It's been a long time since I've done anything here. A while ago, I was ready to post something, but I discovered that Bravenet had changed things so much, I didn't know where to start. My folder of pictures has disappeared and I have to use something called java to upload anymore. When I tried that, I was told there was an error, but no suggestions were given as to how to fix it. So, for now, I'm stuck with text only. I think.
We have been plodding along homeschooling each day without much fanfare. Recently, we finished reading the book of Exodus in our daily Bible reading. In October, we went to see a reproduction of the wilderness tabernacle, in Lancaster. We had planned the trip way back in August for during a school break for us, as we celebrated sukkot, the feast of tabernacles. It turned out to be the end of the week after the shootings in an Amish schoolhouse. By the time we went, the media had left, for which we were glad. We had a mostly sunny day as we drove, stopping to pick up my mother on our way to Lancaster. Michael had made some decorations for his Bubbe's sukkah, and after we left Lancaster and took my mother home, we stayed to visit, getting to sit in her sukkah. I have photos I'd like to share, but I'm not sure how to do it at this point.
We had a very nice Thanksgiving day, going to visit relatives again. It seemed November would pass without much fanfare also, except for Michael losing both of his 2 front teeth within 2 weeks. I scheduled a portrait appointment for December 1st, while you could still see the big gap. Not too much excitement for November on the whole, but then in the late afternoon of the last day, Michael was goofing off and broke his arm. I phoned David at work telling him to come home right away, which he did. (He had our only car.) The doctor's office had already closed for the day, but I called their emergency line. After about 2 hours, the doctor finally called back. Michael had fallen asleep by then, and woken up again. I had just given Michael a dose of children's Advil. The doctor said to tape something straight to the arm and come in first thing in the morning. We weren't even sure it was broken, as I could feel nothing unusual gently running my fingers up the length of his arm. I had to use a short wooden spoon and masking tape, plus a sock over it all, to follow the doctor's orders to keep it straight. (It was between the wrist and elbow that was hurt.) The next morning, David's getting into work had to wait for the doctor visit where I was nearly certain that a broken bone would be ruled out. The doctor noticed a faint swelling and sent us for x-rays at another building in the complex. As they were done, I tried to remain upbeat and happened to glance a computer screen as Michael's x-ray showed up. Since Michael loves to read human body books, I told him I had just seen his x-ray. It was the last one the technician took, so she asked me if I wanted to see it again. She brought up the image again, and pointed to where it was broken, but said nothing about it to Michael. She then let him get out of the chair where he had to sit, and brought him over to show him the x-rays too. She didn't point out anything, and he didn't notice the break. He was probably focusing on all the little bones in his hand. She told us to go back to our doctor's office and wait. After the news got to the doctor that the bone was broken, he called and scheduled an appointment for Michael with an orthopedic doctor. We had to wait at the pediatrician's office for a report, and then to stop back at the imaging place to pick up the x-rays to take along to the orthopedic doctor's office. We had about an hour and a half until that appointment, so we stopped at a McD's for brunch (none of us had eaten anything) and to take David to work. Michael and I circled back and arrived with about 25 minutes to fill out paperwork before the scheduled appointment. That doctor looked at the x-ray and asked Michael if he'd given any thought as to what color he wanted his cast to be. Michael was speechless, so the doctor suggested red and Michael nodded yes. I had never seen anyone get a cast, so I was surprised when after soaking something red in water, wrapping it around Michael's arm and patting it down, the doctor said, "there you go... all done." I said, "but it's wet." The doctor chuckled and said it would be dry by the time we reached the car. Yep. It was. Oh, and that doctor let Michael keep the x-rays. As we got into the car, I thought we probably would just go home at this point, but I looked at a clock and realized we could still make the portrait appointment, scheduled for just before 4 PM. We had about 30-45 minutes till then, so we went. We took in the x-rays and with the cast, we decided to document with portraits what was his first cast... and it better be the last too! Lost 2 teeth, gained a cast...
Ready for the merry-go-round to come to a stop, that elusive brass ring stayed just out of reach. Three days later on Monday, our car would not drive anymore. This discovery occured about 7 PM, and about 20 miles from home. Thank goodness we had already gotten David a AAA membership. The tow truck got him and our car closer to home, at a local garage (actually the closest dealer, since that was the agreement with my father when he bought us this car, used). A friend from our congregation agreed to pick David up and bring him home. Naturally, David had to call in to work the next day since he had no ride. They made it clear they expected him to be there the next day. (Ironically, his boss lives in our town too, but refuses to give him rides.) Homeschool went on as usual, including the Hebrew co-op class that comes to our house each Tuesday. During the class, the garage called and told David the car's transmission was gone. They said the company no longer made the transmission needed since it's an old car that has been discontinued years before. They were trying to find out if another manufacturer's transmission might work, or else we could buy a transmission out of a junked car in the next state over (that would sell for $1000, and the labor and other little odds and ends would cost us an additional $1200... and there was no guarantee after 30 days). A little later, David got the call that the other-manufacturer-option wasn't going to work. This all occured during the co-op, but I couldn't process it then. Later, David and I decided that keeping our 93 Previa wasn't going to work. Since I had asked for a loan from my father and stepmother, I phoned them back to say, "forget it." Now we were carless, and quite honestly, sort of numb. I was worried about both of us getting to our jobs, so I prayed and phoned my boss to tell him I probably wouldn't have a way to work for Saturday in the late afternoon. I asked a coworker then for a ride on Sunday, my usual day to work all day. She agreed to give me a ride to, but not from. I'd have to call someone else for a ride home. Later that Tuesday evening, my father called and said he'd have to get us another used car. He wasn't happy. I had already sent out e-mails to our congregation and the local homeschool support group to see if anyone already going that way, might be able to give us rides in exchange for gas and tolls money. (Toll roads are a way of life around here, and we live walking distance to one.) There is a grocery store and a branch of our bank right across the street, and Michael and I have often walked there with a wagon. The grocery stores allows us to bring it in... we asked. After my father phoned us, the friend who had picked David up from the garage Monday night called to say he and his wife wanted to rent a car for us, for a week, to give us time to at least shop for another used car. While on that call, my cell phone rang and another local homeschooling family called to offer the use of one of their cars for the next 5 days, needing it back Sunday night after church. We gratefully accepted their offer, and the husband of that family would pick up David the next morning around 6-ish on his way to an airport where he needed to get to for an early morning flight, and then David could take the car. They even gave us $20 towards gas or tolls. We were dumbfounded and plotted to give it back to them. (They would not accept it though.) Back to Tuesday night... David told the other friend about this car loan, so though we'd begun to fill out the form on the internet about renting a car, we cleared that out, and thanked the ones who had offered to pay for us renting a car, which was not needed now. Within a few minutes, someone else from our congregation e-mailed us and asked us if we wanted a free car they were willing to give us. They would bring it to congregation on Saturday. It was a 5 speed (manual transmission) that ran well, has AC and a new stereo system. The challenge would be learning to drive a manual, as neither of us knew how. The offerer said he'd teach us in the large lower, empty parking lot after congregation. We said yes, we'd like it. He sent us some links of websites to read up on how to learn, though all of them recommended still having an experienced driver in the passenger seat to teach us. I printed out the info from the websites, which we both began reading in the days prior to our first lesson on Saturday. So, we had a loaned automatic until Sunday night, and a new used 1992 Honda Accord 5-speed beginning Saturday afternoon, which we needed to learn to drive. On Wednesday, I phoned the garage where our Previa was still sitting and told them we would have to get something else to drive, and could I stop over and clean out the stuff we owned from the car first? I took the loaned car to do that, and returned in time for David to leave with it for work Wednesday morning. I stopped to ask the service advisor we usually spoke to if the dealership might be willing to buy it from us, and he said it would need to be appraised first. He said he'd call us later when the appraisers got into work that day. The service advisor called later to say it was appraised at $0 value, but he offered to check around and see if any of the mechanics wanted to buy our Previa, at least for parts. I thanked him for offering to help us. A few hours later, he phoned to say a mechanic wanted to buy it for $200. I was thrilled, and said I'd come in Thursday to handle this. First I would have to go get a replacement title for the car, since I had misplaced it, most likely during our last move. The $200 would help pay for all the paperwork and inspections that would be needed on the Honda. The emissions test alone was $28. The safety inspection is good through next March. We also had the county decal we would need to get, taxes and titling, registration, etc. That all came to about $100. I figured the leftover helped with the last week's extra expenses of the doctor visits when Michael got the cast. It's been a week. Or two.
Late last Saturday night, I cautiously drove the Honda to a large empty parking lot across the street, and tried driving in circles as I had done earlier that day during my one and only lesson. I noticed the gas level was just below half, so I decided to try and go fill it while there weren't too many cars on the road. Somehow, I had forgotten or too briefly read about never downshifting into first gear to slow the car down. I stalled over and over. I had the 4-way flashers blinking, and a homemade sign in the back window: "KEEP BACK! Driver still learning manual transmission." Some drivers were careful around me, other's seemed to welcome trouble and pulled up close behind me at red lights. After the drive to the gas station, and back towards home, I'd had enough. Sunday night after work, I drove the loaned automatic home, and then let David drive it (to return it to its owners), following Michael and I in the Honda. More stalling. Eventually, I remembered or read with understanding the caution to never downshift into first gear while the car was still moving. Duh. Monday morning, I gulped my coffee at home, and then the adventure began. Still with the 4-way flashers, and the homemade sign, I tried my driving on the highway. There was no other way. I needed to get the car's emission test done, the titling, registration, decal, etc. done during the day while David was at work. Naturally, hills and stop signs abounded where I needed to go. Oh, and a shopping mall where I worked, was a few blocks away, and it's still just a few weeks until Christmas. Thinking that David had signed all the appropriate spots on the title we'd been given, I thought it would be a one-stop deal. It wasn't. It wasn't until Tuesday late afternoon that all was done with the car. Wednesday was a day mostly at home, homeschooling and laundry. Thursday, I took the car to get gas on the way home from David's office in the morning. (David is suffering from kidney problems and way too much stress at work, so I'm driving him to and from, while I get in more practice on this car. Later, he'll take up the driving lessons again, but at least I'm able to fully get the hang of it.) The weather was warm the past few days, but we had learned the apartment complex had already turned off the water for their car wash area, for the winter, since there had been a first freeze earlier. The car needed a bath, so I decided with some trepidation to try using (for the first time) the gas station's car wash facility. I inquired first if I'd be required to put the car in reverse, since I was still learning to drive it, noting it was a manual. The gas station attendent assured me that I only needed to drive in one side and out the other, all going forward. I bought the cheapest wash, to see how this thing worked. He told me if I had any questions, I could press a button and he'd come. Afterwards, I realized that was only where I needed to stop and punch in a numerical code to get it all started. I punched in the code, needing to sheild my eyes from the bright sun in the direction of the signage I needed to deal with just outside the building. (Later, I would see a large sign, posted on the side the sun rises on, so you couldn't really see it if you were there in the morning, with the sun in your eyes. It probably gave info I needed once inside the building.) I drove in and shut off the car... that seemed to make sense. Yes, in a moment, a large contraption on tracks began to go from the front of the car to the back, back and forth it went a few times. Michael thought it was too loud, and covered his ears. I noticed something that said how many cycles were remaining. When it said zero, another light came on and flashed directions to drive forward. This is a manual, remember. I'm not too good at this still. I hoped the car would not stall. I carefully and slowly pulled the car forward, even up onto something like a speed bump. The back garage-style door had closed behind us, I guess at the beginning of the washing cycle. The front garage-style door never opened. I was sitting there, waiting. The car's engine was running, and there were no open doors on the building. We were inside the building. I thought perhaps I had not inched forward enough... must be a sensor that will open the door. I very carefully inched forward some more. Nothing. I inched again, until the car's bumper just barely touched the door in front of me. Nothing. I began to wonder, and then slightly panic. I took out my receipt to phone on my cell, the gas station's phone. No number was given. There were no signs or instructions inside the building telling me what to do in case of emergency. I shut the car off and called a friend (the same one who had been willing to rent a car for us the week before). I told her the address and asked her to look up the station in the phone book and call them. I beeped my car's horn. I opened the door quickly and yelled, "HELP!" shutting it quickly so as to not let the car's fumes get into the car. (I forgot the vent was open however.) I began to feel sick so I said it to my friend and said, "call 911." She hung up with me and did so. I continued to beep the car's horn, now and then looking back at Michael and asking him if he felt OK. He said, "yes," each time. At some point, I phoned 911 myself and they told me that someone else had just phoned in and an ambulance was on its way. I worried that an ambulance was too extreme, but the 911 operator said it wouldn't hurt for them to still show up and make sure I was OK in the end. I was crying and freaking out by the time the gas station attendant somehow walked into the closed building where we were. He was standing by my window. I opened the door and he said I needed to back the car up. I said I couldn't and tried to hand him the keys. He took one look inside the car and said he couldn't cause it was a manual. He didn't know how to drive one. I was stunned. He said he could help me out earlier, when he was wanting to sell me a car wash. With no choice, I got back in and tried to reverse the car. (At that point, I just felt like collecting my son, maybe my purse, and abandoning the whole situation for the gas station to sort out.) I did get the car to move without stalling, but still the garage door would not open. Another attendent showed up and with 2 of them pulling at the door, they mananged to open the rear garage door. They said I needed to back it up more. I somehow did and when I got outside of the building, the car stalled. I shut everything off and opened the door wide. The ambulance just pulled up and the driver and another guy walked over to me. BTW, the 911 operator stayed on the phone with me the whole time until I said the ambulance was there. The gas station attendent who could drive a manual told me to get into the car on the passenger side. I said no, I was first going to talk to the ambulance guys. The attendent was adamant that I should ignore them and get into the car. I was adamant too, and refused. When the ambulance guys were satisfied that I was physically OK after talking to them (Michael never had any trouble breathing, so I chalked my feeling sick up to being scared witless, and I guess they concurred), they left. I got into the car and the attendent backed it up going around a tight curve and not hitting the brick building directly behind us as he made the curve, one lane wide. He apologized and offered a refund of the price we had paid for the car wash: $6. He admitted the garage door must have been broken, and he'd have to get someone out to fix it. The other attendent quickly put out a traffic cone blocking the entrance to the car wash before they had another victim. I refused the refund, saying it wasn't about the money, I was just scared and wanted to get away from there. I drove home, stalling and grinding the gears at least once. I was afraid to drive it again. And I promised myself I'd never go there (or any other enclosed car wash) for the rest of my life. I phoned my friend back to tell her we were finally home, and asked where they take their car to get it washed. She said Embassy Autowash, where you get out of your car and watch from outside your car, as it gets washed. That's the ticket. When I told David about our experience, he was furious. I'd like to see the company I had gone to, change its signage: mark the regular doors we could have walked through, had we known they were there, etc. Post a phone number or emergency button you can push from inside the building, once the washing apparatus is done moving and there are zero cycles remaining. Whatever.
So, it's been a wild ride these past few weeks. David learned he has a cyst in one of his kidneys, but can't get off work until January for the next needed test. Seems if one of his coworkers is off work already, no one else can get off work, no matter what. With Christmas coming, there's not much chance if you get sick and need to take off... they don't care at work. He said if he suddenly slipped into a coma, his boss would want to know if he could come into work the day after he woke up, or if he had a heart attack, could he come in the next day? Too much stress there...
Oh good. At least this works again. Not sure why it seemed my pictures were all gone before. It's been an adventure.