Well, the youngest 2 and I are back from our vacation in Branson--oh my. I think this is the only time mom and I will try to go without the guys and with all the kids. I loaded up and arrived last Sunday with all 4 kids in tow. We met mom at her time-share and went to check-in at the place we were staying--Wyndham at Branson Meadows. It was very nice--we had 2 adjoining rooms that both had their own kitchens and bathrooms, and a nice balcony as well. We unloaded our van and went and ate at Steak and Shake for supper. Then everyone went to bed after baths when we got back to the room. Caleb was able to stay with mom in her place ( his choice). The next morning we had decided to go ahead and get shopping done in the morning so the kids could swim in the afternoon (mom's time-share has a neat zero depth entry pool that is about 1 ft in a lot of areas so I knew Will would enjoy that). We went to the "blue-roof" mall (Tanger) and shopped for a little over an hour. Then we decided we would go back to where I was staying and eat lunch and then go to the pool at mom's. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans? On the way to where I was staying, my van locked up and completely died--no power steering, no air conditioning--I could barely get it over to the side of the road. I had no idea what was wrong--we had no warning and then 4 different warning lights came on. I immediately started to panic--I had literally no idea what to do. Then I decided to call our auto insurance--who were no help whatsoever. They told me the soonest they could get a tow truck to me was 60-90 minutes but if we were in an unsafe place, it would be better for us to call the police. I admit--I wasn't very nice--I just hung up. Then I had to look up the non-emergency police and call them--I had just spoke with a very nice dispatch person when a police car pulled up behind us--thank you Jesus! The officer was extremely nice and called the dispatch back and told them since we were not completely off the road he would stay with us until the tow truck arrived--which ended up taking about an hour. So, just imagine--all 4 kids plus me in the back of a police car (since his car had air conditioning he very nicely let us sit in his car and kept it running). Police cars have no comfortable rear seat--it has no cloth or leather--just the molded form, not to mention no way out with the bars and no door handles. Then the kids started whining--I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, etc. Thankfully my mom brought 2 apples and 3 bottles of water with her so that sated them for a little while. Caleb was very impressed with the 2 guns and the taser kept in the console area of the front seat:-) After about an hour the tow truck arrived and got the van ready to tow to Springfield to the Honda place there. I forgot to get the base of Will's car seat out of the van (important for later) and I also forgot all of our shopping bags. We had to call a cab to take us to the place where we were staying because the police officer was going to but after talking to his sergeant he was not allowed to ( he said some do and some don't'--it just depends on who you talk to). My mom rode in the cab to get her car and then came back and picked us all up. I asked the police man if it was going to be a problem for us riding the way we were in her car--he said--I'm going the opposite direction you are--so I won't see what you are doing:-) Like I said, a very nice man. We finally made it back to the condo and ate some lunch. Then mom took the 3 oldest to her condo for some swimming and I had a few hours to myself after I put Will down for a nap. We decided to eat a simple supper that night and tried to put the day behind us. Caleb ended up staying with mom again that night.
Tuesday: By this morning we were waiting to hear from the Honda place on what was wrong with the car--it turns out that the engine had completely shut down because there was hardly any oil left. I always went by the light in my van that showed how much oil life was left, and it showed 30%, so I'm still not sure how that could happen. SO, we would need a new engine. A brand new one is $9500 but they were sure they could find one or two at a salvage yard that might be cheaper if we wanted them to look--um, yes please. That was not a pleasant conversation to have with Shon. We were quickly determining this would be our only vacation this summer with the cost of an engine obliterating our trip to Williamsburg this summer. Shon was on his way to Branson so that we could drive to Fayetteville later on that day--we really didn't know when he would be arriving so we decided to find something to do other than swimming and ended up going to the Butterfly Palace. It was a pretty neat place--you went in and the butterflies literally would land on you--we told the kids repeatedly to be careful not to step on any:-) There was a maze they could go through, a (LONG) movie about the butterflies that we decided not to watch, and an outdoor climbing area that we did not go on because of the heat. We decided after that to go to Olive Garden to eat lunch. The kids did really well and when we got done there, Shon had made it and met us in the parking lot. We went back to the condo for a few minutes and then piled in 2 different cars to head to Fayetteville. We made good time there (I was in the car with mom, Will, and Jake, and Shon took Caleb and Emma). Will cried a good portion of the way there--not much fun for either of the adults in the car. We made it to our hotel in Springfield and since it was right behind Marketplace, that is where we ate supper (it didn't hurt that kids ate free:-) After supper we headed back to the hotel and watched tv and the kids ran from our room to my mom's (thankfully we had 2 suites and were on the end of the hallway where no one else was:-) Everyone slept really well and at a good breakfast at the hotel the next morning.
Wednesday: After breakfast Shon had a few things to do so mom and I decided we would head to Target really quickly to get a little shopping in. We met Shon at our house in Fayetteville and were greeted with a yard with weeds that were taller than I was--it looked really bad. We also discovered that some siding had blown off the side of our house from one of the recent storms in the area. I called the guy that was supposed to meet us at the house and he was not going to be able to join us for a little bit so Shon decided he would go ahead and go back to Columbia with Caleb and Emma (they were going to go back to summer school). Mom and I ended up sitting in a really hot house with 2 cranky kids for about 2 hours waiting on the guy to show up so we could sign the final paperwork on the repairs that had been done for the frozen pipe. After he came and went (which took all of 10 minutes) we headed to Red Robin for lunch. Will fell asleep on the way there, and was pretty cranky off and on during the meal. Mom and I then headed on to Rogers to do some shopping at the Promenade. I went to Williams Sonoma as Jake had fallen asleep on the way to Rogers:-) I bought everything I had on my list and used some birthday money. We also went to Pottery Barn and Sephora. By that time, it was time to head home--which was a disaster. Will cried the entire trip back, save about the last 10 minutes--we even stopped outside of Huntsville to see if he needed his diaper changed or what--he was just extremely fussy. So needless to say, mom was pretty much done at that point and dropped us off and went back to her condo for some peace and quiet:-) I bathed the kids and got them in bed and then just tried to have some relaxation time for myself. Shon and the other 2 made it home fine--they actually decided to drive through Joplin to see the damage for themselves and Shon said it was really really bad.
Thursday: We decided we needed to go ahead a rent a car for me since they were not sure when the engine would be available. We headed to Springfield and went to the car rental place (enterprise) and got a car, then we headed to Schlotsky's to eat lunch. After lunch we went to Krspy Kreme donuts:-) I had never had a hot donut from there before and the lady working was kind enough to give us the hot donut holes that were being prepared while we were there:-) We ended up getting some for breakfast the next day. After that it looked like a storm was heading our way so we loaded up in 2 cars and headed back to Branson. We decided to have mexican for supper that night and went to a little place in West Branson that was very good. After that, mom came by the condo and helped me get them bathed and in bed, and we both went our separate ways and collapsed:-)
Friday: This was the day we decided to go ahead and head home. Mom came over and helped watch the kids while I loaded the car. I was able to fit everything in except for the stroller I had brought, so mom took that with her. We decided to go to the Landing before we left. We went to Belk's first and got some Yellowbox flip flops. We then wandered around and decided to eat lunch at a burger place there. After lunch we went into Ridezmakers--Jake ended up getting a Lightening McQueen car that he customized:-) ( if you haven't been in one of these stores, it is like Build a Bear but for cars). We then headed home. Will began screaming of course as soon as we got on our way. I stopped in Springfield and bought a new car seat for him at Walmart, since I though maybe that was the problem (Shon had brought a new car seat for him since we left the base of the car in the van). It didn't help much, though. After spending about 40 minutes switching around car seats, I went to McDonald's and got Jake and I a Rolo McFlurry. We then got back on the road. The new car seat helped some but as soon as we got into town I went to the urgent care clinic for Will ( we didn't even go home first). He was diagnosed with an ear infection and was given an antibiotic. So thankfully there was a reason for his crying. I took the antibiotic to be filled and then we made it home. I don't think I will ever go on vacation with all four kids by myself again!