A Tale of Two Suburbans

Our family of five people, two dogs, one cat and a chicken is in need of something larger than our car. Sure, it’s fine for everyday driving, but for long trips or anytime even one of our pets needs to come along, things get a bit…snug.

This guy takes up a lot of room.

So, we bought this at an auction:

The Zombie truck.

It’s a little rough, but it runs and can haul people, pets and supplies from Home Depot. It’s missing the third row seat and needs a few other parts to be perfect. Instead of buying them piece by piece, we found a parts donor for it for less than the parts would be individually. The problem with that is, minus needing a paint job, the donor is in excellent shape. The interior is spotless, and the transmission was recently rebuilt. It just won’t start.

Beckett approves of Suburban number two.

Because Suburban number two was obviously well cared for, we’re attempting to diagnose the problem and repair it. That would allow us to retire my car completely. Which is good, because, as of yesterday it’s broken down in my driveway. Luckily it’s not too difficult of a problem to fix this time. It’s more expensive to maintain, though, and I’m not so sure a major repair isn’t in it’s near future.

Replacing ground wires on Suburban number two.

Our first attempt at troubleshooting involved replacing the ground wires. We had high hopes, since a faulty ground left us stranded in a previous Chevy truck, and it’s one of those easy to overlook problems. Alas, either that’s not it or my mechanic skills aren’t up to par. Luckily we have a few more relatively simple fixes to try before we get to the hard stuff.

How does that even happen?

I have some crafty stuff I was planning to blog about, but that will have to wait. Today I’m going with the weird.

First, a few days ago, the ignition lock cylinder on my car stopped working. You could put the key in and take it out just fine, it did the dingdingding thing when the key was in, but it would. not. turn. Thankfully it decided to break while the car was at home and not while I was at the grocery store with Beckett and needing to pick up Finn and Chris. A good day’s worth of Chris’s own diy efforts and multiple trips to the parts store by bike and helpful neighbor got my car to be less paperweight-y.

Yesterday we decided to go out for dinner. Chris took care of loading the kids in the car while I locked up the house. When I closed the door, I heard a strange “bang” noise, so I opened the door to see what caused it. Or, more accurately, I tried to open the door. What happened was the door guard lock had swung over and locked us out. If you’re not familiar with that kind of lock, here’s an example http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ultra-29000-Polished-Brass-Door-Guard/19869267. No, I’m not joking.

I called Chris over to see the impossibility and we both tried a couple of times to get the bar to swing back over before deciding to go ahead to eat and deal with it later. I won’t go into all the details of our b.n.e. experience for security reasons, but suffice it to say it was an eventful evening.

I don’t know if someone is trying to tell us something with the lock malfunctions or if I have a house ghost who was trying to reclaim the house. All I know is I am in favor of replacing the door guard lock in favor of a chain. If a chain lock manages to lock me out on it’s own, I will probably move.

Mystery nest

My car has a vacuum leak that requires removing the intake manifold to fix. It is our only car, so we’ve been driving it like this for a few weeks so Chris could fix it over summer break. He even drove it earlier today to the parts store.

When he took off the manifold, this is what he found:

I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know. I’m just amazed that a) the wiring is intact, and b) it hasn’t caught on fire.

Car seat obsession

The last big thing I need to get ready for Beckett is a car seat. I have Finn’s infant car seat, it’s in good shape, and attaches to our stroller, so I was hoping to be able to use it. While checking it over several weeks ago, I discovered that it expired one month ago, at the end of December. 
I then decided that going straight to a convertible car seat that reclines well for babies in rear facing and has enough padding to support a newborn would be the best bet. Because Finn was a good sized baby at 8lbs 7.5oz. and almost 21 inches, and because Beckett looks like he’ll be a little bigger than Finn, I figured he should fit into a convertible fine. So far, all the convertibles that I like for both features and pricing are available online only. I would prefer to see them in person, but I have been able to look at similar styles in the same brands in stores, so I’m not too worried about that.
Last night, though, I started worrying about how well he’ll fit if he’s born at 37 weeks instead of 40. The convertible seats start at 5lbs and 19inches (if they list a minimum height), so technically we should be fine unless Beckett is nothing like his brother and has everyone fooled about his size. Convertible’s do usually sit up a little straighter than infant car seats, though, and while Finn had pretty good head control at birth, Beckett might not be quite as strong if he’s born two weeks sooner. The shoulder straps on infant seats also start lower, so he might fit better in an infant car seat. So now I’m wondering if I should start with an infant car seat.
I really don’t want to have to get a new infant car seat, though. For one thing, most I’ve seen are as expensive as some of the nicer convertibles I’ve seen. I wouldn’t mind spending that much (assuming I can make it work budget-wise) but if Beckett is anything like Finn, he will outgrow it by the time he’s five months old. Also, I’ve found a limited amount in stock at stores, and the ones they carry are usually the higher priced models. So I’d have to order one online. 
Most stores do have a variety of travel systems, but I already have a stroller that I love, and, while I might not be comfortable using the old car seat in the car unless I was desperate and it was an emergency, if it still attaches securely, the straps are still in good condition and the overall condition of the seat is good, I would be okay with putting it on the stroller for a walk around the block or mall. I also have a sling carrier that I LOVE and is easier than carrying around the infant seat, so I don’t really need an infant seat for that.
In any case, I need to decide now, because if I have to order something online I need to allow time to get it and figure out how to use it. If we decide on Tuesday to induce a week later, that’s cutting it really close for delivery. And that’s assuming that the car seat arrives in good shape, fits in the car like it should, etc. 
So, I will likely be trying to make up my mind and finding a car seat this weekend. Because 1. it has to be done and 2. I can’t think of anything else until I get that out of the way.

Red light, green light or What not to do if you’re driving behind me.

I’m usually a nice driver. I use my turn signal. I drive around the speed limit. If I see someone needing to change lanes I’ll either let them over or get out of their way, whichever works best. I don’t usually get that annoyed by inconsiderate or careless drivers.

I do have one big pet peeve (or fault, depending on which side you’re on) when it comes to driving, and that is turning right on red. I will turn on red if I feel absolutely comfortable doing so, but I won’t creep waaay forward (against the law at stoplights, btw) to see around obstacles or turn when I’d have to accelerate fast to catch up to traffic speed. I’d rather just wait. The light will turn green eventually, and I’d rather spend an extra thirty seconds at the light than get rear-ended or worse.

Not every other driver sees it that way though, and sometimes they get annoyed enough to honk if I spend more than ten seconds stopped at the corner. For the record, if you want me to turn on red, DO NOT HONK AT ME. First, it’s distracting and second, I’ll probably take that as my cue to quit looking for an opportunity to go and just sit and wait for the light to change. In fact, I’d say 95% of the time, that is the best way to ensure that we won’t be moving until the light changes.

So, yesterday as Finn and I were headed to pick up Chris, I stopped at a red light about to turn onto the service road to get on the highway. The service road traffic was extra busy that day because of a wreck on the highway. Almost as soon as I stopped, the truck behind me started honking repeatedly at me to turn. I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see him gesturing wildly and did wonder for a second if he might actually get out of his truck to confront me. I looked back at traffic to see if I had a clear shot at turning (because he may have pissed me off, but I’m not crazy) and the next thing I know, the truck had backed up, pulled out and was racing around the corner in front of me. He was pulling a trailer with another pickup on it and must have come close to hitting someone else, because not only did he get honked at, another truck raced around the corner behind him, raging at the first guy. As soon as they cleared the intersection, the light changed and I was on my way, happily passing trailer guy up on the highway.

This whole incident took less than a minute. Could I have safely turned before the light turned green? Probably, but I was rear-ended less than a month ago, I’m driving a rental car, my son was in the car with me, I’m pregnant and I thought the traffic was a little hard to gauge from my vantage point so I wasn’t taking any chances.

I would like to point out that sometimes it is easier for the second or third car back to get a clear view of oncoming traffic than the first car in line, especially if there’s a large SUV up front in the next lane. Don’t assume the person in front can see what you can. Also, the light will change, so you won’t be sitting there all day. A few seconds of time isn’t worth getting hit.

So, please, be patient with the other drivers on the road, and if you find yourself at a red light behind me, whatever you do, DON’T HONK.