Thursday, November 30, 2006

Well that was...unexpected

So yesterday morning on our way to work, the dreaded "Check Engine" light came on in VNB's '96 Chevy Blazer that he bought from his uncle for ~$3000 about a year-and-a-half ago. While we waited to pick a friend up, we used his handy-dandy little code reader thing to find out what the error was, causing the light. It was error code 1870 - bottom line, transmission troubles.

So, after dropping me at the metro, VNB brought the car to the local dealership. Later on he called me with the news: They can fix the current issue for ~$500 and put a 5-mo warranty on it, but if something else dies (and that was highly likely), they'll need to replace the whole transmission. They have one on the shelf, but it'll cost ~$3000. After only a few minutes of discussion, it was decided that it wasn't worth it to put a new transmission (costing the same amount as the car did) into a 10-yr-old, we can afford a second car note right now that I'm working....but we don't anticipate me working (even part-time) forever, so if we're gonna do it, we should do it now rather than later.

So...we were buying a car. We very quickly decided against a brand new one (VNB wanted it, but the instant depreciation was too much for me), but both of us wanted a relatively late model that we knew would last us for a while. Since it was the end of the month and dealerships would be wanting to meet quotas, we figured we should start looking immediately, so VNB checked out CarMax.

First car that popped up from his search? 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD automatic, 22k miles, $22k. That was definitely a car we'd discussed in the past, so he had CarMax hold it for us for the day so that we could take a look at it after work.

But when he returned to the dealership to pick up his Blazer, they were waiting for him. They told him to search the lot for a car he was interested in. Of course, waiting for him was the Equinox that he'd been eyeing for years - 2005, AWD, automatic, 33k miles, $19k ("but we can go lower"). They couldn't hold it for him (and I was in a meeting right then, so couldn't answer when he called), but they could let him test drive it for the night and bring it back the next he did. There was clearly some wear and tear on the car (door handles and buttons were worn, a wheel hub had obviously scraped something, as had one bumper, etc.), but it drove _pretty_ well (VNB notices vibrations that no one else can feel), and it _definitely_ had a lower step than our Blazer or my Escape (non-hybrid) (this is an issue for me right now with my big belly - lifting my feet to get into a car has become painful).

So we test drove the Equinox to CarMax to check out the Hybrid (heehee).

We both got to drive the hybrid (VNB thought it had stalled one time that it switched over to the electric motor), and the salesman (who wasn't expecting us as early as we came and so was involved elsewhere too) gave us plenty of time to discuss. While we were discussing it, we happened across another Equinox in their showroom - same make, model, amenities (except no sun roof), about the same miles, and in better physical shape...but only $17k.

Not liking the feel of the Chevy dealer's Equinox or the fact that their initial price was so much higher, we took that off the table. So the decision was down to the Equinox at CarMax (that we hadn't driven), and the Hybrid. We went through the math of how much we were gonna save with the _MUCH_ better gas mileage with the hybrid (a minimum of ~$40/month), figured out how long it would take us to recoup the $7k difference in price (a long time), wondered about tax credits for used hybrids (still don't know the answer to that one), wondered whether maintenance would cost more on a hybrid and if CarMax's extended warranty would cover the "hybrid" parts too (except for the batteries themselves, it does), didn't want to buy it just because it was "cool" (although that was definitely a factor for both of us), wondered why a lightly-used hybrid was sitting at CarMax when it was only two years old, and basically were both afraid to make a decision.

So we did what anyone would do in that situation. That's right. We flipped a coin (hey - that's how they picked out Jonah...casting lots is entirely Biblical...really.... ;p ). Heads, we took the hybrid, tails, the Equinox (or at least, not the hybrid, not right now - although they couldn't hold it for us overnight, so it might not be there later if we wanted time to think it over). Mostly I just wanted to see how we reacted to the coin flip - if we were happy/relieved to see that it was heads or disappointed that it was tails (or vice versa). It was heads...and we were both scared to admit that that was what we wanted.

But we both knew that wanting something and knowing that we ought to buy something are two different even flipping a coin didn't really help that much (although the anecdotal "signage" from God was mounting).

But CarMax has that nice 7-day no questions asked return policy, so we figured we could still take our time with the final, FINAL decision and still not pass up on the opportunity.

So after waking up with no expectations of getting a new car anytime soon, we went to bed with a 2001 Escape, a 2005 Escape Hybrid, a borrowed 2005 Equinox, and a 1996 Blazer.

Since the Blazer's transmission is going to die very soon, we figured we wouldn't get a very good deal from CarMax for it, so we're going to give it to a charity we just have to figure out which one. So, to aid in that transition, this morning VNB drove the Equinox with me following behind in the Hybrid (probably one of the last times I'll get to drive it :). We dropped the Equinox off at his work, he dropped me off at the metro, then dropped the Hybrid off at his work, drove the Equinox over to the dealership, and presumably gave it back, returning to work in the Blazer. The Blazer will stay in the lot at his work until we find a charity to take it. Which means that we're driving the hybrid home and will be back to having only two cars there. It was/is quite the dance.

Life (God) keeps doing this to us. Leia's back from Iraq for two months? Oh - meet VNB. Six months later? Engaged. Six months after that? Married. Two months later? Pregnant, and a new/old job. We finally get caught up on debts and bills, with a little in the bank? Need a new car. Two months from now? New baby, job/life drastically changes. I feel like I'm in one of those Nationwide commercials - "Life comes at you fast. Don't you wish everything did?" Just two years ago I was travelling the world, with very few strings to tie me down. Now I'm married, about to have a baby, with a "real" job, a mortgage, and two car notes.

I feel like I need to stop and catch my breath (at the very least). Another part wants to run. I've chucked it all once before, why not again? But then I look on my desk and see VNB staring out at me from our very first picture together. Not only am I reminded of how hot he is every time I see that picture, but his eyes do for me exactly what they do in real life - they settle me down. There's no doubt that being with him is the right thing and right now, that means marriage, mortgage, car notes, and a baby on the way.

Next to that picture is one from our wedding. Now, he's hot in the first picture I described, but that's in an approachable kind of way. On the day of our wedding, he was scorching, too-hot-to-touch hot (I think it's the combination of the haircut and the suit...and just his general hotness...have I mentioned that I think he's hot?). But that's all really beside the point.

Next to that picture is the sonogram pic I posted several months ago of our baby sucking his/her thumb in utero. Despite my ever-expanding girth (pics to follow soon) and my constant state of discomfort, it's still hard to believe sometimes that I'm pregnant and will soon be a mommy. But the little one in that picture is so precious, with all of those little baby parts being so perfectly knit together...and is certainly making sure I know they're there with the constant indigestion and the dance parties... Despite the excruciating leg cramps and dreams of Martha Stewart (don't ask) that interrupted my slumber last night, and despite the fact that it's getting hard to walk with a 35+-lb bowling ball strapped to my belly...I know that the baby's just _right_ for right now too. (Plus, with walking as difficult as it is, running is certainly out of the question, and even if I _did_ run, the baby would still be attached when I got to where ever I was going, so there's not exactly any escaping this one. ;p )

I guess, really, I've just exchanged one type of spontaneity and freedom for another. Before, I could go where I wanted, when I wanted (basically). Now, there's someone who's got my back if something goes wrong, and with whose management we've been able to get to the point where it was OK for us to be unexpectedly pregnant, and to where we could discover one day that we needed to buy a car...and actually buy one that same day (and have it be a cool one!!!)!

So, surprise! We've got a hybrid, and we think it's cool! And so far, I think we're gonna keep it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


So let me recount my Sunday morning to you. Believe me, it's worth the read...

I got up in plenty of time to take a leisurely shower, fix and eat breakfast, get dressed, and get to church in plenty of time to get ready to sing the special music at the 8 AM service. I had a good bit of stuff to carry in, so getting out of the car was a bit of a chore, but I managed. So I sang in the service, then sat in my Sunday School room, reading a magazine, waiting for everyone to get there when VNB called...

"It's going to be really hard for me to get to church today." You see, I had taken his car instead of mine since his has a tape deck and mine doesn't and I wanted to go over my song a few times on the way. That wouldn't have been a problem except that I'm the only one with a key to my he was stuck at home.

So I wrote a note to the class explaining our absence and began gathering my things when I realize that I couldn't find my keys. I'd set all of my stuff down in several locations throughout the church over the course of the morning though, so I began retracing my steps. Coming up empty, my last stop is in the church office where I asked if anyone's turned any keys in. Since no one had, the office manager offered to check my car for me (did I mention that it was VERY rainy on Sunday?). As I'm standing inside, waiting for him to return, someone else who's just come in asked, " that _your_ car that's on?"


So the office manager returns, verifying that a) the keys are in the car, and b) the car is indeed running. (And had been since I'd gotten there two hours previously.)

So I went back to my Sunday School room to borrow a car to go get VNB (who has spare keys to _his_ car, just not mine). One of the girls let me borrow her car and I proceeded to pop the hood with my left hand while keeping my right hand on the emergency brake. After closing the hood and successfully disengaging the brake, I began my trek home to get VNB.

It is at that point that I performed the most difficult task of all - I called him to let him know what was happening. He very quickly told me to turn around because there's a key in a magnetic box under the back bumper....oh, and when I left at 7:15 (over an hour before he got up), I left the front door open. Now, our door has springs on it, so it's not like it was wide open or anything, but the springs aren't strong enough to actually get the door to latch, so it wasn't just unlocked, it was obviously open.


So I turned around and headed back to church. As I (almost 7-months pregnant, in a dress and heels, holding an umbrella, in the rain) was squatting behind the car, searching in vain for the hide-a-key, one of the guys from the church walked by and offered assistance. He managed to find the key, but neither of us could actually get the box (which was pretty wet by then, as were our hands) open. So we went inside, dried off the box, practically had to break it, but finally got it open.

So we trekked back out with the key, opened the door and discovered that not only had the car been _ON_ for over two hours, it had been on and in _DRIVE_ for over two hours. I'd put the emergency brake on, but had never put it into park.


So then I returned my friend's car keys and headed home to pick up VNB. We missed Sunday School completely (although they _DEFINITELY_ enjoyed a "few" chuckles at my expense - especially as I came and went with story updates), but made it back in time for the service.

You know...they talk about "pregnancy" or "placenta brain," but up until now (despite what VNB might tell you), I haven't been any more absent-minded than normal really....but wow....all of that to happen at once! Here's hoping that I've gotten it all over with and will now revert to normal, because it's going to be a very _long_ two months otherwise.

Yeah...I'm not holding my breath, don't worry. But a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Hopefully most of you have seen "The Dark Crystal." It was a (kinda slow, but otherwise VERY good) movie that came out in 1982 whose cast was entirely Muppets (but no one from Sesame Street or The Muppet Show - and incidentally, there's apparently a sequel in the works!). One of the characters was named Aughra. In looking for pictures of her, I've discovered that she's both male and female, just that the male part of her has shrivelled by the time of the movie. Who knew? (Well, beside the guy whose website I got that tidbit from...) Anyway, I'll call her a "her" since that's how I've always thought of her (and I think how they address her in the movie).

So here's a pic:

Now you might wonder why I'm posting about her. Well, the reality of the situation is that, while I'm still part hobbit in my eating habits (and expanding hairiness), I think I'm now becoming part Aughra too. Not only does she do a good "pregnant lady" impression (leaning forward with a pot belly and holding her back), but she also groans/grunts like every time she moves.

Especially at night now (when I'm lying down) or when I'm trying to get up from a chair or the couch, that's become me. I've even woken VNB up a couple of times as I've rolled over in bed, not because of the motion, but because of the grunting required to turn my hips (with their extra 30 lbs). It's not pretty.

Pretty funny, but not pretty. :)

Anyway, for those who wonder how pregnancy feels/is treating me...well, apparently I become Muppet-like. When I start growing purple fur, a big orange nose, or wings, I'll let you know.

Fire Drill

So we had a pre-announced fire drill in our building today. Let me rephrase that - we're currently having a pre-announced fire drill in our building today. Why am I sitting here blogging, you ask? Well, the building/company policy is that pregnant women (and the otherwise infirm) are supposed to stay in a room with a window and a phone with someone who is not infirm, call 911, and wait for the firemen to rescue them. So, while the rest of my office has to wait outside in the cold, I get to sit in my office and blog. Theoretically, I'm supposed to go to someone else's office to wait for the firemen, but since we know it's a drill (and we're not supposed to call 911), and he knows that I'm in my office (he's walked by twice now), I get to sit in my office and do whatever I want.

The only downside is that our hallway's fire alarm is literally right outside my door...and not only that, but there's a HUGE amount of static for the "There HAS been an emergency reported in the building. Please immediately evacuate using marked stairways and exits. Do NOT use the elevators." The siren is usually the annoying part. This time it's all the rest. And I get to listen to it probably for the entire half-hour that the people are supposed to stay outside.

I feel like I'm playing hookey from school or something (only with a _LOT_ more static). Baby moves around, I wonder what s/he is thinking of all the noise.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ego Boost

I, a lady who is (at least in my own eyes) obviously pregnant, was hit on by a construction worker when leaving the Metro this morning.

You heard me right.

Dude had been sitting in a seat near mine and had handed me my lunch bag when it threatened to roll away during the trip. After we got off the train, he introduced himself and asked what I did. When he heard that I was an aerospace engineer, he (like many people) started talking about airplanes. When I mentioned that I was more into rockets, he then explained how his model airplane hobby really wanted to take a rocket kind of turn.

When we got to the main escalator (which I use as my daily exercise regimen - that's one LONG escalator and I manage to walk my ginormous body up it every day), he said that what he really wanted to talk to me about was me.

Now I give him several points, so single guys out there, listen up:
1) He was bold. But he wasn't scared to talk to me. That was, incidentally, one of VNB's main selling points (among many other things, but that was definitely one of the first things I noticed). Now, this can be taken too far, but it's refreshing when the guy isn't afraid of you.
2) He was obviously being sincere when he said it was something about my eyes (HA!). I mean, seriously. How does one not notice that a girl is SIX MONTHS PREGNANT?!!! unless they're really only looking at her face? Now granted, during the time that he was admiring my eyes, I was seated with a jacket on over a sweater, but still...he didn't talk to me until we were both standing and walking. He could have bailed at that point and I would never have even noticed.

When he said that what he really wanted to talk about was me, I responded with, "Well, my husband probably wouldn't appreciate that, especially with our little one six months on the way (while patting my belly)." Again, two points in the guy's favor:
A) He looked genuinely surprised when I mentioned being six months pregnant (which reinforces point 2, above), and
B) He immediately backed off. I mentioned that walking the escalator was my morning exercise and he made a motion to walk with me, but then changed his mind.

It was a very pleasant encounter from start to finish, all things considered. But all in all, it was quite the ego boost and honestly made my morning far more enjoyable than it otherwise could have been.


(Another, unrelated "HA!" - apparently Blogger's spell check includes the word "ginormous!" Ok, that one's more of a "Heehee," but still...)