Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yes, This Is A True Story

"Hey, what's that in Carrie's driveway?  Is she going on a trip?  It looks like an airport shuttle van."

"Did she get a new job?  Maybe she's driving one of those park and ride vans to make a little extra money."

"Oh, maybe Brian finally started his own daycare!"

Nope.  That's just my new ride.  My new minivan.  Or should we call it the MAXI-VAN.  No, let's not call it that.  Sounds too much like maxi-pad.

As I mentioned in my last post, our minivan lost its transmission on the way to church on Sunday.  Some part of it snapped in half.  Which rendered the van undriveable and beyond reasonable repair.  It would need an entirely new transmission. Which would cost about $2000.  Which was very possibly more than the value of the van.  Plus, we were going to  have to get a vehicle with enough seats for our soon to be family of 8, so it seemed senseless to put that much extra money into the old van.  Mind you, we didn't plan to buy a new van until probably June, and only if we got really lucky on our tax return.  So this did not come at a great time!  But car trouble never seems to be convenient.

So as soon as our wonderful friend Melody had dropped us off at home (thank goodness for Melody!!!) I got online and started researching large family vehicles.  We were looking for a 12 passenger van with no bench seats, captains chairs instead.  This was such a specific sort of car that there were only a handful of them available within a 50 mile radius of our home. 

That evening some more wonderful friends named Geraldine and Mike said that we could borrow their (lovely, clean, unspoiled by toddler hands) car because Mike was going to be out of town for few days and it would just be sitting at the airport anyway.  What a life saver.  We could actually leave the house with the kids and go car shopping.  The next day we all hopped in their beautiful, vanilla scented car and headed out to the car dealership that seemed to have the best online deal for what we were looking for.  It also happened to be the farthest away from our house.  At least a full hour drive one way.  Go figure.

A little more than half way there and I hear screaming.  I turn around to discover that Grace has thrown up.  A lot.  OMG.  In Geraldine's pristine leather seated car.  OMG. 

By now we are, of course, in a terrible part of town.  But puke doesn't wait until you're in a nice neighborhood, now does it.  We take the first possible exit off the interstate, pull into the first possible driveway and find ourselves at a "pay by the hour" kind of motel, if you know what I mean.  We immediately agree that this is not where we want to stop and park the car.  We continue down the road a few more blocks and find a grocery store.  A little better.

We strategically lift Grace out of the car so as not to jostle any of the puke.  Miraculously, she has not hit the leather seats, only a small dollop on the carpet.  WhOOO!  I breathe a small sigh of relief and try not to inhale the scent coming off of Grace.  She is covered in goo.  So there in the parking lot we strip her down, try to repair her and the car with baby wipes and then re-dress her in a spare set of clothes. 

Oh yeah, we didn't have a spare set of clothes for Grace.  She's 4, what does she needs spare clothes for anymore. She doesn't have leaky diapers or really get dirty very often. OMG.

So we put her in a pair of Manny's pants, the only spare piece of clothing in the diaper bag (yes, Manny has a big butt, but his legs are considerably shorter than Grace's) and her fleece coat (it is 75 degrees outside).  That is all.  No shoes and socks, they've been defiled. 

Now what?  We decide to carry on, push forward.  We're more than halfway to the car dealership, what other disasters could lay in our path?  Oh what fools we are.

We continue down the highway and arrive at another bad neighborhood where the dealership is located.  It's one of those businesses where you can buy a car by making weekly payments to a greasy business manager with an extra long pinkie fingernail.  What are those for anyway?

Brian goes inside while I stay in the car with the kids.  He fills out some forms, test drives the car, fills out more forms.  I have now been sitting in the car for an hour.  The alternative is to go inside with all 4 kids.  No thanks.  Finally, Brian wants to make sure that we can safely attach our car seats to the van seats.  While Brian, JoJo, and I are testing the seat, Grace suddenly realizes that she can't see me anymore and she starts to panic. Our car is just on the other side of the van, but the van blocks her vision and she FREAKS out.  And wets her pants.  In Geraldine's car.

I come around the corner and Grace's tear streaked, hysterical face is pressed against the window of the car.  I can see that she is screaming and out of control.  When I open the door I see she is now wearing a very wet pair of Manny pants.  My poor girl.  She has had a really hard time emotionally as of late and not knowing where we were when she suddenly had to go to the bathroom was just too much for her.

I take JoJo's sweat shirt jacket, zip it up, put Grace's legs in the arm holes and turn it into a makeshift pair of pants.  This will get us home. I hope.

Brian comes out of the dealership and breaks some very bad news to me.  We have to come back to this place again TOMORROW.  NOOOOOOO!!!!!  They need a copy of our insurance, 3 pay stubs, 2 bills that show proof of residence, and a list of 5 references.  OMG. 

We head home.  It is now dark, we are hungry, Grace is half naked.  It's pretty late to go home and cook so just before we get home we stop into Taco Bell to grab some tacos.  While in the line of the drive through, wait for it, Grace throws up again!  Just 2 highway exits from our house.  UGGGG!  This time we were prepared.  We had given Grace a soda cup to get sick in if she felt it coming again.  The girl has good aim.  Not a drop on the car or herself.  But by now she is a sobbing, smelly mess. And I feel like one as well.

We get home and survive the night with no more puking.  We suspect it was car sickness brought on by watching DVDs on the big screen TV in Geraldine's wonderful car.  So as we head out the next day, arrive at the dealership without anyone puking, peeing, or even crying.  So far so good.  This time we have to both fill out forms and sign paperwork so we are forced to drag our entire circus act into the dealership.  Did I mention its not in a great neighborhood?  Most of the car salesmen are heavily tattooed and smoking cigars with the plastic filter tips out in front of the building.  We get a few stares.  OK, we get all the stares.  The crack addict and prostitute trying to buy a car that day are not nearly as interesting as my pack of puppies.

Clearly the business manager does not want us in his office for very long because this part of the car buying process happened with lightning speed.  Suddenly we owned the car and we were on our way.  By the time we got home the smell of puke had mostly dissipated from the back of Geraldine's car.  Our new van had not broken down or exploded on the long drive back.  And we are now the proud owners of a really big vehicle that makes that "BEEP BEEP BEEP" sound when you back up, like a garbage truck.  Our neighbors will always know when we're leaving the house.  It's a very glamorous ride!!!

OK, its not.  But its big.  And I have 3 extra spots that are ready for to be filled with baby car seats.  So lets bring'em on already!!!

The moral of the story:

No more TV watching in the car.
Never leave home without a change of clothes for every child.
Never loan anything to my family and assume you will get it back in the same condition!

And most definitely--don't say "Oh Lord, what else could go wrong this week" because just as soon as you do you will wake up and step into a puddle in your bathroom.  Yep, this morning I discovered our toilet has a small but steady leak in the tank. "Oh Lord, what else could go wrong this week"!!!  Oops, I wasn't supposed to say that. :)
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