I was one of those people who despised minivans. I disliked the way they looked — rectangular sardine cans on wheels. I disliked the way families would stream out of them like they were a clown car.

I disliked the women who got out of them, with their short Mom haircuts and their perfectly pressed jeans, toting their screaming kids to piano lessons, soccer, and karate. The husband and I laughed at these minivan drivers — how miserable and utterly boring their lives must be.

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Although we recycled like maniacs, were proponents of public transportation, and did our best at sustainable living, the husband and I were hypocrites that drove SUVs and sports cars. I was in my 20′s and swore I would never set foot inside a mini van. I was never going to be one of those moms. The appeal was completely lost on me.

Honda Odyssey

Fast forward a few years. I’m now 34, have two children, the same husband (we’re inching towards the seven year itch mark and neither of us are itchy, thank goodness), a mother-in-law who is quick to critique any of us, but would gives us her limbs if she had to, two dogs, a mortgage and… a minivan. That’s right — a minivan. It’s not just any minivan, it is the Rolls Royce of all minivans: the awe-inspiring Honda Odyssey.

When the husband first suggested the Odyssey, our son had just turned two and Hurricane Wilma turned our swimming pool a greenish black; all the palm trees (and other trees and shrubs) lost their fronds, limbs, and leaves. I thought the husband was joking. I mean, c’mon, me in a minivan?

The image of the husband driving a minivan was even more hilarious. I looked online and closely examined the exterior and interior of the Odyssey. The corners of my mouth turned down. I felt a slight tick in my eye.

This was not good. After a decent test drive, we went home with an Odyssey. We’re now on our second Odyssey and I can’t imagine myself and the family without this vehicle. I love sitting inside my car.

The leather seats are incredibly comfortable and contour against my back like it was made specifically for me. I’m not very tall and the automatic seats make it easy to adjust, so I don’t need to fish for the pedals like a kid.

The driver’s seat and front passenger seat are heated — score! Believe it or not, we have used our seat warmers here in South Florida. When you’ve acclimated to humid 85 degree weather, 65 degrees seems downright frigid.

We chose an Odyssey with the Entertainment Package, which translates to quiet kids and happy parents. What’s great about this option is that the kids can watch the movie in the second row with headphones on while the husband and I listen to XM Radio. It’s amazing how watching Finding Nemo for the 48th time can reduce bickering.

Our car has three rows of seats, so we can seat eight people. When my parents come down to visit, we don’t have to take two separate vehicles. The middle seat in the second row can be removed so that the right-hand passenger seats can be moved over to the left and make it easier to access the third row seating. The third row can fold down for

Speaking of storage, the Odyssey has been a miracle worker for us. We’ve toted huge plants, furniture, dogs and lumber in the car and have never been unencumbered. I can put an entire week’s worth of groceries in the back and not have to worry that I put a bag on top of the eggs and still go to Home Depot and get some plants and bags of fertilizer. Tres facile!

The tri-zone automatic climate control is helpful since I need to blast Antarctic air into my face; the husband likes it cold, but not that cold, and the kids go along with anything. Another great feature of our car is the GPS navigation system with voice recognition. Gone are the days of going to Google Maps and printing the directions — a waste of a tree anyway.

I love just typing an address into the system and hearing a gentle woman’s voice come on over the speakers and guide me to my final destination. The voice recognition not only works for the navigation system, but with the radio also. It’s a little frustrating to use since you can clearly say “FM” and it will go to AM radio, but this is a minor flaw and an option I rarely use.

The rearview camera gives me an added sense of security. I still need to turn my head, check my rear and side view mirrors, but I like to see the fender level view. The camera also helps with my parking, especially my parallel parking. I consider myself a a very good defensive driver (thank you Sears Driving School for showing me the way), but my parallel parking skills are mediocre at best.

With the camera, however, I am a parallel parking machine. To all the moms who drove minivans while I criticized and pre-judged them, I apologize. I was wrong. And to minivans (especially my beloved Odyssey) everywhere, I salute you.

By the way, I don’t have a Mom haircut and I’m not toting the kids to soccer practice — yet.

Pic of the Day: Dog heaven

Dog heaven