Category Archives: Progress Reports

Long, Overdue Update

So, in case you didn’t know (or notice), our computer has been broken for the past few weeks.

The motherboard quit on it and it turns out that buying a new computer (or, rather, a refurbished one off Ebay) will be less expensive than getting it fixed. While we save up for that unexpected expense in the budget, I’m using a borrowed laptop because I have missed writing and there’s a lot of stuff to share! I would have updated sooner, but do you know how hard it is to type out 500 words on a phone screen?

Thanks so much to those of you who caught up with me on Instagram or emailed or left comments to check in and see how things have been going and were hoping we had moved in around Christmas time. Unfortunately, we didn’t. We spent another Christmas in the bus:


It’s looking more like mid-February at this point, but IT WILL HAPPEN.

I mean, unless the crazy weather we’ve had since we moved into the bus is a sign from God that we should abandon this crazy scheme. Because, seriously, guys: we live in Southern California and since we’ve moved into the bus we’ve experienced the coldest Winter on record in twenty years (remember how it SNOWED?), a record breaking heat wave and drought in the Summer and the most recent freaky weather phenomena has resulted in TORNADO WARNINGS. What gives?!

From Instagram:

IG snip


That was a tough week. I might have sent some texts to my nearest and dearest about how completely ridiculous it was for us to think that we could live in a bus with four kids and how everybody who ever said we would go crazy was right and that I was very seriously considering running away to Canada. I might have made my mother worry a little bit.

Once I was able to let the kids outside to play again (and do laundry), my sanity level improved greatly. So now we’re holding steady here at the bus-stead with only the token utterance of “I’m seriously ready to live in a house.”

On that note, let me show you what else been going down on this side of town!

Let’s see, when we last left off the driveway had just gone in. Since then the house has been painted and now has floors:


We transformed this Ikea delivery:


into an almost-finished kitchen:



The siding is going up nicely, we now have baseboards and ceiling fans, real stairs and sconces:


and interior doors:


Everything is coming together so much better than I would have ever imagined or hoped for on such a slim budget and with me having absolutely zero interior design experience.

But I do have major decision fatigue. This morning our GC asked me exactly how I wanted the trim for the chimney to be – did I want mitered edges or did I want them to be straight to match the windows? These are the kinds of teeny tiny details that nobody will ever even notice (unless they’re on the roof for some reason) and yet, since a choice is presented, I am now in the position to make sure I make the correct one. (I went with the straight edges to match the windows.)

Financially, instead of extending the construction loan, we simply rolled into our mortgage which wound up being the less expensive route. It is frustrating to be paying a mortgage on a house we’re not even living in yet, but it is what it is.

I just have to remind myself that it’s really only a few more weeks,  a month at the most, and then we’ll be in the house and all this will be behind us. The frustrations that we’re going through now won’t last forever and I really need to quit my whining. Because did you see those pictures?

That’s what we have to look forward to.

The Move Part II – The Scary Part

You guys, we made it!!

I mean, the bus made it.

To the land, that is, despite some very narrow misses with freeway overpasses.

The bus is 14 feet high. The average overpass?

15 feet.

Moments like these make you really hope those construction workers were good with a tape measure:

So that was hair-raising, but not even the last scary thing that Noah had to watch while following that behemoth down the road. There were low hanging electric wires and remember how some of us MIGHT have been concerned about it  tipping over and crushing everything in it’s path?

Well, IT ALMOST DID (skip to the last 30 seconds of this video to see my dad park the bus on what appeared to be a very slight slope . A stiff breeze would have done ‘er in):

Noah says that the video doesn’t even fully capture the precariousness of the situation. They had to park it there for just a minute to move the RV out of the leveled area where we put the bus, so it didn’t stay there.

The point is that it’s on the land. And it’s even upright!

And now we are starting to actually MOVE INTO THE BUS.

We’ve been out there the past couple days and the weather has been lovely and the sunsets have been beautiful and there haven’t been any cars racing up and down the street and I didn’t see a speck of graffiti anywhere.

It is definitely beginning to feel like home.

Were you as nervous as I was watching those videos, even knowing that everything turned out okay??

The Move (Part I)

Today is the day that we plan to move the bus from the driveway, where it’s been sitting for over 5 months, to our property.

When Noah and my dad bought the bus back in September it took them 8 hours to bring it the 50 miles or so home because the radiator is currently bad. They had to stop at every single freeway offramp to let it cool down and add more water.

I heard it was a really fun time.

So, since our land is only about 10 miles from here this trip should only take, oh, about an hour and a half. Best case scenario.

Also, by a crazy coincidence, Allen Walker, the man who sold us the bus on Craigslist for $1000, somehow stumbled upon the blog (after I found his number while going through some papers and called him up to tell him about it). He then passed along the link to David Gagliano, the original owner who did all the conversion work. David has been supplying us with all sorts of fascinating information about the work he did and where the bus came from originally and how he and his family lived in it for FIFTEEN years!

Allen, who is a DJ for the greater San Diego area, apparently took a video of my dad driving the bus off his property when we bought it and was kind enough to let me share it here. So, for those of you who have been dying to see a 1970 International Double-Decker School Bus in action,I am pleased to present the following (UPDATE: I just watched it again, at around 46 seconds, doesn’t it look like the bus gets up on two wheels?!):

In preparation for moving the bus Noah brought the girls mattresses up to the top floor(through the window, of course) while I took apart their bookshelf and rebuilt it up there. The result turned out pretty cozy looking, I think (that’s Finn’s porta-crib in the back corner):

kidsroom kidsroom2

It’s not quite finished yet, but I think it’s coming along nicely.

Sidenote: If you ever find yourself in a position to have to sweep a three foot high space with a regular size broom, go ahead and do yourself a favor: get some kneepads. You’ll thank me later.

As the bus is coming slowly together, the house is falling quickly apart. We have pretty much all the large furniture we’re going to keep in the storage pod and therefore very few places to keep things out of reach from small, 13 month old fingers. Finn has been having a ball playing with pretty much everything he’s never been allowed to touch before.

So, all in all, this is shaping up to be a pretty normal weekend for us. In the sense that it falls on Saturday and Sunday.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Home Sweet Bus Part II (The Big Reveal)

It’s time to show you all what we’ve been working so very, very hard on these past couple weeks. If you missed Part I where I described everything we did, go ahead and check it out. And you can also watch the video tour again to remind yourself of what it looked like during the process.

But if you’re all up to date on that, let’s get started!!

Note: Part of the reason this post took so long to get up was due to the torrential rain storms we’ve had here the past couple days (which also made for some weird lighting for the pictures and I apologize). Another part is because there have been a lot of finishing touches that we’ve been in the process of doing (valances for the curtains, painting one of the cupboard doors with dry erase paint, etc.) But if waited until every tiny detail was complete, well, you’d probably never see pictures at all.

SO. Here we go! Here are the before and after shots from when we bought it off Craigslist for $1000 and what it looks like today.








Bus Kitchen Redo









(That’s Emmaline peeking out from behind the curtain. She’s almost 4, to give you a size reference for how tall the upper story is.)







 (A HUGE thanks to Noah’s sister HeiDee for her work on the tub! She used Zep Commercial Grade Mold and Mildew Stain Remover)





And some more….

20140301_160522 20140301_160359 20140301_155954 20140301_154220



So there you have it!

I mean, if we’re going to be living in a bus, this is the bus to be living in!

After we’ve actually moved in and have kind of figured out what goes where I plan on doing a video tour of how we actually wind up using the space. We made a trip to Wal-Mart today for storage bins and miscellaneous whatnot to help us stay organized, but I think it will probably have to develop a bit more organically as we actually live in it.

Today marks 2 weeks until we have to be out of our rental, so coming up next we have:

-packing and cleaning the house

-moving the bus out to the land (with or without a working radiator…)

-hooking up the hot water heater (and hopefully our washing machine at some point)

-an overnight trial run


I have been vacillating between being extremely excited and extremely nervous. Be grateful that I am not posting hourly status updates, but I will keep you all in the loop as we progress!

Please feel free to share/tweet/pin/stumble/print-out and-post-up-on-your-office-bulletin-board this post. We are very, very proud of our hard work!


Home Sweet Bus Part I

This is not the post where you get all the before and after pictures – I’m just letting you know that right now. That will come next. This is the background post where you get to know all the behind the scenes gory details about the work that has gone on around here over the past week or so. That way you can fully appreciate the final scene when it arrives. Which it will. Eventually.

You will also discover that there are aspects of this project that have come together in a beautiful way that we have actually had little or no control over whatsoever.  We had lots of plans for what we wanted to do and most of them wound up completely derailed – but with total harmony in the results. There have been things happening the whole way through that we couldn’t have orchestrated any better had we tried. Which, okay, we did try. And we failed. So, you can draw your own conclusions from that one or you can wait until we post our conclusions at a later date.

We’ve already covered how gross the bus was and how Noah sanitized everything (strictly following the CDC’s guidelines for cleaning up after rodents to avoid Hantavirus and then some – they only specify a 1/10 water to bleach ratio whereas Noah used 50/50).

Because we have to be out of our rental by the 15th of March (as per the 60 day notice we received in January because the owners are selling) we have a bit of a time crunch. Noah’s work was flexible enough to allow him to work remotely Thursday and Friday so he could put in some extra hours over here and boy, did we make them count.

Noah’s sister Hei Dee (the best baker I know and founder of Ding Dang Cake) came over a day after being in urgent care and pretty much stayed the whole weekend to help paint


and scrub and polish everything, including the grubby bathtub:



Sorry it’s blurry, but you get the idea

and the dash:


Her husband, Steve, was here all day Saturday helping Noah put the flooring in:


Then their oldest daughter, Reagan (that’s a link to her YouTube channel) came by with her boyfriend Addison (sorry, no pictures 🙁 )and added contact paper to shelves and helped wax the paneling:


Do you see that amazing difference?? We used Howard Feed-N-Wax (that there is an Amazon affiliate link – if you click it to check out the product that is responsible for the phenomenal difference you see in the photo above and decide that your OWN wooden furniture would benefit from a similar treatment and then purchase said product from Amazon through that link we get a [very] small percentage of that sale). It made the whole bus glow from within and smelled like sheer bliss.

All we had to do was rub it on with a clean cloth and the wood just soaked it up. I was thoroughly blown away. Thoroughly. PLUS it’s all natural, so if you have any small children who are prone putting their mouths on things (not that any of MINE every do. Ahem.) they won’t find their tongue shellacked.

You might recall from my Cry for Help that I was thinking about painting the trim and you all unanimously told me to keep it simple and stick to the white on the walls. Well, thank you for your wise, wise advice. You totally win that one.

Plan Fail #1

I mentioned in the video tour that we got 10 gallons of paint off of Craigslist for only $40 (just another one of those great deals I’m always talking about). I thought what we were picking up was just a plain, bright white, which is what I thought I wanted. Instead, though, it turned out instead to be a lovely, warm almond color that really complimented the wood that the original owners built everything with.

This turned out to be a very good thing, because (Plan Fail #2) although I had originally wanted to paint or stain all the wood paneling and trim, we discovered after testing that we would need to strip off every last bit of finish off of it before anything would stick. After sanding down a whopping TWO walls I quickly resigned myself to the paneling and thanked the Lord for the happy accident in paint color.

My arms are so buff now!

AND I thought that the wood color that was already there was going to totally clash with the laminate:


But, much to my surprise, it doesn’t!

So, if anybody is looking for design and decor ideas: just ask me for advice and then do exactly the opposite of whatever I say and you’ll be golden.

Anyway. There was all sorts of other stuff – we spray painted all the hardware for the cabinets and drawers. They were originally all mismatched in every way except level of tackiness.


I scrubbed out the mold from the fridge and the cooked-on gunk from the stove:


That magic was made with with merely SOS pads and elbow grease (no affiliate link available).

Noah put down vinyl tiles in the bathroom and added trim around all the walls while I sewed curtains for each window:

That’s twenty panels!

Throughout all that we also picked up a hot water heater for $175 and a futon to use as a couch for $25 (both off Craigslist, of course). Last night I ordered this futon cover here

and I’m hoping it goes well with my bright red curtains.

I’m probably leaving out some important detail somewhere; the last five days have kind of become a blur. I don’t think we’ve been in bed before 1 am in at least a week, Noah still has paint in his hair and for some reason I can’t seem to turn my head all the way to the left due to a mysterious neck pain.

At any rate, now you have an idea of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into all this thus far. And soon you will see how it has paid off.


Is there anything in particular that you all want to see pictures of in the next post? Let us know in the comments!

Sneak Peek

Things are SO EXCITING!

Noah and I are functioning on very, very little sleep, but it is all totally coming together and the bus is starting to look like it could actually be a home. We’ve had copious amounts of help from family this weekend and got the walls painted, floors put in, the wood waxed and polished, the oven, fridge, and bathroom scrubbed, hardware painted… the list goes on.

I’m actually taking a break from sewing a BAZILLION curtain panels right now, but I wanted to give everybody a little sneak peek at what’s been going on around here.

ARE YOU READY?international


knobs stove busfloor

curtain sewing


We will have a full-on detailed update for you all ASAP. Can’t you just NOT WAIT ONE MORE SECOND?!

Me either.

Video Tour of the Bus so far

Today we have been decontaminating the whole bottom floor of the bus. I bleached and scrubbed all the cupboard doors and fluorescent light covers and Noah scrubbed everything else. I managed to fit in a quick run to Home Depot while Finn was napping for the stain we’re going to use and a pull-down ladder.

Before all that, however, I went ahead and shot a video tour of the bus so you all can see where we are progress-wise.

Advance warning: my videography skills are truly terrible. There also may or may not be a baby crying in the background during multiple parts, ridiculous amounts of “um”ing, mysterious breathlessness and my reflection in a mirror. This wasn’t even my first run-through, this was like attempt number three or something.

I cannot guarantee that you will not get seasick and for that I apologize profusely.

Here is the first floor:

And here is the second:

Please post any questions in the comments section and you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here:  Little Bus on the Prairie – You Tube Channel