Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Process Continues

"It reads entire vehicle, this needs to be fixed."

Our solution.

With clouds increasing and the threat of rain inching closer every second we hurried with the deed and, feeling hopeful, returned to the DMV within 30 minutes.

The "quicker than before pace" with which we traveled led to a few more unlatchings of the door and at one point caused the kitchen counter (not yet attached) to slide from it's placement onto the floor.

The lines were much longer and there was definitely a different aroma about the place. It really is amazing that with a steady stream of people the air quality can change so drastically. When we arrived at the information station I cheerfully greeted Mickey with "It's not raining!"

"...Yet" he says with a sly grin.

"Is it dry?"

"It was tacky when we left Menards" says Matt with a grin "We bought quick drying spray paint."

I held the door for Mickey as he left the building.

"You know I'm going to go over this thing with a fine tooth comb now" more of a statement than a question.

Little rain drops started to fall from the sky as he circled the bus once more, rubbing the spots of spray paint. This time even tiptoeing up to the windows occasionally to check the ledges.

"Do you have a pen?"


"You'd better keep those paint cans in case you need to touch up on the road. No use in subjecting yourself to trouble."

"Yes, sir. Thank you"

"Meet me inside."

With our number, we settled in for the wait. Between 16-27 minutes the scrolling marquee informed us.

We approached our designated window with our paperwork and so, another process began.

School buses, it seems, are hard to put out of service. After two tries the lady we were assigned to called over Carlos to give it a try. "It just won't take the numbers" she said, speaking of the computer.

I think I was starting to add odor to the department.

Carlos grinned as it worked just fine for him. She slapped him as he walked away. "Everything always works for him...Let's see, is it white? I saw it out there on my lunch break."

After a few more questions pertaining to licensing length we were handed our plates.

Feeling like we had just conquered the world we decided to drive home via Oneida Street just a mere 3 hours before a home Packer Game. I felt like shouting out the window, "We're a motor home!"

I found myself waving to everyone trying to get us to park in their lots.

I almost gave *"the sign" to a brotherhood of motorcyclists as they passed.

The security measures were already put into place so we were unable to drive exactly right by Lambeau Field.

I did get a picture of it out the side window though.

We arrived home just after 3 pm, picked up the kids and took them for a ride before Matt safely tuck her back into our driveway.

I wonder if she feels any different?
From School Bus to RV in less than 3.5 hours.

*If you don't know what "the sign" is, watch what two motorcyclists do with their hands as they pass each other. I wonder if Schoolies have a sign?

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's More Of A Process Than A Procedure

Any time you visit the DMV you should expect delays. Maybe I shouldn't say "you" maybe I should say "me" or "we" because I'm not certain if your DMV is as crazy as ours.

Ours is crazy and smelly. Not my favorite place to be.

Today was different somehow. Today, mixed in with the smell of irritable, overworked employees and adrenalized adolescents was the lovely fragrance of suspense. Today was the day we'd take our Errabundus Bus in for review and licensing.

We've read countless renditions of others experiences and we knew what we were to do:

Be polite
Be respectful
Don't make waves or demand anything
Kiss a$$ without appearing to
Make the staffer feel powerful yet merciful
Jump through any hoop they throw you (and do it with joy and enthusiasm)
Make them love you before they even agree to audit your handiwork

With all that in mind, the Bus rolled toward her destination with us inside cheering her on. Actually, Matt drove, I rode shotgun and we brought Hayden along just for the fun of it. (So he could close the door if it swung open and catch anything that might fall apart en route.) Hey, it was our first outing faster than idle speed.

We arrived at 12:15 pm with only minor incidents. The door unlatched a few times and the drawers in the closet would not stay closed.

"We don't do that here." Bert and Ernie, the welcoming committee conferred. "That would be a State Trooper you'd need. We have 'em here but..." The two of them stare blankly at us.

Doing my best to follow the aforementioned protocol for dealing with State Employees, I pointed out on Form MV 2103 where it stated "Any State Patrol Trooper or Inspector, Drive License Examiner, Other Designated Department Employee familiar with the requirements of s.347.44 (4) Wis. Stats. and Trans. 300.19 Wis. Administrative Rule" may inspect.

"Well, that would be Steve. Ya, Steve, he'd know"

"May we talk to Steve?"

"You don't know Steve." Replied Ernie as he left his station apparently to find Steve.

So, OK, they weren't Bert and Ernie, the guy we dealt with was Mickey. I didn't catch his partners name.

Mickey returns a few minutes later (15 or so) and tells us to fill out our MV2103 and wait for him.

After 20 minutes or so of gazing at his computer seemingly brushing up on his knowledge of the s.347.44 (4) Wis. Stats. and Trans. 300.19 Wis. Administrative Rule, he waves for us to follow him outside.

"If it was raining, I wouldn't be doing this."

He reads the criteria out loud as he circles the bus:

a) Physically removes the signs identifying the vehicle as a school bus, the lights required by s.347.25(2) and such other equipment as the department may specify by rule.

"Looks good...Could I mistake this for a school bus? No"

b) Repaints the entire vehicle to a color other than national school bus glossy yellow or any color commonly referred to as yellow.

He points to a few spots where the tape peeled off the paint.

"It reads entire vehicle, this needs to be fixed."

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Last August I traveled (alone) to Oregon to visit a dear friend and her family who were temporarily living there as a result of her husbands job.

I had never been away from my kids save the occasional sleepover.
6 days I'd be gone and an airplane would be involved.
I had sold a major chunk of my homeschooling materials to help finance the trip.
It was quite an adventure.

I had every intention of journaling the whole trip, but I only really captured the first day in words. Well, not even the whole first day, just the flight. The rest is just pictures and memories. Over the next few weeks (because I must not have enough to do between school planning, school, football and volleyball practices, painting the rest of the house, and keeping up with my regular household routine) I plan to get at least some of the memories in writing.

This was Day 1. Word for word as I captured the events in my journal.

Saturday, August 4. Austen Straubel Airport. 6 a.m.

A small, slow, old Hispanic woman with a child in tow, the last to board the flight leaving just before mine, left her purse at security.

She spoke no English and all of her identification was in the bag.

Her airplane was already being “pushed out” of the gate. The airport employee at the counter tried to stop the plane by calling but was unsuccessful. “Call the tower!” I heard over the walkie-talkie. “The plane appears to be stopped.” she responds as she dons a reflective vest and runs from the terminal, purse in hand.

From my seat inside I see her appear on the tarmac. The pilot sticks his whole body out of the little window of the cock pit poised to catch the handbag.

Inside, people are watching, wondering if she’ll make a good throw.

Heave...He catches it on the first attempt. As the ticket lady returns to the terminal applause erupts.

A good deed not gone unnoticed. What a lovely way to start my adventure. I wish I had gotten a shot of that.

7:55 a.m. Minneapolis Airport
Well, that was a bumpy flight. Cool though.

I’m sitting in Burger King drinking Caribou Coffee eating my candy bar. Thanks Wendy!

9:30 am
I just walked around the whole airport- You can buy iPods from vending machines. They have TWO starbucks and all kinds of other shops.

I walked/rode on the moving walkway just cuz I could.

I think Concourse F is the hottest and stinkiest place in the whole airport. That’s where I will take off from.

10:30 am
Oh My Gosh! Airforce One is here! President Blush landed to look at the bridge collapse. I saw lots of helicopters and military when we landed but - hey, this IS an airport.

I betcha HE smells good.

11:51 am
Our plane was supposed to take off at 11:25- we’re still parked. The President has delayed our flight (everyone’s actually) It’ll probably be about 30-40 more minutes the pilot says.

12:37 pm
We were next in line for takeoff when the pilot detected a mechanical error. Something about attitude. We’re on our way back to the gate to fix the plane.

12:51 pm
Now it’s raining and someone farted.

The lady behind me is threatening to walk home. I say let her. She’s complaining about everything.

The lady in front of me just put her seat back.

Thank goodness I’m alone.

There are 2 babies that I can hear. I hope they are okay. I’d hate to be their parents right now.

? pm
I have no idea what time it is.

The mechanic was not waiting for us at the gate

- wait a little -

Mechanic in - part in and checked, paper work done!

Shift change everyone working at Concourse F (the stinkiest place in the world) has gone home

- wait a little more -

YEAH the new shift has arrived, there is someone to push us back. We taxi to the runway.

There is a discrepancy on the passenger list, we must wait some more.

I can’t turn on my “electrical device” to see what time it is.

The father of the baby sitting somewhere behind me has invited those annoyed by his infant to talk to the pilot. The baby is doing wonderful in my opinion. It was probably Miss Crabby Pants behind me. He has also offered the job of holding his son to any volunteer.

It’s still raining, I’m feeling warm and a little claustrophobic. At least the people in from of me have their seats in the upright position.

I dropped my pencil.

Brand new mechanical pencil with extra erasure bought just for this trip.

The pilot was right, there was something wrong with the attitude.

2:18 pm
We’re in the air. “Beverages are complimentary on this flight.” The Flight attendant says. “Turn to page 127 of your WORLD TRAVELER magazine and have your selection ready when we come to you.”

My pages are ripped out - AND - my copy is old. The girl next to me shares hers. She’s also skinny enough to bend down to reach my pencil.

PEPSI products!

I wonder what those arrows mean on the wing? I know, really, but it’s fun to think about.

5:24 pm Portland, Oregon
I’m here. The flight attendant apologized for the 2.5 hour delay and says, “ I wish WE could blame it all on the President.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chance Encounter

I love the novelty of the bus.

I love that neighbors or walkers by stop and ask for a peek inside or simply give their opinion on the paint scheme. (Overwhelmingly, Partridge Family style)

I love it when little kids talk about it as they ride their bikes by.

I just think it's cool.

Today's encounter was too delightful to not blog about.

While I was helping Hayden with the ladder (he's painting the trim around the windows) a man in a pickup parked in front of the house, got out, and proceeded to inquire about the woman 3 houses down.

"Do you know if she moved?"

Not really knowing WHY he would be asking I didn't really disclose any information. The fact that I had no clue as to her whereabouts anyway must have shown on my face because he continued,

"She drove bus for us at Lamers last year and she's the only driver out of the 130 that we could not contact to see if they were going to continue."

I told him that yes, I had seen the bus parked there but that I really had no clue if she had moved away. Then, I pointed towards the bus...

If he were a cowboy, I think he would have whooped, hollered, smacked his own behind and thrown his hat in the air.

"Which one is she? Did you get her from the farm?" He asked.

"391, straight from Lyle, would you like to see what we've done?"

"Well, I'll be... What a cool idea. You'll have to drive it on over to the office when you're done so the guys can see her."

He took the grand tour, we chatted for awhile and then he needed to be on his way.

I think I was glowing as much as I did when I had a new baby to show off.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seats, Seatbelts, Carpet? Check

We're 99% legal!

The only thing we need to do to be legal to drive Errabundus Bus is paper work! Which is handy as we are only 32 days away from her first outing.

We need to flag down a police officer or drive down to the DMV and have them fill out a form stating that she is no longer a school bus, get some plates to slap on, and contact our insurance agent. When I called him earlier in the process for information he stated that in order to be insured as an RV we need to have a working toilet or sink and no more than 15 seats for passengers. Mainly, he informed me, to assure his underwriters that we are not driving a party bus like this.

(Viewer discretion advised)

We laid pad and carpet before leaving on vacation and Matt finished bolting down the seats yesterday. Only 8, so we're good there. I wonder if having a birthday party sleepover for 11 year olds would constitute as a party bus in State Farm's terms? We just won't tell him.

This week I will be shopping for the kitchen/bathroom flooring. I'm thinking bamboo. Matt is working on finishing up the closets as we speak so we'll have a place to store our clothes. There are still lots of trim work and details to see to but nothing of vital importance that will keep us from traveling next month.

The kitchen will be put on hold for a winter project because I cannot possibly make any more decisions regarding the future needs of our cooking area as we have everything we need to do all our cooking out doors. Sorry, no flame thrower.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hands On Learning

Last weekend, my parents took the kids to the zoo. Does it look like this porcupine is hot to you? That's an ice block he's cuddling.

The boys dutifully posed for every shot Hailey asked them to, doing things they would NEVER do on their own.

They drank all the soda that was offered and snacked their way through the grounds.

Do you think Hailey will make us go in THERE? I had a really hard time getting out of the snake den.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Summer Vacation

I have debated (does that surprise you?) on whether or not to take the computer on vacation with us. It's not a laptop, but it would be completely portable.

I've decided it's not going with us. As much as I'd love to, along with it would come the "can I have computer time" voices that haunt my days at home.

So, I'll see you when I return.

We're going to China.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Letter

I may have mentioned once or twice how much we like football at our house. (and here)

Griffin has been patiently counting the years until he would be eligible to try out for the West Side Wolverines, our local 5th-8th grade football program. Well folks, this was the year.

Saturday morning was Skill Testing day, where they received their number and the try out process began. Each day this week they've been working on the basics for 2 hours in the hot muggy afternoons. Griffin is #546.

And the catch was GOOD!
Yesterday, was Letter Day. After practice each boy received a sealed envelope and STERN instructions as to proper unfurling etiquette.

Not on the park grounds.
Not in the car.
Not until your arrival at home.
If it was discovered that you peeked before hand, your position on the team (if you made it) was in jeopardy.
If you made it and teased or mocked someone who did not make the team, your position was in jeopardy.
If you made the team, your equipment was only to be worn AT PRACTICE.
You are NOT allowed to wear your equipment to play with your brothers in the back yard.
And you are NOT to let your brother wear your equipment to play with you in the back yard.

Each letter contained either a "Congratulations" or "Thank you, try again next year"

We went straight home unlike Parker's family...
who had to stay later due to the fact that his big sister was trying out for the Cheer leading team for the Wolverines and their practice was held immediately following the boys.

Unlike his buddy Jake (no photo available) who's dad had to run to the grocery store on his way home from practice.

The phone calls started coming about 30 minutes later. Parker and Jake also made the team!

Do you think it would be cruel to tell him now of my plans to move the whole family to New York.

I suppose it would.

I'll just have to cheer for Brett from here. Through my sobs.