life, changed

30 Nov

A month’s reflections:

This month, our lives have changed in more ways than I can really even fathom at this moment.

One person’s life, in particular is never going to be the same.

My brother Cody.

October 30th, 3 am. Things changed in a way that I could never have imagined for this person. Being driven home from a party from a good friend, a drunk driver ran a red light straight into the small pickup truck that my brother was a passenger in, t-boneing the car and braking my brothers neck.

Within four hours he was in surgery.

Within five hours we were being told that it is likely that he  may not breath on his own ever again. He will never walk again. He will be quadriplegic.

Within seconds, everything that he once knew was taken away. Without a say, without him being at fault.

At first I didn’t hear the negative. I heard the part about “the small chance he may get movement back.” But slowly the negative thoughts sink into your brain as you see him laying there, completely motionless, not able to even move the build-up of saliva out of his throat.

Perspective.

The smallest of improvements, things that we take for granted every day, become the most joy-filled experiences we have had all month. Something as simple as being able to cough mucus out of his throat. A day without unbearable pain. Or being able to breathe without any assistance, on his own. Something so simple that none of us probably even think about once throughout the day. When everything is taken away, that is when you notice how much you need it.

Priorities change. It was torture to go to work and hear complaints of people around me. I wanted so bad to scream, “Your problem is so minimal! Move on! My brother can’t even breathe on his own, let alone move a finger! Be thankful for how SMALL your issue is!!” We didn’t care what that lady was saying about Herman Cain or what Lady Gaga was wearing. I just wanted someone to care; to reach out, and recognize the tragedy of this. The complete un-fairness of itall.

Some people I thought for sure who would be by our side and rush to our aide, failed. Yet people who we literally have never and may never meet provided us with a donation that normally compared to a mortgage payment was minimal or something as small as a prayer sent from across the world, but in this case has meant the world and more to us. Friends and family that we have not seen or heard from for years stepped us and heard our hearts.

Thank you.

I look at people in wheelchairs completely differently now. Sadly, mostly because my own fear that myself or one of my loved ones may end up in one, I felt uncomfortable around people with disabilities. After this month, I feel a connection on another level with these people and their care takers. Unfortunately such a life-changing occurrence had to happen for me to get over my insecurities, but you just can’t go through this and not be changed.

But out of this tragedy, this pain, something else has happened. A boy has become a man. A hero. An inspiration. A person who I thought I knew has shown me his real colors; a strength that I just don’t think I would have if the roles were reversed. A person who has given me hope when there might be none. Who has made me laugh when he had every right to shut down and not say a word. A family once divided now is brought together by something so much bigger with such large ramifications. Strength and hope. This man has changed and has changed me forever.

This road is a long one. With only a month into this new life, things have happened that were practically promised to us that never would. Many tears have dropped. We have been broken down, built back up, only to be broken down again. But he has changed. We have changed. And I thank the Lord that he is still here. Here to enrich our lives because he is so special. So unbelievably special.

Kaleigh

outside help

18 Oct

I’ve never been great at asking for help.

I’m not really sure where this personality trait came from.

I like to think that it is because I was raised as a strong, independent woman but in reality it is probably because I am stubborn and think that I can only rely on myself most of the time. Don’t get me wrong! I mean I love it when Kyle helps around the house. But lets just say that he hasn’t quite perfected the art of laundry. Like the time he left wet clothes in the washer for four days and the mildew smell just about made me loose my breakfast and want to run out of the apartment.

Regardless of the reason for my independence, this is a matter of fact. Normally I wouldn’t ask someone to go get me a napkin at a restaurant or for my husband to go get me a hot dog on his way home from work at 10 o’clock at night, but pregnancy has allowed me to break out of my self-sufficiency shell and start asking for some help. I don’t feel like it has gotten to the point of taking advantage of people, and I hope it never does, but I do feel like I have taken some pleasure in passing some responsibility to take some self-induced pressure off myself.

During my 14 weeks of pregnancy, I have felt guilty about one thing. I really have not eaten as clean and healthy as I was before we took our trip to California. For a while, nothing sounded good to me. And for a while, all I wanted was french fries and ranch dressing. And throughout this whole 14 weeks, I really have allowed myself to eat whatever sounded good to me at the time, and if that included pizza and candy corn, then so be it. For instance, my breakfast choices have been cereal or almost-plain oatmeal. My lunches and dinner: soup, pre-made salads, mashed potatoes, guacamole and chips, whatever. Nothing spectacular and certainly nothing blog-worthy.

On the other hand, there are a two things about this situation that has made me feel a bit less guilty than I thought I would. It has been nice to eat freely and not obsess about remaining gluten and dairy free. Also, I still have not gained much weight thus far, so this makes me feel that I haven’t over-indulged in potato chips and french fries to the point of insanity or danger.

But the guilt remains that I really have not been fueling my body or our baby very well and I most certainly have not been cooking much at all for my husband. Now that I am getting my appetite back and I am ready for some healthy food again I am sensing that it is time I need to start eating better and get back into the kitchen. The only problem with this is that I have NO culinary creativity currently (see list of meals above). Almost nightly I am texting Kyle to ask him what he thinks I should make for dinner.

Luckily, I’ve been contacted by the VeloPress company to help review their latest cookbook The Feeding Zone by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. This book is very much geared towards athletes. Since finding out our great news, I’ve taken back seat in this area, but my husband is still working hard on his cycling endeavors. Even so, this book is not only for athletes. While thumbing through the pages upon its arrival, I was drawn to the short ingredient lists, minimal prep and cook time and clean, fresh ingredients. Simplicity with a purpose. And truthfully the generous protein servings and nutrient dense ingredients will be perfect for a growing baby. This book makes me feel comfortable with the time and nutrition that it will provide my family.

Tonight we try out Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.

This recipe was really easy. And I will be honest that when I was piling the meat in with the mashed potatoes on top, I thought there would be little flavor, merely because there were so few ingredients. But I was wrong! It was great and very comforting on a chilly fall evening.

This recipe perfectly embodies what I mentioned earlier about there being good, lean protein sources as well as vital nutrients for both a growing baby and a training athlete.

I’m looking forward to more help from this source. I’ve got not problem leaning on chef Biju and doctor Lim for meals because otherwise, we’re back to eating cereal and spaghetti with jar pasta for dinner.

Kaleigh

weekend hunting

6 Oct

We finally had a day off together! We took full advantage of this by going out for a DELICIOUS lunch here, followed by a DELICIOUS dessert here. Most definitely did not disappoint and quite and “one-two punch”!

Afterwards, we partook in a most fervent round of hunting.

Pumpkins as far as the eye can see…

Our spoils…

but not without a few scrapes and prickers.

(paddle shoes may not be the best choice for hunting)

And, just like last time, we wanted to take them all home. But the baby gave us an excuse to take home three.

Kaleigh

the baby chronicles

30 Sep

So yes, big changes are on the way for us.

Are we ready for them? Yes and no.

This baby doesn’t come as much of a surprise as we were not, “not trying” to have one. But still a surprise nonetheless! So far I have had a range of several emotions regarding the welcoming of a new life into this world. I have felt extreme gratitude as I mentioned in the last post. This has been peppered with a small shocks of fear in the realization that this is actually happening. I’ve also been lost in fantastic day dreams in trying to imagine what our baby will look like, to hear their laugh, and snuggling up against their soft chubby cheeks.

12 week bump shot

But being 12 weeks in, I have also felt my share of pregnancy related issues. As it turns out, I was pregnant while we were on our trip to California. While there, I wanted french fries non-stop. This craving hasn’t stopped since, either! I just can not get enough of french fries with ranch dressing! In general I have been craving salty foods, eggs, as well as crunchy chips and fruit juices/lemonade. There was a good 2-3 weeks where I truly lost my appetite. I could not eat anything in the morning at all and I was so nauseous through out the day that the only thing that sounded remotely appealing was soup and fried eggs. I never got to the point of throwing up, but the nausea was strong enough to keep my appetite at bay. I’m having struggles with eating healthily as many things do not sound good to me at all. I will exaggerate on this later and give more insights into what I have been eating.

The first week after getting back from California, I felt great. No differences. Then all of a sudden I lost all energy. It was extremely hard for me to get through an eight hour day. I fell asleep on the couch as soon as I got home from work and I felt like I could easily sleep through the night if I went to bed at 8:30. As of today, I feel my energy slowly coming back to me, but I still feel the need to nap and would love to get 10 hours of sleep per night!

I’ve got the sewing bug and already have desired to start making things for baby. Especially after perusing and purchasing this book! We’ve received our first baby gift from my mother-in-law. The cutest booties ever! We have also been to the thrift store to pick up a few basic onesies that I can’t wait to print designs on.

Baby tube socks!!

According to our scale at home, I have not gained any weight. In fact I lost a couple since arriving home from California. Everything I have read says this is perfectly normal in the first trimester. Although I did have an interesting conversation the other day while at work:

Co-worker: How far along are you?

Me: 11 weeks. Why do you ask?

Co-worker: Are you growing two babies in there?

Me: (laughs, slightly taken aback and embarassed) Ha, the picture only showed one! Although there is a possibility of two is good! In case you weren’t aware, Kyle is a twin! 

SO apparently I am showing already. It’s hard for me to really tell right now, except for the sheer fact that I had to go buy maternity pants a few days ago. I’ve already outgrown all but two of my “regular” pants, and even those were becoming less and less comfortable as the days have gone by.

How has Kyle been through all of this? He seems to be experiencing mostly the same emotions as I am. Just yesterday he said that it still does not seem real to him.  And he’s definitely not ready to talk about the birthing process. And quite frankly, I don’t know if I am either. The other day babycenter.com sent me an email about viewing natural birth and a c-section and the thought of watching that did not appeal to me in the least. Granted, I WAS eating lunch… soooo, yeah. Which makes me think, how was I EVER ready to watch this in middle school health class?!

We have another appointment today, so hopefully we will get another shot of our little one!

Kaleigh

changes…

22 Sep

Truth be told, this has been a long and arduous summer. Great things have happened amidst the full schedules that we have been carrying. The bathroom has only been cleaned once all summer and the kitchen has generally remained in a state of disarray since  Memorial day. We’ve bought a few plants and 1 out of 5 lived. Pretty decent. We’ve accumulated more books but not any time to read them. We’ve been on retreats, 14er hikes, softball games and a wonderful vacation.  We flew to beautiful La Jolla, California. We went really cheap and did not get a rental car and got a tiny little room a couple blocks from the beach. But it was all worth it. It was a perfect cap to our busy summer because we walked around town, ate a lot of delicious food and laid on the beach. Perfection. 
We came back rested, refreshed and ready for our daily lives. Actually after this trip things started changing for us immediately.

The name of our blog will be completely wrong in a short amount of time. Our lease is up in November and we have decided that we do not want to to renew. We have outgrown this space with two dogs and we are ready for a change. We’ve begun looking already. So far it has been a frustrating ride, but we are trying to be patient through the whole process. Because that is what they tell you on My First Place and House Hunters, right?

And secondly, we are not actually getting another dog because we will be getting more space (although not entirely out of the question). Instead, we are adding another person to our family. The day we got back from our vacation we found out that we will be having a baby!!Here are our reactions immediately following. We have been excited, scared and shocked since finding out. But personally I have felt gratitude more than anything. I feel so blessed that God has chosen me to carry this gift and chosen us to be parents! Food choices and energy levels have been… interesting, to say the least, but I plan to keep you updated on everything. So far it doesn’t seem completely real, but slowly it is starting to hit us. For instance, I had to go buy maternity pants this morning!

Until next time,

Kaleigh

life without cable

30 Aug

We haven’t had cable for about six months now.

I know, totally insane, right? That’s so un-American!

But truth be told, I would have been completely ok without it from the first day we moved into our apartment. We did have it for several months and at least for me, there was so much time that was eaten up by HGTV or sitcom marathons. When deciding to rid ourselves, it was more of a monetary issue rather than a moral issue (they raised our monthly bill out the wazoo) but it turns out that this has been quite beneficial in so many ways. I used to think, “I wish I could read more but I have no time!” The real fact of the matter is that I’ve always had plenty of time but instead of using that time to read, I chose to drift away into the sweet sounds of Kevin James yelling at Jerry Stiller on King Of Queens. I love to read and now I feel like I have the freedom to delve into a book.

We’ve also taken advantage of the stock pile of movies we’ve accumulated over the years. With cable, we never watched them and they were just gathering dust in the corner. Now, if we get an itch to watch something, we pull out a dvd or are enlightened by Dr. Gregory House or chuckling at Kramer.

It has also given us a chance for Kyle and I to connect even more so. We take the dogs for walks, make dinner, go out to dinner, chat more than usual…that is when we actually have an evening together!

Finally, not being all “wired up” has freed my mind to be creative again, rather than staring at the boob tube. I’ve had the desire to start making crafty things again and coming up with exciting new recipes. Finally there’s space in there to conjure up bravery and foresight to make wonderful gems such as these…

Fudgy Brownies (gluten free, sugar free)

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 T butter, or Earth Balance
  • 4 T cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 c agave nectar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 c gluten free flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill baking mix)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay parchment or foil down into a 8X8 baking dish. It’s best to cut a large piece in half (hot dog style) and then make a cross while laying it in the pan. This will create handles which will make it nice and easy to pull the brownies out of the pan.

Pour about a cup of water into a small to medium saucepan to start a double-boiler to melt the chocolate. Add chocolate and butter to a mixing bowl (preferably pyrex or glass, no plastic!). Place mixing bowl on top of the saucepan and bring the water to a gentle boil. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in flour until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and wiggle around to get the batter even.

Bake for 36 minutes or until when pierced with a toothpick, small sticky crumbs stick to the toothpick. Cool on a wire rack… but it seems that the best textures coming on these bad boys are actually right out of the oven, or when they have set in a tupperware for about a day. They are nice and warm right out of the oven and if you wait, they get even more silky and delicious after a day or so.

It took Kyle a lot of convincing to purge the cable and if you ask him today how he feels about it, especially with the recent Tour, he probably would still have a twinge of bitterness about it. We may not have seen who scored the touch down or the wacky grandmas that perform on America’s Got Talent, but at least I have an extra $80 a month to make this chocolatey goodness to keep Kyle’s bitterness to a minimum.

Kaleigh

pushing the limits

15 Aug

Have you ever taken a Myer’s-Briggs personality test? I’ve taken the test twice. Once in a communication class in college and the second time was in premarital counseling. The second time I took it, my “type code” was “INFJ”. As far as how I view myself, I would agree completely with this result. These letters stand for Introversion, iNtuiting, Feeling and Judging. According to the report on my particular “judging” characteristic:

“To others, I seem to prefer a planned or orderly way of life, like to have things settled and organized, feel more comfortable when decisions are made, and like to bring life under control as much as possible.”

And for the majority of the time, I would completely agree with this statement about myself. I like things to be organized and for things to go as they were planned. This is not to say that I don’t like surprises, but I prefer that things work out as they should. I don’t like decisions to be hanging in limbo forever. I like to solve problems creatively but I get the task done as it should be. Unless I feel really passionate about a certain something, I usually keep my opinion to myself and try not to rock the boat. This may also be because I avoid confrontation like the plague, but I digress. This is all is true for about 90% of the time, but there are a select few things that “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” For these particular things, I don’t even think twice about pushing the limits and hop-skip-jumping over the boundaries.

One of these being the suggested “expired” dates on food.  Suggested, being the key word. Having worked in a grocery store the dates are merely suggestions, believe me. I mean a probiotic won’t kill you one day after the date listed, I promise. And neither will milk. When I used to drink it, I would always drink it after the out of date code. I can think of maybe one time where I kind of wanted to throw up afterwards because it truly was soured. If there is a big piece of mold on some food like bread or cheese, I’ll cut around it. No problem there. When I open a semi-old jar of salsa, applesauce, etc. and find a furry little friend on the top… I’m not going to lie, I completely ignore it and dig in (by strategically pouring or scooping around the little furry guy of course). It doesn’t bother me at all, especially if I really  need that tablespoon of pumpkin to make some cupcakes. If a banana is too mushy to even be peeled, who gives?! Its’ going in my smoothie one way or another. My husband on the other hand…is probably going to have a heart attack when he reads this.

I also really push my car to the limits. I’ve given her a name, Honcha, but besides the doting “pet-name” I’m truly not a good car-owner. This is semi-alright because I rarely use it anymore. But when I do, I will wait until I start sweating from nervousness because I’ve gone 20 miles with the “check gauge” light on and my gas meter line is about to break off before I will pull off at a gas station. I do remember an occasion where I had a couple nails in my tire and it slowly would leak. I didn’t have the cash to buy a new tire, so I kept making stops at my local gas station to fill it up. I am also pretty sure I just went half a year without getting an oil change, let alone adding more engine oil (if my dad were to read this, he would be shaking his head in disgrace, as many of you are… I still remember the first time I ever ran out of gas and he had to bring some to me. He was so mad and lectured me on how I am going to ruin my engine if I continue to do this. Clearly I didn’t follow through with that one because I still wait to the last possible nano-second before I fill up. I’ve also ran out of gas on another occasion, on the way back home from buying my wedding dress; he wasn’t the one I called that time). I push her hard, and luckily this one hasn’t bitten me in the butt, yet.

I also love to push myself when I am working out. I am just like anyone else wherein it takes a lot of encouraging self-talk to actually get me out there and doing it, but when I finally do, I never want to stop. I love feeling the strain in my muscles and the burn in my lungs. I love the euphoria it creates and the extreme sense of accomplishment that comes afterwards. If I didn’t have to work full time or have any other passions in life, I feel as though I would hardly ever leave the gym and may be on the verge of body-building stature.

And occasionally I can borrow elements from a few different confections and push them to the limits to make something other-wordly…

Chocolate-Raspberry Chilled Pie- gluten free, vegan

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2/3 c gluten-free flour mix (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/3 c old-fashioned oats (gluten free)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c Earth Balance (I use the soy-free kind)

Filling:

  • 2/3 c raw cashews
  • 2/3 c fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c agave
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Place the cashews in a small bowl or coffee mug. Add enough water to cover the nuts. Place in your refrigerator and let soak for four hours or up to over night.
To make the crust:
Because it has been so hot here lately, my earth balance starts melting immediately coming out of the fridge. It should be cool so I measure it out in a small bowl and put it in the freezer until I am ready to add it.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
I used a removable bottom tart pan, but you could also use a regular pie pan and you should not need to spray it with cooking oil.
In a large bowl or bowl of electric mixer, mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt and nuts until well combined. Quickly chop the earth balance into 12 pieces and with the mixer on low speed, add them to the bowl. Let this go until the mixture looks like wet sand, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into baking pan and level out the bottom while pushing some of the mixture up the sides to make a crust, like so…

Bake crust for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. If the crust puffs up too much, while the it is still warm, carefully push down the bottom a little to make room for the filling. Let crust cool to room temperature.

For the filling:

Pull your cashews out of the fridge and drain. Place in a high speed blender along with the raspberries, coconut oil, cocoa powder, agave and salt. Blend until completely smooth. When the crust is completely cooled down, pour the filling into the crust. Shimmy and pick up and drop the pan onto the counter to smooth out the top. Place in the fridge until the filling is completely set.

When you’re there, get ready to indulge!

 

I may need to have many things planned, but I wasn’t planning on this being so good that to get every last drop of the filling out of the Vita-mix, I would be covered up to my elbows in chocolate!

So while you’re making your own pie, I’ll just be eating expired refried beans while trying to bring order to our credit card situation and dreaming about our completely gobbled up chocolate pie!

Kaleigh

 

 

 

succulent!

30 Jul

A friend of ours was house-sitting/dog-sitting/crazy-cat-sitting for another pair of friends. It sounds extremely vague, I know but go with me here. Anyways we visited the “sitter” at the “sit-ees” lovely house. It was small and an older residence. It felt ridiculously cozy with over-sized, dream-inducing couches but without feeling cramped. I immediately swooned over this house and wished so hard that we had something like it. But the one specific thing that really jumped out at me about this house was all the plants this couple had! It was exotic without being a jungle and it inspired me to imitate this humble home. 

Truth be told, I haven’t had a great relationship with plants and flowers. Last summer I tried having a small patio garden and failed miserably. The only thing that survived through summer and surprisingly winter, was my rosemary plant and it just recently gave up. Kyle once bought me a beautiful orchid a while back. It held up for a while but then the flowers dropped off and never re-bloomed.

But I want more life flowing through our little space before we have to leave; I mean a different kind of life than the two crazy dogs that already give enough vibrancy to this 850 sq. feet.

Ever since we went to Del Mar, California for our honeymoon I have fallen head over heels for succulents. They were everywhere out there. I had no idea there were so many variations and different shapes! To me they are just friendlier cacti and they really bring such joy to me. I did have a succulent about a year and a half ago, that keeled over so I need to do a little more research on the care of these beauties because when I let these plants die, I really take it to heart. It’s crushing, and the way things have been going these days, I just can’t take another heartbreak.

I’ve also bought another house plant and I hope to have our collection grow more because truthfully I would prefer to have a jungle. I don’t want to dive too deep though, because if I kill a couple, it’s much better than 20. I desire to be a master-gardner some day. Hopefully we will have yard at some point with beauty abounding. But for now I hope to love and care for the little guys we’ve got so far.

If you have any tips on care of plants, I welcome them with open arms. Please share! If not for me, then for the little green guys!

Kaleigh

ease back in…

19 Jul

Hello friends!

It’s been a while!

It’s been a busy summer! So far, I’ve…

…helped coach a softball team.

…stayed up  all night  (all but 45 minutes), with a bunch of middle schoolers dressed up in a super hero costume.

…planned a vacation, and am anxiously awaiting to take it.

…celebrated two years of wonderful marriage to an amazing man.

…watch crazy lightening and thunderstorms on our balcony.

…thrown my husband a birthday celebration.

…been training for my first ever race, a 5k!

…tried to grasp and manage my new position at work.

…tried to stay as gluten, dairy, corn and soy free as possible.

It has been so busy and there have been so many things that I wish that I could have done (go to a few weddings, go to camp with our youth group, went to graduation celebrations, etc) but I’ve done what I can and that’s all I can do.

Amongst all this busy-ness, I’ve had hardly any time to tackle my reading list. So I thought to ease back into “blogging it up”, I would review a book that I started and finished quite some time ago.

A Homemade Life

by Molly Wizenberg.

I truly loved this book! It was like reading a blog but without having to wait for pages and photos to load. I loved that I could zoom right through this baby and I truly love the way Molly writes. It’s simple, clean and completely entertaining.

Molly tells of her life, bouncing around from childhood to present. Not only does she have great humor in her writing but it is accompanied by family, friends and personal recipes that have come right out of her own experiences. She openly speaks of moments of embarassment, pride, devastation and happiness, all rolled up in to her words and recipes. Reading this book makes not only makes me want to get in the kitchen and create my own family recipes but also encourages me to be a better writer. I can’t wait to try some of her decadent but simple recipes too! I loved this “diary” (of sorts) and hope to read her next! I highly recommend this book, especially if you have a love for food and living a full life!

So there you have it. An ease back onto the blog-wagon.

Peace be with you…

Kaleigh

Driving: Part 1

11 Jun

Why does no one know how to drive?  Out of the millions of people who get behind the wheel everyday, only about 10% actually know how to drive.  It is a mystery to me how this can be true.  Driving to and from Denver almost everyday I have intimate knowledge of the abilities of Colorado drivers and I am not impressed.  I don’t think I am asking for anything special here, just to obey the traffic rules that you agree to when you get your license.  Remember you took a test? It asked questions about turn signals, red lights and what the speed limit signs actually mean? Well in case you don’t remember consider this a public service announcement.  I am going to take it upon myself to educate those of you that don’t know how to drive on a few essentials, thank me later.

Ok so part 1 is going to be focused on merging. This is one of the biggest causes of traffic jams in the history of the world and yet is one of the easiest skills to master.  To aid in my instruction I will be providing pictures for all the visual learners out there.

In this first picture we have two distinct lanes of traffic.  The lane on the right is attempting to merge into the lane on the left, much like a on ramp onto a highway.  In this picture the Imperial Guard (In red on the white horse) is the first car in line and he is looking to get behind the astronaut on the white horse and in front of the Ninja and Stormtrooper combo in the car.  The first step in this process is to look to see if you actually have a gap that you may be able to fit your vehicle into.  Now this maneuver also requires the Ninja in the car to be an actual human being and realize that merging is a team effort and that letting one person in front of them isn’t going to make much difference.  The proper merge is where everyone in the left lane lets one car/horse in, alternating between the two lanes, much like a zipper so you have a nice and smooth transition.

In this picture what I mentioned above is happening.  The Ninja is letting the Imperial Guard and his horse in front of him, letting a gap open that allows the guard to merge into the left lane.  Well done.  Notice how the dude on the brown horse in the right lane is not jamming himself into the opening made for the Imperial Guard instead he is waiting his turn to merge behind the Ninja.

The last essential part of this interaction is the hand wave.  Especially in the real world where no one wants to acknowledge that anyone else exists on the road, when another driver does let you in give them a little wave of thanks.  It is like a secret sign between two people who actually know how to drive.  A sign of solidarity between you and others who know the rules.

So that’s it.  That’s the basics of merging.  Pretty easy eh? And yet it is rarely seen in the real world.  Just remember that merging is just the first step.  Once you are in the left lane you are expected to follow the same merging rules and let someone in if they need to get over.  I’ll leave you with a few no-nos in regards to merging.  Stay tuned for the next post where we will tackle another simple driving skill.

No-NO’s of Merging

1. If the on ramp goes on for a while you don’t need to stop right at the beginning of the lane to merge, instead drive down the lane for a ways and look for an opening.

2. Also don’t be the tool that speeds way up to get to where the merging lane ends and butt your way into the left lane.  Even if you have a huge truck that sounds really manly.  Honestly you aren’t fooling anyone.

3. Don’t act like you have blinders on.  Just because you don’t look at the drivers attempting to merge doesn’t mean they aren’t actually there.  They are, and you just need to follow the rules outlined above.

4. Don’t force yourself into a gap that isn’t there.  If the other guy/girl/storm trooper won’t let you in wait for an actual decent human being to come along to let you in.  Jamming yourself into a 1 ft opening is actually doing more damage than waiting.

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