I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the word smooth doesn't seem to be in this family's vernacular. We seem to find a way to screw everything up in some way, shape or form. Now this may just mean that I forget to pick up my reusable shopping bags before I go to the commissary, or it may mean that I let my son lock himself and my keys in the car. Either way, our adventures are never as smooth as I think they should be when I'm planning them. I imagine in a parallel universe, there is a Gallagher family that is so coordinated, so immaculate in their planning and executing of mundane tasks that they have gone beyond smooth to slippery. Because they've stolen our mojo. I'm considering locking us in the house and wrapping the entire thing in bubble wrap. It's safer for the rest of you that way.
We were supposed to make the drive to Newman on Friday so that we could happily greet Nana and Papa when they returned from their hot-air balloon race around the world (or their transatlantic cruise - you pick), but a couple of things went wrong before we even started. The biggest of which was Sweet Girl coming down with a mystery fever. This happens way more than I'd like, but her doctor seems to think this is part of normal toddler stuff and I don't need to worry about it. In other words, stop calling the office. So we'll leave on Saturday, not a big deal.
Saturday morning I do my normal packing routine of shoving every.single.thing we own into a duffel bag and jamming it in the car. And because I'm traveling with a kid on a special elimination diet, I also shove every.single.thing she can eat in a bag and a cooler and shoehorn those into the car leaving room for the kids, the dog, and the 30,000 blankets I am apparently required to schlep around the country for the rest of my natural life. Of course while I'm distracted doing this, Little Man takes the opportunity to "feed" the dog one last time by picking up a piece of kibble, licking it, and shoving it in the general direction of Oreo's mouth. In case you're wondering, Beneful is not gluten free nor is it what I normally put on Little Man's menu. Also, Oreo is evidently adverse to being fed like a baby bird. These are standards I did not know he had, as he is often wont to "clean" the drip pan under the grill. Seriously? Just get in the car.
Once on the road things are going well. Sweet Girl is kicking it to the Alphabet March at volume 11 and Little Man is happy to clap along. A quick stop for gas and then we're already through Kentucky! Then things go from good to not-so-good. An indicator light on the dash says something's wonky with the rear driver's side tire. The same tire I had to have patched last week because there was a screw in it. That's odd. And there isn't a place to pull off and take a look, so I keep driving with the plan to stop in Marion (of puke stop fame) to take a look and get the kids something other than animal feed for lunch. Then I hear a pop and the car gets a little difficult to steer. Flat tire. Yay!
I throw on the emergency flashers and get the car onto the shoulder of the interstate. I put a movie in for the peanut gallery and grab my phone to call USAA Roadside Assistance (of Little Man locking himself in the car fame). I'm halfway through the call when the reception starts to break up. And then the call gets dropped entirely. Hhmm. Call again. Halfway through the call gets dropped again. Things are going from not-so-good to bad here. I get a little panicky when I realize I only have two options if my cell service is going to keep dropping calls like they're hot: I can get the owner's manual out, find my inner tough girl, and put the spare on myself (btw, wheel locks are new to me) or I can crack the windows for the dog, load the kids in the double stroller and walk the mile to the next exit where I'm not really sure there's anything/anyone to help the crazy woman who just walked a mile along an interstate with two children in a stroller. Please, let this call go through. And it did.
While I wait for my knight in shiny white Toyota pick-up, I start unloading the cargo container so the spare is accessible. A quick look at the sky confirms that it could possibly start to rain at any moment which would make the tire-changing more obnoxious than it already is and get all of our worldly possessions wet as they sit alongside the road. I realize that I'll need to remove the liner from the back of the car to access the spare, so I pile our duffel atop our stroller and drape the liner over the pile with the hopes that it would keep our things somewhat dry if it starts to rain. Everything else I can fit in and around Sweet Girl and Little Man who are learning the intricacies to beach blanket luaus. I'm feeling somewhat clever and very relieved when the truck shows up. Then he says something to the effect of "What is that?" while looking at my makeshift "umbrella for all of our things." Not feeling so clever anymore but still very relieved. The very nice man gets the spare on and in the mean time compliments my dog, says my kids are cute, thanks me for my husband's service. He then offers to block traffic so I can get the donut up to speed ("not over 60 mph but really stick to 55") and tells me to stop in Marion for a new tire. This one was wrecked due to a nail in it. Seriously? OK, we'll be stopping in Marion. We reload and move on down the road.
Our first stop warrants a "We don't have that size of tire in stock. We can order it." Um, thanks but we need it, oh I don't know, today since I just told you that we were traveling from point A to point B and were rocking a donut. Our second stop has the tire needed but are "really busy - are you sure you want to wait?" Well we're kind of stuck, so yes I'm sure we want to wait. They take the keys and pull the car into the garage out of the now-blazing sun so Oreo doesn't get overheated. I take the kids to find lunch and kill a whole bunch of time. Our gfcf options are extremely limited and it ends up that the kids get the super nutritious lunch of Lay's potato chips. At least the Beneful had protein and nutrients. We walk the mall, we terrorize a toy store, we nearly fall in a fountain, we make me sweat carrying Little Man around while trying to herd Sweet Girl through the mall. This part is mostly a typical day for us. About three hours after we dropped the car off we get a call that it's ready. We pay, get the keys, find out Oreo has become the shop mascot, somehow manage to make a garage tech think my husband is in prison, and then I put the kids in the car. Again that's all fairly typical for us.
Once we got back on the road, the rest of the trip went smoothly if you can imagine that. We made it to Nana and Papa's where Aunt Carrie was waiting. Boy is that new tire pretty. And so full of air! Unfortunately, we seemed to pass our travel charms on to Nana and Papa. You'll have to ask them about their wonderful trip that would never end. Me, I'm remembering all of those that served and are serving our country so that I can do things like travel freely to see my family if not travel smoothly. Thank you for your sacrifice. To show my appreciation I'm going to bubble tape my kids in the house. It really is safer that way.