Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Wandering: The Hunt for the HMS Surprise

Additions to a family often equal a new vehicle, so it was only a slight adjustment to our plan in 2009 to switch from looking to replace my Husbands run down junker with an newer sedan to replacing it with a larger vehicle to accommodate the twins who would join us soon.  We were in no way ready to make the leap to a mini-van so we started researching cars that could easily fit two car seats as well as the extra large equipment that comes with twin life (predominantly the double stroller).
It didn't take us long to settle and fall in love with the Mazda Five.  Named a 'best kept secret' of the car world and with insanely high reviews on consumer reports, we went out to procure the vehicle we hoped would be a member of our family for years to come.  If you aren't familiar with this micro van, you should check it out.|21354|mazda%20five||S|e|8291078632 (nope, not a spokes person - just seriously loved this car!!!)  Sliding doors that make it so simple for getting heavy infant carseats in and out, fold down rear seats for extra cargo space, and that 'Zoom-Zoom' pep that made it a fun car to drive.

But alas, baby number three threw off our plan to keep this car for the forseeable future and back to the drawing board we went.  We knew that our key ingredient to picking a larger vehicle was being able to put all the kids in one row.  While there are one or two SUV's that allow this, I had settled in to the fact that I was going to be a minivan mama (Oh THE HORROR!!!!) - seriously though, a sliding door is the most amazing thing in the world when dealing with carseats, THREE CARSEATS!!!  Our discovery led us to the knowledge that there are only TWO minivans that allow for three carseats across the middle:  The Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.  Both are popular cars, so we figured - nay, assumed, 'no problem' we'll find a good deal on a used one and be in minivan heaven in no time.

Well, you know what they say about Ass u me-ing ... sigh.  Turns out that in order to fit our two convertible seats and the baby's infant seat  all in one row there are a few factors that lessen the field.  Toyota remodeled the Sienna in 2010, making the whole vehicle more streamline and impossible to fit three across ;op  So you have to find a 2009 eight passenger which just seems not to exist.  With the Honda, they remodeled in 2011 adding a fancy lever to the middle row captains chairs that alowes you to move the seats about 2 inches out towards the door.  That 4 extra inches of space is the difference between seats fitting and NO WAY IN THIS UNIVERSE!  So you have the white whale of vehicles and a practically new Honda which = more than our bank account.

(*You may at this point be scratching you head thinking -ummm Suzanne, your baby is 3 months old and you told us you took them out of the house - how are you just now telling us about your van???)
Here's the thing, we are surrounded by the most amazing and loving friends ever!!!  One of our family friends just recently purchased an Odyssey but were going to Portland for the summer and were unable to take the vehicle with them - so the GAVE it to us from May-July.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!?  So, we had a ticking timeline, but at least an extension past baby girl's arrival.

Do you want to know how much time in your day you can waste searching for cars on the internet?  HOURS, hours every day searching for the impossible, the improbable, the imaginary?  Our budget grew week by week until we realized that we would have to dip into my business account to make this purchase (yep, we buy our cars outright... cash down, no payments - it is how my daddy taught me.)  It didn't help that we have only tiny dealerships in town and the closest big ones are about 2-3 hours away.

We searched through May, we searched through June, we got to July and my nails were down to nubs and my hair was significantly thinner.  I could see the writing on the wall - our friends were coming back and we weren't going to find a car and we would have to take two cars to go as a family anywhere - AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Finally we noticed something - prices on Hondas were starting to drop.  Used 2011's were starting to show up at dealerships.  Oh, God - you have a funny sense of timing.  We called in our unfettered with children friends and begged them to watch the boys while we went gallivanting off to capture our beast, ummm vehicle.

You may not know me that well, but something you should know - I get car sickness easily, quickly, and badly.  So off we go on a Saturday morning (should I mention this was the hottest day of the summer to date?) 2 hours to hopefully procure our dream car.  After 4 HOURS at the dealership, we left with no car and my stomach doing flip flops.  I hoped that I just needed food and we headed to the Wendy's up the road.  I smelled the fried food and blanched.  But still I thought - 'I just need to get something down and then I can sleep in the car and we'll be fine'.  I sipped on some tea and tried to eat some fries.  Not a good idea.  I knew I was in bad shape but told Hubs that we just needed to head for home as quickly as possible.  Not 10 minutes down the highway I knew my battle was lost. (*note we had cleaned out the car expecting to trade it in - so there was not a bag in sight).  There was no time for pulling over or even warning hubs what was about to come.  I barely got the window down, head, out and lost it succinctly going 60 mph.  Ohhhhhhh how I wish I had a picture of the truck driver's face that was following behind us, poor man.  Turns out I either had food poisoning or a stomach bug... the next 24 hours were not pleasant.

So attempt one: Brutal Failure.  Nails: Nonexistent, Hair: Balding

At this point we had one more shot.  The following weekend.  That was it, after that our time would be up.  Miraculously we found a dealer with THREE 2011's on the lot.  Into the car we go.  Luckily this was a nice overcast day and my stomach felt back to it's normal 'slightly queasy in the car' self.
After two hours of negotiations, we were still slightly off of our target price and decided to get lunch to think things over.  The van we had settled on was perfect - low mileage, gorgeously maintained, good color, and came with an extended certified warranty (which is WAY better than the factory warranty on a new model). I'm a stickler about money - a bit of a Scrooge some might say, and I was stuck on the price. Finally hubs looked at me and said, 'Hon, its just the Time's Out Tax'.  It was true, we were out of time, out of options, and still getting an overall good deal on a vehicle.
We left about a hour later after handing over gobbs of money and signing paperwork until out fingers felt numb with the HMS Suprise.

She is gorgeous, she is a boat, and hubs named her because our surprise led to the purchase of The Surprise.  (and he loves his baby girl very much)

all three carseats in ONE row!!!  The middle seat also slides forward so that we can have easier access to baby girl when needed.

button on the sliding door to open/close the door - and the doors have a sensor so you can't pinch fingers!

MY FAVORITE THING - I see all three babies at once, you can also store a pair of sunglasses behind the mirror. (why is this not installed in every car?????)

from the front seat I can open and close both sliding doors - makes life so much easier when I am on my own

Did I mention she is a BOAT - as in HUGE!!!  Can't even get her whole body into one picture. But I sure do love those dual sliding doors.

All right HONDA, we are ready to be in your next commercial!!! (oh how I wish!)

How do you buy cars and what was your favorite car name???

The HMS Surprise is the fictional ship in the Aubrey–Maturin series, best know for Master and Commander - Hubs is an avid reader and storage facility for facts.  It is also a real replica ship in London of an 18th century ship.

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