Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Hey everyone...

Sorry for the silence around here the past few days. It's been mentally draining lately with us having to make some big decisions, and my brain needed a break. Apparently I let it rest so much that it decided to let another cold virus enter, and I'm trying to beat that into submission. Yay for kids sharing germs...yet again.

So what decisions did I/we have to make?

My role for VBS:
Last Sunday (the 10th) my mother-in-law approached me in church. She is the director for our VBS (vacation Bible school), and I usually handle all the decorations from planning, designing, making, and installing them all. She asked if I might be willing to design and lead all the crafts for the preschoolers this year, and that I could let her know within a week.

At first, I'm all "YES!" because the past few years of decorations have burned me out, and I was tired of making vines and trees and anything outdoorsy. But I also would have to give up VBS week; Ryan will be going this year, and Pete and I were going to be using those mornings of kid free time to get some house projects done that would go smoother without little hands trying to help. However, doing crafts would be much easier to plan; decorations takes months and all the supplies take over my house. Would giving up several months be worth just one week of mornings without kids be worth it? All last week I was going back and forth as what to choose, and it was really hard for me.

After a very emotional 2+ hour conversation with Pete on Friday (after I had babysat for 14 hours straight...eek!), I decided to stick with decorations. My heart wouldn't let it go; although they're a pain to plan and carry out, I love doing it so much. I'd love to be a crew leader or run the crafts one year, but until I feel completely led to hang up my decorator's hat, I'm going to be crazy decorating lady :)

On that note though, if anyone in the area has big pieces of cardboard, save them for me! I need lots and lots of pieces for this year!

Our van:
We've been planning on replacing our van (aka Iron Man) this upcoming summer and had been saving and saving so we could pay cash for it. Well, last week you may remember I blew a brake line, and Pete drove the van down to a local shop we like to use for emergencies on Thursday and it was fixed Friday. When we picked it up on Saturday, the mechanic told me that it was indeed a brake line, and the rest of the lines looked good. Yay! Everything in the middle of the van looks great, and all the important things also look great for the van's age (she's 10 this year). However, the supporting frame under the doors is rotting out so much that it's very very difficult to put her on the lift to get her in the air. She's still sound to drive, but looking for a replacement should start becoming a priority.

We had already started getting more serious about our search; whenever we start thinking about replacing our vehicles, they start to break; usually it's a bunch of little things followed by something big (all the brakes followed by fuel pump) or just something big unexpectedly (like an engine or transmission). When the brake line went, my radar starts going off that it's time to get something newer, and we started looking harder.

After consulting our experts (my mom and her Consumer Reports magazines as well as my dad, a mechanic for 30+ years) and checking out a few vehicles in person (Subaru Tribeca is waaaaay too small), we basically narrowed down our list to just be the Toyota Siennas. There was one only 20 minutes from our house and then 2 about 45 minutes from the house, but in opposite directions from each other. The one closest had the most miles and the highest price tag, but we figured we'd go check it out Saturday afternoon just to make sure we liked them. Why drive 45 minutes to discover you don't like something when you can drive 20, right?

We arrived at the dealership, and they brought the van up for us. Immediately we said no to that particular van; it was dirty on the inside and one of the AC adapters in the front wasn't securely attached, and when you tried to take the cap off the entire thing pulled out of the dash and had exposed wires. No thank you. We test drove it anyways (Pete did all the driving; why should I drive it if we weren't going to buy it?), and we loved the way it handled and how smooth the ride was. Pete said it was just like driving a car; not bad for it being the biggest minivan around!

We got back to the dealership, told them we weren't interested at that point, but if our other options didn't pan out, we'd be back. Our salesman being a salesman said if it was just price that was affecting our decision, we could definitely talk. We told him of the problems we had, and he was really upset that those hadn't been taken care of already, that those problems would definitely be taken care of. We told him that if they could take care of them, that maybe we would have a deal. He asked if we'd be trading a vehicle in, and we said we had our van, and we looked up a trade in value, and it was about $2000. Actually it was more like $1500-1600, but we wanted to see what we could get. One of the sales guys drove our van, talked to the guy who's in charge of the Sienna's price, and our sales guy came back with our number:

They were willing to give us $3500 for our van as a trade in.

That dropped the Sienna's price from just out of our budget to below $10,000. Definitely doable!

The total price we would pay including taxes and fees was just above $11,000, which meant that we could pay cash and still have more than $1,000 in our emergency savings fund.

So we had our deal: we'd buy the van if they could fix all the problems.


So today I'm cleaning out Iron Man, and we're picking up this girl tonight:

Meet Sherlock!
Yes, we name our vehicles. This is the first non-superhero named vechile we've had in a while; Pete's white Subaru that was totaled last year was Storm, our current van is Iron Man, and Pete's current car, a black Elantra, is Batman. We didn't like any super hero names for the Sienna; names we had tossed around were Gandalf (from Lord of the Rings) and River (as in River Song from Doctor Who). Sherlock was the only one all five of us could agree on!

Pete's job for next year:
Okay, so we haven't made a decision on this for next year, but that's only because we don't know the full plan yet.

What we do know is that at least one of the schools he works at now is thinking about making him a .8 position. Although it would be nice to have him at just one school, a .8 is like the most annoying option. It's somewhere between part time and full time. It's almost full time, so he couldn't work at two schools, but still part time enough that finances would be tight.

The other school would love to make him full time, but we're waiting to hear how that goes.

Once we know what his employment is going to be like for next year, we will then decide if he should go back to school or not. At one school he has a technology position where he helps the teachers integrate more technology into their classrooms. The other school doesn't have any computer classes other than just an introductory class, and there may be an interest in adding more computer classes. Having Pete get a Master's degree in technology would help with job security and would benefit both schools. We just want to make sure he's employed enough to either let us have enough money to pay for the classes or have the school pay for them!

Kid's schooling:
This one isn't really a decision yet, but more of us wondering if we're going to have to make a decision in the next few years to home school. The idea is just floating around our heads right now, but the longer they're in school the more it seems like it may be a real option down the road. It's not because of problems behaviorally or with bullies in school, but more academics and that my kids are bored and need to be challenged more!

How are you all doing? Anything new with you guys?

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