Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You Just Never Know

Weeks ago, I wrote on Josiah's section of our calendar for today, "3:00 - violin lesson."

As it turned out, he didn't have a lesson because this is spring break.

Then I thought, "Since it's the day before my birthday, let's go north to Winchester and eat lunch at the Olive Garden there and let the boys play at the children's museum."

As it turned out, a good friend of ours from Israel was in the States and was staying with some of his family near Washington, D.C. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see him.

Then I thought, "Let's take a day trip to D.C. and go to the Air & Space Museum. The boys would love that - and I'm sure Jenya (our friend) would love it, too."

As it turned out, that was the one museum in D.C. that he had already been to.

Then I thought, "Let's go to the zoo! I haven't been there since I was a child, and none of the others have ever been. It's going to be a beautiful day to be outside, and this will be perfect."

As it turned out, we had a difficult time finding the zoo (there has GOT to be an easier way than Google maps directed us), construction was occurring so the zoo entrance we found was closed, we finally did find another entrance but had to battle CRAZY traffic to do so, there was no parking in the zoo lot, there was no parking on the street, there was no parking ANYWHERE that we could find. It was a mess: cars everywhere, people everywhere. I-N-S-A-N-E. We were planning to meet Jenya there; he arrived safe and sound, having had the good sense to take the Metro rather than driving. Eventually we called him and arranged for him to be on the sidewalk outside the zoo so we could stop for a second, throw open the door of the minivan, let him hop inside, and then take him with us as we went somewhere - anywhere - away from that madhouse.

Then I thought, "OK. No problem. We're flexible, and I can look at the map and quickly come up with Plan B (although by now, we were way past Plan B). Let's see. Union Station! I know there's parking there, and we can at least eat lunch (this was hours after the boys' normal lunch time) and figure out what to do next."

As it turned out, I couldn't get us there. Every street I thought we could turn on, we couldn't. They were either blocked off for security reasons or marked "no left turn" or veered right when I was sure the map marked it as veering left. Crazy! (Have I already used that word in this post?) When we discovered that we were heading for good ol' familiar route 66 OUT of D.C., I heaved a sigh of relief and adjusted my mindset once again.

I thought, "Good. We're leaving the swarm of people and cars and the maze of D.C. streets behind us. Let's go out of town a little ways and find a place to eat and then make some plans."

So we did.

McDonald's never looked so good to me as it did when we pulled into that lot, opened the minivan doors, piled out, stretched our legs, breathed fresh air, tromped inside, found tables right next to a play area for our 3 oldest boys to enjoy, lifted a sweaty Shav out of his car seat, watched him gobble down a bottle of milk, bit into a Big Mac and some french fries, drank a cold (caffeinated!) drink, and breathed a sigh of relief. Whew. We survived.

After that, we drove to Jenya's family's home, let our kids play with his cousin's daughter, walked around a small lake together, stopped during our walk to let our boys play on a little playground there, admired a tree that had been hit by lightning and hollowed out by the heat, watched Josiah and David roll down grassy hills, paused to notice turtles sunning themselves on a partially submerged log, asked about the wire mesh around the base of nearly every tree (it's to protect them from the beavers who live nearby), finally said goodbye, and got back in the minivan to bring Jenya to our house. I got to sit in the back between Josiah and David; and although we were a little squished, it was cozy and we all fell asleep. As we were getting close to Harrisonburg, Jeff woke me up and asked if I thought we should go to Golden Corral for supper (since we had not planned for supper at home since we had no idea what time we would be getting back from our trip). A splendid idea, I thought.

So that's what we did.

Three things I learned from today's adventure:

1. Never, ever, ever try to drive to the National Zoo on one of the first beautiful days of spring when many schools are on spring break. You might think it's a really great idea, but so will millions of other people. You will not get a parking spot. Guaranteed.

2. Laughter goes a long way towards relieving stress. I kept thinking, "Everything's fine. We're all here, together and safe in the car. It doesn't really matter where we are - or if we have any idea where we're going. So let me just laugh at myself and the absurdity of the situation."

3. You just never know what's going to happen when you roll out of bed in the morning!


Sally said...

Oh my! You had quite and day, and you handled it so well! I'm sorry you had McDonald's instead of the Olive Garden (I still plan to eat there sometime before I die!), but it sounds like you kept the really important things in first place and everything worked out well. I'd say you have a really patient family, especially the young ones!

Sally said...

P.S. I've started the book I borrowed from you. Wow! I had a lot of siblings to "rival" with. It's making me think back to my "rivalry" years and wonder how that's affecting our adult lives as siblings. Hmmmm...we all get along fine, so maybe one can read too much into these things.

Jeff Fisher said...

Happy Birthday! I love you!

Katherine said...

The zoo can be CRAZY. Last year for a school trip we went to DC as a final stop on our trip. It was a REALLY long trip. We were probably in traffic for an hour or two. I was ok but we had been gone for three days so i was wanting to be at home. Thank Goodness we had an AMAZING bus driver (Jeff Kauffman) and he was very patient so things went smoothly. We made it home safe and sound but it was quite an adventure!!!!

Stephanie said...

What an adventure! By the way, I love your April picture. Very cute!

Julie said...

That's what the Vienna Metro station is for.That way you get a train ride AND avoid the driving...just be sure you have everything on your car up to date (plates, stickers, inspections), b/c you don't want to come out to a ticket on your car. And also make sure you keep track of the kids. We did the National Zoo...and lost Caleb there when he was 3. So maybe it's good you weren't able to go on such a crazy day.

Nothing makes a mom more terrified than losing a child in Washington DC. Please pass some of your laid back laughter this way. I love it AND you Davene...

Anonymous said...

The Cherry Blossom Festival is going on in DC right now!

Davene said...

You're right, it is. I did manage to look up from the map enough to see the beautiful blossoms. They were lovely.

Margie said...

Oh, my! I was getting stressed reading about your adventure! Bravo for handling it calmly, and settling for McDonald's. The kids probably laughed about it, too, based on the way you handled the situation.

By the way, my friend Amy, who's moving to Maryland, said this morning they had made it to Virginia and that it was BEAUTIFUL. She described it at length. And it made me want to visit...