March 9, 2011

How Can He NOT Get It?

My husband just can not understand why I get a bit tense when he mentions he will be taking an extended trip for work.  I don't see how he can NOT get it!  Every time he goes away, some illness sweeps through the family and some disaster falls upon us.  Long time readers might remember some previous business trips like this one or even this one.  Wednesdays are Allen's regular travel days and in the last nine years my motto has become, "If it can go wrong, it will happen on Wednesday.

So when it comes to extended business trips, I start having sleepless nights a few days ahead of time... not so much worrying as wondering what will it be this time.  There is always some sickness involved, usually a home emergency and typically some other issue that springs up.  Add to that, lots of sleepless nights and you have a recipe for disaster no matter how you spell it out.

Take for instance Sunday.  It began before we even left to drop Allen at the airport.  We happen to live in the proximity of three airports, all about an hours distance from our house.  Which is really nice if you are trying to find cheap plane tickets.  You have a lot of options.  Last year I flew round trip to Italy for less than $300.  We just bought tickets to Miami for $69 each.  You can't sneeze at that!  But I digress.  We usually book our flights out of Virginia because it is the easiest in and out and just a little bit closer than the ones in Baltimore or D.C.

So Sunday morning, the kids are in their coats, the suitcase is by the door and we have just an hour to drop Allen at the terminal... when his flight is cancelled.  He needs to be in Dallas prior to five o'clock Sunday evening.  After some wasted minutes on the phone with American they book him on a flight out of Baltimore that leaves 30 minutes EARLIER than the first one.  So we head out in pouring rain to make a slightly longer trip in 30 minutes less time than we started with.  God was with us because Allen later reported to getting to his flight just fine.  

That was the end of the smooth going.

Elisabeth starts crying.  "I want to go with Pa."
"Ellie you can't go with Pa this time."
"But I don't want Pa to go."
I gave up and turned the radio up louder.
We head home and are really looking forward to getting indoors out of the cold pouring rain for a few minutes before the girls had to head out for a meeting at church.  We should have been home by 12:30.  Should being the key word.

I followed the verbal directions Allen gave me without any trouble.  However, at the time when he told me to start following the GPS, things began to go down hill.  I kept telling the girls, "This doesn't look right.  We should be at this place by now.  We should have gotten to this road by now."  We eventually found out why nothing seemed familiar.  The GPS re-routed us on some round about back road trip BACK TO THE AIRPORT!  I decided to skip the GPS and hubby's instructions and go the way I knew.  Which worked great.

Except now it was past noon, my lunch time had come and gone, it had been hours since breakfast, I missed my morning snack, and like it or not my insulin was still working and hypoglycemia was starting to set in.  So now, it is pouring down rain (can't see the car in front of you sort of stuff), I start shaking and having trouble thinking straight while I happen to be driving a one ton vehicle containing all our children.  Thank God for those Kashi bars Allen insists I carry in my purse.  Knowing that quick fix will only work for a short time, I tell the kids, "We will stop at the first restaurant we see and have some lunch."

Which turns out to be a Pizza Hut or McDonald's.  Remember the dude in Judges who returned from battle with the promise that he would give up to God the first thing that came from his house and it happened to be his daughter?  That's about how I felt at the prospect at taking my family to either of those places to eat.  But a vow is a vow.

An hour later, back on stable legs, everyone full and leftover pizza in hand we head back towards home.  We got back in time for the girls to change and pack up before heading back out into the pouring rain, again.

I made some pretense of napping Elisabeth while everyone changed into their clothes for our evening service.  After pushing and prodding and getting the boys into their suits, it occurs to us that we don't know how to tie their ties.  That's okay.  I am good at pulling solutions out of no where.  "Bring your ties, we'll leave early and you can ask Uncle Frank to tie them when we get to church."  Mental note to self:  get a refresher on how to tie a necktie.    The brilliant plan would have worked except Uncle Frank was no where to be found when we got to church.

Just as I am walking out the door, Allen texts me and says, "You should just stay home and take it easy after the day you've had."  Gee, thanks.

Otherwise, Sunday was a great day... if you are a duck.

Monday actually started out on a more positive note.  Despite the fact that the rain had turned to snow overnight, the sun was out, and it was nearly 50 degrees.  For a minute, I imagined it was spring.

Then Nathaniel got up.  All through our morning lessons he said he was cold.  It wasn't cold.  His head hurt.  Then the dreaded, "My stomach doesn't feel good."  Sigh, I knew it was coming.  It always does.  We moved ahead in hopes that it was the junk food  from yesterday.  By the time we sat down for lunch he looked awful.  He was sent back to bed for a nap.  Not a minute later he is shouting from the bathroom.

Okay, so the whole truth is, I am a wimp when it comes to stomach business.  I can handle anything, but I just have to hear that one of the kids might have thrown up and I am sick right beside them.  Fortunately, my whole family accepts this about me.  It is usually Allen's official job... which is probably why it always seems to hit when he is out of town.  My first thought is, "Dear Lord, please don't let ME get it!"

And then, as any mother of more than one kid can tell you, my second thought was, "Who's next?"  Because there always is a next.  I think sitting around waiting for the next victim is more torturous than having the dreaded thing myself... and that is saying something serious here, folks.

Elisabeth was tucked in for her nap for about 2 minutes before she starts wailing from her bedroom.  Kaitlin runs back to find her laying beside her crib whimpering... her eye red and swollen from where she hit it on the way down to the floor between the bureau and the bed.  I have no idea what she was doing but I know it must have hurt because she never cries when she gets hurt and she was pitching a fit.  Ice packs, stuffed lovies and some cuddles calmed her right down.  Not that her eye looked any better.

I do some quick thinking out loud about whether or not to keep my appointment for the afternoon and with the girls input (Mom, with people throwing up, it's better if you aren't here, anyway.) I grabbed Emma and ran before they could change their minds.

After a very positive visit with my specialist and the cardiologist I was feeling great.  Baby is a great size and showing no signs of diabetic side effects.  My numbers are fabulous.  No signs that might indicate pre-term labor.  The doc even approved my travel plans for the end of the month and agreed to write me the necessary letter to board the cruise ship.  Plus, as the Lord would have it, the stars lined up and I happened to meet someone that I've been trying to hook up with for weeks.  With such a positive two hours under my belt, the last 24 hours had vanished from my mind completely.  

Emma and I have a seat to wait for my paperwork... after a while we start reading a magazine... yet later, all the other patients have come and gone... forty-five minutes later, I am now pushing time to get home, have dinner with the kids and make it to my class on time.  I finally decided to brave the rude receptionist and ask her if perhaps they might be almost done because it has been a long time and after all, I really need to get going.  She disappears and returns with a smile on her face.  Not a good sign.

This lady has not smiled once, no matter how hard I try to cheer her up.  If she is trying to put me in a good humor, it must be bad.  She looks at her watch and then back at me and said, "There seemed to be some miscommunication.  The doctor thought so and so was writing your letter per his instructions.  But she didn't know he told you to wait for it and she left for the day at 3:00!"  It was now 4:00.  No kidding.  I look at Emma.  She looks at me.  We shrug our shoulders, smile and leave while we lament that there wasn't even time to stop at Starbucks now!

But that's okay, right-o?  I call the kids to get dinner started so it will be ready in time for us to eat together before I leave at 5:30.  When I walk in the door, I am thrilled to see everything is underway and no one else has gotten sick.  Music to my ears.  Except, no one turned the oven on.  So much for dinner.  I run around do what I need to do, make plans with Kaitlin for our dinner at nine o'clock after class, kiss everyone (except Nathaniel) and run out the door... again.

We settled into a great lecture on the book of Isaiah followed by one concluding 2 Timothy.  I sent a text to Brianna asking how things were going... meaning is anyone else throwing up?  We were just starting our third lecture when she got back to me to the effect of...  Things are great... No one else sick,yet... got rid of weird strangers at the door and the chimney fire is out... but I'm calling my union.

Okay... heart stops.  After several text messages trying to determine exactly what was going on, I pack up and head home.  To discover the chimney fire was out, no one was hanging over the commode and things seemed relatively calm.  I don't think my heart started beating again for another hour or two.  Needless to say, not a great night sleep to follow.

But that's okay, because there is always tomorrow.

The kids were looking forward to our field trip to the bakery and taking the cat to the vet.  We've been studying community helpers and as it turns out it was kinkling day.  A profitable morning.

I had scheduled lunch with a friend who has been needing to get together and talk for more than a week now.  I was really looking forward to our visit.  This friend and I used to get together all the time but work and kids and life make it impossible for us to see each other very often these days.  I always feel uplifted after a nice visit and with no real adult interaction for a few days, it would be great to have a good conversation on a more grown up level.  I pack a picnic to take to her business and feeling awful about leaving everyone after the previous night, head down town.
Just as I am getting ready to pull into the parking deck across from her building, my phone rings saying that lunch will have to be delayed for an indefinite amount of time because the person she is covering for hasn't returned from her meeting yet.  I quickly decide it would be best to get home to the kids.  It is one thing to slip out for an hour's lunch but an indefinite and unexpected exit in the middle of the day with a sick child at home just didn't sit right with me.   I left the lunch and headed home.

On the way, I thought about how sad Elisabeth has been since we dropped Allen at the airport and decided to have a little date with her.  We packed another sandwich and headed to the park near our house.  That's when it clouded over and got windy and chilly.  We decided to eat our lunch in the car and look at the bling in the Avon book instead.  Which is one of her favorite past times... looking at bling, I mean.  You would be amazed to imagine how long a three year old could be content to sit and play with the power windows.  Up, down, giggle.  Up, down, giggle.

We had a nice time and even took Allen's car for an oil change, because for some reason Elisabeth happens to think that taking the car for an oil change and filling it with gas are really fun date activities.  (That's what happens when you have three older brothers who happen to love anything cars.)  So all in all, I was feeling good about things, again.  The afternoon and evening passed without a hitch, or anyone getting sick, and I crawled into bed with a huge sigh of relief ready for a good sleep.

I was just starting to drift off when Kaitlin and Emma almost simultaneously report that they didn't feel so good... so much for sleep.  I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning listening for the sound I dread and praying I don't get sick.

Oh, but I almost forgot...

Allen's company always sends a little gift to show their appreciation for the ..."sacrifice we make for the company while he is away."  One time it was a basket of coffee (all caffeinated... which I can't touch) another time it was dry old cookies, and yet another time, it was Godiva chocolates... which never arrived, but I would have loved them if they had.
This week it was a tin of Mrs. Field's cookies.

Get real!  How insulting is that?  Like a tin of stale Mrs. Field's cookies, as if they were any good to begin with, really makes up for a week of our lives together, being a single mom, dealing with sick kids, chimney fires, and cancelled lunch dates!  Even my teenage girls found that completely laughable.

All in all, though, we can look at the bright side... it's only supposed to rain for another day or so, the fire is out, I'm not sick, yet and if all else fails, soon the week will be over and we can start to look forward to next time.

But still I must wonder, exactly how can he NOT get it?


  1. I, too, am a lone soldier. My husband is on week 2 of a 3 week business trip. It's half over! And his company doesn't do ANYTHING to express their appreciation. This is the 2nd extended trip within the past 2 months and there's one more in April. We are going with him on that one since he's been gone so long....all the way to CA. My feeling is that the company should give me an airline ticket since he's had so many trips recently.

    And lucky you to get such reasonable airfire. We can't find anything under $400 from here to CA.

    I pray you don't get sick and I pray that your little blessings get well. :)

  2. I TOTALLY get it!! How thoughtful that his company sends you little gifts...that is seriously so nice now days. Though I am sure you wouldn't have minded if the gifts were say...a extra taxi-driver, cook, nurse...what else happened? ;-) You get the idea! Hopefully not to many more business trips in his near future.

  3. i'm glad my hubby's days of driving on the road are over, for the most part {very happy SIGH}. if anything's going to happen, it will happen when daddy's away!
    when it rains it pours. we're having some rainy days down here too.