Category Archives: Traveling

Getting Home

I left pretty early that morning, 5:30 am. I had thoroughly enjoyed my visit with my sister and her husband, but it was time to head home. I had to be at work by the early afternoon, and the drive would take me just under six hours. The air was chilly that January morning, and there was no denying that my jeans and sweatshirt would barely cut it as I quickly walked the short distance from my sister’s house to my 1990 Toyota pickup.

I was on the winter break of my sophomore year of college, working on my nursing prerequisites. I was still living at home and still working part time. I was 19 then, with very little to my name.

Climbing into my small truck cab, I turned the key and the trusty old Toyota engine with 240,000 miles faithfully roared to life. I started heading South on highway 101. As I headed further away from the ocean, I got a little chilled and cranked up the heater. I didn’t realize that the temperature had dropped to the 20’s outside. The roads were curvy the whole way, with redwood trees lining both sides of the highway. All of the sudden, as I entered into a shady area, my truck lost control and I swerved out of my lane left to the other side of the road. There was a cliff not far from the edge, about 8 feet from where my truck was. I panicked, thinking my steering wheel had broken, and tried frantically to return to the correct side of the road. But I seemed to have lost control of everything in the truck, including my brakes. Before I could think another second as to what was happening, my truck immediately veered right, back across my lane and straight into a dirt embankment, where I crashed while traveling at 65 mph (the speed limit). I had hit black ice.

As my truck hurtled across the road and came to a halting stop, I gasped as I felt my entire body get catapulted into my steering wheel. My life literally flashed before my eyes: a multitude of childhood and recent memories soared through my mind, all at once. It was surreal. Right before the impact, I had one thought: This is it. I’m going to die.

After slamming into the dirt bank, my truck jolted back and my upper body flung back away from my steering wheel and into the back of my seat. I gasped, as it felt like all of the air had been forced out of my lungs from the impact. I blinked: I wasn’t dead after all. But I was in shock. Sudden tears streamed down my face. I looked around the truck. The contents of my purse had been dumped onto the floor. My airbag hadn’t gone off. Was I okay? I felt pain in every place where my seat belt had been, but I seemed to be more or less alright. My truck wasn’t running, so I turned the key off and then on again. The trusty Toyota started up! I shifted into reverse, hoping to get the back end of my truck out of the highway as quickly as possible. But my heart sank when I realized that I was unable to move the truck at all.

Worried about oncoming traffic potentially not seeing my truck taking up half of the lane in time, I quickly searched the contents of my purse on the floor for my phone. I grabbed it and got out of my truck and walked behind it a little to where there was more of a shoulder to the road. I looked at my phone. I had no cell phone service. “Are you kidding me?” I wanted to cry. Oh, the irony of it all – breaking down in the middle of nowhere had been the primary reason for why I had wanted a cell phone! As I looked around, I  began to panic a little. For as far as I could see any direction, all I could see were redwood trees. There were no homes or businesses nearby, and I was pretty sure that the next town was a twenty minute drive away. Not a single car had gone by since I had crashed. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I was shivering, and very frightened. I began to pray “Oh God, please help me. Please send someone to help me.”

I stood there for five more minutes and two cars drove by. But neither one even slowed down. My panic grew. “What if no one even bothers to stop!” I whimpered, as one of little faith would. Ten more minutes passed and I was getting mentally prepared to start walking as I could feel my fingers and toes start to go numb. My truck looked like it had a flat front tire and a dent in the side fender. Considering the speed at which I had been traveling, I couldn’t believe the body damage wasn’t worse.

Suddenly, a man driving a large truck going by saw me and slammed on his brakes just as he went past my truck. The truck backed up and pulled off the road and parked. “Someone is stopping!” I internally cheered. But my rejoicing turned to fear almost immediately. I suspiciously eyed the man, feeling more vulnerable than ever. My heart was racing. “Lord, is this someone you sent to help me?”  I prayed. “Or is this a bad man?” I hadn’t died in my truck accident. But I could die from the hands of this man, of whom I knew nothing about, out in the middle of no where. Every horrible news story I had ever read about women getting murdered in isolated areas surfaced. The isolation of my location felt suddenly overwhelming.

I had no idea of the answer to my question, but I calmed down a bit when I saw the logo of a familiar logging company on the man’s truck. The middle aged bearded man got out of his cab and immediately proceeded to talk about the black ice. “I helped with two accidents in this exact same place due to black ice just last week,” he said. “One lady literally drove over the embankment a little further on and went down into a ravine. It was a miracle that I saw her down there as I was driving by.” Apparently, as he drove that section of road several days a week for his job, he was a black ice Good Samaritan. He seemed nice enough, although a little rough around the edges. We walked over to my truck and he determined that I had a flat tire and my truck needed to be moved out of the road. I followed his instructions and he someone was able to move my truck out of the road. He got to work on changing out the tires while I stood gratefully and rather helplessly nearby.

Five minutes later, a truck pouring sand onto the icy road drove by. I shook my head in disbelief. If I had left just thirty minutes later I wouldn’t have been in such a debacle! The Good Samaritan man eventually finished the (what appeared to be) rather difficult job of changing the tire, probably because of the damage to the front fender in the accident. “We’re only about twenty minutes from Leightonville,” he told me. “It’s a small town but they have a tire shop there. I’ll follow you to the tire shop to make sure you arrive safely.” I held my breath. This man had been so incredibly helpful and kind. But he was also a bit odd in some ways. Even though I was grateful, I still didn’t trust him. In any case, I knew I couldn’t get very far on my spare tire, which wasn’t inflated enough. Going to a tire shop was good suggestion.

I got back into the truck, and, shaking from the entire experience, set back onto the highway and toward Leightonville. The truck was extremely hard to control, and was pulling hard to the right like a lousy Walmart shopping cart. I almost drove off the road every time I took one hand off the steering wheel in order to shift gears.

I looked in the review mirror – the man was driving close behind me, as he said he would be. We both finally arrived in Leightonville and pulled into the tire shop. I wasn’t sure if the man was going to keep driving on at this point, now that I had arrived safely to the tire shop. But he got out of his truck, went inside the tire shop for a few minutes and came out, telling me as he climbed back into his truck “I told them not to charge you too much.” I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the man for his kind act of stopping to change my tire. I offered him the only money I had, $20, but he smiled, said it was nothing, and promptly left.

As I walked into the tire shop I thanked God for sending me someone after all. I hadn’t trusted the man until he was literally driving away, but I was still glad that he had stopped to help me.

At the tire shop, it turned out that the air had been knocked out of my tire, and that it was repairable. They didn’t seem to have a set fee for fixing that sort of thing, so they asked, “How about $20?” I shook my head in amazement as I handed over my sole monetary bill. Despite my panic and my fears, God had worked out every single detail. I would look back on this moment for years to come and learn to trust God better.

I was finally able to call my family from the tire shop. Because my car was pulling to the right so horrendously, my parents encouraged me to make the much shorter drive to Santa Rosa where my Grandparents lived. I could take my car to a mechanic there and get it fixed. It sounded like a good plan, but first I called my employer to let them know there was no way I would be able to make it into work that afternoon. I then made the arduous drive to Santa Rosa where my grandparents met me at a mechanic’s shop. It was determined there that my truck had a broken steering arm, and that it would take a couple of days to be repaired. As I closed my eyes while riding in the backseat of my Grandparent’s car, all I knew was that I was happy to not be driving anymore.

Two days later, I was at last on my way home from my Grandparent’s house. I was surprised when I had flashbacks of the accident the entire way home. Visions of my truck crashing would blindside me even when barely moving. Driving felt terrifying. The reality of the whole ordeal was finally setting in, and my brain was switching out of survival mode. I pulled into my parents’ home, shut the truck door and walked inside. My Mom was home and there to greet me. As soon as I saw her face, I burst into tears. She pulled me in and hugged me hard. She held me close as the tears kept coming. I had survived crashing at 65 mph with just bruises. I had been watched over and cared for. I was home.

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Traveling, Uncategorized

A Week in Australia

As it turns out, I lied in my previous blog post. Rachel DID NOT travel with me to Australia. I went alone! This had to do with a huge hold up in her visa. Turns out that one parent traveling with a child without the other parent is kind of a big deal. We had to get her birth certificate notarized, as well as other forms that documented my husband giving the approval for her to leave with me. We didn’t receive her visa in time, and as of today we STILL have yet to receive her visa! It was costly and very frustrating to say the least! We talked and prayed about it and decided that we had already invested too much into the trip and that I should just go anyhow. My hubby steeled himself for a week alone with the kids and we just figured that God had a reason for things turning out the way they did.

So when my suitcase (borrowed from my parents) busted at the Brisbane airport and I was stuck carrying it (40+ pounds – with the handle also jammed in the “up” position), I was pretty glad I wasn’t also carrying Rachel in the front pack as well as all of her milk/diapers/sippy cups, etc. And when we took ferries and buses and walked for miles and miles and toured several museums while in Brisbane – I was also glad we weren’t having to scale it way back to allow for naps and early bedtimes. And when my flight got delayed in Vancouver for 4 hours after NOT SLEEPING at all on the long 13 hour flight home, and the trip home from the airport was really long (3 hours) due to horrible traffic,  I was also VERY GLAD she wasn’t stuck in the airport and car with me. As much as I was really sad to leave her home, I was glad in the end that it worked out the way it had. Perhaps it was due to utter exhaustion on my part by the end of the trip!

Some highlights from the trip:

 -Getting to hang out with my nephews. Love these kiddos so much. 

img_20160905_205805 img_20160905_205752

-Getting to spend lots of time with my sis. I sure do value time with that girl, and boy do I ever learn heaps about godly parenting from her! Here we are at the botanical gardens (free and BEAUTIFUL!). 

img_20160907_094144

-Banyan Fig tree at the botanical gardens. Super massive and cool.

img_20160907_095813

-Getting to ride the free ferry just about everywhere we wanted to go. The weather was very comfortable so it was almost never chilly. We always sat on the top!

img_20160907_090630 img_20160907_130214

-Incredible sunset while waiting for the ferry one day. I wished I had brought my nice camera more than once!

img_20160908_171343

-Visiting the MacArthur Museum. A piece of history I knew very little about.

img_20160908_135621

img_20160908_135922

-My sister had a medical appointment so I took the kids to the Science Centre. It was a little young for the kids but they still had a lot of fun.

img_20160907_135102

-Visiting a Maritime Museum. They had an old warship that they let us explore on every deck and room. The kids really loved it.

img_20160906_152320

-We took a couple of buses to get to the Koala Sanctuary. WOW! So many incredible animals there!

img_20160909_142655 img_20160909_133906

-It never crossed my mind that I’d be petting kangaroos… and it wasn’t like there was a zookeeper breathing down my neck, either. There was an entire field full of kangaroos and people could come and go and pet the kangaroos as they pleased! (And no, we didn’t have to sign waivers, either.)

img_20160909_130538 img_20160909_130554

-Seeing the mama with her joey was really fun. Marsupials are very interesting!

img_20160909_131014 img_20160909_131022

-We took the free ferry at night (it runs until midnight) through all of its stops and just enjoyed the boat ride, the city lights, and all the bridges we went under. It was rainy and a little chilly, but really fun.

img_20160909_184716

And when I finally got home, exhausted and jet lagged, I arrived to happy kids and a husband who had flowers waiting for me. Talk about spoiled! I missed them all so much.

As a wife and mom of two young children, I find it pretty odd that I went to Australia for a week all by myself– it was definitely against the grain for me to do something like that. In fact, I cried when I learned that Rachel’s visa wouldn’t be coming in time! But after a week of learning about completely new things and gaining new perspectives in parenting, and having more quiet time to pray and really think– I came home very refreshed, and I can’t say that it wasn’t a good thing for any of us. Once again, I am reminded that the Lord knows what we need before we do!

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Traveling

Stomach Flu

Josh is on day 6 after the stomach flu and is back up to about 50%. His recovery has been much slower than I had anticipated, and he still won’t eat much. Hubby even went to McDonald’s yesterday and brought him a kid’s meal in hopes that he’d eat more than his usual bite or two. He completely rejected a McFlurry and chicken nuggets, but ate fries and apples. It was a win in my book.
And… now I’ve got the stomach flu. My sister and Dad came down with it last night. So much for sanitizing the house.

We’re having loads of fun.

image

2 Comments

Filed under Toddler, Traveling

We Survived Disneyland With 2 Under 2!

I know, I know. With a title like that, I sound like a privileged brat who doesn’t notice the blessing that’s right under her nose. I mean, how many people are dying to a) Just have children (that was us not that long ago), or, B) be able to afford a trip to Disneyland?

I’m grateful, truly I am. That being said, taking two such young children to Disneyland is no piece of cake. I wrote out some tips below for taking small children to Disneyland that I want to remember in the future. And maybe if you’ve got little kids and are planning a similar trip, this post will be a blessing to you too!

1. In all seriousness: Consider delaying your trip. If your children are like ours — both under 2 years old — then I suggest waiting a year or two. We went to Disneyland because my sister and her family are here for a short time in the U.S. and we didn’t want to miss out on a family vacation with them before their kids are all grown up. That is the ONLY reason we went. We didn’t plan this trip for our kiddos (sorry, kids). At their age and stage, smaller scale trips (like to a train museum or a pumpkin patch) are much more their speed.

2. You’re still reading, so I’m guessing this means you’re convinced you need a trip to Disneyland. That’s great! Now you need to decide if you want to drive or fly. Both of our kids are prone to crying/screaming in the car. Our littlest is 5 months old and nurses every 2.5-3 hours except at night. So 8-9 hours (not including needing to stop and nurse Rachel) of driving to Disneyland seemed like a terrible idea. If your kid loves the car, then by all means– drive! Driving all night is also an option because the kids are sleeping, but probably not a safe option for us. We chose the more expensive route and decided to fly and rent a car. This became stressful when we realized we’d have to bring: 2 port a cribs, 1 double stroller, 2 car seats, 1-2 diaper bags, plus all of our clothes/diapers/burp clothes/sippy cups, toiletries, etc. We spent a LOT of time on the TSA and Jet Blue websites trying to figure out what was allowed as far as liquids, and what wasn’t included in our plane fare (we had to pay $20 to check a bag that was 1 inch too large to be a carry-on). Most airlines have special allowances for babies/toddlers so be sure to check that out.

3. If you fly, have a plan for getting through security with all your items and children. I got picked by TSA for a full pat down (yay, me) and both kids were crying at the time. If we hadn’t had help, my husband would have had to go through security with all our luggage, stroller (which they wanted collapsed) and our upset children while I was away not enjoying the pat down. With help it was still a stressful situation. Without help, I probably would have had my own personal meltdown.

Miracles do happen: Neither child cried on the plane and both fell asleep on the return flight!

Miracles do happen: Neither child cried on the plane and both fell asleep on the return flight!

IMG_20160229_153449 (1)

4. Which leads me to this: BRING HELP! This is of utmost importance. Invite your family or friends to come along and give you a hand. My parents and little sister flew with us both directions (I asked for this specifically). And although we walked to the parks alone, we were almost always quickly joined by various family members. I don’t know how we would have managed without their help. I’m not kidding. At one point my husband was in line somewhere in the park buying us breakfast, and I was at the entrance of Toon Town nursing Rachel on a bench and verbally talking with Josh to encourage him to stay near me. He was obeying for the most part, but it wasn’t a good situation. Thankfully, a Disneyland worker came up and voluntarily stayed nearby to help corral Josh until my family members arrived.

Grandparents are the best to have along on a trip to Disneyland!

Grandparents are the best to have along on a trip to Disneyland!

5. Have low expectations. My goal was to do half days at the parks. On the first day we went for the morning and then came back to the house for naps mid-day. We returned for a couple of hours in the evening and Josh suddenly snapped and had an epic meltdown– which is crazy high-pitched screaming for 10 minutes (it’s never fun when strangers are shielding their ears from the screaming). We learned from that experience, and the next day we just went for a couple of hours in the morning. Josh had a blast playing at the house and Rachel napped well. After the kids went to bed, my mom graciously baby sat and hubby and I went back for a few hours to enjoy some rides.

 

Hubby and I having fun (sans our children) one evening.

Hubby and I having fun (sans our children) one evening.

IMG_20160228_204215179

6. Take a good stroller. There’s a ton of walking involved on trips like these, such as: Getting to your gate at the airport, walking from the hotel or house to the park (our walk was 1.7 miles each way), and not to mention walking around the parks. Bring a stroller that has reclining seats so that your children can nap in it. We took a double Bob stroller and never had to collapse it once while at the parks. Don’t be afraid to take your nice, expensive stroller. There are expensive strollers everywhere you look at Disneyland! They are also parked everywhere unattended while people go on rides. Just bring your valuables with you.

(On a side note, Disneyland does rent single strollers for $15/day. We opted not to go that route because we would have had to rent two strollers, they don’t recline, and the word on the street was that they’re hard and uncomfortable.)

2016-02-27 08.46.19

7. Have your diaper bag situation down to an exact science. Hubby and I did. We each took a back pack, and each of us had a ziplock bag with wipes, ointment and diapers for both children. We weren’t sure if we’d always be together at any given point in time, so we were both prepared to change diapers. In my backpack I also had my wallet, spare change of clothes for Rachel, burp cloths, two lightweight large blankets (for swaddling/shade), hats for both kids, spare pacifiers (for meltdowns), snacks galore, sippy cup, nursing cover, sunblock, and water for me. If you’re looking for a nice diaper bag that’s also a backpack, here’s the one I have (and recommend!).

8. Avoid rides with long lines at all costs. For an almost two year old, waiting in line is equivalent to getting your teeth pulled. Stick with rides that have a 5 minute wait time!

9. Download the Glympse and the Disneyland app before you go (both free). I hadn’t heard about Glympse before this trip, but it’s is basically using your phone as a tracking device (when you decide to share your location) so that you and your family members can see where the other is at at any given time. Obviously not everyone wanted to go on toddler rides, so we split up a lot. It was easy to tell when a ride was over or if a person was still waiting in line using the app. The Disneyland app was invaluable because it had live wait times for each ride in both parks. Great information to know before making a trek across the park!

10. Review rides before you go. Make sure they are appropriate for your baby/toddler. I literally watched YouTube videos of rides before we went, because several toddler rides at Disneyland have scary themes! If they don’t have scary content, they are at a minimum very loud and overstimulating. Rachel cried during The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at one point because it was scary and loud for her (Josh did okay). Both did fine on It’s a Small World. Our kids don’t have much exposure to TV (Rachel has none) so we definitely took that into consideration when choosing what rides they could go on.

On the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

On the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

It's a Small World.

It’s a Small World.

11. Even if you’re like us and your child has had a meltdown before even entering the park, try to recover and have an upbeat attitude (not something I’m gifted at). Look around and realize that children are melting down everywhere, at all times of the day. You’re not alone, and you’re not the only crazy one to take such little children to Disneyland. (All I had to do was just be thankful that I wasn’t pregnant at the time, because that would have made the trip about 100x harder!) Perspective is everything.  🙂

2 Comments

Filed under Baby, Toddler, Traveling