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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Props to all the mini van mamas! My Sienna ROCKS :) We totally rocked it with the turtle top carrier to the lake last summer.