Thursday, May 30, 2013

Childus Maximus

People, we finally did it.  We officially entered Big Family territory and got ourselves a big van.   A really big van.  Cavernous, actually.

You know it's big when a 5'9" woman can stand up in the driver's seat and make her way to the back row without having to exit the vehicle.  I think this van might be larger than our second home on MCAS Cherry Point.  (That's base housing, in case you are not up on military acronyms.)

We've been on the lookout for a new-to-us "tran" (truck + van= tran, according to Fiver) for some time,  since it has been six months since we've all ridden around in the same vehicle together.  We'd been making the 2-car, 1-family situation work, but we knew it wasn't great for the long term.  We weren't being picky, but we were not rushing around either.

But, as usually happens in our family, some sort of problem comes along that acts as the catalyst for a complete change in plans.  In this case, enter one completely crapped out transmission.

We had been driving two Honda Odysseys.  One was a 2011, 8 passenger van that was the family car.  Up until we had Septimus it was the perfect vehicle.  After Septimus, it was still great, it just needed one more seat.  

This van was my favorite car we've ever owned and I loved driving it.  It was the showroom model, so it was technically a used car, but it was so gently used it could have passed for brand new.  

It had a moon roof, leather seats (that heated), satellite radio, and it handled  so smoothly and silkily, it didn't feel like I was driving a van at all.  Until I looked in the rear view mirror and couldn't see out the back for all the heads in the way.   

Anyway, you get the picture.  Me + '11 Odyssey 4-eva. 

Our other car, which Rob drives, is also an Odyssey.  It was the first minivan we owned, it was paid off, and it was still going strong.  Until last week, when the check engine light came on and it started doing weird revving while changing gears, accompanied by a general ominous feeling while driving it.

Rob was pretty sure it was the transmission, but he was hoping he was completely wrong.  I don't know if you know this, but my husband is like never wrong.  It's kind of annoying, but it's true.

So, want to guess what was wrong with the van?  The transmission, you say?  To the tune of $5000.00, once they also replaced the engine mounts?  

Five thousaaaaand dollars.  Ouch.  Actually, beyond ouch. 

So we needed to make some quick decisions.  Do we fix the transmission?  Do we just junk the old van and get as much as we can for it? Do we trade it in? Will we get two nickels for it?  Do we trade in my sweet ride?

After talking to friends and family with giant vans and after looking around on the internet for any deals, we came to the conclusion that it made the most financial sense to fix the transmission in the old van (gulp) and trade in my van (double gulp) for a used 15 passenger van we found at a nearby dealership.

We went with the 15 passenger because we could remove the last row and make a large cargo area while still having plenty of room to fit the brood.  Plus, we found a good deal on a 2012 15 passenger with low miles.  

We decided to trade in my van because it had still retained a lot of its value, and when it was all said and done, we got as close to an even trade for the vehicles as we could.  We still owe a little money on the new van, but we'd never have gotten such a great deal if we didn't have the other van to trade for it.

The old van went in today for the new transmission.  We are using every red cent of the money we saved for a home improvement project and money we saved towards a new bed frame for our bed, since our foot board is disintegrating and keeps falling right off at random times.  So I guess it's good that we have the money, but still . . .  choices, you know?

To top it off, they gave Rob a 2013 Accord with less than 4,000 miles as his loaner car today.  Just to rub a little salt in that wound before he goes back to his old van with the very new transmission.

Of course, it's not nearly as bad as I make it seem. I'm whining.  They're just cars, after all, and things happen for a reason.  The kids love the new van and Francie is the one who calls it "Childus Maximus." 

Meanwhile, I have been practicing around town in my new ride and it is not as intimidating as I thought.  It is definitely big, and it drives like a truck, but it's not unmanageable.  I miss the smooth ride of the van, but I do not miss packing the children in like sardines.  

I'm warming up to the new girl much quicker than I thought I would.

All I need now is a CB radio and cool handle, and I can get out there on the highway with the other truckers.   Pray for me! 

Oh 2011, we hardly new ye.

She's not extra large, she's just big boned.

You know your van is big when it makes your other van
look like its baby sister.   


  1. Ahhhh! Welcome to the club! We have the same Ford E-350 but with 12 passengers. A Honda Odyssey is my dream car (I drive a VW Routan and Phil takes the Beast) .

    And I can just imagine your footboard falling off in the middle of some, hmmm, how does my husband put it, renewing your marital vows.

  2. Nice! I just had a moment similar to this last year when my Explorer died and after my over analysis of vans versus Expedition like SUVs, my hubby says you are getting a van. Get over it. Then proceeded to come home with an Odyssey a few days later. Now I LOVE my V-A-N! There is a woman up the street who is going from 2 to 3 kids and is trading in her SUV for a larger one and I am trying to convince her she NEEDS a van.

    If we need a larger van than the Odyssey I have my heart set on a Sprinter van. My husband thinks I am insane.

  3. We drove one of those on vacation one year. I loved it until I had to cross a really skinny two-lane bridge and there was a truck in the oncoming lane. Gulp. I'm pretty sure I closed my eyes.

    I always wanted a van I could just squirt out with a hose -- start in the front and squirt all the junk out the back doors. ;-)

  4. The picture of the two side by side really puts it in perspective! It sucks when you save up SO much and then have to spend it on something other than what you planned. While you're thankful you have that money, it's still a bummer. Can't wait to hear of all the adventures in your new van!!

  5. We have the 12 passenger. I hate it. And I don't hate things. I should like it...we can take extra kids when we go places...the kids can sit wherever they want... it is terrible (really really bad) on icy roads (we live in MN, hello!!) and I have to park really really far away wherever we go. Oh, I could keep going...but I won't, you understand. $100 bucks to fill that big boned tank.


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