Day Four: Lake Altoona, GA to undisclosed location in South Carolina.
Miles Covered: About 360.
Weather Outside of Van: Overcast and spitty.
Weather Inside of Van: Is that a hurricane coming? Sunny baby sinks her nails into my nail beds each time I reach back to retrieve her binky.
After a brief excursion to Lake Altoona (pictures will be forthcoming), we loaded all four children back in the van and headed for Kitchen Madonna's house. Thirty seconds later ...
One of our brand-new tires met its match. A silver-dollar sized quarter in the sidewall.
That was the bad news. The good news is that we were still on the Army base, and in short order had my doting mom and dad plus several strapping soldiers to the rescue. Which was a good thing because (true confessions time) I had no idea the spare was UNDERNEATH the van. Much less how to assemble a jack. Fortunately they did ... and just as fortunately my Dad is on good terms with Mr. Goodyear.
The tire guy didn't have our model in stock, but he obligingly set off to the next town to get it for us while Mom and Dad joined us for lunch at a Chinese restaurant next door, plus a trip to Dollar Tree to restock DMR's prize bags.
Finally, we got back in the car and headed for KM's house. I was unprepared -- and so very grateful -- for the luxurious Southern Hospitality that washed over us like so much Jasmine-scented bath oil that evening. I was feeling exceptionally brain dead, and dear Virginia did not bat an eye as my daughter (A.K.A. "Mother Mary") attacked her cosmetics counter and accessories drawer with breathless abandon. Nor did she blanch when I begged to get said children in bed before we attempted anything like normal adult conversation over the sumptuous feast she had spent all day preparing.
Clearly, this was an Extraordinary Mother. Whose Extraordinary Husband and Son took my son out back and DIDN'T shoot him, but rather let him release some energy by firing Roman candles at the pond. (I felt sorry for the ducks.)
I bundled them into their bunk beds, and five minutes later heard A Mighty Wail. "WEEEEE WANT DAAAAAAAAAADDY!" *sob*
Another hour passed before we got them actually asleep so we could sit down with those lovely pomatinis (I drank two, without apology), homemade lasagna and bread, and salad with tomato and basil fresh from her garden. (It amazed me what a garden she has on her back porch. My black thumbs couldn't produce a crop like that if my life depended on it.)
It was just the break I needed. Lots of girl talk. Lots of good food. Friendships forged. Feminity affirmed. I even picked an apron even though it seems a bit hypocritical to me to beautify my "work uniform" when I know good and well I spend far more time at the computer than with a vacuum cleaner. But maybe it will inspire me, after all.
Thanks, Madonna. You are truly an Extraordinary Mom.