We had quite a year in 2017 with selling our house, neck surgery for me, moving to a different state, living in a hotel for 6 weeks, moving into a new house, a surprise pregnancy, a difficult miscarriage, lots of illness, major home repairs on our “new” home, and my husband, Jeff, breaking his ankle and foot on Thanksgiving day.
We ended the year with a trip home to Arizona to spend time with our extended families that didn’t go at all as planned. I try really hard not to use social media (or the blog) to vent or whine about things going wrong. So its taken a month, but I can now laugh at how ridiculously wrong the whole thing went. So, I guess that means its time to share and maybe you can laugh with me!
I was hesitant to even go on the trip because Jeff wasn’t able to do much with a cast on his leg which meant most of the work would fall on me. And a trip with 5 kids under 10, especially at Christmas, is a lot of work!! But we went for Christmas last year and at my family’s Christmas party we won this silly singing Christmas tree thing during one of the games. It was one of those things from our childhood that we all laughed and laughed about. So, when my mom surprised us with it as a game prize, we joked that whoever won it would get it for a year and then have to bring it back the next year for another family to win. So I felt this need to go back since we had to bring the singing Christmas tree for someone else to win. And we had also decided to have Evie, our 8 year old, baptized there so all our extended family could be there for that special day. It was a good plan that went horribly wrong.
The day before we left, the boys told me their bedroom floor was wet. I was worried about what kind of bodily fluids I was going to be cleaning up but they both swore it wasn’t from them. As I felt around more, it was obvious there was a problem. So, we pulled back the carpet and found a major puddle under the carpet pad. It looked like it was probably coming from the master shower on the other side of the wall. Since I was still trying to get 7 people packed up for a trip and Jeff couldn’t do much, I put him to work making calls to the homeowner’s insurance and plumbers. Since it was right before Christmas, a plumber couldn’t be scheduled for a week. And since we were going to have to wait for a plumber until after Christmas anyway, we decided to go ahead and go on our trip. So, added to an already crazy busy day of prepping for a trip, I pulled back the carpet and pad, dried them out as best as I could, and Jeff turned off the water main as we drove out of town, praying for the best.
The drive went as well as could be expected when you consider 5 kids (ages 3-10) crammed in a car with two sleep deprived adults for 15 hours in one day and a dvd player that had worked the night before but refused to work on the trip. We were staying at my parents’ mountain home in Snowflake, AZ and crammed into their house along with a couple of my siblings and more than a dozen kids. My parent’s have a great space off their bedroom that they laid out wall to wall sleeping bags for the kids to crash at night. My mom joked about it sounding like a tuberculosis ward because everybody brought coughing kids with them. But we were all having a great time despite the coughs.
My brother-in-law is an optometrist and made our first medical diagnosis of the trip. Breanna (3 yrs old) had woken up the morning we left home with goopy, crusty eyes. I had just wiped them off and gone on with the trip. But by the next day, it was worse and they were continuing to drain all day. He was sure it was conjunctivitis and was luckily able to get us some eye drops to help.
It only got worse from there. The first full day we were there, we had kids throwing up. Luckily, they made it to the bathroom and over the toilet. We hoped it was just a fluke because traveling with kids can kind of throw their little bodies for a loop sometimes. But we weren’t that lucky!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with sickness and by then we knew that things were going to be really bad. We were planning to drive 3 hours away to stay with my in-laws in Gilbert (Phoenix area) a couple days after Christmas. My parents had to head to their other house in Mesa (Phoenix area) for their responsibilities and we were planning to leave Snowflake at that same time. But my mother-in-law can end up in the hospital when exposed to stomach bugs, flu, etc. So, we had to cancel our plans to stay with them. The kids were coughing so bad, running fevers, miserable, and there was still some throwing up going on. So, instead, my parent’s left and we stayed behind with our sick kids. Now, our trip to visit family had us in an empty house, 3 hours away from all grandparents, and with a bunch of sick kids. I just wanted to go home and take care of everyone there. But we had to stay for the baptism that was planned in a few days.
My dad had a doctor’s appointment after they left to their other house and he had a confirmed case of the flu. With how rotten we were all feeling (myself included), we decided a trip to urgent care was in order. Snowflake is a small town and we had to drive to another town 1/2 hour away to find an urgent care. We spent most of the morning there. The doctor was worried about swabbing all the kids and wanted to just test me and if it came back positive then he would test the kids. But I fought with him over it which was a good thing since I got a negative test result. We did get one confirmed case of the flu from Chase (10 yrs). We’re pretty sure we all had it but were just too far into it for a positive test result. Chase was just starting to get sick at that point.
They prescribed Tamiflu for all of us since we had one confirmed case of the flu in the family. We asked them to send the prescription to a pharmacy in Snowflake and figured it would be ready by the time we drove back there. We stopped at the pharmacy before going to my parent’s house and they hadn’t even received it yet. So, we went back to the house and waited a couple hours before calling the pharmacy to see if they had it yet. Still no. So, I called the urgent care back and it turned out they had sent the prescription to the wrong pharmacy. So, they were going to call it into the right one; they ended up calling me back to let me know that the pharmacy near us was completely out of Tamiflu. Not only that, but the pharmacy they had originally called was out of it too. They called around and finally found one pharmacy that had enough for us and was going to put it on hold for us so they didn’t run out . . . but it was in the town that the urgent care was in. So back in the car I went for another 1/2 hour drive to pick up a prescription. When I got there, they didn’t have the prescriptions ready and couldn’t even find anything for us. They finally located prescriptions for 2 of us. A few minutes later they found they other two but insisted they didn’t have one for Chase, who was the one who needed it most. A few minutes later, they finally found it and said they would now start working on filling them. I waited for what seemed like forever and finally got called up. They had them all filled except the one for Chase because they ran out of the dose that he needed! He got his prescription half filled and we were told we’d have to get the rest of it somewhere else. They couldn’t get the computer to work with this kind of a dosage so I would have to pay full price and then full price again for the rest of the prescription. I told them I didn’t even care at that point, I just wanted to get the medicine. Our co-pay turned out to only be $10 so it really wasn’t a huge deal for as desperate as I felt! By the time I made it back to my parent’s house, it had taken a full day for us to do urgent care and the pharmacy and we only ended up with half the medication Chase needed. (And we never were able to find a pharmacy with any Tamiflu in stock in Arizona or when we got back to Texas!)
On top of the flu, each night I had a kid throwing up. And this stomach bug was so bad that my kids that normally can make it to the toilet with no problem were waking up and vomiting before they could even stand up. They were sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. Yep, I was spending my nights, while everyone else was sleeping, running loads of sleeping bags through the wash, while I was still trying to recover from the flu myself. The last night we were there, Chase threw up over his own AND two other sleeping bags. Of course, I could only get one sleeping bag in the washing machine at a time. By this point, I was so exhausted and the idea of being awake washing 3 loads of sleeping bags just put me over the edge. I called my mom to give her an update and just bawled over the phone to her. I was soooooo done!
But the next morning, I managed to get everything packed and everyone loaded up and in the car to drive the 3 hours to where all our extended family lives and where we would be having the baptism. Before we even got out of the neighborhood, Landon (5 yrs) was sick to his stomach. Luckily, I keep one of those pink hospital tubs in the car for throw up emergencies. I tossed it back to him and he threw up. So, we had to find a spot (outside the neighborhood and not in someone’s yard!) to pull over and dump it and clean it out. We also made a stop at a 7-11 to buy some empty large drink cups so we had enough for whoever might throw up. It took us a full hour from the time I locked the door of my parent’s house to the time we actually pulled out of town. Landon threw up 2 more times on the drive that day.
As we pulled into Mesa, our brakes started making this horrible — and I mean horrible! — grinding sound. So, we got checked into a hotel and I left Jeff and the kids and sped straight for a repair shop that was closing in half an hour. $400 and 2 hours later, our brakes and shocks were fixed and the car was sounding so much better. It was well past our normal dinner time and poor Jeff was trapped at the hotel with 5 kids who were getting very restless. I stopped for fast food and got back to the hotel as quickly as possible. And then we got kids to bed since we had to be up and ready for the baptism the next morning.
The hotel stay was not in our original trip plan since we were planning to be staying with my in-laws. But when we knew we were going to have to stay in a hotel, we only knew of one option. We wanted to be close to where the baptism would be but it was in not the best area of town and we weren’t sure about what hotels would even be in the area. But just shy of 20 years ago (it was 20 years on Jan 10th), we had stayed at a La Quinta in that area after our wedding reception for our little one night honeymoon. It was a brand new hotel when we stayed there, their first week in business if I remember correctly, and it was really nice. We had no idea what it was like now, but figured it was a good option. When Jeff called to make a reservation this time, they answered the phone with comments about the “newly renovated La Quinta”. It was beautifully renovated but we had to laugh that this time around we had to get two separate rooms and Jeff slept in one room with two of the kids and I was in the other room with the other 3 kids. What a difference 20 years makes & what a funny early anniversary celebration it was!!
The next morning, I ran down to the hotel lobby to grab breakfast for all 7 of us. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of food to feed us but I didn’t want kids getting their church clothes dirty or going downstairs in pajamas so bringing it up to the room was the only option. I loaded up my arms and took up as much food as I could!
We managed to get ready and get to the church for the baptism with no problems — it was a pretty smooth and easy morning! We were having the baptism and putting on a lunch afterward for the extended family that would be there with us. Before we got inside, my sister was already there and let us know there was a scheduling conflict. Our mom had scheduled the kitchen, the gym (for the lunch), and the room we needed for the baptism. When we got there, the kitchen was full of people who were making something for a service project — they had also scheduled the kitchen. And the gym was decorated for a wedding reception — that had also been scheduled. When my mom arrived called the building scheduler to find out what was going on, he admitted there might be a little bit of overlap between the events. So now we were planning a lunch for 70+ people and had no place to have it or kitchen to prepare it. When my mom’s Bishop arrived for the baptism and she told him what was going on, he was not nearly as stressed out as we were. Instead, he blessed my life by sharing a family saying of his: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape. And everything really went okay. The people working in the kitchen were gone soon and we were able to get our food prepped. And after the baptism, we just had our friends and family help move some tables into the room we were already in to eat right there. It all worked out and we enjoyed our time with family. (Side note: I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turned out that the Bishop had been the drama teacher, Mr. C from the high school that I went to.)
Since Jeff’s parents would be at the baptism and we were still worried about getting my mother-in-law sick, we made Chase sit just outside the room where he could see into the room but wasn’t breathing the same air as everyone else. The poor kid felt miserable and was as white as a ghost. And on top of the flu, after we got to the church he started feeling sick to the stomach. Luckily, and gratefully, he made it to the restroom in time and there were no messes to clean up after him.
The baptism was beautiful and there was such a special spirit there. It was really great to be there with family and for Evie and her cousin, Crue, to get to share their baptism day. That night that I had bawled over the phone to my mom a thought had come into my mind while I was crying over everything and talking about how I wished we could just go home and be sick there. I remembered hearing, years earlier, a speaker named Jack Christensen talk about how Satan tries to distract us when we are about to have a great spiritual experience by throwing all sorts of obstacles in our way because he really doesn’t want us to have those great spiritual experiences. I truly feel like this trip did that for us, and I’m so glad we persevered and were still able to do the baptism as planned . . . when nothing else went as planned.
After we cleaned up and loaded everyone in the car, before we even left the parking lot, we had Lexi (5 yrs) throwing up in the car but she made it into one of those 7-11 drink cups that Jeff insisted we buy before we left Snowflake. She sat there retching over and over and completely filled it up — it was disgusting and by that point hilarious, too!! We ran a couple of errands and then started out on our drive. We were headed to my sister’s house in Thatcher which was a couple hours out of town and on our way back home to Texas. My family was all going to meet there to celebrate New Year’s Eve and we were excited to spend a couple more fun days before heading home. Thatcher is actually the town where I had attended a semester of college and later Jeff attended a semester, but where he had also proposed to me. So it would be fun to see some of the town again and reminisce with our 20th anniversary just a week and a half away. But right before going to bed that night, I happened to look online and see talk of a nasty ice storm heading through Texas. Being new to the area, we were worried about the roads and didn’t know how they would be to travel. We did not want to be out on a stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere and hit ice! So, we decided to skip the party and fun and instead headed out the very next morning to try to get ahead of the storm. We still hit quite a bit of ice as we drove but the roads were warm enough at that point that it didn’t cause us any problems and we made it home!
When we got home, there were no additional problems with the leak we had left behind and the carpet had finished drying out pretty well. We had a couple days to recuperate and then the kids headed back to school. And I swore I wouldn’t take another road trip for a good long time.