The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy! I'll begin at the beginning...
Crappy Birthday to You
Jacob turned 6 on February 6. It was supposed to have been his "Golden Birthday", as some call it. Not so much.
The Tuesday before, Caleb was sick, running a fever of 103. By the afternoon he was feeling better, but he was still running fever. Wednesday morning, he was feeling better but still running a low-grade fever, so we stayed home from our normal Wednesday errands. That evening, Jacob started complaining of being cold and not feeling well. I took his temperature and it registered 103, too. He still wasn't feeling well Thursday, and Caleb was still running a low-grade fever. My parents and sisters were supposed to come celebrate all the February birthdays with us, but we weren't sure what the boys had and didn't want to pass anything on to them, so they decided to put off the trip for another weekend.
Friday was Jacob's birthday. He was feeling better, and he was very thirsty from all the fever he'd had. I warned him to sip some water until he had eaten something, but his thirst was too great. He guzzled a few little glasses of water, then promptly threw it up all over the kitchen floor. While I got everything cleaned up, he munched on half a package of Saltines, washed down with a Capri-Sun since he refused to drink anymore water. After he got cleaned up, he stayed on the couch for an hour or so, then was up playing the rest of the day. That night we had tacos for his birthday supper and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It ended up not being such a bad day after all, though it didn't turn out anything like we had planned.
Last week, on Wednesday afternoon, after a day of errands and playing in the park and eating free ice cream from Chick-Fil-A, Jacob started complaining of being cold and not feeling well. He felt hot, so I took his temperature. He was running a fever of 103.5! Billy's parents were supposed to be coming in the next day to celebrate Jacob's and Billy's birthdays. Not knowing what Jacob had, we weren't sure what to do. We hated to have two birthday weekends in a row canceled. I took him to the doctor the next morning to see if we could figure out what was going on. He tested negative for both the flu and strep. The next step was to swab his throat for a culture, which would take a few days to grow. (That came back negative as well.)
Billy's parents decided to come on, and Jacob ended up feeling well the rest of the weekend. Thankfully we were able to get some celebrating done. He would've been heartbroken if both weekends had been canceled.
For weeks I had been planning on baking Billy a rum pound cake for his birthday. The last time I had made one for him was for his 22nd birthday. He's mentioned that cake several times in the past, but it's not the easiest cake to make. The three cups of sugar in it have to be mixed in one spoonful at a time, not to mention the slow process of mixing in small amounts of flour and milk, alternating every time. It wears my arms out! But since this was a special birthday, I figured I'd just go ahead and make it. I purchased all the ingredients I would need and hoped Billy wouldn't notice them. I just had to wait for the right moment.
My original plan was to make it on his actual birthday while he was at work. He'd be thrilled to walk in the door and smell it baking. When we found out which weekend his parents were coming, I decided to make it Thursday so we could have it for the whole weekend. Then Jacob was sick and I had to take him to the doctor and we didn't know what the plans were going to be until late that afternoon. I decided I would make it Friday as soon as he and his dad left for their outing to Fry's Electronics and Harbor Freight.
As soon as they left, I got busy getting my ingredients measured and ordered. I recruited Caleb to pour in the ingredients as needed so I could just mix, mix, mix and not have to stop for anything. I thought that would speed up the process, which had taken as long as an hour and a half before. Even with Caleb helping, my arms were getting tired. I stopped a time or two to rest for a minute, then we'd get back to it. I noticed my mixer was getting slower and slower, even as I increased it to its top speed. On my next break, I could smell something strange. I bent over the mixer, which was starting to feel hot, and realized the motor was about to burn up. No problem! I'd just run to the store and buy a new mixer. Easier said than done!
Billy's dad's truck was parked in the driveway right behind my van, and his mom didn't have a key with her. I was stuck. I thought about calling a friend to borrow a mixer, but we thought that would take too long, especially if I couldn't find anyone at home. We ended up having to call them to come home and move the truck so I could leave, and the only way to do that was to ruin the surprise. Billy was still surprised, but not in the way I had hoped.
Now that the hard part was over, all I had to do was run right out, buy a mixer, and finish making the cake. Again, easier said than done. The first place I went didn't have any mixers under $40, which I refuse to pay for something I rarely use. The next store I visited had one for $19, but they were out of stock. They say the third time is the charm, and in the third store, I found a mixer for $22. I bought it and rushed home, hoping the longer-than-anticipated time lapse hadn't hurt the cake.
As soon as I got home, Caleb and I got back to mixing. The new mixer was amazing, beating through the thick batter with ease on the lowest setting! We finished up quickly, and the cake was finally in the oven. A little more than an hour later, Billy and his dad returned. I was just drizzling on the glaze.
The cake turned out great! It was absolutely delicious and we enjoyed every last bite, finishing the last of it Tuesday night. And in the midst of all the drama, Billy's mom recalled having her mother's old stand mixer, which she's going to give me. I'll be making that cake more often now. :o)
Holding my Breath
Saturday morning, Billy's mom and I headed out to The Rock Barrell so she could pick out some beads for me to make her a few jewelry sets. On the way, we saw a nice Hummer H2 almost lose control as it tried to exit the HOV lane illegally. It got caught on the rather large lane divider bumps and started rocking back and forth, straddling two lanes. Then it veered toward the concrete divider separating the oncoming traffic as it crossed back into the HOV lane. I was fully anticipating witnessing a crash, but the driver got it back under control, slowed down momentarily, then sped off again.
As we were exiting the freeway, the man in front of us almost caused an accident by cutting across a few lanes of traffic so he could make a rather abrupt right turn. Horns were blowing (not mine) and tires were screeching (also not mine). Nothing happened other than there being a few more angry drivers on the road. We finally made it to the bead store without any other incidents.
After we left The Rock Barrell, we stopped in at Michael's for a few last things. When I started the van to leave Michael's, which is only a mile or so from the house, I heard a strange grinding noise. Not sure if it was real or imaginary, I turned off the van, then started it again. It sounded normal, so I pulled on out of my space. Then a little grinding started again, this time with some squeaking. I cautiously drove the short distance home, constantly monitoring the temperature gauge on the dash. It wasn't overheating, but when I started pulling into the garage, we could see steam or smoke of some sort rising from the hood. When we got out of the van, we could smell a strange burning smell. Billy checked it after the engine cooled down and said it probably had something to do with the coolant that had been leaking from the engine. It was now dripping steadily, making a large puddle on the garage floor. We didn't dare drive it anywhere for fear we would cause even more damage to the engine.
Monday morning, I called the Mazda dealership and told the someone in the service department what was going on. He referred me to a towing company they use, and I arranged to have my van towed an hour later. That afternoon we found out that a water pump bearing had failed, causing the grinding and squeaking and leaking. They were going to have to order a new water pump, which would be there Wednesday morning. My van would be ready Wednesday evening.
Down in the Mouth
Jacob had a dentist appointment Tuesday morning to get his spacer put in. This appointment had been rescheduled because he was running fever the day before his original appointment (which was the day the mixer died...). Since the van was in the shop, we were going to need to use Billy's vehicle. We all got up early and took him to work, came home and did a little school, then headed to the dentist.
The procedure was quick. When they called me to the back desk, the assistant was showing me an example of the spacer they had put in. It was the wrong one. When I told her it was the wrong one, she responded with, "Hmm. Well, this one is less expensive." I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with her. We had already paid for the other spacer, but all my paperwork was at home. I wasn't expecting to need it. When we finally got home after running some other errands, I called the office back and left a message for another assistant who had written up the quote for all the work to be done. She checked Jacob's file and realized the tech hadn't seen her note about which spacer to fit him for. We made an appointment for Thursday (today) to get him fitted for the correct spacer.
As I think about this, it may be a blessing in disguise. When Jacob was first fitted for the incorrect spacer, over a month ago, he hadn't lost either of his front bottom baby teeth. Over the course of the next month, they both came out, with one of the permanent teeth coming in crooked. I think the wire would've had to be readjusted or they would've had to take impressions again to make one to fit right since the alignment is different. Or maybe not. I'm no dentist. Anyway, he'll be getting the correct spacer put in two weeks from now.
One Last Thing (I Hope!)
We went yesterday evening to pick up the van. The service representative who had been working with me drove the van up to the door and noticed the "Check Engine" light was on. He asked if it had been on lately, but I told him no, I notice things like that. He checked it and found the intake manifold runner something-or-other was wide open. He lifted the hood and checked and found a cracked plastic casing around a cable. He checked on the part, told us the cost, and said he'd take care of putting it on himself with no labor charge. Thank you! I have an appointment for Monday at 10:00, and there won't be any problem with driving my van before that gets fixed. Hopefully after that's complete, we'll be good to go for a while with no more van problems. (A near-thorough check showed everything else was fine. I say near-thorough because they didn't catch the engine light warning until it was time for me to take my van home.)
Maybe life can get back to normal next week. I miss my regular routine.