Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Minivan Meltdown

It all started on Tuesday.  I was minding my own business, driving to work on the freeway, and going up a pretty steep grade when all of a sudden I notice my temperature gauge climbing up into the red. Quick decision: Try to get to the top of the grade and cruise down to see what happens? Pull off the road and turn off the car?  I pulled off the freeway onto the narrow shoulder and leaned to the right every time a large semi truck would drive by...as if by leaning, the truck couldn't hit me.  It was scary.  So, I decide to try to make it to the top of the grade: I can see it about 100 yards ahead....if I can just get there, then cruising down the grade and into a gas station is do-able...I can avoid calling road service and essentially putting an end to making it to work. So, I drive. Hazards blinking and temperature gauge all the way into the red, with an alarm going off: Stop driving, Stop driving, Stop driving, it seemed to be saying to me. I get to the top of the grade, pull off the exit and turn off my car.  It is one of those middle-of-nowhere exits. No gas stations. No fast food. No...people. Great. So I sit there shaking and trying to decide what to do next, when a police officer sees me and pulls over to see what's going on.  I fill him in on the situation and ask him to follow me to the nearest gas station- which he says is two exits away, but is all downhill.  I go for it.  As soon as I start cruising down the grade, my temperature gauge goes back to normal.  I pull off at the gas station, thank the police officer and open my hood. I can see that the water reserve tank is nearly empty, so I fill it up and begin to mentally rearrange my week to include a trip to the mechanic.  (I had been told there was a small hole in my radiator over a year ago. A bottle of "Stop Leak" and keeping an eye on the water level was all that I needed. I hadn't had a single problem since and wondered if the original mechanic had been wrong in the diagnosis. Apparently not.)  Since I had had such good luck with the Stop Leak, I figured another bottle would do me.  I started up my car to get back on the road, but it was not good.  The whole car was shaking and shuddering as if it was going to stall.  It didn't.  I just wanted to get to work and deal with all of this afterward.  Every time I came to a stop the car sounded like it was going to die, but when it was in Park, it sounded fairly normal- still running a little rough, but better.  So every stop light, stop sign or left turn meant I would shift into Park and then nearly gun it to make sure it kept running.  Even at the time I knew it was completely irrational.

By the next day, my car was still running a little rough, but it seemed to be doing better- the temperature gauge was holding steady and I was hoping to get to Monday before taking it in for some inevitable repairs. (I figured it was time for this radiator replacement, but I had gone a year with no problems, so I figured what could a few more days do?) Friday started well....other than the fact that I had an insane to-do list. It was the kind of to-do list that a person without children and any need for sustenance or bathroom breaks might still have trouble completing.  I knew I stood little to no chance of tackling it all.  On the way to dropping Christian off at preschool, my car sounded great!  It was running smoothly again and I was feeling hopeful about my to-do list. I should have known that Mr. Murphy and his annoying "Law" were going to wreck havoc on my day.  I feel a little riled up still about my day on Friday.  I can honestly say that it was one of the worst days I've had since I can remember.  It included 4 different overheatings- each time (with the help of my Dad, who actually knows a good deal about cars) I thought I had solved it and that the mechanic could wait until Monday.  We figured out that the news was not good news, when at 6pm (note: all mechanics closed now til Monday) we noticed white steam coming out of my exhaust pipe. My Dad simply said, "That's bad.  That's really bad.  It probably means you have a blown head gasket or worse, a crack in the engine block.  If so, your van is essentially toast."  

I took my minivan in to the mechanic today.  It's not good.  Blown head gasket. Bad radiator. What does that really mean?  It means a $2000 repair!!!!!!!!  (Insert slumping and forehead grabbing here.) I'm trying to remember the up side, so I came up with this list to make myself feel better when I am trapped at home for the next 5 days with no vehicle, because...oh yeah! It's gonna take 5 days of repair AND $2000!!!

1. A $2000 repair is not a $10,000- $40,000 minivan replacement cost.
2. I now know where a radiator is in a car, and can even add water to it.
3. I know that there is a thermostat in your car that only opens once the car gets to a certain temperature, and when it opens it allows more water and coolant into the radiator.
4. I know about wet spark plug wires, and mis-firing engines. 
5. I know that shifting my car into park at every stop light isn't helping anything...no matter how much better it made me feel.
6. And I know how white steam coming out the back of your car is bad news. Very, very, very bad news.

My mechanic felt bad for me today.  He said, (and I'll quote) "Somedays I think I would've been better off as  a Mortician. I feel terrible having to give people bad news like this all of the time.  I was dreading having to tell you."  Yeah...that sucks.  So, I'll add an extra point to my list:

7. I have a cool mechanic.

Oh yeah, and...
8. If you ever end up on some reality show where you need a team mate who knows a bunch of random facts??...I'm your girl.

Now that I'm going to be house-bound for the next 5 days (probably more because there is a weekend tossed in there...) I am  focusing on my boys. Elijah made his first command decision: He has stopped nursing. (sniff, sniff...) I had planned to  nurse until he was a year old, which is what I did with Christian.  By the end of the 12 months, the first time around, I could not wait to be done.  This time I was still feeling like the end goal was in sight- I could see the yellow tape at the finish line.  Then, he pulled a fast one on me, threw his hands up, shook em side to side and said All done. (He's not really using sign language yet, but you get my drift...)  Even though I was only a few weeks from my end goal, I've been feeling sad that he's done. It doesn't really make any sense, but I know there are other nursing Mamas out there that know what I mean.  It's not always rational.  Maybe it's because he's growing up. Maybe it's because he doesn't "need" me the same way anymore. Maybe it's because the last traces of hormones (that are now leaving my body) are having their way with me...

When I think about the whole breastfeeding relationship and what happens during that time, I remember a funny exchange that happened between Charles and I. It happened while I was out with a girlfriend and called to check in on how Charles and the boys were doing.  Charles brought up a concern that went something like this:
C: I think Elijah is getting a little cold.
Me: Okay.  Is he acting okay?
C: Yeah, but I was thinking maybe we shouldn't give him any of your breastmilk.
Me: (Frowning) What do you mean?
C: Well, I know when I have a cold and congestion, if I have any dairy products it makes the mucus worse.
Me: (pause)
Me: (still pausing)
Me: Hon.... I am not a dairy cow.
(Insert the sudden attention of every female within earshot...and smiles and laughing breaking out.)  Now...just to be clear, this isn't about my husband being some sort of airhead- this is actually a common misconception. Seriously. Google it.

So, I'm done with the breastfeeding and I'm not quite to happy about it yet, but I'll get there.

Last week was picture week and parent-teacher conferences at Christian's preschool.  I'll start with the good part:


I think it is a true miracle that the photographer got this shot. Christian is in the goofy faces phase.  If he knows there is a camera or is asked to say cheese, it is all grimacing and goofy faces.  This guy is good and caught him off guard. And we have a cute "1st year of preschool picture" to put on the mantle.

The parent-teacher conference was far less traumatizing than last time. (See this post for that nonsense.) However, I have a little issue with how one of the teachers presents her observations to the parents.  Well...maybe it is just me, but her tone of voice always sounds a bit fraught with concern, and she focuses primarily on the things that she thinks the child is having trouble with.  For Christian, she expressed concern that he likes to play with the older boys out on the playground. But that he doesn't know how to ask if he can play with them, and instead just jumps in and starts doing what they're doing.  Okay.  This time around, I really tried to keep it all light, but when the conference time was coming to an end and she hadn't expressed one thing that Christian seemed to be doing well, I looked at her with a smile and asked (a little pointedly) Okay. Why don't you tell me something that Christian has been excelling at lately? She stammered a bit, but eventually said that his language skills are coming along great, or something of the sort.  On the way home from school that day, Christian saw some boys chasing each other around the Pine Grove. He said to me, "I wanna chase them too."  I said, "Okay. Why don't you say, Hey guys can I play too?"  He turned right to them, raised his voice and said, "Hey guys! Can I play too?"  Yeah... I'm not thinking there is much of a problem to this.


My big boy loves his "Leo".  My Mom bought him this leopard that they named Leo while I was in the hospital recovering from giving birth to Elijah.  Just yesterday Christian said, "Leo was in the hospital when Mommy was in the hospital too."  My heart jumps a little that the animal he is most attached to is the one that came as a comfort to him while I was in the hospital...and away from him.  Even though he's my "big boy", he will always be my baby and it makes makes my heart hurt to know how much he still needs me. A good hurt, though.

Elijah has been doing great.  He's mastering all kinds of new play and his therapists are bringing tricks and tools to our sessions each week.  Mostly, he's just a happy, healthy baby.  Last night, I did a late night feeding with him and after that he was wide.awake. He wasn't crying- just loud and talkative.  Somehow he didn't wake up his brother, but I really do not know how.  I couldn't sleep, but figured he'd tire out soon enough and crash again.  He barely slept.  I mean, literally I don't know when and for how long he did sleep.  Even naps were off today (probably because he's over-tired), so I put him down to sleep early tonight and he passed out in about 30 seconds flat.  Here's hoping that tonight he's back to his good sleep habits!!


And last, but not least, the winner from my last post, via Random.org: Comment number 8- Carrie!!!!!  You win the free 4x6 photobook from Photobooks by Laura!  I will email you with details.  Just to prove I am not playing favorites or cheating the system, my random.org pick:

(Note to self: Taking a picture of your computer screen with your cell phone camera does not produce the best quality photo.) Another random fact learned...keep me in mind as that reality show team mate....just sayin'.


carrie said...

Me? I won! Yippee!!!!
I laughed out loud when i read the dialogue about you being a dairy cow, too funny.

Jen Currier said...

Yes-YOU!!! Yay! I will send you an email with details and put you in touch with Laura. Can't wait to see your photobook!!

Mel~ @ Lifestwistedstitches.com said...

Hurray Christian (and Mommy too)! Good for you for stepping up and asking the teacher outright for the positives. Too bad there are those out there who tend to focus on the deficits.
I LOVE your pictures of the boys. I hope your Elijah is back to sleeping well too. I remember what that is like when it is thrown out of whack :).
Thank you for stopping by my blog and saying such kind supportive encouragement. (((hugs)))

thea said...

Dairy cow is truly priceless. Bummer about the van :(. The whole overheating experience sounds awful, but your response seemed perfectly sensible to me! I've learned some new things myself :).

Chris P-M said...

Funny...when I read "miniwan meltdown" my mind went to what OUR minivan meltdowns look like...my SON melting down IN the minivan. ;)

Then I remembered you commented about those expenses. What a pain in the butt.

I'm so glad your PT conferences went better this time...Good to hear!

P said...

We have three very old run down cars which are mostly all broke most of the way this week, love the fix vs replacement cost point!

Awesome pics!! Great news on both boys and I'd say the problem is kids who don't join any peers. Pretty gutsy for a little guy to find the big kids who he shares more interest with and join them. Especially a kid that was so 'behind' she thought in speech--I think as a teacher I'd work on the older kids to get them to greet and welcome HIM as a model. It's so brave to join, encourage that more than hesitating about asking, right?

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