Monthly Archive:: March 2013

License to Drive


Not to brag or anything, but the first time I got a driver’s license, I did really really well. I got 100% on my permit test (though a lot of my friends did, too). A few of my friends also got 100% the driving portion of the in-car test, as did I. However, I was the ONLY person I knew who passed Ohio’s very weird maneuverability test (perfectly, no less) on the first try. (I’m not sure what good that actually did–today I can’t parallel park to save my life.)

Then I moved to California and almost failed the written test I had to take. I hadn’t bothered studying because, hey, how much different can the laws be? Different enough, as it turns out, although I did eke by with one question to spare. (Incidentally, I spent 17 years in California, and a couple weeks ago my husband and I got in an argument over how far you have to park from a fire hydrant. I thought it was 10 feet. He claimed 15. Since he’s a firefighter, I should have taken his word for it, but I had to google. Turns out he’s right. It’s 15 feet in California; 10 feet in Ohio.)

A couple years ago we moved to Texas, sort of, for a few months, and getting a license there was a snap. All we had to do was take a vision test, turn in our old license, and voila! Texas drivers!

Now we’ve moved to another state (Illinois), and it appears I have to take a written test again, which means learning a bunch of potentially new stuff. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m sort of looking forward to it in a geeky way.

My husband and I had planned on reading the driver’s handbook and quizzing each other on the drive out to Illinois, but we wound up driving separate vehicles so that didn’t happen. (Just came up with a great idea: driver’s-handbook-on-tape!) Now we’re mired in making repairs to our new house, unpacking, trying not to freeze to death, etc., and haven’t had a chance to study yet. We’ll get to that one of these days. After all, I need to find out in which cases we can legally make a u-turn, and whether we can turn left into any lane or if we have to turn into the one closest. What’s the residential speed limit? Can we turn right on red? (Pretty sure the answer is yes…and I hope it is because we’ve been doing it.) And the burning question: How far do we have to park from a fire hydrant?

Wish me luck!

Ford Explorer Limited with Inflatable Seatbelt Technology – the kids, carseats & boosters review


Beginning with the 2011 model year, Ford began offering their rear seat Inflatable Seatbelt Technology as an option on their popular Explorer midsize SUV. We were intrigued from the moment we became aware of Ford’s intention to incorporate airbag technology into backseat seatbelts. Sure, it sounded like an impressive and innovative way to help manage and better distribute energy in a crash. And the benefits for kids and the elderly (who are the most vulnerable occupants wearing an adult seatbelt) were obvious. But we had tons of questions, as did everyone else in the field of child passenger safety field.

The best way for us to try to answer them was to get our hands on a vehicle with this technology. Thanks to our friends at Ford, I had a week to try to figure it all out. This review is specific to the 7-passenger 2012 Explorer Limited model with the inflatable seatbelt technology.

The model I drove had a 3.5L V6 TIV CT Engine with 6 speed selectshift transmission. Estimated MPG is 17 City / 23 HW. The exterior color was a gorgeous “Red Candy” and the interior was Charcoal Black perforated leather. In addition to everything that comes standard with the Limited trim model (too much to list), this particular vehicle was also equipped with a voice activated nav system, luxury seating package, powerfold 3rd row seats, power liftgate, blind spot monitoring system, rear inflatable belts, active park assist, adaptive cruise/collision warning, rain sensing wipers and HID projector headlamps. And as if that wasn’t enough, it also had the optional trailer tow package and 20″ aluminum rims.  🙂


Snow Day


We got three calls this morning at 5am.  Two on our cell phones, one on our home phone.  Plus two emails.  Yes, school was cancelled for our three kids on the first snow day of the school year, due to an impending snowstorm.  Oddly enough, when I went downstairs at 6am to cancel an important meeting I had for today, in order to be home for the kids, there wasn’t a hint of snow falling.  I checked the forecast just to make sure whoever cancelled school wasn’t hallucinating.  To be fair, it did call for 6″-8″ of snow by nightfall.  By 7am, a few flurries were appearing.  By 9am, the end of rush hour, it had finally turned into a modest snowfall, with about a half inch of snow on the ground.  My wife surmised that they were concerned the roads wouldn’t be plowed for the trip home from schools around 3pm, because there sure wasn’t an issue this morning.   Normal dismissal is well before rush hour, usually not a problem in suburban Chicago where we have very good snow removal and street treatment.  Even now, around noon, there is just over an inch of accumulation.  Maybe the white-out blizzard is yet to come in the next few hours?

This wouldn’t be the first time in the last few years we’ve had a snow day for what didn’t appear to present any transportation issues.  Maybe this afternoon will be a lot worse, but for now I have three bored kids who barely have enough snow to make a snowball lol!  Hopefully I can get a couple of them outside soon…

Safety Features You Can’t Live Without


A couple of weeks ago, my dd’s softball team had a fundraising car wash at a local car dealer. My SUV had already been through the line and we were winding down, so my dh had me go get his SUV from the parking lot to run through the wash tunnel. I got into the driver’s seat, did a quick adjust of the seat and rear-view mirror (he is 6’5” and I am not), started the ignition, began to back out and froze. I couldn’t remember how to do it!

I mean, of course, I back out all the time. But I have a backup camera to assist me and in his SUV, I don’t. His SUV is a 2004, before backup cameras were commonplace in vehicles; in fact, I think at that point in time, it was a nearly $1500 add-on. I looked in the rear-view mirror, looked in the side mirrors, turned and looked out the back windows, and yet still felt like I was missing huge chunks of visibility. Even though I knew no one was behind me—it was a deserted parking lot since the dealership was closed and I was the only one there at the time—I still felt like I could hit someone or something. It scared me. Anyway, I did make it safely to the wash line and handed the keys back to dh. He can have his SUV. But not for long. Soon his backup screen will be even bigger than mine or yours ;).

I know that my seat belt and airbags are an important safety feature, of course, as are the steel reinforcement bars in the door, etc., etc., etc., but for driving on a daily basis, I cannot drive without my backup camera. I’m too dependent on it. Is there a feature in your car that you’ve come to rely upon heavily?