Paved Paradise.

 Joni Mitchell said it best, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone, paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” While we were in Hawaii I set my hometown on a pedestal in my minds eye to now be utterly disappointed. 

Progress for progressions sake is wasteful of simple beauty. My home town of Fairhope, Al was a simple beauty full of eccentric artisans and free thinkers and is now full of strangers buying up her resources. What once was small and treasured is now at the mercy of the highest bidder. I’m not trying to bash the place that helped mold me but I can’t believe how fast it’s fallen into the tourist trap. From over developed subdivisions, full of empty homes, to un needed and over priced shopping centers. I just can’t imagine how those who have stayed and watched this transformation feel about the developments. The small town is dieing in America. 

After seeing my own towns demise I know that I want to travel and see the last small town dinosaurs before their eminent extinction. As I make lists of places to see, while living full time in the bus, I’ll most definitely start seeking out small towns. Towns to drive through and enjoy for what it is, not to make permanent camp and try to change it to fit mainstream needs. 

Though Fairhope is more parking lot than it is paradise she will always hold a place as she molded me in my youth. Her bays held me, her rivers carried me and her spirit will live in my soul. 

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.


John James Audubon

Pack only the essentials.

Me and the kids are taking a trip back to Alabama and as I pack for 6 people my eyes cross and I slowly drift into madness.  No, all kidding aside, packing for this many tiny humans is mind numbing, for a number of reasons.

The first reason packing for 5 children, 4 of which having opinions, is a challenge is the amount of items that are necessary. Four outfits, swimsuit,  church outfit  and under wear for each child may seem like nothing but that’s 5 back packs. 5 back packs, because goodness forbid Elan’s dress touch Elijah’s underwear. It would be anarchy, I promise you. I’m hopeful that by separating their items I save myself some refereeing. All the time saved refereeing clothes will be needed to referee snack consumption. 

Another reason packing for this many little dictators is challenging is that we all have different understandings of the word “essentials”. For example,  I think diapers are an essential for my 2 year old but she thinks it’s her tiara collection. My 7 year old could barely pick up her back pack because it was so crammed full of ” essentials”. It was quite impressive, she was able to fit a tea set, 3 full sized stuffed animals, 4 or 5 small stuffed animals and 2 costumes on top of what I packed her. I’m not sure what she was planning to do with these items but it must have been world changing because when she was asked to remove them I became a villain, in direct opposition of her plans. She has since calmed down, though still trying to sneak the “essentials”, and I am hopeful that she will begin speaking to me again in the near future. 

I give you a glimpse into my travel crazy to say that I am so excited about traveling in my home. When we convert our bus there will be very little non essentials. Yes, the kid’s essentials will be priority even if I don’t understand needing four dinosaurs all the same color and type. I collect coffee cups and the kids seem as baffled by that as I am about the rock collection. But once we are in the bus it’s our home. Aside from prepping to drive there will be little to no packing. At this moment, while I gear myself up for a 15 hour drive with 5 children under the age of reasoning, that aspect is appealing. 

I’ll be posting pictures and blogs about our mini adventure over the next few weeks. Thank you for sharing our journey. 

               Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.            J.K. Rowling 

A little bit at a time. Part 2

So, this post is later than I expected but nevertheless here she is.

What have we been up too? Not much of anything aside from nearly completing the gut job! We are starting to feel some forward momentum and beginning to see the light at the end of the bus….. Below you can see our progress and I hope you will join in our excitement.

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Stickers, stickers everywhere!

The above picture is the sticker massacre that was the “WATCH YOUR STEP”sign located at the bus entrance. I never noticed all the frivolous bus cations stickers during my public school career.

The flattering picture bellow is the beginning of defacing our bus. Eventually, where the SCHOOL BUS was located will be vinyl spelling out E X O D U S. Super excited about that particular aesthetic.

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Below is the aftermath of said sticker. It took both Ethan and I to remove it. My arms were screaming in protest after holding that heat for what felt like an eternity. With a lot of coaxing and diligent paint scrapper skills we got most of the sign off in one piece. I wish the same could be said about all the other reflective tape.

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Below: Look at this amazing sight brought to you by sweat and more sweat. The temperatures in Kansas range from hot to blazing hot, now imagine being in a metal tube. Yes, the thought is rather provoking, isn’t it.

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The creative photo below, Ethan’s skills of course, shows both side of the bus after the insulation had been pulled from the bottom portion.

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All the interior demolition progress has us creating sketches and design elements for the future. Thinking about how we will function in a smaller space has made us think out side the rectangle, literally and figuratively.

 

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The SketchUp program has been a contrivance for our interior design.

Above: This is one of our ideas for the kids quarters. The bunks would house four of the five kids but would give all of them their own cubby spaces (look to the left of the bunk). There would be storage located under the bottom  bunk and the 5th child would sleep on a converting bed located at the front of the bus.

The bathroom is unique, using the sliding door as a way to have a sink without taking up precious floor space. The shower is also a tub and the steps would serve dual purpose to help us get into our loft style master bed.

Below: The sketch, done by Ethan, is of our dining room table/ converted bed for the 5th child. To make the bunks fair we think we may do a rotating sleep schedule. That way everyone gets to sleep on a top bunk and no one is permanently relegated to the pull out.

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We are on a roll and are trying to stay diligent with progressing this forward momentum. Hopefully we will finish the engine come the 4th of July. Then we are moving on to painting the exterior.

“When you find yourself in the thickness of pursuing a goal or dream, stop only to rest. Momentum builds success.”
― Suzy Kassem

Exodus and the adventures of Tingle Team

Getting excited about nothing.

As my children had a tiny melt down today, over throwing away broken toys, I had some deep reflection. What are we doing? What will become of us and is too little too much for the kids?

It’s strange but I am excited about having nothing in societies eyes. Not because it is obviously less to clean but because I feel like the less I invest in things the more I can invest in experiences. I would rather have picnicked at the Grand Canyon then have 20 articles of clothing I hardly wear. Simplifying is so much deeper than possessions, when I think about all the walls in our home I want to simplify. I want to break them down and build something beautiful, something intentional. How am I going to relate and spark this excitement in my children? The same way every other family does. Communication, being intentional and listening are how my children are best reached. I’ll communicate our hopes and dreams, our goals. We will be intentional in our purges always counter balancing with communication. Lastly, we will listen, we will listen to their tiny but effervescent voices about how well we have communicated and about being intentional. We do not want to break their spirits but unleash them! Setting them free in a world of possibilities, in a world were their parents followed their faith.

My goal is that in a few years from now we will all look back and be able to be happy about where we got. Every parent  wants to give their child the whole world. We too aspire the same thing but with a different method. Less, it really can be more. More time, more experiences all the while less in weighting bills and costly distractions. A child unseen, be it tv or another solitary device, is not how WE want to flourish. WE want to see them learn and grown into the amazing adults that they will no doubt be. As a home school parent I get to see the light bulbs go off and I take so much joy in their accomplishments. I have always loved living life with them. In our culture we will all eat different, teach and learn differently. There is more than one way to MAKE a wheel but maybe not reinvent it. You make yours, I’ll make mine and our kids will make theirs. Is not that the beauty of life, you get to choose. I’m not sure how the bus will mold our children just as I wouldn’t be sure how a standard home would. I’m excited to see them blossom, over the moon to give them this part of me and their father. Adventure.

As we all feel the growing pains of minimalism we know that, in the end,  we have each other. That dollie or old car, once treasured but soon forgotten, will not weigh out in the end. The weight will be carried in out hearts. Were we tender or an ear to listen? Did we stay stagnant and unmoving at the feet of their frustration? Only time will tell but I can be sure to make every aspect intentional. To be present even when it’s difficult and I want to tap out. Is this all worth the hassle and uncertainty?  Yes, I do not doubt the outcome just taking the road less traveled.

 

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”

                                                                                                             1948. Jackie French Koller. 

Exodus and the adventures of Tingle Team.

 

 

 

 

A little bit at a time. Part 1

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Photo credit: Myself 😉

I feel like a kid at Christmas, once all the presents have been un-wrapped,  when nothing has been assembled yet. Frustrated and impatient are the feelings clouding my excitement. Im ready for the nitty gritty the hard work not the tedious prep. Alas, the prep stage is the stage we are at. Here is what we have done so far. It’s not much but it’s progress and if nothing else we will all learn some much needed patience.

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Photo credit to Ethan

Ethan removed the rear heater that uses engine coolant as its heat source. This could have been a messy job but Ethan was epic and didn’t spill any radiator fluid while removing. Shout out to my awesome handy hubby!!

With the rear heater removed we have more space for the kids bunks and bath room. Another plus to its removal is that once the bus’s interior is completed there is no concern of a radiator leak from the heater.

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Another example of Ethan’s composition skills

When we had the bus delivered it developed an oil leak, from the main seal, on its
way from Texas. We opted to fix it ourselves and have learned a lot. She is still in the works. Estimated time of completion: Within the month. I’ll post specifics once the oil leak is repaired.

This is me taking off sticker for days. Patience is always a virtue I’ve prided myself with having until the bus. These stickers are the bane of my existence. Who knew there were so many? Not me, that’s for sure. I have learned how to use a heat gun, which may never be a useful task for anything other than reflective tape.

Check back later this week for part 2. To see more photos of our progress check us out on Instagram @exodusskoolie

 

 

What’s in a name?

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Exodus – A mass departure of people. We by no means think that 7 people is a mass departure but it is a whole family ready to decamp from expectations. The social and economic ideals of our culture and nation have never been out heart-felt paradigm. Like God called the Israelites we feel called to go to the “promise land”.

While looking for our bus and thinking about why we were going to do this we knew from the beginning that it was God’s provision. Provision and prosperity looks different to different people. To us its an opulence of family unity and an insatiable love for Christ. Being in 250 square feet is us trusting our security and comfort to God. No, we do not believe that everyone is called to live simple lives and that if you own a home and a new car that you are some how less reliant on the Lord. For us, having less is having more. More time for missions, more time for study and less time on worldly endeavors. As crazy as many of you might think this is, though you have been polite and keep those doubts internal, we are living by faith. Faith is not something hoped for its something promised, still unseen. Our faith is that Christ will honor and bless this life of less possessions with more existence. We are not seeking a longer life but a more fulfilled one, an existence of independent dependency on Him.

While Bob Marley sang “exodus, movement of jah people” I would sing along thinking it was “exodus, moven lots a people”. Even after being corrected, and looking at the lyrics myself, “moven lots a people” was ever engrained in my mind. So, when Ethan asked what  we should name the bus I immediately said exodus. It fits what we are doing. Moving out of one life and into another, moven lots a people. Exo-Bus, as we lovingly call her, will be transporting all our people into our new adventures. As we endeavor to love more deeply and trust fully our Father in heaven, Exodus will be the spark. This spark, once a dream, will ignite a full-fledged revolution in our family unit. I hope and pray that we can pass the kindling on to our children. I want them to run after Christ with all their heart and with all their passions. Together, we will get to our promise land. It’s not a place its an idea, a thought and a hope, it’s faith.

What’s in a name? Everything and nothing, but for us Exodus carries the weight of our goals. Exo-Bus, moven lots a people.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.                    Mathew 7:7

Exodus and the adventure of Tingle Team

 

Finding the “perfect” bus.

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Some of the buses we have looked at along the way.

 

I was shaving my legs, sitting on the side of the tub, when I told Ethan that I wanted us to convert a bus. At first he couldn’t see how it was feasible but the insidious seed had been planted. That seed bloomed into a ferocious hunger of how, where and when to begin.

How does one begin looking for a used school bus?  Why, Craigslist, of course. The always open market for the strange and un-used didn’t let us down. It was littered with buses but overwhemled us because of our lack of knowledge. How did we know if it was a good engine, not being diesel mechanics ourselves, or how much rust was too much rust. We needed a plan. Then bus sketches of how much square feet we thought we needed began. In a very delusional moment a bus length of 28 feet was entertained but was soon dismissed. After many sketches and futile ideas we decided, the bus had to be 40 feet long. A 40 foot school bus is not the easiest to find, as we soon found out. After scouring our local craigslist and traveling to Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and from the far corners of Kansas we realized we needed help.

Where does one find help buying a used school bus? Facebook, Facebook is the best skoolie resource. We had done our due diligence and though we had yet to find a bus we had gained unparalleled knowledge about what we didn’t want. So, I turned to the old faithful Facebook search and began finding groups dedicated to this world of “skoolies”. Skoolie – a school bus that has been purchased by a private owner and converted for some purpose other than hauling people around, such as RVing or tiny homes. These groups brought along a plethora of knowledge that we were lacking. Like, that most school buses had rust and that it was okay, to a degree. As we asked questions on the groups, answers we did receive. With the new confidence our skoolie family provided we continued our search. Looking at any and all states within 10 hours Ethan found a craigslist ad in south Texas. The header of the ad read ” YOU NEED A BUS” and we did. After calling the talkative Mr. Dan we had found the “perfect” bus. A 2000 International Genesis with no body rust, 70,000 miles and a DT466 diesel engine. But then we had to ask ourselves, was it the right time to be buying a bus? We had two whole years till Ethan would be going to college so we had two years to find and renovate a bus. Was the time now?

When is the best time to buy a bus? We thought the bus market would be flat when we began our journey. We were mistaken. This market is a raging sea of vague descriptions and fluctuating prices. There is no structure, it is purely based on whim and what one person paid that one time. Public auctions would seem like the best way to buy a school bus but that is wishful thinking. Public auctions bring in the bus dealers looking to make a quick buck off of the skoolie/ tiny home movement. Some people have been lucky and got their buses for cheap at auction but they are the exception that makes the rule. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying a school bus, only trying to add our personal experience. You could be the lucky few who gets that amazing deal at auction. Buying a bus is based on what you need and what you’re willing to pay. So, when is the right time to buy?  Does it meet all or most of your criteria? Buy it. Or don’t, there is no perfect time or prefect bus. Buying is just the beginning of the adventure.

Through many calls, countless hours of driving and repetitious discussion we found our “perfect” bus. This “perfect” bus has a roof leak, its front main oil seal is blown and has intermittent instrument clusters.. Nevertheless, it’s our imperfectly perfect bus.

“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” – Michael Law

Exodus and the adventures of Tingle Team