In Which Paint is Applied and the Great Blue vs. Green Debate Results in a Compromise
by Matthew
August 3, 2022

Yesterday the bus started to feel a lot more like a home.

We got up early, grabbed our rollers and brushes and many cans of paint and headed to Brian’s house, where the bus has lived for the past few months as he continues to magically domesticate it.

While I opened cans and set out drop cloths, Brian and Robbi peered under the bus in a way that seemed meaningful.

What were they doing under there, you might reasonably ask? What did they see? What was their goal?

Friends, I do not know the answer, nor do I care to. What happens under the bus is beyond my pay grade.

My concern for the day was the bus interior, which has been evolving quickly of late. Look at all this beautiful cabinetry.

We briefly considered leaving it in this natural wood state, but Brian convinced us the wood needed protection from our six sets of grubby hands.

Because in Brian we trust, Robbi and I headed to Sherwin Williams to select colors for the cabinetry. We settled on these two: pale green (aka “Vegan” in the Sherwin Williams parlance) and robin’s egg blue (aka Calypso).

We asked the internet to weigh in. The internet chose blue in a landslide. Robbi was not pleased but shockingly consented to popular degree.

Which brings us back to yesterday.

Before we could add the color, we primed.

If the ten-year-old version of me were here, he’d say we Optimus Primed, but he is not, so that’s not what we’ll say.

While Robbi taped (because, in addition to understanding what happens under busses, she is more careful, patient, though, and sure-handed than I), I primed.

Pardon my language, but she taped the heck out of things.

There were two shades of primer. The white provided a base for the colored areas and the darker (shown in the paint tray above) was a 20% black mixture for the storage containers, which we decided to paint black (with no controversy, thank goodness).

This is how we divide the labor. I cover 90 percent of the surfaces with great, reckless stabs of my roller, and then Robbi goes in and carefully paints along the edges.

But look how cheerfully Robbi is going about her business! Please join me in appreciating her!

If there were two of me, the painting would be done in 14 minutes and would look like a three year old’s coloring book. If there were two of Robbi, the bus would look glorious but would not be finished until 2025.

Fortunately, there is exactly one of each of us.

The taping and priming is the dull and necessary groundwork that must be laid before getting to the high excitement which is applying the color, the lima beans that must be consumed before getting to the smoked pork ribs and carrot cake. But eventually it was done.

But before I show you the color, check this out! Upon reviewing my photos from yesterday just now, I found 47 shots exactly like this one, taken against my will from inside my pocket. I chose the very best one to share with you.

There was also an eight-minute pocket video that I’m not sharing, because I care too much about you.

Finally the priming and taping was done and it was time to break Robbi’s heart, by which I mean, it was time to listen to the internet and start painting our tiny kitchen blue.

I was pleased, and I’m happy to report, so was Robbi. I do not have a photo of Robbi being pleased because she was only pleased enough to grudgingly admit the internet had a point but not yet pleased enough for documentation.

Instead, I give you this photo of the blue wall, taken in clandestine fashion once Robbi had moved on to painting the overhead containers in the back.

Speaking of the overheads. They started like this:

And briefly looked like this:

Before ending up like this:

We are pleased. And look how un-traumatized Robbi is by the blue! Is it just me, or does this look like a person who has moved on?

Perhaps her acceptance of the blue was aided by our decision to paint the dining/master bedroom area in her favored green. As shown.

I love both colors and am delighted that we found a way to incorporate them both.

I spent a good part of the day outside, painting cabinet doors and various drawers.

It was so hot, my phone shut down and asked me to find it some air conditioning.

These are the six drawers that will hold our family’s collective wardrobes. Each of us gets one. I predict a spirited debate when the time comes to allocate colors. I have preemptively claimed the blue.

My favorite part of the bus so far is the kitchen, where I anticipate spending many hours in the year to come. I love Brian’s design, especially that small-but-transformative angle in the counter. It’s so simple, but adds such dimension to the space. The countertop was fabricated by our friend Pete Battcock. The workmanship is stellar and we’re so grateful for the time he devoted to the project.

Here’s how the kitchen looked by the end of the day.

To the left of the countertop will be a stack of appliances (fridge, toaster oven, microwave) and to the right a pantry with a series of drawers. I can’t tell you how much I love it.

We painted for twelve hours before running out of steam, so we’ll head back tomorrow to finish. But our future home took a big step forward today.

Thanks to some blue and green, two opposite styles, and whatever was happening under the bus.

To learn more about the Busload of Books Tour:



  1. Oh, you Optimus Primed the heck out of it!

  2. There may be a mysterious secret under the bus, Matthew! Do you like surprises?



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The Busload of Books Tour is a year-long project to promote literacy and raise awareness of the challenges facing our nation’s public schools.

Author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (that’s us) and our four kids will spend the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in a school bus/tiny home, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states (plus DC), and giving away 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers from underserved communities.

As we travel, we will be blogging, vlogging and posting frequently to social media. All of our content will be appropriate for bringing families and students along on our ultimate road trip.

The latest on Instagram:

Almost home.


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Good night from Lake Compounce Campground, where the heat is lifted, the moon is up, and the dogs are wanting for us to come to bed, already.

We had a wonderful day with the students and teachers of Highland Elementary. Usually school visits are single-day affairs, but we get to go back to Highland tomorrow for another day of fun.

Sweet dreams, friends.


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The Daily Minute: 5.22.24
In which we hear a story created by the next generation of authors and illustrators at Highland Elementary.


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Whoever you are, take your seat on the bus!

Our adventure is your adventure. Our country is your country, too. Follow along with us!