i am in utah for a couple of days to attend a family wedding but just before i left i was notified that i won an amazing contest put on by usedcameras.com!! one of my friends had tweeted about it and i entered and won a $2500 gift certificate to use at their online store! i seriously thought it was a scam because i NEVER win contests like this.
my sister asked me to write an article on why i made the decision to switch from breast feeding to formula feeding. with both of my kids it was a difficult decision that took a long time, which most of you have already read about on this blog.
when the gremlin was sold for parts, i threw myself a party. let's call it a wake. a celebration of a life (lived poorly, but a life nonetheless), and the fact that it was over. distributed among various people, never to be put back together to torture me for one more second.
i was happy.
however, at this point in the story we were in the dead of winter (which starts sometime in mid-august and ends the following year at the beginning of july) living in rexburg, idaho. it looked a little like this:
only with much, MUCH more ice.
i consider the temperatures in this small town to be what i imagine the opposite of what hell would feel like. when you would walk outside just to take out the garbage the icy breeze wouldn't just freeze your nose hairs, it was so cold that you actually felt like your nose had completely frozen on your face and had fallen off. there were several times i dropped to my hands and knees in search of my lost nose. only to frantically reach back up to feel for it and hey! it was still there!
basically you would lose all feeling of any uncovered appendage in about 30 seconds flat.
anyone who has lived there can attest to this.
in fact, you could probably spot rexburgians of past and present amid a crowd of strangers because they are most likely sporting some sort of leftover frostbite on the edges of their sniffer. and if you look really closely i bet you can still see ice crystals in their eyebrows.
also at this point in the story, ben was teaching seminary out in mud lake, idaho (no, i don't make this stuff up) and left early in the morning while i worked at an eye doctor's office which was about a 10-15 minute walk from where we lived. ben left about 2 hours earlier than i did for work, and got home about 2 hours before me.
now i can guess what you're thinking. can't she just walk to work? and the answer is yes, and i did. many times, in fact. or my lovely friend cindy was kind enough to give me a ride. but aside from the frigid temps and the burning desire to keep my original nose on my face, i was also 4 months pregnant. here's a visual so you don't have to just imagine what i looked like:
i know, i know. pregnancy looks good on me, right? and yes, ben had a different hair cut back in those days. but the rest is the same, thank heavens.
so i ask you.
would you want this beautiful, lithe creature who's with child to have to brave the freezing winds of rexburg and risk tripping on 3 layers of ice on top of ice on top of ice to fall and bruise her amazing backside?
i think not.
the truth is, i was fine with walking to work. by the time i would arrive i couldn't remember who i was or where i was going due to the hypothermia that had set in my brain, but i was happy to do it. but then lady fortune smiled upon me and that same friend (cindy) who would pick me up sometimes decided to upgrade her car. and this was the beaut she was a'partin with:
cindy took amazing care of this car and i knew it. so when she had heard of our gremlin circumstance, she offered to sell it to us. we jumped at the chance! we bought it sometime around the beginning of november. we adored little beauty and if you walked down the street by our house you could often overhear us outside whispering sweet nothings to this car and smothering it with slobbery kisses. with our nose muffs on, of course.
i wish i were joking.
cut to the week before christmas. we had some awesome friends who we are still friends with, who needed some help. i can't remember if their car had broken down or if they didn't think it would make the trek to utah...the details are fuzzy. long story short, we let them borrow our first car, (the nissan altima) to take to utah to visit their family. and we took little beauty to utah for our own holiday visit.
we wrapped up all of the christmas presents, packed up the car and set out for what would become a very memorable night.
as we drove we realized the severity of the weather. again, for your visual pleasure it looked a little something like this:
i consider ben to be a very safe driver, sometimes to the point that i look at him and say in a snotty tone, "HEY OLD MAN, ARE YOU WANTING TO GIVE YOUR FRIENDS RIDING THEIR JAZZIES A CHANCE TO CATCH UP?"
but lucky for us both, he doesn't give into peer pressure or wives with a tendency to spew snot every once and a while. we slowed to a snail's pace on the freeway and i settled in for a long drive.
there were barely any other cars out on the road with us, and if ever we saw one it was usually because it had slid off and was now blinking hazard lights to alert the masses.
we were going about 55 mph in a 75 mph zone, singing "DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW..." at the top of our lungs when suddenly, we hit a patch of black ice.(the singing was a detail added for dramatic effect. ahem.)
the little beauty spun counter-clockwise and smacked into a metal pole that looked like a mile marker, only on the opposite side of the road. that pole sent little beauty spinning, orbiting around the icy and dark freeway.
our seat belts locked, my hair flew in my face and christmas presents went everywhere.
and this was it, folks.
it was like everything was in slow motion. i let out a high pitched squeal that i know would have sent dogs running to us from all directions if there had been any in sight. and as i squealed, i looked at ben with my eyes open as wide as my mouth.
and all he could do was yell,
which still makes me laugh thinking about it. i can laugh because we both survived this basically unharmed.
anyway, as our car careened out of control, we spun down into the snow-covered grassy median. the poor little beauty slammed backwards into a guard rail which luckily stopped us from spinning into oncoming traffic going the opposite direction.
we ended up at an almost 90 degree angle, much like this:
only instead of teetering our back wheels on a motor home, we were teetering on a guard rail. (i get it, this accident looks much worse. let's not compare notes, shall we? it's just to give you the ever-needed visual.)
it was one of those surreal moments where for about 30 seconds, we pretty much hyperventilated because we were breathing so hard. then we just looked at each other, with our mouths still open.
both of us thinking, did this really just happen?
and then ben got out to survey the damage. he grabbed the camera and snapped pictures of me peeking through the windshield, basically upside down. boy do i wish i had a copy of those pictures. but alas, i do not. just think of a glowing angelina...er, me...looking like a deer in the headlights but still a vision of matronly goddessness.
he came back to report that the little beauty was broken, probably never to be repaired. i have to admit i shed a tear or two (darn that left tear duct again!) over our loss.
we called family who came to our rescue. in the meantime we were met with the biggest DB of a police officer.
he actually gave ben a ticket! for what?
improper lane travel.
so i guess we were supposed to signal as we were spinning from lane to lane?
oops, sorry officer douce bag. next time we'll remember that. our bad.
he yelled at our family members for pulling over to help us out, couldn't give a rats patootie that we were freezing in our no-longer-working car, and gave me the stink eye when he heard me spew some more snotty remarks under my breath at his gall and un-christmasy spirit.
though in the big scheme of things, mr. police-grinch-man was a minor detail. as i mentioned beforehand, luckily we were not harmed. and that was most important.
but unfortunately we could not say the same for little beauty. the insurance company deemed her "totalled" and as we removed the remainder of our belongings before she was towed away, we whispered our love for her for the last time.
she was only with us for about 6 weeks, but we still speak often of little beauty. and when she is mentioned, we bow our heads for a moment of silence.
once again, we became a one car family.
second car, #3
"A GENEROUS GIFT BECOMES A WAY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AN AUTO MECHANIC"
a very important event in the strader family world:
(a hush falls over the crowd. drum roll please.....)
after almost 7 years together, we are a two car family! (the crowd goes wild, starting the wave in the counter-clockwise direction)
"technically" (i am using my air quotes here) we have had two cars before. 3 times in our marriage actually. but to say that we are finally a two car family and live up to the name would take a little story telling.
as i started writing this i realized that the story of the gremlin deserved a posting all its own.
so indulge me if you will.
second car, #1: (did that make sense? think it through. it will come.)
presenting... the gremlin. dun dun duuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.
ugh. just that picture gives me PTSD. and whole lot of it!
here is my lovely pile of metal, only think older, with more rust stains and an imaginary sign above it everywhere it goes that reads "THORN IN LYNSEY'S SIDE."
why? well, funny you asked........
back in the year 1999, pre-ben, pre-hatchback life i was enjoying this little lady:
except about 10 years older than this model, a black top and a little more orange-red than fire hydrant red. but still. sigh.
picture my hair blowing in the wind, blasting music as i breeze by you. the song of choice for this moment in the story will be air supply's "making love out of nothing at all" (outtanothingatalllll).
i drove my lovely cabriolet convertible in high school and while living for a summer in jackson hole. as that summer neared its end my dad took it for a weekend, admitting to me he was going to have to sell it and get more of a "snow-friendly car" to survive the frigid wyoming winters.
i watched with a tear in my eye (the left one, if you were wondering) as my little red, roofless wonder drove away. there was a small shred of hope that held a possibility of what might return in its place. i'm really not that car savvy or particular. i just wanted something that was reliable in the snow, ice, sleet, hail and moose poop. and kind of cute. was that asking too much?
i guess it was.
the "little hatchback that could" is what returned.
a slight gasp escaped my lips as my dad putted up through the parking lot driving the gremlin, but i set my shoulders square and decided to give it the ol' college try.
cut to, like 3 weeks later. for the first of 4 times, the gremlin broke down. and when i say "broke down," i'm not talking a lame refusing-to-start-on-a-bitterly-cold-day-i-have-to-call-a-friend-to-drive-me-to-work broke down.
i'm talking, i'm-in-the-middle-of-nowhereland-on-my-way-to-logan-from-jackson-driving-by-myself-up-a-canyon-on-a-hot-summer-day-with-no-A/C-when-the-gremlin-decided- to-growl-its-last-growl (or so i had hoped) broke down. with a trail of cars behind me, i crawled at a snail's pace with my white knuckles clutching the steering wheel. at the time i was heading uphill. the car repeatedly lurched, making some noises that i know the good people over at subaru did not build this car to make.
if you have known me long enough, you have heard my impression of this noise. though there were no witnesses besides myself, i can assure you that it is a dead on impression.
i did reach the top of the canyon's hill...i credit all of my prayers--said loudly to overshadow the crazy lurching noises--being answered to get to that spot. not only was i praying, but singing intermittently "CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN," pulling my best mother abbess impersonation in hopes of sending the gremlin some positive energy.
did i mention that this was pre-everyone owns a cell phone years? no, that isn't the same year that grandma beula was crowned prom queen. it was just a mere decade ago, folks. unbelievable, but true.
my thinking was that once it was fixed, the gremlin and i could discuss where this relationship was taking us and whether or not we were compatible as vehicle cohabitants. you think i am joking? i have had to have many heart-to-hearts with my automobiles. some airing in my favor, most of them not. (like 70/40.)
unfortunately i never had the opportunity to have that conversation with the ol' gal. because after leaving the auto shop with a new and improved gremlin (after the mechanic said to me "wow, subarus never break down!" i wanted to punch him.) , i settled into a false sense of security. i thought i had all the time in the world for my mano-y-mano chat.
a couple of weeks later i was again driving solo on my way to a wedding in utah when the gremlin gave me some more trouble. this time there was smoke coming from the hood and it was overheating. luckily i was in the heart of idaho falls and close to a wendy's parking lot. so i turned off the nasty beast and sailed in neutral right into a space where i sat for a good 2 hours waiting for it to cool down.
luckily this time i had learned my lesson and had borrowed my dad's cell phone. it was one of the newer models and looked a little somethin' somethin' like this:
"DAD! THE LAME CAR BROKE DOWN ON ME AGAIN!" i sobbed into the boxy receiver as my dad picked up the call.
"what's wrong this time sweetie? subarus just don't break down, you know." i sensed the exasperation in his voice. like it was my fault or something! i explained the symptoms. then he uttered the question that i still harbor resentment in my heart for:
"are you sure you know how to drive a clutch?"
my reply came out fast and furious.
"DAD ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO TAUGHT ME TO DRIVE A CLUTCH! I'VE BEEN DRIVING ONE SINCE I WAS 16. THIS IS A PIECE OF POOP CAR AND YOU DON'T WANT TO ADMIT THAT SINCE YOU BOUGHT IT AND WERE TAKEN FOR A RIIIIIIDE IN THIS LEMON!"
silence on the other end. i contemplated whether or not i had gone too far. but as i felt my sweaty back from the hot summer air and looked at the steam rising from the hood to the clouds i did not regret my decision to take a stand. this. must. stop.
"well, sit there for a little longer and then give it another try." words of wisdom i tell you.
and so i did. like i said, after 2 hours, i started the gremlin up and made it to utah without a problem.
the third time it broke down is short and sweet. one winter morning in below zero temps, it just wouldn't start. got it fixed, endured another lecture of how subarus never break down. end of that one.
but the fourth time? a doozy.
i had moved back home from jackson and was living with my parents. driving into salt lake every day was always a gamble in the gremlin. it would shudder to life every morning until i gave it a pep talk to get a move on. that we could survive together one more day.
but one morning, there was a horrible snow storm. i had just entered the freeway, and was about 15 miles from my house when the car put-put-putted and du-du-died. no cell phone with me, and with some crazy traffic going on, i put on my coat and snuggled into my seat. flashes of my frozen, lifeless body came into my mind. this was the end of me.
yeah, that's a gross picture. sorry.
about 20 minutes later, a car pulled to the side. a sweet middle-aged couple had come to my rescue!
"did you run out of gas?" the husband asked me gently. i took his tone as him assuming that i was an idiot young girl.you know the kind, who think that the E on their gas gauge stands for Effort or are too flighty to notice the word "diesel" as they are absentmindedly putting gas in their car. of course popping gum as they pump. because we gals can't do two things at once, you know.
"no, it just died on me. and it's not the first time!" i replied, trying to mask the shrillness of my tone.
"oh i was just wondering because i was just telling my wife that subarus never break down," he said in a surprised yet cheery tone.
i inwardly rolled my eyes, muttered the gremlin's name in vain under my breath, and hopped into their warm car. they were so kind to drive me all the way down to my work in salt lake. and that wretched little car sat under 2 feet of snow.
that was IT for me. i refused to drive it anymore, and endured the other "gems" my dad found "fabulous deals" on from the side of the road. i didn't care, i had signed the papers and the gremlin and i were officially divorced.
so how does this apply?
once i dusted off my feet on the mats of that coche, it was passed down to my more than willing little brother, tyler. he couldn't wait to get his hands on it.
about a year into ben and i being married, tyler also wanted a divorce from the gremlin. and saw my husband as just the sucker to take the fall.
i clearly remember sitting in my parents' kitchen one weekend, while tyler pitched his sale to ben.
"i'll give it to you for five hundred bucks," tyler said.
"NONONONONO!" i protested. "that car will NOT come back to me! NO! i am putting my foot DOWN!" and probably stomped at that moment, to emphasize my passion on the subject.
10 minutes later, we were five hundred dollars poorer, and with continual promises from ben that i would never have to drive the gremlin, the title was passed over to us. truth? the thought to burn it crossed my mind.
he drove it back to rexburg and i followed behind him in our other car with a pit in my stomach.
but ben was in love. i don't know what it was about that dang car, but the fellas couldn't get enough of it. i actually had one friend tell me that if i ever wanted to sell it, to let him know. my response? "if it were my car, i would giveyou money to take if off my hands!"
anyway. ben happily drove it for, oh......
3 1/2 weeks? maybe 4? until it just stopped. would not go one. inch. further. so a good friend towed it to our driveway and there it sat for 2 months. until who decided to buy it off our hands????
my brother tyler.
for how much?
three hundred dollars.
i am not even kidding you. i really, really wish that i were.
he bought it back and sold it for parts. so within a month we not only lost $200, but ben pretty much lost his pride and core belief that he can make sound judgments when it comes to purchasing a car.
especially when there is a stomp from his wife involved.
however, i did my best not to gloat. i was just happy that the gremlin was now taken apart and shipped to new and separate homes and free from the bonds that had held me bound.
the gremlin. ugh. shiver.
second car #2:
the night ben yelled at the top of his lungs,
well, i wrote about them... the baby thigh high, kneecap protectors. now check them out in pictures.
i said, "give me your crusty old lady face!" and this is what happened. i blame myself.
now she's crawling up because she felt the magnetic pull of the flash. blast you, anti-red eye. and watch out, there's a close up of her infamous double chin.
don't get too close, the chin might attack you,
channeling jabba the hut a la "return of the jedi." no one feels like wearing a gold bikini & being chained to that monstrosity do they? didn't think so.
here i am trying to push her away from grabbing the camera. what a mean mom. do you see the determined look on her face? well maybe you don't. but i do.
finally after another 5 minutes of this silent arguing,
she went back to minding her own business.
well we pretty much wore ourselves out for the halloween weekend.
all day made us refer to him as caleb cowboy strader.
was absolutely in love with his "shooter" also known as his gun.
though we were strict parents and wouldn't let him aim it at his sister's head...
even though nothing was coming out of it.
it's just the thought, you know?
went to the trunk or treat and saw his cute friend, lion eve.
then went trick or treating with lovely kali, and studly kai. he was amazingly hyper for a kid that hadn't had one ounce of candy all day. we actually gave him a sucker when he started to wind down so that the sugar could help him walk back to kali's house instead of having me carry him.
struggled to keep up the fast pace she normally has even while in a tutu, so opted for the stink bug crawl, bum in the air.
was fascinated with her wand.
attempted many times to eat her tutu, and luckily failed at all attempts. didn't care much for trick or treating, but instead rode in the stroller like a champ.
after she tried to steal the cowboy's hat.
and he tried to poke the fairy's nose.
she still had glitter in her hair for church the next day,even though i washed her head and face 3 times.people thought it was on purpose but i assure you, it was not.
we have a few more years before she becomes hannah montana'ed, don't we?