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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This Is How We Roll

By Rachel H

I have personally never been one to care about cars. Sad, but true. I have no idea what types of cars my friends drive, only the color. Seriously, I know my mom has a red car, but that’s it. Maybe it’s a Saturn, no a Camry. Who cares? Maybe I inherited this gene from my Nana Hess. She never even had a driver’s license in her 88 years of life.

I drove my parents’ yellow station wagon when I was 16 and then saved up enough to by my Mercury Tracer. My next two cars were Camrys, and then I decided to go a little sporty and purchase an Xterra. Anyone who knows me knows that I am about as unathletic as you can get, so the Xterra was quite a comical choice. I had my son, Jake, while we owned the Xterra and it took us about one month to realize we were going to have to buy something else. It was a royal P.I.T.A. to get the baby carrier in and out of the back seat. And I couldn’t stand trying to squeeze that carrier out of the door when I was parked next to someone else...

Well, you guessed it, we bought a minivan. As you can tell, I am not the type of person who thought, “Oh no, I can’t drive a minivan! They are so mom-ish and uncool!” I usually go for convenience and comfort and could really care less how uncool it happens to be. (Except for the time I had to drive it alone to meet my sister and all her trendy single friends at a bar in uptown Charlotte. What a loser.) Anyway, the best part of us buying a minivan is that I was not even present for the search or purchase of this minivan. My husband took my Xterra out one night and said he was going to go “check out” a few minivans. Next thing I know, he’s pulling in the driveway with one. Although I have never cared about cars, I must admit I was a little saddened at the fact that with all the choices of colors, he had to pick the same color as the mailman minivans. Come ooooon!!!

Alas, I will tell you that I could not be happier that we made that switch. No more aching back, and it was such a breeze to slide that door open and take out the baby carrier. Once we added a second child into the mix, I liked the minivan even more! So much space! We are always riding in someone else’s car or adding a child in our car, and it has been so much easier to move the car seats around. The best part is that now that my kids are at fighting age, it’s so easy to have one in the middle section and one in the back to keep the peace. They can buckle themselves in, and we are rolling!

I did want to give a few tips for anyone deciding to purchase this luxury mom mobile for yourself. These are all things that I wish my van had! #1 – Get automatic doors. We totally missed the boat on that one, but the car is now paid off, so I’m thinking I am stuck. #2 – Get a minivan that has a remote for the back hatch. As soon as you unload groceries, boxes, or whatever else you’ve got back there, you are standing there holding all your bags with no free hand to reach up and slam that darn door. #3 – Get windows that go down in the back. My poor kids have never had the experience of sticking their head out the window and letting the breeze hit them in the face! #4 – Get the seats that fold down into the floor. Our seats unlatch and pull out. They are SO heavy. It’s great when you pull out the seats and have so much room to pack everything up for the beach trip, but then when you arrive and unload, you are stuck with a minivan with no backseats to load up extra people. #6 – Jury is still out on the DVD player. We don’t have one installed, and have made many-a-trip to PA, FL, etc. without it. My kids have learned to play the old-fashioned car games, color, look at books, and sleep!!! I will admit that I did borrow a DVD player the last time I drove a long distance without my hubby and it was much easier because I was not turning around and handing all the dropped toys to everyone while I was trying to drive. So, the DVD player is a maybe.

Well, I think that’s it. Share your expertise with us on minivan choices. I do like mine, even though I get a lot of dogs barking at me because they think I am the mail truck.


Ashleigh said...

I too am a mini-van mom. I always swore I would NEVER drive one! Then I test drove one and actually liked it. Now I can't imagine not having it. yes, the automatic doors are fabulous and we do have a DVD player, but it ONLY comes on for long trips and we don't watch it the whole time. I will admit it took me about 6 weeks to get over the "OMG I am driving a mini-van" thing, but now I am hooked :)

Maythi said...

Rach - You are a way better person than I am. If my husband had pulled up with a minivan, he'd be going right back out to the dealership to return that bad boy! I have sworn to never drive one. Just can't get myself to do it. We do have an AWESOME crossover (a Ford Freestyle) that has the space and feel of a minivan, but looks and drives more like a car. I can handle that. And the gas mileage is awesome! So, for those of you out there who will not drive a minivan (and maybe those of you who feel bad acting snobby posting that you won't), there's nothing to be ashamed about. Like a lot in life, it's not for everyone! :)

Rachel H said...

So Maythi, are you calling me uncool? :)

Summer said...

I also swore I would never drive one, but when we got pregnant with number four, number three was only six months old and I had him positioned in the middle seat of a 4runner where the kids were sitting three across. It was MURDER on my spine to lift that carrier over the toddler and put him in the middle. Also, he was heavy! It got to where I was glaring at other minivans on the road convinced their were bragging about their superior space, adn cup holders. Finally we bought a used one, since I am so wide when pregnant, I really appreciated being able to get my big old belly (or buns) around the sliding door to retrrieve all those kids. We do not have the DVD player, and we've never missed it. You are right about power doors, I don't know how we managed as kids without those! With this many kids, I wish we would have been able to get the split back seat (where you can put away half of it to pack extra stuff). Also, we do not have the power lift gate (the back hatch where you put your groceries, and I did burn with absolute covetousness one day at Costco, when I saw a Mom, with four things in her cart and one four year old, pop open the back of her car from five spaces away. Meanwhile I tried to juggle, three kids an overflowing cart and my pregnant belly.. I did not cry (on the outside) but I sent her a strong mind message to stop TAUNTING ME!!!

Maythi said...

ha ha Rachel! You are definitely "cool" - even with a minivan! :)

RLR said...

We have the auto doors and the DVD (use is limited to long trips), but the first summer I drove my Odyssey I really longed for 2nd row windows that would roll down. Those came later that same summer when the new model year was introduced. Also, my 2nd-and 3rd-most-wanted items - the power lift gate and the split rear seat.
I split my two between 2nd and 3rd rows - they are at that age where they continually taunt each other!

Carrie said...

I also swore I would not drive a minivan. But I have had mine for two years now and I LOVE it. If you have more than two kids it is really the only way to go. I totally agree about trying to squeeze the baby carrier into an SUV when someone is parked next to you, its horrible. We have the power doors, fold down seats, and split rear seats, all are wonderful. We use a portable DVD player for long trips which I feel like minimizes whining since it is not there everyday. I would love the remote lifting tailgate and the back windows that roll down. Maybe next time, this is certainly not our last minivan!

Anonymous said...

Well, my children are older and I never thought that I would go back to a mini van until we had our SUV in the shop and had a loaner for a long trip. WOW! What a comfortable ride! It had been 8 years since my mini-van days,but I was sold! I am back in an Odyssey now - with one "baby" in college and one in HS! - wait a minute- one out of college and one going in!! Time flies when you having fun in a mini-van!! We may not fill ours with car seats and strollers, but rather with bikes, surfboards, and dogs! LOVE IT!

Do wish I had the automatic back door, too.

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