Well, Jack Frost isn’t nipping at my nose, and I haven’t seen anyone dressed like an Eskimo lately because I’m finally home, y’all! There are no moose, loitering ravens, hibernating bears, icy streets, or seemingly endless hours of darkness this winter. I don’t check spaceweather.com anymore hoping to catch a glimpse of the Auroras at midnight. My car has only one set of tires - and they’re not studded. I think I threw the ice scrapers away, and I donated all of our mittens, hats and puffy coats to the women’s shelter in Anchorage.
Nope, there’s no white stuff on the ground here. Ice fog – what’s that? It’s blue skies during the day, and clear starry skies at night. Yes, the kids and I are permanently back in Texas…YEE-HAW!
Our new life started on February 2nd when our red-eye flight landed at the airport. My dad and a family friend picked up my mom, kids, dog and me in a limo. Our friend even brought the kids cowboy hats to wear on the ride home. We had other friends throw us very memorable Welcome Home parties. We occupied the upstairs of my parent’s house for almost two months before we found a lovely place of our own. The kids started preschool at a montessori school in February, and I started substitute teaching May.
We’ve been able to spend birthdays and holidays with my family and close friends. I think our Vitamin D levels are finally rising, we have a bit more color and we’ve all put on a little more weight, too, thanks to the fabulous food options all around. Chick-Fil-A, Carrabba’s (my Friday night hang-out), Fuddrucker’s, Willie’s, Sonic, Tex-Mex, mom and dad’s house … how did we ever survive without?!
Ah, life has been filled with lots of wonderful, warm adventures this year. The kids have discovered so many new things ... including outdoor critters. They play with doodlebugs, collect snails on their fingers, scoop June bugs out of the pool, and watch snakes slither in the gardens. We’ve even let a lucky frog and lizard spend the night inside the home – in a container, of course.
The kids have both learned to swim ... outside. We go to the zoo ... in shorts. We like to feed the ducks at the subdivision pond ... in our flip-flops. We went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March ... in short sleeves. We play in the cul-de-sac in front of our house ... without shoes. And on the rare occasion that we’re stuck inside watching the lightning dance in the skies during the downpour from a thunderstorm, it’s comforting to know that outside ... it’s still warm.
My native Texan is 5 years old now. She graduated from preschool in May and started kindergarten in August. She has very little recollection of our time in Alaska and is proud to boast that she’s a Texas girl! The chlorine in the pool and the daily exposure to sunshine has made her blonde hair even brighter. She grows smarter by the day. She loves to read and write and enjoys creating art projects. Hmm…sounds a little like someone else I know. She took a combination dance and gymnastics class earlier this year and hopes to start up again next year.
My three-year-old displays some of my personality traits mixed with extroverted boy. He is always smiling. He attends preschool and has become Mr. Popular there. That means the Binky Fairy paid him a visit this summer and broke all of his pacifiers (rotten fairy!), but it helped him make the transition to Big Boy. Shortly afterwards, he was potty-trained. He loves playing with trains and is very much into Cars, particularly Lightning McQueen right now. He participates in a soccer group once a week at school, which he really enjoys. At times, he still calls his golf clubs “hockey sticks,” but don’t worry, I’m training him with the appropriate dialect to be a southerner.
This summer we adopted a new kitten. Despite what my friends think, it wasn’t my idea to name him after my favorite fictional wolf. After all, I wouldn’t want to offend him by naming him after a dog. I voted for Shakespeare, but my daughter wanted Jacob. My son usually sides with his sister and so our newest family member is Jacob Shakespeare. Compromise.
As for me, I have finally defrosted. My wardrobe is a lot lighter and fancier. Life is both easier and harder. I often take it one day at a time, still trying to define new routines. I officially joined the world of single working mothers when I signed a contract in July to teach freshman English at a local high school. This semester has had its challenges, but I still love teaching. On May 22, met my new nephew. In September, I had foot surgery to remove a large ganglion cyst and am only recently wearing two normal shoes again. Right now I’m looking forward to spending Christmas at my parent’s house with the entire family.
The past couple of years have been tough, but it was through my kids, my family, my friends and my belief that everything happens for a reason that I was able to keep moving forward. My kids are my world. Every day when I look at their beautiful smiling faces, I know we are in a better place and that 2010 was really, really good to us. We have everything to be thankful for this year. We are all so much happier and where we belong.