23 December 2014

Plot twist!

The Reynolds Tribe is on another adventure, though not the one we originally planned.
We left Laramie after church on Sunday and drove to Ryan's brother's house in Denver to have Reynolds Christmas with Ryan's family. Ryan's mom cooked a feast for everyone, we opened presents, and most importantly--the girls' team won the annual game of SceneIt.
On Monday we left Denver, aiming for Las Vegas (the New Mexico one), which is about halfway between Denver and my parents' house in Las Cruces. We were going to stay in a hotel, swim in the pool, and eat at Pizza Hut--basically Sammy's trifecta of joy.
It was snowing in the mountains along the Colorado-New Mexico border, and we saw at least five cars off the road in various states of being towed. Ryan drove slowly, but surely, on to Las Vegas. But about 15 miles outside of Raton, NM (the last "big" town before Las Vegas), something went wrong with the car.
Let me just say that it was a good thing that Ryan was driving and not me, because I doubt I would have noticed anything was wrong. But Ryan heard a weird sound and noticed that the engine noise had changed before all the warning lights on the dash lit up. We pulled off the highway on an exit-to-nowhere, where Ryan determined that the car was undriveable. We called our insurance's roadside assist and arranged for a tow truck. Neither of us had ever been towed before, so it was a good thing the nice lady helping us told Ryan that he would need to arrange for us to be transported back to Raton. Most tow trucks don't have room for five extra people, three of whom are in car seats, obvs. But Raton didn't have any rental car companies that we could find on Google, so... we had a dilemma.
1) Get a rental car from Las Vegas, eighty-ish miles away and get towed there instead of Raton. But then we would have to pay for the tow.
2) Get a rental car from Las Vegas, leave our car in Raton, and use the rental car for the 10 days left of our vacation.
3) Think fast.

We chose number 3.
Every time we drive past Raton, we have made note of the nice, new LDS chapel right off the highway. We knew the church was here in Raton, so we got on LDS.org to find the phone number of the bishop or branch president. It only took a few minutes, and we got lucky--President Terhune answered the phone. Ryan explained our situation to him, and President Terhune and his wife jumped in their cars to pick up our family. They arrived less than five minutes after the tow truck, with room for all of us and our luggage.
The craziest part was that once upon a time, the Terhunes had lived in Wyoming. President Terhune was one of the first Seminary teachers that Ryan supervised when we moved to Laramie.
They drove us to the Holiday Inn, where my mom had made a reservation for us. Ryan walked through the snow, trying to find a fast food place close by so we could eat dinner (at 9:30pm), but no luck. So I hit up the vending machines. After the machine ate three of my dollars, and my chips were all stuck, I stood in front of it, feeling like crying. A nice girl who was much stronger than me came by and shook the machine until it released my food. Ben and Amelia were fast asleep, so Ryan, Sam, and I had a picnic on the bed while watching SportsCenter.
And that's where we are now, still waiting for an update on our car.
There's a popular saying among writers: When something goes wrong in your life, yell "Plot twist!" and move on. We've had quite a plot twist: By now we should only be a couple hours from my parents' house, listening to Christmas music and bopping around in the car. Instead we're facing the possibility of staying in the Terhunes' home for Christmas (while they visit family in Utah). We won't have any idea of when we'll be out of Raton until we hear back from the mechanics that have our car.
It's a crappy situation, but we feel like it was as good as it could possibly have been. We broke down in an area that had cell phone reception (not a guarantee in this part of New Mexico), we were able to get towed to a place close enough to be covered by our insurance, and best of all we were rescued by a couple of true Saints.

05 December 2014

O Christmas Tree

This year my ambitious husband decided that instead of buying a Christmas tree, we would go into the mountains and cut down our tree ourselves. We bought a permit from the Forest Service for $10, a fraction of the cost of what we usually pay for a tree each year. Last Saturday we loaded up the kids and some lunch and went out in search of a tree. Ryan carried the axe and lead the way. I wore Amelia in the Baby Bjorn and kept an eye on Sammy and Benjy. Amelia did great on her first hike--she slept the whole time! 
Posing with the tree after cutting

Amelia is not actually that big--but we don't have a newborn-size snowsuit!

The tree was well-proportioned all around, but the branches were thinner than the trees we usually buy. It actually displays our Christmas ornaments better! The boys "helped" decorate--Sam put ornaments on the tree Sunday afternoon, and Ben has spent all week moving them around. He was banned from touching the tree after breaking his second ornament.

There she is, in all her glory!

I wanted to buy a Weeping Angel tree topper, but by the time I got around to ordering it ThinkGeek was sold out! We made do with our usual star instead.
For our next Family Home Evening we will talk about the symbolism of the Christmas tree, the star, and the ornaments. We would love to hear about your Christmas tree traditions in the comments!
Speaking of Christmas tree traditions, I am going to dominate my sister this year in finding the Christmas pickle. *cracks knuckles* Cassi, you've been warned!