Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Set of Wheels

About 2.5 years ago, when Malachi was just a baby, we totaled our van when a driver pulled out in front of Mitch.  At that time, we didn't all fit in our van anyway.  Mitch and some of the kids were in the van and I was in the car with the rest following them home from church.  Thankfully, everyone was ok (with the exception of some neck/back pain for Mitch).  At that time when we began searching for a vehicle to replace our van, God provided the Suburban.  We guessed (hoped) it wouldn't fit all of us forever.  Sure enough, along came little Tirzah Joy on April 21st, 2009, and we have never all ridden together in the same vehicle since.

We had certainly dreamed of owning a larger vehicle, especially once we added Patrick to our family in August.  But I always knew that God would provide the right van at the right time.  Once we knew we were getting a "good" tax refund this spring, we began actively looking for vans.  There was no pressure--we had been driving two vehicles for the past year and would continue to do so if that was what God had planned.  But full-size passenger vans can be hard to come by.  I started out looking for 12-passenger vans, and after we did some counting (um, there are 10 of us) and realized what a "tight" fit that would be (especially if our family is blessed with another little one sometime in the future), we focused on 15-passenger.  We searched for a couple months.  When a "good" van came up, it was usually gone before we could call.  We had some limited criteria:  had to be in good condition (clean, decent seats), hopefully less than 150K miles, working rear a/c, under $9,000--ideally under $6,000.

One thing that was hard for us looking was to remember all the different models of vans there were out there.  Here are the ones we commonly looked for:  Chevy Express, GMC Savana, Ford Econoline (E-350), Dodge Ram Van.  The Dodge Sprinter did not make our list because the prices, even used, are way out of our price range.  The Ford is bottom on our "like" list, but is the most common to find.  The Express quickly jumped to the top of our "like" list, but were generally more expensive and harder to find (Savana seemed IMPOSSIBLE to find).

It was well worth the wait.  On Thursday I spotted a Chevy Express on Craig's List.  I asked Mitch to email, but I figured it was already gone.  It wasn't, and we drove down close to the Cities on Thursday night to see it.  It was so cool.  We knew it was the right van.  But even more, the family was so INCREDIBLE.  Really, for meeting someone randomly off Craig's List??  They were Christians, and it was evident from the beginning even though they didn't express their faith to us in so many words.  They homeschooled.  They had a little boy whom they adopted internationally.  They had some chickens...and sent us home with 1 dozen fresh eggs--YUM.  The mom of this family wore grace like a fine garment.  I was amazed at the meeting of "strangers."  It was definitely something that God had planned for our family.

Ok, enough chatting and on to pictures of our new ride.

2001 Chevy Express, 15-Passenger, extended wheel base, 125,000 miles, power windows, locks, rear heat & a/c, no frills, good tires, dent on the right rear quarter, $4,900.  And it is no longer available for sale--whoohoo!!

When Mitch and I went down to see it, we took only Caleb with us.  So all the kids were super excited to see the van.  The family drove it up to St. Cloud on Friday where we completed the sale (and they even dropped it off with a full tank of gas--SO kind!!!).  The kids barreled out of the house and overtook the van.  Josh said, "It's so LONG!"  Yeah, we were all excited.

Tirzah is figuring out how to adjust everything.

This picture is terrible, sorry.  Today we rode to church for the FIRST time--all of us together in one vehicle.  The ride there and back was way too short.  :)  Micah and Patrick did buckle up after I took the picture, I promise.  We are still deciding on the best carseat arrangement, and I still need to get Tirzah a new carseat.  What I love about this van, compared to the older model Ford and Dodge, is that the bench seats have a higher back.  Newer versions of Ford have a much higher back, which is a plus, but "newer" means out of our price range.  If you have the option, go with higher seats since they are safer.

A couple other pictures thrown in for fun here:

{Mitch and ALL the kids hanging out on the bed.  Patrick almost jumped in there too, but I think he was afraid he would squish Tirzah.  LOL}

{Below:  Today is Patrick's Dad's birthday.  We made him a cake, skyped with him in Germany, and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  I love skype.  Too bad he couldn't taste the cake, though!}

P.S. We have a 1999 Chevy Suburban for sale, and it is a fantastic vehicle. We will be sad to see it go, but we can't keep it. If you know someone who is interested, pass on the word! :)


  1. Congratulations on the new wheels! We are currently looking for a bigger van but...financially it' sgoing to have to wat. My hope is that we can get one before the baby is born in August, but we might be like you..taking 2 vehicles when all of us have to go. Thanks for the hope! Wishing you many MANY safe and happy miles in your new vehicle.

  2. Plus it has no problems pulling a boat with 11 people

  3. Nice! We've had a Ford E-350 for a little over a year, and I LOVE it!! It's so much easier to drive than I thought it would be, and we've got room for 4 more babies. :)

  4. "(especially if our family is blessed with another little one sometime in the future...hint, hint)"

    Is there an announcement coming in a few weeks/months as it would be a little premature now as you probably just got the BFP? Or am I reading too much into that statement.

    Congrats on the new wheels.

  5. Hmmm, Kelly, I was only teasing. :) There is certainly the possibility of more blessings in our future (and we certainly will host another exchange student)...BUT specifically I'm only right in the middle of my cycle, so it is waaaay to premature to know anything. I'm not even sure I'm ovulating! LOL

  6. Ok, just checking with the way the hint hint went. I know it is always open for more. :-)