2013: A Year in Pictures (And a Few Words, Too)

This week, a picture is definitely worth a 1,000 words (to me, anyway). As you read this, the rush of Christmas is over, but as I write this, I am in still in the midst of one week to go before the big day. If you know me, you might guess that I haven’t wrapped a single present, haven’t touched the pile of Christmas cards I ordered a few weeks ago (in order to get them done with plenty of time, of course), and probably have a messy house. Yes, yes, and yes.

With that holiday crunch pressing, it gives me a sense of perspective to look back at the year and see all of the things that we’ve done. Here are some of the big events of our life that I chronicled in this column this year:

-Acting in my very first play, “Leaving Iowa,” and then again later on in the locally produced “Cinderella” silent movie.

Photo by Pete Keith of Laneboro Community Theater.

Photo by Pete Keith of Laneboro Community Theater.

-Raising our first bottle lamb. Our kids held him like a puppy, and now he’s big enough to ride. He survived and thrived. Jarred wants to eat him for Christmas, I’m not so sure.


-A mother-daughter run together at the Fools Five, where my seven-year-old ran her very first race.

first race

-Missing my brother Mike Kramer in so many ways, big and small. Even in a crowded house on holidays, there is a feeling of someone missing. Thank you all again for your continued kindness and support for our family.

Mike at work: a talented pilot, doing a job he loved.

Mike at work: a talented pilot, doing a job he loved.

-Making the best of a hard summer with a fun campout for our son’s birthday, we slept under the stars and ate a hearty breakfast on the porch.

Summer breakfast on porch

-Raising my first set of meat birds successfully. I hauled them to get processed on my 35th birthday, and felt like it was a great way to start my next year of life.


-Celebrating a wedding in the family, my nephew Mark Manemann married Sheila McNallan. My son was the ring bearer.

mark and isaac

-Four kids dressing up for Halloween and having the requisite trick or treating night out on the town. (Spot stayed home.)

halloween 2013

-Celebrating Thanksgiving in Montana with my husband’s side of the family. We took our Christmas picture with his ’64 pickup that hasn’t made the trip to MN yet.

family photo 2013

Thank you for following our adventures over the course of the last two years. It’s still quite surreal and humbling to think that part of every paper is devoted to the tales of my family’s life each week. I don’t see most of you face to face, but I hear bits and pieces from family or friends. Every once in a while there is an “Oh, you’re Kathy’s (insert relation)? I like her column.” It’s really very kind and nice to hear. I never really know whose lives I might touch.

If you miss a week, want to reread something later on, or share it with someone else, you can find me online at http://www.kathyschronicles.com. All of the articles are there, just a few weeks after they come out in the paper (I’ve never been known as punctual). You can also follow Kathy’s Chronicles on facebook, and get updates of the articles as I put them on my website.

if you ever have comments or ideas to share with me, feel free to send an email to the paper, just include my name, and it will get to me. Or write a letter. Or call. Or send me a message on facebook.

Thank you for being part of the wonderful small town community that makes SE MN such a great place to call home. I couldn’t be happier to raise my family among so many good people. Wishing you all many blessings in 2014.



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!