Just Us Girls

Just Us Girls

...one SMC's adventures in single motherhood.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Close encounters of the...ahem...venison kind.

Caution:  Long play-by-play post here, so grab a nice cup of coffee and come back to read it, if you have the patience!

So as I mentioned in my last post, yes, I managed to hit a deer at the tail end (no pun intended) of our big birthday train trip adventure in Durango last March.  It was about 8:30 pm and we had first left Alamosa, a decent-sized city that is home to Adams State College, then passed through the tiny town of Monte Vista, Colorado.  Dark, but not quite pitch black yet.  The area was pretty rural, though I had noticed a brightly-lit gas station on my left.  Out of nowhere a group of three deer darted across the road.  I missed two, but couldn't avoid the third, and I hit his flank with my right front fender.  Once I realized I couldn't avoid him, I literally gripped the wheel a little tighter and braced myself for the bump, not unlike being in a bumper car and knowing you're about to hit another car.  I was only going about 35 mph or so, not fast, and it seriously felt I would just end up bumping him out of the way, since I hit the deer's flank as he ran fast across the road, and he seemed to just keep going.  I didn't even expect much, if any, damage to the car...I drive a Jeep Wrangler with the best bumpers in the world, strong as hell.  And they didn't disappoint--not a scratch on 'em.  The front grill was a different story.

I immediately slowed down and pulled over onto the shoulder, and the first words out of my mouth were, "K, are you okay??"  She was fine; we both were.  Physically, that is.  But she didn't cry...I think she was as surprised as I was.  After I pulled over, I noticed two things:  I heard an audible hiss, and I noticed that my headlights were pointing in weird directions.  By this point, it was pitch black, but I could still see the lights of the gas station behind me, so that's where I headed.  I turned the car around, and drove a block or so very slowly back the other way, feeling very thankful for all those bright lights.  I honestly didn't know what had happened to the deer, and that that point, I was assuming that he was all right, since it hadn't felt like such a hard collision at all.  I nervously stepped out of the car and peered around at the front end, not sure what I would see.  It didn't look that bad--a wide but shallow indentation in the front grill, a broken signal-light cover, a front passenger-side fender that was dented out of shape, and lots and lots of deer hair on the bumper (yuck).  Thankfully, no blood or other yucky stuff, which was what I was hoping I wouldn't have to look at.  An older man stepped out of his truck to go inside the gas station, and we made a little bit of small talk, me telling him that I had just hit a deer.  I honestly don't even recall what he said in response.  I knew Monte Vista was just a few blocks beyond the gas station, and I figured that K and I would have to find a motel or something where we could spend the night, since I was just too shaky to keep driving, it was late, and I wasn't sure what was up with the car.

In just those few blocks, I saw that the car had started to overheat badly, something was still hissing (the radiator!!), and the engine just didn't sound right.  It was all I could do to get the car to limp into the parking lot of the local Dairy Queen, pretty much the first business I came to.  I turned the car off and sat for a few minutes, hoping the engine might get a chance to cool off some.  But then it would. not. start.  And I really started to feel panicky.  Nothing happened whatsoever when I turned the key.  I realized then that we would definitely need a place to stay for the night, and as luck would have it, there was a motel right across the street, so I grabbed K and my purse and walked over there.  It was nicer on the inside than it looked on the outside, and the guy at the counter was friendly and professional, so I chose to make a reservation (since I didn't really have any other choice!).  I almost had a heart attack when I walked in, though, because the entire motel was decorated on the inside in Early American Hunter, complete with a HUGE deer head mounted on the wall of the lobby, just inside the front door!  The very last thing I wanted to see, trust me.  The room itself was very homey and almost cute, and it even had a small, but full kitchen in a separate room.  I thought, "Well, this might not be so bad after all!"  So we headed back across the street towards the Dairy Queen to grab our suitcase and so forth.

Now I've seen enough episodes of SVU, Criminal Minds, and the like to know that I really had to get in touch with someone to tell them what had happened.   And I know that I am opening myself up to endless tongue-lashings (and rightfully so, so please be merciful) when I sheepishly admit that we were traveling sans cell phone--these days I have a land line and a cheapie cell phone only for emergencies.  Why I neglected to bring the cheapie cell phone on the trip, I have NO idea.  Stupid, stupid, stupid, a thousand times over.  So anyway, we went inside the Dairy Queen, which surprisingly enough looked much more like your average Denny's or IHOP, wait-to-be-seated and everything.  It was actually quite nice, and I was glad it was right across the street from our little motel.  I asked if there was any kind of public phone (there was not), but the manager, bless her heart, offered her cell phone for me to make a long distance call.  I called my aunt back in Colorado Springs, just so she was aware of what had happened, then with the manager's permission I made a quick call to my parents.  I figured I'd have to find a repair place the next day, but I wasn't even sure how that was going to work since the next day was Sunday!  Things weren't looking good, but at least we had a place to stay for the night...and then the manager insisted, "I wouldn't stay there if I were you!"    /gulp/

After talking with the manager and a few of the employees up at the front counter, I learned that I could buy a little Trac phone at the dollar store down the road, but that it wasn't within walking distance at all.  No pay phones around, either.  I was a little surprised that this town didn't even have taxi service, so I wasn't sure what we were going to do about getting to this dollar store, since I really needed a cell phone for the next day.  (Yes, in case you were wondering, I did learn my lesson!)  One of the employees, a sweet girl in her late teens/early twenties, offered to drive us there, so I took a leap of faith and accepted the ride.  (She had a booster seat in her car from giving her nephew a ride, so it was safe for K, too.)  She told me that her cousin was a mechanic, and he might even be able to drive over and look at the car that night, to give me a ballpark idea of what might be wrong with it.  While I went into the dollar store she'd call him and ask.  I really didn't know what to expect, but I felt that I didn't have much to lose at that point.  After I got the Trac phone, we drove back to the Dairy Queen to wait for her cousin to show up.   K and I went in, sat down at a table, and I put my hands over my face in utter exhaustion and, quite frankly, desperation.  All of a sudden, someone spoke my name: "Heather?" and I looked up to see the face of my friend Nicole, whom I haven't seen in at least five years.  I couldn't believe it!  She hugged me, and it was like a dam burst.  I looked at her and just dissolved into tears.  She was like, what on earth?!  So I told her the whole story, and she said, "Well, the first thing we're going to do is go across the street and cancel your motel reservation, because you're coming home with me!"   Nicole lives in Alamosa, about ten miles back the way we came.

Nicole was an absolute lifesaver.  She and her fiance Steve had gone to the Dairy Queen with another couple after having gone out to a movie, and she just happened to have a craving for a blizzard, so they stopped in.  She said they had never even been to that Dairy Queen before, which blows my mind.  We did wait for the cousin, who also turned out to be amazing.  He looked at the car and discovered that the force of the impact had knocked the fan blades into the side of the radiator, making a big gash and actually bending the blades.  He handed me his business card, and it turned out that he has had a home business doing car repairs for the past fifteen years.  He was willing to do the work the next day, and he did a terrific job for a very reasonable price, on a Sunday, no less.  I bought a new radiator for him to install, and he bent the fan blades back as well as getting all the fluid levels back up to par.  It ended up to be a lovely weekend visiting with Nicole and Steve at their beautiful home, and they both loved meeting K as they hadn't met her before.  Despite the circumstances, it was absolutely wonderful reconnecting with Nicole and hanging out at her house the next day!  She was more than willing to run all the errands I needed to run, i.e. going to the car parts store, checking on the car, etc. and it really was a lot of fun after all.  We headed back home late Sunday afternoon, and the car completely behaved itself, except for the headlights still being a bit wonky.  Unbelievably, another deer did run across the road on the way home, but thankfully I was able to avoid him.  It freaked me out, though.  Oh, and Nicole mentioned that she thought she saw a dead deer near the spot where I said the accident had happened, so it would seem that he didn't make it after all.  Sorry, old fellow!

I am so, so thankful to have run into Nicole that night at the Dairy Queen, and truly, I am not so sure it was just a coincidence.  She and Steve are both such wonderful people, and I recently got a beautiful invitation in the mail to come to their wedding on July 12th!  I have to admit, I am feeling rather nervous about it since the wedding is at a ranch southwest of Alamosa, so I have to drive that same route all over again.  I'm still so paranoid about hitting another deer (that was my first deer collision, and the first accident since getting my Jeep back in '02), yet I see them all the time when I drive around my neighborhood.  K still talks about our "crunch with the deer".  But I think we'll go, and you bet your sweet bippy I'll have my cell phone with me!      

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photo post: Birthday train trip adventure

Thank you for such a warm welcome back!!  It's such a pleasure to hear from my "blogging family" again, and it means more than you know.  :)

Instead of throwing a party for K's third birthday this past March, I decided to take her on a little road trip instead.  We had a blast--we traveled about five hours west to Durango to ride the historic train (on her birthday!) between Durango and Silverton.  She looooves trains, and she's still talking about the trip and asking when we can do it again.  It was a pretty big undertaking, so I don't know when we'll do that exact trip again, but there are several smaller trains we can ride that are a lot closer to home.

You can see that she was pretty tuckered out on the way back...she took a snooze in the sunshine on my lap.
What will have to wait till another post (sorry!) is what happened on the way home: we were between two small towns at about 8:30 pm when three deer lunged across the road, and I hit one, taking my car out of commission.  Something else K still talks about, when our car had the "crunch with the deer".  The story has a happy ending, but as wonderful as this day was, it ended pretty awfully.
To be continued...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Has it really been almost a year since I last posted?!?

I have started SO many blog posts in my head over the past...ahem...year.  For whatever reason I just haven't been able to commit them to an actual post, and I don't really know why.  Well, I have my suspicions, but they've been hard to admit to myself.  I think the main obstacle has been that I just haven't had anything new to report on the baby number two front.  There simply hasn't been extra money for anything fertility-related, and I'm still waiting to find out whether my "window" has closed.  My finances have been very challenging ever since last June for reasons I don't want to get into, and for me, financial stress is the worst kind.  It's what keeps me up at night, and eats away at me during the day.  I don't have anyone I can fall back on financially, and now that I have a daughter to support, the worry of how am I going to hang in there until the end of the month has been tough.  The bright side is that I've been able to knock off a considerable amount of debt over the past six months, and things are *really* starting to lighten up.  It's a good feeling, especially considering where I was last June.

I am currently awaiting bloodwork results, namely my AMH results, to tell me whether a pregnancy might still be a possibility at my age.  I have two unsuccessful IUIs under my belt in this quest for #2, but I haven't done one since last June, when I found out that it didn't work on the first day of our evacuation during last summer's big wildfire.  I consulted with my RE at the end of May, and he was very realistic with me about the slim chance I have of conceiving again, based purely on my age (43).  The fact that I had a baby at 40 does actually bode well, so it's definitely still possible, technically.  I really need to give him a call tomorrow to see whether he's received the AMH results...my blood had to travel all the way to the Mayo Clinic in MN.  I am actually considering pursuing home insemination on a monthly basis...I found a sperm bank in CA that does offer unwashed sperm specifically for home insemination.  I can afford to do this monthly, but in-clinic IUIs are a lot more expensive, so I definitely can't afford to pursue that option every month.  Maybe every other month or every third month.  I haven't figured out whether it would be more effective to try home IVIs every month versus an IUI every third month.  As I understand it, quite a few women have conceived via home insemination, so maybe it's possible.  Are the advantages of IUI that much better than IVI?!  The jury's still out.  Lately I've been trying to more deliberately envision my life with one child instead of the two I've always imagined, and it's not easy.  I would love to be content with one child, but so far I haven't been able to get myself to that place.

In the meantime, K and I have been completely enjoying our summer off!  (Well, with the exception of having to relive the horror of last summer's wildfire.  That's been very hard over the past week, but thankfully the firefighters have now achieved 85 percent containment, so for all practical purposes the fire is out.  They're putting out the hot spots and allowing most of the evacuees to head back to their homes, many of which are still intact and many of which have been destroyed.  It's heartwrenching to read the stories...the number of destroyed homes is now up to 502, with two fatalities.  I think there's a part of me that's in denial that it has happened again...that it's not possible for my city to have had to endure yet another wildfire just one year later, and this time it's the worst one yet.  They say it's now the worst wildfire in Colorado history.  It's the third one I've been through:  there was the Hayman fire back in 2002 (I wasn't evacuated, fortunately, but I came very, very close: on pre-evacuation status for many days.), the Waldo Canyon fire last June when we were evacuated, and now the Black Forest fire.  Evacuation was never really a possibility for us this time--we live NW of the city, and the fire was mostly north-central and northeast of Colorado Springs proper.  Completely horrifying to watch the footage of homes burning down and see the photos of nothing left of people's homes but ash and rubble.  I don't think I've been able to sort out my feelings about this latest fire yet...I don't want to let the reality of it sink in too far because it's just too horrible to contemplate.  It's so easy to say, "Well, it was just stuff.  At least you and your family are okay."  Even though that statement is true, a home is so much more than just a house, and so, so many people lost nearly everything they owned as well as a special place with so many memories attached to it.  They've lost their home base, their center of operations, their comfort zone, their sense of security.  It's almost too much to contemplate.  The silver lining of all this (and it's a big one) has been the incredible response of our community--firefighters, companies, groups, individuals, families putting forth time, energy, money, and compassion to help out in any way they can.  People have spent countless hours rescuing animals, putting together donations, pooling resources, feeding firefighters, you name it.  It's been so beautiful to witness.  I'll admit it, my faith is important to me, and the only way for me to describe it is that God's work is being done here.  It's been an emotional week.

Well, enough of that.  As I was saying, it's been a great summer so far for K and me.  We've been busy doing all of the fun stuff that there doesn't seem to be as much time for during the school year.  I will make a more concerted effort to post pictures etc. of our adventures this summer!  I'm planning to take K camping next month, and hopefully we can make it happen.  I'm also planning on swim lessons for K starting next month.  She's a great girl at three...in a nutshell, she loves trains (including Thomas), everything Toy Story-related, she loves to "read" books and be read to, loves playing outside, visiting the library (which we did today), and going to the pool.  She talks a blue streak all the time, loves joking around and being silly, and I just love spending time with her!  She is stubborn, though (just like her mama) and we're struggling right now with her not wanting to take naps or go to bed ("I not tired!!  I don't want to go to bed!").  I've quickly discovered that my skills in managing middle school kids simply don't apply with a preschooler!  Speaking of preschool, she's currently on the waiting list for our neighborhood school district's preschool program.  It's an amazing, high-powered school district--NOT the one I teach in, but the one we live in.  To be on the safe side, I am also going to investigate the private daycare/preschool that is across the street from the school I teach in.  It comes highly recommended to me by a colleague, and the location is ideal.  Time will tell.  :)

Well, that has to be it for now.  Several other posts are still percolating in my brain, and those will most likely appear within the next few weeks.  It feels good to open the floodgates again, so to speak, and write down how I've been feeling lately.  I've never stopped reading others' blog posts, though I've been lurking almost exclusively.  It's good to be back!