Saturday, October 15, 2011

From Van to Bus

The time has come to sell our beautiful, big red fire truck.  We have only owned it for about 1 and a half years, but a lot has happened in that time.  We bought it and then had the wheelchair lift installed so that we could get Bryce in and out easier and so that he could have the support of his wheelchair even as we drove.  It took a bit to get used to the bright red color, and the fact that everywhere I went someone recognized me or would stare and wondered about this huge, red van.  However, it didn't take long for me to really like this van.  It gets great gas mileage for the size that it is and it is amazingly easy to drive.  I love this van!

However, like I said, a lot has happened in the past year and a half.  Last summer we realized that the rear air was not strong enough to keep the back of the van cool in this summer Arizona heat.  Since Bryce's body has trouble regulating temprature, that is a real problem.  We planned to put in a stronger, roof top air conditioning unit before the following summer.  But, before that time came, Annalise began having trouble and we soon realized that before long, we would need a vehicle that would hold two wheelchairs instead of just one.  

So, we began to look at our options.  As we did, we found that our options were very limited!  We began to look into mini buses.  One guy that John talked with in April said that he knew just what our family needed and then came out to show us this lovely Turtle Top Bus.
I do love that this bus had two seats up front.  That would be nice.

The turtle top really was a nice bus and the boys instantly loved it and thought we should buy this one immediately.  There were just a couple of problems with that though.  First, this one was not wheelchair accessible and we really didn't want to have another lift installed...if possible.  And, a new bus like this would cost us around $75,000!  Just a bit out of our price range!  

So, although we had decided that we would need to go with a "mini bus" (a name I find quite misleading), we knew that we still had some searching to do.   I'll spare you all the details of  the following months of searching, but finally we found one that was within our price range.  It was a 2006 and looked really nice.  The only problem was that it was not running at the time.  Minor detail ;)  Anyway, since it cost less than we had budgeted for, we bought it for $3500 and had it towed to the shop.  Just $600 later, we brought the bus home.  We were so happy that we had gotten such a great deal.  However, one week later, it once again would not start and it was towed back to the shop.  A few weeks and $8000 later, the bus finally came home...hopefully to stay!

Jacob and Spencer checking out the lift

Annalise liked the lift as well

It seats 13 in the back or the seats fold up and there is room for 5 wheelchair!

Bryce's first impression was NOT a good one!  He was terrified of it.  He has gotten used to it now and seems to be fine when we travel in it.

The signs throughout the bus crack me up.

The wonderful air conditioner!  My favorite part of the whole bus.

It is large and will take some getting used to, but hopefully it will work for what we need.  I will continue to search for a bus that is a bit smaller and still meets our needs, but for now, this is our new family vehicle.

When I realized what we were going to have to drive, I knew that I needed something smaller to drive when I didn't have all the kids with me.  I just couldn't see driving the bus every time I ran out to get some milk!  We looked and found a nice 2000 Jetta that should do the trick.  What we went through to get that is a whole other story for another time, but it is a nice little car.  We named it the Green Smoothie!

It does get dirty quickly, but the boys love washing a nice small car!

So, now that the bus is out of the shop, we cleaned up the van and have listed it on ebay motors.  As much as we will miss it, we hope it sells quickly and goes to a good family who will come to love it as much as we did.  And then we can move on to the next phase of our life.  
Good-bye to our Big Red Fire Truck! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Holland is Beautiful...A Good Reminder

This morning while I was searching through old posts on our family blog, I came across this story.  I think of this story often, but it was really good to actually read it again today.  Some days I just need that extra reminder that Holland really is beautiful and exactly where I am supposed to be.

byEmily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy.

All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.