Friday, June 30, 2017

What A Week!

Anna had dance camp every morning this week. She had a love/hate relationship with dance camp. Once she got there she loved it, but every morning she was so nervous that her tummy hurt and she couldn't eat breakfast--and tears. Her teacher talked to her each day and she would participate with a smile. Our dance teacher is amazing. Anna learned a 50s dance and a jazz dance and she performed both dances for the parents with her class.

We did lots of fun things after dance, which is my own fault for adding to the crazy of the week. We went to the cove two days and the park with our CBS friends today. Isaiah was so tired every afternoon. He fell into bed for naps as soon as we got home. He's such a trooper though.

Each evening the kids went to our community Methodist church Bible School. This is Aliza's last year. She has been going since she was 2 years old. Her favorite part is singing their songs on Friday evening in the closing program. Next year she will get to be a helper. Aliza almost teared up during her last song tonight. And she smiled as big as she could for her picture because it's her last one.
Josiah was nervous every single night. I don't think he ate supper all week because his tummy hurt so bad. As soon as he walked into his class he was fine and came home happy every night. He's become a great little singer too.
Isaiah has thought all week that he was one of the big kids whether it was VBS or at the cove. He loved doing the crafts and even though he played with toys during the class time, he had some idea of what the story was. Tonight he surprised me when he walked right up on stage to sing his song without looking back at me. He didn't sing. He looked all around. Stuck out his tongue. Pulled his shirt up and chewed on it. Very cute--for a 2 year old!
I walked Anna to her class every evening and she hung pretty close to her teacher. This is the first year she agreed to have her picture taken and she would only do it if her teacher was in the picture too. Anna, true to form, did not sing in the program.
I'm glad the week is over! Handling allllll the emotions has me worn out! I did not handle them all gracefully, but we made it. Tomorrow I'm catching up on errands....and housework!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Obviously We Bought a Minivan

My Dad and grandparents were so gracious to juggle their cars around so that I could have transportation while Jeremy watched for and researched what and where to buy. We settled on a 2009 Honda Odyssey with a whole bunch of miles on it. This is the first time that we bought a car while holding to our financial values and that is a big milestone for us. I can't say that I ever feel great when I buy a car. This was also the first time we bought from a used car place and I left just hoping they were telling us the truth. A car is about the only purchase where you know you are losing value just driving away from the purchase table. I'm very pleased though. Jeremy took good care of me and the children! It drives great and has even more room than our old van. I have no complaints. Jeremy is working hard to get the repairs done that we need for it to pass Maryland inspection.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 7: The Night We Sleep in Our Own Beds

This is the day, Sunday June 4, that has been weighing on our minds all week. How are we going to get home after we return the rental car? What are we doing with our van sitting 5 hours from home? Jeremy told me he would figure it out and he did. For as much as Mom and I thought about it, I know Jeremy was doing research, talking to his trusted advisors and trying to also be present with us for the days he was in Ohio. He considered everything from buying a car in Ohio to having us rent another van to drive the 5 hours from Somerset, PA to home. Here's how the day went down...

Jeremy left our house at 7am driving my grandparents minivan to meet us at the transmission garage where our van sat in the parking lot. Mom, the children and I have a lovely breakfast and a quiet morning in the hotel. When I checked in the lady at the front desk asked what brought us into town and so I gave her the 30 second story of our van breaking down and my husband coming from MD to pick us up in the morning. She asked where in MD and I gave my standard answer, Ocean City, because a lot of people know OC, MD. Turns out this lady had worked at a hotel on the inlet in Ocean City last summer, totally understood beach traffic on Sunday mornings and told me to let her know if we needed a later check out time in the morning. She was more than happy to give us a check out time of noon when I talked to her. We spent the morning watching Nick Jr. and coloring. Mine is still hanging on the refrigerator.
The hotel Jeremy got us was just 15 minutes from the transmission shop. We loaded up to get there about 15 minutes before Jeremy to get all of our personal things out of the van and prepare to move all of our luggage from the rented Traverse to my grandparents minivan. Both of my girls were all tears when they saw the van. I could not cry, but it was a bit emotional for me too. Jeremy arrived when we expected him. He had his own questions about our van--remember our description? It quit going forward. It smelled hot. And later when I turned it on in the garage while he waited for the rental it overheated. Those things did not add up in his mind. Being that far from home, it was hard to just take the word of mechanics he had never met. So Jeremy hopped in the van, started it up and drove around the block. No problem. It accelerated. It did start overheating, but he wasn't too worried. Mom and I just kind of looked at each other. A guy's gotta do what he's gotta do. So Jeremy got in our van, Mom drove my grandparents minivan and I drove the Traverse and we started out. We had 20 miles to where we needed to return the Traverse. We made it 10 miles...with stops to let the van the cool down. It wasn't going an inch farther. Now Jeremy knew exactly what was happening and could describe it to Dustin, the friend who has walked him/us through this. So we left the van on the side of the highway.
Next order of business--return the Traverse. Mom and I were only too happy to turn in that key. So much pressure to have 4 kids in a rental car. We had so much luggage that the floor was pretty well covered. We returned it in good shape. Of course there was no eating and minimal drinking while we drove it too.

By this time it was way past lunch time. McDonalds again. I got in the front seat of the van, grabbed Jeremy's hand and immediately started crying. Tears ran. They were supposed to wait until I got home, but they didn't. I should have just stayed in the car, but responsibility called. I wiped the tears and stepped up to order the kids food. I got through the order and then she asked what size tea I wanted. I started crying, my voice cracked. It was terrible. It was a waterfall of tears again. A mom stranger gave me a hug to reassure me that she has melted down in McDonalds too. lol.

After we ate, Jeremy went to a corner to make some calls and figure out our plan. He rented a uhaul and trailer to bring the van home. He would drive the uhaul and Mom and I would drive the kids. We drove the 10-15 minutes to the ski shop that rented uhauls where Jeremy had just made a reservation over the phone with Uhaul national. Jeremy went up the door--IT WAS LOCKED! No lights on. They were supposed to be open for 45 more minutes. There was a number to call for after hours. Jeremy called and the guy was on his way to Pittsburgh--he would call one of his guys to see if they could come in. So we sat and waited.
A man came in a reasonable amount of time. I was not about to leave Jeremy until I knew for sure that he was set to drive home. We drove back to where we had left the van on the highway. Now we needed the van to drive up on the trailer. This was no small feat. The first try it wouldn't even move forward. The second try it was inches away fro being on, but didn't go any further.
Third time and it was on the trailer. Josiah rode with Jeremy in the uhaul truck and we were all on our way home--a 5+ hour drive.
It was a long, long 5 hours. The highlight was stopping at a rest stop and Aliza found an Alaska license plate. Did I mention that was her entertainment this trip? She isn't able to read or look down in the car for any period of time. And talking...she did a lot of talking!

But we got home at 10:30pm! Utterly exhausted, I threw everything on the kitchen floor to deal with in the morning. Jeremy still had to ride with my Mom--another 1/2 hour--to pick up his car from their house.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 6: Saying Goodbye

The one thing I wanted to do before we left was to find the letterbox that was hidden in Archbold. It was a great clue and an easy find. As much fun as we have finding letterboxes, there is an equal amount of drama over who is going to actually find the box and remove it. Today was no exception, in fact, it was worse than usual. BUT we found the box!

We visited with Grandma for a little bit. The children finished off the popsicles she had in the freezer for them. Aliza gave Grandma Rhoda the sweetest hug good bye. She will remember Grandma Rhoda now. It's always hard to say good bye to Grandma, but today was not the day for tears for me. Jeremy headed back to Detroit to the airport and Mom and the kids and I set off to Strausburg, Ohio.

Our destination was a short afternoon visit with Heather and her family. Heather was on the team that I went to Kenya with way back in 1998. We haven't seen each other in many, many years. Given the week we had, I thought of cancelling this visit. I'm glad I didn't. Heather and I had a lot in common and were able to reconnect. Heather has 4 children just a year or so older than mine. She filled us up with snacks and the kids got to run around.
We had to make it to Johnstown, PA that night. Johnstown was where our van was parked at the transmission shop and close to where we needed to return the rental car. From Strousburg to Johnstown we were not on the turnpike and it seemed like it took FOREVER to drive the 3 hours we had left. Our route took us through Pittsburg which was a fun little adventure for the children. I prefer to take them to the middle of nowhere. They haven't had city adventures yet.
We arrived at the hotel at 10:30--utterly exhausted. When we got to the room, Josiah promptly cut his foot on the bathroom door. It was bleeding. He was screaming. Mom had to go to the front desk for bandaids. Isaiah leaned over to look at Josiah's cut and the boys hit heads. Add Isaiah's screams to the mix. Then Anna decided she did not want to get ready for bed and she got in on the screaming. I thought about curling up in a ball, but that would have just made everyone scream louder.

One. More. Day.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 5: We had FUN!

When I was a child and we visited my grandparents in the summer, we always visited Sauder Village. I have looked forward to the time when my children would be old enough to enjoy the experience. Aliza was the perfect age. Josiah and Anna enjoyed it very much and Isaiah did great considering that we were there all afternoon. We took our time in the morning and packed a picnic lunch to eat on the grounds. Mom was able to join us. Having her there was just fun for me because we could compare what we remembered.
 There is a village set up in the time period of late 1800s to early 1900s. You visit each shop and the artisan working there tells you about how they make their craft and what life might have been like for the person working there. Aliza LOVED listening to the history . This is the basket shop.
 This man has been working in the cooperage for a long time. He was a talker and found out that he knows one of my Mom's uncles. It was fun to tell him that we were bringing the 3rd generation to visit the village.
 Anna's spinning shop...
 Oh look! We are together and smiling!
 Isaiah was the cutest student in the colonial classroom.
 Here the children were able to try out a printing press.
 A lot had been added to the village including a new train. It's the only thing that we thought was better before. The old train was tiny and went through a tunnel. The new train carries lots of passengers and just isn't as quaint.

 Aliza enjoyed learning about what jobs she would have done as an oldest child and as a daughter. Carrying water would have been a hard job! Just lifting the buckets was heavy.
 The potter was adding handles to 3 dozen mugs the day we visited. The children were fascinated. Josiah carried Jeremy's camera around and used it. That was fun for him.
 Isaiah climbed up on the rock and posed for a picture. I'm not sure how he held up all afternoon without a rest, but he did great.
 In the museum, there is a fabric shop and a quilt is always in. Ladies handquilt the quilt as a demonstration of how quilting is done and then the quilts are sold. There is a certain number of stitches per inch (I think 7 or 8) that the quilter must be able to achieve to quilt in the museum. My Grandma quilted in the museum for years.
 Ice cream is a requirement.
 At the end of the day we visited the newest section of a village. We were the only ones in the 1908 church that was moved to the village from Pettisville--the little town where my Mom grew up. Mom remembers this church. The acoustics were amazing. The tour guide had us sing Silent Night. I could have sang many more songs!

It was good to end our time in Ohio on a good note. We all had a great time together. Don't worry though--there are still 2 more days until we are home so the blog posts won't stop yet!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 4: The Day I Almost Panicked

Three of my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins live in Michigan, an hour and a half from where my Grandma lives in Ohio. The plan for today is to have a picnic at my aunt's cabin, visit with the family that is able to join us, and take my Grandma with us. Jeremy will also be flying in and will meet us at the cabin. That's what happened, but not that smoothly!

It was not in the plan for my Mom to wake up with a headache and debilitating nausea. It became apparent that Mom was not going to be able to go to Michigan. (Cue panic) I called my Grandma and told her thinking that she would also decide not to go to Michigan. She said, "Well, I think I should still go." (Cue more panic) My Grandma is 90 years old and in amazing health; however, she is not used to traveling in peace let alone in a car with 4 children!

I got myself and the kids together, we picked up Grandma and we had a smooth trip to Michigan. I had my aunt's address in my iphone maps app which has never let me down. When we were on a main road and it said, "in 500 feet park your car. You will need to walk to your destination." I knew I was in trouble. At that point Grandma was pretty sure I should have just followed her directions. =) I got us to the correct road, but, for the life of me, I could not find my aunt's house. My aunt kept telling me to go to the top of the hill and don't go around the curve. I was just too frazzled. I couldn't figure out where the top of the hill was. lol. I have another aunt who lives on the same road and all of a sudden I saw a her house and recognized it. Thankfully she was still at home. Grandma could use her bathroom and we followed her to the cabin.

My aunt's father (who is not my relation) collected scrap metal and made amazing, whimsical creations. This was was by the door of the cabin. The property of full of large and small, whimsical and life like creations.
 We roasted hot dogs over the fire for lunch. Soon after we ate Jeremy arrived! He flew in to Detroit and met us at the cabin. (He used a different map app and had some trouble too. Apparently this rural area is not well mapped yet!) I was so relieved to have him by my side.
It didn't take my children too long to make friends with my cousin's 3 children. Isaiah and their boy are just 2 months apart.
A working pump made for lots of fun water play.
My aunt gave the children rides on her gator.

I spent most of my time walking around the ponds with Isaiah. There was endless places to explore. I was really grateful that I could see my aunts and a couple uncles and cousins.
Going back to Ohio Jeremy drove the children in the Traverse and I drove with my Grandma in the car Jeremy rented from the airport. The silver lining in the day was that I spent an hour and a half alone with my Grandma. I don't think that has ever happened in my life. I was also thankful to just follow Jeremy and not think about directions--which meant that I followed him off the turnpike an exit before I should have since I was taking Grandma home!

This time, though, I relied on Grandma's directions. We were doing great, and all of a sudden, the road was closed in front of us. Grandma thought it would be out of the way to get back to the original road (20A) so she navigated us to Archbold. At each intersection we would stop, I'd tell her the roads and she'd say, "I think we should keep going straight." We got to her house with no problems. When we got to an intersection close to Archbold that we both recognized she said, "Now that was hard work!" Bless her heart. She had a really big day!

I got back to Jeremy, the kids and Mom at supper time. I checked on Mom and she was just miserable. She hadn't been able to even keep a bite of cracker down and by then it had been 24 hours since she had eaten or drank. She told me to take her to ER after I ate. By this time I was over panicking and tears were just not an option!

We went to the ER in a town called Bryan. This turned out to be the best ER experience I've had. Mom did not wait in the waiting room at all. The admissions lady sent Mom back and I finished the paperwork--even signed consent for her treatment. That was a weird moment for me! The IV was tough to start because Mom was dehydrated, but once the fluids and meds got in her system she started feeling better. Bloodwork and scan results were back in half an hour!!? The ER got busy while we were there and we had to wait a long time to be discharged. We got to the hospital at 7:30 and were back to the house by 11:00 so we were not complaining at all. It was totally worth the time to get Mom feeling better. There was no way I wanted her to miss another day for being sick!

What a huge day! I fell into bed that night. It took me a while to unwind and fall asleep. Not that I had talked to him at all today, but at least I was sleeping beside Jeremy. His brain was as busy at mine looking at and considering car buying options and figuring out how he was going to get his family and mother in law home from Breezewood where we needed to return our rental in a few days.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Day 3: Reset

Today is Wednesday, June 7. We planned for today to be a "down" day to recover from traveling. The children slept late again. Mom went over to Grandma's house and the children and I had a leisurely morning. We made our way over to Grandma's house and visited with her a while. On the way into her house Josiah cut his finger on her door. There was blood and tears. It took him many minutes to recover. I held him. Isaiah and Anna played with the yarn balls on the floor. Isaiah loved Grandma's box of toys. I think Grandma enjoyed watching them play. This was the first time that Isaiah and Grandma Rhoda met. How priceless it is to have this picture:
A four generation picture is priceless too!
The kids and I went back to my aunt and uncle's for the afternoon. The big kids watched a movie and Isaiah took a long nap. Jeremy called to tell me that the issue with the van was definitely a transmission issue and it isn't worth fixing. That opened a new host of scenarios to navigate. My brain didn't let me rest that afternoon.

After Isaiah woke up we went back to Grandma's to swim at the indoor pool in her community. We had SO much fun. The water was "elderly people warm". It was perfect for me! Totally bathtub water. Isaiah was immediately fearless. Isaiah decided to try using a pool noodle instead of his circle floatie at one point. That didn't go so well for him. After that there was no need to remind him to get his floatie before getting in the water. We played until we HAD to get out for supper.

After supper we had ice cream at Nofiziger's, a local ice cream place. I had chocolate covered pretzel ice cream. It was scrumptious! Grandma got home probably past her bedtime! But it was fun to take her out. I think she enjoyed her ice cream too.
How cute are these ice cream parlor chairs?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 2: In Which the Vacation Tuned Into an Adventure

Everyone slept great, in fact, I had to wake them up this morning! Eating breakfast in the hotel was a fun treat--so many choices! We hit the road ready for a stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial and getting to Ohio to see Grandma Rhoda. The Flight 93 Memorial was only an hour from Breezewood where we had spent the night. Aliza was busy telling us all the facts she knew about 9/11 from History class this year and we were enjoying the countryside off the PA turnpike.

Mom was driving and we were following a semi truck up the mountain when our van quit moving forward. The engine revved, but it did not go forward. As you can see in the picture, we didn't even make it completely off the road. Mom and I looked at each other--stunned. We were trying to figure out who to call and realized we had no idea where we were on the road we were on. I was thinking that I needed to walk back down the road to an antique store when a truck came along. There were 2 men in the truck and they stopped beside us and asked if we were ok. We both emphatically said NO! They pulled off and turned out to be a couple of the kindest, most respectful strangers I've met. (You'll quickly see here in the story that Mom and I are the kind of women who hold traditional gender roles! She and I had a good laugh over this later.) The man shook my hand and told me his name and asked us what happened and when it was time to check out the inside of the car he asked permission and made sure I was in the car with my children. Our description of what happened was along the lines of "I heard a noise and the car quit moving forward." After looking under the hood the man correctly assumed it was the transmission and decided that we needed to get the car turned around (headed down the mountain) and off the road. The second man called a nearby towing garage to pick us up. Being a real frazzled girl at this moment, I asked the first man if he would drive the car. The men then waited with us at the antique store parking lot until the guy from the towing garage came.
In the time that we sat waiting for the tow truck, the van had cooled off enough that I could drive it (downhill) to the garage. I still had brakes and reverse. Tow truck man followed me. It took him about 30 seconds to look at the transmission fluid and say it was a transmission problem. Thankfully, Mr. Tow Truck Guy could tell me which transmission shop he would recommend. I called them and Mr. Tow Truck Guy could take the van there.
The next issue to tackle was securing a rental car to take to Ohio which proved to be quite a challenge. I called the 3 closest Enterprise stores and none of them had a 7 passenger vehicle available. After that Mr. Tow Truck Guy gave me numbers out of the phone book. I called at least 6 car rental places with no success. We were down to the last number in the book and they had a Traverse--a mid size SUV--but they didn't do pick up. I told them we couldn't walk to them and hung up. I called one place back that thought they *might* have a van coming back that day. In the meantime, Mr. Tow Truck Guy decided that he could drive one of us to get the Traverse which was 30 minutes away. I think he was getting worried that we might have to camp out in his garage!

To Mom's dismay, it became clear that she needed to be the one to go to rent the car. I sent her with my insurance card and driver's license and the children and I sat. By this time it was noon. Thankfully, it was the beginning of the trip and I let them eat as many chips and snacks as they wanted. I had no appetite whatsoever. While we sat, I made a thankful list, because, truly, I was deeply grateful for how we had been taken care of so far. First and foremost, we were off the turnpike which we have never, ever done on a trip to Ohio. If we had been on the turnpike no one would have stopped, the children would have had to stay in the car and it could have taken hours just to get a tow truck to us. It wasn't raining and the temperature was cool, not hot! AAA paid for towing (I hope that hasn't changed!). 
An hour went by and I got a text from Mom that I was not going to be able to drive the rental car because my insurance card did not have collision coverage on it. To make an hour long event into a sentence--I knew this wasn't accurate. Jeremy and I texted back and forth, he did some checking and ultimately called Mom at the rental store. He texted a picture of his insurance card and the lady let me drive. I HAD to be able to drive! We were so thankful that the situation worked itself out. It took another *VERY* long time for Mom to finish up the paperwork. Meanwhile, this is the chaos that I was watching:
But honestly, the kids were amazing. After 2.5 hours Mom arrived with the Traverse.
I'll just say that a Traverse is made for a family of 4 not a family of 6 even though it seats 8. There is precious little luggage space. Mom and I were determined and we made it work. We were packed in pretty tight! By this time I knew I had to eat (it was midafternoon) and so we stopped at McDonalds before we got on the turnpike.

By the time we got back on the road, my Grandma Rhoda was looking for us to arrive at her house and we still had over 5 hours of driving ahead of us. I am very happy to say that the rest of our travel went extremely smoothly. The children continued to be amazing. Mom and I worked really well together all day. Our husbands were gracious and did not questions any of the decisions that we made. We arrived in Ohio at 9pm and my Grandma still wanted us to stop to see her first. We gladly did. The children and I only stayed a few minutes and then we went to my aunt and uncles house to unload and settle in. There was still sunlight at 9:45pm that night and I know that helped me so much psychologically. It did not feel nearly as late as it was.

Jeremy called the transmission shop and gave them his name and phone number so I didn't have to worry about interacting with them. He verified that the van had arrived, but they were not able to look at it that afternoon. It took me a LONG time to fall asleep. So many what ifs, scenarios and emotions were rolling through my head. Ohio had never seemed so far away from home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 1: Vacation!!

My Mom thought it would be a lot of fun to take me and the children with her to Ohio to visit her Mom, family and do some of the things that I remember doing when my family visited Ohio when I was a child. Jeremy and I have not even entertained the idea of a vacation in the last 5 years because we had other financial goals to meet, but this year this trip seemed doable. Jeremy wasn't ready to leave town for an entire week so we looked around and found that it was quite reasonable for him to fly out to Ohio to be with us for a couple days and be part of some of our memories. I was so excited! I planned a trip that would be child friendly. I texted my Mom the day before we left--"I think I should thank you ahead of time--while I'm still excited and rested!--for initiating this trip." (Little did I know how true this would be as the trip went on.)

Monday morning arrived. I did the final packing, made lunches for a picnic and loaded the van. The stress mounted in the last couple hours before Mom arrived at our house. Josiah had purchased a fidget spinner specifically for this trip and he couldn't find it anywhere and neither could I. I looked everywhere and Josiah was just heartbroken. He wanted to stay home. We drove out of the driveway without that silly spinner. Jeremy told me to check my purse which Josiah had already looked through. I did and, sure enough, in the outside pocket there was a fidget spinner. Phew. Crisis solved.

It was raining. I had a letterbox clue for the marina in Cambridge. We couldn't find the letterbox. We ate our picnic lunch in the car. Everyone had a great attitude. Thankfully, by the time we reached our next planned stop the rain stopped and the children could play on the playground. It wasn't without kid drama, but it was a good stop. Mom and I knew we could easily made it to our halfway-to-Ohio stop that night.
My children don't remember staying in a hotel so this was a highly anticipated night. We arrived in time to relax a bit before having supper. They explored every inch of that room. Anna hung up all of her clothes and emptied her backpack into drawers.
It had also been a very long time since the children had been in a "sit down and order" restaurant. We chose Bob Evans. Isaiah was a bit wild after being in the car all day, but they did well.
Isaiah gave his ice cream a thumbs up.
After supper it was time to swim! We had so much fun! Isaiah was fearless. The hot tub wasn't too hot so I was happy that he was wanted to be in the smaller space. By the end of our time in the pool, he was in the big pool...and so was I.
Of course nothing is as exciting as the luggage cart! Everyone found a place to hang on and ride. We made quite the spectacle going through the hotel.
I went to bed that night thankful for all the fun little memories we had made that day.