Monday, August 25, 2014

A Crazy Drive, part 1


Some say I am crazy.  But I really didn't have a choice.  Eric was planning on flying to his 2nd cousin's wedding.  These are the California cousins, and while in general, one wouldn't be that close to cousins that live in California, we got closer to this branch of the his clan when we were stationed in LA for two years right after we got married.  I would have loved to go to the wedding too, but flying a family of 5 west is just plain crazy.  So we decided to send Eric on standby with his parents.  He flew out last Friday night.  When we found out about Suzy, we debated what to do.  I didn't want him to cancel.  I wanted him to Represent us.  Little did I know JUST how much we were going to need this Joyous Occasion.  While Eric was on the plane Friday night, his Grandfather Wilbur passed away.
We had already decided though, that we would change Eric's standby flight to go to Buffalo instead of returning to Indy.  And I would drive with the boys to Buffalo, while he was in California.

Yes, you read that right, I drove to Buffalo, ALONE with the three boys.

My family and friends thought we were crazy.  I can't handle being alone with them for 2 days at home, let alone on the road, right?!  But I needed to go to the Service for Suzy.  Eric debated not going, but the $ had been spent, the plans set, and frankly, since we'd be going to a funeral, he needed some joyous time with his family.   I wanted him to go.  Eric made the offer to return Sunday morning, and I could drive immediately to Buffalo alone, then I wouldn't have to make it a 2 day drive.  But when Chris overheard that, he told us he wanted to go to NY.  Oh yeah, I thought, he just wants to miss school, and play with the DVD player and Ipad while I drive.  But No, that wasn't it.  I asked him why he wanted to go?  He told us, "Because I loved Suzy."

Well, that did it.  OK.  I can't argue with that.  Heck, that's pretty much the same reason I was willing to cross the country to go to her funeral, in theory spending more time on the road than at our destination, but I also Loved Suzy.  And that was good enough reason for me.

So that was the Plan.  I would leave Indy Saturday morning, arrive in Buffalo sometime Sunday, the funeral was to be Monday, we'd leave Tuesday, and get back Wednesday.  Oy.  You know, writing it out, after the fact, does kind of make it sound crazy.  But it wasn't just crazy.  It was Necessary.

The boys promised me they would be good on the road with me.  I told them, they'd have to look out for each other, because if I was driving, I wouldn't be able to do everything for them.  I'd need special help from them with the jobs Daddy normally does, like navigating and food distribution, and taking care of Jacob.  So Sam's job became taking care of Jacob.  He's very good at it naturally, and Christopher was going to be my Navigator.

Well, then Christopher, even with his broken hand made the promotion for Karate class, from Blue Belt to Purple.  And the promotion ceremony was to be Saturday morning.  OK, so we attend that first, then we'll hit the road.  So we did.  I wanted to load up the car and get all packed up before we went to Karate.  They said they'd help.  They said they'd be good.  They didn't.  I had a monster bitchin' headache by 8 am from all my screaming.  They'd woken up at 6:15, and woke Jacob.  We hadn't even left town, and I was rethinking all of it.  But then they were Good at Karate.

Now, because I was bringing the Crazy (much like the Bringing da Noise and da Funk) by bringing both little brothers, we stayed outside the dojo for the promotion ceremony.   Here was my Blue Belt, newly promoted level 3 on his kata Pinan Nidan as he was getting ready.  

And when it was time to receive his purple belt, I was outside of the room, juggling Jacob with a Silly Sams.

But this time, they let the parents come in and tie the new belt on to each kid.  
I was honored. 
So I left Jacob SCREAMING his head off so I could go tie Chris's belt. 
I snapped a picture of my Proud Purple Belt, and ran in and grabbed the littlest fusspot. 

After the belt ceremony, we stopped off at the house for food, water, let Chris change, go for pee stops and hit the road.  

I was happily surprised, how well they did.  Each boy had a screen, they swapped between the ipad and the dvd player.   And Jacob crashed after we were on the phone for about an hour.  We'd had some snacks as soon as we hit the highway, so I hoped we could hold off for lunch until we hit Greenfield, after being on the road an hour.  Well, we did great . And the kids were perfectly content when we hit Greenfield, so I blew right on by.  And then we stopped.   

We stopped after an hour.  We'd barely crossed town, and we get stopped.  Suddenly I was stuck behind a semi going 4 miles an hour.  For an hour and a half.    For a construction zone.  

And I learned something about myself.  

I no longer feel comfortable driving behind a semi in a construction zone.  
That's where Suzy died.   We think she fell asleep at the wheel as she approached the semi.  And the semi didn't have some kind of guard rail that it should have.  Now I find myself looking at the lower rear guardrails on all semis everywhere I drive.  And being stuck behind a semi, staring at that guard rail for the better part of an hour...well, let's just say Thank God I had my oils!

I just happened to have packed my Everyday oils, my little 10 pack starter kit.   And when I got stressed, I put Stress Away on a tissue and stuffed it into my air vent.  I put Joy on myself and smelled it when I thought too much about Suz.   It's supposed to be good for Grief/Loss, and Anxiety and Depression.  I can honestly say it Works.   And when the pain of travel was getting to me, and I could feel a tension headache starting in my neck, I reached in my purse and pulled out my peppermint roll on.   I felt better.  I kid you not.   These oils helped me! 

We made it into Ohio!  It was 2:30 when we stopped in Connorsville for our late lunch.  I'd promised the boys some McDonald's for lunch....luckily, they were so engrossed in their screens, they didn't notice until after the traffic jam that they were hungry.  I packed plenty of snacks, and listened to a lot of Octonauts and Batman: Brave and Bold music.  Luckily, it didn't take us too much longer after lunch to do that.  We then implemented something new - the Pee Cup.   I put an empty restaurant cup in the backseat, and when Chris told me he had to pee, just like in Chicago, at a time when there was Nothing Else around.  I told him to use the Pee Cup.  He unbuckled, schooched to the end of his chair and made his deposit.  I tossed him the germy squirts, he put on the lid, and we pitched the cup at the next rest stop.  Of course with every restaurant stop, we set aside an empty cup, removing the straw for use as the pee cup.  They loved being able to use this, and it saved me from having 1/2 hour stops every hour or two.  All I wanted was to get past Columbus, maybe half way there, I would have felt good if we'd have made it more than halfway, which the halfway point is between Columbus and Cleveland.  

The weather was kind of crummy our entire drive.  It was misty and rainy in Indiana.  Didn't help my stress there.  In Ohio, we continued to alternate between cloudy and rainy.  And just as we alternated with the weather, we alternated between happy boys and argumentative boys.   

Jacob was happy - when he was being entertained by his brothers.  
Christopher was less than enthusiastic when I would make him do one worksheet of homework for every show he wanted to watch  on the dvd.  However, just on our first day, I was rather proud of myself that he got half his math done for the half week that we'd be missing.   His teacher had sent home work for him.  Chris was good at distributing, when it was convenient.  About 5, they started to get tired of driving, I could tell.  They started arguing with each other, not sharing things.   I had to yell a bit.   I won't say the trip was without yelling.  It wasn't.   But I didn't have to pull over.  I didn't have to beat anyone.  I do recall yelling at Chris, "You promised me you'd be good!"  And he replied, "I told you I would TRY!"  Oh that made me mad.  Because if he'd said Try, I would have told him Do or Do Not, there is no Try.  I know he didn't say that.  But you know 3 days had passed, I couldn't convince him or change anything.  I felt like he'd gone back on a promise to me.   But that hurt my feelings.  I really needed him to be on super best behavior.  And he wasn't.  

It was about that time, I decided we wouldn't be stopping to eat dinner in public.  We had plenty of snack food in the car.  And we'd had a late big lunch, I didn't need a full dinner.  Neither did they, so they said.  But by Cleveland, they were changing their minds.  

We hit Cleveland, and finally saw the sun shine.   

But it didn't last.  It started raining again just as we hit the north side of Cleveland.  I had hoped to get to Erie, or anywhere in Pennsylvania.  But it turns out, once you pass Cleveland, which we did a bit after 6, there is still like another hour to the Ohio border.  The kids started to lose it.  

So I hammed up the next town, Ashtabula, because it was fun to say, and there were some hotels, I said we'd stop there.   We did.  But the first hotel wanted to charge us 200$ for the night!  No Way!  And then the next one was full.  And the one after that was full too.  Uh Oh.  What is there some kind of game or something in Ashtabula?  We got back on the highway, and kept going.  The boys were starting to cry.  Chris said he felt like Jesus, and I was like, What?!  He said, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the Inn either.  No hotels for them to stay.  I laughed, and told him, yes, they had to sleep in the barn, but even if we have to keep driving late into the night, our minivan is still a lot nicer than a barn. 

I stopped at the next hotel I could find, a Days Inn in Conneaut, (pronounced Connie - ought) OH.  And they wanted to charge me 169, with fees it was practically 200$ anyway.  I should have stayed in Ashtabula.  But we were all Done.  We needed to stop for the night.  I slapped down my card.  I was exhausted.  The boys were thrilled, blithering, but thrilled.  Then I had to remind them, there was not going to be any swimming.  Once we got in our room, I was grossed out, the whole hall reeked like smoke.  Like 30 years worth of smoke had permeated the walls and the carpets.  The bedding wasn't stinky, but it was overwhelmed by that musty old cigarette smoke smell.  So I broke out my oils again, and put some Purification on a tissue in the air conditioner vent.  I'm telling you, I read these tricks online, and laughed, thinking how crazy and desperate someone must be to put Essential Oils on a tissue to get rid of a smell, that was probably only mildly offensive.  Well, this was gross.  And the oils Worked.  I was unloading all our screens and things that needed charging, so I had to step back out without the boys, and by the time I got back, the room smelled better than the hall.  In just moments it smelled better. I was amazed.  And I didn't get sick or anything, or have some kind of reaction, like I do normally when I'm around smoke or smokey stuff.   I know, it sounds like I'm making it up, or trying to sell something.  But seriously, these things Work.  I put the big boys on one full bed, and Jake and I in another, and within 15 minutes of laying down, they were all three out cold.  It was sweet to see them sleep.  And Eric told me he was on his way to the wedding.  I couldn't believe I made it.  Stayed in a hotel with just the kids and I.  We did it.  Day 1 Done. And we made it over halfway there.  I was exhausted, and yes, maybe they thought I was a little crazy.  But I was proud of myself.  And proud of my boys!