Our Family Vans through the Years

Since I was gone on a business trip out of the state at the beginning of the week, I didn’t get around to this until now.  I know it’s not Wednesday.  But, here is my first What We Do Wednesday, and it is about our vans and how we are able to get our kids around. 

When we found out we were having our third child, we only had one car, so Cassanda impressed upon me that we needed another, and it needed to be a minivan.  So, we got a minivan, and then shortly afterward learned that we were going to have twins.  The van went from a nice to have to a definitely need in about 2 seconds. 

Given that the minivan only had one extra seat by the time the twins arrived, with our second set of twins on the way not soon after, we were already growing out of our minivan and we’d only had it for about 2 years.  We weren’t in a position to buy a new car so quickly and I knew our garage wouldn’t be able to fit a full-size van, I measured, which would mean tromping the kids all out into the snow every time we needed to go anywhere, not my idea of fun.  What were we to do?

Sometimes being an engineer has its advantages.  Over the next few years, as we added more kids, I was able to add 3 more seats to the minivan.  I called the DMV, Highway Patrol, etc. to inquire on the regulations and was able to meet the requirement for extra seat installation so we would be legal and safe.  Most of this was accomplished by purchasing Ford F150 truck jump seats on eBay and bolting them into the car.

As we were planning for Lily, number 9, I figured it wouldn’t be safe to add another seat into the already very cramped car, so I started looking for a new vehicle.  I learned that my kids do not like car shopping.  We were really lucky to be able to find a 1 year old, 12 passenger Ford Transit for $19,900, thousands less than list, with only 17,000 miles on it.  This was especially good, since we weren’t in any better of a position to buy a new car then we were several years before.  The boys were excited, and we were excited to have the extra room.  Trust me, we were in very close quarters with that many kids packed into a minivan.

When we got home, I looked at the van and the garage and thought, “this might just fit in there.”  Keep in mind that this type of van wasn’t even on the market when we first “grew out of” the minivan.  Here is where being an engineer made its second debut of helpfulness.  Only 3 modifications were required:

  1. The closet sticking into the front of the garage from the front room of the house was down too far, it needed to come up a few feet so the nose of the van would fit.  We now have a front closet that is a little “off the floor.”
  2. The garage door needed to open a little farther, a pretty easy adjustment.
  3. The garage opening was a little tight and there was a decorative corner that would have scraped the top of the van.  I cut out the corner and pulled off a couple inches of wood around the door, and the van fit like it was made for the garage.  I was able to get a local stucco artist to come and fit the large blemish for only $500.

With very few inches to spare in any direction, we feel so blessed not only to have a vehicle that fits our kids, but to have one that fits into the garage too.  I was dreading getting the kids out to the side of the house every time we left, which is part of why it took so long to get the new van.

What times in your life have things just worked out in the best possible way?  It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, we feel like we have been blessed from heaven.

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