By the time we arrived home velvet blackness had covered the valley and a dinner plate moon hung over the mountains. Kellie and I crept to the basement dodging stuffed animals, legos and discarded pillows as we sought our children’s sleeping forms. I kissed them on the nose and lips and forehead, tasting sunscreen and sweat and wondering what their day had held.

The writing conference went beautifully, wonderfully, with fantastic instruction, fascinating attendees and incredible food. The lack of air conditioning and the tripped fire alarm only increased the excitement– because really, what’s the thrill of a perfectly executed event? Because it was held at Erik’s office I was the go-to girl for missing chairs, trash can liners and WiFi passwords. I pray I wasn’t too short or impatient with anyone, but I’m afraid I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to be truly friendly. It’s normal, isn’t it, to wish I could have done better?

I slept late this morning, until sunlight eased open my eyes. Shuffling into the kitchen wearing eyeglasses and a pink robe, I was greeted by Xander (always the first awake) who regaled me with tales of his bicycle crash and proudly displayed his assortment of scrapes and bandages. Soon Mary appeared with her dandelion fluff hair and crawled into my lap. I traced my finger across her freckled nose and marveled at her gold-flecked eyes.

Gabriel emerged from the basement in his too-small pajamas and dove towards me. He and Mary scuffled for dominance until I stood up and rearranged us all–“I have plenty of lap for both of you!” Their long lean arms and legs tangled around mine as they described their day at the lake with Erik (surely he is vying for sainthood?) and the key lime pie at dinner.

I loved the conference. Beautiful, well-crafted writing is intensely important to me, as are my friendships with other women. But my ambitions, my dreams of a novel or a memoir, will never rival the people spilling milk across the counter, banging on the piano, and laughing from bedroom, right here at home.

playing Labyrinth with seven kids
June 24, 2010
July 5, 2010



  1. Sue

    June 28, 2010

    Glad it all went well. I wanted to go; instead, I am here…fetching, carrying, feeding, and generally taking care of my youngest son while he studies for the MCAT.


    Maybe next year?!


  2. Linkous

    June 28, 2010

    Sounds like an amazing event, I’m so glad you’re having a blast with your friends from down under, and your kids are worth every ounce of adoration you give them on this blog and in person 🙂
    love you

  3. Jess

    June 28, 2010

    When I grow up I long to be just like you. I don’t say that in jest or with any sarcasm. I mean it. I love your family and you. I’m glad you were able to take some time this weekend for your writing. It’s beautiful and someday I fully expect to read your memoirs. I want the first preorder!

  4. Jen Brown Wunderlich

    June 29, 2010

    The Segullah retreat was great–I appreciated hearing what you had to say. I loved the entire event!

    I have visited your blog many times and am always impressed by its simplistic beauty. It’s inspiring.

  5. Cath

    June 29, 2010

    This post is beautiful Michelle. The retreat was excellent. Loved your insights – the Dickinson quote – and rubbing shoulders with some tremendous women. Thanks for all you must have done to pull it off! Let’s get a date for dinner some time soon.

  6. Tracy

    June 29, 2010

    The pic of Erik with the kids is beautiful. Sounds like a lovely retreat. I sweat too much to go w/o a/c though. 😉

  7. Rachelle

    June 29, 2010

    I love the way you write…

  8. Brooke

    June 30, 2010

    oh, i love this. same for me, the rivalry thing.

    and how i wish i could have been at the conference!

  9. Kerri

    June 30, 2010

    The conference was so so great. And the heat didn’t really bother me too much, so don’t sweat it. (Ha ha ha ha.)

    Seriously, though, it was a wonderful day, and I thought the location was great. So thanks for making it happen.

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