Saturday, December 17, 2011

From Don Juan to Stan the Man Van

When we bought our 2006 Nissan Pathfinder, we were on a hunt. We had just recently purchased the bigger, nicer, swankier Armada, but it was too good to be true. After less than 2 weeks, we found out that it was leaking oil and was going to cost $10k to replace the engine. And that, my friends, was not going to happen. We felt pretty frustrated at the whole ordeal, to say things like a pastor's wife should say them...

The Armada was fully loaded. Nav system, DVD system, heated leather seats, sunroof...you name it, it had it. But that engine issue...well, we just couldn't get over it for some reason. ;)  All the bells and whistles that the Armada boasted paled in comparison to the fact that the engine didn't work properly. Here would be a great opportunity to write about some deep spiritual metaphor pertaining to this reality. But I'm not feeling deep right now, so I'm gonna hold on to that for later. 

So when we went looking to trade in the Armada (we didn't want to sell it outright and give someone else our huge headache), we were looking only a few things:
1) It had to be certified. 
2) It had to have a warranty in case anything happened later. 
3) It had to have three rows of seats because we were picking up and dropping off a lot of teenagers for church those days.

And we found a great deal just outside Atlanta. We disclosed the engine problem, but since we were at a Nissan dealership, it was a lot less burdensome for them to fix it as a trade in than it would have been for us to get it fixed. It was the end of the month, and they needed to reach quota, so we were able to negotiate a pretty sweet deal, and get a certified Pathfinder with 30k less miles, and a warranty for our Armada. The Pathfinder didn't have a bell or a whistle. But neither of us cared. It had what we needed. We affectionately named him Don Juan the Nissan, and ol' Don Juan proved to be a wonderful addition to our family.

But loading both girls in Don Juan soon proved to take an effort. Among the missing bells were running boards that would help us step up and lift the girls into their car seats. When they got older, they were unable to reach the door handle on their own because it was located halfway up the window. So we began making Ella put her hand on the tire while we opened the door, strapped Allie in, and then walked around to get Ella situated.

This was pretty stressful for me because at such young ages, the kids aren't 100% great at obeying, and I was always keeping my eyes peeled for Ella to take her hand off the tire and run into a parking lot. I was like the "hand on the tire" Nazi, spitting threats through clinched teeth as I strapped her squirming sister into the car seat at lightning fast speed.

As they've grown, they could (barely) climb into the car themselves after I opened their doors, but the backseat was so small that they couldn't climb across easily from one side to the other, and that necessitated me to have to open each door. As my pregnancy progressed, the thought of picking them up to put them in faster makes me want to tear my hair out.

Plus, since both of them are on the small side, they are both in 5 point harness car seats. And we were wondering how in the world we were going to fit three across the backseat. Or, if we could put Ella in the 'way back', we couldn't figure out how to get HER back there and strapped in safely. Seemed like a big pain in the butt, and I was imagining that after Caroline came, I'd be stuck in the house FOR.EV.ERRRRRR! Or at least until they got their own driver's licenses.

So we began facing our fears head on. The fear was that we were going to have to move from "cool SUV driving parents" to "not so cool but practical minivan driving parents."My friend, Jodie, had once declared any minivan to be a "mommy mobile with no sex appeal." And for some reason, I believed her, although most families who drive minivans have multiple children, so I guess sex appeal doesn't completely dissolve. I mean, we do know how those babies are made, right?

And, with less than a month before Caroline was set to be on the Berry scene, we decided to get serious about this switcheroo. We scoured Craigslist, visited some dealerships, and came up with Stan.

Stan the Man Van, that is.

Actually, Brandon spearheaded the effort. He found Stan on Craigslist, he took Don Juan down to the dealership in Lancaster, SC, and he negotiated the deal. Then he bought a red bow and surprised me!

I never EVER thought that I would be THIS excited about having to drive a minivan. Minivans scream, "MOMMY!", and I hear that word enough during the day as it is. But Stan is so suave, so plush, so cozy, so spacious. Stan the Man opens the doors for the ladies. Literally. At the touch of a button on my key chain, Stan's doors open automatically, allowing my 4 and 2 year old treasures to climb in to safety without much effort at all. And now that treasure #3 is here, and I'm lugging that huge baby carrier around (why can't they figure out how to make safe and light baby carriers, by the way?), Stan's debonair ways are even more appreciated.

I love how much space Stan affords our family. The girls no longer have to keep their legs bent so as to not touch the seats in front of them. I no longer have dashboard stuck in my teeth every time we go on a road trip. We stored so much stuff in Stan on our first trip to Greenville, someone would have thought we were moving back.

Love it, love it, love it.

So for all you haters out there, I'm telling you something. I'm a convert. Stan the Man Van has my heart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner-Part 2

The closet nursery...

Is almost finished. I'm pretty excited, actually.

For those of you who didn't know we were putting baby Caroline in our walk-in closet, check this post out for a little catch-u-up.

As for us, we are less than a week away from the anticipated arrival of baby girl #3, and are beyond excited to meet little miss Caroline.

We have pretty much completed most of the big projects needed for the launch of RWOC Charlotte, set for January 15th, 2012. It's like finishing an assignment early. I don't know if Brandon knows what that feeling is like, cause he was pretty much notorious for turning in projects at the last minute, or after.

We have bought a family-friendlier vehicle. More on that later!

We had a small baby shower with some local friends. It was a diaper and wipe shower, since we have pretty much what we need gear-wise for a baby girl. It was a wonderful time to stop, reflect, and celebrate Caroline's arrival.

And...the nursery in the closet is almost finished. Hall-le-lu-jer!

So here's a little breakdown of what's what.

We are finally using the crib we bought as an infant crib for the first time! Ella and Allie both used the same crib that I did when I was a baby...teething marks and all. We had bought new hardware for it to make sure it was up to date with safety issues, and it was so fun to have them in it. But we bought this crib that turns into a toddler bed and a full sized bed a little bit before Allie was born. We had Ella in it with the mattress at the lowest setting, cause she was just a 20 months old when Allie came along, but it wasn't long before we transitioned it to a toddler bed. Since then, a new recall has outlawed drop-side cribs, so Caroline won't be using the same crib Mom and her big sisters used. Instead, she gets the newer model. 

The crib sheet was a gift from a dear friend who just had her first child. She sent it a while back, and I told her I liked it so much I was gonna use it as my nursery decor inspiration. Well, Katie, I'm a woman of my word. I've also picked out a couple other fabrics on sale at Hobby Lobby that coordinate, and am going to make a couple more crib sheets for lil Miss using this link I found on Pinterest. Cost for other fabric:s $15 total.

The crib skirt is a homemade touch of brilliance that I adapted from one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love. I seriously don't miss a day of these folks' posts. Love them. And this crib skirt was super easy, and cheap! They did a 3 sided skirt, but I only had to do 1 side for the time being, because sides 2, 3, & 4 aren't visible! I did, however, buy enough fabric to make the other 2 sides in case we move the crib to a different spot or move homes and Caroline ends up somewhere besides the closet. Cost for crib skirt (1 sided): $7

The lime green frame was in a give-away pile. It actually was a plastic, gold (read: gaudy) mirror. After convincing Brandon we needed to put it in the car (he thought I was CRAZY), I ran over to Lowe's and grabbed a bottle of spray paint. Then I put on 3 light and even (for the most part) coats of lime green to cover the gold. Total cost: $3.77

The hot pink name and scripture wall decal was a must to tie things all together. I found it on Etsy, which is another wonderful site for ideas and homemade/creative gifts. This was, by far, the most expensive aspect of Caroline's nursery...with shipping, it cost $27. It conveniently came in the mail about 3 hours before my baby shower, so I had Brandon sticking it on the wall before it started so my friends could get the full effect. It makes me smile every time I see it. I heart it.

The hot pink with orange polka dot blanket was purchased off a gift card that I got from my credit card rewards. So, technically, that was free. And it's so soft and sweet.

The kelly green boxes were already on hand from IKEA, and they house Caroline's clothes, blankets, and burp cloths.

It's not installed just yet, but we bought this super cute chandelier from IKEA the other day for $20. Right now we have a fluorescent tube light in there that casts a pretty harsh light on things. So we think this will soften up the ambiance a bit.

  • I hit up Pinterest again for a super easy and cost effective storage option...reusing old diaper boxes by decorating them with burlap and ribbons! This gal's idea gave me lots of storage for just a few bucks! Cost of two burlap covered boxes: $6.

       Again, since I am pretty much obsessed with Pinterest, I found another cheap and easy project for this burlap covered wall hanging with button "C" on it. This project took me about 15 minutes and $2.

        The wall clings were given to me by a friend who had them left over from her daughter's nursery. So not only were the FREE, but they also do pretty good to cover up Allie's 'artwork' --she took a brown crown to the flat paint, and I haven't had the energy to try to figure out if the Magic Eraser will work or not.

        As far as other necessary nursery staples, we have the changing table pad in our room since she'll be spending a lot of time in there with us, and it's only a few steps from her nursery, and the same friend who hooked us up with the wall clings also donated her super cush rocker to us, and it is in our room doubling as a reading chair right now. It will be perfect for nighttime feedings and snuggling, and the light blue gingham blends in decently with our bedroom decor. 

        So there we have it. A sweet little place to lay her head. And it cost a total of $80.77 out of my pocket. Not too shabby, eh? The wall opposite the shelves has yet to be decorated, but we'll wait to either find a great deal on something we can't live without or until I discover a Pinterest project that I just have to incorporate. When that happens, I'll be sure to update, as I know you'll be on pins and needles. ;)