Sunday, December 30, 2007

Have a seat

Here we are again in the basement. I know, the floor needs painting and there is a getaway car on the lose.

A couple weekends ago Matt spent two ENTIRE days in the garage. This is what he came out with. The design took the longest, the actual construction only took a few hours.

Remember our trip to the salvage yard? We were not successful in extracting these from the donor vehicles so Matt fabricated them from three 1/4 inch thick 12 x 18 steel plates we purchased for $65. The plates are attached to the floor, the swivel mechanisms are attached to the seats and then hooked into these plates that are attached to the floor.

This weekend Matt installed seats. Here's the first one.

We enjoyed coffee in the breakfast nook while we discussed moving the door and sleeping arrangements.

The drivers seat was strategically placed so we could both reach the pedals comfortably, the navigator seat will have to wait until we close off the door. Oh, did I tell you, I conceded. We will be moving the door. The pro's and con's list was a great idea.

The middle row is installed with the swivels and the back row seats were raised a little to be even with all the others.

Prior to the installation Matt emerged from the basement singing praises to his drill press and holding 6 of these. 2x3's reinforced with 3/4 inch pipe to hold the bolts that hold the seats to the floor.

I guess he used them to do this:

While Matt was working on Errabundus outside in the snow...

...I was inside planning the paint scheme. I was accused of just playing on the computer.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pro's and Con's

We're trying to decide whether or not to move the front door. Matt and I are at an impasse so we decided to involve the kids. We sat together last night and made up a pro and con list.

First a little explanation of the procedure.

The 4th window back would be removed and an opening would be cut out of the of the side of the bus. And about 2 feet of the floor. Then a box would have to be assembled to house the stairs. A door would need to be constructed and fit.

Meanwhile, up front the door would be removed, a metal frame would be constructed on the side wall and at floor level. The floor would be finished like the rest of the floor and the side wall of the bus would need to be enclosed. Hopefully, the metal cut from the siding of the bus at the new entrance would be enough to cover the old opening, and the window would be able to be reused for the passenger side.

This would in no way jeopardize the structural integrity of the bus.
This would not impact the bathroom area already planned.
After painting, the change would not be recognizable.
It can be done. Check out SportyRicks bus

Better utilization of passenger space.
easier to get in and out while camping
gain storage space in old stairwell (with access panel)
The new door would be able to be locked
Less noise in the passenger area

Loss of School-bus-iness.
exiting in time of emergency
difficulty of design
delay of finished bus
interruption of floor space in kitchen area
narrow opening

Matt has a couple of days off, we'll keep you updated on the decision and progress.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Present

This year the family Christmas card went out without a group photo once again. With my beloved iMac, the wonder of iWork and iPhoto, iWas able to produce a lovely newsletter. Gotta love "templates"!

Enjoy our blog safe version! Click to view a larger version (One that you can actually read)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's NOT Broken!

At basketball practice yesterday our 14 year old stepped on a teammate's foot and sprained his ankle. Actually he only stepped on half of his teammate's foot then his foot rolled off his teammate's foot. He said he heard a terrible sound, kind of like "cracking your knuckles, only deeper." As much as I complain about children's bodily fluids not being where they are supposed to be, I'd much rather deal with blood, vomit and the like than this.

It would have been less painful for him if he would have just stepped on the whole foot, but I've learned this about my son, he has a habit of doing half of what's expected.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Past

I gave up on Christmas pictures in 2005. I don't know if it's the number of kids I have or my inability to make them do what I want that makes it so fun.

I must say I do love the digital camera. At least you know BEFORE it's too late that you're going to just have to write a catchy letter instead.
2005 was the year my Christmas letter started like this...

Turn around! Knock it off! Sit still! Get your hand out of his face, please.
Move in......closer.......
OK, go get a tissue......Ready? we go........SMILE........CLICK.

The perfect family picture. Everyone is home, clean and dressed at the same time. The tree lights are on and the background is cleared of clutter. Each face before me reflects their own personality.

I took about 18 of these. I regret to inform you that, without the proper photo-editing software, I was unable to produce a picture worthy of print. A picture of everyone smiling, eyes open and looking at the camera at the same time. A collage might have been in order but there are only so many hours in a day. I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who gets the perfect picture in front of the tree is either lucky or lying.
(Or, has had several years of experience herding livestock.)

Here was the product of that evening's work put to music.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of Boxes and Bookshelves

Not much being done on the bus as of late. But, inside the house, it's a different story.

Getting ready for Christmas for some means taking out boxes of decorations that were neatly packed away for a year, deciding on the perfect tree and finding a spot for it amongst the other ornamentation.

For us, this year, motivated by my daughter's gentle prompting, we are cleaning out the back room. Being the oldest and the only girl should have some perks. One of them, we promised her last year, was the other bedroom downstairs instead of upstairs with all the boys. After being patient for about a year, she finally put her foot down and I could no longer wiggle out from underneath it.

Mostly it was boxes. Boxes of books that I packed away last year when I was trying to make room on my bookshelves for the new boxes of books I was going to receive in the mail. Matt had promised me bookshelves last February and he's almost done with them. That was the hold up. I convinced him to at least get them up and functional. (which seems to be a trend here) They are not sanded, stained or attached to the wall, but they are happily filled with books.

The books that didn't make it to the shelves have been separated into Sell (5 boxes) and Donate (1 box). What's left in the room is overwhelming. There's a reason it was stuffed back there. Too good to throw (plus, I might need it someday) but I don't know where to put it. It was hard enough making the decision of which books to keep and which ones to let go. I'll deal with it in little chunks. It'll get done, but I don't know if it'll be before Christmas.

Here is another bookshelf in the dining room which I reorganized to fit "The Books of Knowledge" onto. When we found them in my Grandma's attic, my son, full of wonder exclaimed, "Great Grandma has the Books of KNOWLEDGE!" There was a sense of awe in his voice and in his eyes I could see the gears turning. With this kind of resource at his fingertips there's no telling what heights he could achieve. He's that kind of kid.

Notice I had help with the decorating.

There's a spot for the PSP...
a pretty plastic box with 2 batteries...
and of course a shrine to Steve Irwin...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Who would win?

We play this game at our house called "who would win" It's spontaneous and ongoing. Right now we're in a debate. Who would win? Darth Vader or Megatron? They're both bad guys which makes it difficult. Usually I can pull up enough character flaws on a bad guy to make him lose if he's up against a good guy. My argument on this case is hands down Megatron just because of his size. The kids argue that Darth Vader has the force. My comeback is that "the force" is not undefeatable because eventually it's penetrable because of some weakness in the character. As far as I know, the only weak spot on Megatron is that spot on his chest. I've only seen the movie twice though so I could be wrong....what do you think?

Well this morning we had an interesting one between my 10 and 6 year old boys. Who would win? Mr. Demme or Bowser?

They concluded if Mr. Demme got a point for each missed math question he posed to Bowser, he'd win by a knockout.

Intelligence beats raw power. There is hope for my boys.

Plus, look how tough he is standing right next to this dinosaur. He doesn't even look afraid.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We got Elfed

Click on the pictures and watch us dance!

Make your own and send it to us.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Laundry room massacre

Tiny toys at our house are often found in precarious situations. I think of Toy Story and routinely wonder if it could really happen.

The other day when I went downstairs to put a dent in Mt. Laundry I made a shocking discovery. Besides the fact that my floors need painting...

I fear that Mr. Incredible may have met his match.

Along with the horror of seeing first hand the gunk that had accumulated on my dryer, I witnessed this sight...

I believe the Red/Blue Guy might may have been trying to help but was thrown clear of the scene and wedged under the dryer.

Whatever happened to these two? We may never know.
I wonder if Mater had anything to do with it?
With the writer's strike in Hollywood I wonder if I should notify CBS. Maybe C.S.I. would be interested.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bohemian Chic

Here are all the seats placed. This is not the exact spacing yet, we'll need to all get in and sit first. I guess the 2nd batch of seats was not exactly the same color as the first, but they do all match.

I hear it's not called the "eclectic" look anymore.

It's Bohemian Chic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Measure twice, cut once

Today we cut, laid, drilled and screwed plywood to the bottom of the bus. The plastic underneath is to try to cut down on the moisture. This first piece was a doosy!

Measure twice, cut once....That's Matt's motto.

See that little hole on the right side about 2 feet from the door? He measured and cut a perfect hole. In the wrong place. Forgive him? He's got an awful cold.

And for you Mom and Dad, a picture of the kittens. We've had them just a little over a year and they've never seen them. Even when they "cat sat" for a week. They only come out at night when the kids are in bed. Mater lounges on top of Maddy, while Millie , not wanting to be accused of such an obvious display of relaxation, keeps an eye out for intruders.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Salvage Yard Etiquette

Well, here we are back at the salvage yard. Here are those drasted swivel mechanisms. They're stuck, no amount of elbow grease will make them give up their position.

"Ya know" Matt says to me, "Fleet farm has them for $30.00 a piece." "Really" I say not wanting to give up hope for cheap ( I mean recycled) parts , "Let's look around some more." I've got the bug. This is my Black Friday without the crowds. The van did not prove to be so stingy with its overhead lights though, we are able to muscle 3 sets away from her.

While I am new to this whole scene, Matt has been doing this for years. BUT he's never looked through conversion vans and campers before, it's a whole 'nother world. He's area of expertise is FAST stuff. You know, under the hood stuff, engines, transmissions, turbo chargers and intercoolers. It turns out as we wander to the camper van to check out the "kitchen" again, we come upon another gaggle of conversion vans. All with swivel seats. Apparently, these are widely available.

The refrigerator is small but in great shape and runs on 12/120 volt and propane. Under the counter top are 2 burners and a sink. After 2 weeks of pondering (and pricing new) we think it's worth taking. The owners manual and operating instructions are even in the glove box. I'm big on owners manuals and instruction books.

After we lug the unit to the van we decide check out the "new arrivals" section. These were not here last time, their doors are still closed, and they have not yet been thoroughly ravaged. We unearth this treasure. The swivel mechanisms are not rusted completely to the frame AND attached to them are really nice comfy driver and navigator seats. I know we were planning on a 60/40 split bench seat, but that's been harder to come by than we thought. Matt tells me the S.M.'s at Fleet Farm aren't nearly as sturdy as these.

We leave this yard 3 hours later with 3 light fixtures, 2 captains chairs, 3 swivel mechanisms, and a kitchen for $200.00.

Since we're still looking for 3 bucket seats from an Astro van, it's off to "Gibby's". The mother of all bone yards. I'm giddy with anticipation. Matt tries to explain that this will be a much different experience. There are rules here, waivers to sign, bigger selection does not always mean better selection... He's right, there is no cat snoozing peacefully in the front office, there are menacing signs warning of "tool box inspection" and "No admittance", There are lots of people here wandering through aisle upon aisle of cars that reminded me of a turkey carcass picked clean after Thanksgiving dinner.

We find nothing in the way of seats, but do come across a utility truck with some interesting locking side panel doors that might come in handy for under bus storage. It is getting late and since Matt had pared down his toolbox to the bare necessities and left the the power screwdriver back in the van he decides to get them at another time. I am happy to leave there. He is right, bigger is not always better. While we are walking out, we discuss (I talk) of how we (I) would run a salvage yard if we (I) had one.

Matt had called another salvage yard a few weeks ago to see if they had any seats. "Scotty" had called back to say they had them but the price tag was quite a bit more than I was willing to fork out. I was confident we could find them elsewhere cheaper so I didn't return their call. We needed to drive by on the return trip anyway so we decided to pay them a visit. My confidence was failing after we turned up nothing in a whole day of hunting and I was now willing to part with a little more cash for the seats.

It was 3:30 when we pulled in. We were met in the office by the owner, a young guy, who was apparently working with a bare bones crew in the shop due to the holiday. When we explained what we were looking for, a light bulb of recognition could be seen in his eyes. He remembered the request and the fact that we had not called back. This set him off in a tirade about John Q. Public being rude and cheap how we could not expect anything to be done at this time of day. Now, if we were one of his buddies it would be different. Do we think he's gonna drop everything to help a guy who spend a couple hundred bucks a year here or the shop owner who doesn't give him crap about what he's charging....blah, blah, blah. YIKES, High prices, bad customer service... I think he failed The Customer Is Always Right 101. Or maybe he was just coming to from a Tryptophan induced coma. We high tailed it out of there with no seats.

Somehow we had overlooked what was right underneath our noses, the local yard only a few miles from our house. Although Matt hadn't remembered ever seeing any vans there, he was wrong. They had 4. We were escorted to and disappointed by the first 3. It wasn't looking promising until #4. There they were, 3 seats, in great condition, same color as the ones we already had. I said out loud, "We've been to 3 junk yards today and haven't found anything this nice." Matt slowly turned to me with a look of disappointment in his eyes. "Salvage yards, Kari" and then to the young boy who had been summoned as our guide, "I'm trying to teach her."

They'll pull all 3 and we can pick them up on Monday afternoon for $80.00.

Will I ever be proficient in Salvage Yard Etiquette?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

3 or 2-1?

What do you all think? Seating arrangement......2-1......or.....3 across? It's hard to believe there's the same amount of walkway isn't it? Our first plan was 2 sets of 3 across, but now that we have some actual seats to look at, I'm thinking I like the 2-1 split better.

The plan still remains to have the front 3 (whatever the configuration turns out to be) swivel, but now, instead of one big (removable) table in between them we'll have one medium size table and one small one.

I think I'm going to call the small area the "breakfast nook".

This will cause a bit more work with our flooring though. The original plan was to have carpet under the seats with a small walkway of hardwood flooring going to the kitchen area (behind the seats) which will be all hardwood and then carpet again in the bedrooms. What's the problem with this you ask...two "carpet/floor intersections" instead of one. We've never carpeted before and we're not sure what they do where the carpet meets the hardwood. And now, we'll have to do it twice, once on each side of the path. I'm sure Matt will figure it out.

Above the seats will be enclosed cabinets or open bookshelves. Like the overhead compartment of an airplane only prettier. We'll also have reading lights. I found some websites with similar cabinetry.

I absolutely LOVE these bookshelves.

And I like these enclosed cabinets.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A successful hunt

His first deer! "Was it as bad as Grandpa's last year?" I asked when he called me on their way home. "No, there was a little bit of guts hanging out but not as bad as Grandpa's". Last year he was there when Grandpa had a not so quick kill. I'm glad he had that experience though. *"I'm sorry you had to see it, Son," he said, "but it's that sort of thing that makes a fellow into a man."* relevant excerpt from our current read-aloud, Little Britches by Ralph Moody.

And then there's the Great White Hunter himself! It wasn't his first, but I'm sure it was just as exciting!