Take a seat, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s one of those stories where everything goes wrong before it goes right – the kind of tale that, in a movie, makes you want to cover your eyes and just watch through the cracks between your fingers. Only this is the story of my life last week.

A week ago Saturday we were driving 55mph down the freeway in our small SUV (Honda CR-V fist bump), packed with children and an out-of-town guest, on our way home from a family function when the engine failed. Wouldn’t restart, didn’t even turn over, just died. DanO coasted to an off-ramp and came to a stop safely out of traffic. We unloaded, called my long-suffering and ever-helpful in-laws for a ride home, and had the tow truck bring the car to our house so Dan could take a look at it. Every third conversation we have is about him trying to save money by doing it himself and me begging him to pay someone to do it. But that’s neither here nor there.


Our other car: DanO drives an old Volvo sedan from our house to his office 1.5 miles away and home again. It’s seen better days, that’s for sure, and somewhere along its 210,000 miles, it got a mismatched color hood. We like to pretend it’s a custom paint job. Back in August, the Volvo had some major engine failure issues so, again with the doing it himself and saving money, it sat infront of our garage for months while DanO tried different things and we lived a one-car lifestyle. About 2 weeks ago, he found the solution and got his car up and running again with one glaring exception: 3 months of sitting undriven in the driveway killed the battery and it wouldn’t hold a charge. SO. To drive it to work and back everyday, DanO had to plug it into this mobile jumping thing (like this) to start it.

Get up at 6am. Jump his car. Drive to work. Finish work. Jump his car. Drive home.

Of course, the solution to this would be to get a new battery, but we hadn’t gotten around to it in the 2 weeks that it had been operational (as fun as it sounds to bring the boys to Walmart and wander around for an hour). But when the CR-V died and the Volvo became our only car, I was all: Honey. I refuse to jump the car in the grocery store parking lot in order to get home.

Monday we dropped the boys off with my in-laws (<— I love them) and went to Walmart to replace the battery. It felt like we were just going to coast through being a one car  family again – only a smaller, harder-to-get-two-kids-into car. This time last year, we got serious about our finances, specifically living debt-free, and we were faithfully saving up for a new car because it had been on the horizon for a while. But we weren’t done saving yet, so we were going to make do with what we had in the most stubborn, Scandinavian way we could.

The morning after taking the battery in, I took the boys to my MOPS group a few towns away in our cozy little Volvo. After the meeting, when I went to start it to leave the church, and it wouldn’t start. It wasn’t the battery; the engine turned over but it died when I tried to drive. My body went into fight or flight mode, and to my credit, it chose fight. I jumped out of the car and literally ran after my friend’s mini-van as she was starting to drive away (we were the last two moms to leave after cleaning up). After a frantic call to DanO to explain the situation, we switched all the carseats and children and things (my word the things!) into her van and she drove me home as I called the tow truck to get the Volvo and again, bring it to our house so DanO could try his hand at it.

Now, I’m not really good with numbers, but at this point it occurred to me that I had two fully dead cars sitting on my property and exactly zero running vehicles. Thankfully, I was still in adrenalined fight mode, and hadn’t shed a tear.


When DanO got home from work, he tried a couple of things on the Volvo but it was quickly clear that he didn’t know what the problem was. I was given the go-ahead to call and reserve a rental company to come pick us up and take us to get a rental car, and also to call AAA back and have them tow the CR-V to an auto shop because we realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. We needed to pay someone to fix at least one of the cars and that was that.

Quick intermission to plug AAA membership if you drive well-loved cars like we do. Friends, we towed cars three times in four days. I don’t even want to begin to think about how much that would have been out of pocket for us. ::shudder:: Instead? It was $60 for our membership and no additional costs. Amen and amen.

I got on the line with my besties over at AAA, had them send a truck out for the CR-V, and started to reserve a rental car through them because they have a really great discount rate. It was mass chaos in my house – DanO outside still trying to resurrect the Volvo, both boys running rampant while I was on the phone, and at one point the 3 year old was outside on a 38 degree day without shoes on. It was just a wee bit more than I would have liked to have been handling at the moment.

Which is probably why, when they told me that all 4 Hertz locations within ‘pick-up radius’ from us were sold out of cars, I collapsed into a sobbing heap on my kitchen floor.

Out. Of. Cars.

Are you covering your eyes and only watching through the cracks yet?

They were out of cars on a random Tuesday in November. Of course they were.

A little bit more of a back story here: Alongside our new car fund, DanO has been saving to get himself a new computer for a while. He almost has enough, and would probably get the rest in Apple gift cards at Christmas since that’s what he asked for. The morning of this very same random Tuesday when our Volvo died and Hertz was fresh out of rental cars, I got a text during my moms group that his work is buying him a new macbook pro (nicer than he’d have bought himself) and he would be his for personal use as well. I was elated for him, plus we suddenly had a good amount more in our car fund.

Back to 3pm, we have two dead cars both sitting at our house to be worked on, no rental cars, and not quite enough money to buy the kind of car we want (one new enough that we wouldn’t be in this crappy, dead car position again in 3 years), O and I’m crying in a puddle on the kitchen floor. Me crying has this awesome effect on my husband: it turns him into a super hero. He texts our babysitter and schedules her to come at 5:00pm. He calls my in-laws and asks if they can pick us up and let us borrow a car for the evening. He looks up mini-vans at dealerships near us. He decides that it is worth it to finance the remaining money between what we have and what we want to pay. Friends, that last one is no small miracle.

All those things happened that night: babysitting, borrowed car, walked onto dealership (ok, three dealerships) told them which cars we wanted to test-drive (based on their online inventory) and then we handed them our cash and bought a freaking mini-van just exactly like it needed to because 1. Dan had his laptop covered by someone else 2. the lack of rental car was the last straw that made him realize what needed to happen.


{signing all the things}

In retrospect, I praise God for the seemingly random lack of rental cars and I think it was no coincidence that it was that very morning that his work told him about the laptop. Yes, we took out a loan. It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t how we wanted it to be, and it wasn’t how we were planning on it working out. But it all came together after a few tears were shed.

And now mama has automatic sliding doors. Hecks yea.


{Friends and readers, meet Holly the Honda Odyssey. Holly, friends and readers.}


Our plan is to pay to fix the CR-V and sell it. Jury is still out on the blessed Volvo.

Another notable aspect of this whole thing: we now have a car with ample space for more than two babies. Discuss.

35 Responses to “carmageddon”

    • Chanell

      Uteri. Literally made me snort…almost lost a mouthful of coffee. I think I love you.

  1. Caswy

    Yeah we have an Expedition which seats eight….all I can think about is filling those seats! ;) Number three for us?

  2. Tiffany @MomNom

    If I were a betting woman, I would have your pregnancy announcement coming by February at the LATEST. I know too many people who procreated after car space issues were solved. TOO MANY.

  3. Rachel @ The House of Burks


    Seriously, when you see me driving a minivan, you’ll know it’s because # 3 is on the way. That is the only thing that could get me out of my beloved {and paid for} Chrysler 300. As we are also committed to continuing to live debt free, I’m hoping we’ll have saved enough to pay for it outright, or at least put a sizable down payment on it.

  4. Kelly @ Love Well

    It’s amazing how automatic sliding doors can overcome Scandinavian stubbornness. (That is the exact point when I started laughing out loud, by the way, startling the elderly gentlemen sitting across from me at the community center.)

    I love this. I love you. I am so glad for God’s provision. (Sorry. I know it’s cliche, but I can’t think of another word.) Go minivan! Pack that sucker full!

  5. Dawn S

    So glad you have one reliable vehicle to take that stress away!!

    I’ve always had that conundrum with DRamsey plans…what if you don’t have enough saved yet and HAVE to spend money? An emergency like car replacement, hospital stay, flight for a family funeral, etc. You did it with your heart in the right place and plans moving forward, therefore, it is the right thing to do, I say!!

    And, now I guess you can jump on the babymaking train again!! :) we have 2 yrs to wait to get our minivan (currently also drive a CRV), so though I’m emotionally ready, Baby 3 has to wait. :)

    • AllisonO

      It took a few very dear and wise friends saying ‘DRam can shove it for now, you gotta do what you gotta do’ for me to have peace about it. I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone, but God is sovereign even if you aren’t moving toward being debt free (and saying that now, it sounds silly, but you KNOW it was a hard decision to come to terms with).

  6. Emily H.

    I have been a loyal reader for the past 1-2 years and I loved this post! Hubby and I were in a similar situation when his gas-guzzling pickup started having 100,000+ miles type of problems and we were forced to make a car purchase when we were hoping to be debt-free in 2013. However, the new car is a Prius and the monthly payments are 80% paid for by the lack of trips to the gas station. But O my lord I know what you mean by dead cars in the driveway and wanting to cry! We are huge Honda fans (everyone in my family has Hondas, my dad has the Odyssey) and they all love them! Congrats!

  7. Antonia R.

    So, I was all set to comment about the entirety about the post, but then you mentioned more than two babies and that’s all I can think of now. New little blonde OBabies! Get on it, OMomma and ODan!

  8. Danae

    Word on the tweet is that Kate Middleton also got a minivan. Or is at least preg.

    Glad you got new wheels. I’ve junked two cars at the same time before & it’s not fun living without reliable transportation. See also: don’t buy dodge.

  9. Hannah

    oh you are such a braver woman than I am to bite the minivan bullet! I’m fighting it with all I have in me, but know one is in our probably nearer than farther future…

  10. LoraLynn

    Be careful what you ask for. We bought the minivan, certain that we’d drive it into the ground. The very same month we paid it off? We outgrew it. I’m just sayin’… :-)

  11. Jenny

    What a great story!! We ended up rushing our van purchase because of a surprise (ahem..EMERY) that just wouldn’t fit in our wee CR-V (203,000 miles, fist bump!!) and had to take out a little loan too. It was paid off in 3 months :)

  12. ashley doner

    That’s such a great story. I love the way God so sovereignly times things and gives such loving gifts in the midst of frustration/pain/etc etc.

  13. Kim

    I love my Honda Odessy as well. And I have 3 children. The last 2 just 15 months apart. And they fit perfectly in the van, with room to spare for various needed baby items. Just sayin’. . .

  14. Kasey M.

    We’re doing the new car thing too. HB’s car died quite unexpectedly two weeks ago and we’ve been borrowing a car from my parents (thank goodness they have a utility vehicle) and looking for a replacement. At first we thought we’d get something used but relatively new. However, everyone who lost a car during Sandy seems to have had the same idea and the car inventory in this area (and PA, and Delaware) is slim pick’ens and pricey!


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