While we were in Hawaii, my parents stayed in Houston with Ana and Emma, getting them back and forth from school, helping them with their homework, getting them to AWANA, and, you know, making sure they were fed and dressed. (Which is a big task, actually.) Because they were in town, my dad was able to come and pick us up from the airport… in the Sonata. (Cue the doom and gloom music!)
As a bit of background information, we were car-less when we came back from Japan in 2007. We were also poor. (True story.) We had to have a car, obviously, and we knew we couldn’t afford a new one. Thanks to some connections Wes’ dad had in San Antonio, we were able to get a great deal on a used Sonata. We praised God for that car, drove it up to Oklahoma with our tiny babies in the backseat, and got in a wreck our first full day in Duncan. For real. We ended up driving the church van for a while there at the beginning of the pastorate while the other driver’s insurance paid to get our new-to-us used car fixed. We got it back at the very beginning of 2008, and for a very, very long time, we were a one car family.
The Sonata has never given us a day of trouble. (Well, there was that time when the air conditioner stopped working as we were driving across Texas. But we don’t count that.) For a used car, we got more than we paid for, most definitely, and we intended to drive that thing until it fell apart.
That said, once we got to Houston, we quickly realized that with the girls in school, we needed two cars. The Sonata was still in great shape, so we took on payments for a fuel efficient car for Wes, paying it off in half the time it should have taken. Since paying it off, we’ve been putting aside what we would be using for car payments, knowing that the Sonata wouldn’t last forever. The Sonata seemed to sense this and began making odd sounds about six months ago. (How did it know?! It’s a mystery.) Wes and I know nothing about cars, rendering us completely incapable of fixing anything ourselves and making us hesitant to take it in to a mechanic, knowing that we’ll be robbed blind since we’re absolutely ignorant. We told one another we’d ride it out… and began researching new car options.
Our research became reality when my dad, while picking us up from the airport, commented on the strange squeaks. After some discussion about the cost of that particular fix and what we were looking at regarding other fixes on the horizon, Wes and I decided that it was time to trade it in while we could still get something substantial for it. (And before the domino effect began with the repairs!)
My only request regarding the new car was that we get something that could drive through the streets of Pasadena when it rains. If you don’t live here, you don’t know the magic that is Old Pasadena during a heavy rain. Streets flood faster than traffic can move, and the girls’ school gets the worst of it, so much so that we’ve found ourselves stranded in the Kroger parking lot more than once, with Burke underwater and no other way home. Not good. (One time I took the Sonata through standing water, and something got all wet and screeched at me for the next hour. Wes says it was a belt. I think it was the Sonata’s essence melting away. Seriously.) I asked Wes to find something that could handle the weather. He said if we were going all terrain, we might as well really go all terrain and get an SUV. I did him one better and said we should get a Jeep. And because Wes drove a Jeep back in college and has missed it ever since, he was all for that suggestion. (Even when I clarified that it would have to be a four door Jeep with a hard top, not his fun two-seater that never had its canvas top on. The power of the word “Jeep” was strong enough to keep him excited despite these clarifications.)
He called every Jeep dealer in Houston, took our Sonata to CarMax for a fair quote, and began the process of using everyone’s quotes and numbers combined to get the best deal. I’m never more thankful to be married than in situations like this, when Wes does all the haggling and posturing, letting me come in just for the last part, the good part, where I can just sign and get the keys. That’s exactly what happened here, with Wes going so far as to get everything set up and ready to sign so that when I arrived, my car was ready. (Thank you, Wes!)
And wouldn’t you know it? It was pouring rain when I drove it off the lot, giving me and the girls both the blessing of being able to drive in flooded Old Pasadena without worrying about stalling or being stranded. (And we were so excited about it that we intentionally hit every washed out street, cheering and yelling all down Burke as we were spraying water on every tiny car around us, including poor Wes, who was attempting to follow us in his car. In Emma’s words, “We can go ANYWHERE in this Jeep!” Sure feels like it.)
So thankful for a reliable car!