the problem:

look at the legroom situation

this is occurring in our current, "big family car," our saturn vue crossover (whose legal name is "shorty fire burnin' weasley):

before driving it off the lot in july 2009

we got the red car when our faithful, beloved old 1999 explorer, gandalf the gray died in the line of duty. luckily cash for clunkers was going on so we got $4500 from the government for it rather than the $0 it was worth at the time.

for me, jesse, and the 6-week old judah, this was the perfect car. safe, fuel efficient and lots of space for a growing family. t was our first ever NEW car. thanks to cash for clunkers and the sale, we got about $12,000 off the price of the car and were blessed enough to be able to pay it off in full within a year.

fast forward 2 years, and here is what this family looks like as keight, jesse, 2 year old judah and 7 month old layla attempting taking the "big" family car on vacation:

i am wedged in the back seat next to layla's backward facing baby seat and judahs car seat. and there is all of our stuff (2 of our bigger items had to be taken down by our friends in their cars).

i kind of hate the salesman for telling us that we would "never need a roof rack," and even though we knew better, we had not a lot of choice since the explorer was undriveable and some huge saturn sale was ending that very day. but the luggage capacity is clear not the only issue anymore.

in the past few months this car has been driving me nuts. cramming poor judah's legs in the back is a daily reminder that this is not an ideal situation (note: this IS a first world problem...but the first world is where i live, after all). if i scoot the passenger seat up any farther, then the passenger is going to get their lights knocked out if the airbag deploys AND have no legroom up until that point.

so i've made the mental switch. the final transition the many moms make:

i started lusting after a minivan.

visions of the kids running up and down the center aisle, of bucket seats and legroom for all have danced in my head for nigh on 6 months now.

for years i denied that this would ever be my chosen fate. and i know almost all the moms say they never thought they'd want one either, but i swore i was different. i thought if i ever had lots of kids i would just get a big SUV.

but now i'm there, and my mother in law's words are coming to life: nothing beats a minivan when you have kids.

and it's true, in terms of gas mileage, vertical space, layout and design, no SUV can compete. maybe when the kids are older and are without their individual required plastic space pods of safety, that will be an option, but to be honest, the only PRO in the SUV column is that it's not a minivan or that it's somehow "cooler."

hey world, i picked up actual human excrement off of my sweater yesterday and wore my pajama t-shirt to work the day before because it was just easier: the race to coolness is over. i have withdrawn on account of i dont give a shit and because i have won that race before and still never received any prize money.

instead i am now competing in what i will call the "master's division" of the cool race. all you have to do to win this one is not go insane. doesnt that sound COOL!?!

during that scene last summer (pictured above), hurtling 70 mph down the highway towards our florida vacation, i had to get into the back to access layla and help her not scream her head off and make me stab my cochleas with our tire pressure gauge. her rear-facing carseat was in the middle (the only place it fit in that car) and judah was behind jesse at the time. so i ever-so-nimbly turned around in my seat, got into a squatting position and proceed to squeeze my ample self through 11 inches of airspace above the headrest. i think at one point i was IN layla's carseat with her while simultaneously kicking jesse in the head, rubbing my butt on judah and getting rug burns on my face from the ceiling.

if there had been a blood pressure monitor handy at the time (there was no room in the car for it) i'm sure i would have been off the charts. this right here is how you LOSE the master's division cool race.

so now i envision heading to the main cabin of a van like a glamorous air hostess of the 1960's, drink cart and all. the room! the luxury! the sanity of it all!

i posted on facebook that we were thinking about trading in the saturn for a minivan, particularly an odyssey (yes, EVERYONE has one, but people arent stupid, they are popular because they work, evidently) and within a few hours i had 37 comments! every one of them (except for two of my childless friends who shall remain nameless, but judged) was touting the awesomeness of upgrading to a minivan. i have never seen passion like that on my facebook wall.

the funny thing is, up until i actually became interested in vans myself, i just assumed that they were super cheap; simply because they were so uncool. i thought, obviously honda would be thrilled to even get $10,000 for their newest vans due to their nonexistent degree of desirability or coolness. hahaha, stupid, stupid girl. these vans are pimpwagons and are priced as such.

so we are going tomorrow to look at a few used ones (2007 or 2008 models with 50K+ miles on them). the saturn is still worth quite a bit as a trade in, so we are hoping to be left with a very small amount to finance that we can pay off early at a super low interest rate. i will etsy my little heart out to make this dream a financial reality.

the solution?
picture me rollin'.

there will be goldfish dust coating everything and at least one spoiled sippy cup inside, but no legs will be touching seatbacks, no luggage will be touching the ceiling and my mental grip on reality will be safe and sound. i will keep all of my master's division cool-contest trophies in one of my 27 cup holders.

say it with me: there's no room for insanity when you're in-van-wit-me. (puns like that also get you trophies in my division).

sound off: where do you stand on the great van debate. if youre anti-van, are there more compelling reasons besides not wanting to be a van-mom? edukeight me!


  1. Just know that everyone in my 'hood has Ocean Mist... it's the MOST common color! I used to be anti... but SUV's slam other car doors a lot! Not a prob with a mini. I want an SUV with side-sliding doors... ? Uhh... that's a van, I guess!

  2. You are so very funny. I can picture trying to squeeze through the car and I must say props to you for fitting. I'm pretty sure I would have gotten stuck.

    We just upgraded to a van and I love it. Our poor dog (80 lbs) had to squish in the Pathfinder between the car seats on a trip to NC. It was tight and we only fit b/c we had stuff strapped to the roof. I just took a friend and her two kids with me to the zoo the other day. It was amazing for all of us to fit in one car. It is actually difficult for me to reach Caleb in his car seat now. The leg room will be astounding (although not a ton of leg room in the 3rd row)

  3. Minivan is the way to go. We have 4 kids and a dog so we actually outgrew our minivan and moved on to a giant Suburban. *SIGH* I miss the van. I never thought I would say that, but it was wonderful. The Suburban may feel a little cooler to drive but it's a b**** to park and the kids are always slamming other people's cars with the doors. Minivans are definitely the way to go. No question.

  4. I was never anti-minivan. In fact, I got "upgraded" to one once when I was renting a car as a singleton and I LOVED it. We had a Chevy Equinox (like your Saturn) when we had the twins, and two years later upgraded to a Chrysler Town and Country. My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner! Traveling with double everything baby gear would have been sooo much easier in a minivan!

  5. I know I already said this on your facebook comment, but we got a 2009 Odyssey last summer, and I LOVE it. I was so resistant at first, and then decided that the not wanting to be dorky was my only reason so I let that go. We did the same thing you are thinking of and traded in our Explorer while it was still worth a lot. Love that I can open the door on one side and have Annabelle in the car safe while I am getting the baby snapped in her base. Definitely hold out for one that has side and back door opening buttons on the clicker. Great for different height drivers too - fits both me (5 feet) and Jesse (6'3) perfectly. I sound like a commercial...
    Hope you find one that you like! Also, loving your dinner posts.

  6. My husband and I have decided to expand our family (in the Lord's timing) and we have been in a great van debate. He wants SUV, I want VAN! I think I won :) Since our son was born 9 months ago I have sat in the backseat with him because our passenger seat is pushed all of the way up due to his car seat. I can't wait to sit with my husband again!

  7. We bought a Ford Flex the about 2 years ago, week before #2 was born and I still Thank God for it on a weekly basis! It carries a ton of stuff and is still easy to park. A lot of room without the mini-van shame. We made the second row bucket seats so that in the future the older ones (planning on 4 kids in total) will be able to jump in the back without having to mess with moving carseats around. I almost cried when we were without it on a family trip a few weeks ago. Good luck with the search!

  8. Girl...I went from a LEXUS to a mini van. I cried. Until I put all my kids in and saw just how incredibly fabulous it was. Now, I laugh at my stupid, naive self. SUV's don't even compare to a minivan. You will LOVE it. I promise! We all are resistant and now we all laugh at the silliness of it. Fact=minivans ARE cool! It's like a secret society that you join that you never really understood.

  9. YES! I drove an Envoy when we had Baby #2 and I abso-freakin'-lutely loved it. But then Baby #3 came along (rather quickly) after Baby #2. I refused to give up my SUV. I was NOT driving a mini van. I even forced my husband to come to Babies R Us with me and try out all the carseats so we could figure out which ones would fit 3 across the seat of the Envoy. We figured it out - we found 3 seats that would fit snugly and perfectly - the only catch was that I had to lift that baby seat over one of them to get it to the middle of the car. I'm tall. It could've worked...I was convinced. One week before Baby #3 was born, the ultrasound showed him weighing in at a good 9lbs (and he was 2 weeks early) and my husband looked at me, walked me out the door, drove me down the street to the Honda dealership and we bought an Odyssey (obviously, it was slightly more complicated (financially) than that - but that's it in a nutshell). BEST DECISION of his life - besides marrying me. :) I still miss my Envoy but I wouldn't give up my Odyssey for anything. Note: I've got an '07 - and I LOVE it. :) :) :) My kids are now 8, 5 and 4 and there is no way I'm gonna climb into an SUV to clean up after them when the Odyssey is so easy to get in and out of...PLUS, we drive from TX to GA a few times a year and all of our stuff fits - even at Christmas! :) LOVE.

  10. Girl - the Odyssey is where it's at. I drove an Envoy when Baby #2 was born. and I loved it. Then Baby #3 decided to make his appearance rather quickly after #2 and I was convinced we could still make the Envoy work. I even took my husband down to Babies R Us to try out all the carseats and figure out which 3 would fit across the seat of that Envoy. We did find 3 that worked and I was positive it was the perfect solution. I'm tall. I can pick that babyseat up and heave it over the other carseat to get it in the middle, no problem! :) Then a week before Baby #3 was scheduled to arrive (2 weeks early - benefits of a c-section), he was weighing in at 9lbs already and my husband looked at me, walked me out the door, drove me down the street to the Honda dealership and we bought an Odyssey. (obviously, it wasn't that uncomplicated but it was about that quickly). So. One week before my 3rd child arrived (weighing "only" 8lbs 9oz), I was forced into my Odyssey. It was the best decision my husband ever made...besides marrying me, of course. :) The kids are now 8, 5 and 4 and I LOVE my mini-van. I would never dream of climbing up into an SUV to clean it out after all those crazy kids...it's so easy to just open up my sliding doors, move seats around and gosh...it's awesome! :)

  11. OH! I wanna add another perk: we roadtrip a lot from TX to GA (few times a year) and there's plenty of room for all of us (even my pack rat daughter!) and everyone's stuff...even at Christmas! :) Uh-maz-ing.

  12. well, our van looks like that NOW, with 4 kids in 5 pt harnesses. we still stuff that sucker for all its worth. We also just got a luggage carrier deal, too, so we can throw extra stuff up there.

  13. Kimberly Walker2/3/12, 10:25 AM

    We went from a 2 door ford escort with 2 car seats in the back ( not fun!) to my wonderful Toyota sienna! We got captain seats for the second row so the girls would each have their wn seats, and I have sat in the third row to give thm stuff when they were smaller. The third row seats are always stowed so it has amazing trunk space. Kept our big stroller in the back all the time and still had lots of room for groceries and whatever else. It is 2005 ce (as we refer to it the cheap edition!) It is cheaper than the odyssey and we tried all the different vans before we bought. My youngest also uses the graco nautilus, she was too tiny for a booster, she's now 8 and still in it, 47 lbs and 49 inches tall and she has lots of legroom whether I am driving 5 5" or hubby 6feet. I would buy the same van again. I love it! It is pretty easy to park too, I had only ever driven compact cars before so compared to those it's huge!

  14. Reading your blog makes me happy. I too thought minivans were cheap, only to be shocked by their actual price. We have an armada now to accommodate our newest model. It is slightly bigger than a tahoe/sequoia and smaller than a suburban. I would have done the minivan, my husband was totally against it, b/c he is super cool. He was also against the suburban b/c the extra foot of space you get in the back "makes it look too long". He has the $$ he has a little more decision power :). So we have the armada w/ 3 car seats across, Sloan in the middle, like someone above mentioned. So yes I have to bring her seat across the other car seat but, it is either that or crawling in the back of a suburban, or perhaps minivan(not sure of their seat folding) to get the car seat. So as long as our big kids are in a 5 point harness, which will be awhile, our seat folding capabilities allowing us to get to a 3rd row are non existent. I hope this made sense, I had to stop half way through to rescue Sloan from over aggressive hugging by Carter and lost my flow. The point of my long story - YAY MINIVAN!!!

  15. My husband wants a minivan. Like, as in, wants my super-cool, two-door, with a sunroof car to die quickly so we can buy one.

    Oh...did I mention we don't even HAVE any kids.

    So, girl...so on wit ya bad self. Even the SINGLE cool kids are doin it.

  16. annnnnd...by "single"...I clearly meant "kid-less"....

  17. Hey! I don't know you, but have been reading your blog ever since I was introduced through Raechel (Finding My Feet).....anyway....love your blog and appreciate the honesty and laughs. We just found ourselves in the same situation and traded in our car for a sienna this Christmas....we were not about to take one more trip (this time a 21 hr. drive to Florida with two kids under two) crammed in our car, so the night before we left we got our van and LOVE IT! If you haven't seen this video, I just thought it was "right up your alley." Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql-N3F1FhW4

  18. Don't forget the luggage rack--it's still nice to have, even with only 2 children...you never know when you might want to take your in-laws along:)

  19. we got a minivan right after our first child was born, and right before my husband deployed to iraq. now, three years later, and one additional child added, we are still in complete love with our minivan. i get made fun of on a regular basic by my dad and brother, who are completely non-minivan men, and i don't care. thankful that my husband is not too proud for his wife to drive around in a minivan!!!

  20. Gaaahhhh!!! I always SWORE I would never, never cave to the mommavan. Now it looks like we are well on our way. I even have close, stylish momma-friends trying to peer pressure me ("I'll do it if you do it!!!") to take the leap. We'll see. The white flag has not yet flown!!!

  21. I just want to put my arms around you and squeeze you every time you do a 180 on your like/dislike, embrace/shun scale--AND you so OWN where you were and what you missed while you were where you were, AND give credit to ever told you so!! That's so awesome, as some people try to slide into it, and just act like they were there all along, just not going public with it. But YOU, no way, you are totally there one, and on the other side of the world the next (or so it seems, cause it may be coming for quite a while, but when the switch flips, it's all over...you are ON BOARD, ALL OVER IT, FLIPOMANIC CHEERLEADER, etc.) I love a girl who's not afraid to admit when something better comes along! That's what Jesus is all about too, in the whole perfecting thing HE keeps giving us chances to make new choices. Love Him, Love you!

  22. My Mom always said "as kids get bigger so does their stuff", and thats why we always had a van growing up.

  23. I too thought I would just get a bigger SUV. HAHAHAHA. My favorite statement is, "I hate how much I love my Odessey." I have a 2008 and it is the best thing evah!!! Good luck!!!

    PS We had a big snow storm over the weekend. I put on my "snowboots" and had the amazing revelation that OMG, I think these are snow boarding boots!!! No wonder they have been so hard to walk in!!!

  24. We have a 15-passenger van. So I guess you know where I am on the debate. Though I must admit that I am the nerd mom that looked forward to owning a mini-van one day. God met and exceeded my expectations, huh?

  25. We have a 15-passenger van, so I guess you know where I stand on the debate. However, I am one of "those" moms that looked forward to the day I owned a mini-van. Looks like God met and exceeded my expectations!

  26. Wow, there are lots of comments! People are passionate when it comes to their ride. I was so secure in my coolness that we got the minivan before Sarah Kate was born (note: k8 thinks I'm cool=I must be=secure in my coolness). We got a killer deal on a used Nissan quest. We love it. If it's not too late, you should totally look into that make as well. My advise, leather seats and automatic side doors/tailgate, they are a must!

  27. I'm actually thinking of buying a 2008 vue. I googled Saturn Vue with a stroller in the trunk and found your blog..LOL We have a 3 year old, but plan on having another hopefully in the next two years. I'm trying to decide if I should get the vue as an in between car for the next 5-6 years or just get a van now. The picture of your two little ones has definitely given me something to think about..