, like two people winding down from a good day. She said something that cracked me up and next thing you know we were hysterical. You know the kind of laughter you laugh with your best friend? The kind that physically feels really good in an indescribably euphoric way? That kind of hysterical. It was contagious and it lasted probably five full minutes. My stomach muscles were sore and my cheeks were all stretched out as we then wrapped our four arms around each other and breathed in our equally salty, summery neck sweat, and I told her what a good person I think she is. Kind and caring and good. As I closed the door behind me and said goodnight she said, "mom, I love you. so much. you're my best friend. of the life. and so is dad and ophelia and the mouse."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Normal on the Side

The new truck has been the source of a slight identity crisis for me lately. I used to think I was a normal person who listened to country music on the side. Now, as I hop the curb of my daughter's preschool in my RAM 1500 singing Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, I'm beginning to realize I'm a real Montana mama and thinking.... Wow. Now I'm normal on the side.
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We sold the Mitsy over the weekend and it was a real right of passage for me. We bought it from a priest in San Diego (that had to have been a good omen!) as the first step in the direction of packing up and moving to Montana. We drove it from San Diego to San Francisco to Denver to Missoula and in the last five years it has seen more wet dog, baby drool and toddler spills than it probably ever dreamed of. We fixed it up a bit before we sold it and the guy said he'd never seen a car with that many miles in that good of condition... "it'll go forever" he said. Even though we intended to drive the thing into the ground and even though I almost cried watching it drive away yesterday (I have a propensity to be overly sentimentally attached to inanimate objects - but that's another story) I met the young man who bought it this morning at the notary desk in the bank. He's a young soldier who was deployed to Afghanistan in February but was able to return home for his wife's heart surgery. In May they were in a horrific car accident and - long story short - the injuries his wife suffered in the accident led to the discovery of what was causing her heart problems. Our craigslist posting was one more notch on the ladder of serendipity that had sprung from their untimely tragedy in May. He's hoping not to go back to Afghanistan but either way he (and we) are so psyched that Mitsy will be looking after them the way she has always looked after us.
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And I will start embracing Rambo (as Ian "Ratbag" Lipscombe named her) and all the goodness that comes with having a giant truck in Montana!

Monday, July 19, 2010

UK & US Masseys

If a picture tells a thousand words then below are eighteen thousand of them to describe what an amazing adventure we had with Uncle Stephen (Peow Peow), Aunty Nic and Baby Ethan (Esin) in Round Pond, Maine. Even though upon returning home we felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation, we welcomed the new version of us, a family of four, traveling and making unforgettable memories with family. We'll never forget packing three car seats, four adults and 10 days worth of luggage into a jeep cherokee... or picnicking on the cliffs of Monhegan Island... or the thunder storm to end all thunder storms... or the fireflies that twinkled aglow on the eve of the summer solstice that Moana will always remember as her first Faerie sightings.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ophelia's Placenta Party

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So many times I've laid my hand on the Birdman bag in the door of the freezer trying to recall which part of what animal someone must have given us last hunting season. Only to realize that yes of course, it's actually my placenta, then shut the door and move on. In preparation for Ophelia's Placenta Party I took it out of the freezer last night and thawed it in the sink. This morning, in the peaceful quietness of both girls still sleeping, I reached into the sink and again laid my hand on the Birdman bag. I wish I could describe the sensation. It was sort of like emotional Kryponite. Frozen and lifeless in the freezer next to antelope steaks and elk sausage it was just a reminder that we still had a placenta to do something with someday. Cold and supple in the sink it was a powerful reminder of the time when Ophelia and I were one unit. I stood there, as still as the placenta the night before, and felt it radiate. Whatever raw, unprocessed emotion that was left over from Ophelia's birth had been frozen in our basement freezer and was now filling my emotional pot to the brim.

We had our closest friends over to help memorialize Ophelia's birth and with each pass by the kitchen sink the emotions enveloped me and filled me up time and again. The Placenta Party is meant to be a celebration of intense profundity so I'm not sure why it was surprising that a gathering of this nature would stir my emotional pot so much but it did, in the most beautiful and indescribable way. Every time I touched the red Birdman bag I was completely overcome by this involuntary, unexpected sort of electrical charge. It was as if the thing was a glowing, green crystal and I a superhero being summoned in a trance-like state of half gooey-blissfulness and half leaden-fervor.

I held Ophelia, our placenta at my feet, and I managed to say something - not as eloquently as it felt inside but something nonetheless - to our family of friends all gathered in the garden. Not long after we moved to Missoula (a notable notch on the ladder of consecutive dream-come-trues in my life - somewhere between falling in love and having babies) we tossed around the idea of getting pregnant. We were ready, other than my desire to have some good friends to share my experiences with, we were ready. We didn't wait for the friends to accumulate, but one day not too long ago, I had a flashback of that desire and realized it was yet another dream come true. We are entirely surrounded by incredibly special people whose lives intertwine with ours and whose children intermingle with ours and whom we are flat out extremely lucky to know. As our children have budded and bloomed so have our friendships. And there we were, tucked between the carrots and the cat mint, engulfed by the zestful garden of little ones that we sowed and now nurture, all of us a dynamic family in our own right.

It was intentional that we planned the Placenta Party for the weekend the Lippys were here. Their presence was a gift and significant in so many ways. They represent our family, Richard's and mine, blood and otherwise, everyone outside of the community we call home in Missoula. They are surrogate parents to us and grandparents to our girls. They are role models and inspirations to us both as individuals, as a couple and to all of us as a family. But perhaps the most intriguing significance of their serendipitous timing is that The Lippys are to Richard's family what every single family here today is to us. Just imagine Richard and me showing up at Eliana's or Jiah's or Isabella's door, with all these gorgeous memories of their childhood in tow, some thirty-odd years from now.

I took the placenta, in all of its veiny, bloody, coiled glory, out of the plastic bag. I held it in my palm and felt the displaced emotions I had resurrected come flooding out of me, collecting in an imaginary pool above the big earthy hole. What was happening to me felt every bit transparent but only because the company surrounding me, and the very significance of their presence, was intended to share every bit of my process. As the blood dribbled and the placenta gently fell from my hands, the pool of emotions drained clean and dissipated into the dirt.

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