UGH, I permitted… WAY TOO LONG!

After a very LONG time of  AJ having my van to fix its issues, I’m actually having those issues fixed by an excellent mechanic.  We’ve had a series of issues since I bought the darned thing from him. supposedly, it was the daily driver for his stay at home wife, who mostly drove her two little kids to school and shopped.

I was told she wanted a Jeep or small SUV instead of a “Mommy Van”. The van also supposedly had a fresh oil change.


On September 19,2016 I contact AJ asking him if he checks engines on cars or vans prior to purchase. If he could tell if anything was wrong with them and whether it would be a good purchase or not and how much does he charge. I had found a nice 8 seater Honda Odyssey EX L I wanted to buy from someone, online and local.  He told me Honda Odyssey vans are 7-seater and he owns one.  He stated he owns one and his is for sale but only has 7 seats. I inquire about the year. I emphasized that I have no interest in ANYTHING under a 2007. They have bad transmissions and will need to be replaced. I want a working DVD player, GPS, and backup camera. He says he has a 2005 Honda Odyssey Touring, it does have navigation system, backup camera and backup sensors. It has seven seats and there is a table in between the two front seats that can be changed to a seat. In fact a friend of his has a seat for it same color leather and everything, just sitting inside his garage, he never uses it.  Hubby talked me out of the van I wanted AJ to check and said lets look at AJ’s. His wife drives it, he wouldn’t allow his wife to drive a bad car, would he. I insisted I really want the other van. It had 8 seats and I fell in love with the other van. We never looked at it together. I looked at it alone and test drove it and tried to talk them down a little. Despite not taking it to a mechanic to check it.

AJ brought his van by my home, to leave with us for the weekend to test drive September 30, 2016. He said drive it around a couple of days and if you don’t like it, bring it back. Monday October 3, 2016 he comes to pick up the van, he wants to change the axles and oil on it.

October 4, 2016 he returns the van. My Verizon iPhone car charger is missing. He brings it by, thought it was his.

October 27, 2016 I inquire about the TMPS light. He said the tires are new but non PAX tires. PAX tires are ridiculously expensive. These tires are brand new tires but do not have the sensors on them like the PAX tires.Push the ! Button on the steering wheel and it will go off.

November 19, 2016 I called AJ. What is the grinding sound the van makes when I make right turns? So on Monday November 21, 2016 I took it in to AJ’s shop.

Wednesday November 23, 2016 AJ returns my van. It now has a new noise. AJ what is that noise? It’s the emergency brake he says. I drove it with it on. It will go away soon.

December 22, 2016, it’s still making a weird noise!

Thursday January 19, 2017, It’s still making noise and I inquire whether it is fixable. Its squeaking and / or grinds loudly and scares the crap out of me!! He says he’ll check it for me.

January 31, 2017 “My parking brake is SCARY LOUD! I’m afraid to drive the van. He said I’ll check it out for you.

February 3, 2017 My van is parked in my driveway.I started it and it began smoking and the check engine light came on and that noise is even louder!.He said he’ll look at it on Saturday.

Saturday February 4, 2017 He has bad sore throat and headache and stayed in bed. Says he’ll pick up van on Monday.

Saturday February 11, 2017 AJ comes by to look at and pick up car. I say I should have it towed by AAA. Its smoking. He starts it up it doesn’t smoke. He says its fine to drive 5 minutes away to his shop.

Tuesday February 14, 2017 I ask, well whats wrong with her (my van). He says he’s still working on that.

Thursday February 16, 2017 He  comes by to talk to us about the van.

Thursday February 23, 2017 I requested a van update. he says he’s working on it.

Some time between Friday February 24, 2017 and March 5th he gets a call from he brother to go see his 80-year-old daddy right away. He’s in Jerusalem in a coma in the hospital.

Friday March 10, 2017 I didn’t realize he’s been calling from a weird number, I had refused to answer because I didn’t recognize it!

Tuesday March 14, 2017 AJ is in London and should arrive in Charlotte by Wednesday.

Tuesday March 21, 2017 I asked AJ if a Helicoil would work with the stripped bolt.

Friday March 31, 2017 He texted me saying he hasn’t received a new replacement engine yet. They’re hard to find and expensive for the 2005 Honda Odyssey Touring.

Saturday April 8, 2017 Old engine is out, new one in. he’s going to put on new gasket and spark plugs.

Wednesday April 19, 2017 A good engine came today. It has 73k.

Monday April 24, 2017 The engine is in the van but the van is not ready.

He told me his dad passed away. ” This is life”, he said.

Wednesday April 26, 2017 He says he’s done with the van. She’s running great. He drops off my van.

Thursday April 27, 2017 He asked for his payment $1750

Thursday May 4, 2017 I ask what is VSA? The light is on and my van is shaking hard.

Wednesday May 10, 2017 He picks up my van. He says its variable timing solenoid.

Thursday May 11, 2017 He returns my van. With a middle jump seat, which i ned to have a seat belt installed for and the table that can fit there.

Friday May 12,2017 My van is noisy, and dragging. I swore to husband I WILL NOT take it back to AJ, no matter what. I have to take it to someone who knows Hondas. I’m tired of not having a vehicle and I don’t feel safe in the van. My neighbor, several doors down recommended Asiaworks, Inc. She told me that, these are great, honest people who WON’T cheat you and WILL get your car running or tell you it isn’t worth the money.

Technician Diagnosis:

My timing belt tension adjuster is what is causing the squeak, grind idle. I’m also over due for timing belt package by mileage (due at 180k)( Includes: Timing Belt, water pump, drive belts, timing belt tension adjuster, timing seals, and oil pump orings.)

My radiator is leaking.     Need Cotter pins in front lower ball joints and front tie rod ends because they are missing.     There was a previous fire in the engine compartment , fire extinguisher powder residual is very obvious. Frame bolts are loose, side engine mount bolts are loose. Power steering pump is leaking but can be resealed. Vtec solenoid is leaking and needs reseal. Needs front struts and rear shock absorbers, my new tires are starting to cup. My front engine mount is broken. I need a new positive battery cable. My real main seal is leaking and I need to go to a large major Honda dealership for a brand new driver’s seat buckle switch from American Honda to make my SRS light go off.


Sooooo ……my $5000  2005 Honda Odyssey is actually costing me $11,650 total.  I really should have bought the initial van I really wanted. Hey hubby lookat how much money we saved on this van owned by a “mechanic”. I feel like AJ owes me $3000!

Carol the van has finally received a proper diagnostic!

So…. I have a new mechanic.

I was driving Saturday when my van was misbehaving. I pulled off the road shut her down for a few minutes and restarted and drove straight to Asiaworks, Inc.  My neighbor recommended them, after my explaining all of the trouble I’ve had with my van and my mechanic.

I found out the funny smell, I’ve smelled for months, every single time I drive Her, is from my leaking radiator.

The “lawnmower” sound, I’ve been complaining about is from my timing belt tension adjuster going bad.

I was sold a van from a mechanic who didn’t do any basic maintenance on the van.

So I need a timing belt package, this is just regular maintenance after a certain amount of mileage. It saves your engine and your safety!

I had to leave my van and should get a call Wednesday or Thursday to come pick her up. I have a very long list of things that are wrong with her that are getting fixed. Mostly maintenance type stuff. The timing belt being a very dangerous one to have need of.

The new mechanic said, there is NO WAY, a mechanic should have allowed me to drive that van in that condition!  I should not have been driving it with the timing belt tension making that noise. I was clueless, as to the cause of my concerns and fears. All that I knew was, that syrupy weird smell isn’t normal, my van shakes too much and isn’t riding smoothly, and my engine sounds more like a lawnmower and that ISN’T normal. I was scared to drive it and afraid it would break down on me at anytime.

I’m not a mechanic but did have my van at the old mechanics shop, more than I’ve had it at home since we purchased it last year.  I don’t know cars but i do know sounds of change and that unsettle feeling in the pit of my gut.

My old mechanic is a beater mechanic. He doesn’t know Hondas and should have admitted to that or at least referred me out to someone. I did want to change mechanics way  earlier, but he’s so nice, my husband really likes him and assumed he knew what he was doing.

Now its down to me feeling safe in my van and wanting to make sure if I’m on the highway to my mom’s, I won’t break down with a van full of my babies!

I’m finally at peace while awaiting to get my beloved Carol back in excellent repair.

My van represents a sense of freedom and independence.

My van represents a sense of freedom. For so long after the accident, I couldn’t drive. I was dependent on others for rides everywhere.  After my spinal surgery, then healing and recovery from it, I’ve been able to drive again. Me, the boys and Anna can go to the library, grocery store, field trips, visit my parents with the minivan.

My van is the year that is known to have the most trouble, 2005. The issues are commonly transmission problems. My van has spent almost all of this year in the shop with the mechanic. It’s still currently there, finally getting a replacement or rebuilt engine.
Retrospectively, I would have bought the van I really wanted. It was a 2012, and I would have taken it to Compact Cars for a free prepurchase inspection.
Compact Care Service

6177 E Independence Blvd Charlotte NC 28212

I regret my van purchase. My van was bought from a mechanic whose wife drove it around with her 2 kids. She wanted a Jeep or something less “Mom Car”! They claimed there were no issues with it. It was her daily driver, it had brand new tires, brand new spark plugs, fresh oil change, and new air filter.
I regret compromising on my choices. I regret not going with my gut feeling and 100% of what I wanted to do with replacing my much needed van. I didn’t really want anything before 2008. Only because of the 2005 transmission issue. These vans are otherwise known for driving into 350,000 easily.

I am ready to have my van back or get something else more reliable. Unfortunately I don’t have enough funds to get another Honda Odyssey Touring. I don’t do vehicle payments ( I don’t buy something I can’t afford to pay cash for).

You live and you learn. 

You trust a bit less and have less patience.

My mantra…. No matter what happens….I’m happy to be able to mother my kiddos on this side of earth and I’m so grateful we were allowed to keep Anneliese!!!

Life is good!

How I Save on our Groceries

I was asked a few days ago by Numerous Facebook friends what ways do I personally save on groceries. I didn’t get questions specifically for food, so this is for food and other items I buy.

1.Hubby and I are avid Aldi shoppers. Aldi has saved us so much on our grocery budget! Their foods are of good quality and taste as good as name brand items. This is where we get the majority of our groceries.

2. I plan our menu for the week, sometimes two if I have a lot going on. I go online and look through sales ads and look through my favorite cookbooks and plan the menu.

3. I shop Harris Teeter weekly. I go online. I have a VIC card and I’m an e-VIC customer. I sales shop and match e-VIC and coupons together. I LOVE Harris Teeter! If I have grumpy toddler screaming her head off, I can shop online and pay online. I just drive up and my van is loaded for me. It’s very inexpensive and saves money too.They take coupons this way also but it is taken off your next shopping trip.

4. I use Cash back and rebate apps. I have these APPS :


I can send invites to join.


if you join and use code 8cm25g you get $10 welcome bonus and I’ll get $5.00 referral.


I can send invites if You’d like to join via your email address


if you join using my link you earn 150SB swagbucks and I get 15SB for a 10% referral

-Checkout 51  and

-Walmart Savings Catcher

5. I used to be an avid cloth diaper user. Those save A LOT of money. I no long use cloth diapers since my accident. Currently all diapers are purchased through Amazon Prime at so I get free front door shipping and we never run out unless I delay a shipment.

6. I purchase many of my cleansers through my own personal Melaluca Store.

Four Weeks Post Op on Tuesday

On May 31st I had spinal fusion surgery to repair my twisted spine and herniated disc.


I’ve lived with excruciating crushing type arm pain and continuous neck pain since the hit and run last year. I had physical and occupational therapies at home initially after the accident. No rehab wanted two patients, I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time. I was eventually released from home care  and delivered Anneliese on May 13th. About 10 weeks later I began outpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation. I went from walker to cane to walking on my own without assistance.


I had numerous x rays and MRIs which showed my condition to be deteriorating and was informed that I would need surgery to prevent full paralysis. Although my spinal cord was and is intact, every MRI showed the herniations and twisted spine squishing my spinal cord more and more. I began to have more paresthesias, I’d randomly drop things, I did not recover feeling in my hands although I could move them, I got to the point where I could not lift my arms above my head and stayed in constant pain.

I had an anterior cervical discectomy with spinal fusion. I spent four days in the hospital. It took me a while to be put under for surgery. The anesthesiologist was surprised that I kept answering questions he’d ask appropriately. I remember him telling me that I was terribly hard to put under and took a long time to come out of it too.  I could not move or feel anything initially even after being moved from recovery to a private room. I fearfully assumed something went wrong and that I was paralyzed. Afterall I’d spent the good part of a year hoping and praying I could avoid surgery and was terrified to go through with the surgery. I didn’t take it lightly, even getting several independent opinions, which I personally paid for.

By Day 2 post op I could feel my legs and physical therapy had me getting up, first in chair, then up to walker.  Most of my stay was a painful blur. Medication doesn’t take away my pain. It either agitates me, annoys me or puts me to sleep. My pain was decently managed by discharge. Anneliese was admitted to Children’s hospital during my stay, but that is another post.

I’ve been posting but hiding them

The past year has been really difficult. We are closely approaching the anniversary date of a devastating event which occurred last April.

I’m not completely sure I’m totally ready to come out of hiding.

Here we go…

April 10, 2015 I only wanted to fulfill a late pregnancy craving of Wendy’s chocolate Frosty and Small fries. Late after putting kids to bed, one my eldest and  decided to take a ride to Wendy’s. An illegal drunk driver sped up really fast through his red light and hit my van so hard, he made us do 360 degree plus clockwise rotation!

He totalled both my van and his and injured both of our passengers. I got the worst of the impact so I had the worst injuries.

My car was smoking. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know my body was broken but I immediately felt intense pain and pressure. Someone removed me from the van and told me don’t move.  I was terrified, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t feel my baby. I was 36 weeks pregnant with baby Anneliese.

I have no concept of time after the accident. I remember everything immediately leading up to it. Like conversation, my light turning green, the car stopped at the light and watching the car that eventually hit me, go around stopped cars. It seemed to play out in slow motion in my head but actually occurred in milliseconds.

The medic started an IV on me and gave me oxygen. My oxygen levels were low. She couldn’t feel the baby moving or find her heartbeat either. I was immediately put in trauma ER at the hospital. I couldn’t breathe. They did several MRI’s. I find out my neck, ribs and back are broken and my liver bruised? My broken ribs punctured my lungs, I had to be stabilized. I was in and out of xrays and MRIs for a while. I had a great PA who did not leave my side till I was stabile. Then he brought my husband to me. I was only allowed one visitor at a time. Shortly thereafter I was briefly “discharged” to the maternity observation. It took over an hour for everyone to try and locate the baby. Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor was called. He came in and did an ultrasound. Hallelujah the baby is alive!!!  She wasn’t moving and appeared to be in shock, but she was alive. After being shuffled around in the hospital, I was eventually readmitted to the maternity high risk floor. Trauma didn’t want to keep me because I was pregnant. Maternity didn’t want me because I was also a trauma patient.  So for my 2 week hospital stay, I had a bucket load of doctors visiting me daily for various reasons.

By day 3, some swelling had abated and I was able to move my hands and toes. PT started getting me up to my feet by a week or so after the accident. I was determined to walk, even though I lacked feeling in all of my extremities.

Once I was discharged from the hospital, I had PT in my home. My doctors wanted to put me in a rehab facility, but NO ONE would take a pregnant patient.

After I delivered Anneliese, all my doctor’s wanted me to take a break to heal after delivery. So I started PT again  after she turned 14 weeks old, and after my neck fractures and other bones had healed.

Over the past year I’ve relearned how to live and adjusted to life with the current abilities I do have.  I can walk fully without assistance of any sort.

I have bad herniations in my spine from the accident. I’m having surgery in the very near future to prevent full paralysis. My herniations are squishing my spinal cord in the C4-C6 region. Hopefully I will regain feeling in my hands and the terrible pain I live with will either go away or at least ease up!