Friday, November 11, 2011
In the summer of 2009, right before we traveled to Ukraine, we realized our Toyota 4Runner was not big enough to hold two girls and two strollers when we wanted to go places as a family. So we bit the bullet and bought a mini van.
And now, a little over 2 years later, it feels as though we have outgrown the mini van! The saying always goes "if I had known what I know now....", yeah well, I'm feeling that way right about now!
Before we adopted Mila we had no idea that she would be a wheelchair kind of kiddo. I guess we took for granted that Hannah has CP and so does Mila, and not all CP kiddos are cut from the same mold. Hannah has graduated from walker to walking independently. Though she uses a medical stroller for long distances (like a trip tot he zoo), most short distances, like down the school hallway, she is walking independently. Mila on the other hand, utilizes a wheelchair for most outings, both school and leisure.
Our van has worked well with two children as we have typically kept the back seat folded into the floor and used the back space to roll Mila's wheelchair in and have Hannah's stroller if needed. Now, with Eli home, we need to have the third row seat up for the third child. Even though our van is 2 years old, the 3 row seat is not split 60/40. It's all or nothing up/down. So now, with the third row seat up, we have the well behind the third row to put the wheelchair in.
If you were to see me trying to get Mila's wheelchair out of the van in the school parking lot, you might think I was part of a stunt double take during a movie! Or, maybe it would be better fitting on America's Funniest Home Videos. Her's the one time I'll say it, I'm short....short enough that trying to get Mila's wheelchair out of the back of the van with the wheels on is no fun at all. SO, I take the wheels off. So now each day when I take the wheelchair out of the van, I have to put the wheels back on it before putting Mila in it. And after I put her into the van, I pop the wheels off the wheelchair, hoof the frame into the back of the van, then put the wheels in. This is all fine and dandy when the weather is nice, but once the winter slush begins, I'll be a wet mess on a daily basis!
We've been looking for options. There are plenty of lifts/hoists, but most utilize the space in the third row for the lift. If we take the third row out, we can't travel as a family. If we put the lift (there is only ONE option that will work with our van and leaving the third row up) in, we will never again be able to put the seat down. The other bad part is, with the seat up, we can only fit Mila's wheelchair in the back, so there is no room for Hannah's medical stroller or a stroller for Eli. OY, gracious!
We've looked at other vans with a 60/40 split back seat, but I'm not sure that's the best option. The lift sounds okay, but I'm wondering how long it will be until her wheelchair is too big to fit in the back well of the van. Is it really time to go to a 12 passenger van?
I'm spoiled that my van is in a garage. Our garage is not attached to our home, so I typically make three trips out tot he car each morning, but at least I'm in the garage while putting children in the van and fastening seat belts. If we go to a 12 passenger van, it will no longer fit in the garage. :( I'm also spoiled that y current van has automatic doors and back hatch. It is very nice to get Mila under the back hatch and keep her dry while putting her in or taking her out of the wheelchair.
Is it too much to ask for the van fairy to come and make all my dreams come true so that our family can all ride together and have space for the many seating needs of my kiddos? If he/she promises to come, I'll leave MY van keys under my pillow!