Friday, July 24, 2009

Transportation Trauma

So the last few weeks have involved quite the drama in the realm of transportation in our family. Here's a synopsis. Try to keep up.

1. My mother's car died.

2. My mother borrowed my brother Joshua's car while he was out of town.

3. Joshua's car had a broken inside door handle, so Mama had to roll down the window and use the outside handle to open the door.

4. Mama had to wait a few minutes each time before the window "felt like" being rolled up again.

5. While in Joshua's car, Mama was sitting right next to a van that was rammed into from behind by an 18-wheeler. Glass shattered and rained all over Joshua's car. But that was nothing. The family of four in the van were all killed. (Please note: I am in no way writing this part flippantly. It was a horrific tragedy.)

6. Joshua came back in town and, therefore, needed his car.

7. Planning to let Mama use our 13-year-old Geo Prizm, Kevin took the car to get an oil change.

8. The Geo broke down on the way to get the oil changed.

9. After the Geo was repaired, we handed it over to Mama. We were now down to one vehicle--our van.

10. While driving in downtown Jackson, Kevin and Uncle Rico (our dog) were hit by a woman driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

11. The woman got out of her car crying, "Oh, Lord, why did I have to drive the wrong way?! Why did this have to happen?!," etc., to which the officer exclaimed, "Ma'am, God didn't make you drive the wrong way down a one-way street."

12. No one was hurt, but the van was totaled.

13. The woman didn't have insurance. Awesome. (To be read with sarcasm.)

14. We borrowed Kevin's brother's vehicle for a couple of days.

15. Then we borrowed Kevin's mother's car.

16. While driving to the bank one day, a bunch of lights came on on the dashboard of Kevin's mother's car.

17. One shop said it was the alternator. "$600, please."

18. We took it somewhere else.

19. "The alternator's fine. No charge." We took the car home. No more lights on the dashboard.

20. Meanwhile, we're shopping for a new-to-us van.

21. Kevin and I drove to Birmingham to look at a few. Randomly, a friend of ours loaned us his GPS for our trip.

22. First we drove a Mazda MPV, which is what we had and loved. We thought we'd probably buy this one but decided to look at another van before making our final decision.

23. We drove a Honda Odyssey and liked it better than the MPV.

24. Kevin and I talked about it over a Coke and chocolate chip cookies at McDonald's in Springville, Alabama.

25. The small-town car dealer, his dad, and his two young sons were sitting only a couple of tables away from us. They pretended not to see us.

26. We drove down the street and hijacked somebody's wireless internet service so that we could do some last-minute further research.

27. We decided we'd make an offer on the Odyssey. We stopped and prayed that God would keep us from making an unwise decision. But it would need to be a fast intervention, since we were only a few buildings away from the car dealership.

28. Thirty seconds later, Kevin's dad called.

29. Kevin's dad is notorious for the in-depth researching of cars.

30. We got nervous, even though we had asked for this divine intervention.

31. His dad said to go for it.

32. Our eyes got big, and we shrugged our shoulders.

33. We went for it.

34. We now own a Honda Odyssey!

35. Kevin started the drive home in the van; I started my drive to a destination in the opposite direction in Kevin's mom's car.

36. Thirty minutes later, the car I was driving shut down. Literally shut down.

37. I coasted into the parking lot of Robin Hill Memorial Baptist Church somewhere outside of Oneonta, Alabama. Basically the middle of nowhere.

38. Trying not to panic--particularly since I had not been able to get a phone signal in this area earlier that day--I attempted to call Kevin.

39. Kevin answered the phone. PRAISE GOD!!!

40. Kevin made a U-turn.

41. I sat on the front porch of this church building, made myself breathe, prayed, read a chapter in my book, and watched a shirtless 10-year-old boy drive past me on a four-wheeler several times. Not one person stopped to ask me why I was sitting there.

42. An hour later, my knight in shining armor (yes, Kevin) came to my rescue! He was able to jump-start the car.

43. The randomly-borrowed GPS gave us directions to the nearest Auto Zone, which thankfully stayed open till 9:00. It was already after 7:00.

44. The car needed a new alternator. (You might remember this from #16-19.)

45. Since it was after 7:00, and we were in Oneonta, Alabama, all mechanics had called it a night.

46. All but one, that is.

47. The guy at Auto Zone told us about Phillip, who has a big building next to his house and works on cars late into the night. We'd have to drive 15 minutes even further out into nothingness. But he'd take care of us.

48. Hmmmm . . .

49. We drove to Phillip's place.

50. Phillip is probably the kindest and most entertaining mechanic you'll ever meet. He and his assistant David worked for a long time to get the hard-to-reach alternator out of the Accord, all the while telling humorous stories and offering us a Dr. Pepper. It did take a while, but he got the job done. And he only wanted a little bit of money for his effort. The man had really helped us out, so we were glad to give him more than he asked for.

51. It's been a week since our last negative encounter with a vehicle.

52. Yes, I'm praying!

53. Since Kevin was at no fault for the wreck, our insurance company is covering everything, including our deductible!!! Definitely an answer to one of those prayers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Fun Surprise

Last week my family enjoyed some vacation time at the beach with Kevin's parents and his brother's family. We were having such a great time together, but we knew we'd have to be leaving on Friday morning. So Thursday evening we were all lingering on the beach. Suddenly Katie announces that she has to use the bathroom, so I volunteered to take her. As she and I began to walk off, Kevin said, "Why don't you go ahead and take your shower and start getting yourself ready?"

"Okaaayy," I said with a puzzled look on my face.

"Do you trust me?," my husband grinned.

I did trust him. And I could tell it would be worth it to trust him. So Katie and I went up to the condo, and I found something for her to watch on TV while I took my shower. (Actually, the channel surfing took some time, because that was when Michael Jackson's sudden death was all over every station! So I watched that for a few minutes.) After I had gotten out of the shower, Kevin, Callie, and Caleb came up to the room, and Kevin started getting the kids dressed. I didn't say anything out loud, but secretly I was disappointed that the kids seemed to be a part of his plan for the evening. I had been hoping we were going out on a date. So then I was even more perplexed when he started packing up all our stuff!

"Are we leaving?!?!," I asked him with raised eyebrows.

"Yes," he grinned again. "Do you still trust me?"

I did, so I started helping him pack our stuff. I was pretty excited, even though I was completely in the dark about what was going on. You see, it seems to be a bit difficult to pull a complete surprise on me. It's not that I sneak around and try to find things out. I'm just perceptive.

So it's 8:45 at night, and we pull out of the parking lot in Destin, Florida. The kids asked if they could watch a movie on the portable player, and Kevin said they could. We're going to be driving long enough for them to watch a whole movie?, I thought to myself. Where in the world are we going?

Kevin turned on Finding Nemo for the kids. Katie fell asleep so fast, so I'm not even sure she saw Nemo get taken. Caleb and I both fell asleep somewhere between the EAC and Dory's discovery that she could speak whale. When I woke up, we were in Mobile, Alabama, but that was just a pit stop. Finally, at 1:45 in the morning, we pulled into our surprise destination, which was . . .

my in-laws' house.

I was so confused. And tired. And my in-laws were still at the beach! Still, I played along. Kevin and I proceeded to transfer our sleeping children from the van to the house, and then we went to sleep ourselves.

I did get to sleep in some the next morning, which was nice. As I got up and got myself ready for . . . something . . . , Kevin was again packing up our stuff and reloading the van. As we all piled back in, Katie asked if they could watch Finding Nemo, since she didn't get to see it the night before. Then Caleb asked Callie if they actually found Nemo. We laughed pretty hard at that, since they've all seen the movie dozens of times. But Kevin told them there wasn't enough time for a movie on this drive, which was kind-of disappointing to me, since we were in Magee, Mississippi. But I rode and kept quiet, when, to my astonishment, we pulled up to . . .


Yep, still surprising. We ate breakfast there, which was nice, I'll admit. But I was really having a hard time fighting the urge to ask probing questions. I knew Kevin was eating up the fact that I was in such suspense, so I didn't try to spoil it.

Here's where it gets better. We left McDonald's and started driving again. And this time, we pulled up to . . .

my mother's house.

She didn't act all that surprised to see us, so I figured she was in on it. Kevin and I didn't stay very long, but we did leave the kids with her. So I was going to get that date after all! The kids didn't seem very concerned. They just waved us off and started gathering all the stuffed animals in Cammie's house to play Pet School.

Alright, this is more like it!, I thought. It's just the two of us off on a surprise adventure together. So I settled back in the van and started browsing through a magazine. I figured we'd be on the road for a while. But we actually only drove about an hour. And much to my surprise, we pulled up to see . . .

our own house.

Okay, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Still, I played along.

We went into the house, and Kevin told me I had 45 minutes to put on a dress and grab anything else I might need for an overnight stay. "Oh, and get the passports!," he said. I was pretty sure that was just a crazy thing to throw me off and keep me in the dark, but I did it anyway. We got back in the van and proceeded to drive north.

Three and a half hours later, we finally reached our destination . . .


But I still didn't know why we were there. We parked downtown and walked to Majestic Grille, where we had reservations. The seating was for four, though, and Kevin told the waitress not to remove the other two place settings. Before the expected guests arrived, however, Kevin accidentally let their names slip . . .

Tiffiny and Richard!

It was a fun surprise, because Tiffiny and Richard are some of my favorite people! And since Tiffiny didn't know whom they were coming to meet, we got to hide behind our menus till they got to our table.

We enjoyed a nice meal and then walked over to The Orpheum Theater, where we got to see . . .


The play was so amazing and fun and full of surprises, and we had both been wanting to see it! I was so proud of my sweet husband for pulling off such an amazing surprise for me. I will never forget it. Thank you, Kevin!

Sidenote: Kevin told me later that he had gotten the dates wrong and had been thinking all along that the play was on Saturday night. So when Richard e-mailed him on Thursday morning and said, "See ya Friday night!," Kevin went into panic/Plan B mode, because we suddenly were having to leave the beach early. His family wondered how he was going to get me to go along with it without having to spoil the surprise. Haha! It just makes for an even better story, in my opinion.

To Everything, There is a Season

Here is the link to my article in Parents & Kids magazine: