This week has been one for the memory bank. On Saturday morning, we ventured on our first road trip with our toddler boy and infant baby girl from Chicago to Columbus for a child-friendly Labor Day family wedding. Given said trip, in preparation, my husband went to the dealership the day before for an oil change and car service/maintenance inspection. I had to write a post on this as it was just too wild. Thankfully, we are all safe [long post warning]...
My son hadn’t a had a proper nap in three days, because family playtime and strange hotel rooms. Due to nonexistent naps — and, well, being two — we’ve been dealing with much whining, moodiness and crying. He did enjoy some wedding dancing. On Labor Day Monday morning, we were very anxious to get home Monday afternoon and relax. Ten minutes into our six hour drive and pre-Starbucks run (as we just missed the hotel breakfast), our front tire pressure was suddenly rapidly decreasing on the dash. We pulled into a questionable residential area off of the highway, got out and our front right tire was flat. We unloaded our luggage to access the spare tire and called for tire change service. The infant was luckily sleeping so she stayed in the A/C in the car given the 93 degree heat.
The tire changing gentleman secured via State Farm (their service was very easy and efficient!) arrived surprisingly quickly on Labor Day Monday. After an exchange with a disgruntled angry-at-the-world neighbor due to our setup being in guest parking (I mean where were we supposed to move?), a stray cat with one eye of the Night King (or likely glaucoma) following Jayden around, the tire man confirmed that the spare tire on our Jeep didn’t fit on the front axel (gah!). He added that it didn’t look like any object punctured the tire, that the tire was very badly worn down.
A tow service thankfully came within 20 minutes and took us to an open and nearby Goodyear tire shop. On our ride, tow driver Willie shared some wisdom that an old boss taught him about his business: “treat your customers like how you would treat your own wife and kids.” Simple. Willie also shared that the tire was very worn down.
We arrived at the Goodyear shop and while I waited inside with kiddos, the car was taken down from the tow bed. The three-person team and on duty manager reconfirmed that the spare didn’t fit in the front, that our flat tire was in desperate need of alignment and rotation, was completely worn down and didn’t find any object damage. Mind you, much of this was frustrating was compounded given aforementioned dealership visit just three days prior.
The Goodyear Manager shared that we needed a specialty sized tire, and called around to three open tire shops who didn’t have it in stock. The local Jeep dealership was closed given the Labor Day holiday, but the kind Willie took our car there in hopes that they would have the special tire and could put it on when they opened. We’d have to spend the day and night with the kids.
While I was nursing on the ground of the Goodyear tire shop (this is now added to the ongoing unique breastfeeding locations) and my son was briefly entertained by coloring, stickering and throwing the Goodyear balloon blimp the sweet manager gave him, a gentle-faced middle-aged lady customer approached me. Her name was Kathryn and asked if we needed a ride somewhere, that she had a newly fixed and that “she’d been there” given our situation as she has five grown children. After trying to figure out our best plan, we quickly made a reservation at the closest Marriott, took her up on her offer and loaded up our gear into her van. So kind of her - I insisted we give her money, at least for the gas and she declined. There are good people in this world.
We attempted to take a family nap after check-in and a very late lunch but realized naps were not in the cards after an hour plus of toddler screaming. I took Jayden to the lobby bar for snacks, a glass of wine for myself and to meet up with the mother-of-the-groom, my angelic Aunt Cheryl, who lived 20 minutes away. It was so comforting to have a familiar face during our stressful day. She took me to the local Kroger where I quickly stocked up on diapers (because no mama wants to be stranded without diapers), snacks and dinner for my son.
The local Columbus Jeep dealership didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. the next morning, and my husband and I started a makeshift bedtime routine in our hotel room to wind down from the day. Both kiddos got to bed around 10:00 p.m. and woke up at 7:00 a.m., we were grateful and started our day hoping that we could go home. After breakfast, my husband Ubered to the dealership where our car was waiting.
In parallel path, while trying to feed an infant and keep a toddler entertained (lots of Blippi videos), I spoke to our Chicago dealership trying to find a solve and, if needed have them overnight this specialty tire. There were many communications with their Service Director while my husband was exploring solves in-person with the Columbus dealership. He offered questions to ask the local dealer from afar which was appreciated.
The Marriott where we were staying also gave us a generous late checkout time. I think many of the staff knew of our situation by now and a few would say hello to Jayden by name in the halls. My husband’s colleague and family offered up heading to a park and a night stay if needed. Again, some good people.
After searching, the Columbus dealership tracked down the right sized tire (but not the matching one — I would go to our dealership to get the matching specialty tire when we got back), we purchased it and pushed this shop to slate an opening to get it on our car so we could get home.
The car ride home was very anxiety-ridden. I was hoping that the rest of the tires were ok, wondering if there was something else overlooked, etc. Not to mention we had to pick our fantastic football teams! Thankfully the kids slept most of the way, and we only stopped twice — for gas and a quick pull over to burp the baby after her bottle (so kinda pulled over twice for gas, lol). We got home around 9:15 p.m., gave our son milk and crackers and put him to bed.
The wildness doesn’t end. My husband Dustin came in our bedroom after his morning workout around 6:45 a.m. and said that he had to talk to me. I knew something was up. We knew that we had a power surge Monday evening as our neighbor found our garage open and closed it when walking their dog. We didn’t think much of it at the time. Dustin said that the power had turned off in our spare refrigerator/freezer, causing the 325+ ounces of my frozen breastmilk was in there. I immediately broke down. The milk was sorta cold, but he quickly plugged it back in, so the verdict is still out if it can be salvaged. Not too confident.
I frankly couldn’t muster up the energy to go to the dealership on Wednesday, so I went Thursday and was there nearly two-and-a-half hours with my infant. I tried to understand while we were proactive in taking our car into the dealer the day before our first family road trip as to why this happened which caused unexpected expenses, stress and more which could have been avoided. More to figure out on that front so I won’t share too much right now.
Oh, and while our dog was staying with my in-laws, she likely assumed some after effects of an area skunk. She smells kinda like walking stinky pee despite getting a bath.
While my husband and I were on the road, we reflected on how the multitude of kind people we came in contact with who went above and beyond and empathized with our situation. It’s humbling, really. And I’m grateful my babies are safe.
If you’ve read this far, I’m impressed. Thank you. Check out some photos below I snapped of our journey.