**WARNING** REALLY LONG POST!
We recently took our first 'true' family vacation. Our friends invited us to rent a house with them in Florida and we couldn't pass it up! The thing is, never going on a family vacation before...to Florida...Disney...taking a large road trip...all in the midst of flu season...in the winter...I was a worrisome mess! I worried about getting sick. I worried about the weather we'd encounter while driving and down there. I worried about packing too much to fit in the vehicle we were renting. I worried about Disney and all that involves. I'm not sure there was anything I didn't worry about quite honestly! In all that worrying, I also prayed daily that God would look out for us, keep us healthy and give us safe travels and good weather.
All-in-all God answered every one of those prayers! He really showed me how much He is in control and that worrying would get me nowhere. We never got sick. (Our friends little ones did get colds, unfortunately, but they were troopers!) We ended up leaving early and totally missed a snow storm and had fairly uneventful travels. The weather in Florida was beautiful as well! The car rental place didn't have the style car we reserved, so we ended up with a minivan for the same price...ALL SORTS of room! (I nearly cried having to return it...it was awesome!) We couldn't have asked for a better trip. God truly blessed us with an amazing vacation!
The thing is, I think God has a sense of humor. I titled this "Vacationing Woes" for a reason other than all my worrying. As wonderful as the vacation was, coming home was the exact opposite of wonderful. Let me list the reasons:
1. The snow storm: Even though our awesome neighbor cleared our driveway, we still had a TON of snow to shovel and couldn't park anywhere near our door. Rich was amazing and carried in all our stuff in from a distance, and through snow. (I was busy with another problem that I'll tell about in a sec.) I managed to shovel all that snow the next day...it took me an hour to clear the pavement in front of our garage...minus the spot where the car was (yet another problem I'll mention later.)
2. Our furnace: The chimney from the furnace has 'plates' on it...one on the kitchen side and one on the living room side. The plates cover holes where stovepipes used to be from wood stoves. Anyway, our furnace has been acting up. We had to have some repair guys out twice before Christmas because it quit, but it had also been 'backfiring'. Basically, it would start really hard and push the plate on the kitchen side out spewing soot all over. Well, sometime while we were gone, the furnace backfired like it never backfired before. Not only did the kitchen plate fly off and send soot across our table and down the stairs, but it kicked out the one on the living room side that was painted in place. Soot all over the living room too! So, needless to say, when we got home I commenced cleaning while Rich was carrying in luggage. (It has since been fixed. Took two consecutive days of the furnace guys coming out, but they finally got it under control.)
3. The car: Rich tried starting the car sometime after we got home to make sure it still started after sitting for nine days. It wouldn't start. He tried jumping it. It wouldn't start. Rich had to work the next day and I had to get the kids to school, but we only had one vehicle. He took the truck and I borrowed my mother-in-law's car while she was at work. Rich bought a battery and, after many troubles, he managed to switch out the old with the new and we were seemingly good to go. Not the case, though. The next day, when Rich went to leave work, the car wouldn't start again! He got a jump and made it home. It turns out that the heated seat was draining the battery. (The thing seriously would not shut off...on high all the time!) Rich disconnected the heated seat and it's been good ever since.
4. Fuel oil: Our furnace runs on fuel oil. I am usually really good about making sure we don't run too low and have to worry about running out. The thing is, the company that we buy it from sent a letter in the fall telling us that the minimum buy went from 100 gallons to 150 gallons, which means we have to get below 1/4 tank before we can order. So, before we left, I checked the gauge and we were just above a 1/4 tank. I didn't think it was low enough to meet the minimum, so I decided we better wait to order when we got back. We got back, after just nine days, and the fuel oil was dangerously low. It was too late to order that day, so I waited until the next...barely sleeping, listening to make sure the furnace was still kicking on...and called and asked for same day delivery. They wanted to charge me an extra $50! I let them know the reasoning on us waiting was due to their new minimum order (not my proudest moment because I totally lost my composure) and I got out of the $50...thankfully!
5. The truck: We had been having troubles with the truck shaking as we drove, so we decided to drop it off at our mechanic to have fixed while we were gone. They fixed one thing that was wrong (over $400 and it was mostly for the part), but they told us the main problem was the rear passenger tire had thrown a belt. The tires are fairly new (tread was still good) and we just replaced the rear driver side tire for the same reason. So another $500 for the two new tires. I've been in contact with the tire company about the issues and hopefully they can work with us! At least the truck isn't shaking anymore and I can drive it without thinking a tire is going to fly off! ;-)
Before the trip:
6: The Stove: Our stove was a used one that was a haul-away from when my brother worked as a delivery guy for Best Buy. Only 3 burners worked, the time never worked, the inside was a mess that as much as I tried, it wouldn't come clean. Over Christmas the spring in the door broke, so the door would just fall down when you tried to open it and it wouldn't sit tightly closed. The last straw was when it tried electrocuting me...we knew we needed a new one! Thankfully my brother sold us another used one for only $100 (instead of having to pay $500 or more for a new one). We picked it up right away...and then realized I wouldn't be able to help carry it in. So we continued to use the old stove cautiously until a couple weeks after vacation.
A week after the trip:
7. The sump pump: I noticed that water was backing up into the basement more that usual while Rich was away at a conference after our vacation. The water would go away and it was too cold to deal with the sump pump outside, so we waited. (Our basement is wet 90% of the time anyway...) Within the last week, it started getting worse and the water didn't seem to be leaving as well. With the weather warming, Rich dug through the frost to get to the sump pump and found that it was working fine (thankfully!). BUT, the pipe from the basement to the sump pump was clogged. He managed to get that cleared out fairly easily and we thought we were good to go. A couple hours later I see that the kitchen sink is backing up. So Rich figures out what was going on and clears another drain to the sump pump and we think we're home free again. No such luck! As Rich was working on the sink, he noticed that as the sump pump was pumping out water into the pipe that goes to the ditch, the pipe was spewing water back to the sump pump! We decided to take it easy using water until Rich had more time. (I had to be careful with doing dishes and laundry.) Even though I hardly used any water, it was still backing up into the basement and Rich managed to get to again yesterday. After snaking it, he thinks there is a fairly substantial 'clog'. At this point in time, the sump pump is pumping the water onto the lawn until we can figure out what needs to be done. At least I can do dishes and laundry! ;-)
8. The Refrigerator: We've been told this is a fairly easy fix, but our fridge is also currently leaking. Rich hasn't had time to get to it with the sump pump draining issues, and I haven't braved figuring it out on my own. I thought it was time for a new fridge, but thankfully not the case.
9. The Computer: It basically stopped working last week. It made me realize how much I use it when I didn't have it! A local computer place found the troubles with it over this past weekend and fixed it all up for me. It's not 'as good as new', but it is working WAY better than it has worked for months, so I couldn't be happier with it! 'New' would have been cool, but we tend to use things until they absolutely NEED to be replaced. :-)
I'm sorry for such a LONG post, but I couldn't help but want to document the craziness that has been happening over the last month. Mostly all as we got back from vacation. More than I'd like, but so thankful none of these situations were any worse...because I know that they all could have been! God has blessed us in our trials as well, which is awesome to realize! :-)