Taking Stock of 2012

December 27th is a special anniversary at our house.  One year ago today we still lived in Montana, but we signed the closing papers on our home where we now live in Minnesota.

Coincidentally, it’s also been one year since I’ve been writing for the paper, which is kind of special, too.  You’ve now had a full year’s worth of my musings about running our family zoo of four kids.

Earlier in the year, our inquisitive little boy discovered our iron, and flattened our carpet.

Earlier in the year, our inquisitive little boy discovered our iron, and flattened our carpet.

It’s a peculiar thing to write a weekly column for the paper.  And today, I’m writing in part about just that.  Every week I sit down and write for a vast group of people that for the most part, I never see or talk to.  I usually try not to think about just how many people might read this, because quite frankly, it makes me nervous, and then I can’t write.

Sometimes people wonder where my ideas come from, but it’s fairly simple.  I begin by sitting down and whacking my head against the table until inspiration strikes.  Truthfully, I spend most of the week with a deadline in the back of my head, casually mulling over ideas.  Then casual thoughts turn to a nagging feeling, which then turns into mild panic the night before the deadline, when I often still don’t have the topic figured out.

Usually I sort things out in a moment of quiet.  I often “write” while I’m rocking our littlest one to sleep.  That 15-minute stretch of quiet is my gold mine.

Back in my college literature classes, I generally envisioned writers as someone like Emily Dickinson: nestled away, in a little attic cove, perhaps sunlight streaming from a window onto a well-worn wooden table, with a peaceful wooded view.  Writing is done in peacefulness, serenity, and solitude.

And that’s pretty much how it is for me, too.  Like today, for instance.  We’ve got plenty of serene views out of the window.  Except put me at the dining room table with six of us stir crazy at home on a snow day from cancelled school.  Take away the peacefulness, the serenity, the solitude, and the reflective state.  And then, that is totally me.

At this very moment, my daughter is hanging on my leg, crying because I’m half an hour past her nap time.  “Can you turn the oven light on, NOW??!!! I want to see my ‘T’ ornament cooking!!” is what I hear on my other side.  And as a mom, I think about all of the other things I’m not doing because I’m spending a few hours writing.  Two kids on my lap while writing helps me to remember.  I often type while nursing.  I don’t know what my typing speed is with a baby, but it’s not too shabby.

I write in bits and pieces.  I write after the kids go to bed, at 3 AM when I can’t sleep, while the baby colors all over herself in the other room, while my son accidentally pees on the floor.  If it all comes together and makes a shred of sense, I count that among many small miracles.

And when it’s finished and I finally click “send” on my email to the paper, life is good.  I actually finished something.  Dishes and laundry never end, but hey, that article?  It’s really, truly done.

I used to keep a journal.  I don’t know if I made an entry this year, though.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I enlisted myself to write every week for the paper, I’d never do it.  I’m thankful for a written record of these busy days. There is so much I’d forget otherwise.

And for the people reading, you’ve had a front seat to many moments in our 2012:
–Life in my husband’s hometown of Broadview, Montana.

–Preparing and planning our move of 1,000 miles back to Minnesota where I grew up.

–My two-year-old’s carpet exploits involving chocolate syrup and an iron.  (It’s true that the biggest messes make the best stories later on.

–Writing from a hospital room during that same little boy’s emergency hernia surgery.

–The moving odyssey of packing up 90% of our things and hauling them to MN, and then living in a bare bones house in MT for another six weeks while my husband finished a work project.

–Celebrating our 10th anniversary in our new home with a second wedding that included our kids.

Our kids acted as flower girls and ring bearers at the wedding celebrating our 10th anniversary.

Our kids acted as flower girls and ring bearers at the wedding celebrating our 10th anniversary.

–Gardening adventures in our very first, very gigantic family garden.

–The triumphs and tragedies of chickens mixing with kids.

–My life as a mom, of late nights and busy mornings.

–Loving the good things in life: clotheslines, libraries, blankets, time with family.

I hope that in the course of the year, I’ve made you smile or laugh.  I hope I reminded you of life with your own kids, the joys of life in a small town, and life in the country.  I hope I’ve touched your heart a time or two during my ramblings about the universal conditions of being human and a mother.

Since many of my family and friends live outside the area and don’t see the local MN papers, I started putting past articles on a blog.  If you’d like to go back and read a previous column, or share one with someone else, you can find them all on http://www.kathyschronicles.com.  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to tell me what you liked reading about, what you’d like to hear more about.  You can even tell me what bored you, as long as you do it politely.  You can write messages to me directly on this website.

Thanks for letting me share the adventures of our past year with you.  I don’t know what life will bring for us in 2013, but whatever comes our way, I’ll be sharing some of it with you here in the paper.  Hoping all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and wishing you health and happiness in the coming year!

Kathy

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