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 . . .
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
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!