Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mommy of Three + 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE Review

Knock, knock.

Are you all still there?? Phew, okay. 

Let me begin by saying, Happy New Year! 2016 has been eventful, to say the least. Let's face it, I think we can all let out a sigh of relief at the closing of 2016. A lot has happened since we last spoke. February 2016, I quit my job as an educator due to extreme stress (best thing I ever did), I began baking at a local bakery and fell even more in love with creating delicacies, I dealt with the loss of my 26-year old brother in August (not quite ready to talk about that yet), I have since become a full-time stay-at-home mom to my two boys, annnnnnnnnnnnnd I am expecting a third baby boy in SIX WHOLE DAYS!!! 

I can go more into depth about the other events if you all wish, but right now I will tackle the "one" huge elephant in the room (I know unloaded a lot on you): my pregnancy.

Outfit Deets: Dress: Target// Boots: JustFab// Headwrap: H&M (old)

As stated above, I am currently 39 weeks pregnant as of today. How am I feeling, you ask? Well, imagine chasing, breaking up fights, feeding, bathing, transporting, playing, and loving two boys ages 3 and 6...all while feeling like a whale. THAT'S how I'm feeling. Now that you have that image in mind, I can assure you that I am extremely excited to welcome my new baby boy to all of this chaos called motherhood.

I know you're probably thinking "Mother to THREE boys?! I could never!" Well, I'm pretty darn happy about the thought of a third boy joining the clan. He should fit in seamlessly (in my dreams, right?). It's not the thought of three boys that gives me the heebie-jeebies. It's the thought of having three children under the age of 6 that makes me want to pack my bags and leave them to their dad (bad joke).  Although, I've heard from moms of three and more that after the second child you don't mind the third, fourth, fifth---okay, maybe not fifth, but you get the idea.

My 6-year old, Jacob
I know I personally have trouble dividing attention equally between my sons and having to split it among three?! Help. Me. And let's not speak on the totally different personalities. My 6 year old is sweet, well-mannered, a bit of a smart ass, and super sensitive. My 3 year old wanted to really test my motherhood skills and decided to be a daredevil with the worst attitude but who, in the same breath, will hug you tightly while whispering how much he loves you.  I don't know whether to cry tears of anger or joy; so I suppress said tears.

My 3-year old, Jackson
Not only does the addition of a third conjure up the thought of possible personality traits and potential chaos, but it will also have you desperately seeking out double/triple strollers, car seats, and bigger cars (okay, trucks). I currently drive an Acura 3.2 TL, so you can imagine my panic when thinking about three car seats packed tightly across my backseat. NOT. HAPPENING. 

Insert tons of Google images of trucks with third rows (I refuse to own a minivan #sorrynotsorry).

Fortunately, I got the opportunity to review the 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD in August of 2016 and I immediately thought of the spacious third row that it featured. It was time for our annual vacation to Michigan so we really got to test out it's "roominess" when piling in all of our suitcases, beach essentials, and, of course, children.

Simply lift the mat to reveal third row

I loved that the Toyota Highlander has the capability to play DVDs, so when the kids became restless (read: annoying) I put in Monster's University and let them lose themselves in the animation. Even better, you can make sure the sound is only in the back so parents don't have to be subjected to listening to yet another kid's movie (smart move, Toyota, smart move). 

The 8-seater Toyota Highlander XLE also features an impressive moonroof (can you say, fresh air?), built-in sun shades (genius), and a blind spot monitor (Life. Saver!) among other impressive features. I previously owned a Toyota Highlander (albeit 10 years ago) and I can speak to it's endurance and excellence as an SUV. I was more than pleased to be back in the newer version years later; it only improved with time. For this to be a large SUV, it drives like you're floating on air. I also totally appreciated the captain's chairs which allow for easy movement in the back area, so when you need to get back there and set your kid straight, errrr um, I mean check on them, you can do so with ease. 

Starting at $38, 775 (XLE model; there are less expensive options available) and boasting a cool 18 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway, the 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE is definitely a strong third row SUV contender. I will definitely be placing this at the top of my list when I finally decide to kick my old Acura to the curb (love you, baby). 

I was provided the 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD courtesy of DriveShop to test for a week free of charge for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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