I remember when my engagement ring broke and I lost my diamond. Kansas Dad had taken First Daughter, still an infant, to pick up First Son from his day care while I exercised, one of the first times since she was born. When I finished, I realized my diamond was missing and frantically searched the carpet between the couch and the television. I was in tears when he arrived home and then cried even more when I found my diamond, safely buckled into the car seat under First Daughter’s bum.
Somehow, we managed to both need to go to New York City the same week, him for the defense of his doctoral thesis and me for a business trip. We couldn’t manage to both be gone for any of it, so Kansas Dad flew there first while I stayed home with the two kids (and pregnant with Second Daughter) and we celebrated the successful defense over the phone (yay!). Then our planes passed each other somewhere in the sky as I flew to New York and he flew home. It might still be the longest we’ve been apart since we married (though perhaps my trip to Boston this summer surpassed it). First Daughter, who was nineteen months old, had to be picked up at day care one day while I was away and Kansas Dad needed to teach class. So he took her along. She wrote on the wall with dry-erase marker and delighted the students.
The first time we saw our first house, Kansas Dad was on crutches after a dislocated ankle and I was nine months pregnant. It was so muddy, our van almost got stuck in the driveway. We hobbled and limped around trailed by First Son and First Daughter who declared we should buy the house because it had a slide. I’m not sure how much the slide figured into it, but we did buy the house. This house has given us warmth and shelter for five years now and placed us within the best parish we have every known.
The year after Second Son was born was a difficult one. The children were all so young and I felt keenly my defects as a mother each day. Then one day while frantically dumping out a bag to pack the diaper bag for a visit to the pediatrician, anxious about being late and disorganized, I saw drop onto the bed the watch Kansas Dad had given me for my birthday a few months after we’d started dating, the watch that had been missing for years. I loved that watch; I remembered watching the sunset from my parents’ porch swing the night he gave it to me and what a perfect gift I thought it was. When that watch fell out of the bag, I almost believed an angel had found it for me and tucked it in there earlier in the morning so I’d find it and remember all over again what a wonderful life I had.
We’ve had one real tornado scare in our home. Oh, we’d gone to the storm shelter before but it was more a precaution than that we were worried a tornado would really come close. This time was different. We’d watched the storms for hours after the children went to bed and eventually realized we were really and truly in the path. I gathered up laptops and external hard drives and shoes for the kids and carried two bags out before we woke the kids. We dragged everyone through the storm and then watched YouTube videos (until we lost our Internet) while huddled in the dark, damp from our run through the storm. Second Son was so unhappy and shared his unhappiness with the other kids, groggy with sleep. It wasn’t a particularly fun night, but I felt so safe and protected in the storm shelter, surrounded by the most important people in my life.
Just a few weeks ago, we organized three different vacations in four locations for our family of six so Kansas Dad and I could spend a few days relaxing with each other in peace and quiet. Through the generosity of his parents, my parents, my brother and his wife, and his brother and his wife, we had a delightful anniversary trip (a little early). We went to the Illinois State Fair, where Kansas Dad examined every chicken and duck in the poultry barn. We ate our meals outside on the deck, walked through the woods, and played Agricola when it rained.