Our military family has gone through quite a number of cars. First, we tend to rack up mileage on them fairly quickly. Moving across the country multiple times in a decade will do that.
Second, there are an ever-increasing number of us. We have to keep adding seats.
I now drive a minivan. The first time I realized that I had no other choice, I was in tears. A minivan is the station wagon of our generation. It means I'm old and out of the game. Only people with huge numbers of children drive minivans. And you just can't drive a minivan and look cool. You can't! I feel like Carol Brady in that thing, but I don't have a housekeeper and I do have boobs. I also don't wear bell-bottoms. I figure that I already lived through the seventies, I don't need to make that mistake again.
Our minivan is basically our second home. In fact, while most people stay in one house and go through a series of cars; we have our minivan and we go through a series of houses. Our minivan has lived through four houses so far, with more to come - and we bought it in 2004. Our minivan is more our home than where we live!
By now, we've also somewhat personalized the thing. There is a dent and a crack on the back bumper where I ran into a stump while backing up at my Grandfather's farm. There's a dent on the passenger side door, too, but I don't know where that came from. The only sticker we have on the thing is one of a rose that says, "Air Force Wife, Toughest Job in the Air Force." My hubby humbly handed that sticker to me one day right before leaving on a deployment. It was one of the sweetest gifts anyone ever gave me. We also have a license place holder from our alma mater - California State University, Fresno.
I was holding out for a camouflage paint job and a personalized license plate, but that horrified my hubby. I had to settle for naming it "Blue 82".
I also have a very hard time keeping my minivan clean, because we spend so much time in it. There are food wrappers everywhere. I fluctuate from just throwing my hands up in the air and getting my kids Happy Meals when they ask, to packing wholesome and nutritious lunches compartmentalized into various sized ziploc baggies. It all depends on my mood. Either way, my car is littered with representations of both those states of being. I do make an effort to clean them out, but inevitably my #3 daughter will find the perfect place to start stashing her celery or carrot sticks so that I think she ate them and let her have her evening popsicle.
That makes for a most disgusting cleaning session.
Also, the back of my minivan has become a moving storage unit for hubby's deployment gear. For several weeks, the floor of my bedroom was heaped with desert camo Camelbaks, web belts, ammo pouches, DCUs, boots, and a number of other items not used stateside. When I finally put my foot down, hubby used a snow shovel to move this stuff into our spare bedroom. After a few more weeks, and when we were visited by three children from another family for approximately a month, I had to demand the stuff be moved again.
It was. To the car. Where it has remained ever since. Apparently, it's handy.
We have a portable DVD player that can be used in the van (not the one that is actually wired inside it, but I've got my eye on that for the next time we buy a vehicle) and climate control. The only thing that van is missing for a comfortable weekend away is an oven.
But I'm looking into that.