Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting Ready = New Car

In anticipation of our future with baby #2, we decided the time had come to purchase a second car.  We've know we wouldn't remain a one-car family forever, and luckily were able to plan for this purchase and save money over the years. Neither of us really enjoy the car buying experience. We did research to try and narrow down the parameters that we "needed" and "wanted". Of course many of the needs turned into wants as we started looking at prices.  Here is a short description of our experience.

When we began shopping for cars, we started at CarMax, where they told us we could walk around and look at any of the cars, but none of them would fit our price range.  We looked inside a few of the small cars to make sure that I could actually fit into them (6'2" is a tight squeeze in some cars). We really liked some of the cars, just not the price range. Next we headed to a Chevrolet dealership to look at a used Chevy Aveo.  We got the usual dealership treatment: the long and slow process to test drive the car while the entire time they are telling you about how great this car is, and how it will be perfect for you and you must obviously be ready to sign the papers, here's a pen! We knew we weren't going to buy that car, since we had only started looking.  When we told this to the salesman he said "why not make this be the first and the last?"  We replied "It might be our first and last, but not without several in the middle." 

Next we jumped on classifieds for used cars.  We found several that looked pretty good, but it's funny how people "forget" to post pictures of the side of the car with the huge dent.  We knew if we looked long enough we'd find a good used car, but we struggled to manage our time in the evenings to make appointments and drive around looking at private party cars.  We were now super frustrated with the whole thing.

At this point Melissa asked her sister about her experience with an auto brokerage in Seattle, Duffy's.  She had good things to say, and Melissa's parents had also purchased several cars from him as well.  Duffy's is a small company and the owner Tim was amazing to work with.  He really knew his stuff and was able to help us determine if we could get all of our needs within the budget we had.  He emailed us some information about several of the cars coming up at the auction, and we told him which ones we would be willing to purchase.  He would then go to auction and see if the car was within our budget.  The first few cars we selected went over our budget, so we had to wait until the following week for the next auction.  This time we had picked out 5-6 cars, all of which we would have been happy with.  Tim threw out 3 of them after inspecting and test driving them, saying "You really don't want that car--I don't want to get you that car."  It was nice having an advocate more interested in meeting our needs than selling us the most expensive car he could find us.

In the end Tim found us a 2006 Ford Focus ZX4 SES.  We opted for the official third party post-auction frame inspection and mechanical inspection to ensure the car didn't have any subtle problems. Then Tim picked it up from auction, cleaned it, put 2 brand new tires on it, changed the oil, topped of the air conditioning system, and turned the front brake rotors.  We initially contacted him on March 30th and by April 14th we took possession of the car.  We were grateful to have Tim helping us--by far the best car buying experience we've ever had.

Shameless plug (that we're not being compensated for!):  If you're in the market for a car purchase, Tim is licensed to buy/sell in all states.  He can shop by price point or by specific make/model/feature list.  If you are interested in hiring him, visit his website for more info and his phone number:

We've now put 175+ miles on the car.  It drives well and gets pretty great gas mileage.  All of the major "used-car" things got attention from Tim, and now we're fixing up all the little things like buying sun shades, looking into window tinting, upgrading the stereo, fixing the fan speed switch, new wiper blades, etc.  We're happy with the purchase and definitely enjoying the two-car family world!  Here's a picture of the "new" car:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

In and around the fun times this week, there were a bunch of rough patches. That's kinda how things are lately: Life with a fun-loving toddler sprinkled with occasional moments of "losing it." But there always seems to be someone there at just the right time to say just the right thing--nothing big or earth shattering...but just enough.

Things are serious enough around here so we planned an especially light-hearted Easter for our little family. Chelsea and I hid daddy's Easter basket, and while he was looking for it he said "I wonder where it is..." to which Chelsea immediate responded 6 or 7 times "It's in the dryer." All the while I'm covering her mouth saying "don't tell daddy, let him find it!" That was a little anti-climatic, but totally fun.

Then daddy hid Chelsea's basket and mommy's basket. She and I had fun hunting all over for them. She looked on her little art table and didn't see it, but thought it might be under all her papers, so in the middle of the search she decided she needed to clean up all her crayons and papers. "I clean my crayons, find my basket!" That kid cracks me up. She found the basket in her bedroom on the bookshelf. Mine was in the office garbage can, under the liner. Sneaky daddy!

We dumped out all the candy and Chelsea went to town--so content and so pleased that we were all sitting round the dinner table munching on candy together. Later we did an egg hunt out back. She did really well and found most of the eggs with little, if any, help. She would get so excited to find one she'd start jumping and all the eggs already in her basket would coming spilling out. "Oh no! It's otay, I pick up!" The other day she heard me say "oh my gosh" and she picked it up, sort of. Halfway through her hunt she got so excited she kept exclaiming "Holy Gosh! Holy Gosh!" Again, this kid cracks me up!

The weather was beautiful, so we went on a short walk and tricycle ride. She got to visit with her uncle Josh who lives upstairs from us. Then we ate a yummy dinner and afterward we watched the sugar-high whirlwind of a two-year old tear around the living room. And just to throw a whole new level of craziness in, I chopped Chelsea's hair tonight. I couldn't stand it after doing it for church and watching it wisp around all day. We used daddy's clippers, the biggest attachment, then trimmed it up with scissors. It's pixie short and she loves it! The whole time she kept saying "Bye-bye baby hair. I get hair-tut." After we were done she looked in the mirror and exclaimed "It's MY hair now! Not baby hair. And NOT in my eyes!" It already looks so much thicker to me and I'm hoping it grows in super full and healthy--no more of this wispy fine stuff of all different lengths!

All in all it's been a wonderful day. We're so blessed to be able to share so much fun and sweetness with our little girl. We love her to pieces!

Happy Easter, everyone. Hopefully your celebrations were just as glorious.