Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I’m sure that today many wives and girlfriends are singing the praises of the special men in their lives who made their day memorable.
I’d like to share with you a Valentine’s story that will live forever in my memory as a testament to true love and devotion.
You may or may not know my in laws, Don and Hope Shull. Those of us who are privileged to know them know that they are one of the sweetest couples on the planet. They laugh at the same parts in movies and plays, even if they’re the only ones laughing. They have travelled the world together. And now, as Hope bravely battles ovarian cancer, they fight daily, side by side.
Yesterday morning, as they were sitting around the breakfast table, Don had a surprise for his valentine. He began to serenade her:
There are many many crazy things
That will keep me loving you
And with your permission
May I list a few
The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No no they can’t take that away from me
The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No no they can’t take that away from me
We may never never meet again, on that bumpy road to love
But I’ll always, always keep the memory of
The way you hold your knife
The way we danced till three
The way you changed my life
No no they can’t take that away from me
No they can’t take that away from me
What a beautiful moment. Hope has often called Donald her knight in shining armor, and it’s easy to see why.
Theirs is truly a love that has looked on tempests and not been shaken.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
I should start a Cafe Press store with Clara’s Slogans.
Today she came up with two good ones.
“We are kids, we can drink our milk!”
“We are kids, we can eat our graham crackers!”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this in the past few weeks, I’d be able to buy a really nice end-of-pregnancy treat for myself! And truly, it is weird anticipating something when you don’t know exactly when it will come. With a vacation or a birthday, you know the day and look forward to it for months in advance. But not knowing when your little bundle will arrive is perhaps one of the first lessons for parents: you’re not the one in control!
Still, it can get frustrating to be reminded over and over that I have no say so in when this baby will appear. After all, this is one of the few areas of life where we don’t even have an illusion of being able to run the show. Just like all women throughout history, I can only answer, “He’ll be here when he’s ready.” As a person who has always liked being the one in charge (just ask my mom, or my kindergarten teacher), waiting on someone else to get the ball rolling is an exercise I don’t always enjoy.
Even though I can’t say when he’ll get here, I’m thankful to have so many people who are also looking forward to the day when he’s here. My baby boy already has family and friends who are anxious to meet him! What a blessing!
And in the mean time, I’m enjoying the last few weeks sans-newborn (because yes, I remember how challenging that stage is). We’ve been sleeping till 7 (with Clara, this is as late as it gets!), spending time with friends, playing games, going on picnics, reading books with Clara, and getting slushies from Sonic. Pretty much the ideal end to my summer!
This is pretty much how I feel these days. Every night I go to bed wondering if we’ll be making a midnight run to the hospital. And each time that doesn’t happen, I know our roller coaster car is inching closer and closer to the top of the hill.
I know a lot of women dread the last weeks of pregnancy, but since I didn’t get to experience this part last time, I am really enjoying it. (And I took some pretty uncomfortable shots for 4 months to be able to enjoy this! I don’t want to be cheated out of this time too soon!)
It’s exciting to be able to anticipate, to wonder when my little one will arrive. August 13? Will he be born on our anniversary? Nope! August 15? Maybe he’ll share a birthday with Julia Child. Apparently not! But each day moves us closer and closer to the answer, with all the building excitement of that first big hill on a coaster.
When the contractions start coming, I know I’ll be thinking, “Get me off this thing! I’m never doing this again! Who made me get on this ride anyway??”
And then when I’m holding sweet baby boy in my arms, I know I’ll think, “Wow. I sure am glad we did that!”
I’m 2 days away from being more pregnant than I’ve ever been (time to beat is 35 weeks and 4 days—going for the record!). I’m 5 days away from moving to a new house. And I’m never more than 1 hour away from needing to rest.
Sundays always tend to be challenging. Trying to keep Clara quiet during worship is a task that somehow drains most of my physical and mental energy for the day. Usually Allen is there to help, but yesterday he was running the sound booth, so it was up to me to hush and shush and try to keep her from crawling under the pews. She did fairly well, but by the end of the hour, I was dizzy, nauseated, and out of patience. I barely made it to the car before I started crying.
Partially, I was dealing with a normal hormone crash that always comes before my normal Monday morning shot. Partially I was frustrated at feeling so tired when I hadn’t really done anything other than sit in a pew.
We’ve been packing for several weeks, and I’ve learned that I can work for about an hour tops before I need to sit down and rest. It’s annoying, because I’m used to being able to do whatever I need to do. Accepting that I don’t have my normal stamina is difficult, especially when there is so much that needs to be done.
I’m feeling just a smidgeon of what it must be like for my sister Lauren every single day of her life. (If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like living with a congenital heart defect, check out her blog.) So, Lauren, now I understand why doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or sweeping the kitchen wears you out for the rest of the day. Whew! Just typing this post makes me ready to go lie down…
We’re knee-deep in boxes, packing tape, and Sharpies over here. The biggest challenge so far is keeping the Sharpies out of Clara’s hands. Toddlers and permanent ink don’t mix. They want to so, so badly, but they just don’t. Not in this house, anyway.
Each day brings me closer and closer to my due date…and right now we’re about 8 days away from the time that Clara decided to come. I know each baby has his/her own timing, but I have to admit, it makes me nervous.
But this morning I just stopped for a second and thought, “Why on earth am I worrying about this?” I have no idea when Philip will be born. It could be today. It could be 5 weeks from now! And my anxiety over whether or not we’ll be happily settled in the new house will not in any way affect his decision to come or not come.
When I was expecting Clara, I thought I had all the time in the world. My student teaching would be over 2 whole weeks before her due date, leaving me plenty of time to get the nursery set up. Wrong! She arrived just 4 days after her baby shower (guess she wanted a closer look at all those presents) and her room was full of bags and tissue paper.
And you know what? It was fine.
Sure, if I had my druthers, I’d choose for Philip to come after we’re moved and unpacked. But if it doesn’t work out that way, we’ll get by. And in a few months, it won’t even matter.
A wise teacher in high school had a great way of helping us step back and evaluate our problems. “Is it going to matter in 10 years?” she would ask. “If not, it’s probably not worth worrying about.”
So in the next few weeks if you see me looking worried, just remind me that there’s really nothing worth worrying about. And maybe buy me a slush from Sonic so the lesson will really sink in.
We were blessed with cool weather this weekend! When I saw on the forecast that we were in for a few days of highs in the high 70s/low 80s, I knew it was the perfect weekend to try out the popup. So Allen and I loaded up and headed to Natchez Trace for a few days. It turns out that it is a HUGE park with several camping areas. The first one we checked out was Pin Oak. Not to our liking. No shade, no privacy, just a lot of RVs crammed right next to each other.
Next we checked out Camping Area #2. It was a primitive area for tent campers. Would have been fun, but we wanted a place to hook up the camper. On to Camping Area #1! We found the perfect site. Big, shady, and a pull-through!
We had a great time. It was strange experiencing camping from the parent side of things instead of being the kid. Just one of those, “Wow, I guess I’m a grown-up now,” moments. I can’t wait to make more memories in this camper!
This summer is flying by already! Before we know it, August will be here (hopefully bringing with it the arrival of our sweet baby Philip). I don’t want the summer to get away from me without some sort of a record of what we’ve been up to. We Shulls have had a busy summer already, and we’re just getting started!
We kicked off our summer vacation with a trip to Kalamazoo Michigan. Other than the actual driving, which was less than ideal (hello, 12 hour car trip with a toddler), we had a fabulous time. Allen and his dad and brother attended the Medieval Congress at Western Michigan State University. The girls mostly hung out and helped prepare for the 60th anniversary party for Allen’s grandparents.
Since our Michigan trip was before the local kids got out of school, Week 2 was pretty tame. I still kept my kiddos, but we did have a lot of fun. Lots of trips to the park, playing in wading pools, eating popsicles, and picnicking in the backyard, with a side of working in the yard.
We went down to Huntsville to collect our popup camper. That’s right! We bought a camper! And I love it. It originally belonged to a family from my home congregation, and I have always loved that camper. It still hasn’t really sunk in that it belongs to us now!
And that’s what we’ve been up to so far! Stay tuned for more summer fun updates!
This weekend amply reminded that the best laid plans often go awry. I had been looking forward to going down to Huntsville for weeks. We were going to drive down after lunch on Friday, have a picnic at the park with friends for dinner, and celebrate Clara’s birthday with the fam on Saturday. In a word: perfect.
Well, the plan was perfect.
As we were packing up to leave on Friday, Clara said, “Sick. Go doctor.” Thinking she was just being silly, I said, “You’re not sick!” and put a hand to her forehead. Hmm. Actually, she did feel warm. Thermometer soon confirmed that our birthday girl had a fever.
I felt silly for feeling so disappointed, but I really WAS. I can’t explain why exactly, I just felt…deflated.
We needed a backup plan. So we decided to get a cake from Big Star (cause let’s face it, they make the best cake in town) and take Clara to the park on Sunday afternoon.
When we got there, the park was locked. LOCKED! On a Sunday! On EARTH DAY! How ridiculous is that?! Trying not to feel defeated, we went home and had Clara’s birthday in the backyard.
Through it all, I’ve been trying to remind myself that life is all about rolling with the punches. I remember the day Clara was born. 5 weeks early. Nursery full of shower gifts. That didn’t go the way I had planned either. I had planned to finish student teaching and have two weeks to get the house together before welcoming our daughter home. You would think by now I would learn not to take my planning too seriously.
And actually, a lot of happy things came out of this weekend. Clara got to sleep in her toddler bed for the first time. I got to spend time with my sweet husband and daughter. I guess that’s what makes a birthday special anyway—getting to spend it with the people you love.
(Proof that she ACTUALLY slept in her bed!)
This time two weeks ago, I was walking around our nation’s capital with two of the most fabulous people on the planet. Allen and I decided to make the most of his first real Spring Break in 5 years, so we dropped the kiddo off with adoring grandparents and trekked up to Alexandria to stay with Erin.
We had a great time, highlights included seeing the Staffordshire Hoard (woot! Anglo-Saxon treasure!), dinner at Cheesetique (oh the deliciousness!), and of course the requisite DC stops like the Supreme Court, National Archives, and various Smithsonian museums.
Whenever we visit a big city, there’s always the discussion of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we lived here?”
There is something awfully nice about having museums on every corner, restaurants everywhere you look, and as lame as it sounds, I even envy the grocery stores. (Yes, Erin took us to Trader Joe’s. Because we begged her to.)
But ultimately, I like the pace of our little town. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable. No, we don’t have an Indian restaurant down the block (the closest is Memphis, a 1.5 hour drive), but honestly, we don’t eat out that often anyway. And even if we did have more options around, I doubt that would change much.
The first day home, we were sitting on the porch having coffee with Clara, marveling at home quiet it was. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I like quiet. I doubt we’ll be selling our house and trading it for a big-city apartment any time soon.