Everything Does Not Come Up Roses!!

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I had thought my next blog would be some warm and fuzzy Christmas Day stories, and while I do have a few to share, I will save them for tomorrow. This morning, a fellow blogger left me a comment that said it would be good to read a few of the not-so-rosy-peach stories, and ironically my day today has presented the opportunity to entertain you will my tales of woe.

Let’s just say that from the moment I opened my eyes I knew I would be better off going back to bed, but I failed to take my own advice. So, I started my day with a mad dash to the bank (pause to tell you that I went outside to find my favorite car blocked in, I tried not to sweat it by grabbing the keys to the giant van, which I hate driving anyway, only to discover it had a dead battery, so I had to move Daddy’s truck and defrost my frozen Yukon to get out of the driveway) to get my deposit there before the bookkeeper got to work. Call it the last small town advantage, our credit union still posts things manually, and it has saved my butt a time or two (okay, more like a time or two hundred)! So I skid into the bank by the hair on my head, and crisis number one (overdrawn account) was averted.

When I got home, I discovered that my 10-year-old niece and 8-year-old son had been up late last night, and they left out the milk, the cheese, and spilled chocolate milk all over my computer desk… Don’t these kids ever go to sleep? And one of our beloved dogs (heaven forbid I ever again wish them away) decided to entertain herself by tearing up the kitchen trash all over the place. So we began the tedious job of cleaning up the house, still somewhat a mess from Christmas, and it wasn’t going too well. Daddy thought it was a good idea to punish the dog by yelling at her and threatening to throw her in the trash, which didn’t go over well with the son who owns and loves the naughty canine. Everyone started hollering at everyone, and suddenly, teenagers felt the need to tell Mommy that she is wrong! Oh, that NEVER goes over well…. Mommy says you cannot throw the dog in the trash can. She has no idea at this point what she is even in trouble for… if you didn’t catch her in the act, she gets away scott free… that’s just the way it works. You can only punish them if you can catch them, without a doubt, in the act! That’s my rule, and it goes for small children and dogs just the same. Otherwise, you can never be quite sure that they know what they’re being punished for, or IF you really got the right culprit… because in a zoo, it’s always possible that someone else really did do it… But finally, the completely blown out of proportion argument managed to simmer down long enough for bags to get packed and car to get loaded.

Now the plan was to make a quick trip to Houston, visit an Uncle and Aunt, and an old high school friend of mine, and just get the kids out of the house for a day or so without spending very much money…. Of course, we got about an hour out-of-town when I realized that I did not stop by and pay the water bill. Now, for those of you who live in small towns, you know, the water bill is not one you can float by a month or two… you forget that one and they drive out and lock the meter. (This is a lesson learned the hard way years ago!) Then they charge you $30 to come back by and unlock it… so panic set in pretty quick. I dialed their number expecting to hear “tough luck”, but instead, I was treated with sympathy, and crisis number 2 (no water) was averted!

Should have known I was pushing my luck!!

Got half way to Houston when I got the text that the uncle we were planning to visit had been in a car accident and wasn’t feeling too well. He wasn’t critically injured, but definitely too banged up for a visit with the zoo crew. And bless the aunt, she has a fractured ankle, after a string of recent bad luck, it seemed as though all I could say was “I hope things are better soon!” I could tell she felt bad to cancel our visit, but I have learned that for someone not feeling at the top of their game, the zoo crew can be a bit much, so my understanding goes without saying! Still, I thought the day might be salvageable.

Only, the old friend of mine happens to be a trauma nurse… and he happened to be MIA, no calls, no texts, and there we were in Houston, trying to get in touch with him, wondering where to drive the gigantic van to next. We stopped off and grabbed a cousin (just what we were needing, more kids!) and decided we could take this brood to the mall- not just any mall, THE GALLERIA!

Can we do this? Yes, we can! Or so we thought…. We visited not one, not two, but three stories of shops and stores! The children were thrilled by the many rides we took up and down escalators. This was a completely new experience for some of them, and little things like water fountains mesmerized them. Blondie spent a hundred dollars (Christmas money) at Victoria’s Secret, with a giddy grin on her face the entire time. I passed on my theory that when buying bras, you get what you pay for, and its the one department where I never scrimp. One or two good bras beats a dozen Wal-mart replicas. Things seemed to be looking up, but then, I should have known better than to count on that.

We made the trip down to the center where the ice skating rink was located. We made the stupid mistake of telling the kids “let’s go ice skating!” before we checked into it. I mean its skating right? How much could that cost? $5, $6? Surely….

NOT! It was $14.50 a child! You’ve got to be kidding me! $150 to take the family out on the ice, so we can most definitely bust our booties for a couple of hours? Not no, but h-e-double hockey sticks NO! Even if I had felt compelled to spend that much, it was simply an impossibility. You can’t spend what you don’t have, and as I have blogged before, there is no plastic to float by on in this house. NONE! Zero, zip, zilch, NADA! We either have it, or we don’t. Sometimes I wish it weren’t that way, but then I am always thankful when scraping the bottom of the barrel that I don’t have credit card statements to add to my already overwhelming pile of bills. Disappointed children pouted all the way back to the car.

Meanwhile, my feverish texts and calls to my friend finally solicited a response, and it was BAD NEWS! He had been (as Daddy correctly guessed) called in to work. It was going to be at least 8pm before he would be able to get off. We tried and tried to wait. We went to McDonald’s where I ordered the 50 piece nugget meal. The girl looked at me and said “do we have that?” So, I pointed to sign above her head that said “50 piece nuggets” and she promptly went to get the shift leader, who pulled the shift manager, who called upon the store manager who punched a few buttons and said “oh yeah, we do have that”. Yep, just like the sign said… So I finally got the 50 nuggets, after it took an act of congress for her to discover that indeed, one can order 2 drinks and 2 fries with that bucket of nuggets… I’m supposing she doesn’t get many customers with seven kids and a tight budget, and I am further supposing that she doesn’t spend much time looking around at huge visual displays in her place of employment. Perhaps her texting keeps her mind occupied, because it was the one thing she seemed to do with competence.

The kids did enjoy the two hours we allowed them to run and play on the indoor play-land… I am seriously considering purchasing one of those for the back yard! But by 7pm, we couldn’t stall any longer, and decided to head home. No visit with my old friend, no heated swimming pool, and no more chicken nuggets or apple pies from McNasty’s… I mean McDonald’s.  On the way home, we tried to let time catch up to us, stopping at Northern Tools- where Daddy found nothing he needed and Old Navy- where all the $15 jeans had been picked through until only oddball sizes still existed on the shelves.  I guess an unfruitful shopping venture is a good thing when the bank account is feeling a little picked through too…

So finally by 8:30 we gave up and headed home, and good thing we did. My poor friend was still at work at 9:30. So much for his vacation! I guess there are some professions where the word VACATION means very little. Growing up with a fireman for a dad, I certainly know that sometimes, duty just calls… and we should be grateful to all the emergency personnel of the world for the many holidays and vacations they continually sacrifice. However, should I venture to the polluted big city ever again, I think I am going to sabotage his cell phone so that duty will have to call the next guy on the list…

The icing on the cake was that someone in the backseat felt the need to pass gas every 5 miles the last hour of our trip home. It was probably the Jack in the Crack tacos we fed them, 2 for a dollar is not always a bargain my friends! Sometimes, you pay dearly for that in the end… So, now you know, not everything in our world has a happy ending. It doesn’t always come up roses! We spent our day mostly in the car, and didn’t accomplish any of the things we set out to do.  The night ended with one set of peed in pants, a whole bunch of cranky kids, a disappointed Daddy who didn’t get to give an impromptu trip, and a mommy who was doing her best to laugh it all off with a “maybe this non-vacation just wasn’t meant to be” attitude. There was no one to blame for this day gone wrong, it was just a series of unfortunate events. It happens… With this last sentence I am headed off to bed, praying that certain children will sleep late tomorrow… but you know what I do when I don’t get my happy ending? I just look for the new beginning…

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