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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Good Samaritan.

There's no way to put it bluntly.

This past Friday on my way home from Brainerd (about a 2 hour drive), my littles and I ran out of gas.

Like, completely.

Like, I was chatting away on the phone, hung up, realized the gas light was on and just as I switched lanes to get off on the next exit my car slowed down dramatically.

And then stopped.

First, after saying; "Oh no, oh no, oh no." I called J, hoping he'd give me the words of wisdom I needed.

Of course, not surprisingly, he didn't answer his cell phone being that he was w.o.r.k.i.n.g. {He did call me back after I called for help though.}

After a few moments of sitting there wondering what on earth I was going to do I remembered that we have this handy dandy "Emergency Road Side Assistance" service.

I grabbed the card out of the glove and called, thinking this was way easier than I thought it would be.

But oh, it wasn't.

I read my account number off for the woman on the other side of the phone.


The vehicle VIN. Our names and address.


"I am holding a membership card in my hand from YOUR company with this information on it that we have paid for, I don't understand." I said as I unbuckled H and E from their seats knowing that sitting in the car on the 90 degree day just wasn't going to work.

She added us to the system with hopes the glitch would be corrected. Found us on the computer GPS and promised help would be there within 45 minutes.

And as we hung up she verified my cell phone number so that they could call and verify help arrived in an hour.

So we got creative. With the windows on the driver side open and the doors open on the passenger side, my littles climbed about the car, munching on dry cereal I had packed in the trunk and playing with the buttons and gadgets and seat pockets.

Of course E used this time to fill her diaper with something disastorous and then H, oh my H, he too had to go potty.

Number two kind of potty.

So there I am on Highway 94, a mile away from the Clearwater exit, standing next to my four year old going to the bathroom on the side of the road.

And then using a paper Starbucks cup to toss the remnants far, far away from the vehicle.

The time dragged on. Drenched in sweat we finally hit the 45 minute mark.

Then the hour mark.

And then the hour and a half mark.

I desperately called J who was already leaving work to make the trek to where we were and we brainstormed.

I called our babysitter who was due to babysit that evening anyway and she agreed to grab some gas and come and find us 20 miles away and I would call her after I called the "Emergency Roadside Assistance" people and let her know if she wasn't needed.

So I called the number on the card again and after going through the same charade as last time and not finding our account number or VIN, she somehow eventually found us and asked if I was the one who was "locked out".

"Umm no. I'm out of gas."

"Oh yeah, they were there about 2 minutes ago." She tells me.

"Then they obviously helped someone else because my kids and I are still here."

She asks to place me on hold and check on it again and I stand there next to my car with my two littles wondering if this day will ever end and sure enough a car pulls over.

My help is here, is all I could think.

He walked over and asked if I needed help and what he could do and I realized he wasn't my Emergency Roadside guy but instead a Good Samaritan.

He offered to drive up to the next exit (one mile up) and get gas and a gas can and then drive the five miles back and turn around to come and find us and help us.

In nearly two hours he was the only one who stopped and offered any kind of assistance and up until he stopped I didn't think anything of it.

Once I was taken off of hold and the gal at Emergency Roadside Assistance told me my help would be there in about 20 minutes, I told her to cancel the call and that their idea of Emergency Roadside and my idea were two different things. I mean, I was one mile away from the nearest gas station. In the two hours I'd waited I could have walked to a gas station, gotten gas and walked back faster than their so called Emergency help could come out and help me?

I have never been happier to see a stranger.

I was happy and inspired as we drove off a little while later.

Why didn't anyone else stop? I wondered.

Why don't I ever stop? I wondered.

I want to be a Good Samaritan.

I had all but forgotten what they were. Didn't think they existed anymore.

I am so very thankful they do.

*Updated to add: The name of the company that we have a vehicle warranty and Emergency Roadside assistance through is PROTECTIVE and after failing to have contact with anyone who cared via phone, I have contacted them via their website.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Days 12-17: Wrapping Up.

We said our goodbyes to J and the bigs as they started their drive home and we settled in for some more adventures in Virginia.

It's taken me a lot longer to summarize and wrap up our trip and it's mostly because our summer has just been so very busy. We were home just ten days (one of which was a day at the cabin) and then headed to Brainerd for a week and when we got home this past Friday, I vowed to J that we are not going anywhere for awhile. Last count shows that the littles and I have spent 36 nights away from home since the end of May.

Now that we're settled, unpacked for good and feeling somewhat on top of life again. {I think?} I'm ready to wrap up our trip to Virginia.

Some of the things we enjoyed on our final days....

*We loved having some extra time with my aunt and uncle and their dog Lucy.


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Uncle Bruce, E and Lucy.

*We visited the Virginia Aquarium.



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*We spent time on the Boardwalk and the beach, both with my aunt and without. Walking, playing in the sand and of course, visiting the Boardwalk carnival.


*We visited the Virginia Zoo. {The nicest zoo I have ever been too!}




{This was so true of H that day, the sign reads: Dangerous Animal Homo Sapien Wild and Unpredictable...}


And what better way to end a trip to the zoo then a splash pad right there.

*H and I went to the Cinema Cafe and saw Marmaduke.


*And our last day we visited the most delicious bakery and then headed over to Ocean Breeze Waterpark. A miniature Wisconsin Dells like waterpark. My only negative about this was that I was alone with both H and E, meaning it was hard to do all the things we would have liked to do.



The entire trip was fantastic, while we were exhausted, we enjoyed every moment as much as we could.

I am not sure we could have packed in anymore than we did over the nearly three weeks.

We learned a lot about traveling with our kids, things we'd do again, things we wouldn't do again, things we'd do differently.

The pictures are printed and in a book already and that is a record. {I won't even tell you how behind I am on pictures!} It was a trip to remember and we will always be able to look back and remember the fun times we had!

Will there be roadtrips in our future?

I sure hope so!

Disclosure: Ocean Breeze Waterpark gave myself, H and E complimentary media passes/admission to the park.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 11: The Best Night Ever.

Day eleven was J and the bigs last full day on vacation before taking the long road trip home and J really wanted to go explore Yorktown and Historic Williamsburg. Because it was something I knew he really wanted to do, we all went along with it, but let me tell you, it was the longest day ever.


Aunt Laurie, T and M at lunch in Yorktown.

We seemed to hit traffic at all the wrong times. The sky went from grey to drizzly to hot and sunny in moments. And it felt like we saw way too little and spent way too much time in the car.

My aunt had planned a nice dinner at home that night for us and we also wanted to get some nice family pictures on the beach and by the time we got home from the all day adventure, we were exhausted and rushing about.

We held it together even though there was tension we were all trying to fight through. I started worrying that even if we managed to make it through dinner and down to the beach before sunset that it'd be a mess, the kids were tired, we were tired, I was feeling sad about J and the bigs soon departure. Sometimes our minds get a head of us.

And then something happened, because it just ended up being the best night ever.

The best.

We went and did our pictures. Everyone cooperated.



Then we went rented a bicycle for six and biked up and down the boardwalk. We had been talking about doing it since the day we arrived and saw the funny looking bikes going down the way.

We were laughing. Oh were we laughing.

Singing. Smiling. Just having a grand old time. It didn't matter that it was late at night and past all of our bedtimes. We were having fun and enjoying that one last night together.




We were all happy. Completely in love and happy about life and each other and just relishing in the night.


And after we returned the bicycle and met up with my aunt who was waiting down the way, we saw some musicians singing and playing. And there were people dancing.

And even though we were exhausted and way past all of our bedtimes, and we were sweating, we just danced. And danced and danced and danced with fireworks going off over the ocean.


It was a fabulous end to a not so fabulous day.

And as we walked to our van to drive the five blocks home for our last night all together, H was crumbling at our feet. He was tired, and spent, and there were some very hard days for him on vacation and T, just scooped up his not so little four year old brother and carried him.


This family of ours, I wouldn't trade for anything simply because, of the nights like this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Nine: Busch Gardens

Day nine of our trip led us to a place where we could discover a little something German, Italian and even a little something Sesame Street. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia is a land of many countries.


T and M were really looking forward to this day. H, didn't know what he was in for and surprisingly there was even many things for E to do.

We got there a little bit after it opened and stayed until it closed. I'm not sure how many families with four kids can say that, especially with two of those kids being younger than 5.

We packed it in, that's for sure.


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H's very first rollercoaster ride. You'll notice I'm not on this. I don't do rollercoasters. Ever.


He initially said he didn't like it though his face said otherwise. Then he said he did. And these days he's indifferent, I'll be curious to see what he says in the future at amusement parks.


E was not sure about Bert and Ernie being that close to her.




Aunt Laurie was a sport, riding rollercoasters and lots of other "adventure" rides that I steer clear of.

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This is how I see my H every single day. I love this smile and laugh.

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And E, what a trooper she was.

She napped on the go and went with the flow of the entire day.


We had a great time, we beat the heat, laughed a lot and just wore ourselves out exploring and seeing what we could see of the park. Someday when we go back, we'll laugh about how crazy it was but how much fun we had.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day Six, Seven, Eight and Ten: The Ocean.

It's hard to do a day by day recap once we arrived in Virginia. We stayed with my aunt and uncle and their dog, Lucy about five blocks away from the ocean, so the ocean was a big part of our trip. We had several visits. And even if we'd spent every day all day at the beach, I am certain that M would say it still wasn't enough.

That girl just loves the water and the beach and especially the ocean.


My aunt and uncle were the best hosts. They had special treats waiting for the kids and made us all feel at home for the entire time we were there. I think their dog is still recovering from all the busyness we added to the house.

Day six of our trip, we had arrived in Virginia the evening before and we just decided to get acclimated with our surroundings but we'd promised the kids a quick visit to the beach.

Though bringing them fully clothed and thinking they weren't going to get wet was probably not the smartest idea, it was a memorable visit to the ocean and so fun to see T and M's reaction, as the last time they saw they ocean they were 3 and 5 and then also H and E, who had never seen it before.



Day seven, my aunt through a little BBQ and we settled in and had fun playing outside, meeting friends of my aunts and just relaxin'.

That night we trekked back to the beach and had some sunset playtime.



My dad was staying at a hotel right on the ocean so we took full advantage of the few days he was there and we were able to get all sandy and then jump in the hotel pool and clean off. That's my kind of beach/pool playtime!




Day eight was our one and only rainy, dreary day. J, T and my uncle went out fishing and the rest of us just laid low. Once they returned we took the kids to a bounce house place to play with a stop at the Pizza Planet at the beach. H had spotted the restaurant the first visit to the ocean and it was added to the "must-do" list of our vacation.

Day ten {yes, I skipped nine, we'll come back to it.} was "Beach Day!" and we all headed to the beach with my aunt for the day.

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My aunt thought it'd be fun {and wise} to rent a cabana for the day and I can honestly say that it was the best. Though I love the sun, all the time. It was so nice to have a shady place to rest and let the littles cool off and even keep our lunch and snacks cool.

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And what trip to the beach would be complete without burying ourselves in the sand.


T was buried too, however, there were some certain enhancements made on his sand burial so since my blog is mostly rated G, I thought I'd leave that one off.

Day ten, I was beginning to see the end of J and the bigs time with us on vacation as they were starting the drive home on day twelve. My aunt and uncle graciously took the kids for the night so J and I could go have dinner and relax.


It was just what we needed. Date nights are very important to us and after our big vacation to Virginia and now as we're spending some time up north, we've decided our next vacation will be just the two of us.

There are lots more pictures from the ocean and our days at the beach, but I'm posting from up north and don't have access to all of them. Will upload to facebook next week....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day Four and Five: Washington D.C.


D.C. is a short drive from Hershey, so Wednesday morning we got up and ready and hit the road for where the president lives.


We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express located near Andrews Airforce Base about ten miles outside of downtown D.C.

The day we arrived we got checked into our new room and decided that we would take the Metrorail into downtown and just check things out.



It was nice to do this and really get a glimpse of DC but also a little bit overwhelming because once we arrived at the National Mall it felt like we needed to figure out quickly where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. In retrospect I wish we would have picked a few things out before we got to DC that we wanted to see.


The first day we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History which was really fun. Besides the Children's Museum our kids had never been to a museum before and they loved it.


I worried prior that T and M might not be as into it but they totally enjoyed themselves.


Most things in DC close early in the evening so we really only had time to walk around on the National Mall and see that museum before needing to head back to our hotel.

The next day we got out bright and early to see as many of the National Monuments that we could see.

It was hot. We walked and walked and walked. The kids were mostly good sports.


Mostly; because one in particular was miserably hot.


Which is why we took full advantage of this memorial.



We were about to leave the Lincoln Memorial and the loudest thunder I've ever heard echoed through the memorial and because we were really thinking that day we started the walk back towards all the museums and it poured on us.



So we couldn't really complain about the heat anymore.

We had a blast in DC. There were a million more things we would have loved to see but we just didn't have time.


I had been in DC fifteen years ago or so with my parents and I remember spending several days go, go, going and still not seeing it all. It's a fascinating place full of history and tons to learn about.

And I still don't believe that there is anything more awe inspiring than being there when veterans, men and women who have fought for many of the freedoms we have today, are standing there looking at a memorial they fought for our country to have.


I'm just thankful that we were able to take our kids to the nations capitol, to see where the president lives, even if it was just a quick blip of our vacation, I like to think we're giving our kids a gift of knowledge and experience that comes with it.