Christmas 2016

It's Christmas Time!! Time for newsletters and family pictures and eating lots of treats.  I haven't been good about journaling, or blog posts, and the last time I did one of those picture books it was to commemorate Sophie's birth...so this newsletter is my way of updating friends and family, but also documenting for any interested future generations.  Here goes:

Kate and Clint are spirit buddies.  When Clint gets home from work she finds a way to crawl onto his lap and they sit together, both possessing an ability for stillness and quiet.  Kate is my child that surprises me the most, probably because she is least like me and most like my husband.  Her preschool teacher described her as a quiet leader, analytical, independent and focused, which are things I could pretend that I am, but really I am not.

Around Halloween we drove past one of those huge inflatable spiders and Sophie said it was scaring her so we all launched into the things we would do to the spider.  I said I would stomp it with a giant shoe, Zachary would flush it down the potty and Sophie would 'get it.' Before we launched into round two of group think in killing a blow-up spider, we asked Kate, who had remained quiet, what she would do.  She said "I would do nothing. I would cheer you on." Smart girl.

Kate started taking speech therapy this year and works so hard at it.  She has gotten many of her sounds and patterns down and I am so glad that we have found good therapists and programs.  All her therapists are kind and encouraging and during one session Sophie looks up at me and says "Wow, Kate is really good at this!!"  Which is not really accurate, because well, speech therapy, but the sentiment of us being proud of her could not be more true.

Zachary started kindergarten in the fall and the transition from him being home most of the day to being at school most of the day was relatively smooth and organic.  The other day he found out that I volunteered to help with his Christmas party and would bring Kate with me, and he turned to Kate in all seriousness, "But Kate, you cannot be crazy.  This is kindergarten."

In September he did the jog-a-thon where the collision of youth, health and impermanence left me both nostalgic for the past and excited for the future.  They had a parent blasting pop music from a car hooked up to a couple of speakers, and all the kids were so excited to run around ten times in a circle.  I think that was the longest and the fastest Zachary had ever run (I seriously could not keep up with him), and at one point he said "Mommy, feel my heart...can you feel it? It is beating so fast."  His blond curls bouncing, the determined look on his face, all the other kids moving their bodies with their parents and teachers, feeling his heart pumping through his chest, all topped off with a cheesy pop song....ok, ok, yes, I cried.

I feel like I can't talk about Zachary without sounding cliche and annoying; he really has a heart of gold.  Some mornings can feel crazy with all the things one must do to get children and self ready (and Clint is 99% of the time still sleeping from working late) so I am doing it solo.  One morning as I was zipping up Zachary's jacket and he was trying to rush off to meet his walking carpool I said, "One day you will be grateful to have a mommy that cares if you are warm enough."  Which was a bit melodramatic on my part, (but hey sometimes it feels good to play that part), and Zach's reply was "I'm already grateful for you Mommy."

He wins!!!!  It's like this child came pre-scripted with all the things to do and say that will melt your heart.  Everyone loves Zach!!

Sophie is a trip and the alpha male in our family.  She always has something to say and always has something to demand.  When she was a baby we would joke that she was vying to be born into royalty and become Queen, and is now resigned to life as a commoner.  As a family we have all developed coping mechanisms to live with a jilted queen and really it is not so bad.  In fact, I think she is entering a new phase in her reign, one that is less marked with severity and sovereign, and more focused on ruling with charm and compassion.  Hopefully this era continues.

When not overwhelmed by Sophie, I am in awe of her.  She is tenacious and witty; beautiful, bright and strong.  Really everything a young queen should be.

This summer she got potty trained and insisted on only going in the little potty, and then also insisted on pouring its contents herself into the big potty.  If I can escape these episodes without developing an anxiety disorder I think I am set for life.  Sophie with the little potty in her hands is like the girl at a party with her fifth drink in hand. Sloppy and sloshy.

Our morning prayers usually included praying that Sophie would go on the little potty (can't hurt) and at some point Zachary, in all his perceptiveness, changed it to praying she would go on the big potty.  God willing and hands to the sky.

Clint has had a big year at work.  He has grown his company, and what started as something to help pay the bills in medical school (cause you know med students have loads of time) has turned into a legit operation with over sixty employees.  He thinks big and so far it is working.  We just had his company Christmas Party/Ten Year Celebration, and it was awesome to see what he and his employees have been able to create.

This growth has had a downside, mainly him pulling all-nighters with his computer and an energy drink that should be illegal.  Like I mentioned passive-aggressively in Zachary's section, the late nights have also meant that it is solo parenting for me in the mornings, and often him crashing on the weekends. Zachary has fully taken advantage of this situation, and if I am gone exercising in the morning he asks Clint in his sleep if he can watch a show.  Clint has evolved to the point of being able to carry on conversations without waking up, gives Zachary a sluggish 'yes' and then when I get home and gives him the eye its always "What?!  Daddy said YES!!"  If I had a dollar for every time I uttered the phrase "you need to get on family-time" I would be more privileged than I already am.

This crazy schedule has somewhat started to taper off in the past months and we all love spending more time with Clint.  With the kids he wrestles and gives horsey rides and cuddles and indulges them with gifts that I am too cheap to buy.  He also lets them destroy the house while he watches football, and has coached Kate to cheer "Go Utah!"  Kate loves sitting in his lap while they watch the endlessness that is football.

Now that we are out of the baby stage we can do things like go skiing, go on the occasional sans kid trip......or just experience general happiness together.  I'm kidding, we experienced that with babies, just at more exhausted and less frequent intervals.  All in all this year has been good to be a Womack and be married to one.

You probably have a good idea of what my year has been like through my family, as I am the one both orchestrating and being affected by everyone's comings and goings and life events.  I am mostly content to play this role, although I have been able to also carve out some autonomy this year, more than previous years, which is great, but initially felt self-indulgent.  Before the birth of each child I had a feeling of 'incomplete' and then a child would come and fill that hole.  Next the baby grows and becomes more independent...and before you know it you aren't even responsible for their bowel movements!  I used to be in charge of wiping all the dependents bottom's, and every year that number goes down.

When Sophie was 18 months I went through a transition where I knew I did not want anymore children, but I mourned the completion, and the 'not wanting any more children.'  Both my mother and the environment told me I was done, but I found myself thinking that if I were different, more Mother Teresa-like, I would keep at this game of creation.

Then I realized that Mother Teresa did not have any children.  Which is not a negative because guaranteed she was feeding the needy and making the world a better place while I was getting a pedicure, but why I am a comparing myself to other situations and people?

This 'owning who I am' has carried over into other aspects of my life, like moose tracks ice-cream.  I'm sorry, but I am not going to apologize for excavating all the chocolate swirls and leaving the left-overs for the next unlucky person.  I'm an adult, the ice-cream costs 4$, and those are my choices.  Its like I'm an archeologist.

Anyways, the phase of mourning my empty womb passed, I told my eggs to take a hike, and I've settled into the idea that I can potentially have a waist for the rest of my thirties.

I like being able to spend time with my children but I also like not spending time with my children.  While the girls are at preschool I teach a dance class at the community college, I wake up early to jog or do pilates, and I imagine that as the kids start to spend more time at school I will teach more or maybe just watch bad television.

There is so much sadness swirling around us, I appreciate this season where we can try to carve out the hope and peace that is there as well.  God bless you all, and cheers to a wonderful holiday season.