Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Family Van

Welcome to our Practical Saturday post for large family living.  This is when and where we share some of the things that have helped us along the way to raising our large family.  Things we wish we would have known years ago, like around child # 5.  Today, I thought I would relate our journey to obtaining an organized van.

You’ve seen it.
You have even done it.  
The door of the van opens and out falls heaps of trash, notebooks, someone’s socks and several books, and then an assortment of children, and with their feet comes stuffed toys, the baby’s blanket 
and a dirty diaper.
Quickly you look around to see if anyone was watching. 
Undoubtedly there is someone laughing, someone nodding in understanding,
and an older lady with a look of disgust on her face, shaking her head from side to side.

Having been there, done that, and vowing to never do that again, 
I have become an organizational Nazi when it comes to the van.  
Tricking out a 15 passenger is really quite a rewarding project,
and even more so if you can get the children involved. 
“Remember that lady in the parking lot that looked at us with that look?  
Wasn’t that embarrassing? 
And remember how your “foofy” got all muddy because it fell out in the mud puddle?
  If we all work together we can get our van organized so everyone’s stuff is in a safe
and convenient place.
  They cheer, they offer suggestions, and we all get to work.

Starting in the front and working back, we scavenged some “just right” containers from the house and improvised where we had gaps, until we could shop for the perfect fit.
Underneath the driver’s seat we have a seat belt cutting tool,
a pair of work gloves, and an ice scraper.
Under the passenger seat, Mama keeps paper towels, and an emergency birthing kit. 
You just never know, and, we live way out. 
In between the front seats, we keep a Steralite basket to contain the various paraphernalia
that we take with us everywhere, like organizer, purse, water bottle, and diaper bag.  
The front has a few cup holders and a pocket where we have extra cords for the varied technology
we carry and, very important, a travel size bottle of Fabreeze. 
The glove compartment not only has the pertinent paperwork one needs,
but also holds as many fast food restaurant napkins as it can manage.

Underneath the front bench seat, another Steralite basket holds accident mop up stuff;
diaper wipes, a few hand towels, a roll of TP, a few grocery bags, and a couple of zip lock bags,
which are the best for sick bags, since you can seal them up.

A Rubbermaid one gallon container is just the right size to fit under the bench seat for a garbage. 
We use plastic grocery bags to line it, or, we hang a grocery bag over the arm of the driver’s seat.  Hanging from the back of the diver’s seat is an inexpensive car organizer we bought at Wal-Mart that holds books and toys for the toddler who sits there.  It is also a handy location for a washcloth.

Baskets under the other bench seats contain books, notebooks, pens, and travel games
for the older children who sit in that seat, as well as
a few tshirts and drawstring shorts that could be won by various small people,
and extra undies for the younger ones. 
One trip into the doctor’s office with a 4 year old wrapped in a coat and nothing else,
and you will keep at least an extra shirt around.
  The old saying goes, if you have it you won’t need it, but when you don’t have it,
then you will certainly need it. 
This has proved true too many times concerning extra clothing.
 We also keep a rolled up fleece blanket in each seat, way over on the window side.  
These have been handy time and time again.

In addition, the back of the van 
(we took the last seat out to accommodate groceries)
holds a Rubbermaid tub with survival gear, stored water, a tool kit, and a large first aid kit. 
The tub has everything we would need to survive in an emergency:  food, fire starting tools, rope, etc.  The first aid kit is extensive, and, we have used it over and over. 
It is  invaluable to have the medicine on-hand when you need it. 
Inside there are multiple sizes of bandages, including butterfly and superglue,
which we have used several times to close a stitch-worthy wound. 
There is rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, antibiotic ointment, moleskin, cotton balls, allergy meds, Tylenol, children’s pain killers, Advil, liquid cloves (for tooth pain) bug spray,
sun lotion, and anything else I could think of that would be a good thing to have.
I also have water in old milk jugs stored under the back seat. 
I believe we could live fairly comfortably in our van for a week or more. 
I like being prepared, especially when you live a ways out and travel in terrible weather conditions
on roads that don‘t see a lot of traffic.

The van is home away from home. 
The children have been taught that if there were ever an emergency and we are separated,
to return to the van, where an extra key will get them in and safe. 
If the house were on fire, go to the van. 
When traveling, the van has all the necessities for a comfy trip. 
It has been the place of many happy and hilarious memories.

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