Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Adventure Time

Sometimes, I really dislike my bathroom.  It is small and cramped and full of stuff I don't need. The shower door is prone to scumminess, the sink drains slowly, and the tiles are all broken or cracked. Kids toys surround my tub and are always falling in, but it doesn't matter because I never have time to take a bath anyway.  I barely have time to shower.

Of course, there's nothing really wrong with my bathroom, and in fact it is completely ridiculous to complain about it at all given the fact that I have more than one bathroom in my house.  The problem is with me and my tendency toward dissatisfaction in life.  It's a character flaw.  I could just declutter, paint the walls something other than "builder's choice white," and give it a thorough scrubbing.

But there is one time that I can always count on liking my bathroom and that's when I come back to it after being away.  It doesn't matter if I've been to the swankiest hotel (rare) or a campground (also rare), I like to come home to my clutter and my towels that smell like my detergent and my spotty mirror.

This ponderous preamble is all just meant to say that the children and I have returned from the beach. I'm in that post-vacation phase where I remember how much I like to have my things organized around me the way I prefer.  It's nice to get away and it's equally nice to have a soft place to land on the return.

Many people have said to me that they couldn't believe that I traveled alone with all the children.  I don't want to make it sound like it was nothing, because it did take a lot of prep work, but it was only 3 hours from our house.  It felt doable.

I have a history of traveling alone with children, mostly due to Rob's job, and I guess it's like anything else: once you do it a few times, you get the hang of it.  You know what to pack and how far the rabble can travel before losing their cool.

This time around we went to my aunt's house on the Jersey shore.  She graciously invited us to stay there since we had no plans to take a vacation this year and no one was going to be at her house.  Rob couldn't get away from work, even though Sally gave him an excellent strategy for taking a vacation.  She said, "Daddy, you just walk right in there and tell them, 'Hey! I'm going on vacation! I need a break!'"  

Wouldn't you be completely understanding if your doctor came in and said that to you? Employee of the Month right there, folks.

And if you are tempted to think that I'm some kind of super-mom for taking the kids on vacation alone, let me disclose this:  1) My parents met me there, so I did have extra hands and eyes at the beach.  If I didn't have that, I wouldn't have gone.  2) I seriously had to psych myself up for the trip.  I was grateful for the generous offer, and I wanted the kids to have fun at the beach, but I was preparing for it like I was going into battle.  I had to gird my loins and not be swayed, even a little, to think that this would be a vacation for me.  It was fun, but it was intensely busy.

Like the rest of everything in life, the trip was not without its share of bumps and excitement, shall we say.  I knew something would happen, but I figured it would be along the lines of someone puking.  If only it were that simple.

I decided to drive down there on a Sunday afternoon, mostly in the hopes of avoiding some of the heavier traffic through Philadelphia.  The big van was all packed up and we left Rob in the driveway at 3 PM.  That was the smoothest part of the trip down there.

We hit some very heavy traffic on the PA Turnpike, but the kids kept their cool and we made our way through.  It started to rain, and the closer we got to Philly, the heavier it rained.  By the time we were inching our way through the city, it was torrential.

I have lived in Florida and North Carolina, and I have driven through sideways rain so heavy that you couldn't see through it.  I have driven through hurricane bands, but this rain was some of the worst I've ever been through.  I'm not a nervous driver, but I was white-knuckling it.

When we drove onto the Ben Franklin Bridge heading into New Jersey, I couldn't see anything except the taillights directly in front of me.  The entire Philadelphia skyline was occluded; there was no division where the sky stopped and the river started.  It was all just grey.

This is what you are supposed to see from the Ben Franklin.
Imagine this colored in with a dark grey marker and that's what
I actually saw.

Once over the bridge, all the traffic in New Jersey just stopped.  This is a pretty busy area considering two major bridges from Philadelphia (the Walt Whitman and the Ben Franklin) empty out in this general vicinity.  We were sitting bumper to bumper and could look up to the ramp that was coming off the Walt Whitman and see that they weren't moving either.  Not good.

After sitting like that for 40 minutes, I called Rob and told him what was happening.  I knew the kids would be starving and we had already been on the road for close to 4 hours.  I told him to Google map us the heck out of there.  Actually I cry-demanded him to plan an exit strategy.

I was able to inch along the shoulder to the nearest exit and he directed me to a shopping center where I could find food for the kids.  While I was dealing with all that, he called my aunt to figure out a new route.  It turned out that all the highways I was supposed to take were flooded and closed.  Super.

While I was paying a ridiculous amount of money at a terrible buffet restaurant, Rob and my aunt put their heads together and got us an escape route.  The really good news was that the road we needed was just around the corner.  The "meh" news was that it was a local route that went through every single town and had a stoplight every 500 feet.   Still, I didn't care if we were headed out on a wagon trail, as long as we were moving.

Our destination was Brigantine Beach which is on the other side of Atlantic City.  It was almost 10 PM when we came up on Atlantic City, and all the casinos were ablaze.  Sally woke up in the back seat and asked, "Are we in Tokyo?!"

Yes, dear. We drove our van to Tokyo.  With raunchy billboards the whole way.  Criminy.

Lying in bed that night, comforting various exhausted children, I told myself that I was so happy to have made it safely that I didn't care what happened the rest of the week.  I was going to be chill and take everything in stride.

Oh hohoho.  I am an idiot.

Because on the second day we were there, this happened:

Did you spot the difference?  Look closely, something's missing.

It's all fun and games until someone loses a tooth.

That, my friends, is Mopsy's whooooole ding-dang front tooth.   She knocked the sucker straight out of her mouth in a freak accident.

She was running towards me on the beach when Sally came running from the opposite direction, didn't see her and they crashed into each other.  Mopsy fell forward and hit her mouth on the wooden arm rest of a beach chair.  

I knew immediately that she had knocked her tooth out because I saw it come flying out of her mouth.  I dropped my camera on the ground, scooped her up, and ran to our blanket.  I grabbed a hunk of ice from the cooler and made her suck on it to stop the copious bleeding.

Another mom on the beach brought me the camera and, amazingly enough, Mopsy's tooth.  I don't know how she found it, but she must have been right next to me when it happened.  I didn't even see her there.

I can't even explain how lucky little Mopsy was.   After taking her to the dentist for an X-ray, it was clear that she knocked the whole tooth and root out.  I don't think it would have come out any neater if she had had it extracted.

The dentist was amazed by her.  He said that she could have broken the tooth off or knocked more teeth out.  Or she could have hit another tooth and killed the root, causing it to turn gray.  She could have had lacerations to her lip, gums, or cheek.

Instead, 15 minutes after knocking her tooth out she was at home eating a full lunch and asking to go back to the beach.  She has not complained once of any pain.  She will have a gap there for several years until her adult tooth comes in, but otherwise she is unscathed.   Her guardian angel was working overtime in that situation!

Happily, the rest of the vacation was fun and the drive home was uneventful.  But next time, I'm telling Rob to take Sally's advice and let his patients know he's on a break.

I should save these for another post instead of just doing a photo dump, but I have to put something up here to overwhelm the shuddery tooth picture.

See?  Fun was had by all.


  1. oh my gosh, I cringed! I remember driving in rain on a trip to Tennesee with a car full of boys and the rain was literally like the sky opened up and dumped a pool on us! It was scary... and I'm a brave driver too. I had to pull over because I couldn't even see the car in front of us. Ugh.

    The tooth! Poor thing! But now she looks just like her sister!

    Fantastic photos, btw. Just beautiful! Great job brave mommy. Enjoy a nice relaxing bath home.

  2. You are a superstar! That tooth, i've never seen a whole tooth with the root like that! Two of my kids killed their front baby teeth and had gray teeth until they fell out. I much prefer the toothless look to the mom-doesn't-brush-our-teeth look.

  3. Wow, I've never seen a whole tooth and root knocked out like that! If she had to lose a tooth, that was the way to do it. :o)

    Just reading about that drive through the downpour -- on a bridge! In a city! With traffic! -- made me hyperventilate.

    I love all the beach shots, but those last two are really, really good. :o)

  4. I hope you get a vacation from your vacation! So glad you had help once you arrived but I can only imagine how difficult it all was. Just having everyone out of their routine and nothing in it's normal place must have been overwhelming for everyone.

    Glad you made it there and back safe and sound and it sounds like you had a little bit of fun in between.

    (And the tooth?? Oh my! So freaky looking!)

  5. GeeGee10:14 PM

    I confess it was a good idea, I thought: Take Aimee and Rob and the children to the Jersey shore with Pop and me on our dime this year. In the previous several years Aimee,Rob and our other children have graciously treated Pop and me to beach vacations in NC and MD. When Aimee told me there would be no vacation for them this summer I asked my sister if we could "rent" her summer house in NJ because I wanted the kids to have a vacation. I suggested it to Aimee, but there was trouble from the start. First: Rob couldn't get away from work. Everyone was bummed about leaving him and we all missed him while we were there. Second: the fiasco en route. Phila. received 7.5 inches of rain in 3 hours that Sunday evening (from 3-6PM)which was coincidentally when we embarked from home (where it was sunny). We reached the city @4:00. Pop and I were fortunate to get across the bridge and through the rushing waters before the roads were closed. Aimee, unfortunately arrived at that point a little later and got stuck...20 minutes into NJ and the road was DRY and it was CLEAR AND SUNNY!!!!!!! When we called Aimee to see where she was, we got the bad news. We had just driven through it so we knew how bad the conditions were. We arrived at my sister's and she immediately came up with an alternate route, but we knew it would be several hours before Aimee could get off the highway, stop to feed the children, and get on the alternate. We were relieved when she showed up a little after 10PM after 6.5 hours of travel....
    Third: Mopsy's tooth!!
    Well, it was beautiful weather after that and I think Aimee and the children had a good time (Pop and I enjoyed being with them, and Pop really loved the whole experience in Brigantine: a beautiful, clean, quiet, family-centered community; my sister's lovely home; a short walk to the beach; the ocean; the breezes...)
    But I think next year I won't offer any more ideas for vacation. I think I'm a jinx.....


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