But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children . . . Psalm 103:17

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vehicle questions

Adding 5 people to ones family brings about many adjustments and changes.  There's the obvious statement of the day.

I think back to the day when we found out we were having the quintuplets.  My first thoughts when the sonogram technician pointed out "number five" on the screen were: 1. Lord, please, no.  I can't handle this!  2.  We need a new house! (in PNG)  3. We need a new car!  Yep, I'm a man.  That's where my thoughts went-- straight to the practical.

Since then, there have been many emotional adjustments, of course, but there still remains the practical.  What kind of stroller do we get (yes, there are quintuplet strollers out there), what kind of car seat, how many swings, cribs, bottles, etc., etc.!  We've never had quints before, so a lot of these questions will be answered by experience and by talking with those few, those proud, who have walked our road before.

My big question of late, though, is about a vehicle.  Currently we're driving a Chrysler 7 seater minivan, which has been wonderful for our family of three and our belongings as we have traveled around (thank you, Nortons!).  Eventually, we are going to need a vehicle with 8 seats.  I know that I could buy another bench seat for our current van and fit it in place of the two "captain" seats in the middle row, but that would leave us with having to access the rear row over the middle row or through the rear lift gate.  Hence the questions:

  • How soon will that be?  
  • Will we take all five babies and Isaac anywhere without an additional vehicle and help in the months between the babies' homecoming and our departure to PNG?  
  • How long until we depart for PNG?  
  • What vehicles are out there now that have eight seats AND are practical for getting five car seats into?  
We have no answers for the first three questions.  The fourth does seem to have some clearer answers.  There are a few minivans out there these days that have 8 seats, but they are mostly later models-- therefore higher dollar.  Even these, though, seem pretty impractical when I try to picture 5 car seats installed, three across the back, two in the middle, and a small bit of space left for Isaac.  How do we get past the middle seat to put the babies in the rear row if a car seat is installed in it?  Possible, yes, repeatably practical, I'm not so sure.  There are several SUVs out there with 8 seats, but they are even less practical for loading little kids, since they sit higher and don't have sliding doors like a minivan.  And that's not even considering the price for such cars.  

Cargo capacity is one of the big considerations that has to factor in.  How much space are we going to have for all the baby paraphernalia once every one of the eight seats is filled?  Minivan: not much.  SUV: possibly even less, depending on the model.  

Conclusion: 12 passenger van.  Think church bus.  Lots of head room.  Lots of space to get to each baby because of the aisle on the side.  Lots of cargo space in the back for the "stuff."  It's not my final answer, since it's got several downsides to it.  Sheer size and bulk for driving.  Gas mileage. :)  Cost.  

Here are my questions for any of you.  Do you know of anyone with an 8 seater vehicle for sale?  A church van?  A child care vehicle?  Something that might fit our situation?  

I see the 12 passenger van as being probably the best answer (and that has been echoed by several other quintuplet parents), but there are other possibilities out there we are happy to consider.  We're open to suggestions and advice.  Thank you!

Just for laughs, here is a friend's suggestion for a modification for our vehicle in PNG.  



  1. One thing at a time dear one...get all those babies home safe...in three or four cars if you have to...God knows the rest...but will be praying for this and all the other logistics and adjustments you guys are/will be facing

  2. stretch hummer? ;)
    praying for you all!

  3. You need our van here in the Philippines. Toyota HiAce 10 passenger. Bench behind front seats could take 2 car seats, back seat could take 3, you still have the removable jump seat for the extra 2 grandparent passengers and Isaac could sit in the seat by the sliding door next to the 2 car seats - it slides forward for access to the back. Lots of storage room for the extra stuff. Do they sell Toyota HiAce in PNG? Do you need 4WD? Not sure if that is an option.

    I am sure God has it in the plan - he knows what you will need - no worrying now, he will provide when the vehicle is needed.

    Maddy Hardeman (Wycliffe kid - VN/Philippines, adult mish with OC International- Philippines)

  4. I know God will lead u to answers and provide when the time comes! An 8 seat Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna might work..... Isaac would need to sit by the door and that seat flips forward for access to the back seat. You could find someone who has one of these and do a simulation lol! A car top carrier, hard shell one, also adds lots of space for stuff and both those vans have deep luggage wells in the back. My brother, Don Paul Gross has an 8 seater Sienna. Mine is only 7. Anyway, God will show you when the time comes, but I know it's nice to figure it out ahead! Praying much and so glad they are doing well last update!

    Laurie Newman

  5. I have an 8 seat Sienna. You're welcome to see how it works. It will fit everyone, but rear-facing carseats in the third row would be a problem. It would just be too hard to get the babies in and out.

    I think the real solution is to wait and see. I seriously doubt there will be any occasion that only 1 adult is going to go anywhere with all 6 children. If the whole family needs to go somewhere, you'll have another adult (or several!) who can drive another car.

    I have a friend with 6 children, expecting her 7th, who hasn't been able to fit the whole family in one vehicle for a couple of years now! There is some social pressure to always get a bigger and better thing, but it really hasn't been much of problem, when you consider that any time you want to bring all or most of the kids somewhere, you will have another adult helping you out. Like me! I would be honored to help you guys drive babies around, when the time comes.

    1. Gina, you're so sweet! As if you didn't already have your hands full . . . :) Thanks for the feedback. I agree, but gas ends up being double. Still, cheaper than another vehicle!

  6. LOL, great blog post....and I'm sure Carrie is wondering if the new vehicle will have the proper amount of cup holders, color of the carpeting and can everyone see the dvd players (just teasing)! :)

  7. I think you are going to be looking at a 12 passenger van until such a time as you are not hauling car seats, strollers, diaper suitcase (a bag is just not going to cut it here!), and other paraphernalia. When they are out of carseats and possibly just in boosters, toilet trained, etc, then you can look into a 8 passenger van.

    Sorry. :-)

    But glad to see you thinking of that after the worry of the last few days with Seth and David. Been praying and praying, but had to admit to cringing yesterday before opening your blog. So happy for the good news!

  8. My daughter just bought a Honda Pilot which can seat 8 and is very roomy...however you would have to put most luggage on top if you were seating 8.

  9. Don't forget the helpers you'll need to "adopt" to make 5 babies at once work! I agree with the others...thinking ahead is good, but worrying...not so much!

  10. I have triplets. They were babies #3, #4, & #5 (born in 1997). When we had them, we had a Ford Aerostar (7 passenger). That was one of our first thoughts too...about whether our vehicle would work. We lived in a 3 bedroom, 1200 sq ft (if you count the garage) house. It was tight, but we made it work until about 6 years ago when we moved to a larger house. As my other two kiddos were 8 & 2 when the triplets were born, we were faced with 4 carseats. We put two of the triplets in the very back of the van and my 8 year old helped us load them. We loaded through the back. We would hand my 8 y-o (Ben) a monitor (all three babies were on apnea monitors) and then lift the carseat over and set it into the base. Ben would make sure it was secure. After a while, we purchased a full size conversion van. It gave a LOT more room for the carseats. We are back in a mini van now (my kids are 24--on his own, 18, 15, 15, & 15). I am starting to consider an suv now for extra leg room. :-)

    I have a friend who has adopted 6 kids (only 1 in a car seat now) and she bought a larger van (15 pass I think). She has one child who is in a wheelchair, so the 15 pass allows them to take out a back row for extra storage.

    Good luck. Praying for you, Issac, & the babies.

  11. Gavin, my son and his wife have 6 children, all single births. They are former associates with New Tribes Missions, but now have moved to Christiansburg, VA. They drove a Suburban for a few years and then converted to a 12 passenger GMC Savanna van. It has worked well for them. You would have plenty of space for carseats and some storage in the back. They bought a small pod trailer which weighs almost nothing to pull behind the van. There is room for two extra passengers if needed (in the van, not the pod :-). The ride is not great, but it gets them where they need to go. The youngest is almost seven (oldest 14), so car seats are only booster seats now. It is not 4wheel drive, but does sit rather high off the road. I found your blog through another's, but have been keeping up with your tribe since the quints were born. We live in West Virginia, but thank goodness, God's people are not limited by distance. We are keeping your family in our prayers.

  12. We currently have a 15 passenger van and 8 children, all singletons. After our 6th child was born, we did the "2 car" thing for a season but it was rather a pain. It really discouraged us from goingn anywhere as a family. I needed to be able to take all the kids somewhere by myself and we could fit the 6 kids and me into the 7 seat minivan, though the eldest had to sit in the front seat (and she was a bit younger than the recommended age for that.) At that time we had 2 car seats and 3 boosters. It was a huge struggle getting even 3 boosters into the back of our minivan and I don't think we could have gotten 3 car seats in. You'd want to make very sure that the car seats will fit before you buy an 8 passenger vehicle.

    The 15 passenger does have rotten gas mileage (about 15 mpg) but actually, our minivan isn't a WHOLE lot better. I think it has about 21 or 22 mpg. Truth is, with a boatload of little ones you probably won't be driving a lot anyway. I stay home a LOT even now and I just have one small baby right now (and a nutty toddler, and 6 older kids with the eldest being 12.)

    I would say definitely think about the 12 passenger. Pray, of course, but I would guess it is the best solution for you as with the back seat out, you'll have plenty of cargo space.

    We bought a 15 because we thought it likely we'd have more children when we "only" had 6, and indeed we did :-).

    God bless, Laraba

  13. Be sure when you are testing vehicles to test the car seats as well. We discovered 3 car seats side by side do not fit very easly with getting to the seat belts. You can get seat belt extenders but not sure that is so safe. TEST, TEST TEST!!! Best go in seperate cars with lots of help.

  14. WE don't have the issue of children however we do have 4 in carseats.... We have 4 radian 80 carseats and love them! they go from infant all the way up and are foldable in the event you are out,without children, and need seating space for someone else. easy to fold car seat in half and put in back. The radian carseats are more narrower than most. I can easily fit three across the seat of a car or my suburban.

    Good luck on your search and I have loved following your story. We had twins, they are now 23 and have adopted 4 sn girls that are now and couldn't be happier. God is Good....ALL the TIME!

    Rita Andrews

  15. It is certainly a complicated consideration! Finding the sweet spot of sufficient seats + ability to put babies into carseats + cargo room will no doubt be a challenge. Will certainly be praying for a good transportation solution for your family!

  16. There are specific car seats that are smaller. They are more expensive but worth it!

  17. Can't help you with the vehicle but I can with the type of carseats. My daughter has a 5 yr old and a 1 yr old and will only put them in a Britax. They're a lot more expensive than some of the others (you can usually find them on sale at online retailers) but that's because of all the safety features etc. There have been numerous cases of vehicles being totalled in accidents and the Britax carseats remaining completely intact. They hold the patents on a lot of the technology they use. Hope this helps:-)

  18. Gavin, We have quints plus one and we drive a chevy express 12 passenger van. Has help up great and we have had it for 12 years. Good luck!


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Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

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