The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

We’ve all had those days where nothing seems to go right and everything seems to go wrong. Last Thursday was one of those days for me.

After nearly two weeks with us, the puppy, Thorin, was very much a member of the  family. Thursday morning a neighbor showed up and wanted him back. Just like that–after two weeks of apparently not being concerned about him. His house is about an eighth of a mile away from ours, but his backyard and ours share about 200 feet of fence; yet he never checked to see if the puppy was here.

He didn’t ask how the puppy was doing–or any questions, really. I didn’t have much choice but to give him back. I would have felt better if I though he was going back to people who cared as much about him as we did.

This was an awful start to the day. And, although it was the worst thing that happened, the day didn’t improve much from that point forward.

Mark had an afternoon appointment for vision therapy, so we pulled ourselves together and got ready. Matthew and Maggie stayed home, as they often do. Micah came with us.

It is about a thirty-mile drive to the clinic where Mark has his vision therapy, most of which I spent thinking about how much I already missed Thorin. The therapy appointment went well and afterwards we spent about ten minutes waiting for them to finish making Mark’s glasses (which had been about two weeks in the making due an error with one of the lenses). Mark looked adorable with his new glasses, and we headed out to the van for the drive home.

About ten minutes down the road, Micah said, “Mark broke his glasses!” My first thought was that he had popped a lens out. Surely he hadn’t broken them before he’d had them on for fifteen minutes! I told Micah to put the glasses on the seat in front of him (they were in the back row); and since I had nothing else to do while driving, I stewed over whether he had actually broken the glasses and if so, how badly.

After about ten minutes of stewing, I decided to pull over on a side road to find out how bad it was. He had snapped the entire earpiece off, just above the hinge. There would be no way for me to fix them and still have the hinge usable–glue or tape would both be in the way.

I couldn’t do anything about the glasses until we got home. As I turned around to go back to the highway, I slid off the road onto the shoulder. This would not have been a problem if we had not gotten about ten straight days of rain. The van was stuck! I tried reverse, no luck. I tried first gear, again no luck. I turned the engine off and burst into tears. I should mention at this point that Mark and Micah were both already crying because of the broken glasses.

I called Todd. His phone went straight to voicemail. I called and texted a few more times with no response. So I called his office. Sure enough, he was right there in the cellular-service dead zone that is his office. He came and picked us up and took us home.

After Todd got off work one of our neighbors was kind enough to help him pull the van out so that we didn’t need to call a tow truck.

I’m thankful that days like these are usually rare. And that when I do have them, God’s grace is sufficient to get me through them.

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2600 miles, part three: Getting home

Part One

Part Two

I never quite got around to finishing this post last month.

As our time in Florida was winding down, I started looking at the weather to find a good window of opportunity for our return trip.  After checking the weather at home and along our route, I decided that driving home in the rain was better than coming home to an ice storm or a snowstorm.  So we planned to leave Thursday afternoon and stretch the trip out over three days instead of two.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do the trip in two days again, it was just too hard with no one else driving.

Micah had been sick on Tuesday, but we hoped that it was something he ate or that it was a virus that only he caught since no one else felt bad. He slept all afternoon and was a good bit better that evening.  He was back to normal by Wednesday evening, so I thought we were in the clear.  We packed up some things on Wednesday, intending to finish packing on Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, Mark woke up sick.  He wasn’t able to keep any food or water down all morning just like Micah.  The rest of us really didn’t feel good either, so I wasn’t quite sure if we should head home or stay.  We finished packing and loading up the van after lunch.  Mark seemed like he was ready to go to sleep (like Micah had), and I thought if I get him in the van, he can sleep while we drive.  No one else was feeling any better, but we weren’t feeling any worse either so we hit the road.

As soon as we got in the van, Mark perked up and was fine.  I, on the other hand, felt worse the longer I drove.  We stopped several times just so that I could take a break.  When we were almost to Pensacola, I knew that I needed to stop, not just for dinner, but for the night.  I called Todd and asked him to find us a hotel room.  It was such a blessing to have him handle all of that from home.  We found a McDonald’s right next door to the hotel, so we stopped there and took our food with us to our hotel room.  We settled in and found one of the college football playoff games on TV to watch as we went to sleep.  I was almost asleep when Mark got sick again, all over the sofa bed that he and Matthew were sharing.  After much cleaning up (and bagging up of clothes), we got to sleep.

Most of Friday was a blur.  Matthew was feeling really sick (headache and congestion) so he slept most of the morning.  Having your navigator go to sleep is not ideal, but Maggie filled in and after one missed turn, we accidentally figured out an easier route to take. (Take that Google maps!)  We drove most of the day in the rain and stopped a lot earlier than I would have liked, but we made it to Texas.  That left us with about six more hours to drive on Saturday.

We made it home around lunch time after all the ice thawed and before the snow (which ended up as just flurries) arrived.  Home sweet home! I have to say that the concrete floors never looked so good!

2600 miles, part two: Three Christmases and a birthday

(For part one click here.)

We spent the majority of our vacation just visiting with family.   We went to church on Sunday; then two of my nieces came over to visit for a little while.  On Monday, the kids and I drove (in the rain again) down to Homosassa Springs where Todd’s parents and sister were staying at his aunt and uncle’s house. We had an early Christmas and the kids got to open their gifts. They enjoyed playing and spending time with their grandparents, although I think Maggie was a bit disappointed that it was too cold to swim. We spent the night there and drove (in the rain again) back to my parents’ house the next afternoon.

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Wednesday night Dad and I drove to the airport in Jacksonville to pick up Todd. (I wasn’t driving so this isn’t included in the 2600 miles, and yes, it rained at least part of the way.) It was so good to see him. Even though I talked to him every day while we were gone, it just isn’t the same when we’re not together.

Christmas Day was pretty laid back. We got up and ate breakfast and opened presents. That afternoon my older sister and her family came over and opened their presents from my parents and vice versa. (They do that every Christmas.) Todd’s parents and sister also came up from Homosassa.

On Friday Todd’s parents and sister came over one last time before they headed back home to North Carolina. And that evening my younger sister and her family came up from south Florida. This was the first time I had met her husband and his daughters, as they just got married earlier this year.

Then on Saturday everyone from my side of the family was there and we had Christmas part three with my younger sister’s family. It was kind of crazy with nineteen people there, but it was a lot of fun and we took pictures of the whole family together.

The next Wednesday morning we went to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It was cold and rainy so the butterflies were not really flying around, but we were able to look at them really close up and Maggie loved seeing the birds that were in there with the butterflies. Matthew was not impressed with the butterfly exhibit, but enjoyed the rest of the museum. Mom and I took a break with Mark and Micah in the kids’ Discovery Room while Dad took Matthew and Maggie through the natural history exhibits.  Wednesday night we celebrated Mark’s ninth birthday.

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The rest of the time we mostly just relaxed, played games, and explored Mema and Papa’s yard (they have five acres, so there was a lot of exploring).  And most of all enjoyed the spending time with family.

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2600 miles, part one: getting there

The kids and I hit the road early Friday morning, bound for our Christmas vacation in Florida.  To make things a little more fun, we decided to go with a little bit of a military theme.  Matthew was in charge of intelligence, logistics, and navigation.  Maggie was the personnel and supply officer (keeping little brothers occupied and handing out snacks and water as necessary).  Obviously I was in charge of transport.  Mark was primarily tasked with pointing out every single truck on the interstate and Micah was responsible for asking questions.

We drove eleven and a half hours on Friday and it was foggy for the first five hours and rainy for the last nine.  I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t add up.  That’s because for about two and a half hours it was both foggy and rainy.  Most of the rain wasn’t more than a drizzle until we got to Mississippi, and it actually helped quite a bit since there was no one working in any of the construction zones that we passed through, and traffic was probably lighter than it would have been if the weather had been clear.

The kids are all pretty good travelers, so we had a long, but fairly uneventful trip.  That changed when we were trying to find our hotel.  I had made reservations ahead of time, partly to make sure we had a place to stay (I didn’t know how busy hotels would be the Friday night before Christmas), and partly to set a goal for myself so that I would get most of the driving accomplished on the first day.  It was dark and rainy, and I was very tired, so we followed the directions that I had printed off of Google maps.  Instead of our hotel, they led us to a shopping center parking lot.  Since we were right off the interstate, I figured that we would see the hotel if I just drove around the general area.  After about five or ten minutes of searching, I stopped in a parking lot and pulled up Google maps on my phone to see where the hotel was in relation to the business we were parked at.  It said it was just a few hundred feet away, so I headed that direction but still couldn’t find it.  I stopped at a different hotel and sent Matthew in to ask for directions.  We followed those directions to the letter, yet I still drove right past the hotel.  Matthew spotted the unlit sign in the dark and we drove back and I still nearly missed it.  (I later discovered that we had actually been right behind the hotel at least twice during our search, but couldn’t see it because the lights were off.)

As I pulled into the parking lot, I started to wonder if the hotel was even open.  There were a few random room lights on, but no exterior lighting on the building.  The sheltered entryway where you can pull in out of the rain was blocked off with plywood leaving just a few feet open through which to enter the hotel.  The desk clerk told me that she had no idea that the lights weren’t on.  We checked in, ordered a pizza, and pretty much went to bed after we ate.

Saturday’s weather was about the same as Friday’s.  When we were almost to Tallahassee, the sun briefly peeked out from beneath the gloom. Mark and Micah shouted, “The sun!” and I realized that we hadn’t seen it since before we left Oklahoma.  Saturday’s drive was a lot shorter than Friday’s and we got to my parents’ house around 4:00.  It was so good to see them!

To be continued….