A week ago Monday, the kids and I left for five days with my parents.
(Okay, okay. Three full days and two half days. Happy?)
Anyway, it was WCN's birthday and Joseph didn't have any games and we're getting a little bored of hanging out and going to the pool... and of the constant rain, so I packed up all four kids and headed east, young man.
Yes, ALL FOUR KIDS. By MYSELF. Everyone said I was crazy but I take them to the pool alone almost everyday. That's way more dangerous than strapping the kids into car seats, trapping them in the van and driving for four hours.
The kids did wonderful on the way down, save for needing to stop for lunch 45 minutes in, a reststop that didn't have a restroom and one infant who's max time in the car seat is 3 hours. That's bad when you have a four hour trip; worse when the next trip is 11 hours!
The three days with my parents were jam-packed and fun filled. .The REAL fun, however, began when we left my parents driveway.
We left within an hour of when I had intended to go, which isn't bad, considering. As I pulled out, my brother in law flagged me down and told me my back rear tire was low. Not flat, he said, just low. I thanked him and pulled off. I stopped for gas and checked it. It didn't seem worrisome to me, and I honestly thought that we had had all FOUR tires changed the day before I left.
An hour and a half into the trip with all four kids asleep- you guessed it.
I was approaching a rest area where we frequently stop when the road began to vibrate. I first thought it was the poor roads in the state where I was driving... but I should have trusted my gut and pulled into the rest area. No sooner did I pass the exit than the tire blew.
Yup, THAT tire. The one T told me was low. He now has a free pass to do the "I told you so dance," but only once.
I pulled off to the side of the road and flipped through the glove box to find a number for highway assistance. I could only find the number for the roadside assistance to the vehicle manifactor, so I called it.
After going around about where I was (because apparently an exit number and highway marker aren't enough), they said they would tow me to a dealer and get me a rental. I said no, that wouldn't work because I had four kids in the back and was on the way home. She said that I would have to figure out some way to get the kids from the side of the road to wherever they were going to tow me, because we wouldn't all fit in the tow truck.
*cue the crickets*
Yeah, that flew. Not.
I'm not sure what we agreed on, or even if we did, but I finally got her to agree to tow up to a Wal Mart SuperCenter. I located one using my GPS and she contacted the tow company for me, but only after I prepaid with my credit card.
While waiting for the tow company to call me back, I tried to use the GPS to find the number of our community center. (Yes, you can do this. Sometimes they will give you the phone number of the place you are looking for.) Although I had called Adam and left a message for him, I knew he was swimming and I hoped someone could pull him out of the pool to check on his cell.
When the tow company called me back, they told me they would be there in an HOUR. Uh, NO. I finally broke down and called 911, even though no one was mugging us, bleeding or requiring CPR.
The operator and I had a good laugh. I was probably her easiest call of the week. I said I was stuck on the side of the highway with four kids and a flat and didn't feel comfortable sitting alone with an hour to help. I said something like, "I ALWAYS get flats when I travel" (almost every time I drove to my parents in TX, I got a flat. It was pretty lame) and "My husband told me not go. I'm NEVER going to here the end of this!"
She sent highway patrol out.
The kids were quite happy to see them. I had a nice chat with the officers who said hi to the kids. They called the tow company themselves. Did you know that if highway patrol calls the tow company, they can suddenly get to you in 15 minutes? Imagine that!
While we were waiting, Cole needed to nurse, so I took him out of the car seat and sat on the edge of the van, away from the traffic to nurse. The officers didn't bat an eye although they did politely chat amoungst themselves while he ate.
The kids and I were going to ride in the cruisers to super WM. They even called another car to come get us. I was impressed that they were insisting on everyone being in their car seats. I was thinking police car = safer (don't ask what my thought line was... I was tired. Hungry. And unreasonably amused) but, nope, we were going to have to uninstall and reinstall the seats. Worked for me.
The funny thing was that no one stopped to help me when I was alone on the side of the road. As soon as the officers were there, everyone was slowing down to rubber neck. I asked what they were doing and one officer rolled his eyes and said that people just wanted to see something gory or be able to see that they saw the big arrest or the results of an Amber Alert. I asked if he was kidding and he said no and that they were likely going to get calls to the station asking why two officers were harassing the poor woman with a van full of kids.
I'd like to think he was exaggerating but I doubt it.
The tow truck came (which was also very exciting, moreso than the police cars) and he changed my flat and helped me limp to WM. Our tire was totally gone. It brought new meaning to the word "shredded."
At WM they worked us in and said it would only take 1-2 hours. No big deal. I thought we would get lunch and walk around. Except... this WM has no resturant. No McDonald's, no Blimpies, no Subway. Nothing.
So we hoofed it accross the parking lot to Applebee's while I said, "This is fun! This is an adventure! This is why Mommy drinks at night!" The kids were not amused but some random lady in the parking lot was.
When we got to the totally empty Applebee's, I parked the stroller inside and Camille instantly said, "This place STINKS!" I guess they can smoke in resturants there; they can't where we live and she can't remember being in a smoking resturant. I know I should have corrected her but she was right; it did stink.
After self medicating with iced tea, having lunch and buying the kids a treat, we were on the road again.
(Sing with me now...)
By this time, Cole had HAD IT UP TO HERE with his car seat. The trip home was not, um, pleasent. We stopped to nurse (at the same travel station that did not have a rest room when we stopped there the first time) and then I plopped him back in his seat. Thankfully, he slept until we were closer to home. I had to stop and nurse him again and he cried for the last 45+ minutes of our trip. I just had to bear it, since we were so close and I knew stopping, comforting him and getting back on the road would only prolong the misery. The other three had been troopers up until then and they were also DONE.
When we got home, I found a super cool dining room newly painted red! Adam has tried to pick apart how I handled the flat but he can't so he has finally settled on, "I told you something would happen." Joseph is having a hard time believing flat tires just happen. Camille is over it and Cole will maybe, one day, forgive me for not holding him while I drive. Georgie is grumpy and only wants Adam. I don't think he's over his Daddy Withdrawal.
Me? I'm exhausted. I came home, went to bed and then fell asleep at 8 pm Saturday night. I need a nap. Or a drink.