Monday, May 24, 2010

Bits of My Weekend -- In Which I Grew a Little

Caution: Long Post

What. A. Weekend! The children and I joined Mindy and two of her three children on a road trip to South Africa to console ourselves while both husbands have been traveling. Since Mindy had to wait for her oldest son's last final exam, we left later in the day on Friday. I was thinking that this would give me the perfect opportunity to surprise everyone with fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls for the trip, but it was not to be.

Craig Grayson had a rough time with asthma last week. After a scary late-night attack a week ago Sunday, he never felt fully relieved all week. In addition to that, Gabriela was agonizing over a spot on the bottom of her foot that she irritated a few weeks ago in an attempt to remedy the problem herself (without consulting us first, of course). So, off I went to the clinic on Friday morning with both of them, which is not the most comfortable scenario on this continent.

Above, CG is getting his nebulizer treatment, and below, he's having a shot of Prednisone. We have enjoyed over a year of milder symptoms, with very infrequent use of his inhaler, comparatively speaking. This is the main thing that helped me get over my longing to return to Alabama, where his attacks were more frequent and severe.

Bless his heart. He hates needles. I comforted him with a rough estimate of all the needles I've endured in my life, having had five babies, and all of the occasions in between.

What's that? You're not interested in seeing what Gabriela's yucky boo-boo looked like before going to the clinic? I'm very sorry. Moving right along...

Because the doctor initially thought this was a parasite that had deposited an egg sac inside her foot, he didn't want to risk rupturing the sac and causing the eggs to spread. Soooooo, my poor dear had to endure having the insides scraped... are you ready for this?... without local anesthesia. Mm. Hmmm. She's tough as nails.

It was quite a sight to watch the aid literally cut away the callous and dig a hole with a relatively thick needle-like instrument. It turns out that it wasn't a parasite.

After our visit to the clinic, we returned home to pack, loaded the van, ran to the cafe for take-away food, and dropped Rhodes with a friend for the weekend.

Saturday morning, we hit the ground running. I loaded all seven children (most of them are too big to be referred to as such) into our van and headed to our favorite breakfast spot in the mall. Mindy joined us after her hair appointment.

Despite my love of retail, I'm not quite the high-calibre shopper that Mindy is. So, after picking up some coffee beans, grabbing a chocolate shot, and buying a couple of accessories, I was ready to leave the mall. My children wanted to see a movie with their friends, so I bought their theater tickets and left with Gabriela to try to run some errands in town. At this point, frustration began to come in waves.

First, the fabric store was closed and wouldn't re-open before we returned home. (Due to high crime, most establishments have very early trading hours.) Then the pet store was closed, so I couldn't get chewies for Rhodes. The last straw came when I decided to take Gabriela to the botanical garden and have a "girl" lunch at the restaurant there. Denied. From there, we went to the bakery at the grocery to have a very naughty snack. We ate in the van before going to the pharmacy for our H&BA needs. Afterward, we returned to our room at the B&B to kill some time until the big kids' movie ended.

We listened to this:

While playing this:

Gabriela was beating me pretty severely when Mindy called to say that she and the older children were ready to meet us at the restaurant for dinner. We had to wait a little while for it to open, so we walked around for a bit. At one point, as we browsed store windows, I realized that I didn't see Gabriela anywhere. I scanned a few times and did a couple of quick head counts, and she wasn't visible anywhere. I ran back to retrace our steps and still didn't see her. Just as I was notifying the security personnel, the rest of the gang came to tell me that she had been walking in front of them, but she had been hidden from view temporarily by a large display. It took several minutes for my heart rate to return to normal. She had no idea of my panic moment, so I made her cry with all of my relief drama. If I were to lose a child in Africa, my parents would never forgive me, nor could I ever show my face in the Mother Land again.

On a lighter note, Nelspruit is not known for its culinary options, but it was nice to have a new place to try. My expectations weren't very high, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that, in celebration of its first night of business, the restaurant was offering all food from the menu completely free! We only had to pay for drinks. Our family only drinks water most of the time, so the children were tickled when I announced that they could order a special beverage. I didn't want to walk away without owing anything. And, of course, I had a coffee.

After dinner, we headed back to the B&B for showers and more games. And snacks. Too many, in fact. But these chips were worth the splurge:

I know. I'm a hypocrite.

The splurge didn't end there. I had to know how these compare:

By the way, it's almost winter in this part of the world. Since we were in slightly higher elevation than where we live, it was a bit cooler at night. In fact, it was downright cold. Despite my warning that they'd need extra layers, the girls left warm clothes behind. Thankfully, their friends are generous young men, and they offered hoodies to soothe goosebumps.

Have you ever played "Set"? If not, you must.

I had a little retail therapy the next morning and bought a blouse and a jacket. It's so rare that I find something that I like and can afford here, that I just couldn't pass them up. It turns out that I don't really have to miss Anthropologie so much, after all. South Africa has its own version of it, on a smaller scale, with better prices.

Last on our South African agenda was a little grocery shopping, then lunch before hitting the road. Crossing the border this time took much longer than normal. I wish that I could take a photo of that experience, but I'd probably have my camera stolen. Besides, the Mo├žambican government is strange about photos in official places. We're not even allowed to "hoot" when driving near certain buildings.

Once we were back in Moz, we still had over an hour of driving left. We saw a miracle take place on the way. Just at dusk, a large "highway truck" (as our children call them) lost a tire right in front of us. Mindy was driving behind the truck, and I was following closely behind her. Now, when we lived in Alabama, we used to work out at D1. One of our drills -- and my personal favorite -- was flipping tires. These things are not lightweight. If the truck's tire had not taken a trajectory a degree or so to the left of our path, it could have had a fatal effect. It was sent hurling past us just as we were rounding a slight curve and literally a few meters before a guard rail, which may have caused it to bounce into one of us.

I'm sure that there are many dangers from which God shields us, without our ever knowing it. Yesterday's event was amazing evidence of His divine providence. He is sovereign over every molecule of His creation! It is He of Whom it is written:

"...when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth." Proverbs 9:29


"Who shut up the sea behind doors...

... when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,

when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt'?" Job 38:8, 10-11

If you've read this far, I must say, "Thank you!" What a mighty and awesome God we serve! Praise Him for His faithfulness!


  1. Whew ... what a weekend! I'm so glad you all are safe and sound. My prayers for the Whitlock family will definitely continue!

  2. What a full weekend. I know what you mean about things happening when husbands travel, why is that always the case?

    By the way we love Set, it's a great game!!

  3. Wow! Hope Craig Grayson and Gabriella are feeling better! And, how are your nerves doing? Amen! God is so faithful, so loving! We love the game, SET, too! By the way...had lattes with Anna tonight, and we decided that you just HAVE to teach us to sew when you come home! We miss you!

  4. Gracious! I hope everyone is feeling better.

  5. Wow - she's tough as nails 'cause it seems like her momma is! Bravo! What a weekend!

  6. Hope everyone is feeling better - you have such beautiful children!

    Milk Chocolate oreos - they look YUMMY!!!!!