Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you...

Gypsy Hill Park swans in their February stance

Valentine's Day -- as silly, trite, commercial, and forced as it very much is -- is a big deal to me. 19 Valentine's Days ago marked the first time that Ethan and I officially said, "OK, this is a thing, I think you are a pretty big deal" -- only, in true him-and-me fashion, I was the one to blunder through all of that while he suavely navigated his way.

Ben and Lily
I can't remember what I got him. I remember it was a huge deal, this whole, "Do I get him something? Do I not? What do I do? What is appropriate and not weird? What kind of card isn't sappy and isn't babyish and isn't too wordy?" Whatever it was, I got it, and I put it in our college's mail center to be distributed to him. I fretted and worried, my stomach hurt, I wanted to renege but then said, "Buck up, soldier!" and waited, wondering what on earth I was doing.

Ada, almost 4

It wasn't like we were a "thing"; the most we had done together was eat at a restaurant with the History Society (which I joined because he was in it) on the way to the Dallas Holocaust Museum. We were the only two students to color two of the children's pages on the restaurant table, the students voted, and everyone liked his better. (To be fair and completely transparent, it was a largely female audience, so I contest that the contest had little to do with any artistic ability. Ahem.)

I was a frequent patron at the campus library where he worked. I checked out titles that I thought would impress him, took the tomes to a table at the back of the library, and inevitably used the books as pillows as I fell asleep contemplating Puritans and Rushdoony's Christian Reconstructionism and whether I'd read enough to make Ethan believe I knew what I was talking about.

Eden, Abraham, Gideon, and Jonathan
He would wake me up, let me know the library was closing, and we would walk out together.

That was it.

And now here I was, nervously waiting for him to get my Valentine and ... well, and I don't know what. Let me know where I stood, I guess. Smother my intentions with a cool, "Thanks for the card" or maybe fan the spark.

So I waited.

Zeb, Ada, Salem, and Gideon

And on Valentine's Day, I opened my campus mailbox to find a Valentine from HIM. I do remember what that was. It was a pack of shoelaces with hearts all over them and a Valentine's card. The card was a spread of a town, with removable stickers to arrange at will. He had scrawled something to the effect of "Here is a town you can Christian Reconstruct to your heart's content. Rushdoony would be proud..."

And my heart swelled. I mean, I was on Cloud Nine. I was elated, I was overjoyed, I laced those shoelaces in whatever shoes I had with laces (??? I don't even remember!) and skipped on over to the library.

And I can't even remember what happened. I can't remember the series of events that led to, "This is it. We are a thing. I like you, you like me, expect me to eat with you and go to church with you and ask about your day and keep you warm and make you lose your cool and someday we'll have eleven children."

All I can really remember is that it started with Valentine's Day.


Now, a bit after that day, not years and years but maybe just days, I found out the real story of the gift in my CPO box. And the real story was that Ethan had a friend who worked in the Mail Center and told him that I had dropped off a little box to go in his CPO. So Ethan went out to the local grocery store, on his bike no doubt, and got a little something for me. Then he had his friend open up the Mail Center after hours and put those laces and that card in my box.

Jon-Jon, Abey, Miriam, and Lily

And do you know what? I don't even care. I don't care that I started it. Kudos to me, I say! I am the one with the handsome husband and the eleven children who are so much like their father of whom I cannot get enough, I am the one with the messy kitchen that he comes home to every day, I am the one who gets to iron his clothes and hear his laugh and groan at his wisecracks.


And eighteen Valentine's Days later, I can say that I had no clue what I was doing. I had no clue! I only knew that he was handsome and funny and smart and strong as a horse. I didn't know that after fifteen years of marriage, I would think he was more handsome, and funnier, and smarter, and stronger in so many more ways.

Ethan and Zebby

I didn't know that he would start a series of vacation pictures entitled, "Places Rachel has nursed a baby," or that our 14-year old would listen to our old "Journey" cd's and sing along as he did his math, or that our 3-year old would call him "Oh my Baby Doll," or that our 2-year old would say, "I want to hold you" when he wanted to get in our laps, or that eight other children would also have to be counted in order to not leave anyone at church...again.

But if I would have known? I wouldn't have believed it, and I wouldn't have understood the complete joy that comes with all of that.

I don't need to reconstruct anything about us.

(Except, maybe, the nursing pictures.)

Places Rachel Has Nursed a Baby: The Wright Bros. Museum edition

Monday, September 21, 2015

Good Morning, Sunshine

Monday. Again.

I don't know about you, but Mondays are fightin' days for me. I fight to get out of bed, after inevitably staying up too late Sunday night engrossed in PBS or halfheartedly snatching glances at football (you know, when you do that trying-to-look-authentic-eyes-glazed-over-lifting-and-lowering-eyebrows-with-a-slow-nod thing when your husband calls your attention to some play or unbelievable call) or seeing how many tabs I can open on my online rabbit trails. (I don't know if it is this way for every pastor's wife, but Sunday nights are a mini-celebration for me: Yeah! We got through another Sunday! None of our kids were accidentally left at church [this week], and I have my husband back!)

And there is the fight to reclaim the house after a weekend of doing things other than the ordinary. So, there's the ordinary, only it's morphed into the extra-ordinary and heinous. Specifically, we're talking laundry, bathroom scrubbing, and the ever-present, "But what'll we do about dinner?"

And, in a stroke of lunacy, three years ago I scheduled my children's piano lessons for Mondays. My only consolation in this is that we do *not* have lessons at our house, so were I not to complete the Herculean task of righting this house, it would not matter. (You know, were that not to happen...)

Take 1
And there's school. School is a harsh taskmaster this year. The children are doing it, and it does get done, but it is a major undertaking. School days feel like a rush from the time I rise until the time I... unrise. I can say for sure that this year/this combination of children doing school/this many kids/this much work to get meals on as a certain 6-ft. 13-year old eats a truly unbelievable amount of food and has his siblings in training...well. I'm not sure if I've ever been busier. See that? I can say for sure that I'm not sure. This is what I have been reduced to. GASP. And ending my sentences with prepositions! GASP. And starting my sentences with "And"!!!

Take 2
It's a good busy, though. I mean, really I'm in a state of shock/marvel more than oppression. Ethan was remarking Sat. night as we purchased last-minute groceries (because that's the only kind of groceries we ever purchase), "Can you imagine what we're going to be able to EAT when the kids are gone? I mean, if we spend this kind of money on just the two of us..." That's right. King crab every night, baby.

These are my Monday morning musings. Life is busy. I'd expound on that, but I just don't have the time.

Instead, I'll leave you with the song I've been playing over and over to my children today. They're so grateful.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Today I feel like this


You know. It's Monday and all!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just forget I asked...

When the 7-year old comes skating across the kitchen floor in his socks to announce, "I have a song stuck in my head,"

it is probably best to just say, "Oh, sorry."

Because if you say, "What song?"

the answer is very likely to be something like this:

I am better than 
A noisy coward walking on the floor.
"STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!" goes the coward.
Papa loves me,
Papa loves me,
Papa looooooooves me!

Which, of course, will force you to point out that, "That is not a song. You cannot have that stuck in your head because there is no such song. That is not a thing! That is NOT a song, and that is NOT stuck in your head!"

Whereas your husband will cut to the chase: "Let me wrestle you a second, and then brush your teeth and get your pajamas on."

Of course, the entire journey from the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom will take said 7-year old just long enough to sing approximately 1 1/2 rounds of said NOT-song at the top of his lungs.

And now, two hours later, I must admit that there is a certain "stickiness" that this musical non-number does have.

"STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!" goes the coward.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A week in...

Salem (5) and Eve (1 week)

Well, we are a little over a week into having eleven children; and I must say, we find that this eleventh child is exactly what we needed.

She is so delicious. Her only dietary complaints thus far have been feijao (Brazilian black beans) and Arby's huge sized unsweetened iced tea (well, duh...that was just asking for trouble). The feijao is staying on the menu because it is a family favorite, but I will be having salad those nights. And decaf coffee is my new evening drink of choice, with a splash of heavy cream.

Papas make the best burpers.
She sleeps when she is supposed to (if I avoid the two aforementioned culprits), she eats when she is supposed to (whatever that means...she eats when she is awake, and I guess that's the same thing), and she earned the title of Best! Baby! Ever!, bestowed by her father, when her umbilical cord stub fell off at a week old.

We could just eat her up. Zebby (23 mos.) and Eve.
Ethan returned back to work this week, and the children and I have been taking turns cuddling and enjoying this newest member.

She just fits right in, and of course! She is ours. She is meant to be here, and we're glad to have her.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Latest Addition

Eve Ellen Allison
June 9, 2015 at 4:33 PM
9 lbs., 8 oz.
22" long

(The "Ellen" is after my maternal great-grandmother.)

She holds the unique distinction of being our easiest actual delivery. After a day of laboring at home, two days post-due date, walking around the yard with Ethan while children interrupted to ask if we were sure there were no more popsicles and what could they have because they were surely starving (but no, not for fruit or more of lunch, but for something else), of timing contractions only to be left wondering if they even were contractions ("I don't know!" I told Ethan. "I mean, it's just pain!") and then confessing that if I had to go through any more of this (I had already been dealing with contractions for two days) I would most certainly applaud women who got epidurals and even sympathize with those who willingly choose Caesareans, he said, "Why don't you call your midwife, and let's go."

So I did. They told me to come into the office and be assessed there. We left the house, with me semi-crouched in the back seat because there was no conceivable way I could sit in the front. I remember asking that the radio be turned louder and thinking that every curve of the road was torturous.

We arrived at the clinic. We walked in, me clutching Ethan, and waited in line while an older lady scooted around to the second window to ask, "Do you know how long Chrissy is going to take? She's been back there forever. Can you find out?" and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, with the ice pack pushed against my back and tears coursing down my cheeks, until Ethan pushed his way to the window and said, "Excuse me, my wife is in labor, can she be seen?"

They took me to the back, the midwife came in to check me, and then she said, "We need to get you to the hospital right now, and I'm riding in the car with you."

As I tried to crawl back into the back seat for the second time that day, she asked, "Can you do this or should we just go back into the office?"

I wasn't sure what would happen there, so I said, "No, I can do this!" and then she hopped in the front and asked Ethan how fast he could drive. (Even if you are a slow driver, the hospital is about 1 minute from the clinic.)

We got to the hospital, a valet whisked the car away, a nurse whisked me up to the labor and delivery room with the midwife running alongside, and the nurse said, "Now. Whenever you're ready. We don't have time for a gown or an IV."

I was a little stunned. "You mean I'm ready? The head is engaged?" I stood by Ethan, holding on to him through the contractions.

"Absolutely," said my midwife. She then told the nurse she rode with us because she wasn't sure if she would have to deliver the baby in the car.

I stood for a few more minutes and then got into the bed, leaning on the back of it in a hands-and-knees position. And fifteen minutes from our arriving at the hospital, Eve was born.

I was in shock.

"You mean that's it? We're done? How can we be done?"

The midwife summed it up well: "Wasn't that so surreal?"

It was! It was wonderful. I instantly felt better than I've felt in months, I was able to shower almost immediately, and Ethan fulfilled his almost every-other-year promise of an Outback steak (tricky when eaten with plastic forks, but delicious nonetheless).

The nurses and staff were very pleasant and accommodating, leaving me alone to rest and recover (all excepting one stickler of a hospitalist -- that's the hospital's pediatrician -- who felt it was incredibly negligent to desire a discharge at 24 hours and who also proceeded to tell me how negligent the hospital was in putting things like swaddling blankets and caps in the baby's bassinet..."Babies should always be placed on their backs on a firm mattress with no blankets or swaddling or any other object in the bed." But we won out, and this negligent mother was able to introduce her newest child to her other ten children shortly thereafter).

And shortly after that, Eve was sleeping nicely on her sheepskin. Because I am a mother and not a hospitalist.

She's just a ridiculous, wonderful, pudgy, silly little thing; and we all love her madly.

And as always happens, with each new Allison here, I gained an even deeper appreciation and love and gratitude and sense of wonder at this man with whom I get to share these children.

I am so, so blessed. I can't imagine anyone else with whom to share life, or with whom to wonder between contractions about the earth groaning in childbirth, or what new shades of meaning we could get from being reborn, or with whom to groan/laugh over the day's devotions being about the woman being cursed with pain in childbirth. 

Anyhow. That's what has been going on here.

And you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

He Is Risen! Alleluia! He Is Risen Indeed!

This Resurrection Day passed as many of the others have, with resurrection hymns and copious amounts of candy from who-knows-where, and a nap and sunshine.

I do believe Salem felt the sunshine was just a bit much. No matter how she tried, her eyes did NOT want to stay open out there.

And a sweet, unexpected gift: my friend Deidra emailed with a "Can I make your girls some Easter dresses?" to which the only answer is, of course, a hearty, "YES!"

It made me smile to think of her sweetness as I looked at my girls and all of their gussied-up rambunctiousness and precociousness. (And now I'm wondering: Did my 3yo have her shoes on the wrong feet all day? "No," she would argue. "Those are my feet.")

He is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed!

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