3am…

I don’t want to be awake right now.

Steroids do funny things. I’m on Day 4, & I know they’re doing what they need to do, but I’m tired…but jumpy…and honestly, emotional.

Her birthday is this week….it’s Tuesday. If you ask me specifically why it hits me differently every year, I couldn’t tell you. Everything was running along smoothly, except for, same as last year, when I realized that life was running along so quickly that I wouldn’t have time this week to take that “pause” to honor her….to reflect on her life….and I hate that.

I had to say the words last night out loud, “Hey, I get this. We need this. She was real, she was a person, and she is part of who we are, so even in this crazy, busy week, we make time.”

I don’t know how that is going to happen, but it IS going to happen.

We move along in life so quickly….we have our routines and schedules. We don’t take time to sit and reflect, so it feels unnatural, but it needs to be done. Pain and sadness need to be recognized, so they can be processed….so that they don’t get buried….because we all know they don’t STAY buried.

For me, if I don’t take this time now, these feelings and frustrations will manifest themselves in a couple of ways. I’ll cry or fly off of the handle about something innocuous. I’ll sulk or withdraw. I won’t sleep. I will carry around unnecessary guilt and shame. I’ll get sick. My family will suffer, & it will all be fallout from my failure to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Stop. Breathe. Remember.”

My daughter…my beautiful winter butterfly…would be 12 years old this week. We’d be going through “the change” that all of the women in my family went thru at 12, and OMG HOW WOULD WE DEAL?!?!? I imagine we’d be having arguments about social media & boys, & junior-high drama…there would be the introduction to makeup, or maybe a CCW class with Auntie, & Lord knows what else. We’d be starting the conversation about college, and I would be internally freaking out about how much information about LIFE, & HOW do parents maintain that balance? I think my Hannah & I would have a good relationship, & that I would be finding myself on my knees more than ever before as we enter the last year before TEENAGERDOME. 🙂

My little girl passed away before too much of her personality could be established, but there are some things I know for certain: She loved music. She loved songs with soul & excitement. 🙂 She smelled like Cheerios, & she knew her Daddy’s voice. She was a happy baby, which is amazing, considering the duress by which she came into the world…

And she made me into someone I’ve wanted to be, for as long as I can remember: She made me a Mom.

I will always, always be grateful to God for blessing us with her. I will always be grateful for our 29 days on this earth together, & I have absolutely no regrets. We had a gift that changed the course of our lives, our marriage, & our faith, & we are eternally impacted by 29 days with the most precious princess this world has ever seen.

I love that our journey with Hannah isn’t over. I love knowing that because of Jesus, it’s only on “pause,” until we are together in eternity. I love that He gives us that level of hope, and that He takes our despair & turns it into a beautiful anticipation of what is to come….

Happy birthday, Hannah Elizabeth Gayle Cooley. You’ve made my world more amazing and beautiful, just because I had the chance to call you mine.

3am isn’t so bad, after all.

For the Love of Toyota

Driving is something I spend a significant amount of time doing. I have to say, honestly, it’s in my blood; even though I didn’t get my license until I was 21 (!!), my paternal uncles, aunts, and cousins are all involved in amateur racing (https://www.facebook.com/Beier-Racing-107119746624381/). I wish I lived close enough to all of them to be involved with it. I think I could be a contender, LOL!  I’m pretty sure that having a leadfoot is a genetic condition. 🙂

My beloved car, Roxie the Rav4, is in the shop, just before her 100,000 milestone. She has a minor leak that I am PRAYING is covered by the extended warranty, as well as a small issue with the shift-stick-thingy that needs to be fixed.

Y’all, based on that last sentence (“shift-stick-thingy?!?”), you should know I am not into Car Talk. I’m going to fall on the sword of stereotype, by how NOT auto-savvy I am. I’m an embarrassment to my gender. I will use sound-effects, adjectives, and I will flat-out invent words when trying to express a mechanical issue to a repairman, and I can literally see them roll their eyes as they walk away from me. I haven’t fallen for the “blinker fluid” joke yet, but that’s probably only because of owning a smart phone and being really good at Google.

I love my car.

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Roxie the Rav4 (I name all of my cars, don’t judge me) is an answer to prayer. My beloved Camry (“Grandma Obama,” long story) hit 230,000 miles; a cable inside of her snapped, and we basically had to do that terrible, horrible thing where you have 1-2 days to find and buy a new car. We were sort of bent over a barrel, but I love Roxie, and I have no regrets. I do feel like she was the car God set out for me. I used to say that if I was ever going to spend a significant amount of money on a vehicle, I wanted it to be one-&-done. I desperately did NOT want to be nickel-&-dimed on repairs. When we bought her, she was gently-used (around 30,000mi.); she’s red (my favorite), she’s fully-loaded, and she has a spare tire on the back of the car. That’s important to me–that means I have more trunk space than the newer models of the same car. 🙂 It’s alllllll about the trunk space, let me tell you.

I don’t care about mirrors, lighting, or drink holders in a car–I’m a dumb chick when it comes to cars, but I’m not completely vapid. I care about trunk space. I want a car that can hold my dog, my groceries, jumper cables and various emergency supplies, a change of clothes, blankets, a first-aid kit, and Jimmy Hoffa. I. Want. Trunk Space, and my Rav4 gives that to me. Now, lest you think this blog is an endless plug for the wonder that is Toyota, please understand that…oh, heck, of course it is. I like my car that much. It’s awesome. It holds EVERYTHING. Not once have I had to turn down a purchase because I couldn’t fit it into my car. It’s glorious. From someone who drove a crappy Ford Tempo, to a well-loved Camry, to this?!?  Having adequate trunk space is HEAVENLY.

So, I’m in a rental..and yes, thank you Weiss Toyota, it’s a Rav4. 🙂 whiterav

I am very, very careful when in a rental. My last rental was a CHEVY SONIC, and I thought my 5’7″ chunky self was going to DIE. I felt like I was driving a can of tuna. Before that, I was in a Kia Soul (from Suntrup Kia), and I actually liked it. It was small, funky, and would be a great car if I didn’t spend 10 hours a week behind the wheel. But getting the chance to have a newer Rav4 for a rental MAKES ME HAPPY, and I’m really enjoying my drive. I’m going to be a tiny-bit sad to turn these keys back in today when I pick Roxie up.

I’m kinda in love with it. Like, don’t tell Roxie the Rav4–it’s not THAT level–but I can definitely appreciate this Rav4 as a pinch-hitter. It has two modes (Eco/Sport) that save gas, and in the Sport mode, the thing can FLY. Dangerous!!! (Yes, husband, I put it back in Eco. I don’t need no tickets, y’hear?!?)! This car is slightly smaller; it’s got bigger tires; and it is lacking the fancy bells & whistles that Roxie has (she’s EXTRA, just like me–JBLs, y’all!!!). However, as far as handling goes, I’m impressed, and will definitely continue my love of Toyotas when Roxie goes on to her eternal rest (in about 350,000 more miles). It makes me so happy to realize that Toyota as a company is not slacking as they get older. They’re getting better, which is unheard of in this day and age.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that made me angry. It said something about how it’s impossible to be a patriot if you’re driving a “foreign car.” I had to laugh at the total ignorance of this statement, particularly in regards to Toyota. My car was most likely made in Woodstock, NY. When I lived in Kentucky, I lived within 10 miles of a plant that made Camrys. My car supports American jobs just as much as the Dodge Charger that my father-in-law drives (and the Dodge pickups that he helped to build for 30+ years at the Fenton plant). Based on the stories I used to hear about the shenanigans at the Fenton plant (now closed), I don’t think I would ever actually drive a Dodge anything. Based on the amount of money I poured into both Fords that I owned (the Fairmont–which was SUPER old–and the Tempo, AKA, “The Yeti,”), I will never, EVER own another Ford, as long as I live. I see no reason to “buy American” if all I’m doing is throwing my money away.

I’m quite sure that if anyone actually reads this blog, I’m going to catch shade for that last sentence. My parents are retired employees of the U.S. Postal Service and lifelong Union members, that weren’t particularly thrilled when my sister brought home a Hyundai Sonata several years ago (she drives a Ford now, BTW). Buying a “foreign” car is not met with affection in either my, or in my husband’s, family. However, I like things that are made WELL.

I’m not saying that I appreciate the finer things in life (who doesn’t?) like I’m some kind of spoiled diva. I’m just an ordinary person with an obsession with trunk space. I don’t demand first-class, or caviar, or brand-name whatevers. I think I basically stay in my lane. However, I appreciate it when something is in my lane, budget-wise, but is made so well that it makes me feel like I’m first-class. Both this rental Rav4, and Roxie the Rav4, are so incredibly made. It’s a spirit of excellence, and we forget as lazy human beings just how wonderful it is to encounter something that’s up to that standard.

I’ve been extremely happy with the customer service I’ve received with Suntrup Kia (I take Roxie there for most of her maintenance; I purchased my vehicle from Suntrup Used Cars) and with Brian, “my” service guy. He speaks “stereotypical female car talk” very well, and has been great to work with. 🙂  Any minor recall issue for my year of a Rav4 has been handled with care by Weiss Toyota, and they’ve been fantastic.

After putting almost 330,000 miles on the two Toyotas that I have owned, I figure at least 1 blog post ought to extol the benefits of owning one of the greatest cars ever made. Like I said before, I”m not great with “car-talk,” but I am a huge fan of things that are made with excellence. I’m a huge fan of quality, and I’m a huge fan of solid customer service, so if you’re thinking of getting a great family car that eschews the mini-van mindset, consider a Rav4.

And if you DO get a mini-van, LOL, get a Toyota Sienna. 🙂