* * * * * * *Dear Friends,
If the soul of wit is brevity, prepare yourself for something, at best, half-witted. Because I’ve got three kids, a husband, and one cabin to tell you about. But the real theme of 2012 for us has been walls—building them, tearing them down, inside and out. Having a degree in English, you may think I’m being figurative. But I’m pretty shallow emotionally, so Need walls are literal, not metaphorical.
Last winter, Dwayne began making plans for us to go to Hawaii (sans kids). I was on Cloud 9 for about 24 hours before I realized that I’d rather remodel our kitchen than relax for a week. If you can’t understand that reasoning, then I won’t be able to explain it. But my parents took all three kids for a week and a half, while we helped a contractor tear down walls, rip up carpet, and raise ceilings. I now have a great room that feels more spacious with easy-to-clean floors and good lighting. And unlike Hawaii, I get to enjoy it for decades.
Dwayne went looking for the property of his dreams this last year and ended up buying me the cabin of my dreams instead. Our imagined ten acre chalet turned into a real log cabin on ¼ acre on Whidbey Island. We’ve had it for three months and have already built a few interior walls (to gain a bedroom and hallway) and have comfortably appointed it. My goal has been to furnish it exclusively with used items (I’m a fan of http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com), and excepting the obvious of building materials, fire extinguishers, and mattresses, we’ve used thrift stores and Craigslist to outfit the cabin. We love to share it almost as much as we love being there ourselves.
When Dwayne wasn’t searching for his 10 acre kingdom this year, he built some exterior walls that nearly put to shame his past nine years of empire building our two acres. It was both impressive and maddening to the wife who wants to just garden without the literal ton of bricks in my way. Or, more likely, on my flowers! Grumble, grumble. Dwayne started a new group at Microsoft this spring, hoping to just program until he got his bearings. So his first week, they made him a lead again and already he’s got more than a full team of reports. A lot of things about this new group have not gone according to plan, but this man always lands on his feet and now there are lots of new people who are now discovering just how darn likeable he is.
Kyla, now six, started half-day Kindergarten this year. She loves it almost as much as I do! [I get to volunteer in her class once in a while and it really gives me the itch to teach again. There are more similarities than you’d think between teaching Kindergarten and alternative Junior High.] Kyla is a bit of mystery to me because I think she is most like me. Yeah, I get the irony. She needs time alone daily and her greatest pleasure is listening to long books on CD. She spends a good part of the year outside doing her own sort of projects. And she has a temper, which I had no idea I had until I had kids. And we are both infatuated with Dwayne.
Piper. Piper. She’ll be five in two months. She probably won’t be ruling the world for a few more decades, and it’s too early to tell if she will be saving it or destroying it. This summer, I took off her training wheels and she didn’t care for that. So she went to the garage, got out the tools and put the training wheels back on herself. A few weeks later, she took them off and taught herself to ride a two-wheeler in less than 15 minutes. Stand in the way of this child at your own peril, whether she is trying to eat her body weight in stolen chocolate or surprising me by sweeping the entire upstairs “so you don’t have to do so much work, Mama!”
I spent the better part of 2012 trying to sell Wesley. Sure, it was his first time being two, but he’s my third two-year-old in just a few years. I’m kinda tired of cleaning up after a kid who learns how to open the sealed soy milk and then pours four cartons of it over my carpet. Or who sweetly asks for a glass of milk, and throws himself—howling--on the floor when I don’t bring him water. Or who tears his waffle in two then refuses to eat it, hungry as he is, because it isn’t whole. (You see why I couldn’t get anyone to buy him?) Sure, he’s got dimples and the there’s-nothing-I-can’t-do personality that I inexplicably prefer over good manners, but his in utero nickname wasn’t “Omega” for nothing! I remind myself that if Darlene survived raising Dwayne (sure, she sent him to boarding school—twice--but who wouldn’t?), then I can see this boy to adulthood and know that he could make someone as happy as Dwayne makes me.
I am still a half-time stay-at-mom: 12 hours of parenting a day, followed immediately by 12 “on call” hours. If you think that hasn’t gotten to me after six years, you have an inflated sense of my sanity. I continue to be an introvert who surrounds herself with unreasonable children all day long. My therapy is projects—remodeling, gardening, painting, improving, designing, anything that makes me filthy and possibly more organized. I started the year doing a polar bear jump in a bikini (‘cause I’m not getting younger or more toned) and a resolution to read at least one nonfiction book a month. I’ve read 56 books thus far this year and 26 were nonfiction. A few books from this list actually have tweaked my life—many of my actions and giving now must pass through the “does this contribute in a Christ-like way to alleviating local and global poverty, especially in terms of opportunities for girls and women?” filter. This is subject that goes far beyond the scope this half-witted letter, but I will be addressing this more in my blog (http://www.needopedia.blogspot.com) in 2013. This will be in-between deep thoughts about play dough removal and dinner menus. And, apropos to nothing, my most surprising accomplishment—at least to me—is perfecting my bread recipe and making all my own bread.
Our family sends you our love and prayers for a meaningful Christmas, a time when every child is a reminder of the Christ child. Even Wesley….
Denise, for Dwayne, Kyla, Piper, and Wes