Sunday, January 3, 2016

I Survived Christmas 2015! - Part 2

So, where were we?

Oh yes, Dee had the absolute worst black eye I have ever seen.  I'm so proud of him!

He was pretty proud too.  His black eye was the star of every gathering.  I think he is going to miss it when it's gone.

In the meantime, Christmas rolled on around us, right on schedule.  We enjoyed Christmas Eve with Robert's family.  Homemade lasagna, Dirty Santa, the kids gifts from the grandparents complete with squeals of delight, classic movies.  It was a wonderful family evening. 

Christmas Day was with my family at Aunt Brenda's house.  Homemade gingerbread, smoked brisket, the traditional beef jerky Aunt Anita from Mississippi always sends, discussing the significance of the ornaments on the tree, gift bags for the children and the adult gift exchange.  This is what I look forward to every year.  Priceless memories.

Robert went back home the next day to study for the message he was preaching on Sunday.  I transferred our little family to my mom's house for the weekend.  Saturday began with balmy 60 degree weather.  I had checked the forecast before packing, back on Wednesday.  I was expecting this semi-tropical haven in December.  Of course, a cold front would push some rain in, but it didn't look like a big deal.  I packed mostly short sleeves for all of us with light jackets.  I actually prayed as I zipped up the suitcase, "Thank you Lord for warm weather this week so that I don't have to worry about packing heavy coats and gloves and all that clunky stuff."


In twelve hours our state went from 60 degrees to sub-freezing, tornado warnings, thunderstorms, major flooding, ice storms, earthquakes and a blizzard.  Just your typical Oklahoma December.

 When I woke up on Sunday morning, the pouring rain of the past 12 hours was beginning to freeze.  I wanted to go to church with my mom and brother, but I wasn't sure if church would be cancelled.  I started getting us all ready and dressed, just in case but I knew we would miss Sunday School.  9 a.m. is just too early, as you already know.

Just as we were nearly dressed, David called from church, where he had gone ahead.  9 a.m. isn't too early for him to get around, you see.

The Worship Service had been combined with Sunday School so that every one there could get home before the really bad weather hit and there was no way I could make it to church before they were finished.

Aw man!  And the kids were all dressed so cute, too!  But then again, I was relieved, since it was now bitterly cold with a howling wind and frozen ice pellets blowing sideways and we had no coats.  Yes, staying indoors with hot cocoa and a family movie sounds like a good idea. We all settled in.  There was just one thing left on my agenda for the day.  Robert's best-friend-from-highschool's parent's 50th wedding anniversary that we had promised to attend.  Robert, bless his heart, had gotten up way earlier than 9 a.m., driven over an hour to the church he was preaching at, delivered his message, got in the car, and drove two hours back to the City just to go to this wedding anniversary party.  And he really wanted his family to be there with him.  But I didn't want to get the babies out in the freezing weather with no coats.  Beside, the roads were becoming slick in spots.  It was decided that my mom would keep the kids and I would meet Robert.  That worked.  It was a lovely party.  I didn't know the people very well, but they were important to Robert as a young man and it was great to hear their versions of all the hijinks Robert had perpetrated.  As we pulled on our (borrowed) coats, Steven invited Robert to bring our kids over to his parent's house to play games together.  That sounded like a lot of fun, but first we were going to have to drive back and pick up the kids.  This is when Disaster #2 struck.

I had some misgivings about getting out after dark on uncertain roads while snow continued to fall.  I had secretly hoped that Robert would be tired enough to just settle in for the night at my mother's.  The kids, however, were raring for an adventure after being cooped up indoors all day.  I wouldn't let them play out in the freezing mud without coats while wearing church clothes, doggone it!  I'm such a mean mother.  Anyways, they were ready for a little excitement.  Robert drove carefully down the residential street, made a right turn, navigated a construction zone, splashed through a pud-


-dle.  That was no puddle, my friends.  That was a sink hole large enough to swallow a cow.   Or a pig, perhaps.  A large dog?  Okay, I don't know how large the hole was.  It was covered with water.  It looked like an innocent puddle.  A van eating puddle of destruction!  We whacked our heads on the ceiling.  The engine promptly quit in protest.  A wisp of smoke drifted from under the hood.  We sat there and looked at each other.  Did we just witness the untimely demise of our van?

Robert cranked the key.  With a cough and sputter, Ol' Faithful wheezed back to life.  But she was clearly wounded.  A faint burning smell wafted through the interior.  But, what else was there to do but go ahead with the plans and meet up with Steven's family.

Once arrived at our host's home we all piled out and commenced to invade their relatively peaceful domicile with our wild heathens.  It was a little awkward.  At least I felt awkward since they were still in the middle of their own family gift exchange.  I hate it when that happens!  Elle had a slight panic attack at seeing so many strangers.  Ana just clung to me and whimpered.  I couldn't think of a thing to say to my hosts and both girls were attempting to hide behind me.  What to do, what to do . . . I know!

"Ana, let's go get a drink!  Do you want a drinkie?"


"Sure you do, come on, your cheeks are all red.  You're look hot."

Sure enough, she did feel a little warm.  And she appeared to be heaving . . .
Oh no!

Too late.  She was throwing up.  Not baby spit up.  Big girl vomit.  In my hair.  Down my shirt.  In front of all these people whom I had been vainly trying to impress with my sophistication.  I'm trying to get her off the carpet and over the sink, but my feet weigh a thousand pounds.  I'm wading through concrete.


Steven offered to let us use his tub to give her a bath so the games could continue.

Thank you, but no.  I am holding a ticking time bomb.  There is no telling how much more there is to come. The other four children are equal risks.  The whole joint could be swimming in vomit within the hour.  We have to go.  

Amazingly, we got back to my in-law's house without any more hurling.  I bathe my poor sick girl and we snuggle together underneath warm towels.  I'm still waiting for the barfy deluge I am certain is coming.  In the mean time, we need to address her fever.  I usually bring a bottle of baby Tylenol and a thermometer with me when I travel, but not this weekend.  My mother-in-law rummages up an ancient bottle from the back of her cupboard.  It expired in 2002.  But, hey, 13 years out of date is better than nothing, right?

Ana refused to drink it.  Smart girl.
I can't tell you what concoction Robert's mom gave Ana to break her fever.  It's top secret.  I can tell you that orange soda and ice cream were involved.  But that's as far as I'll go. 

Thus dawns the sixth day of our holiday vacation.  Monday was grey and snowy.  Ana was feverish but not barfy.  The boys had hit the outer limits of sugar tolerance and were bipolar zombies.  I was a werewolf bit cranky.  It was time to go home!

We had just finished running a few last minute errands before we left town.  The engine was still smoking.  A grumbling rumble made me wonder if the muffler had a hole in it.  Robert said if we just kept it under 50 mph we should make it home alright.

Okay.  This is going to be a long drive.

 We took the I-44 exit, heading east to Tulsa.  A junky blue pickup puttered along in front of us.  Robert didn't want to slam on the brakes on an icy curve, so he gently moved to pass the wizened old man who was clutching the steering wheel.  True, there was not exactly a passing lane, but there was enough shoulder to pull it off.


In that exact moment Ol' Faithful wheezed her last.  The engine knocked about with a terrific clamor, the whole van was vibrating and shimmying to beat the band.  We coasted off onto the shoulder as the wizened old man puttered past us in his junky blue truck.


After offering a fervent thanksgiving that we were not halfway to Tulsa, Robert called his dad to come get us.  As we waited, Robert tried pouring some extra oil into the engine.  He could see it stream right on through a gaping hole onto the pavement.  We had burnt up our engine.

Even though we were still in Oklahoma City, it took awhile for Robert's dad to get to us.  It seemed like forever.  The bitter cold seeped in and we were thoroughly chilled in no time.  The boys did their best to keep us entertained, though, reading jokes to each other.

Cy: "What does a mouse and a wheel have in common?"
Alvin: "A dead mouse!" (not the real answer, by the way. Do you know?)

Just when I was ready to rip the corny joke book out of their frozen fingers, our cavalry arrived in a GMC Suburban.

Thank you, Lord!

Crank up the heat!

Ron graciously loaned us his suburban to drive home in while he works on repairing the van.  He called yesterday with the official diagnosis: both the oil pan and the transmission pan were ripped up.  The engine is toast.  We need a new engine, if not a new vehicle. 

That was some pothole.

I have so many things to be thankful for.  We weren't in a horrible accident.  We weren't stranded between Wellston and Stroud.  Ana didn't have E Coli, Salmonella, Ebola or even Comet aspiration pneumonia.  Don't ask why that was a valid concern . . . 

Although our state experienced extreme weather in every corner, we were safe and comfortable.  Nothing we needed was lacking.

Dee has a great story to tell at karate. (where they all know how to appreciate a black eye!) Thanks to it being the end of the year, this might turn out to be the cheapest emergency room visit ever.  Thank you, Lord for insurance!

I am reminded once more that God is good, all of the time.  Even if the worst case scenario had played out, even if I had had a Job's sort of weekend, I still have a shelter in Jehovah.  I give thanks for the mercies He showered us with in 2015, up to the very last second.  I look forward to certain grace for 2016.  Life is uncertain.  God is faithful.

Happy New Year!


Friday, January 1, 2016

I Survived Christmas 2015! - Part 1

I ran into my good friend, the Sample Lady, at Wal-Mart today.

"How was your holiday?" I asked.

"I survived," she replied with a little sigh.

Bless her.  Me too.  I survived.  My family is well and I have transportation.  I am very, very thankful this New Year's Day.

The past 10 days have been rather, breathless?  Is that the right word for it?  I have been up and down and in and out of so many scrapes.  Sitting here in the safety of my closet, (yes, I am now blogging in the closet.  Have a problem with that?) sipping sparkling blueberry juice and savoring a melty wedge of brie, it all seems kind of funny.  But when you have vomit dripping out of your hair in front of a roomful of virtual strangers, no one is laughing.  Nope, they are all holding their noses and wishing they were all far, far away.  And I was ready for this passing life to be done.  But that's still several "Incidents" away.  I best start at the beginning . . .

It was Wednesday, December 23rd.  Early in the morning.  I was in a tizzy to get up and at 'em.  We had big plans for the day!  First, roust my young patriots out of bed earlier than usual to meet our favorite Presidential candidate who would be speaking at the unpatriotic hour of 9 a.m.  Or maybe I'm just unpatriotic and lazy for thinking 9 a.m. is unspeakably early.  Maybe I should move to Spain.

Anyways, nothing bad happens on Wednesday morning.  Au contraire, we had an electrifying good time listening to our choice for Prez, Ted Cruz.  He gave a great speech, we whooped and hollered.  I couldn't resist heckling him a bit, though.  He started to tell a joke about tough Texans and the toughest Texan of all is Chuck Norris, etc.  You've all heard your share of Chuck Norris jokes, I'm sure.  Here's the problem.  Mr Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma.  That's right.  Texas, you can have your Beevo and your State Fair and your Alamo, but you can't have Chuck Norris!  He's an Okie, whether he wants to admit it or not. 

That's all I have to say about that. 

It's a good thing the Secret Service decided I wasn't a threat, ha!

After the speechifying we all headed down to the stage where Ted Cruz was signing signs and taking pictures.  Cy had his hoodie autographed.  Which is cool, except it is actually Dee's jacket, even though it is too big for Dee and fits Cy, but Cy has a ton of jackets and Dee said that I said it was his and . . . well, you can see where this is going.  The fabled autographed orange hooded sweatshirt is being constantly fought over.  Why couldn't we just be happy with a mass produced autographed sign?  Why?!  The real highlight of the morning was when Mr Cruz dropped to one knee to visit with Miss Elle.  They talked about October birthdays and his little girl, whose birthday is two days after Elle's.  They talked about Halloween and costumes.  She informed him that we did not celebrate Halloween.  He gave her a fist bump.  There were reporters snapping pictures everywhere.  It was awesome!

 After our brush with fame, we headed home to pack, go to church and then leave for OKC immediately following.  We had just finished our Wednesday fellowship meal and the fellowship was still going strong when Miss 'Manda tapped me and said, "Have you seen Dee's eye?"  There was something in her voice that made my stomach lurch.  One look and I understood.  He had a lump the size of a golf ball protruding beneath his eyebrow.  I went into a modified panic.  It was the sort of feeling you would have if someone had a board sticking out of their head and didn't realize it yet.  He was calm but puzzled as to the looks of abject horror on every adult's face.  He wanted to look in the mirror, but I wouldn't let him.  I was thinking major trauma, possible orbital socket fracture, definitely a concussion, maybe optic nerve damage if not outright brain hemorrhage.  All from colliding with another kid's head in a backyard scrimmage.  I pulled on my MASH triage alter ego and got to work.  I would take Dee to the Emergency Room to get checked out.  Robert would take the other children home to wait for an update.  Dee's biggest concern was  that we were going to cancel Christmas.  I assured him that Christmas wouldn't be canceled, no matter what.  I was trying to stay calm, but when he told me his vision was black and white out of that eye, I hit the hazard lights and the gas.

I didn't know what we would be facing when we reached the E.R.  I was afraid to look too closely at his face.  We finally arrived and I ushered him up to the front desk.  The nurses behind the desk didn't gasp or shudder or faint from the ghastliness of the injury.  That's a good sign.  In fact, now that I had a chance to look at him a little more closely, his eye was actually looking a little bit better.  The swelling had spread, but that was kind of comforting.  At least it looked like a normal black eye now, instead of the massive internal injuries I was certain had been sustained.  By the time the Nurses and Doctor had a chance to examine him I was completely reassured.  It was only a bad bruise.  No concussion.  No crushed eye socket.  No leaking brains.  He was just fine.

Thank you, Lord.

The obligatory E.R. selfie

We went ahead and set out for Oklahoma City from the hospital.  Dee was happy that Christmas was right on schedule and he was enjoying the one on one attention from Mom.  By the time we reached his grandparent's house, his left eye had swollen completely shut.

He could totally star in the next Rocky movie!

Or be a really mean biker . . .
So, Disaster #1 is in the books.  We survived, yay!  Stay tuned for the Tornado Flooding Blizzard Ice Storm Of Doom and it's sequels, Attack of the Killer Pothole and Revenge of the Vomiting Toddler, next time on Holidays Gone Wild.

Go heat up your cup of coffee, I'll wait for ya!