So we've decided to sell our current van to eliminate the car payment. We'll be driving Their Majesty's old van instead. This, although it doesn't sound very simple, is much more complicated than it sounds--first, because DOB now uses hand controls to drive upright vehicles, and second, because a day or two after we decided to do this, I backed into my grandpa's old Dodge truck. (I don't know if the truck was damaged--it was hard to tell. But the van's bumper was done for.)
Step one, then, was taking both vans into the shop to get the hand controls switched. Not just any shop does this, of course--and the place we go to have it done is on the far side of Seattle, an hour and a half north if you're lucky about traffic. We originally chose this particular place--they are all pretty far away--because it is close to some good friends of ours. Unfortunately, their kids were getting over something involving vomiting, and our kids were getting over something involving coughing, sore throats, and mysterious rashes, and an exchange of germs seemed ill-advised. So we missed out on the hoped-for visit.
Wondergirl kindly agreed to help out with the driving, though, and we set out with the ducklings parceled out among us to allow both of us to use the carpool lane. I had hoped that stuffing breakfast in their hands (french toast and dried fruit in little baggies) as I buckled them in would make for a quiet ride up, but D3 decided to scream for the first twenty minutes, "I don't want you to drive!" This is going to be a long day, I thought. But after awhile D4 and I started chatting about the fascinating sights of the interstate and she quieted down to eavesdrop.
After the controls were removed from the first vehicle, we were free to go and found a couple of parks to explore and eat lunch at, which more than satisfied the ducklings as to the value of the expedition. On the way back to the shop, we spotted a pair of thrift stores and at Wondergirl's suggestion I seized the opportunity to take the big kids in to try on tennis shoes without having to occupy the twins at the same time.
I figured to time returning right at nap time. (Wondergirl waited for the second car and returned at her leisure, after braving the germs at our friends' house.) Understand that on our usual 10-minute drives back from town right before or after lunch, it is a heroic undertaking to keep D4 from falling soundly asleep, whereupon he wakes up when we arrive and never takes any more nap. But though I played soft music and spoke to no one, and though everyone else fell soundly asleep, D4 remained alert and chatty all two hours home.
At our usual exit there is an intersection that backs up severely in the late afternoon. I figured to avoid it, as is our usual custom, by getting off at the exit before and going around. Which I did--I got off at the exit, went around the roundabout, and got right back on the highway. It had been a long day.
We got home with everyone tired and cranky and I tried pulling out my latest secret weapon in the maternal arsenal: back rubs. I've been teaching them all how to massage each others' backs, and even the twins like to join in, tiny fists pounding. While it didn't make for perfect harmony (mostly on the question of whose turn it was be rubbed or rub), it was a lot better to have consensual pounding on backs instead of antagonistic pounding on heads.
Yesterday we did the only slightly less onerous undertaking of emptying the car of the landfill's worth of detritus that accumulates after about three minutes of buckling in kids. And we took it to a much closer shop to get the bumper replaced.