Category Archives: Cars

The Great Mid-Western Road Trip: East Bound

We made it.

I know, I know–I ruined my own ending. But you have to try to hear that first sentence not as a matter of fact statement, but as an wonder-filled whisper, a trembling, grateful prayer while witnessing a miracle. 

When we told people that we were driving with our two month old son from Colorado to Michigan, 98% percent responded with a mixture of skepticism and awe. The other two percent–members of my immediate family–nodded matter of factly and reminded me that the drive from the Springs to St. Louis isn’t nearly as bad as the bi-annual drive my parents took from Pennsylvania to Kansas. And they had THREE kids to pack for and deal with in those days. Can’t impress everyone, I guess.

But even though both Zach and I had moments of exasperation and Sam suffered some serious infant constipation from being stuck in a car seat so long, it really wasn’t that bad. I hit a low point between Chicago and Grand Rapids, openly weeping in the back of a hot car in a gas station parking lot while trying to nurse a wailing, sticky, smelly infant. Sam’s low point followed immediately afterward, when, after three days of nearly continous travel, the monotony of his view from a backward facing carseat became more than he could bear. And Zach’s low point wasn’t far behind: listening to the pitiful cries of an unhappy baby will bring anybody down. Thanks to a combination of unhealthy snacks and controversial talk radio, we rallied and sallied forth. So to speak.

We enjoyed some wonderful visits with family along the way. After the first leg of our journey, we stopped to visit my grandfather in Parsons, KS. Now, I know that driving through Kansas gets a bad rap, but it looks like the Arcadian fields after a drive through southern Colorado. There isn’t a changing table between Colorado Springs and Cheyenne Wells: at least 200 miles. What a wasteland. When we arrived in Parsons and were greeted with hugs, homemade ice cream, and promises of a trip to the lake the next day, we resolved never again to participate in the rampant Kansas-bashing most Americans enjoy.    

Sam met his maternal aunt and uncles, his cousin Rosemary (who managed to be more enthusiastic about BABY SAM! than I am, which is saying something), his great grandfather, his great grandmother, and my best friend over the course of the journey. He’s been napping since noon: clearly, this intense social exertion exhausted him.  

And now we’re in Michigan. More on what that’s like later. I just wanted to let you know that we made it.

We made it.

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Filed under Cars, Domesticity, Friendship, Marriage, Mothering

Weekend Snap Shots

It’s a beautiful sunny afternoon here in Colorado Springs–much too nice to consider writing all those lesson plans I’ve got to finish before taking maternity leave. So, instead of drafting a plan for how to make Cyrano de Bergerac appealing to 7th graders, I’ve put together a little weekend update for you!

What I’ve Been Reading:

Annie Dillard’s memoir An American Childhood:

I love Annie Dillard’s work, but have found most of it a little too strong for leisure reading during pregnancy. (For the Time Being, for example, includes too many speculations about unusual birth defects to be good for an expectant mother.) But this fluid re-creation of her childhood mind is both pleasing and intriguing. Dillard is perhaps the most observant writer I know, and these stories from her childhood in high-society Pittsburgh (of all places) shows how she honed her natural curiosity into keep powers of observation through collecting rocks, biking all over the city, and taking ball room dance lessons.

What I’ve Been Cooking:

I appreciated the wonderful recipe suggestions you all sent. I’d love to give you a little glimpse of how Anna’s Hearty Potato Soup turned out, but WP isn’t letting me upload those photos. (Sorry, Anna).

On Friday night, though, I make my best “fast food” imitation with some oven baked sweet potato fries and chicken fingers—so much healthier if you do it yourself!

Sweet Potato Fries: except not fried

What I’ve Been Growing:

Our little boy is looking more and more like a person all the time, at least, according to this in-utero illustration. (Why no belly pictures, you wonder? Because I get tired of asking my husband to take photos of my stomach.) Depending on who you ask (me or my doctor) I’m at either 34 or 36 weeks right now. Zach has affirmed that I have NOT begun to waddle yet.

He looks almost ready to come out, doesn't he? Only six more weeks or so!

What I’ve Been Researching:

Our friends Keith and Megan (who just had a little boy of their own THIS MORNING!! Congrats, guys!) have encouraged us in our search for the perfect cloth diaper. After consulting a few other experts (read: moms), we decided to register for a set of Fuzzibunz One-Size diapers. These things are adorable AND adjustable, so they should last from 4 weeks – potty training for multiple children. I know that committing to cloth diapers means high start up costs and a lot of laundry, but they really make diapers more affordable in the long run. Oh, AND they’re good for the environment.

The Fuzzibunz One-Size in Tootie Frootie. Very masculine, no?

What I’ve Been Buying:

You may remember a little brouhaha from a while back involving some car problems and a wiley mechanic. Well, I’m happy to report that we’ve received a decent chunk of cash back, and have finally moved forward with buying a newer car. Meet the Kia Optima 2007:

I've never owned a red car before. Or even a car! Three cheers for downsizing!

It’s currently parked on the street, where Zach and I fully expect it will be hit by an uninsured drunk driver before we have a chance to complete the payment/insurance process with the bank tomorrow. Nevertheless, we are grateful to have found a good deal and grateful to be done with car shopping!

What I’ve Been Neglecting:

  • Working on our wedding album, which I vowed to complete before the baby gets here.
  • Working on lesson plans, which I am legally obligated to complete before the baby gets here
  • Sleeping well: apparently, the baby wants to condition me to wake every two or three hours so I’m all chipper for night time feedings when he arrives.
  • Blogging. I know, okay? I know.
  • My toe nails: a pedicure is in order. Not because I’m self-indulgent, but because I can’t easily reach my feet.

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Filed under Cars, Consumerism, Domesticity, Mothering, Reading

The End of an Episode

Though blessed with a week’s reprieve from the conflict with my mortal enemy, I awoke yesterday morning ready to finish the fight. As I curled my hair, delivering a pep-talk in the mirror, I felt a bit like Pope’s Belinda when her sylphs arm her for battle with “Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles and Billet-doux.” Except that in my case, the battle was being waged over the rape of my pocketbook instead of the rape of a lock. (And, um, there weren’t any billet-doux involved. Or patches, for that matter.)

The pep-talk was intense: Imagine Kathleen Kelly gearing up to ‘go to the mattresses’ against the evil Joe F-O-X in You’ve Got Mail. I think I even referred to myself as a lone reed at one point.

Over breakfast, Zach counseled me in the ways of wise consumer advocacy. I ate a banana, drank some tea, and donned a power outfit. I practiced looking stern.  At any rate, by the time I texted my prayer warriors and headed out the door, I was no longer a mild-mannered middle-school teacher: I was Laurel, Warrior Princess.

(Admit it– you secretly loved this show.)

I stormed into the main office at precisely 9am, thunder and black clouds rolling in my wake. The face of evil–a gruff, towering, stubble-faced fellow named Sam–smiled at me from behind the main counter. The face of evil always smiles at first. We exchanged a few pleasantries (he had a VERY nice vacation, in case you were wondering) and got down to business. After delivering a report from the reasonable transmissions place, I reiterated my request for a refund. He hemmed and hawed. He called the transmission mechanic, who did not deliver good news. Sam continued wavering, donkey-like, until he was struck with a flash of managerial brilliancy: He had to talk to corporate.

Of course you do, I thought to myself, smoldering. Now you’ll get some bigwig on the east coast to put the kabash on the whole deal so that you won’t have to be the nay-sayer. I had a feeling that this was coming. Coward.

Sam needed some time to make his phone calls and arrange the business, so I went home for a while, a bit deflated but not defeated. A little after lunch, he rings me up. Unwilling to conduct business over the phone, I go back to the shop.

Sam is still smiling. Come on back to my office, he says.

This is it: the big confrontation—he wants to make sure I don’t emasculate him in front of his employees. He is wise to fear me.

I take a deep breath, preparing to deliver my diatribe on truth, justice, and the sanctity of customer rights. Then Sam says, “Okay–I’ve figured out a way to get you your money back.”

I stared, suddenly unable to remember my carefully rehearsed speech.

He then goes on to explain how he can’t refund it all at once because such a large output would require 6-8 weeks of corporate processing. But he has figured out a way to pay us back in weekly installments over the next month. He apologizes for the whole misunderstanding. He feels honor-bound to make things right. He hopes that we can still trust his business.

I was, and still am, stunned. For all my spit-fire and pugnacity and cultivated determination, it seems that the battle was won long before I showed up.

I walked out of his office feeling not victorious, but humbled. Sam’s change of heart and unquestionably fair solution completely disarmed me. It seems I was not really expecting my prayers to be answered, at least not so generously.

A few hours later, at a mass celebrating the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, I felt the true error of my pride as we sang the day’s responsorial psalm: The salvation of the just comes from the Lord. Aha.

That newly discovered courage I mentioned last week still matters: if I hadn’t worked up the will to fight, I wouldn’t have been present to receive this grace. But I hope that in the future I’ll know better than to assume that the outcome of any conflict depends wholly on my own strength.

(Still, it’s satisfying to note that, for once, a corporation is on a payment plan to me.)

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Filed under Cars, Catholicism, Courage, Faith