2012 proved to be quite a summer for my family. So many things happened and strangely, there was an overwhelming theme running through those months: water.
First, it was our inaugural "pool summer" - we had a pool membership at the local country club for the first time. We had visions of spending many a summer afternoon lounging around the pool. (Or something like that. We have 3 kids, you know.) We kicked off the summer right, spending Memorial Day soaking up the sun and fun at the pool.
About a week and a half into summer vacation, we headed for our annual beach trip. (See? More water. Stay with me.) We had to skip our trip last year for the very good reason of me being approximately nine hundred months pregnant with one Charlotte Olivia, so we were extra anxious to hit the surf and sand.
The first couple of days were filled with - guess what? Rain! Finally, on Wednesday, we were able to take full advantage of all the beach has to offer. We spent most of the day and the next at the hotel water park, the kids' favorite place. Thursday afternoon, we went to one of the pools with a couple of small water slides. Emily, 9, walked up to one of the slides and slipped, falling on her left arm. She came out screaming bloody murder. Given her strong propensity for the dramatic, we assumed she wasn't badly hurt. She finally calmed down, but never really recovered. We moved to the beach, still assuming she was fine, but she just laid on a towel and wouldn't play. She wanted to return to our room, so she, Charlotte and I went back. She struggled to change out of her bathing suit and said she didn't feel well. I was beginning to suspect she had truly hurt herself since she was carrying on for such a long time.
Finally, after an early dinner, we decided either a) talk of taking her to a doctor would snap her out of it or b) she really did NEED to go to a doctor. We went to one Urgent Care facility and it was closed. (At 6pm. For real.) So, we stopped by the hotel to ask about the nearest ER and off we went. Strangely enough, the ER was empty and we got right in. Emily was very upset about being there but seemed to know it was necessary. But she was so nervous and jumpy that when a nurse came in to ask questions, Emily screamed, "Don't touch me!!! Nooo!!" (And I DO mean screamed. Y'all. It was downright embarrassing.) When that same nurse came back a bit later with two syringes full of Motrin, Emily nearly jumped out of her skin, thinking they were shots!!
We spent about two hours there - Eric and Caroline in the waiting room, Caroline (4) having been
She got fixed up with a snazzy sling (no cast, apparently they don't do that much anymore, plus the break was so high near her shoulder that it would've been hard to cast anyway) and we left the hospital around 9:30. Poor baby!! We felt awful that we'd downplayed her pain and waited so long to take her to the hospital. As a side note, this will be the feature story on my Mother of the Year Award application. It should seal my victory, yes? But we reassured ourselves a smidgen by remembering that she is a classic wolf-crier and that the break itself didn't get any worse in a couple of hours. (And she'd instinctively kept it almost entirely still because of the pain, so she didn't do any more damage. She suffered through the pain a little longer without any relief, but it was going to hurt regardless.)
This part of our story is also known as "How to Double the Price of Your Summer Vacation in One Easy Step."
We immediately assumed our summer was down the drain. We were pretty bummed, but Emily was a tough cookie - she had a pretty positive attitude from the start. What a kid! The next day, a gorgeous, hot, sunny day, Eric took Caroline to the water park for the day and I took the other two shopping. We hit the party store for birthday party stuff for Charlotte (her first birthday was the next week) and the mall. We had a great time and it took Emily's mind off her arm. Girl loves to shop.
After returning home that weekend (and surviving the first attempt at bathing the broken-armed kid...no easy task!) we had to visit the pediatrician Monday morning. He sent us to an orthopedic specialist, who took more x-rays. He was super reassuring and even said Emily could get in the pool and let her sling dry out afterward. That made her feel much better!
The next weekend, Eric was golfing while I took the girls shopping for new bathing suits - Emily needed one that was easier to maneuver with her sling and of course, Caroline had to have one, too. When we got home, I walked into the bathroom to wash my hands, carrying the baby. (Paranoid germaphobe that I am, I have to wash my hands as soon as I get home from anywhere. And Charlotte spends 75% of her time on my hip.) I turned on the faucet and - snap! - it broke off...water shot straight to the ceiling, running down the walls and pouring gallons of water on me immediately. I was in shock! I screamed, set the baby down on the floor in the hall and realized I couldn't turn off the water with no handle. Fortunately, I thought quickly enough to get under the sink and shut off the water supply, but of course I was already soaked and the bathroom was flooded. Wow! (Husband was impressed that I knew how to turn off the water supply. Du-uhh.)
The funny thing was, I went out to the living room (which is all of about 10 feet from the bathroom) and the girls just looked at me like "What? Why are you all wet?" They hadn't even responded to my screams. Thanks a bunch!
The faucet was completely broken and not fixable, so we had to buy a new one and wait to have it installed a couple of days later. (We're not the fix-it types.) It was inconvenient to have one less sink, but what can you do, right? Here's the purty new hardware, brushed nickel:
That same week, the big girls went to VBS...the theme? "Operation Overboard." MORE water! The entire church was transformed with ocean and water images. The girls had an absolute blast and VBS itself kind of answered a prayer, as we were looking for a new church home. (Long story, but some very high-school-clique-style drama at our old church had really turned us away. We weren't involved in it at all, but we didn't want to be there anymore.) We ended up joining the church where the girls went to VBS and we love, love, love it.
But I digress. (How unlike me.)
As the summer continued, we spent as much time at the pool as possible. Emily was a good sport even though she couldn't really swim - she was just happy to be able to get in the water. July was awfully rainy, though, stealing away some of our pool days. (Sometimes about 5 minutes after we'd get to the pool. Blargh.) After 6 weeks in the sling and a couple of more appointments with the orthopedic doc, Emily was set free in late July! The break - which had been a very clean one - was healed completely and she was allowed to work back up to regular activities. She even learned to jump off the high (and low) dive - for her that was HUGE. Huge, people.
As we got into August, we were trying to enjoy the last bit of summer - school starts early in these parts - and spending the last before-school weekend at the pool. That Sunday, we were poolin' it when a vicious storm rolled in. We went inside the "snack shack" to eat dinner and wait out the rain, hoping to avoid being drenched. It was the worst storm we'd had all summer and the rain continued to pour - POUR - down for an hour before we finally decided to make a run for it - it didn't seem to be letting up. Eric got the car and picked us up as close to a door as possible, but we were still soaked instantly. Leaving the club, we saw standing water in several places. We were amazed at the amount of water everywhere.
School was supposed to start the next day and Emily's school has a ridiculous policy of not posting the class lists (letting kids know which teacher they will have) until the first morning. Each year we've checked the night before just in case but apparently a list-hanging ghost posts the lists at 6am that day. (Really, what's that all about?) We decided to give it a try, though, and drove by the school on our way home. That meant taking a different route than usual, but it's only slightly out of the way.
We drove by school - no lists, of course - and then headed for home. About 1/2 mile from home, there was a bit of water in the street. It was a totally flat area of the road and little indication there was any need to worry. We considered turning around but decided it was okay to keep going. Mistaaaaaaaaaake! As we drove into the wide but seemingly-not-deep puddle, it began to rise, water rushing down one street and into the intersection where we were. And then...the engine died. So there we were, water rapidly rising and the rain still pouring heavily, and our car is deadsies. We sat in shock for a minute, wondering what to do. Another car was headed in our direction, but they saw us and stopped about 30 feet away, a safe distance from the rushing water.
A man emerged from the car and walked over to see if he could help us. God bless kind strangers! We decided we needed to get out of the car and the man offered to drive us home. But there was the teensy problem of a foot of muddy water standing around the car; we quickly decided we'd have to climb out the windows so all that water didn't rush into the car. Yep, Dukes of Hazard style. First, I reached back and unbuckled Charlotte and brought her into the front seat with me. Eric climbed out his window and slogged around to the passenger side. We had the girls leave their shoes (flip flops) behind so they didn't wash away in the water. I remembered to grab the garage door opener and my cell phone and I held onto them tightly...I wasn't about to go fishing! Eric pulled Emily out the back window and the other man pulled Caroline out (she's a lot more easygoing about strangers and stuff). They carried the girls through the water and to the other car, where the man's wife and young son were waiting. Then Eric came back and got Charlotte so I could climb out my window. (Amazingly, no one fell out a window into the water...not even klutzy old mom!) The water was up to my knees. We'd decided Eric would stay with or near the car (it was smack in the middle of the street, after all) and the nice strangers would drive us girls home. So, off we went - luckily there is a different, simple route home that didn't involve the flooded area because of where the man was parked. (We couldn't have accessed that route without going through the flooded area, though, in case you were wondering.)
We were soaked with rain and flood water, and the man - who was wearing jeans - was soaked from helping us; he'd walked right into the flood water to help without a second thought. At least we were still in bathing suits and cover-ups! When we approached our house, I could see the driveway and street were flooded. We had to stop ahead of it to avoid the water. Just as we stopped, two of our neighbors, John and Keith, walked up, looking for us. They'd decided to check on us since they hadn't seen us and weren't sure if we were at home. We have awesome neighbors! I opened the garage and immediately, water poured into it. Some had seeped in anyway, but more flooded in right away. But it was the only way to get inside. The water in the garage was only about to my ankles, so it wasn't too bad. It's all relative!
After getting the girls out of the rain, I ran back outside with my camera because I knew Eric would never believe the water. I snapped a few shots of the foot of water by our back fence and side yard, which was entirely under water. Many neighbors were out checking on each other and marveling at the water - everyone said they'd never seen anything like it before. 4-6 inches of rain fell in an hour! We do have a creek in our backyard, but it wasn't even the real problem - the drainage system is simply not made to withstand that much water that fast. This is a portion of the driveway and side yard...
John and Keith, having been brought up to speed on our situation, were planning to help Eric push our car out of the water, but Keith and his wife needed to pick up their son at church first. Eric had been taken in by some kind people we didn't even know, so he had a dry place to wait. (Our car was close to their house.) After Keith returned about 15 minutes later, he and John headed up to help Eric. They were able to push the car out of the water, but it still wouldn't start. They all hoped it would start after drying out for a few hours.
They brought Eric home, and by that time, all the standing water had drained. It had been less than an hour, but somehow it was all gone. (And no, he couldn't believe the pictures.) Everything was sopping wet, but there was no standing water left. The garage had drained - but it smelled so bad!! We found only a tiny bit of water inside the house. Amazing.
The next morning, the car still wouldn't start so it had to be towed. Boo. We were able to get a rental late in the day (not easy when you need a minivan - we were lucky it only took a few hours!) We filed a claim with our insurance, which lifted a potentially huge financial burden off our shoulders. We found out the next day that the car needed a new engine and carpet, so we had to wait for the insurance company to look at it to determine if it would be deemed a total loss.
Guess what? It was.
Because of the severe flooding all across the city, the first day of school was delayed by two days. A few of the city's school buses were damaged and a couple of schools had minor water damage.
Thursday, we had to go clean out all of our personal items from the car...and boy, did it stink in there. Yowsa. Many things were water-damaged or just flat out soaked through. I had to throw away a few things from the back of the van. We rescued all the girls' stuff and such, and said goodbye. (Goodbyes are very difficult for Emily.)
That weekend, we had to go car shopping...fun. Ugh! We were fortunate to be able to find a newer van (same model we'd had) with less miles on it for almost the exact same monthly payment, with some bargaining and a down payment of our settlement check.Whew!
The flood was the end of our water-related incidents, at least for the time being. But what if we choose to look at water in a different way? Not as the injury-and-disaster-causing element, but as the life-giving one. Water is essential to life and water is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Maybe all the water was supposed to remind us of God's presence, His ability to bring us through the deep waters, His love as deep as the ocean. He kept us safe through all these trials,
Consider John 4:13-14
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’”
And to borrow from one of the kids' VBS songs from this summer....
"The river's deep
the river's wide
The river's water is alive
So sink or swim,
I'm diving in!
So sink or swim,
I'm diving in!"
At times we might have thought we were sinking, but we've gone through the deep waters and come out swimming. Thank you, Lord, for that!
And despite all the troubles, it was ultimately a wonderful summer - those puddles of discontent were nothing compared to the oceans of despair that almost drowned us at other times in our lives. (I'm talking to you, 2010.) We can look back and smile at those puddles...they make fond memories and great family stories.
And just a little take-away advice...don't drive through puddles. They're deceptive little boogers.