Well, March has come in like a lion.
Not so much in terms of weather, although last Sunday was a bit hairy, but in terms of repairs, inconvenience, and expenses for our family.
Last weekend, Micah, Johanna, Sam, Evie and I headed west, to Beaver Falls. My chief aim was to host a baby shower for my sister, Katie, and being desirous of getting to our destination with minimal exhaustion and stress, I decided to throw caution to the wind and keep the kids home from school on Friday so we could make an early start.
We left about 11 a.m. and - from my perspective - that's early. We reached my parents' in good time and all went well.
For the entire week leading up to this, Mom and I had nervously watched the weather predictions and prayed that, for once, the weather persons' fluctuating predictions would land in our favor, like a cosmic game of Spin the Bottle.
Saturday, the first, we were kissed by sunshine. Watery and thin it may have been, but it was sunshine.
The whole family met for brunch at Perkins to celebrate Katie's birthday, then the ladies went to the shower, then Sean and I took Katie to a surprise birthday dinner at Cadillac Ranch with friends.
But I have no pictures of any of this because my laptop cord is broken and I can't unload anything from my camera until I get a new one!
That's okay. It gets worse.
We watched the weather again and decided that I should try to leave early Sunday morning and miss the worst of the snow headed our way.
We woke up to slippery roads and heavy snow. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to stay. The kids were almost sure to have a snow day on Monday, anyway, so they wouldn't miss anything, really.
By noon the snow had stopped, but we didn't know that it would stay stopped, so even then we did not set out.
Not that I minded a quiet day with my parents and a chance to attend church at College Hill RP! Not at all. It was quite nice. And much better than being stuck in a hotel room in the mountains with four kids and a dog.
So that's okay. It gets worse.
Monday morning, we started out in good time. I stopped at Sheetz for gas and BFCaT for coffee (no chance for Oram's on this visit) and hit the turnpike for home.
About an hour later, I had the cruise control on and noticed that the engine was racing as we went up a hill. It settled back down again so I made a mental note to get it into the shop when we got home, and drove on. Not for long.
On the next hill, the engine raced again and then, suddenly, the gas pedal was rendered useless. The engine was still on, but we had no forward propulsion.
I was able to pull onto an off-ramp and get off the road. Unfortunately, it was the very busy interchange where I-70 meets the turnpike, so we had semis whizzing past us every few minutes, but I prayed and called AAA.
Very long story short, we were towed back to Monroeville to a Honda dealer who said the transmission was dead, but they could repair it for $4560 and a week's time.
All things considered, we decided to junk it, but the Honda dealer wouldn't take it unless we were trading for something else from them.
Finally, after four hours in the dealership's lobby with four kids and a dog, with the van situation still not resolved, my dad came to our rescue in a rented minivan and drove us all the way home to Philly.
And on top of everything else, the snow storm which had prevented our traveling on Sunday had left little damage in Philly and the kids missed a day of school, after all.
On the bright side, we had AAA and therefore a free tow; we were still close enough to my parents' for them to help (and eventually our brothers to help locate someone to take the van for us); it was a business day, not the weekend; the kids were well behaved and patient throughout; and no one was injured. Besides the van.
Dear old Goldie.
Only 139,000 miles; you were too young to go. But we trust your new owner will fix you up with a new transmission and you will live on.
I truly am thankful that Saturday's events were untouched by the subsequent stresses, that we had some extra time with my parents, that my dad was willing and able to drive us home, that our brothers (Tom and Dave) cheerfully pitched in to find us a buyer, and that we returned home, safe and sound.
Let's hope the rest of March is more lamb-like.