Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just another crazy week in our life

The past week has been so eventful, I don't know where to begin.  This time last week, I was doing web-based work all day, trying to meet a deadline.  I think I worked 13 hours online that day ... and then it suddenly ended.  The deadline was met, the part-time job was over.  I looked around in a bit of a daze, felt a little lost and directionless ... even though a giant pile of laundry needing to be folded and more needing to be washed was staring at me.  Laundry I'd neglected for a week while I worked that part-time job.

I puttered about, not really making much progress on the laundry Wednesday and Thursday.  Then Friday arrived, and Steve had the day off.  It was also our 16th anniversary.  Being 20 weeks pregnant with our 8th child, we are needing a new vehicle for our family.  Our plan for our anniversary was to drive 2 hours away to look at a possible 15 passenger van to buy.  We expected we would buy it, unless something really bad jumped out at us.  We weren't going to drive that far to just look at it.

So, we loaded up most of the kids (the 14 year old who has to ride in the front seat between Steve and I opted to stay home) and headed out.  We tried to tell the kids to be quiet and not talk about buying the van.  Yeah, right.  Of course, the 6 year old was babbling on about buying it and what seat would be his as soon as he got out of the Suburban.  The 4,6, 9, and 10 year olds were all over the rows of seats talking about where they'd want to sit, and explored every inch of its interior.  The 9 year old thought he was being helpful to keep bringing us stuff he found in it ... as if it didn't belong there now that we were buying it ... which we hadn't decided yet.

So Steve and I tried to play it cool and detached despite the kids, and really look the van over.  I noted that the back row seat belts need to be replaced.  One is tearing and the others are mis-matched and not the right size/type for each other.  I also noted that it would be great if the passenger side seatbelts could be replaced with shoulder belts, and the arm rests returned, though I'm not sure how soon either of those will happen.  Steve discovered that it had a transmission fluid leak.  So we talked the seller down to $1300, and headed on our way with Steve driving the van, and me following him in the Suburban.

As we drove home, I noted that the van was leaking transmission fluid every time Steve stopped at a stop sign or light.  It was still driving fine, so we drove on to the next town.  Between those two towns, Steve noticed the transmission starting to slip, so we decided to stop in the next town to get more fluid.  Just 2 miles outside of town, Steve had to stop to cross a larger highway.  He paused in the middle of the intersection before crossing the next lane of traffic, and the van wouldn't move again.  Transmission seized up.

To make a long story short, we had a pickup truck, a semi truck, a mini-van, and a police officer stop to help us.  The police officer used his car to push the van across the busy highway (though we initially called him thinking he'd stop traffic so we could manually push it across.)  We tried to add more transmission fluid, but after 3 trips into town to buy more, we realized that wasn't going to work.  We drove home, with plans to return the next day to tow it home.

Steve and I got home just in time to leave on our dinner date ... the first meal we've eaten alone together since we moved here 2.5 years ago.  Some Pizza Hut pizza at home and strict warnings not to fight with each other seemed to work ... it's so nice to have 2 teen daughters to babysit occasionally.  The kids only called us once while we were gone.

Saturday we got up, called around to see what type of towing options we had available.  Unfortunately, none.  The car dollies weren't big enough for a 1 ton van, and we didn't want to pay $230 to have it towed by someone else.  So we headed back to where the van sat, 50 miles away, with a tow chain.  I drove the Suburban, and Steve steered the van.  Steve says I did a great job, but I don't want to repeat that again.  At one point, he called me to tell me to slow back down to 25-30 mph.  Then he called and told me to top hills at 10 mph since we accelerated to 40-45 going downhill.  Then he called to tell me when the van tugged at me, it was because I was going slower than it (huh?) and I needed to speed up.  So speed up when it tugs, but keep it SLOW?!?  Yeah.  But we made it, and we didn't get pulled over by the police.

We left the van at the mechanic's shop and got home in time for supper.  Sunday I stayed home with 2 boys who were coughing in the night.  1 yo G had been awake, tossing and turning, a lot in the night ... keeping me awake as well.  I spent the afternoon folding that giant pile of laundry, finally.  And washing the dirty laundry.  By Sunday night I had all the laundry washed and folded.  I was even working my way through the basket of wrinkled dress clothes ... not to iron them, but to tumble dry them with a wet towel.  By Monday night, all Steve's dress clothes were unwrinkled and hanging up again.  Victory!

Steve took the keys to the mechanic today and he'll take a look at the transmission, though we fully expect it will need to be replaced.  Looking back, and thinking over what the seller said to us ... we realize he wasn't being honest.  He said he drove it 50 miles (and back) "just the other day" without problem.  But when we left, he told us the tags were old and he didn't need them.   We looked at them the next day before towing them and realized they were expired 1.5 years ago.  He drove it "just the other day", huh?  Yeah, right.  He probably knew the transmission was about to go on it.  I only wish it'd made it home before dying.

But ... we bought each other a van for our anniversary!  Now to find out how much more it's going to cost us.  We named her Beatrice, and are planning to paint her.  She's white, and since Steve's commuter car and our Suburban are also white ... we're tired of white.  LOL!!

Looking on the bright side,



  1. I love how you bought the van without debt. We've always bought old vehicles and just kept working on them to keep them running.

    You are SO brave! I would not have been able to drive a vehicle being towed!

    I hope you keep us updated on the van!

    Was the pizza good? Such a charming family story! I love it!

    Mrs. White

  2. Mrs. White ... I'm so glad you commented. Tax returns come in handy sometimes, and thankfully we do still have money set aside to repair it.

    The children did enjoy their pizza. Steve and I ate at a local BBQ restaurant, which has a nice atmosphere for a date night. I've towed vehicles for Steve before, but usually just a few blocks. I thought about changing places with him a couple times in those 50 miles ... but decided it'd be just as stressful to steer the van as it was to drive it.

    I will definitely keep everyone updated!


  3. Wow, quite a time with the van. Glad you got it home though, and that it all worked out ok. Sounds like you had a nice anniversary, different but nice. :)



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