Ahem, where to begin? Ah yes, the ice. We all (even Shiloh) survived the ice and snow. And as soon as the heaps of winter insanity melted enough to let us escape the neighborhood, the kids and I scooted to Aiken to spend the long MLK weekend with my mom (Phil being on a really awesome ski trip with his parents and siblings ... LUCKY!) Aiken is actually where Phil's parents live, but they are currently on assignment in New Mexico so we were able to use their house, saving both me and my mom 6 hours round trip. (Thank you Nannie and Papa!) It was soon discovered that everyone was in desperate need of new socks (seriously) so we headed down to the Aiken Mall for some real shopping excitement. When we happened upon the "hurricane simulator," I begged Mom to go in, as I was desperate for entertainment.
What a total let down! You're not supposed to be smiling if you're trapped in a can of hurricane, are you? Mom tried briefly to scream and look terrified when she saw my look of disappointment, but it was pretty unconvincing. I was waiting for her clothes to come flying off and swirl madly about her as she stood in the middle of the mall, beating the glass frantically to get out, crowds gathering and murmuring anxiously, 911 and news crews being called in. Instead she hopped out with a grin, combed her barely tousled hair with her fingers and said it was like sticking her head under a hand dryer in a public bathroom. Blast. At least we got Chick-Fil-A for supper.
Aunt Jessie and Cousin Anna-Kate came to play the next day, and we even got to walk to the playground for a while. Highlight of the trip!
At the last moment, I decided to just follow mom back to Johnsonville for the rest of the week. Phil had a lot of work travel, and even though mom and dad would both be working, at least I'd get to see them a little, right? And I was halfway there. And I could visit my Mema, who I rarely see. It all made sense ... in theory.
The first day there (Tuesday) Mom had a long work day (leaving at 7am and not getting back 'til 5) and Dad had to sleep all day since he was working nights at the hospital. No problem. Just keep 2 small children occupied (and quiet!) on a rainy day in half a small house ... for 10 hours.
An outing to Piggly Wiggly for yogurt and crackers and an exciting tour through Fred's variety store for some play dough was just what we needed.
Andrew was fascinated by the Play-Dough Fun Factory, and Els loved the play dough jewelery I made. They played quietly with this stuff for over an hour! And TFO took a nap! (She very rarely naps at all anymore. She's 21 months. I consider this a disorder and feel that very powerful medications should be available.)
It was decided that Wednesday we should definitely pack up and go ... somewhere. Anywhere. For the whole day. So of course, Elsbeth decides to throw up as I'm fixing her breakfast. Maybe it's a fluke. I'll go ahead and feed her lots of cereal and milk and surely she'll be fine. Cereal and milk regurgitated all over the kitchen floor. Sigh. Poor Nib. She ended up not throwing up any more the rest of the day, but she didn't feel great and we certainly couldn't go anywhere.
She slept (yea!) Andrew watched 101 Dalmatians. I entertained myself as I saw fit.
On Thursday, Elsbeth seemed to be better, so we decided to take our show on the road to visit my Mema (kids' great-grandmother) on her farm. And joy of joys, it was a pretty day! We had a blast driving around the farm on her bobcat, sun on our checks and fresh air filling our snoots.
We stopped by to visit Uncle Stephen's chickens and ducks. This photo was taken about 13 seconds before TFO stuck a tiny, white finger in the cage where it was eagerly pecked by the hungry hen you see approaching.
She screamed bloody murder and I half expected to see her finger spurting blood, barely attached to her hand. An up close inspection failed to produce even the slightest indentation, just a little chicken drool. She finally stopped crying to call a mournful, "Bock, bock, bock" at the coop before we moved on.
We decided to give the ducks in the pond a go, most of which looked and moved quite normally. But then there was this guy:
What the heck IS that thing? Whatever it was, it let us stare at it for a while before slowly rising from it's spot in the shade next to my uncle's house (sending Andrew running for the hills). Then it took about 8 minutes to waddle the 12 feet to the pond shore where it unceremoniously plopped in. Elsbeth and I were mesmerized.
We finally puttered back to the farm house, I packed the kids back in the car, and then, since the day had been going so well, I decided to became violently ill. After releasing my angry lunch into the bushes next to the car, I drove the 30 minutes back home breathing deeply at, at times, clutching an empty grocery bag, just in case. I staggered into my parents house, somehow managed to get the kids down for their rest time, and then spent the next hour in considerable intestinal distress. My mother, bless her, got home from work just as rest time was over.
I survived the rest of the afternoon, and by the time I went to bed the worst of it was over. I had been asleep for about 30 minutes when I woke up to hear Andrew thrashing and groaning from his pallet next to my bed. Oh yes. I was up most of the rest of the night with my Precious throwing up everything he'd ever eaten in his life. My thoughts at 2am: Surely tomorrow Mom will get a sub and take care of Elsbeth while Andrew and I recover. And get a sub she did ... moments before she began throwing up herself.
Poor Nina and Andrew ... they were so very sick. I think Andrew was the sickest of all of us. He just drifted in and out of sleep for the whole day, sometimes staring listlessly into the distance.
That night he desperately wanted to watch a load of wash, but he didn't even make it to the spin cycle.
So it was me and my girl, looking to amuse ourselves in the 1/4 of a little brick ranch that wasn't occupied by sleeping or desperately ill people.
We had another wild time in Piggly Wiggly searching for popsicles and Saltines, and my whole day was brightened by these signs next to the main highway that goes through town:
In the midst of the horror, I had a moment in which to call Phil. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
Me: ... and then after I finished throwing up hot dogs, which is really the worst thing in the world to experience a second time, I had to drive 30 minutes through all kinds of road construct-
Me: You're in DISNEY WORLD?!
Phil: Yeah. My work conference was in Orlando. They put me up in a 16-star Hotel right in the middle of Epcot. I just got my second massage. You wouldn't believe the spa they have here!
Me: Oh. Hm. I guess I forgot ... about ... that. Anyway, (speaking louder) then Andrew started throwing up in the middle of the night and then mom got sick and -
Phil: Oh no, that's a total bummer. Hey, can I call you back a bit later? I've got to tee off.
Well, I'm making this story way too long. In the end, we survived the plague and by Sunday were able to make the treck back home. But just in case you think that went smoothly, I'll have you know that Elsbeth had a horrific, abominable, explosive diarrhea diaper that got all over her clothes and I ended up having to change it in the front seat of my car in the parking lot of a super nasty McDonald's somewhere in Hickland, Georgia and it got smeared on my (only pair) of pants and on my hands and there weren't enough wipes or hand sanitizer in the world to make me feel clean again and I smelled like poop for the last 4 hours of the drive. Then I missed the exit to my house. Twice.
When Phil got home from his conference later that night, he had a little present for the kids.