Mondeo Minx

Our car is poorly.

It’s been a bit meh about starting for ages. Being analytical, I noticed that there was no consistency to its lethargy – there was no pattern associated with the outside air temperature, engine temperature, car load, previous journey length, anything I could spot. Sometimes it would start first time, other times it would labour. Occasionally it wouldn’t start at all, and would sound and look like a totally flat battery. Yet after a quick head-thump of despair into the steering wheel, and it would start fine.

Eventually I realised that it needed to go to the garage (cue music of dread). Me and garages don’t have a great track record. But our main Ford dealers have actually been a bit fantastic the last 2 times I’ve taken the car there. So I’m defrosting a little.

To cut an awfully long story short, after ruling out crankshaft sensor problems (I reasoned that there were only problems on starting, not whilst driving. Ever), they reckoned it was a “lazy starter” and perhaps a going-flat battery. I couldn’t really get them to be more specific, and was loathe to spend £400 on something that may or may not fix the trouble. I didn’t get the work done, opting instead for the software upgrade The Boss read about on his last Google-Fu session that would fix the known fault of the central console display unit draining the battery if there was a delay in passengers getting out after the engine stopped. Oh yes, that’s us! At least one, usually 2, minxes refuse to exit the car on stopping, demanding to be carried out. Do I need to tell you that I always, always refuse? Doesn’t stop my tenacious trio trying it on, though!

Anyway, anyway – the software upgrade looked like it worked, until I drove 45 mins to ASDA on Sunday night. Where the car would not restart, despite head-thumps, threats, biting the steering wheel, coaxing, wheedling, getting out the car and giving it a thump and a bounce… The carpark was mostly empty; the few cars I could see in the dark were little, with little batteries, and probably not going to jump a big ole Mondeo that thinks it’s a minx. I took a fraught Maxi with me to the customer service desk, where a very nice lady took pity on us and persuaded the equally-lovely security guard on his tea-break to jump-start me from his big people-carrier. They were keen to stress this had nothing to do with ASDA and was just them helping us out. I understood. So instead of a thank you letter, I gave them a hug. I think they would have preferred the letter…

So yes, the car will be going back to the garage for a new starter and battery after all. The garage were lovely, as always, about squeezing in the work to fit around school times and days off (they really are great like that), so we’ll see if that fixes it. I’m really fed-up of having to cancel routine dr appointments, haircut appointments, swimming and dancing lessons because the car won’t start and there’s only one bus a day (I can go, but I can’t get back!). But I do have to tell you about the first time that the car went to the garage for assessment the week before last:

I’d taken Mini out of nursery to accompany me so that I didn’t need to flap about getting back in time or finding a babysitter. I knew the garage waiting area had a coffee machine, some toys and a tv, so I brought along some books and snacks and we settled down and made ourselves comfy for the long wait we’d been warned that it would take. Mini was extremely well-behaved for the first hour, playing on the floor with cars. The second hour, she took off her shoes so she could wriggle around the sofa and play the longest game of I-Spy in the world with me. For the 3rd hour, we counted the number of vans vs cars that went past, then the cars of each colour that went past. Mini stropped when the colours I chose kept winning on the First to 10 rule (though I was amazed that more blue cars went past in any time that we watched than red, black or silver. Blimey!)

Aware that the patient garage staff might be as fed up of I-Spy and 4 yo loser strops as me, I decided that as we were the only ones in the waiting area, it really wasn’t anti-social to change the tv channel from BBC News to CBeebies. Oh, Same Smile‘s on. Great (!) Mini was delighted, though. I guess the mechanics felt the same as me, because it only took 5 mins of being subjected to that programme before the car was out and re-booked for another time.

So there we have it: if you need the garage to speed up a little, just turn on CBeebies.

Off-Road Scenic

OK, so I’ve moaned about my car just a few times.  But today I discovered that it’s not shabby at all at off-roading…

It was a typical morning in my little Zoo: Maxi and Midi Minxes were pushing boiled eggs about their plates sleepily, The Boss was pacing the floor waiting on his lift to work and I was chasing a gallon of strong coffee down with more strong coffee.  When it got to 0800hrs I suggested The Boss call his friend.

“Oh” he says, peering at his mobile like he doesn’t know which way up to hold it, “F’s left a message: she’s ill”

I paused long enough to sigh, then barked orders.  Maxi was to eat her egg, put her shoes on and wipe her face; Midi was to drink her milk, put her shoes on and stop poking the cat; The Boss was to wake Mini Minx and dress all 3; I’d pack a breakfast for Mini, find clothes for all 3 and myself and load the car.

I think we were all in the car ready to go within 14 minutes.  We’d have done it faster if Mini hadn’t had such a plaster of a nappy (a real 6-wipes-to-clean effort) and Midi hadn’t insisted on wearing red pants under a white stripey dress.

So, 40 mins of speedy-but-safe driving down back roads and rat runs later, and The Boss was safely in work, just half an hour late.  Now for the 50 min drive to nursery…

It was going absolutely fine until we got to the turn-off from the main road, about a mile to go.  I could see the police car and the car-wreck transporter truck blocking the road ahead.  I could also see that the only cars coming towards me were ones who’d 3-pted and turned around.  Hell.  Mini’s intermittent ‘I’m hungry and a beaker of milk just won’t cut it, Mother’ wails were getting steadier – I was on my final warning.  Double-hell.  So I pulled a neat wee 3 pt turn and nipped along to a rat-run I knew.

So did half the county.  No-one was bothering with passing places and were just belligerently driving on.  I decided to be a sheep and do what everyone else was doing, so became quickly acquainted with the Renault Grand Scenic’s remarkable and surprising ability to off-road on soggy verges without losing much speed (30mph…I’m not mental).  That was all fine, till I came to the half mile stretch with high, high verges and no passing places.  And came head-to-head with a big minibus.  I had 5 cars up my bum and he had a van and a car up his.  We tried to manouevre round, but both bottled it.  His lady passenger smiled at me but got angry and screechy and hand-flaily with him.  I guess the general gist of her argument to the driver was ‘We’re not reversing – she can!’  I pointed to the cars and the nearest turn off behind me 1/4 mile in the distance, whereas there was a house and driveway 50 yards behind him.  The passenger came out to talk to me, but soon backed off at the sound of 3 little girls wailing and crying.  Wimp!  She insisted the house behind them didn’t have a clear drive.  The cars behind me started to reverse first.  I smiled, gritted my teeth, hit reverse and managed a surprising 0.25 mile reverse at speed and neat turn into a little driveway with high walls.  (If only I’d managed fluke reverse skills like that in my first failed driving test…).  Minibus Man blew me kisses as he sped past, his passenger waved.  I nipped out and back along the road and cursed them both at the sight of the big empty driveway whose existence they’d denied…

On the bright side, the girls raced into nursery only an hour late shouting, “Mummy drove through the jungle!  She’s a proper explorer!” (well, the grass was quite long…) And Mini got fed with my stash of baby rusks and a banana the minute we stopped.

Wanna Buy a New Car?

I’ve ranted on here once or twice (!) about our rubbish car.  The one that comes back with more faults than get fixed every time I take it to get something fixed.  Sometimes that’s the garage’s fault, other times it’s just the stupid car falling apart.  Example, and here too

Well, the same old Carnold Lark who gave us such grief last year have been trying very hard to mend their ways.  We got a letter through the door last month offering us a free check-up and tweak service.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course they’re going to find stuff to fix, eh?  But I was struggling to find time to check and top up oil, or find the manual so I could figure out how to open the bonnet so I could fill the screen washer*… So I figured it would be worth doing next time I’d be in town for a few hours anyway.

* I am actually ashamed that I drive a car most days and don’t know how to open its bonnet or do basic maintenance on it.  But things have changed a lot since I first drove a Ford Escort and could do most of the maintenance myself with my trusty Haynes manual and a lot of swearing and banging and desperate hoping.

ANYway, sure enough, I was advised that the front brake discs and pads needed replacing for costalotta.  I reported this to The Boss who merrily announced that oh yeah, they’d said that at the last service.  Sheesh.  As he forgot, I delegated to him the task of phoning around for quotes and beating people down on price.

Carnold Lark did their best and actually came up with a good price.  Even more importantly, they were happy to drive me and Mini Minx home after dropping the car off with them, then delivering the car to our house afterwards, free.  Brilliant! So after a lot of toings and fro-ings, it was all set: we had a date and time when they could shuttle us around and could get the job done between nursery runs.

I pitch up with car, baby and big car seat, gratefully get driven back home again… to get a phonecall. “We can’t find your locking wheel nut”.  Oh pants.  Quick phonecall to The Boss, who insists it’s where it’s supposed to be and has always been.  He calls the garage and describes its location.  Garage call me back: “We’ve searched everywhere and can’t find it.  You’ll need to rebook”.  Cue incredible amounts of apologising and grovelling from me for wasting their time.  Mr Very Nice Man drives the car back to me, I apologise to him, then greet The Boss on his return home that night with a dark look.  He returns the dark look with a murderous one, when he produces the locking wheel nut from precisely where he said it was located.

We *could* have called Carnold Lark back to moan about their blind mechanic, but och, I gave up.  I am beaten.

A week later, I jumped through a hundred more hoops to get the car dropped off and the brakes etc. replaced and get it delivered back ‘in time’ for the nursery pick-up run (only an hour late… GRRRRRR!) 

If anything else goes wrong with that stupid car I shall attack it with a sledgehammer.  I own one, I like its heaviness and I think I would enjoy pounding hell out the blasted thing very much.

What will happen to the Grumpy Old Trout’s car if it fails her one more time…

PS Photo taken from an interesting blog about 2 travelling airline employees – click on the photo to go there directly.

Post Office Goats

Thick Glass Lenses

Woman behind me in the post office queue

Meh. Idiots.

I had a parcel I had to post today. It had to be today. It had to be big and awkward. I had 3 little minxes to corral, an inbound mother-in-law, a house like a bomb had gone off, birthday cakes to make, presents to wrap, cards for the girls to write, a poorly Midi, a probably-sickening Mini, and an overly-optimistic attitude that I could cope with it all. And it all started with those fatal 2 words: “I’ll just…” (doesn’t it always?)

I noticed I’d parked the car squinty (ok, it looked abandoned after a carjacking, it was so badly parked).  My mother-in-law would never be able to park beside it.  I figured that starting it up to move it back then forward would be an appalling waste of diesel.  “Och, I’ll just nip down to the village to post the parcel, then it’ll be worth starting it up to move it”, I thought.  It was a gorgeous day, all 3 minxes were well-fed and rested, so I figured they would either be ok to come with me or if I could park right outside, then they’d be ok in the car for 30 seconds.

Well, I could park literally a yard from the door and would be able to see the car from the post office counter.  There were a lot of people milling around outside the door.  The girls were all quite happy to sit in their seats and wait.  So I made the decision to keep them strapped in their car seats, lock the car and be literally in and out, as I could watch them the whole time.  I told them The Plan, grabbed the parcel and nipped in.

Well, I say nipped in.  The people milling around the door were blocking it with their silly flappy jaws and stupid dogs.  I think I trod on one dog as I manouevred the step.  Normally I’d apologise, but you know, shouting: “Excuse me!  Can you let me past, please?” and being ignored makes me a bit cross.

So I marched to the counter and waited behind another goat.  Again, normally I’d think ‘Bless!’ in a well-meaning but patronising fashion about his general slowness and need for detailed instructions just to function (“No, Billy, you need to put your special number into the machine… this machine… here… look, these buttons…right put your money in your wallet… that’s it”).  Today I impatiently waited the extra 15 seconds by staring and waving at the minxes.

An old woman sidled up behind me, looked me up and down with a sneer, looked again at my parcel (it was about 2ft x 2.5ft x 6″), then stepped over it and me.  She carefully turned her back on me, stuck her bottom out, and did a side-shuffle so that she was now standing right in front of me.  I tapped her on the shoulder.  She lifted her shoulder but didn’t turn round.  Not having any of this, I gently but very firmly took hold of her elbow and turned her round.

“Excuse me, but I am waiting in the post-office queue, and I’m before you,” I said quietly, giving her an unflinching and unapologetic eyeball.

“Oh, I thought you were just standing there!” she blustered.

“No.  I’m blocking the aisle, and this parcel here that you stepped over and kicked is about to be posted”.  I tried to convey a tone of reasonableness, with a hint of ‘don’t make me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’

There wasn’t really anything she could reply to that, so she stepped back again.  I guess I couldn’t let it lie, so I (probably nastily) added, “Normally I wouldn’t mind, but my kids are right there and I need to get back to them right away”.

Perhaps this was why the counter assistant was so curt with me, as payback for not being nice to little old ladies bullies.  She frowned and flatly said, “It needs to go on the scales itself.  Put it this way”, and motioned for me to stick it on its side.  Well, that was never going to work – the scale was a little tiny square and the laws of physics (gravity) stop putting you being able to balance the few inches of a 2.5ft side of parcel on it. “It has to stand by itself!”, she trilled, almost hysterical.  Wow, I thought, this is really getting to her.  The postmaster came out and decided to help.  I gave it 3 seconds.

“Guys, if you turn it thisway and put it diagonally, you get most contact with the scales, that’ll work”.

I got a scowl from the counter and a screech of, “But now it’s touching the glass!”

I shoogled it a bare centimetre sideways, and couldn’t help a jubilant, “Ta-da!” as it wobbled, but held its own on the scales for 3 long seconds, enough for a weight to be assessed and all hoops to be jumped.

“That’ll be £12.67!” she hissed.  I swear she smirked when I fumbled putting my credit card in the right way.  Damn – I may be a bit of a balancing magician, but I’m a right chip and pin Luddite-duffer.

I legged it out the shop as fast as I could, and pushed past the milling goats.  My God, I think they’d bred in the meantime.  There were certainly at least another 25 dogs (ok, ok, there were 3 there, total).  I got in, praised all 3 for being so good and patient and not moving except for waving back to me.  Mini was crying a bit, and Maxi wasn’t looking too happy.

“Our ears hurt.  A car alarm kept going off” she pouted.  Oh pants.  No.  Surely not?

“What, ours?” I asked, thinking that there were no other cars nearby. “But I didn’t hear, and I was right the other side of that piece of glass”, pointing to where I’d stood, maybe 3m away, tops.  I’d definitely not heard the car alarm go off, but Midi corroborated Maxi Minx.  “But what did all the people round the car do when the alarm went off?” I asked, exasperated at said people, who were now leaning on the car and making themselves quite comfy in their gossiping, despite me turning on the engine to get ready to drive off.

“Oh, they kept talking, but louder”, said poor Maxi.

Nowt like auld fools, eh?  I don’t *think* they were deaf auld fools…

And the moral of the story to me is: Never, ever leave your kids in the car, even for a second.

Longest Angry Rant Yet

Short Version

Car garages.  Need I say more?

Long Version

OK.  I drive a Renault Grand Scenic.  Not by choice, mind.  When we had one baby I clung to driving my nippy, reliable, joyful and safe Ford Puma.  The downgrade to the battlebus of a Ford Focus Estate was needed with the impending arrival of Baby 2, need for space to fit a double buggy and a week’s food shopping and mountainous nappy change bag.  Not cool (burgundy…) but surprisingly powerful, reliable, safe and spacious.  We reluctantly changed from estate to MPV exactly a year ago when we discovered that the battlebus wouldn’t fit 3 car seats plus 2 adults (plus buggy, shopping, nappy bag, blah, blah, blah).  Factoring in costs brought our choices to Grand Scenic or Grand Scenic.  Luckily, there was just one for sale in N Scotland, about an hour’s drive away, at a main dealers.  We agreed a good price and part-exchanged the battle bus.  It seemed fated and I felt good.

Well, I did see in all my research before buying that Grand Scenics were rated highly for everything except reliability.  You’re not kidding.

We bought the car with some known defects (broken bits and pieces of luxury, pointless gadgets that we could live with, like a side window blind, the fan would only go up to ‘3’ because ‘4’ wouldn’t work, the back window would go down but never back up unless you locked the whole car, etc).  We anticipated a few things to go amiss, because in a 5 year old car, they generally do.  However…

In the cold, the car won’t accelerate well.  Well, it got to -18degC here.  And my driving is c/o the Stampy-Stampy School of Transit Vans.  I learned of the automatic power and acceleration limitations alongside a cheery fault message just as I was overtaking a tractor with another oncoming.  It takes time to think “OMFG, what the…?  Eh?  Oh.  OH!” as well as footer with accelerator, then drop down a gear for more poke, then ultimately brake (hard) and steer tightly.  My heart’s racing now at the recollection.

In summer, we discovered the air-con didn’t work.  The dealer (let’s call them ‘Carnold Lark’ to protect their identify) declared it needed a costly repair.  The local garage disagreed and suggested it might be because there was absolutely no fluid at all in the system.  Yet there were no leaks.  And when the fluid was replaced, it worked perfectly and continued to do so.  They hinted that Carnold Lark had a reputation for draining the system, then charging buyers for ‘fixing it’ later on.

One tyre wouldn’t hold pressure.  (Oh, did I tell you the fancy automatic tyre pressure sensors in each wheel didn’t work?  The Boss assumed they did; Cynical Me assumed they didn’t.  I won).  Renault recalled it to reprogramme the handbrake, so we asked the Renault Dealer (Garage 1) to check for a puncture and repair the tyre.  They changed the wrong tyre.  Neither they nor The Boss spotted the error, either – it was me with my suspicious head on, 2 weeks later, because the tyre still wouldn’t hold pressure.  Garage 1 refused to admit they’d done anything wrong (!) and wanted an additional premium charge to fit a new tyre on the original non-pressure-holding wheel. 

We went to Garage 2, who said it was ‘leaking on a dirty bead’.  They kindly took the tyre off and cleaned it out free.  No joy.  Still having to pump up tyre every journey.  Went back to Garage 2.  They’d been burgled in the night, said sorry we’re shut (or was it sorry we’re shit?  I forget), so we took it to Garage 3.  Garage 3 said definitely leaking on the bead, cleaned it up, and it’s been fine. Phew.

So you can imagine how upset I got when a week later *another* tyre got a puncture from the many nails left in the road from the building site next door…  This time, the only hassle was that suddenly the garage (Garage 2 again) noted that the car needed “Special” tyres because of the all-up weight.  That nearly doubled the price, and by now we were a zero salary family, on a hope and a promise of The Boss getting work soon.  Garage 1 were cheaper, so we returned to them sheepishly, having complaining about their fit-any-bloody-tyre-we-like to Trading Standards.

It’s now annual service time, so we went to Garage 4.  When it went, it worked fine.  When it returned, operating the rear windscreen wash mysteriously directed water to the *front*.  Turning on the rear wipers suddenly made you descend 2 flight levels and your radio retune to Radio 4.  (OK I lied about the FLs and radio – just to keep you awake).  I decided to live with this problem rather than take it back yet again because I feared what would go wrong with another ‘service’.  And negotiating visits to the garage is worse than trying to get a GP’s appointment.

So, imagine the gnashing of teeth and bumping of gums when The Boss admitted that Garage 4 had said that the rear brakes were binding because the handbrake cable was stuck and that they’d detected a botch job of a random spring being fitted to stop the handbrake binding.  Helpfully they took the spring off and affected surprise at there being no functioning handbrake.  “Nothing to do with us”, they insisted.  “We can’t even fix it”.

I can barely bring myself to write about it, I’m so angry.  We limped on for a bit leaving the car parked in first gear and carrying a wedge of a rock to use as a wheel chock just in case.  But ‘Safety First, Safety Second’, so we swapped £700 we didn’t have for one new entire handbrake module.  Still, we got a free carwash (worth £2.50!  Bonus!).  And they kindly *delivered* a free hire car to us for the day – Twingo.  With me, 3 kids and a double buggy shoehorned in to do the nursery run, ok it wouldn’t go above 45 mph on a slight incline, but I’m tempted to buy one, attach roof bars and botch-tape The Boss to them anytime we wanted to go anywhere as a family.

Anyone want to swap one for a crappy Grand Scenic?  I’ll throw in its current fuel tank, some of the minxes’ toys and some ground up biscuits in the carpet for free.

Slow Down and Taste the Snowflakes, Woman!

It was snowing this morning as I herded cats (not literally – just my 3 squirmers) into the car.  Big deal.  It’s snowing all over the country.  Ah, but I live on the coast, it normally never snows here.  And it was Baby Trout’s very first sight of snow <fanfare>

I have gigabytes of photos and videos of her elder sisters’ first reactions to snow.  I have none showing my baby’s little face lit up in wonder / screwed up in confusion at the white stuff.  I have failed as a doting mother.  I couldn’t even describe to you her countenance upon meeting snow – it was, alas, one of Those Mornings…

I’d finally been referred to the physio about my ballooning shelf stomach (not from cake or beer.  But on the plus side it props my saggy boobies up), but meeting the appointment meant dropping Minxes 1 & 2 off 30 mins early at nursery.  They knew I was stressed and in a rush, so (shocker) were good about not spilling breakfast over each other (just the floor – fine, I can sort that out tonight, though any burglars would have been horrified at my slovenliness), letting me put hair up in bunches / lashed down in a plait as appropriate.  They even got dressed in the clothes I chose for them with only a token show of defiance (“Why can’t I wear my wellies with my ballet skirt, Mummy?  Why?  Why?!”)  The morning routine was going too smoothly, so Minx-in-training asserted her presence and pooed long and hard just as I wedged her in her car seat.  I thought about just leaving it (well, that’s what nappies are for!) but the memories of her horrific nappy rash as a newborn still haunt me.  That, and the realisation that I’d not get a chance to change her for 2 hrs meant that I had to un-layer her from all the outdoor kit, take off my muddy shoes, threaten her sisters with toy confiscation or worse if they moved from the spot, and raced up the stairs to win the 100m Nappy Dash Hurdles.

Just as I uncaked the nappy and released the pong, I heard the ominous sound of the front door opening.  With a roar that would frighten your average gang of tough hoodies, I leapt downstairs, gingerly holding the semi-clad, still gungy, baby in front of me.  I yanked the 2 wannabe escapees in with one hand, waggled a cross finger with the other hand, locked the door then ran back upstairs to de-gunge the now mildly-surprised looking baby (she’s very chilled-out…).

5 mins late now.  Try again.  Outdoor clothes onto protesting baby, shoe-horn into car seat.  Cram wellies onto one minx.  Replait hair of other minx.  Cram wellies onto first minx again.  Zip jacket up of second minx.  Threaten to sellotape wellies of first minx to her knees if they’re removed again.  Open front door, step out into blast of snow and wind.  Wet foot.  Shoe failure.  (Shoe forgotten)  Slam door shut.  Curse at snow trail.  Put on shoes.  Curse at trail of mud.  Open door.  Drag out 2 minxes.  Lose hold of both as they make for the snow in a practised “break, break” Red Arrows manoeuvre.  Open car door with teeth and dead-arm both inside.  Slam door while they rattle about inside the car, finding sunglasses, pulling on hats, pulling out plaits, discarding jackets.  Run back for car-seated, wailing baby.  Heave into car.  Run back for armful of bags (nappy change bag, bag of things to post, bag of things to return to shop because I was over-charged, bag of change kit for Minx 2, bag of packed lunches, bag of bags (shopping day – Save Our Planet)).  Strap 2 minxes into seats.  Negotiate nursery rhymes CD or silence (nursery rhymes – I can screech to it louder than the volume control goes, saving me the misery).  Run back to house to double-check door (Still unlocked.  Damn).  Start car.  Skid off drive.  10 mins late.  Realise it’s going to be a long journey…

Even at the nursery, things go into go-slow.  My fingers are too cold to strap the baby into the sling, and she’s hyperventilating at the cold windy gusts.  One sister runs to the door, the other waddles.  ?  Looks like they’ve moved the little kids to the big kids’ room, so drag everyone to the *other* side of the building.  Nope, they’re just hiding.  Settle one minx in her classroom.  Discover Duck minx has wet herself.  Waddle back to first room and haul out a change of clothes.  Consider crying at the lateness but get distracted, so don’t.  One nursery teacher smiles benignly at my fast-approaching-vortex levels of stress; the other offers to change Wet Duck for me (I love you – thank you!).

At the physios, it takes me a further 9 mins to find the stupid place, running back and forth in the pelting snow with my little but very unstable car-seat-on-a-pram-chassis, baby minx’s eyes not leaving my face for a second (Oh right.  *That* portacabin with the sign in letters 6 feet high.  Didn’t see it.  Oops).  But on the bright side, the physio thinks she can help not only my rubbish stomach and subsequent perma-backache, but she wants me to join in with the group fitness thing going on in the New Year.  “Take the baby with you, it’s fine”.  Wow!  I am now overwhelmed.

So.  I know it’s a rubbish excuse for missing my infant’s reaction to snow.  It’s further evidence to my current theory that time spent on myself is time soon sabotaged.  My back will be painful, stiff and useless for a while longer, whether I’d made it to the physio on time or not, but the baby will never see snow for the first time ever again.  I’m sure I will feel guilt over even more substantial things in the future, but tonight it stings a bit.  Sorry, R.  I’ll take a video tomorrow and pretend it was the first time.  No one will ever remember or know that you weren’t a real Snow Virgin in years to come.  Honest