If Car Doors Could Talk*

My Happy Hour tonight consists of a 16 oz. decaf latte and pecan bar at Fix Coffeehouse in the ‘hood listening to my friend Natalie Brown perform.  Admittedly, it is a very pleasant way to spend a Friday night.  Turns out my Seattle neighborhood has much to offer: multiple coffeehouses, tap houses, a giant lake, the best karaoke in town, fro-yo2, plus more running, biking, hiking and overall fitness stores than you would think necessary.  It is also a prime spot to have your car stolen.

So, nearly a month ago, Lucy and I went out to Target on a Friday night to get a few random things.  It was a girl’s-night-out since Peter was at a sleep over and Karl doesn’t think Target nearly as hip as it really is.  But Lucy shares my affinity for oohing and ahhing at all that the big box store offers.  We came back around 8:30 PM and parked the car in the church parking lot right next to our house.  It is not unusual for us to leave our car parked there.  Our driveway backs out to an arterial.  Traffic makes it nearly impossible to allow us to exit our driveway at anytime other than the middle of the night.  So, it is a lot easier to just park next door so we can get out easier.

The next night, Lucy and I went out again for a quick jaunt to grab the ingredients for dinner that we forgot to get while oohing at ahhing at unnecessary things the night before at Target.  When we cornered the church parking lot and noticed our car was not where we left it, we imagined Karl had taken and moved it somewhere.  After quickly confirming that was not the case, there was one other alternative conclusion – that the church didn’t like us parking it there and finally, after getting fed up, decided to have it towed.  A quick email later and alas, that was not the case.  Our car had indeed been stolen.

We called the police department to make the report (this, by the way, is an important step if you find yourself the victim of grand theft auto; if your car is illegally parked or caught in a separate crime while not in your possession, you could be charged if you haven’t reported that someone else happens to be joy riding your vehicle without your permission).  An agent came by later that evening.  He asked a few questions including if there had been anything of value left in the car.  I chuckled and said, “Not unless bad mix tapes count.”  He tried to maintain his professionalism, but based on his sideways grin, I think he was rather amused with my quick-witted reply.  Nevertheless he composed himself and indicated that likely the car would turn up in a neighborhood within a couple of weeks and to keep them informed if we hear otherwise.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, 10 days later, we get a call that our car had, indeed, showed up in a nearby neighborhood.  It appeared to be in driving condition and we were instructed to go and claim it.  Karl and I hopped in our other vehicle and anxiously drove about 5 miles away and discovered our beauty parked in an upscale neighborhood near the University of Washington.  We held our breath and hoped that there had been no damage done that we would have to pay to repair.

To our relief, though the battery was dead, after charging, the car started right up.  The window that had been left down wasn’t broken, just not rolled up.  And, it still had the full tank of gas I had filled it with earlier on the day it was stolen.  Once reassured that we would be able to get the car home we began investigating, or rather admiring the contents left in the car.

A large pack of double bubble, juice boxes, and applesauce squeezers were the primary remains.  Something had also been thrown out the window and was splattered all over the side of the car.  While it looked like diluted paint, it was likely something else as most of it has been washed off in the rain.  Also included in the paraphernalia were a baseball glove and hat, an empty Ball jar, a syringe, and the most peculiar: a Flip video camera.

Juice boxes?  Really?Gotta have your Double Bubble when stealing a car.Creepy - is that the glove you use when you inject something?


Paint?Karl and I both looked at each other and scratched our heads, trying desperately to figure out how our car had been stolen by what appeared to be hungry toddlers who played baseball, driven a few miles, only to be abandoned in a family friendly neighborhood with the window left down and something running that drained the battery.  Not quite able to make that picture add up to something sensible, we took the Flip video inside and begged it to have answers.  Instead, it left us with more questions.  It was a 30 second video of the thief capturing their feet walking up to our car, using a flashlight to inspect inside, then it shuts off…

With this as the only data, may you create your own fictional tale to share in the comment section that might get us to the truth of what happened; or at the very least continue the wonder and amusement.

*Thank you, reader Kate Boyd, for the title of this post.


Soaked: Part 2

*A continuation of Sarah’s story which began in Soaked: Part 1

The fear as I drove Campbell to school was consuming. It was also familiar. Too familiar. Scary familiar. The last 5 years of health issues for my kids plagued my thoughts. I was in disbelief that I was questioning the health of Keaton. Keaton was my “healthy” child. I remember the same scared, helpless feeling when Noah was Keaton’s age and was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart defect. I spent most of my days on my knees begging God to heal Noah’s heart. I vulnerably hoped for the best but consumingly feared the worst. At the tender age of two, Noah underwent heart surgery. The hopeless feeling I experienced 5 years prior of “is my baby going to be alright?” was distinctly similar to my paralyzing fears in that moment.  As I dropped Campbell off and watched her bouncing blonde hair enter the school doors I was flooded with memories of her health scare. Around 9 months old, she had a febrile seizure and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital with a temperature of well over 105. Soon after, we noticed her body would shake uncontrollably when she would lay her on her side to nurse. She was referred to a neurologist at Children’s Hospital and at the age of two, a sleep study indicated a small mass on the left side of her brain, which was most likely caused by a mini stroke in utero. She was given the diagnosis of an essential tremor only to be followed by an unrelated surgery to repair an umbilical hernia six months later. Her little body had experienced a lot in her short few years. As we pulled away from her school I decided to make a pit stop at Target because Keaton had gone through so many diapers that morning and we only had one left. Keaton and Crew battled each other for my attention by out screaming the other throughout the drive. While Keaton overwhelmingly won each round, Crew’s faint and exhausted whimpers reminded me of the health scare we endured with him all before he was born. At 32 weeks an ultra sound showed our baby’s (we wanted to be surprised by the gender) kidneys were enlarged. They monitored them carefully and at birth we were told he had Hydronephrosis. At 3 weeks he had a procedure which catheterized him to look for reflux of urine in his kidneys. After a careful watch, doctors finally cleared him from the diagnosis and his kidneys were no longer enlarged. Reliving that moment of relief momentarily gave me a sense of great peace where I realized three of my kids had been through intense health scares, yet all three were now amazingly happy and healthy. This calmed my fears and allowed me to take the deep breath I didn’t realize I was neglecting to inhale. That breath was short lived as I unbuckled Keaton from his carseat and felt the crystalized gel clumps from his diaper seeping out onto his wet lap. The only time I had seen this before was when I accidentally forgot to change him into a swim diaper before entering the pool. Again, that panicked look overtook his sweet face and I couldn’t contain mine. I tried, oh how I tried, but tears of confusion and fright streamed down my face. My fear intensified his, and his fear intensified mine. I grabbed the phone and dialed his pediatrician.

The phone rang…and rang…and rang, only to be blind sided by the fact that the pediatrician’s office closes for lunch. My frustration exacerbated my tone as I scolded Keaton while changing him into our very last diaper, even though I knew it wasn’t his fault. His pants were soaked in urine and I didn’t have a backup. It was 4 days before Christmas and the Target parking lot was packed with holiday shoppers. I piled my half naked two year old and sleepy one year old in the cart, trying to keep Keaton’s bare legs covered from the frigid December temperature. We bought two things from Target that day: the biggest box of diapers and bottle of water they sold. The water was gone before we reached the check-out line. I received plenty of awkward stares from shoppers as Keaton’s cries echoed throughout the chaos of the store. I paid for the empty bottle of water while opening the box of diapers as it rolled over the conveyer belt because Keaton had once again filled the diaper he was wearing. While the temperature read below freezing, my body temperature was well above normal. I was drenched in sweat and decided I couldn’t wait the full hour for the pediatrician to reopen. I needed them to see him now. I decided to go there without an appointment. I had to do something. Keaton and Crew both fell asleep before we left the parking lot. The silence in the car was welcomed, until I recognized I was left alone with my thoughts. The “what if” questions were overwhelming and intense. They were too much. I didn’t know if I had the fight in me to go through one more health issue with my kids. I prayed hard on my way to the doctor, but feared it was different than my prayers with the other health scares. This seemed like a Hail Mary prayer. Are those even answered? I had to believe they were. They had to be.

I carried two sleeping boys up two flights of stairs to be met by the receptionist opening the doors for me. She could sense my panicked urgency and had the doctor waiting for me. After I listed off his symptoms of extreme thirst and urination, Keaton was awoken by a nurse pricking his finger for a blood sample. After a 5 second countdown this simple yet complex device read the word “HI”. What did that mean? The nurse stated it was probably a mistake and pricked him again. Five seconds seemed like five thousand only to deliver the same simple word “HI”. Confusion and chaos filled the small and suffocating room as more clinicians entered to hold his wailing body down as they placed a bag underneath his diaper in hopes to collect a urine sample. I was attempting to read their faces as each new clinician walked through the door. None of them made eye contact with me and they all shared a similar somber look. It didn’t take long to get the sample. I knew what they were testing for. I wanted to believe it wasn’t, but my gut knew. A conversation my mother-in-law and I had well before I was married replayed in my mind. I was 17 and it was the first night I met my husband’s family for dinner. I distinctly remember my husband’s younger brother, Josh, pulling out a needle, filling it with a substance, and giving himself a shot right before we ate. It led to a discussion about his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis at age 7. I was intrigued to learn more and through my many inquisitive questions, his mom shared she took him to the doctor after Josh began wetting the bed, loosing weight and showing signs of dehydration. I was also flooded with the heartbreaking stories my grandma told of my Uncle Bill’s battles with Type 1 Diabetes. My husband and I knew we had it on both sides. I guess deep down we knew the chance was there. The Doctor’s entrance into the room interrupted those disturbing fears. My eyes locked onto his, begging him to give me good news but the similar look of somber over took his face as his eyes met mine and he shook his head. The un-welcomed confirmation of Type 1 Diabetes came. He stated his blood sugar was so high that his meter would not read it, therefore it must be over 600. A normal persons blood sugar is 70-120. I began to cry. Actually, I began to sob uncontrollably. I knew it was something but I didn’t want it to be this. I had seen first hand what Josh had to go through just to meet a basic need of eating. I vividly remember my grandma’s pain when sharing how her son ended up dying due to complications with his diabetes. I didn’t want that to be Keaton’s story. It couldn’t be Keaton’s story. The Doctor informed me Keaton’s urine was full of sugar and we needed to go straight to Children’s Hospital and be prepared to stay there for a couple days. I couldn’t do that. I had to pick up my kids from school in 30 minutes…they needed me. In a stern and authoritative voice he said, “Sarah, this is life and death for Keaton. He is very sick and NEEDS to go to the hospital NOW.” It was 4 days before Christmas…my family needed me. I promised Campbell I would volunteer for her class Christmas party. I still hadn’t made things right with her after ignoring her pleas for attention that morning…she needed me. I was going to miss taking Noah to shop for his Secret Santa. I had already put it off all week…he needed me. Crew was so clingy and confused by the morning events. I was looking forward to cuddling on the couch that evening to reassure him…he needed me. We just helped plant a new church that was opening its doors on Christmas Eve. We needed to be there to get it ready…they needed me. I looked into Keaton’s tearful and fear stricken eyes and in that moment I was reminded…Keaton NEEDED me.

Keaton 1 month before diagnosis

Keaton 1 month before diagnosis


Keaton right after diagnosis on the way to the hospital

Keaton right after diagnosis on the way to the hospital



Soaked: Part 1

Thursday, December 20, 2012 plays in my mind like a bad song on repeat. The day started around 3 a.m. when my third child, Keaton, woke up crying. We have a routine for when this happens. I embrace my inner contortionist and mold my body next to his inside his crib. I then tickle his back and face while I sing a sleepy version of Jesus Loves Me. By the end of the song, Keaton is usually in a deep sleep. Not this night. This night was different. This night was chaos. I still have a difficult time finding words to adequately describe that night. Bizarre will do for now. He was beyond wide awake. It was as if Keaton had guzzled his body weight in energy drinks. He had a multitude of things to say, half of which I was unable to comprehend because of the early hour, the other half due to his 2 year old broken language. He had an amazing ability to identify when we were pretending to understand what he was saying, making us to repeat each word until he was satisfied we understood. His game was proving to be difficult this particular night, leading to great frustration on both ends. He paused often throughout his elaborate stories to drink water. He was thirsty, more than thirsty, he was parched – drinking 3 full glasses of water within minutes, and wanting more.

I begged the sun not to come up and I cursed it when it did. The monotony of the day was welcomed, and I knew Starbucks was only a drive-thru away. I told myself I only had to survive to nap time and then I could collapse. The hoped for monotony was anything but. Rushing out the door to get my second grader, Noah, to school on time led me to forget the sippy cup of of water Keaton desperately desired. We all paid for that mistake and the 20 minute drive to school and back felt like an eternity. Keaton was unconsolable. Once inside, Keaton calmed down at the sight of his sippy cup waiting patiently for him on the kitchen table, and I calmed down with a cup of house made coffee, which was going to have to do that day. The peace lasted only moments before Keaton was upset because his diaper had leaked, soaking his clothes in urine. I had just changed him before we took Noah to school. I rationalized it was because he drank so much water throughout the night. I walked him up to his room and the aroma of urine consumed the air. I reached down in his crib to console him with his favorite blanket and his entire bedding was soaked in urine too. This was the the third time that week I had changed his sheets. I wondered if perhaps he was outgrowing his diapers and needed a bigger size. Two kids in diapers must have had my senses fooled or accustomed to the urine scent, so much so that my daughter had to inform me that my own clothes reeked of the same urine smell. What in the world? I started a bath for Campbell, Keaton and Crew while I got in the shower to scrub the smell away. I peered around he corner to find Keaton’s mouth stretched around the faucet drinking the water faster than it came out. As I approached him a look of fear overtook his faucet filled face and his eyes pleaded for me not to turn off his water supply. As I got each kiddo out of the tub Keaton melted in my hands, tackling me to the ground and his naked body began to uncontrollably sob in my lap. I distinctly remember grabbing his wet arms and pulling him close, demanding he tell me what was wrong. I knew I was begging for an answer he didn’t have. Neither did I.

Nap time was getting close, but first we needed to take Campbell to afternoon Kindergarten. I was well aware that she had gotten no attention that morning and had watched a couple of hours worth of television as a babysitter while my focus was overtaken by Keaton. I quickly put a bow in her hair and rushed her out the door by demanding she get in the car. My tone was intense and my sensitive little 6 year old’s eyes began to swell with tears. I didn’t have the energy to make it right in that moment. I told myself I would apologize later that night and would remind her that I would be volunteering in her class the next day for her Christmas Party. That should more than make up for our off morning. As I forcefully picked Crew up to put him in his car seat, I realized I had missed all of his attempts toward walking that morning. He was almost there, ready to take off at any moment. Had I missed it? Did he perfect the art of walking while my attention was devoted to Keaton that morning? My nap was so close I could taste it. I felt resentment building as I ran inside to change Keaton’s full diaper once again. When I looked in his panicked eyes, my heart melted and I knew this was bigger than what I could fix.