Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mom's weekend - relaxing? Maybe...

So my friend Mary had invited me a while back to a 'moms-only' weekend at her house the first weekend of June. Her hubby had agreed to take their kids camping for the weekend, leaving her home alone. I jumped at the chance and informed Ron that he would be responsible for our kids that weekend - either staying home with them or making childcare arrangements. Which, of course, he put off doing until a week beforehand, but that's not the subject of this post, so I'm not going to dwell on that. Or the 15-year-old niece he lined up to babysit all day Saturday for $50. Yes, she is very responsible, but it just makes me a bit nervous. I don't know how the weekend would've gone if we'd been able to have it at Mary's house as originally planned, but the weather gods did not shine down upon us and given the forecast was for rain, we agreed to meet in Kalamazoo and split the cost for a hotel for the night. Since I live near Grand Rapids and she lives near Coldwater, it's a good in-between spot and it also helps that we both went to college there (which is where we met) so we know the area pretty well. Believe me, that definitely helped during the weekend!

So I took off on Saturday and after a few stops (credit union, gas station, etc.) I was on my way. I actually got to K'zoo early (yes, I know such a rare occurrence for a busy mom - must've been my kid-free state...) and beat Mary to the hotel. Since it was nice out, I sat in my van with the driver's side door open and actually spent the next half hour on the phone with Mary as she drove there. When she arrived, we checked in (thankfully the hotel had a room ready since it was well before the regular check-in time - quick shout out to the Country Inn & Suites in Kalamazoo - it was a nice hotel at a decent cost) and unloaded our bags. We then moved a loft bed from my van to Mary's.

Ok, I'm not going to give a rundown of the whole weekend but the previous information is important in terms of what happened next. It started with the power sliding door on my van which suddenly stopped working while we were unloading and then moving the bed. So we took Mary's van during the afternoon to let mine sit for a while. We had a great lunch at Big Apple Bagel - the theme of the weekend was to do everything that we can't usually do with kids. So we sat at the 2-person tables with the 'tall' chairs (very nice for us vertically challenged folks!), that kind of thing. Had a nice, relaxing lunch then hit the stores. See the earlier 'pajama' post for more specifics on the shopping if you want but we had a good time shopping at our leisure. We did manage to get 'lost' at one point, trying to find an alternative route over the freeway due to road construction, but we saw some very nice neighborhoods that we had never seen before. Not to mention a couple of large homes for sale next door to each other that we decided that if we could afford, we'd just have to look at further. Since neither of us can afford to move though, we drove on.

Really the next piece of excitement came that night when we returned to the hotel and I went to put some shopping bags in my van. So at this point, not only the power door had stopped working but I noticed that the clicker thingy on my keychain wasn't unlocking the doors either. Hmmm. And the dome light was very, very dim when I opened the door. So I tried starting the van - nothing. Not a buzz, ding or beep, much less the engine turning over. Oops. Now I don't think that the half hour of sitting there with the door open earlier that day would've drained the battery that much. I do know that the tailgate didn't shut completely after we moved the bed over, but at that point, the power sliding door was already not working. But having that door ajar for the rest of the day probably just drained the last bit of energy from the battery completely.

So of course, it's now Saturday night, away from home - thankfully we did have one working vehicle and a working cell phone (Mary's, since mine was dead and the only charger I had with me was the car charger - yeah, not an option at this point). And my van was in the hotel parking lot rather than on the side of the road or something. So, we were not going to let this slight hiccup ruin our weekend fun. Which consisted of... lots of sleep. Yep, we're both sleep-deprived moms for whom the thought of an uninterrupted 8 hours - or more - was one of the main reasons for this whole escapade. When we finally awoke, breakfasted, scrapbooked for a while, then loaded up and checked out, we had a plan.

We popped the hood on my van and attempted to remove the battery so we could take it to an auto parts store and replace it. Um yeah. Until we realized that whoever designed the engine compartment of the 1998 Pontiac Transport did so with the idea to keep auto mechanics in business. The battery on my van is literally buried below several other parts of the engine and we did not feel at all equipped to attempt to remove it ourselves. Yes, we are pretty independent, smart women, but this one was beyond our capability. One passerby with a remote car jump starter (like this) tried to jump the van without success. After considering plans B, C, and D, I thought to call my car insurance company. Big plug here for the 24-hour Good Neighbor service from State Farm! I easily reached a real person who verified that we do have roadside assistance for this vehicle as part of our policy. So an hour later, after we had a very large tow truck come and jumpstart the van, it was running again. Phew! And it continued to run even after we shut it off (after driving it to the car parts store, just in case). So we went ahead with the rest of our day, which included more shopping (of course!), lunch, and a movie. Then, our moms-only weekend was over and it was time to head home.

In retrospect, I think we might've had more time to relax if we'd gone to Mary's, but not as much shopping and probably not a movie. So all in all I think the weekend was a success. And as for what caused my minivan battery to die in the first place? It's worked fine since, so I have no idea. Maybe I'll just have to not tempt fate and stay put at home for a while now.

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