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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Marrying my Husband, Again

Special thanks to Bucket List Publications, an online magazine for also publishing this article.  Thank you so much!  Click here to see it.  

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I’ve always thought it’s a shame that most people only get married once. No, I’m not thinking about trading in my husband for a new model. I mean, really, neither one of us has time to date. We just moved cross country, and we’ve got four kids running around.

What I’m speaking of is weddings. What a shame that if done properly, getting all dolled up and spending a whole day celebrating your love only happens once in a lifetime. Only having one wedding dance to do a few polkas (as required by my Luxembourger/German birthright)? Only one fun party with your friends and family? I do believe that is criminal.

So, in celebration of our tenth anniversary a few weeks ago, Jarred and I got married again.

Ten years ago, on April 20, 2002, we walked down a long, long pier in Indianola, WA, and committed to forever with each other. Our first wedding was a pretty spontaneous affair. We originally planned to have a big, traditional church wedding in June of that year, but after seeing a few friends run off and do the simple, small wedding thing, we decided that sounded more like our style.

Our wedding in 2002 in Indianola, WA.

We gave our family an open invitation but just two weeks notice, and planned an outdoor wedding in April in Western Washington with no backup plan for rain. Our family on both sides amazed us when so many of them rearranged their lives on a moment’s notice and traveled from MT and MN for our wedding. I’m still touched when I think about how much of our family showed up for our wedding and the salmon barbecue and bonfire that followed.

This time around, we got married in our new house, with our kids in the bridal party.

In some ways I feel utterly humbled and unworthy to make any sort of to-do about a 10th anniversary. I see 25th, 50th, even 60th anniversaries in the paper all the time, and I humbly bow down to those couples’ marriage duration. With no question they have far more to say about love and commitment than I do. However, in our defense, we simply haven’t had that much time together yet. The beauty of ten years, though, is that we have had enough time and experience together that we can look back and reflect upon how our life is unfolding together, and of course, celebrate.

I do believe that we need to celebrate the fact that together we lived through six weeks of no running water in a trailer house in Broadview, Montana during the peak of the drought years, and still managed to like each other. We survived an unplanned stay in what turned out to be a pay-by-the-hour hotel in Mexico, four surgeries for our kids, and the challenges and joys of being self-employed.

Together, Jarred and I got through the pain of the first two pregnancies being miscarriages. And knowing what it is like to not simply have a baby because you want one, the birth of each of our four children has been all the more joyful. We fully realize the miracle that each child is, and when they are not beating on each other (and sometimes even when they are), we often take note that we are pretty darn blessed to get these kids that rule our lives. They are definitely reason to celebrate.

And appropriately for our life today, our second wedding was really just an event that we managed to squeeze in between the rest of our busy life. In our original fairy tale plans for this party, we thought we’d be living in our new house for several months already, nicely settled, and it’d be a fun way to have a house warming. As real life turned out, I moved in with our kids just three weeks before this planned event, and Jarred was still in Montana working up until a week before this shindig.

We whirled the moving mess upstairs to make the downstairs presentable, had some help from family with decorations, mowing, and food, and we had ourselves a party. My six-year-old daughter picked out a very fancy flower girl dress for herself and her sister (getting to fulfill every girl’s dream), our two boys were ring bearers, and the three oldest kids worked on helping their baby sister learn to walk in the weeks beforehand so she could walk down the aisle for the wedding.

It was a family affair, where moments before we were supposed to be ready, two of my sisters came to my rescue helping get kids dressed and looking presentable. One of my very favorite moments was getting surprised by Jarred’s parents, who showed up just as we cued the music to walk down the “aisle” of our wraparound porch. They made the long drive all the way from Montana without telling us they were coming, and surprised me enough that I screamed when I saw them, and then started to cry. Fortunately, we were running late as usual, and they made it just in time to see our short little ceremony.

My kids and I walked down the aisle, my niece was the maid of honor/junior bridesmaid, a friend’s daughter was an impromptu flower girl, and our dog, Spot, took the liberty to join in on the occasion, too. My brother acted as the minister, Jarred and his dad sang and played “The Wedding Song” from memory on their guitars, and we renewed our vows with a copy of our original ceremony, standing under the columns between our living room and dining room while our kids fidgeted around us.

After ten years of marriage, a little something usually gets in the way of “you may kiss the bride.” photo by Fresh Click Photography

Afterward, everyone headed to the kitchen to fill up their plates, I had the chance to catch up with some long-time friends, and later we rolled up the rug in our living room so our kids could dance. Seeing our six-year-old girl and five-year-old boy dressed in their fancy clothes and dancing together in the living room of our new home, surrounded by their family, is the best gift I could receive ten years after getting married to their dad.

Some days I get overwhelmed by the long, slow grind of unpacking our new home combined with the full-time job of caring for our kids. When I look around, though, and see I’m living in the farmhouse in the country that I always wanted, see four happy kids outside exploring their new yard, and have a husband who is just as excited about our kids and our new place and our life as me, and I know I’m blessed. Ten years ago, we never could have predicted the path of how we got to where we are today, but we’re awfully happy to be here.

© 2012

Our second wedding in 2012 with our very own flower girls and ring bearers. photo by Fresh Click Photography