Getting The Mom Van

A huge goal for our family was to get out of our tiny Civic and into a minivan before Conner turned 10 (which happens this June). Although I love Honda and the Civic was a fantastic car, our 3 children when  riding together would fight the entire time. 

I'm talking fighting from the moment the car door opened until 15 minutes after we arrived at our destination every single time without fail. It was more than obvious it wasn't their fault - they were squished. Literally packed into our vehicle like sardines and I carried so much guilt over the entire situation.

About a year ago, we realized the time limit on the Civic was up but we were left with my husband's truck note and no alternative vehicle for him to get my stepdaughter to school and him to work. So he found a cheap car shell (We are talking less than a $50 investment here) and rebuilt everything else over 8 months. Dedication!!! 

Once finished with his new daily driver, we rushed to our nearest Honda dealership with a list of necessities (space! and an affordable monthly note!) and desires (those fog lights sure looked fancy...). 

After 8 hours of negotiations and the truck being paid off in the process, we left and came back 2 days later to retrieve our brand new 2015 Honda Odyssey. To say we were excited doesn't cut it. We were over the moon. 

2015HondaOdyssey
2015HondaOdyssey2Miles


Until we drove the new minivan 6 miles home. Leaving Honda, our new van had only 2 miles on the odometer. We drove home a few minutes, getting off the interstate, when the brand new vehicle began knocking - hard. Over the next 5 stops, our prized minivan clunked and knocked through every take off.   

Blake, my darling mechanically inclined husband, looked like someone had gut-punched him as it finally exclaimed "park it" and I did.

That's when a lovely call was made to Honda, they called a tow truck, and a 2015 Honda Odyssey with 8 miles on it was flat-bedded back to the dealership. 

Que sad face music.

I knew we would NOT take the messed up transmission minivan we had just legally purchased, and I also knew that I had the right to back out of the transaction within 48 hours. So I called and told them that under no circumstances, essentially Hell + High Water wouldn't even do, that I would take back that particular minivan.

24 hours passed before they had an answer. We headed back to the dealership only to be presented with this beauty:

Don't mind my co-worker standing there. She wouldn't move for my impromptu minivan photo shoot. 

Don't mind my co-worker standing there. She wouldn't move for my impromptu minivan photo shoot. 

RidingInTheCarWithBoysAndMovies


Same car, sorta. The price? Stayed the same. But this is the Touring option for the Honda Odyssey. Same color as the first, I insisted, but new van-baby came with a RES (Rear Entertainment System) which includes a DVD player, wireless headsets and more USB ports than in my home currently. The 2015 Honda Odyssey Touring also has a sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, NAV system, and other special stuff that I'm sure is ultra nice but all I care about is this:

ConnerChaseLoveMinivan


These kids. They couldn't be more excited to have room. There's no more fighting. That's right! NO MORE CAR FIGHTING. They can spread out. WE CAN GO PLACES. And Conner has become some sort of Protector of The Minivan and now takes the time to not step on the seats, collect his trash, and inquire about certain parking spaces being too small. 

Before this minivan solution, we were forced to be picky about where we went. What if the drive was too long? How would the kids feel? Could we even handle it mentally? (no is the answer to that last one)

Did we miss out on important family events or social times? Absolutely without a doubt - YES. And now we don't have to. That's such a good feeling.



What's For Dinner - A Meal Prep Tip

Grilled chicken pictured here, with roasted asparagus, bell peppers, red potatoes, risotto, & baked spaghetti.

Grilled chicken pictured here, with roasted asparagus, bell peppers, red potatoes, risotto, & baked spaghetti.

I loathe the question, and all variations of it - “What’s for dinner?”.

Here’s a helpful tip for getting through a hectic work week without starving or spending all of your time and money on fast food junk.

Meal Prep Protein!

We eat a lot of chicken and lean ground turkey, as well as eggs. My husband, a type 1 diabetic with gastroparesis has a limited diet, and on top of that, I’m simply not a fan of fatty meats. But cooking chicken 3-5 nights a week? NO and THANK YOU.


What You’ll Need:
 

  • 2-4 lbs. of chicken, depending on how many meals you’d like to make and how many mouths you have to feed. I prefer to take advantage of our deals at The Fresh Market, which often times has antibiotic-free chicken at 2.99/lb. on Tuesdays. That’s $3.00/lb savings!
  • Crockpot (any size will do!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I prefer grape seed to olive oil because it has a higher smoke point)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Seasoning of choice (I prefer a 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary as it is pretty universal and doesn’t have a super strong flavor profile)

-    -    -    -    

Turn on your crockpot to the “high - 4 hour” setting. If yours doesn’t have variable settings, I’d watch this the first go-round.

Pour in your 2 tablespoons of oil (less for 2 lbs. chicken). Top with your raw chicken, salt, pepper and rosemary. Cover with lid.

After 2 hours, rotate the chicken pieces. The ones on the bottom are likely totally done, but the ones on the top are still raw. Stir!

After the 4th hour, you’ll start to see magic. Notice how I never said to add any liquid? Well, your pot is full now, right? Marvelous! Once fully cooked, you should be able to get out a spoon, stir, and the chicken will fall apart.

Cut the heat, and set the crockpot aside to cool. I let the chicken rest for an hour in the stock as to retain moisture.

Pull your chicken out with strainer spoon (lots of shredded goodness!), and portion for your meals. Make sure to pour a few tablespoons of the “chicken juice” from your crockpot into your portions so reheating doesn’t dry it out.
Enjoy!



I use this in a HUGE variety of chicken, seasoning appropriately for each meal. For example, here’s our meals from last week:

  • Monday - Chicken Quesadillas (in the oven) w/ Spanish Rice and Roasted Peppers
  • Tuesday - Chicken N Dumplings
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti w/ Meat* Sauce and Roasted Portabella Mushrooms (*We use ground turkey, cooked w/ a teaspoon of grape seed oil for 15 minutes, then I drown it in a sea of tomato sauce and spice it up - cooking for another 5 on low/medium).
  • Thursday - Cheesy Chicken w/ lemon Risotto and Spinach Salad (Top shredded chicken with provolone cheese, bake for a few minutes on low to melt and heat)
  • Friday - Spinach & Tomato Quiche (can add shredded chicken to get rid of it, or for added protein)

 

With 5 bellies, 3 of which belong to children, it took 3 lbs. of chicken to make all of the meals above. All of which I already had portioned, partially seasoned, cooked and shredded before even starting my post-work personal Chef sessions for my family.

What do you do to save time? I know this has saved me from many martial “debates”!