Saturday, December 31, 2011

a wonderful life

wow, it's been awhile...I can't let 2011 go without one last post, so here it is....

Rapunzel and the demon digger

We have had a WONDERFUL holiday season--and yes, it is the whole season we celebrate--really beginning in October with autumn and Halloween (our annual Halloween party and tricks & treats w/the Clarkes & Traftons), then Thanksgiving (more autumn: beeswax leaves, pressing leaves, collecting insane amounts of leaves,
dipping leaves in beeswax
dipped leaves
creature adventuring

turkey trivia, turkey day prep--recipes & such, and thankfully even this year, 'twas the night before thanksgiving at Salts' Stew day)--OK OK--I did tank this year and the bird/meal in general was less than spectacular...I'm allowed a bad one, aren't I?, plus Wampanog studies for homeschool this year--much fun!), and THEN, December....

honestly, that is a weird pic of daddy--he's much more handsome!
gingerbread A-frame dream house

Jingle our elf came to visit leaving notes & treats and special kindness missions for the three weeks leading up to Xmas eve.  We had a successful yet impromptu visit with Santa at the mall--unbelievably Seven actually sat on his lap!  We spent a lot of time on homemade gifts this year and handmade cards (55 to be exact!).  We also took our time decorating our tree, un-decorating and playing with all the ornaments, then decorating again, drank eggnog, made LOTS of cookies and ate lots of cookies, and wished for snow.  We enjoyed many candlelight dinners in honor of Winter Solsitice, and learned about latkes & the dreidal game & Hanukkah.  Christmas Eve was lovely with Grumpy & Tutu, Auntie Mel, and Uncle John--now known as Four's "sweet prince", and we had a glorious Christmas day at home, eating pancakes and staying in pajamas all day, while enjoying the amazing cardboard castle Daddy made and all the new many new toys!  We joined friends for a fantastic performance of The Snow Queen and decadent hot chocolate in Harvard Sq, and another lovely post-Xmas celeb with Nona & Pops.

Exhausting, busy, but so very, very nice, which brings me to what I really want to write about.  Since my last hot, sticky, uncomfortable day as a teacher last July, things have felt...weird.  This is something I have been dreaming of (at least in some form) for a long, long, long time--a change.  A change that specifically would allow me more time to focus on my family.  And when it was suddenly there, I freaked out.  I mean seriously, how do you handle having a dream actually come true?  actually getting everything you want?  It's unsettling.  Really, it is.

Let me be clear, we are broke and "struggling financially" is putting this mildly.  We live in the city, in a too small condo with no yard and a leaky roof (but wonderful neighbors).  Our car was broken into & vandalized over Thanksgiving weekend--so I guess there are also some not so wonderful neighbors.  My husband teaches art in the public schools--tell me, is there anything society values less in schools than the arts?  the answer is NO, so his job is stressful and frustrating more than rewarding, and he works  with a very URBAN population--teacher translation: kids who need the most and get the least.  And I am navigating my way as an adjunct professor, which believe me I love--but that doesn't mean it's easy--it's hard!!!!!  So things aren't what I'd call perfect by far.  BUT....I said it was a dream come true, and dreams aren't always perfect, right?  It's the perspective.

I spend more time each week with my children than anyone else.  I am witnessing their social, emotional& academic growth first hand, every day.  I make my own schedule for the most part.  I am knitting like a machine, painting, writing (oops, OK not so much in the blog lately, but I did make the submission deadline for an article), planning learning experiences for my own kiddos and actually have the time & energy to do them, (hello, once a week apple picking in September!), and I'm visiting with friends so much more than I've felt able to for several years.  I am delighted to grocery shop on Friday mornings (with the kids even!), and fold laundry after lunch.  I am cooking healthy, varied, good meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I'm being more thoughtful about when I spend money and what I spend it on--even where I spend it.  I'm walking the dog more--although I could be better about that.  My husband and I have several joint projects in the works.  Our family time includes games, playing, creature adventuring, and yes, movies.

My favorite holiday movie is Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life--all time favorite movie, and yes, it is also perhaps the sappiest, but I love it.  I love George & Mary Bailey, Zu-zu's petals, Clarence the angel, and the "wonderful old Building & Loan".  This was the first year we all watched as a family, and I had done some prep work--talking about the story of George Bailey and what would happen in the movie.  We got all set up with xmas lights, hot cocoa, and popcorn, and I interjected here and there with explanations or clarficiations for Four & Seven, who BTW sat through the entire movie--which is a freaking long time!  This year, watching it was really different for me--I practically wept through the entire thing--happy & sad, which drove Seven crazy, but I just kept saying, "I can't help it! I love this movie!"  It was kind of the same for The Muppets' Christmas Carol too.  So I started to think about why I was so emotional, and I think it has something to do with my new situation, which now, 5 months later is not so new.

I feel a bit more settled into this new life...finding a rhythm that works for all of us and accommodates the things we HAVE to do, and I feel like it's OK to be happy.  I have so much to be happy about, but maybe it's that old Catholic guilt telling me: "you should be fearful, you should be worried, you are not good enough".  It's hard to block those negatives out, and I think you have to make a choice every day to do it...whoa, am I getting too analytical/shrink-ish?  I just feel like the message of those movies, those truly good stories, is resonating with me deeply this year, and that is: success is how YOU define it.  We are not experiencing financial success right now, and may not for quite some time, but putting money aside, and defining success as happiness, I am swimming in it.  My husband is the most amazing person I ever met, before meeting Four & Seven, who are, respectively, my sun and my moon.  A sweet, curious, mischievous, imaginative, wonderful little fairy princess and a brave, creative, inquisitive, unconventional, kind, remarkable naturalist, are the two people my world revolves around.   And it really feels like a wonderful life.

Here is to 2012, which I hope will bring more joyful time as a family, some peace (week at Spartina), adventures, growth, and maybe, just maybe a new home--bringing us that much closer to perfection!

Happy New Year and warm wishes to all!