It’s Time for me to Take the Wheel Again

•July 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

I’m sitting here on my couch in my PJs,Four Weddings on the TV (shush), toys scattered around my feet, spit-up on my tank top, Big O is napping peacefully in his crib, and C is out photographing a wedding all day. This will be the last time such a morning will transpire. It’s a rather bittersweet feeling, oh faithful reader.

I clearly didn’t follow through with my “I’ll blog all the time while I’m on maternity leave because I’ll have all this free time (HA!)” promise, and I do apologize for that.

And now suddenly it’s all come to an end. Tomorrow at this time I’ll be sitting at my desk at Auto123.com (or sitting in a meeting so they can catch me up on the latest and greatest in the biz), and C will be the one sitting on the couch in his PJs with spit-up and toys scattered everywhere.

I’m happy, but also kind of sad.

I absolutely love my job, which is why I chose to take a shorter maternity leave (here in good ol’ Canada we ladies get 52 weeks at home with our little ones, paid) and head back to work after 7.5 months. Thankfully, we Canucks also have the option to share the last 20 weeks with our partners, so that is precisely what C and I are doing. He will be home with Big O until November while I get back behind the wheel.

Being a mother has been an experience, so far. It’s been really good and it’s been really bad all at once. There were days where I think both Big O and I hated one another more than anything and those were the worst. And then there were days I just didn’t want his bedtime to come because we were having so much fun together. With all the ups and downs, I still wouldn’t change a thing. Owen is a wonderful child and C and I are so proud of him already. It’s going to be absolutely incredible to watch him grow.

And now I’m about to enter the realm of “working mum,” and I have to say oh faithful reader, I’m a little freaked out by the concept.

Sure, I’ll admit I’ve taken a liking to the whole motherhood thing, but adding a career to that too (a career that I tend to throw myself into 110%), seems almost impossible. Like mothers who worry they won’t have enough love to give to a second child, I feel that way about my job. How am I supposed to dedicate myself to both?

I have the utmost respect for working moms already, and I have yet to fully experience it myself. As an outsider, I see how hard it can be, especially for those who have a career they love and wish to maintain as they did before their bundle of joy arrived.

So, tomorrow I join those ranks. I just hope I can do the title “working mum” justice.

Now, of course, that means no more blogging, as was the case last year when I began my job at Auto123.com. As sad as that might seem, oh faithful reader, fear not! You can follow my reviews and blogs at Auto123.com as well as Auto-Venus.com, and of course keep track of my whereabouts and what I’m driving on Twitter (MsMirandaL) and Instagram (for all you iPhone users).

This is another new road, another bend in the tarmac that I can’t wait to round to see what’s on the other side. I’m anxious, excited, happy, sad, scared, confident and bewildered by it all at once. And I can’t wait to start my life as a working mum.

As always, thank you all for your support in all my endeavors! And thank you for putting up with my mummy-ness over the past few months. The automotive side of me will definitely be back to the norm now that I’m heading back to work, don’t worry!

Oh, and for those of who might be wondering what will be gracing my driveway this first week back behind the wheel: the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. This happens to be C’s favourite SUV at the moment (and it would be our family car if he had his way and the funds). Should be an interesting week. Oh, and I nearly forgot, another ride will grace my neighbourhood streets for a night as well. Some of you may have heard of this car before, oh faithful readers; the 2013 Nissan GT-R.

Watch out, Godzilla is coming.

Grrr

Drive on,

- M.

A Love-Hate Kind of Thing

•June 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I love my Subaru… and yet, I hate it.

All of you, oh faithful readers, know that my WRX (aka, C’s WRX) is our family car. And that name actually properly applies to our life now since Big O arrived last November. With AWD, 4 doors and a good, powerful engine, the Subaru Impreza WRX has all the makings of the ideal family car for those who want something safe and fun to drive.

However, it’s been anything but ideal since Big O made his appearance.

We always knew the WRX was slightly impractical. With a backseat that doesn’t fold down at all (there’s a 5″x12″ pass-through in the middle that works for bits of wood, skis, and reaching into the trunk when you want something while you’re driving), making the trunk rather small and the ability to carry anything larger than a suitcase rather impossible. But we were able to overlook that. The front race seats are super comfortable and I love them, but they’re big, and thick and take up a good portion of the back seat. Something we never considered or even thought about before because, well, we were never back there.

The stiff, adjustable suspension and STI springs C had installed a few years ago make driving uber fun, and cornering a joy; but with a baby in the back I just feel bad for Big O’s spine and poor head bobbling around. However, that’s not a design flaw on Subaru’s part, that’s fully C’s fault (I lay blame where I can).

I was overjoyed to have a newborn in the backseat of a sturdy, AWD Subaru throughout our Canadian winter. I never felt in danger or unsure on the road. And the only accident we had was when a Honda Civic slid into our rear when she couldn’t stop her car. It was a very gentle nudge, and shocked me more than hurt the car. The poor Civic driver was in tears as well and just kept babbling about how she needed to call her mother … poor thing. But I digress.

Both C and I knew the WRX could possibly have some space issues along the way; which is why we considered (ever so briefly) getting a wagon. That idea died almost as quickly as it was born when we both realized it would require selling the Rex. Neither of us is prepared to do such a thing.

However, the impracticality of the WRX truly came into play a few weeks ago.

My child was born big. He arrived in the world at 9lbs 4oz, and he’s only gone up since then. At just under 7 months old, he’s the size and weight of a 1-year-old. No joke. Big O isn’t called Big O for nothing. He’s a whopping 22lbs (probably more now since his last doctor’s appointment 4 weeks ago), and he outgrew his initial infant carrier seat. So, it was time to hunt for a new one.

C and I knew the seat we wanted to purchase. Top of the line, safest on the market, priced high enough to raise both our eyebrows, but hey; the kid’s worth it, right?

So, down to the baby store we go to drop the unfathomable amount on a seat to keep Big O safe and comfy for at least another year and a half (baby stuff has such a high turn over, it’s amazing). We arrived, VISA in hand, and just as we were about to swipe the card, C had a brilliant idea: “Let’s make sure it fits in the car,” says he.

Brilliant man, my husband.

So, out to the Rex we go to place the seat in the back. Confidence beaming from us both, feeling good and feeling silly for even having to check. Why, of course it will fit! This is a “family” sedan! The first baby seat fit, so why wouldn’t this one?! Ha, ha! We’re just wasting this poor sales girl’s time!

Well, the joke was on us. The seat’s bolsters were so high that the angled roofline of the door was a mere 10-12″ away from its edge, giving us a very small window of space in which to place our ginormous child in the seat.Thankfully, our large child was with us at the time and we tested it out with him as well. The poor child would surely have his head smacked every single time he was placed in the seat if we were to go with this particular model. Back to square one.

And so began the epic seat-finding journey, and my mild hatred for the WRX.

Aside from our own on-hands research (heading to every baby store we knew to coax poor sales people into bringing every single seat they sold out to our car to try and squeeze it in), we also did a lot of online research. From message board to message board I roamed. WRXTuners.com, NASIOC.com, Car-Seats.org, various mom sites: anywhere I could find information, I went.

From American-only car seat models unavailable here in Canada to quick-fix solutions involving pool noodles and rolled up towels, there was a plethora of advice, tips, comments and personal stories for me to browse through. With all that information at my fingertips, you’d think I was apt to find a seat ideally suited to the WRX.

No matter where I went, the general consensus of WRX owners (new and old) was:

Either you deal with the cramped, uncomfortable and impractical design of the WRX with a baby seat in the back… Or you buy a new car.

I’m sure you can all guess, oh faithful reader, what C and I are going to do.

Drive on,

- M.

That’s Right; An Automotive Site for Women

•June 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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As my maternity leave is quickly coming to an end, I realize I’ve not kept up my end of the bargain and written nearly enough blogs. We can all blame that on my un-sleeping child who’d rather stay awake alllll day and keep me running ragged. With just 4 weeks left at home with my little man before C takes over for the last 4 months (still can’t believe he agreed to that), I feel like I have to make up my absence to all of you, oh faithful readers, and cram in as many fabulous, fantastic, wonderful, amazing and downright incredible blogs as I can.

Not that I’m aiming high or anything.

But, moving on to the subject at hand: A website has appeared on the ever-expanding and full-of-useless-shit stuff Internet that I believe deserves a moment of your attention (and not just because I will be the brains behind it when I get back to the office in about a month, though I will admit that has a great deal to do with it). The website is Auto-Venus.com.

Now, you all know I like a bit of blatant self-promotion, and while this is a bit of that, it’s more about celebrating the idea that a site like this exists.

You see, the idea that women like cars, like to read about them, like to drive them, like to know about them, is ever so slowly creeping into the public’s general psyche. Soon (hopefully), the stereotype of females being completely clueless about cars will be abolished… at least that’s my goal in all of this.

When I first started at Auto123.com a year ago, they told me they had a special project in mind for me (which was part of the main reason I was hired). I was skeptical at first, but when they approached me with the idea I admit I was a bit excited.

Auto-Venus.com has the potential to be something great. At the moment, it’s merely a sketch. There’s still a lot of work to be done, a lot of content to build and a lot of lessons to be learned. As the in-house “leader” of my team of ladies at Auto-Venus.com I’ll have my plate full when I get back behind the desk in a few weeks. And I’m very much looking forward to it.

This website will offer me the opportunity to cover subjects and tackle reviews in a way I’ve not been able to before: from a woman’s point-of-view.

Since I began in the automotive field, my mind has always been a bit “manly.” My time at AskMen.com as an editor only exemplified that, and as the years went on I often found it a struggle to write as a woman. I was so used to taking a masculine stance on things. In fact, more often then not, readers thought I was a guy (I kid you not).

After so many years of “hiding” my identity without even meaning too, it’s rather liberating to be able to write as myself and for an audience who I know will appreciate the fact that I am in fact a woman, instead of judging me for it. I hope the rest of our talented writing team at Auto-Venus.com feels the same way as many of them have been in the manly automotive world for years as well. 

The Internet really is full of some pretty stupid stuff. From piano-playing cats to blogs on every single subject you could possibly imagine; if you want it, you’re sure to find it. So, with all that useless crap out there, I hope Auto-Venus.com can rise above the muck and really become a staple for readers across Canada and even further. It really is a unique creation (in Canada at least).

So, if you feel inclined, oh faithful reader, I’d like you to check it out and let me know what you think! Any feedback, criticisms, advice, comments, critiques will be much appreciated. As I’ll be heading back sooner rather than later I want to go back armed with as much ammo as I can to get back into the heart of everything immediately.

Ladies, this one’s for you: enjoy.

Drive on,

- M.

My Rex meets Big Bird

•June 12, 2012 • 1 Comment

WRX_mlightstone

Nothing to do with the post, but it’s my car and my coworkers and it’s hot, so it deserves to be here.

Photo courtesy of my coworker, Matt St-Pierre

Electrifying Emotions Behind The Wheel

•April 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

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A lack of decent television has brought to my attention a strange phenomenon: peeling off in a vehicle in a hot rage.

C and I were starved for good television a few nights ago, so we decided to catch up on an older show we strangely stopped watching midway through one of the seasons: Californication. We were obsessed with it at the time and watched it religiously. But somehow, we lost interest (and I can’t imagine why because I think David Duchovny is one of the sexiest men out there, and there’s enough boobie shots to keep my husband interested even if the storyline gets a bit sappy).

It was during one of these catch-up episodes that an interesting thing happened: David Duchovny’s character’s wife is outrageously angry at him. They have a massive blow-out in their house and she storms out (as any good wife would). They argue in the street for a bit until she can’t stand it anymore so she hops into her car and peels off down the street in a white-hot rage.

Only, her getaway is less than aggressive and doesn’t communicate her level of rage or make a point at all.

She drives a Prius and the car doesn’t even make a noise when she turns it on … and drives away.

And it got me thinking: this new era of all-electric vehicles is fast approaching, so does that mean the era of showing your emotions with your car is ebbing away?

There’s something matter-of-fact about an engine roaring to life, rubber squealing and the sound of an engine growing faint as the car speeds away into the distance. It’s final. It’s like an exclamation point to the final word in an argument.

Driving off mad in an all-electric car is like leaving the argument open. Wait, was she angry? Did she just decide she needed milk at the corner store? Is this going to continue when she gets back or is it over? Is she still mad? Nah, must be OK, she didn’t sound angry when she left. Correction: the car didn’t sound angry when she left.

There’s no closure with an electric getaway.

It’s like those damn IKEA kitchen cabinets that don’t slam. Who thought that was a good idea?! How frustrating is that? Come on, oh faithful reader, you know sometimes you just need to slam a cupboard or a door.

If I owned those IKEA cupboards I’d be breaking plates just to make a point. What’s with wanting/needing to silence all these things that so adequately convey the emotions we’re feeling at the moment?

Upon further reflection, I’ve decided there’s a solution to the silent electric car angry getaway: a fury button. Said fury button would at least emit the sound of a car being pushed to its limits, tires squealing, as the driver sped away down the road.

I know, not as satisfying at all, but at least the person you’re arguing with will get the point and you won’t have to worry your pretty little green head about killing the planet and all that jazz.

Here’s to keeping the angry peel-off alive. 

Drive on,

- M.

The Summer Ride

•April 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

We Canadians put up with a lot of, ‘scuse my French, sh*t: lousy exchange rates, overpriced cars, Americans constantly mocking us for using the word “eh,” and 5 to 6 long, horrible, hellish months of frigid cold weather known as winter. And yet, we continue to live here and love our great nation.

Why?

Because in the coming weeks we’ll be blessed with 3 (hopefully 4) glorious months of warm, bright days known as summer. Ah, summer in Canada is a wonderful, fantastic, amazing thing; and not just because the women all wear less, the days are longer and the temperature is consistently above 20 degrees Celsius.

No, there’s something else we love about summer, oh faithful reader: The Summer Ride.

What exactly is The Summer Ride? Well, it’s every Canadian’s automotive companion that’s painstakingly stored somewhere safe, dry and warm come November and emerges once again, blinking from the bright sun and tentative on the broken Quebec roads, to roam the streets again come the end of March.

Yes, The Summer Ride is easy to spot: pristine body (rust-free and always shining from a recent rubdown); fancy footwear (summer rims and low-pro rubber shoes); and a flair for speed on open stretches of road, The Summer Ride is a beautiful beast. And I’m so glad their back on the road.

From Porsches to Subarus (yes, some people store their Subaru WRXs and STIs through the winter… blasphemy in my honest opinion), they emerge from their dark garages in all their splendor. Exhaust notes rumbling, bass notes bumping, The Summer Ride owns the road in every which way.

And when it comes to Canadian Summer Rides, they’re even more glorious because they’ve been kept under wraps for those cold, long winter months. Dragging out The Summer Ride means the beginning of a season that’s much too short, but oh so sweet.

If you like cars and you like to drive, may I recommend visiting Montreal in the summer months. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: Quebecers lover their cars. And never is that more apparent than in the summer months.

A few weeks ago, we were teased with 30-degree weather in March. Truly Mother Nature was being a bit of a tease that week, but we relished in it, especially the car nuts. In one day alone I saw two Ferraris and a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder in my neighbourhood (and I don’t live in a 90210-type area, trust me). Convertibles were topless, stereos were blasting and paint jobs were shining. A white Audi R8 flashed its brash self past me on the highway, MINIs played in parking lots and I even spotted a few carefree, topless smart cars. Fabulous.

There’s something about driving The Summer Ride that’s truly unique. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that when you’re behind the wheel of your Summer Ride you’ve shed your heavy winter parka, thrown the snow brush to the back of your garage and you no longer have to worry about waiting for the car to warm up before you head out on your journey. Perhaps it’s a pride thing; The Summer Ride is often more a reflection of one’s personality than The Winter Beater.

Sometimes, The Summer Ride isn’t a different vehicle entirely. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting on a new pair of shoes (just like our Rex) to give your ride the right amount of warm-weather oomph to join the ranks.

Whatever you do to enjoy the short summer months in Canada, I hope you enjoy them behind the wheel of a vehicle that brings a smile to your face on and off the road.

Drive on,
– M.

How young is too young?

•February 28, 2012 • 1 Comment

That is, to start nurturing a love of cars?

You had to suspect, oh faithful reader, that I would push my love of the automobile on any offspring I happened to produce. It would be blasphemous of me not to.

But, as drawn as I am all things vehicularly inclined (car-covered onesies, car toys, t-shirts with cars on the front, shoes with little cars on the top, etc.), I wonder if all this automotive stimulus might put him off the whole thing later on in life.

Am I nurturing a love or helping him fester a later hatred?

Or am I just over-thinking the entire thing?

Today, Owen and I went for a lunch meet-and-greet at a local company, Fastco, I used to visit often before my little monster arrived. This was Owen’s debut, and he did beautifully (impressing all the ladies as usual and keeping his cool throughout my lunchtime rendez-vous). Though highly unnecessary, the team at Fastco presented Owen and I with a gift: a plush, pillow-like, MINI Cooper car.

I was immediately smitten with the little blue Cooper (and slightly jealous that it will reside in Owen’s room and not in mine — much to C’s delight). Owen’s fascination wasn’t quite as apparent, but I’m sure it will be soon.

Or will it?

Sometimes I get this sinking feeling that when Owen reaches an age where he can fully defy C and I without us being able to do much about it (oh those dreaded teenage years when they truly discover who they are) that he’ll transform into this granola-esque, energy-efficient-light-bulb-loving, bike-riding, fossil-fuel-hating green-y and it will all be because I pushed cars on him too much when he was younger.

Don’t children almost always push their parents and do the opposite of what they’re doting, hopeful ‘rents wish them to do? So if I constantly want him to love automobiles, I have this horrible feeling that one day he’ll turn to me and announce he’s never getting into a car again because they are smelly, noisy, earth-killing monsters.

Some mothers dread the day their kids come home smelling of pot and alcohol; I dread the day he tells me he hates cars.

Does that make me weird or just weirdly obsessed? I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

I have no doubt that Owen will grow up to be a strong-willed, confident little man (with a dad like C as a role model, he’s pretty much guaranteed to go that route), but I still hope he follows in a few or our footsteps. Mainly, those leading to the driver’s side of an automobile.

Drive on,
– M.

 
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