Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Supporting My Man

The snow flurries grew larger and larger until the flakes covered our yard. The drizzling rain-turned-snow made me want to pull the curtains closed, light a roaring fire, and settle in for a quiet evening. Instead, I glanced at my watch and calculated what needed to happen in the next forty-five minutes to get the kids dressed and loaded into the car, pick up Corbin from his office, and get to Irving by four-thirty.
We’d had this on the calendar for about a month now. One of Corbin’s doctors had invited our family to have dinner with he and his wife and their infant daughter. With generous hospitality, they insisted on hosting us in their town home and preparing a Indian meal for our entire crew.
Nearly an hour away.
In snowy/icy conditions.
And did I mention INDIAN food??!
I thought of all that getting us into the car entailed: the bag that needed to be packed with activities to keep our kids occupied; snacks to bring for the ride home assuming the spicy dinner would be less than kid-friendly; interrupting the three older kids half-way through their movie in the darkened den, all of them snuggled under blankets on the sofa, including Basden, still sore and nursing her injured leg from yesterday’s fall; and lastly, Esther, sound asleep in her bed upstairs, only about half an hour into her nap.

Meanwhile, winter weather in the low-30’s and steady precipitation brewed a perfect recipe for frozen streets - frozen streets that would take us an hour from home to a small apartment brimming with Indian food and then another hour back late tonight. And I wasn't sure I had the energy for making conversation with strangers. 

And then it hit me - what if we didn’t even make it home tonight?! I envisioned our family of six pulling out sleeping bags in the home of a family I’d never even met, falling asleep to smells of curry and waking to the same - what is an Indian breakfast like, anyway?!
Before getting too carried away, I called Corbin to make sure we were still going.
“Have you seen the weather? Do you know it’s snowing outside?”
“Oh yeah, but I think it's fine, and I don't think it's supposed to freeze tonight. You’re going to love this doctor.”
“So... we’re still going?”
“Sure. Besides, if we cancel tonight, we’ll never make it back over. Let's go and just not stay long. It’ll be fun.”
It remained quiet on my end. I knew that Corbin could tell I was less than enthusiastic, but somehow I was not capable of verbally jumping on board.
I finally mumbled, "I know they’ve prepared a ton of food and planned for us, I’ll load up the kids and be to you in a bit.”
So off to Irving it was. No glistening fire, no movie watching, no settling into pajamas early for a night at home.
Off we go to our scheduled commitment.
This is the story of my life. Being married to Corbin is SO EASY. Really. I try to remind myself regularly that it’s not normal to have a husband as helpful and easy-going as this man. Yet this is the burden of carrying his name - he is incredibly giving and accommodating with his time to others.
It took every bit of my energy to start packing up the kids and car and wake Esther from her slumber to back out of our powder-sugared driveway. Windshield wipers swinging, seat warmers on, blankets covering Esther’s bare legs extending from her princess dress, and we were off.
I knew I couldn’t complain to Corbin. I knew that given the choice, he would have chosen to spend the evening at home. Yet he needed my support - not only with a good attitude in heading to Irving, but in getting to know this physician and his family.
And yet since I was completely incapable of giving my support, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.
Corbin graciously gave me space to get over myself on the drive over. He tried asking some questions and getting a conversation going, but to no avail. I was simply not able to carry on an easy, full conversation in my frustration. I wasn’t rude, didn’t shut down completely, but simply responded with one-word answers.
At one point Corbin starting laughing hysterically.
“What? What on earth is so funny?”
“I was just thinking - wouldn’t that be hilarious if we got stuck over here?”
I stared silently at the alien who had taken over my husband’s body.
“I mean, can you imagine all of us having to spend the night over here if these roads freeze? We’d be telling this story for years to come. It would be a hilarious family memory.”
“Um, no, I don’t think it would be hilarious. Not really. Not really funny at all.”
He continued smirking at the thought while I looked at the cars ahead of and beside us, wondering what was so important that all these people were out on this crummy night.
Fast forward a few hours...
The dinner was lovely. The roads didn’t freeze. This couple was so accommodating, I cannot even tell you. Just amazing.
We were heartily greeted by the smiling couple waving from the porch, a sleeping baby, and an enormous spread of homemade Indian cuisine covering every inch of the countertops: cutlet and potato appetizers, chicken and rice and shrimp with orange curry, creamy cheese spinach, and a handful of different sweets. After introductions all around, Corbin’s friend took him in the kitchen and pointed out every dish. He grinned up at my husband and asked, “Can you see now why I’ve been looking forward to this all of Christmas?”
In addition to the prepared dishes, they provided cokes and pizza for our kids. (At Corbin’s request the kids sampled several foods, and even appreciated them, but in the end they were quite grateful for the pizzas!) Our hosts engaged in lively conversation with not just Corbin and me but with our children as well, which kept the bag of activity books and stickers in the corner, unused. A couple of hours flew by and true to his word, Corbin had us back on the road headed home before it was too late. But before getting in our car, this sweet man and wife placed a very thoughtful, very expensive Christmas gift in our hands.
Once home with kids tucked in their beds, I asked Corbin what he thought about the evening. Like me, he was struck by the couple’s hospitality and generosity in having us over. After seeing the work and time that went into preparing our meal, we couldn’t imagine having called to tell them we couldn’t make the drive. And we were grateful for the mix of cultures - both for our sake and our children’s.
Reflecting on our evening, this is one of the things Corbin does well - loving others generously and sacrificially. If his “mission” is his family and work, then the least I can do is to support that work, namely getting out of myself and engaging in the lives of those he spends his days with. Sometimes it requires a sacrifice of self and of what I WANT to be doing. Our kids, the boys especially, are old enough to realize it wasn’t an easy thing for any of us to stop our afternoon and head over there last night. But in the big picture, they'll remember their Daddy’s selflessness and commitment to others. Loving others well takes energy and effort, and I would be wise to remember that it goes down a lot more smoothly with a good attitude.
At least, a good attitude and really yummy Indian food.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

As I smeared peanut butter across a piece of bread, her cries cut across the back yard and into the kitchen. I recognized the wailing as intense and immediate - a cry indicating physical pain. I rounded the corner of the kitchen island and swung open the door to Hudson half-carrying his hobbling little sister up the steps.
“Mom! Basden fell out of the tree!”
“Ok, ok, Basden, where do you hurt?”
She continued her wail, “A-l-l o-ver!”
Scanning her four-foot frame for injury, I started to scoop her up when I saw the blotchy puddles on the back of her pink leggings.
“Hud, what’s all this? Is this blood?”
“I think her leg caught on a branch coming down. Is she bleeding?”
I peeled back the edge of her pants above the calf and sucked in my breath at the mangled skin beneath. The dark pools of blood seeped onto my arms as I lifted my little girl and rushed her into the laundry room, where slate floors and an abundance of old towels corralled our mess. I wrapped Basden’s leg in an worn green towel and breathed a couple of deep breaths before looking again at the puncture wound.
Basden and Hudson had been climbing in a large crepe myrtle tree when Basden’s branch snapped. As she fell, a sharp limb took hold of her right calf and neatly inserted itself in her flesh. I’d not seen anything quite like it - the skin had rolled itself up into the wound and bits of torn skin and flesh dotted her pants.
Ugh ugh ugh.
So we sat huddled on the laundry room floor under the curious and concerned supervision of six hovering eyes. I held a blood-soaked towel around Basden’s shaking leg and hugged her tightly, trying my best to calm us all down.
Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to do. But I knew Corbin would. I wasn’t sure if this accident was “hospital-worthy.” I didn’t want to overreact and take Basden in, but on the other hand, I didn’t have a clue how to address the wound. Basden’s cries and whimpers flowed into the phone as I dialed Corbin’s work number. In thirteen years of marriage, this was a first:
"Corbin, I need you to come home, now.”
And so he did.
Hudson read a book to his sister while I scurried back and forth with fresh towels and orange juice and crackers. Corbin arrived quickly and calmly, his presence an immediate lift. He smiled as he sat down next to his Basden, his gentle eyes filling with tears as he wrapped his arms around her.
He spent the rest of the day taking Basden to be examined by a doctor and then to the Urgent Care Center for a few stitches. The pediatrician gave Basden a new doll, one that she seemed to cherish even more than her days-old American Girl Doll from Santa (!). Corbin held her hand and wiped her tears through the process, and it hit me how much strength Daddy carries in the eyes of his wife and children.
It wasn’t until later that evening that we discovered the goose-egg bump on the back of her head and a good bruise on her lower back. During dinner, with a sore and bandaged Basden propped in her chair, the kids recapped Basden’s accident to Daboo and Aunt Crystal. Hudson described the event from his point of view, relaying that Basden “softly hit her head on the brick wall." To our involuntary peals of laughter, he said he wanted to say “softly” to keep us from getting worried. Thanks, Hud.

Thank you, Lord, for a minor, minor accident. For two big brothers that care for Basden and are concerned for her. And for one in particular who wouldn’t leave her side or quit worrying until she was safe at home. Thank you for a Daddy who knows what to do, and can handle “emergencies” with grace. And thank you that in this precious family you've provided, never is there a dull moment!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recapping a Very Merry Month

Thankful that it's been a pleasant, precious month. It's a Christmas season that will be remembered for great health, sweet family and friends, and a cup that runneth over. I'm grateful. In light of the pain and difficulties and fatigue affecting loved ones, I'm reminded of this "respite" season is a gift.
A quick recap of our month...

We returned from Disney and hit school pretty hard. Our November was VERY fun and full of family and travel. But it certainly made Christmas a little more daunting with the pressure of school lessons in the midst of holiday preparations. If we ever do school at home again, I might plan for a "strong" November and January so that December can be relaxed. But even so, I wouldn't have changed a thing. One of the goals of our year is to enjoy family and grandparents and cousins... and THAT is being accomplished.

Celebrating Mama's birthday in Fort Worth - Corbin's plans for Jamie's special evening included Riverdance at Bass Hall (ah-mazing!) and Tillman's Road House (yum!).

Iceskating at the Galleria with the Breedings - something we've never done before, but a very fun Christmas tradition. Especially with all of Dallas ISD still in school. ;)

Basden getting her ears pierced - by Mommy! The full story here on Krista's blog - funny funny! Best part - Basden's (uninfected!) ears look great, and Corbin's sister, Cameron, very impressed with me. Ha!

Basden and Esther's Christmas concert - so sweet, and got to celebrate Cappy's birthday with dinner after. My favorite - Esther's class singing "Feliz Navidad," and Basden performing Psalm 98:4 in sign language: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." She practiced all month and LOVED learning some sign language.

Finishing up Hudson's flag football season. His smile here is evidence of making a great catch and running for a touchdown in the last game of the season. Go, Hud!

A very fun, very spontaneous Christmas dinner with dear friends, the Andersons and Sanders. We decided at about 4:30 the day of to get our families together and enjoy dinner, the Wii, and fireside conversations. Added a special dynamic for our family to share an unstructured, un-rushed evening with sweet friends.

Again, thankful for a precious month of great memories.
Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Magical Week

Greetings from Walt Disney World! We've finished day four of this whirlwind, wondrous vacation and are excited to have several more days ahead. True to my expectations, Disney World has proved to be a magical experience. Other than a brief trip to Disney Land as a toddler, I've not been to Disney before and couldn't even get my mind around what the experience might entail. After a few very full days at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, I still can't really get my mind around it all.

It's bigger and grander and more elaborate than anything I was prepared for. Talk about sensory overload, it is simply impossible to experience everything here in one week. Everything about this place is carried out with excellence. When we think it can't get more elaborate, it gets more elaborate. The creativity behind the attractions and sets and experiences is astounding.

A few meager observations:
- Fast Passes rock.
- Disney Iphone apps rock. Tells our GPS location and distance from any particular attraction, as well as an estimated wait time. Brilliant.
- Disney at Christmastime - stunning. Decor on steroids.
- Breathtaking Christmas decorations aren't the only reason to come to Disney the week after Thanksgiving. We are loving, loving, loving walking right through empty mazes and finding great seats in half-empty theaters and rides.
- That said, a "slow week" at Disney is a relative term. We've been told this week is the slowest of the year, and we're basking in the contrast of what it would be like at peak season. But there are still plenty of people milling around the parks. Says a lot for this resort that a "dead" week is still fairly bustling.
- After just a few days here, Corbin could be a tour guide. He's got the parks figured out before we arrive in the morning, manages our fast passes, and has secured some fantastic reservations.
- At nine, eight, six and three, our kids are great ages to be here. BUT, Esther is definitely a little unpredictable. She's taken with the fireworks and parades and princesses, but has given Corbin and me plenty of opportunities for executing patience and consistency...
- Evidently it's impossible to scare Hudson, even with 13-story drops at Haunted houses.

A handful of things have made this week magical for me. Being here for the first time as a 36-year-old (I'll be celebrating my 37th birthday here at Disney in a couple of days!) I find myself watching the faces of my children more than actually watching the fireworks and parades. Basden's face flushes with wonder as Belle makes her golden entrance in a flowing gown and high-piled brunette curls. Hudson looks at me, stunned, when the futuristic video at the end of Spaceship Earth features the two of us as the main characters. Branson thrives at the pace of this place - being on the go with one adventure after adventure on the docket. And I love that even at a mature nine years old, he lights up when life-sized Goofy and Donald Duck appear on the landscape. And Esther - she's just glad to be along for the ride, bouncing between Corbin and me and Mama and Papa and Cappy and Daboo.

That's the second thing that's made it a magical week. Being here with all four grandparents - I feel like it's the trip of a lifetime. Corbin and I will never fully understand how fortunate we are to have these four parents building into us and into our children.

Third, it's magical to have the means and health and flexibility to be here. It seems like everyone's been to Disney, but I feel like it's such a privilege to take this kind of a trip.
And fourth - as gratifying as it has been to watch our kids enjoy the magic, I keep forgetting that I'm not the little girl. In a place where kids and grown-ups alike wear rounded mouse ears, where a glimpse of Cinderella's castle in the distance evokes long-forgotten girlhood dreams, and where Minnie Mouse and Snow White and Winnie the Pooh erase a few decades, I have to pinch myself that I'm the adult... and who is taking care of Esther, anyway?!