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March 18, 2008

So A Minivan Enters the Garage...

Recently, we took the plunge for the second time down the minivan road.  We had a minivan for a matter of months when the trio was first born, but quickly came to find that hauling around three infants required more space than the minivans of that generation allotted.  Research done, Suburban purchased, bye-bye minivan.  I never really bonded with that minivan, but the Suburban had me at hello.  I was amazed at the ease of driving such a behemoth and empowered with its eight cylinders.  Sure, I went from a free spirited, still twenty-something to a mom of three babies overnight, but gosh darn it, I was still driving somewhat of a cool vehicle.  Seriously, the Suburbans have come a long way in looks, and complimented in stylish Cubs blue complete with Cubs license plates, I felt as bad-ass as I could.

Fast forward to now; six years of driving the Suburban.  Trio much older, another kidlet added to the mix, and now I must spend more time in the vehicle with a longer commute.  Is the Suburban still the practical choice?  The 2008 models of the Grand Caravan were impressive on paper and worth a look.  Tons of cargo space, kid features and convenience features, let alone better gas mileage.  But could I become a minivan driver?  Could I trade in the last remnants of my self-perceived coolness and become just like the others out there?

Well, there is an obvious reason why minivans are so popular.  They are the best choice for many situations.  The minivans of today are waaaaay sweeter than they were six years ago.  Enamored by the list of features it boasted, once I drove it, I knew I was ready.  It's been just over one month, and there are no regrets.  After years of winters touching salt covered doors, I enjoy the ease of pushing a remote to open doors and the rear hatch.  After miles of driving with a portable DVD player velcroed to the back of my head rest blasting kids' movies, I savor the silence of children watching one - or possibly two - different movies with their wireless headphones.  After hearing the same commercial 10,000 times in an hour, I relish pushing the Satellite button and choosing from almost 200 channels of advertisement-free bliss.  Going somewhere new?  No more will Mapquest get me lost: I have built in GPS, baby!  A little chilly outside?  The heated leather seats and remote start are just what I need.  Then there are the little things as well: the fact that the rear wiper blade control is now logically placed next to those of the front wipers; the interior lights are softer LED and have some blue 'limo light' effects to the back; the front defroster has its own control so you can run that as well as your normal heat; the second row windows actually go down (never could figure out that restriction); we can swivel the seats and add in a table for an impromptu game of quarters Candy Land.  I'm sure I could think of more, but this gives you a flavor.  There were none in stock in my color of choice, so I had to go with red - but if you refer to it as Cardinal red, I will poke you in the eye.  ;-)

I still have pangs of sadness when I look at my poor, dejected Suburban no longer in the warmth of the garage, but outside on the driveway.  I am sad simply because that Suburban has been the single greatest vehicle ever.  It has carted all five - and eventually six - of us around safely and dependably.  Never a problem and never a worry.  It's been a workhorse, and for that, I respect it.  Not everyone can say that about a vehicle.  I wasn't ready to part with it initially because of these reasons.  I still get sad when I think of actually saying goodbye to it.  I would rather hold on to it, but I know that would just be silly.  Would there ever be a time when we would need it over the minivan at this point?  Why should I let such a wonderful vehicle just sit unused in our driveway?  I need to prepare myself to say goodbye and look into finding it a new family.

So who reading this is thinking, "man, she is such a dork spending an entire blog entry talking about a Suburban and a minivan!"?  The same dork who literally cried when she had to sell her first car, GiGi, the 1977 Chrysler Cordoba (the name came from GG = Gas Guzzler).  Apparently I tend to develop a bit of a bond with my vehicles.  But you know what?  I haven't lost my self-perceived coolness at all!

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March 13, 2008

Spring Fever

This winter has been long.  It's been the snowiest winter in 52 years, meaning it's been the snowiest winter of my existence.  I am not feeling as much spring fever as I normally would at this point, but that is because I spent a pretty sizable part of it in warmer climates.  However, like everyone else, I am ready for spring.  Not ready for the severe storms and tornado threats, but ready for that fresh air.  Ready to watch life renew itself...new plants, flowers, baby animals. 

Those who live in warmer climates year round cannot begin to understand the amazing transformation that arrives along with spring.  Unless you live through the cold and snowy time, you do not have the same excitement and appreciation for those first glorious warm days.  Unless you have to add 15 minutes onto your kids' morning routine to get them sufficiently bundled up (and to find the damn gloves that always seem to get lost), you cannot appreciate how easy it is to leave with just a light jacket.  Unless you have been immersed in the peaceful silence of a snow covered world, you wouldn't take notice of the birds singing or the crickets chirping.  Until you've gotten used to guarding yourself from the bitter sting of the wind, you cannot taste the miracle of the welcoming spring breeze.  Until your house has been filled with recycled heated air, you cannot imagine the simple joy of open windows.

We are right there.  The temperatures are slowly creeping up.  The days are longer and more sunny.  The anticipation is building.  Winter cannot last forever, and spring will indeed arrive.  Everyone's moods will magically brighten, and laughter will come so much easier.  Bikes will be cleaned and aired up.  Baseballs and mitts will make their debut from bottoms of closets.  Swings will soar through the air once more.  Hot chocolate will be replaced by lemonade.  Wrigley Field will open its doors.

It's always worth the wait.  And this year, it will be extra fabulous...we truly earned it!

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