Today is the first day of the Advent season. For many that means putting up the tree, the trimmings and all the things. For others that means laying low, tucking in, and staying close to family, friends, loved ones and tribe. For me this holiday season, in the time of COVID, it means reflecting on a year gone by too fast and oh so slow. It means preparing for a new year that holds a much needed promise of hope, "the evidence of things unseen." This time of year always has me thinking about the year past, sorting through the memories, looking for a path that has led to this moment in time. My writing soundtrack, this moment: the voices of the boys arguing down the hall, the sound of the leaf blower outside the window where Tim is clearing the yard, and the intermittent growling of one two many "pretend" dinosaurs. The air is crisp and dry and holds the faint smell of distant wood burning stoves and fireplaces. It is sunny and warm(er.) It is late Fall.
This year has been a year of watching the boys go from toddler to little boy in what seems like the blink of an eye. Starting January, mid-way through their first year of Montessori School, only to find, as all parents of school-aged children found, the abrupt interruption of in-person learning. The benefit of this age, pre-kindergarten, is that they learn without even trying and so this year, while being full of too much togetherness, has also seen no learning loss for the boys, as I worried it would, back in March, when the world shut down.
Because of our membership in the Portland Willamette Valley Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, the boys continue to socialize, albeit over Zoom, and our first friends, Mac and Conor, also twins, were able to join us for Zoo Zoom in October, along with Jack and Jill and family and tribe, to keep that connection going. Madison and Kenton are used to appearing regularly, as guests, on Microsoft Teams calls, even getting a call out from Portland General Electric CEO and President, Maria Pope at our last All Hands Meeting, "I'm enjoying seeing Kimberly's boys grow up." COVID is definitely blurring the lines between work and family in a very old-fashioned (think family farm or European bakery shop) kind of way.
The conversations the boys have with each other are much more intricate and complex and endearing than they were this time last year. They negotiate while working on joint projects and co-designing big communities, complexes, Gups, submarines and Titanics or while working on the "The Big Dig" in the backyard rock pit - searching for dinosaur bones and calling each other paleontologists. They have recently been talking about the "Birth Caleafa" (Burj Khalifa) and Kenton excitedly asking me if we could "go to Dubai after COVID is gone, so we can see this worlds' tallest skyscraper?"
Some days I simply stand around the corner from where they are at play and eavesdrop. I'm am so filled with joy to hear their tiny voices, their planning and plotting, their creativity and their obvious admiration for each other.
And then there is partnership, and engagement, planning for our 2021 wedding celebration and buying our first home together. This blog which began as a chronicle of an intentional journey of purpose toward and through single mothering by choice, is now holding space for the great surprise of my life - finding, loving and now making family with this man.
Last year after attending a writing retreat (just a few short weeks after meeting Tim) I committed to posting on this blog a piece of writing, every two weeks through the end of 2019. Check. Of course, 2020 began with all sorts of good intentions of posting once a month, no matter how pithy it may be. I confess that I did not do that. Though, in a way, through social media, I have made little attempts at capturing our lives during this moment in time.
So this holiday season of reflection is the time I will compile all those 2020 nuggets of life into this blog, month by month. Oh yes! And there were the wildfires and the darkest of days, shut inside while air quality surpassed the smoggiest cities in the world for more than a week. 2020 has tested the limits of resilience for each of us and we near its end holding our blessings close and each other closer.
Note: In order to follow along, you can simply read down the page, traveling backwards through a year - at least one post per month - then click "previous" at the bottom of the page, traveling post by post this way, until you arrive at January 2020. Or if you want to go in order, mouse-over the archive list to the right and the month-year will appear. Click January 2020 and then read post by post until you reach the bottom of the page and at the bottom click "forward" and do the same, as above, in reverse.
The month when we suddenly sold Tim's house in Eugene, after having been on the market since spring and embarked on several house hunting adventures to Portland, driving up and down the I-5 corridor.
Road photos courtesy of Mad and Kent.
Project-based learning at our house is having a hey-day in this time of COVID.
The boys continue to astonish us with their capacity for creativity, for learning, for problem solving, for reciting commercials they hear on YouTube Kids (okay, that part concerns me just a bit.) Overall, this year of distance learning has been good for them. Mostly because they are pre-kindergarten and so their virtual learning classroom is everywhere and utilizes everything (within reason, safety first) so they build all day long. I don't know if they will be socially ready for kindergarten but they will be eager to learn, as their level of curiosity is astounding. I worry most about their ability to learn what someone else tells them they should learn, rather than having the freedom to explore on their own. I know. I know. We all have to learn this and the best place is in kindergarten, in order to survive in this world. I am grateful (and privileged) that COVID happened when I had a job where working from home was required and at a time when the boys were not "in school."
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Now also wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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