Tag Archives: Minivan

Good News and Bad News

A new friend told me that any tour of her family’s new house includes a look at her new boiler, which represents a chunk of cash they couldn’t spend on something a lot more fun, like a new bathroom.

So naturally I was less than thrilled when the boiler guy stood in my basement yesterday and spoke words you never want to hear from any repairman, let alone a boiler repairman: “I’ll put in this new part and then we should just pray.”

(Photo is blurry to protect the identity of said boiler. Ok, not really. I just take crappy pictures.)

On the very same day I dropped my car off at the shop because it squeaks whenever I turned a corner or went over one of Riverdale’s many, many speed bumps.

“Tell him it’s the suspension,”‘said M.

I can’t tell you what suspension is, but I do know my minivan was no match for last years’s winter. Between the snow drifts, the crater-like potholes and the unpaved roads, the van crawled into spring on it’s last breath. (I have already written about the place in town that charges $25 to basically reattach the bottom of Honda Odysseys that have been torn off by ice.)

Later the day, in the middle of boiler drama, I get a call from my mechanic, Bruce.

(Allow me just say that if all people in life were a) this good at their jobs and b) this respectful to women, complainers and feminists would be out of business. And I’m not just saying this because his name is Bruce. Bruuuuuce.)

“Your suspension (whatever that is) is fine,” he said. “Wanna know why it’s squeaky? It’s your bike rack, and your front bumper, which is about to fall off.”

I didn’t feel like an idiot, because Bruce doesn’t let me. This summer when I drove in and said, “it’s barely running and the battery light just went on,” he said, “that’s not your battery, that’s your engine light, and I’ll fix it.”

No judging. No shame. Bruuuuce.


The car is fine. And it seems that the boiler guy has a direct line to God, because it’s fine too.

Bring on winter. (Ok, not really.)

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Filed under driving, House, Minivans

The Long Road Home (if you moan about the Springsteen I WILL leave you on the side of the road.)

It’s never as much fun driving home. We are all a bit deflated. We have none of the anticipation that propelled our way out … ten days ago. We have seen all the movies on our devices many times over. We are running out of food, on the last dregs of our supplies. We are grating on each other’s nerves. Sort of like the Donner Party. But not.

I brought our last pack of frozen cold cuts for the trip but forgot to defrost them. Here they are sunning themselves on the dashboard.


(Loud child in the way back: I cannot currently attend to you. I am blogging. Hush.)

It seems we have all been together forever. Other than M, I can’t remember the last time I spoke to someone I didn’t birth.

It seems that everyone is peeing a lot more than usual.

It seems that I didn’t fully clean off all of Sidney’s puke off my t-shirt.

It seems we are subsisting on Pirate Booty and stale water.

It seems that I have not explained to these children the importance of silence during a Springsteen song.

It seems like I might need a vacation from this vacation.

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Filed under blogging\, children, Summer, travel

The Van

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the minivan. But lately I’ve been feeling sorry for both our cars. They were both purchased on the west coast; hell, one of them hails from Southern California. They didn’t ask for any of this.

The shitty minivan is especially perplexed. (Where am I, Toto? What is all this cold, icy business falling from the sky?)

First, I slid on some ice and tore off the side mirror. (In case you were wondering, duct tape is remarkably effective.)

I won’t even go into the cracked windshield. It’s still too painful. Damn you, winter branches.

This morning I tried to back the car out of my driveway. I got stuck with about 2/3 of the car sticking out into the street. One of my front wheels was wedged in what appeared to be an ice hole. I sat there for about thirty minutes. The smell of burning rubber from my spinning tires was starting to make me queasy.

A kind man unsuccessfully tried to dig me out. I called AAA, but they apparently did not have me on file, even though I held a VIP member card in my hand. M, the reigning king of VIP membership, took this as a personal affront and called them later to find out why; they had no record of my call.

(Eerie. Like Sandra Bullock in The Net.)

Eventually the kindest sanitation workers in NYC showed up, dug me out, got behind the wheel of my car and drove it out, and then told me that “We’d all been there.”

My God, I love New York.

But the car has taken a bad winter beating.

Between today’s debacle, and my collision with a snow bank in Yonkers a few weeks ago, the underside of the minivan is wrecked.

A giant piece of plastic has been ripped off, and is now dragging underneath the car like entrails spilling out of a dying deer.

Passers-by point and stare.

I can hear the dragging sound over the car radio.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and fix it with some duct tape.



Filed under children, driving, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized, weather, winter

My Mustache Mirror

Pulled out of the garage and slid on some ice right into the basketball hoop, tearing off my left side mirror.

I blame the ice, but it really happened because Sidney was yelling at me, and had been for about an hour.

This three year old is killing me. And she’s seriously cramping my style. A minivan is bad enough.

And now this? (Only duct tape I could find)


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Filed under children, parenting, snow, winter

Idiot on the Roof

My boys seem to regard the roof of the minivan as the extra bedroom we just don’t have. I often walk out to find Efram perched atop the the roof rack reading a book, and Bennett has been found sitting up there with a plate of cut fruit, complete with toothpicks (he is nothing if not a stickler for presentation, and for his birthday he will be getting these frilly toothpicks).

I always make it clear that roofs are not for sitting. I don’t say it quite so nicely. “GET OFF THE BLOODY ROOF!” is more like it. But still, the point is made.

On Sunday I took the boys out to spend their allowances, and spotted them some extra cash in exchange for a promise that they’d come home and wash the car. When we got home I directed them to the vacuum and cleaning products and then disappeared into the house. I was upstairs when Bennett came in hysterical because he’d slid off the roof of the car and bashed the crap out of his legs. He did look pretty bad, sort of like Sammy the Shark had taken a metal baseball bat to his kneecaps (which one day may be his fate if he continues on his current criminal path). But I showed no sympathy.

“What were you doing on the roof of the car?”  I ask.

“What does it matter?” he cries. “Can’t you be sympathetic?”

“Nice word, but nothing doing, buddy.” I reply. But I can’t stay mad forever. I throw him a bag of frozen blueberries and head outside to check on the car. (Mother Theresa has nothing on me.)

The car is a mess. All four kids (baby was napping and therefore exempt) seem to have spent an hour fighting about who got to hold the hose and nobody touched the inside, which was the only bit I cared about. There are those ridiculous little snack bags stuffed in every corner (what is your purpose in life oh-little-snack-bag except to piss me off when I cannot close you because I’ve jammed in too many pretzels?), lollipop sticks are still stuck to the floor, and whatever was growing underneath Efram’s seat is still alive and kicking.

“What in God’s name have you all been doing?” I ask. Not surprisingly, nobody owns up. They all throw each other under the bus (or minivan) and then drop whatever they are holding and head inside. So I vacuum the car, swearing the entire time and carry inside the nine hundred wet rags they’ve used cleaning a car that will most likely be rained on within the hour.

My mission to turn these kids into unspoiled, hard-working farm hands is not going as well as I’d hoped. But as soon as I have a free minute, I am going to research booby trapping the roof. If anyone has suggestions, please send them my way….


Filed under children, driving, parenting, Seattle

Car Talk.

I hate to drive. And it’s not just because I drive a minivan. I have always hated to drive. Even when I had the luxury of being in a car alone and didn’t feel like an under-dressed flight attendant, having to provide snacks for dissatisfied passengers (Seat 3b wants a sippy cup! What? You only have cheese crackers?), or when I could actually listen to the music or news that I selected, and wasn’t forced to listen to Elmo shrieking at me or didn’t have to suffer through Top 40 music that sounds like a) a drunken toddler penned it and b) it’s being sung from the bottom of a tin can (holy crap, did I just get really old?) , I never for the life of me understood WHY people went for a drive to unwind. Going for a drive winds me up. I have always found the entire enterprise incredibly stressful, but nothing in the world winds me up more than running errands in my car, the picking up and dropping off, the constant climbing in and out and arranging of bags and boxes and coffee cups that fit in no holder. And I promise, it isn’t just because my car looks like this:


Even if I weren’t behind the wheel of dinged up, dented in, couch-on-wheels, I’d still hate to drive. The only thing I like about driving, and again, this has to match up against all the reasons I hate to drive is this: It is an incredibly effective way to talk to the children.

Car talk is good talk, at least it can be. And it isn’t just because we’re all held hostage — nobody can storm out, walk into another room and turn on the TV, and Crocs and glass bottles aside (ahem, see more here), nobody can even get up to pee. I think it’s because we are all facing forward, all pointed in the same direction, all headed to the same place. Not only are the distractions few, but there is no pressure to make eye contact or keep a straight face. The space is smaller than our dining room, but in some ways feels more expansive than the table because the fidgeter can fidget, the smirker can smirk, and the dreamer can gaze out the window.

Sometimes the topics are weighty. Subjects I’ve saved for a drive. Subjects that may be too embarrassing for face discussion in the round. The eye-roller can roll with reckless abandon and the blusher can blush away.

And sometimes I don’t choose the topics at all, like this one:

Over the weekend I was driving the children somewhere or other and I look in the rear view mirror and notice a child (we’ll call him “E” to protect his identity, and you can all pretend you never heard this should you meet him) put his right hand behind his head as his left hand starts to rub his chest. He does this for a while.

“E,” I ask. “What ARE you doing?”

“Oh,” he says, looking up at me. “I am giving myself a breast self-exam, like it says to do on the thing you have hanging in your shower. I do it all the time!”

“Oh yeah!” Pipes another child, who shall remain anonymous. “I love that thing!”

“What? Are you guys serious?” I ask.

“Of course,” E says. “And now I am making small circular movements and working my way to the center.”

“Nipples!” Cries the other child.

Really. I start to take this all in and then E disappears from sight.

“Where HAVE you gone?” I ask.

“I AM NOW LYING DOWN!” he shouts from the very back of the minivan. “THE CARD ALSO SAYS YOU SHOULD DO THE EXAM WHILE LYING ON YOUR BACK!!”

Yes it does, and yes, he is. And yes, you really cannot make this stuff up.

Only in the minivan, people. Only in the minivan.


Filed under children, driving, parenting, travel, Uncategorized