Mini-Van Madness

The Gremlin Blues!

If you own a minivan that means you probably have children. Nobody decides they wanted a mini-van because they like the look.  Like many mini-van owners, I am embarrassed to remember back to my naive 20′s swearing boldly how I would never own a mini-van. I would say something brash like, “I would rather walk with my children on my back than to have them suffer the emotional and social damage of being seen in a mini-van.” I think this stems from the fact that my parents owned a GMC Gremlin when we were growing up.  No, I am not kidding. Well, not only do we own a mini-van, this is our 3rd one.

Petrified Peanut Butter

I must admit that I  love my Honda Odyssey and couldn’t imagine my life without it. However, my least favorite reality of owning a minivan is cleaning the sucker out. Now, I realize the Hill Circus-7 (Soon to be the Circus-8)  is little different than most families, because Rachel and I have 5 children, 8 years old and under. (Yes, I know what causes that.) So, recently I went to go clean out the Hill-Van and you can only imagine what I found in the back seats: Baby bottles, legos, crayons, happy meal toys, happy meal food, stuffed animals, candy canes, a homework folder that belonged to some kid named Mark and much more.  And, as you can imagine, with every lego and petrified peanut butter sandwich I found I grew more and more frustrated at the mess my children, and Mark, had created.

New Van-Rules

By the time I reached the front seats I was mildly upset.  I was thinking about the new “van-rules” I was going to put in place about bringing food, toys and anyone named Mark in the van.  I turned on the radio to relax a bit and reached under the passenger seat to finish up the van and I felt something.  It was… You guessed it, a coffee cup.  Not just one coffee cup either.  When it was all said and done I pulled out 6 empty crushed (paper) coffee cups, a computer cable, a book that I had been missing for weeks and a pair of sunglasses.  That’s when Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) came flooding into my head, “…You hypocrite, first take the coffee cup out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the lego from your son’s eye.” Ok, maybe that’s not exactly how the verse goes but you get my point.

I am trying a little harder these days to really know myself. My prayer, as I quickly approach 40, is that God and His Spirit would help me to be honest, with myself and Him, about my strengths, weaknesses, boundaries, limitations, selfish behavior and motivations. My hope is that if I really understand how selfish I can be it will flavor my all of my conversations with others with patience love and understanding, especially a kid with no homework folder named Mark.

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  • Tom

    I doubt I’ll win the beat comment starbucks card with this one but I liked your post. Having children can definitely help you with patience and selflessness. Or it will cause you to check into an insane assylum fit only for the likes of Batman’s villians. Philippians 2:3,4 is also a good passage. That Barry for the challenge.


  • Jessie Copeland

    I’ve always thought that you can really get a sense of who a person is by the junk that’s in their car. For example, I have two soccer balls, a volleyball, some shinguards, some dirty socks, a well used pair of soccer cleats, a menagerie of soda cans and coffee cups, fast food bags, the Green Bible, and heels (yes, I own high heels) lying around in my Xterra. The sports equipment and socks say that I am constantly active and I am always ready to play a sport, the soda cans and coffee cups say that I need caffeine to function, the fast food bags say that I am a terrible eater but I don’t care enough to change it, the Green Bible says that I am a Christiana tree-hugger, and the heels are in there just to throw people off. No, they are in there because I do go out and dress nicely sometimes.
    Your mini-van says a lot more about you than you may think. Obviously, you like Starbucks. There’s no wonder there. But the collection of toys and bottles and happy meals says that you are a great dad who loves to see his children smile! Don’t forget to look at the positives of every situation! This experience may have pointed out some negatives, but it also shines some light on who you are in a good way! Except for Mark’s homework folder. That just says you are plotting this kid’s downfall… you might want to give that back. :)

  • The Ordained Barista

    Jess, It’s never a good sign when the comments are more poignant than the blog! So, CUT-IT-OUT! Just kidding. I loved your insight and hope that Mark will understand about his untimely demise!

  • Tom Pounder

    This is take 2 of trying to post a comment. I would think I would be pretty good at this but it seems that the computer at my previous comment. Here is take 2:

    How many kids do you have again? Even though I may have a few less children than you, I do know that children will test your patience and cause you to be self-less a lot. It is hard and may put you into an insane assylum, but it could also be a great opportunity for God to grow you as a person for Him. A passage that comes into mind is Phil. 2:3-4.

    Thanks for the great post.


  • Margaret Wright

    Maybe you should go for the SUV with 3 rows? A little less obvious than a minivan. But obviously changing the type of your car won’t change the amount of junk flowing out of it. Here’s an example: That’s $10,000!

  • Tom Pounder

    Ok, this is my 3rd try – Barry, I deserve a starbucks card just for my all my efforts commenting on your blog!

    I like your post a lot because even though I do not have as many children as you do, I do know that children cause you to 1 of 2 things:
    - Gain patience and get good practice at being self-less OR
    - check yourself into an insane assylum with the likes of Batman’s enemies.

    Because I choose to gain patience and have to practice constant self-lessness, I have found Phil. 2:3-4 to be a great help.


  • Melissa

    Best day—when we TRADED the mini-van on the smaller SUV the girls were finally out of car seats and could sit next to each other without my having to say “don’t make me stop this car” every five minutes— BUT it doesn’t get better it’s just different now we have candy wrapers coffee cups all over the car, music sheets, CD’s (so that what happened to the Beatles Love CD) but if it was pristine that means I wouldn’t have my kids :) and that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  • Kimberly Cundiff-Jefferson

    Okies I have been the minivan route, I swore I wouldn’t have one but we had no other choice, they had stopped making station wagons. We had four kids, they played sports, I didn’t drive. It was a mess, that minivan got ALOT of miles on it. I remember one time us cleaning it out in Target’s parking lot, right there in Springfield because we were looking for something. Oh boy! We had come across alot of stuff, but never did find what we were looking for. We didn’t find any other kid’s homework folder, but we did find some missing homework.

    Now I feel for poor Mark because he lost his folder, his parents probably got mad at him, and punished for a lifetime. Why it was in your van is the mystery, that will probably remain that way for a lifetime. Unless poor Mark is like my son and granddaughter, they want to get out of school so bad they stash homework folder and papers the quickest place. I asked Lila the other day as she got off the bus from school, where did you get this lunchbox, is it yours? She says it was in my cubicle. I said ok well is it yours, she says yes my mom bought for me. I said ok well I will check with your mom. I look inside to see if there is a name in it, yes there is a name inside but it wasn’t written on the lunch box, it was written on the papers inside, she folded them up and stuffed them in the lunchbox. So see if she lost her lunchbox, she would end up in more trouble than Mark because she would lose the homework AND the lunchbox.

    As for the hypocritical statement, I have been down that road, ate my words quite a few times. Also found that sometimes when you look at something your child or children do, it is a reflection on one’s self because they usually are mirror images of ourselves.

    I realized this when I went through the cursing phase with my children. My cute adorable three year old daughter had just gotten yelled at by her father and wasn’t happy about it. She told him to ummm yea Shut the F*** Up. I prayed rather quickly for her life but knew at this moment I had to play Super Mommy. I flew across the room before her father could say something or strap her up. In fact I flew in there so fast and grabbed her up by the overalls , apparently I moved so fast I startled everyone in the household. I tucked her under my cape and took her into the master bedroom, laid her on the bed and told her to stay there. I went out to talk to her dad by now he is out of shock and ready to laugh at it. We did chuckle at this little three year old, then I went into the bedroom, gave her the lecture about cursing, asked her where she heard it. She said from her mommy and daddy. My eyes grew big I looked at her father, and was like oh wow. From that day a valuable lesson was learned, watch what I say or do because always seem to copy you at the wrong times.

    As for the bunches of coffee cups, Barry get a reusable coffee mug, everywhere sell them and it was be less the mess on your part, making you able to live by your own rules and the kids too.

  • Michol Moglovkin Kaeser

    Oh, Barry- well spoken! I laughed out loud when I read the part about the coffee cups! Here’s my story: My husband insisted that we trade in my cute (paid off!) purple Honda Civic the month after finding out I was pregnant with our first child, for a (you guessed it!) mini-van. I thought it was a bit premature, but he was determined. We were also people who swore we’d never own a mini-van- he was more the muscle car type when I met him. Boy that changed quick! We had a choice between two 1999 leftovers- one with two sliding doors and one with just one sliding door. I said, “Let’s get the one with the two doors,” and he said, “Let’s think on it overnight.” The next day, the two-door was gone. I never let him forget it, either! How inconvenient was the lack of the second door! Well…
    What a nice surprise for my birthday about three years later, when he said “Let’s trade the van in for something with two doors!” Yay- I was all for it, of course. Nice new Windstar with TWO sliding doors- such a luxury! I think we had that feature for a whole year before finding out I was pregnant with triplets, and that when they were born it was physically impossible to fit them, their equipment and triple stroller into that van. So, goodbye, nice luxurious two door mini-van…hello Army green full size Ford E-150. With its ONE side door. It’s been our ‘tank’ for five years now. The kids are in boosters at last, and I’m actually WISHING for a mini-van again! Someday…:-)

  • The Ordained Barista

    You’re right Melissa, Pristine car vs. no kids= no contest!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Kim, Fantastic story!!!! It is amazing what those little ears are not only listening to but remembering…..Scary. A reusable mug sounds like a fantastic idea!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Triplets? Wow! What a blessing! Yeah the two door thing is a must. Isn’t it amazing what you find to be a luxury as a parent? 5 minutes of free time. A van with 2 doors. Milk in the fridge. Michol, Thanks for taking the time to read and comment it really means a lot to me!


  • The Ordained Barista

    I wish i hadn’t been throwing out all my kids happy meal toys now. What I want to know is what kind of kid gets a toy and has the will power to not open it? Heck, I can barely wait for my kids to finish their nuggets and apple dippers so I can play with their toy!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Tom, there are times that I would gladly choose the insane asylum with Batman’s villains. It must be quieter than my house!

  • Kerry Nikolich

    I few years back I was feeling bad about the mess in my minivan until I heard a story on the radio about a woman and her children who had gotten lost one night in a terrible blizzard. The mom pulled over to the side of the road to wait out the storm and she and her kids were buried in their minivan under the snow for days and days. Back home, the father was frantic, fearing the worst as the days went by. After the rescue workers finally found them and dug them out, they asked the mom how she and her kids had managed to survive. She told them if it hadn’t been for all the old food they had found on the floor and under the seats– discarded french fries, cheerios, crackers and half filled apple juice containers– she said she thinks she and her kids would have never had made it!

    I still smile when I think of that story– and I have never looked at an old french fry the same way again. What a blessing those french fries were! What a different outcome it could have been if she hadn’t allowed her children to eat in the car or if she had cleaned out her minivan that week!

    The way I see it now, I would be doing harm to my kids if we cleaned out our the minivan too often– and I bet my kids and I could have held out for a month in that storm!!!! Kerry

  • The Ordained Barista

    That is too too funny. I need to see if I can actually find that story. That is preaching material right there. Thank you for taking the time to comment!