Posted: June 5th, 2011 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: cars, Day to Day, Family, Feelings, Grand Caravan, minivan, Mom card, Mom stuff, Montana, road trip, Saturn Vue, Stuff You Need, Virginia | 12 Comments »
In 2004 we bought a car. The second car we’d ever purchased together. The first we purchased on our terms, when we weren’t in desperate need of a car because ours had died. We saw a sale, we had a trade-in, we went and got ourselves a new car.
It was a Saturn Vue.
We loved that car.
It took us back and forth to Minnesota when we were moving from Missouri.
It took us east to Virginia, both before and after we had kids. The worst leg of a road trip ever was spent in it when we were stopped in traffic for an hour because of an accident heading into Louisville with no more water, no more bottles and two screaming 11 month olds who wanted to eat. The first thing we did when we found an exit was stop to get water and then stop to get beer for when we got to the hotel. It was the longest 60 minutes of my life.
We drove west to Montana with three kids and although the seating was a bit more cramped than it was when it was just the two of us, we still had room to add a few more things on our trip home.
It was the family car.
But, it died. Unexpectedly. And with gusto.
It didn’t just die, it died hard. And all at once.
So, we had to bite the bullet. We had to get another car. We had to look at…minivans.
Now, I am not necessarily a minivan person. I liked the Vue. It was compact but it fit everyone and all of our stuff, even if it was tight.
But, the siren song of the minivan is hard to deny.
More space! Smoother ride! A place for all of your kids and their friends! And did we mention SPACE?!
So we went looking.
We did some research and were priced out of our top 2 choices pretty quickly (Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey) our third choice was the Chrysler Town and Country and our 4th choice was the Dodge Grand Caravan.
We found a few we wanted to look at, nailed down the dealerships we were going to, pulled our Carfax reports and went on our way.
The one we really wanted, the one that looked so perfect on paper ended up being a dud. It only had seating for 6, all captains seats and there is no way our stroller would have fit in the back. Boo. I’m not sure how this is possible, it’s a minivan…where is all the space?
We looked at a few more and then finally found one we can live with. It has a few more miles than we originally wanted, but not too many more. It has the 3rd row bench seat and 4 captains chairs. It’s got the Stow & Go seating which is pretty cool. It’s got the doors that open automatically which wasn’t on my list but I guess is a plus. And, it was lower than our price range, so huge plus.
It has more space than the T&C, but seriously….unless I drop the seats into the floor I’m not seeing the extra cargo room (and if you do that you lose that under seat space, so it’s kind of a draw). Yes, it has more space in the passenger area. It will be a lot easier to ride in on long trips for sure. I’ll give it that. But, with three kids in carseats, I kind of have to have all my seats up. So where is all of this extra space?
Do I like the minivan we got? Yes. I think it will end up being a great car for us. I’m not knocking this purchase at all. I think it was necessary and I think we made some good decisions.
But, I’m feeling really underwhelmed.
I thought I was going to have this big a-ha moment of
“OMG I can’t believe we’ve lived without this for so long!”
And I’m not.
Certainly I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Are they going to come take my Mom card now?
Posted: October 30th, 2010 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Beer, Date Night, Montana, Restaurants, Travel | 1 Comment »
Well, I guess they are right when they say time flies. Eight years ago (well, 8y ears and 11 days ago) I married Yogi Dad. He wasn’t Yogi Dad then. There was no Yogi and definitely no Dad. He was just John and I was just Erin and we had a whirlwind romance punctuated by many bottles of Stone Hill wine. We got engaged after 3 months. Crazy I know. Fifteen months later we got married. Six years later we finally decided kids were a good idea and here we are, three kids deep.
Since we always seem to be out of town for our anniversary we were treated to a lovely dinner at Pearl Cafe in downtown Missoula by John’s Aunt (aka The Hostess with the Mostest). We haven’t really been out without the baby so it was very welcome.
We got dressed up as best we could, which seems to be more difficult the older we get. The top I bought was a bit more revealing after carrying children around and having a baby paw at my chest than it was when I tried it on in the confines of my favorite dressing room. I’ll just say it. Boobs. It’s all I see when I look at the pics of us ready to head out and I suppose I can’t expect any of you to not think it too. There you go.
Anyhooo…we went out! Like adults! We left a little early so I could partake in a drink at a real grown up bar before we went to dinner. It makes me giddy just thinking about it. We chose James Bar in downtown Missoula. It’s a pretty sweet place that was so packed we couldn’t get a drink let alone a seat or a table the last time we were in town. It was a Tuesday night so our options were open this time around. We sat at the bar.
I ordered a Kettlehouse Cold Smoke. It was dreamy. I wish now that we’d gotten some to take home, but we didn’t. After a little chit-chat with the barkeep he asked us where we had reservations. We told them The Pearl. He said we wouldn’t be disappointed. The thing I take away from restaurants in Missoula is the people that work in them seem to genuinely love the town and really seem to bolster each other up. It’s nice, you don’t always find that in a bigger city.
We finally arrived at Pearl and there was an open parking spot right out front (it’s street parking). It’s like we arrived just in time. We checked in at the front desk, let them know there was to be a giftcard waiting for us and were led to our table. Funny thing, the man who led us upstairs was Pierre, our waiter at Scotty’s table, a (totally fab) restaurant we lunched at earlier in the week.
Once we sat down we took in the room. It was nice. Low lights, fireplace, exposed brick and beams. We were seated in a loft that overlooks the entrance/ bar area. It was very intimate and cozy, without being intimidating.
We took in the menu and devised a plan. Elk osso bucco was in the running for John and I was stuck between the trout and the filet. We ordered the scallops to start. They were smallish, but delicious. John went for the osso buco and I went for the Filet with Port and Roquefort. The port sauce was luscious and the medallion of Roquefort perched atop my steak was as creamy and delightful as cold be. I can say with certainty now, that was the best piece of beef I’ve ever eaten in my life. I only had a small bite of the elk so I can’t really say, but I was told that my dish won for best of the night. We finished off with dessert. I ordered the Dark German Chocolate Cake which was deconstructed and certainly one of the best I’ve ever had. John had the White Chocolate Mousse Pie. I also had a glass of Ice Wine from Canada mostly because I had never tried Ice Wine before and we were celebrating, so why not!
I had just taken a sip when we got the call. Judah had depleted his reserves and was in need of his mother. Stat. I suppose this is how it is when you have kids, one who is nursing.
We packed it in and headed home.
Even with our abrupt departure I think this evening was a success. We weren’t hurried through any course. We were able to relax and forget, for those few hours, that we had kids at home! That doesn’t happen very often.
Last year at this time we had two kids and a twinkle in our eyes. Who knows what’s in store for us this year? Probably not another baby…but something good I’m sure.
Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Beer, Montana, Travel | No Comments »
The Tasting Room from www.bayernbrewery.com
On our last day in Missoula we had plans with Yogi Dad’s Uncle Mike to visit the Bayern Brewery. I had been going back and forth on this one all week. I love beer. I love breweries. I love breweries in Missoula Montana. I love drinking beer in breweries in Missoula Montana. Yogi Dad recently made the decision to exclude alcohol from his diet. And there was the whole baby always attached to me looking for something to eat thing. So, what would be the point?
Thursday came and we decided to go. I did have some glasses that needed replacing after all.
Let’s just say, I had a blast.
With a sleeping baby attached to me the entire time.
Yep. I drank beer while wearing my baby.
I had a pint of Dragon’s Breath. Then I had a sample of the Dancing Trout (which I called Dangling Trout…whatevs). Then I tried Yogi Dad’s Dopplebock(he lifted his policy for this occasion) and ordered myself a sample of the St. Wilber Weizen, then a pint of St. Wilber. There was a Dump Truck in there somewhere. I think between the samples and sips and pints I tried almost every beer on their menu.
There were all spot on and delicious. The most surprising thing to come out of the day was that my favorite beer was the St. Wilber’s Weizen. I’m a dyed in the wool dark beer girl. Totally out of left field that one. Another revelation? I wasn’t the only one there with a kid.
It was a fantastic time and I replaced one of my broken pint glasses with this bute.
Favorite moments of the day? When the old-timer sitting at the bar passed around a plate of venison sausage for everyone to try. That’s how they do it in Missoula.
*photo from www.bayernbrewery.com
Posted: October 25th, 2010 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Breastfeeding, Mom stuff, Montana, Restaurants, Travel | 1 Comment »
While we were in Missoula I finally had the chance to meet up with one of the ladies I had met on my iVillage expecting club board when I was pregnant with the boys. My husbands aunt had suggested we go to a local restaurant called Caffe Dolce for dinner one night and when I saw an ad for Caffe Dolce in Mama Lode magazine that proclaimed “Breastfeeding Welcome” I figured it was a good pick. We could eat dinner with the family and then I could meet Karen for dessert, nursing would not be a problem…it was perfect!
Dinner was lovely, don’t get me wrong. The menu was a little sophisticated for kids (they didn’t have a kids menu) but we were happy to order a pizza for the boys. Soon after we ordered, little Judah started to stir. He wanted to eat. I first offered the bottle of (precious) pumped milk. He devoured it in no time flat. He was still hungry.
Time to break out the big guns.
I have breastfed in cars. I have breastfed in a baseball stadium. I have breastfed in waiting rooms and doctors offices and on occasion in restaurants. I use a cover, mostly for my comfort, although it’s not his favorite.
I have never in my life been so uncomfortable breastfeeding in a public place.
Maybe it was the wide open room where you could see everyone and everything. Maybe it was the cold, hard, straight back chair with no arms that made it difficult to get comfortable (my only other option was a stool at a high-top). Maybe it was the fact that the infant seat had (moments before) almost slipped off of the highchair with my child in it and I was a bit frazzled after catching him midair while holding a forkful of pasta.
I couldn’t get a good latch. My leg and arm were going numb trying to keep him elevated so he could nurse. I was ready to burn my nursing cover by the end I was so irritated.
Breastfeeding welcome my ass.
Seems to me Caffe Dolce was trying to capitalize on a brouhaha last year where a woman was asked to stop breastfeeding her child at the Red Robin. It caused quite a stir, for good reason. I don’t need a welcome mat rolled out to breastfeed, it’s my right by law.
By stating in their ad that breastfeeding was “welcome”, I assumed that there would be a level of comfort afforded me. There was no comfort. They didn’t even have a kids menu for Pete’s sake. What do you think happens to these breastfed babies when they grow up? You’d think it would be easy enough for a pizza and pasta joint to throw together a simple kids menu. Every other restaurant we went to had a kids menu and even the brewery had games for kids to play! But that’s neither here nor there.
I chose this place to spend a pretty good chunk of time based on that ad alone. They presented themselves as 100% family friendly.
How many women have done the same and felt less than thrilled with the experience?
Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Family, Montana, Saturn Vue, Travel | No Comments »
Linc and Dubs- 1 large bag
Judah- 1 medium bag
Me and the Mister- 2 small suitcases
1 bag of blankets and beach towels
1 wooden tote of toys and books
1 dual screen DVD player
1 laundry basket of snacks for the car
2 bags of “special” toys and treats to be doled out when bored
1 laundry basket of diapers, wipes and miscellaneous items for car
1 bag of plates, bowls, sippy cups, snack cups, plasticware, pump parts and bottles
1 breast pump with 12v battery pack
2 umbrella strollers
1 vibrating infant seat
1 Baby Bjorn
1 Moby wrap
1 bag of cleaning supplies- hand and face wipes, anti-bac, 7th Generation wipes to clean up spills, etc.
What am I missing?
Posted: October 5th, 2010 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Family, Montana, Saturn Vue, Travel | 1 Comment »
Oh. Dear. Lord.
What have I gotten myself into? I’m leaving on a cross-country car trip in less than a week with 3 kids, 2 and under. In a Saturn Vue. SATURN.VUE. That’s not a big vehicle if you haven’t noticed. Oh it’s PLENTY big if it’s just the two of us. Hell, it was plenty big with the four of us when we went out east last year. I’m not sure how this is going to work with five, but this is what we signed up for when I said I wanted another baby and I was not under any circumstances getting a mini-van. Ever.
I cleaned it out yesterday. All that’s in there right now are two umbrella strollers (well, one umbrella stroller- the other is in my dining room), a Baby Bjorn, a jug of anti-freeze and a behind the seat “organizer” that I’m pretty sure will not be the thing that keeps me organized on this trip.
At this point the car is looking pretty roomy. Unless you look at the three carseats in the backseat. Two Recaro Signos and a Sunshine Kids Radian. Boom! It’s doable people. I can even get the baby in and out while still standing on the ground- not something I could do 4 weeks ago mind you.
So the car is “clean”. What’s going into it? I’m still working on that. Here is what is NOT going into it.
Pack n Play– there are two double beds in our room at grandmas, these boys will get a lesson in sleeping in a big bed there and in Missoula I’m pretty sure someone (Awesome Auntie JuJu) is rounding up PnP’s for our stay there. And, much to my dismay, the baby is a co-sleeper. I know, I know. I had nothing to do with it. He likes the boob and at night likes to be quite near.
Cloth Diapers– We are leaving these at home. I love them, but I do think they are kind of a PITA to travel with. Sorry. Does that make me a bad cloth mom? Are you going to take away my Cloth Diapering Mom Card? Because I’m pretty sure having three kids in cloth full-time gives me a pass on disposables for a two week road trip.
Toys– We’ll bring one small wooden tote bin with books and toys but that is it. Experience tells me they aren’t going to play with them anyways, so why waste the space. I’m sure Grandma has plenty of trinkets for them to play with.
So I should have plenty of room to spare without all the extra “stuff”. Right? Who out there has road-tripped it with lots o’ kids in a smallish vehicle? How did it go? What would you do differently?
Stay tuned for tomorrow…What IS being packed! I know, you can’t wait.