Monday, January 20, 2014

Almost four years ago...

We made the switch to a mini-van.

I dreaded the thought of it. I hated the idea. I didn't want to be a stereotypical stay-at-home-mom carting my kids off to soccer practice in a mini-van. But finally, we caved and bought what we affectionately call ''The Swaggerwagon".
Now it didn't happen overnight, but each day I liked it a little bit more. The sliding doors were genius...the kids didn't whack the walls of the garage anymore. I could buckle the baby in at Target without blocking an entire parking spot. I had room to change a diaper, when needed. I could fit both the stroller and my groceries. The stow-n-go feature on the Chrysler Town and Country is GENIUS! I can keep my reusable grocery bags in there, a spare change of clothes/jackets, snacks. When we travel it seriously saves so much space because you can fit a lot in those floor cubbies. Dare I say, I learned to love it?
And the kids did too...until they learned there was better out there.

Amy drives an SUV with a DVD player in it which prior to becoming friends with Amy, I don't think my kids knew that this feature existed. Then the more friends we made in Italy, the more the kids realized everyone's vehicle except ours, had a DVD player. I was fine without having one. In fact, when we bought the van years ago I insisted on getting the base model. I didn't want power doors that little arms could get caught in. I didn't want to worry about the fighting over which movie to watch. I didn't want leather that carseats would tear up. I was secure in my decision, knowing that the kids were little and well, dirty and that some day I would have a nice car again. And the kids learned to live without a DVD player.

However, when we returned from Italy, we had to rent a van as ours was on an ocean carrier. We rented a 2013 Town and Country Touring. It was ''just" like our van but leather, had a DVD player, power windows, power trunk gate, satellite was like our van but better!
When the kids spilled a little Sonic drink, I just wiped it right off the leather. When they were arguing, jet-lagged and wanted to be anywhere but the car on the drive from San Antonio to Houston, I popped in a movie. When I had eleventy-billion things to carry and the dogs, I just pushed a button and the doors opened like magic.

I was intrigued.

So here were are, having been stateside five months now and I was still thinking about that rental van...especially after driving to Kansas and back at Christmas. Our van was at the point where it needed help. I won't go into all the issues, but it seemed like we had two choices: put in about $1000 of work or put that money toward a new van.

Today, we made a decision and it came with a DVD player.
While I still don't think we ''need'' a DVD player, I no longer feel guilty about turning the screen on the second we get in the car. For one, I'll take peace and quiet any way I can get it. Secondly, we don't have cable nor watch hardly any TV during the day at home, so it's not like they watch it all the time. Third, I no longer care, to be honest. It makes them happy. Happy kids means happy parents. 

Now I don't mean to turn my blog into a complete review of the 2013 Chrysler Town and Country, I'm pretty much going to do just that. Reading a review on edmunds or consumer reports is dandy, but really getting to know the vehicle from a mom's perspective, its more practical when it's moms who are buying the van!

So, on the outside, it looks almost the same as our old one. (It was a 2009, this is a 2013).
The color we got is called "Maximum Steel" it's not really black, not really navy, not really a dark gray but all three colors depending on how the light hits it. As Maggie put it, "it's very sparkly!". Exterior wise, it looks pretty much the same but this does come with nice rims instead of plastic/fiberglass hub-caps. We also opted to make sure we got the roof rack/rails package because we have used our van to move mattresses or IKEA furniture before and this would make it much easier. Standard on the 2013 is fog lights and a rear back up camera too.

On the's heaven. It's just like the rental we had. Satellite radio, DVD, leather, power doors/gate, and a REAR BACK UP CAMERA. (Amy, now we're twins!) I can make phone calls by pushing a button on my steering wheel (through the dash's uConnect system). There are FOUR USB ports in this van and four lighter/chargers. So I can use the GPS, charge my phone and charge Sissy's leappad. I can charge the boys cameras while we drive to our destination, rather than completely forgetting and having the batteries be dead on arrival, only to have disappointed kids. I can listen to my iTunes music by plugging my phone into a hidden USB port inside the glove box, which will charge my phone while I listen! (In our 2009 van we had to use an AUX out cable and then my phone had to be plugged into the charger to do this).

There are SIX cup holders just between the driver and passenger seats (eight if you count the ones molded into the driver and passenger doors). Which while I admit is a little overkill, it's convenient on road trips when Ron and I each have our water bottles, then drive thru Starbucks for coffee. I don't have to hunt for my nalgene bottle nor risk it rolling under my feet while driving. The center console is huge, without being bulky. It sits much higher up than the old one and has two separate compartments as well as a handy little inlay that my phone can rest on. The first compartment is semi-hidden by the phone tray and has a power outlet. Perfect for keeping the GPS in. Then with the press of a button, the console slides open to reveal a much bigger compartment, perfect for fitting DVD's in. I love the fact that there is no clutter like in our old console! The entire console can also slide back, I imagine so whoever is in the second row can reach the cup holders, but with Connor and Maggie, neither can reach. Like the 2009, this one also has two glove boxes. With four kids, I use one to store the first aid kit (we have to carry an epi-pen with us at all times with Ryan and while I keep one in my purse, if Ron takes him somewhere it's good to know there is one in the car) and the other to store the car papers.
The 2013 is also flex-fuel and I finally live in a big enough city to take advantage! While it doesn't offer 8 passenger seating like Honda or Toyota, that doesn't bother us. I LOVE having the two captains chairs and the ease of being able to walk down the middle if the kids need something on a long road trip. And the stow and go in phenomenal. When we need more room, we can put Maggie in the third row with her brothers then fold down the van seat into the floor and have room for all that stuff we bought at IKEA. It's literally a lift of the handle and pull of a different loop handle.

Yes, I'm not yet thirty years old and pretty damn excited about a mini-van.

Could we have gone with the more ''trendy'' Honda Odessey or Toyota Sienna? Sure. But the features of the Town and County, with that stow-n-go that I love, comes with a price that is so much more 'down to earth' that the competitors.

So for now, I am basking in the stereotype. Enjoying the peace and quiet that an episode of Scooby Doo can induce. With the push of a button I can open the doors from inside the house without having to hear ''I wanted to open the door and *insert kid here* didn't let me." I am a card carring member of the ''Minivan driving, stay at home mom" club. What, what!?

Just don't expect to see any stick people decals on my back window. I haven't completely lost my mind.


1 comment:

  1. I have a town and country and i love it. i have an 2003 and it is still amazing. someone rear-ended us and i went looking for a vehicle to replace it, and couldnt find anything that compared. so i kept it. and i don't regret it. it has over 200,000 miles and runs amazing. i will definitely buy Chrysler again ! yours looks so fancy compared to mine!


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