I'm sitting in a dark motel room, listening to my children sleep. It's a glorious sound, really.
Three hours ago, we pulled into the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Grand Junction, Colorado. 6:45 is much later than the kids are used to eating, but we left Logandale much later than expected. Everyone was hungry, tired, and ready to get out of the van after 7.5 hours on the road. Lexi had spilled her water bottle all over herself, Kate had a full diaper, and Gavin had been coughing all afternoon. By the time we got ourselves into the restaurant, Lexi, Kate, and Gavin were crying. Lexi was soaked from head to toe, Gavin looked like he'd been a fight with a garbage disposal, Tyler had major bedhead, and I'm sure my appearance resembled that of the half-crazed Old Woman who lived in a shoe.
Garry ordered our food while I helped Lexi change into pajamas. He and I took turns trying to get hot water out of the bathroom sinks, since the cashier said hot water for a bottle could only be obtained that way. The boys pinged off the walls like pinballs on speed. Various Wendy's employees and patrons just stopped and stared at the melee.
We had selected Wendy's for dinner because we all wanted chocolate Frosties, but the chocolate machine was broken. A small vanilla Frosty was a poor substitute. Zach started crying because his Frosty wasn't big enough. Gavin and Lexi ate their ice cream but didn't touch their burgers and just threw their fries on the floor. They begged for cups of water so they could peel open more straws. Kate fussed in Garry's arms because she was hungry, but Wendy's doesn't sell formula on the value menu. Only Tyler ate contentedly.
Eventually the bedlam was too much--even for us--so we cleared out. On the way out the door, Gavin suddenly started screaming and clutching his ear. He had been coughing and sniffling all day, so I shouldn't have been surprised that an ear infection might be brewing. I gave him a dose of ibuprofen in the car. He was quite upset that it didn't numb his pain immediately. Lexi cried in her soaking wet car seat, which we padded with a blanket for the short drive to the motel.
A bright spot in the evening was our two-room suite at the Quality Inn. Our family of seven fit much better in three beds than in two. Kids changed into pajamas and brushed teeth while Garry brought in the overnight bag, toiletry bag, and a few other supplies. He also brought up Lexi's car seat, which I dismantled and started drying with a blow dryer. Then it was time for bed.
After a family prayer, the kids found their sleeping spots. Gavin and Zach were thrilled to share a bed, but Tyler refused to sleep with Lexi because she has diarrhea and he thought she would stink. Tyler opted to sleep on the floor and fell asleep almost immediately. But the others? Boy howdy, they were wired! I rubbed backs and sang Primary songs for more than an hour--until I was hoarse, actually--and finally gave up. Garry's magic touch finally convinced Gavin and Lexi to hold still long enough to sleep.
It remains to be seen whether Gavin's cough, Gavin's ears, Lexi's bowels, or Kate's belly will be the first to awaken us. My body is aching for a good night of sleep. But I will be content with the ice cream Garry just fetched from a nearby restaurant and whatever quality sleep comes before daybreak.
And then we hit the road for home.