Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ending up Back Where we Started

Well, as much as I thought I would be able to write more on my blog during vacation, I have failed and thus I am left to write something on the return trip home. We stayed relaxed, then completely off the electronics and then so busy I had no time for the computer. There I have ended my lousy excuses why you have had nothing to read. I hope you haven’t been sitting around drumming your fingers for information.

We have had a wonderful time. After the nightmare/ ridiculous to hilarioius trip down with children throwing up so much and getting the entire city of McDonough Georgia sick, things started looking up. Brandon and I left the children (ah, complete bliss) to head to Florida where we took a couple of days to remember that we love each other and enjoy being together. I don’t mean to say that we don’t love each other most of the time, but rather that we just get distracted with other things in our life and have very little time for our own relationship these days. It was nice to have a little of that newly wed feeling again. After I’ve been holding kids, spit on, tugged on, and generally mauled over all day, it’s hard for me to feel especially cuddly, but the break was nice and since Brandon doesn’t usually make a habit of tugging on my skirt hard enough to risk it coming off, I don’t mind the closeness.

Ahem…ok, so it was lots of fun. The next thing we did was take the kids over to the Andersons for a week of fun with just our family. I am learning that sometimes at home it’s hard to find time to be our own family unit, but this week we made time. We stayed in their basement apartment where we were furnished with two lovely rooms for sleeping, a great room with a functional kitchen and living area and two bathrooms with toilets perfect for 3 year old clogging adventures. Actually, Jeff only clogged one toilet and we got it fixed with a top rated plunger, but he did manage to clog my parents bathrooms several times with an overabundance of TP, a large selection of paper towels, and at one point I caught him trying to flush a medium size plastic side salad disposable dish down the hole. Arg! Ok, so back to the Andersons,…

We stayed there for 4 nights with the idea that we would not see anyone, go anywhere, or have anything to to with electronic entertainment for that portion of time. It turned out to be one of my favorite times of the whole trip. Each day we did a little bit of school with the boys, and then did something fun. In the upstairs portion f the house is a room with a closet designed into a playhouse. That was the highlight of one afternoon. Another afternoon it was the treehouse in the woods. We also took a tromp in the creek and pulled out leaves, built dams, and rerouted the water in a couple of spots just for fun. The boys caught “a big pile” of lizards, saw beetles, stomped on scorpions, spiders, and centipedes, and played in the dirt. Jonathon learned how to shoot hoops and was hoping for a chance to beat his Daddy at a game, but we’ll have to save that one for another trip.

In fact, we liked it so much, we based the last week of our trip from their house. We slept really well there with the children waking up after 8am many mornings and then went to my parents and visited others during the day. Several of our favorite activities this past week were: church on Sunday with waffles being the theme for the potluck lunch. Our children LOVE waffles! We also had a great time with Dan and Pari- relatives of Brandon. Pari is Tamil (Indian) and she blessed us with some of her “mild” chicken curry which turns me into a glutton everytime. It is SO delicious I always wish I had enough room to finish off the entire pot. The children had a great time playing with their cousins Joshua and Rebekah. Another big hit was going fishing. We bought some worms and crickets from the Bait Store and the “fishing grandpa” was true to his name and took them out to wet a hook. My parents have a lake in the back yard and so it makes going fishing a relatively simple task. We had to wait for the weather to cooperate since it managed to rain for the second time in months (record breaking droughts) but it did eventually and we had a lovely sunny afternoon to stand on the dock and play with fish guts, worms, and bugs. The boys actually caught about 8 fish. We have always called them Brim, but they probably have a longer name that I don’t know. They are small fish, but taste great and even though some of the ones we caught weren’t bigger than my hand, Grandpa cleaned and fried up everyone and we had them for breakfast- something his mother used to do for him when he was younger. In all the fishing excitement, Grandpa got a bit distracted at point and left the scene and I was left to pull out my fishing techniques and bait their hooks, cast the line, and take the fish off the hook when caught. I recal the last part being my least favorite as I have been stuck more than once by fish fins in my time, but my courage prevailed and I successfully got about 4 off their hooks and into the basket without being cut to pieces or even pricked.

The last grand adventure was put on by our friends Nate and Penny who in an effort to visit with us and keep the children entertained at the same time, treated us to playtime and dinner at Kangaroo Kids. This facility is home to several large blow up jumping cages, slides, and climbing things. The children a lot of fun and got some wiggles out after a very rainy day and we had some great food delivered there from a restaurant nearby. So a winning combination: occupied children, great food, wonderful company!

The other major accomplishment during our trip was that I managed to pull my natural Southern accent back out from some dark closet in the back of a cave and use it excessively. It is quite unintentional, my accent doesn’t change at my command except to slaughter a British one or when I pull out my baby talk or duck quaking talents, More subtle ones change depending on who I am talking to and around. If you have never heard me speak so thickly Southern that you can’t hardly understand what I say, then you must come to Georgia for a visit with us sometime and I will demonstrate how my tongue simply runs along without me in its more red-neckish rambles. There are times when I do things that make me wonder how on earth Brandon put up with me long enough to get stuck permanently.

And now, my dear friends…we are headed home via I-95. We left this morning shortly after 6am and then stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel (a favorite that is quickly becoming tradition). The children had pancakes and bacon and devoured almost all of it. Brandon and I had eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits, and gravy. I added a cup of coffee and all of it was delicious!

I thought of two more things to mention- the campout, and some things I’ve learned this trip.

First, the campout was, I think, a smashing success. The food was delicious and not just because my Dad employed his secret technique of cooking (wait to eat so long that it doesn’t matter what it tastes like- and eat it in the dark). We had stew cooked over the campfire, salad, and bread. We slept out, saw lots of people and then had eggs, bacon, and grits the next morning for breakfast. I got to see Roy- who is looking really good these days I might add, several of my friends from different times in life, and meet some new people I look forward to knowing into old friends. My music director from the church I attended as a little girl was there, a friend from my teenage years came by with her 6 children, another mother of 6 I met for the first time and we hit it off great. My grandmama was there and a bunch more. I think the total was just under 70. If you missed it- it was a highlight and you should come next year, they have it every year. We did cheat a little on the sleeping part and let Joseph sleep inside the house with my mother, but the rest of us had a fun time (don’t ask Brandon if he had a “fun” time sleeping in the tent) outside.
Oh, another thing we did was we went to the Bethany Baptist Church picnic Sunday Afternoon. That was a step into the past for me. I sort of enjoy being able to see those people and be a testimony that God straightened me out from what I was before. It was so good to see people that my parents and later, I became friends with as I grew up. There were a lot of memories- good ones, that came to mind and I enjoyed seeing people who I knew as a teenager did care about me. I felt very loved and cared for and that makes them special to me.

Ok, the last thing I’ll talk about is the things I learned on our trip and I’ll try to put them in the order I learned them:
- I have decent balnce while standing backwards in the moving van, going around a curve, and catching vomit at the same time.
- Always carry several trash bags.
- I know now that I can do a lot more that I think I can when I’m sick, but I’ll never admit it unless it is absolutely necessary.
- When I have too much to do I wish I had nothing and when I have nothing to do I wish I had something, thus it takes some effort to make myself relax.
- Never underestimate God’s ability to stretch the penny.
- I don’t really mind lizards as much as I thought I did, but I do mind beetles.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

For a Limited Time Only

Ok, now don't get hooked. Just because I post twice in a week doesn't mean that it's going to be happening on a regular basis. Actually, we are on vacation and as I have now taken "off" from my regular duties I am free to kick back, relax, and merely wash dishes, clean, do laundry, and ....well, actually it's better than that.

So far vacation has been an interesting mix of pros and cons. The first con being packing, or thinking of packing. Every time I get to the part of actually putting the family in a bag and sending us somewhere I think that I am really quite happy where I am and that perhaps we don't need a vacation after all! But the pro is that I had lots of friends to help out. People came in and helped pack (I had a VERY BAD cold and was feeling like I'd been hit by a truck and my face needed a plunger.) and get food ready, and kept the children away, and made dinner, and all sorts of things. I think one of my favorites was one of the Bible School girls ran in on Thursday and with a big grin said, "I have...(look at clock) 6 minutes. What can I do?" She did half the dishes on the counter and 5 times blessing my heart in those 6 minutes. I felt very loved. So we were sent off...hmmm....maybe they were just happy to see us leave...(just kidding).

We left Fairwood at 2 am planning for another record breaker to GA. SO far our family's record stands at 18 hours 45min. We did not break it this time. We tried, but got a little distracted by the mess that came around 5 pm.


Ok, so at 5, Jonathon decides he has to throw up. The short story here is that in the space of 45 min. He had thrown up 4 times and soiled the car seat and his pants twice. The boy really felt miserable. I had one bucket in the car for him and he couldn't use it for both ends at the same time. I told him he had to pick one or the other and he did, but his body did not cooperate with his brain. SO we stopped to clean up at a McDonald's with a playground.

Jonathon sat outside and I cleaned the seats and found clean clothes for him while Brandon took the rest of the children to play. I got Jonathon cleaned up and the van as clean as I could, begged a few bags from Mickie D's and thought we were good to go. By the way, if you ever want a tip on great methods of effective vomiting receptacles for a road trip I have a plethora of ideas, the best being a small garbage bag in a large cup. Catch, tie, throw into a large bag, reline cup, repeat. Anyway, just before reloading the van, Jonathon threw up again and so we cleaned up again. After loading the small children- anyone under 4, and Jonathon, James was waiting his turn feeling rather left out, so he just exploded onto the parking lot with a ream of liquid. I have never seen a child more calm during such an event, but he just bent over, hurled several times, stood up, wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve just like all boys were taught, and said, "Please can we keep going to Georgia. I don't want to go back home yet." I said ok, as we were actually in South Carolina at the time. I might have reconsidered in Virginia.

So James got in, said, "I think I won't throw up again until we get to Georgia." and he didn't. He made it just across the state line. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We're still in the parking lot at McDonald's. Ok, so in the car went James and Brandon and I climbed in and off we go. At the light to return onto the interstate Jonathon says, "I think I have to do another stinky." Around the block we go, back to the parking lot where Brandon and Jonathon rush into the bathroom and I sit in the car and think to myself: WE ARE GOING TO BE HERE FOREVER!

We weren't. Actually, we left after that and I told Brandon that if he would just keep driving and not stop, I would be the hurl patrol. I lost count of how many rounds we went, but it was quite a few between the two of them. Our total trip time was a sad 20 hours and 15 min. But considering the circumstances, I think a pretty good effort.

Let's see the next thing we did was unload the van into my parents' house. After that things started to settle down a bit. We all headed to bed and things were ok- sort of. Rachel threw up in the night- all over herself, but Grandpa cleaned up and left Brandon and I to sleep...ahhh...and then somewhere between Saturday afternoon and Sunday night, Brandon, Mary, James- again, Grandpa, Aunt Amy, Aunt Diane, Jeff, and Joseph (just bad diapers) got sick. My poor mother became the bucket brigade while Aunt Ruth kept the well children entertained.

As of today, everyone seems on the mend- except my Mom. She has been running a fever, but nothing else. I say she gets off great if that's all. Ruth hasn't been sick either. As far as the family competitions go, Diane wins the prize for most rounds, topping out at 16. Daddy gets the prize for loudest noises. Brandon gets the honor of most likely to be lifted off his chair while throwing up. Rachel and I get the one time only prize, though I felt like all sorts of bad words while I wasn't vomiting. Jeff, Joseph, and Grandmother seem to have squeaked by with just mild symptoms and avoided the unpleasantries of buckets altogether.

Now that we have been on vacation for um....5 days, we can start having some fun!
Some of it has been fun. Like my mom is Laundry Queen and I haven't had more that a small pile of dirty clothes for the entire family the whole time we've been here and that's pretty impressive considering the sickness stuff. I've enjoyed my Dad cooking and cooking with him a little. Ruth organized the playhouse for Rachel and it's fun to see my daughter play in the house that I wanted but was built after I was "too big" to play "house"-or so I thought. Apparently, I'm still not too big cause I play house every day. But she gets to feed us sand and that's way cooler! Ok, and the children went to the playground with Brandon today and left me home to reorganize our junk. Jeff and Rachel have fun in the Little Tykes cars here and Rachel calls them "Jeff's bowling green and Rachel's bowling green". (In order for that to be funny, you have to know that the place at home where we occasionally have little kids cars is called the bowling green.)

And umm....we are relaxed, albeit in a different way than I had expected, but in some ways nice. Had we come down here completely well, I would feel obligated to be out running around seeing people that I haven't seen in at least a year and since we've been sick, we've been forced to sit back, play video games, watch movies, and play together for a while. It's been good. Though if that's what God wanted us to get, maybe he could have just sent us a little letter in the mail with an itinerary or something. I don't think the stomach bug was really all that necessary.

uh....I better go to bed. But I should have free time in the near future to continue our saga and perhaps it will continue in a positive direction, or like most of life, perhaps I could just CHOOSE to see it that way. Goodnight for now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Birthday to Brandon!

I think he's pretty much the best guy in the world. A great Dad, a wonderful husband, and all around marvelous person. He is ever my leader, my friend, my counsel, my help, my love, and my laughter.

A VERY HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to you, Brandon.
I love you.