The Bus Driver

Lately I have been thinking about the man who drove my school bus when I was young.  I think his name was Don but I’m not quite sure.  He was older, probably retired from another job, and I would be surprised if he is still alive.  I’d be even more surprised if he remembered me but I definitely remember him.

photo(101)Me in 9th grade

My family moved when I was in junior high.  While we were in the same town and I would be attending the same schools it was still a hard move for me.  Everything is extra hard in junior high isn’t it?  All of my friends now lived on the north end of town, I lived on the south and none of us could drive.

My old neighborhood was far away from the school so I rode the bus everyday.  My new neighborhood was much closer and I can’t remember how I was supposed to get home from school but I know I wasn’t supposed to ride the same bus.  Obviously it was only for those who lived on its route which wasn’t anywhere close to where I now lived.  All of the buses would pick the kids up from the junior high and then go to the high school to pick up the high school kids and then continue on their routes.

My new house was only a block away from the high school and I know he wasn’t supposed to, because I was told that I couldn’t do it, but Don let me ride my old bus with my friends every day.  I would get on at the junior high and ride the to high school where he would let me off and I would walk home.  It is such a simple thing but it helped me through a hard time in my life.


When I got into high school I was on the girls soccer team and Don was the one to drive us to most of our away games.  I remember him watching our games and congratulating us on wins and being sorry when we lost.  It just seemed like he cared.

Don didn’t do anything most would consider great.  He was a bus driver but here I am 20 years later and I still remember him.  I remember the nice things he did for me and the ways he helped me during a hard time of my life.  It has really made me realize that we never know how we are influencing the lives of those around us and who will remember us in 20 years and be grateful for the small part we played in their life.


I just got back from a week long vacation to Nashville.  Chris had a conference to go to and my parents were willing to come and stay with the kids so I went along.  I’m not a big country music fan but it’s always fun to go somewhere new.  Especially if you can leave the kids behind.

It was a great break.  A lot of it was spent by myself in a hotel room which may sound boring but it is heavenly for me.  It is the only place where I can really do whatever I want.  Not only are there not any people to take care of but there isn’t anything else to take care of either.  No cleaning or organizing that I should be doing.  No Primary stuff that needs to be done.  No yard work, no laundry, no cooking.  Nothing else that I should be doing so I am truly free to do whatever I want.

One morning I slept in until 9.  And then that afternoon I took a nap.

When Chris wasn’t in meetings we got to be together, without any interruptions.  We saw a movie, went to a show at The Grand Ole Opry, played some fuse ball while listening to live music at the Wildhorse Saloon, spent a few hours at the Belle Meade Plantation and several other things.  It was great to explore a new city together.

But you know what the very best part of the trip was?  Coming home.

While it’s great to get away, it’s even greater to come home.  Being away helped me to realize how much I love my life.  My messy, loud, crazy, overwhelming life.  I love it.  All of it.  Because I love these humans that I get to share it with.  They bring more than messes and noise.  They fill my life with laughter, love and joy.

I’m grateful for the time away to realize how much I love being home.

(And I know I will refer to this post almost daily now to remind myself during the day to day struggles that I really do love my life.)


Isaac stayed home from school yesterday.  He woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose.  I have had a cold for the last few days so I wasn’t surprised that it had spread.

The day before he had gone to school with a headache.  He gets them kind of frequently and they last for 15 minutes or so and then they go away but when he got to school he told his teacher that he wasn’t feeling well.  She then used that reminder to tell his whole class that if they have a cold or pinkeye that they shouldn’t come to school because those sicknesses are really contagious.

The very next day he wakes up with a cold.

As we were getting ready for school he told me what his teacher said about colds and I let him stay home.  As the day goes on I can see that he is well enough to be at school and I am annoyed.  Sure, I could bring him to school and let him finish out the day but I don’t see much point in that.  Plus, he is playing with the little kids which is oh so nice.  But all day I feel bothered by the fact that I let him stay home.

Then eventually it hit me.  I’m not annoyed that he is home when he is clearly well enough to be at school, I’m annoyed at myself that I let his teacher influence my parenting decision.  You see, we are not a stay home from school with a cold type of family.  So, if I had followed my own instincts on the matter he would have been at school.  Instead, I let something his teacher said make me question my choices and that isn’t okay with me.

While I am still somewhat annoyed at myself I am also glad that I was able to learn this lesson.  Isaac missing one day of school at the beginning of the year is a small price to pay for me to be more aware of how I make my decisions.    Hopefully in the future I will follow my gut and not worry about what others say.

Embracing the Change

DSC_1378colorToday is the first day of school.  It is always a bitter sweet day for me.  It’s sweet because having four kids home all summer can get crazy… and loud.  Now there are schedules and friends and after school programs … and quiet.

It’s bitter because another summer has gone by.  No more late nights, camp outs,  water parks and visits from family.  Each new school year is a stark reminder that they won’t stop growing up, that another year of childhood is in the books.

Every year before school starts Chris gives the kids back to school blessings.  A few years ago Eli was the only one going to school and was a little nervous to get a blessing.  I offered to get one first so that he would know what it was like and hopefully lessen his fears.

During the blessing Chris gave me the Lord counseled me to enjoy the fact that my kids were growing up.  He taught me that growing up is part of the Plan of Salvation and that I needed to embrace the change that was happening in our life.

I remember that blessing often, whenever I am sad about growing children or a life change.  It helps to be reminded that that is the way it’s supposed to be.  Children are supposed to grow up and when they do it’s okay to embrace it.

It’s also okay to be sad about it.  The sadness brings the realization that it happens so fast and helps us to slow down and be more present in our day to day lives.

I still feel the regret of all that we didn’t do over the summer or the longing for that child to just stay four forever.  For them to always fit into my lap and always want me to read them a bedtime story.  But the fact is, our kids are going to grow up.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

If it’s going to happen we might as well embrace it and find the joy.  Because there will be joy.  The 3rd grader will still want you to walk him all the way to his desk and will even hug you before you go.  The 6th grader will turn back and make sure he gets one last look at you as he heads to his class on this own.  And that look, that sign that he needs one last reassurance from you that he will do great, will let you know that even though he is growing up he still needs you. And that will let you know that it’s all going to be okay.

The Stool Story

photo(77)colorLast week Brie had a diaper rash/sores on her bum that wouldn’t go away so I brought her to the doctor.  Every time I go to our pediatricians office I am reminded of the stool story.  I snapped a picture of her on one of the stools because, A. I wanted a visual for when I shared this story and B. she is totally rocking a side pony and she pulls it off adorably.

Anyway, a few years ago I brought the boys in to the doctors office to get flu shots.  I called and they told me that I didn’t need an appointment that I could just show up.  So, we just showed up.  We weren’t in the waiting room long when they called us back.  Instead of an exam room they put us in a procedure room.

And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I don’t recall the exact amount of time we were left in that room but it was at least a half hour.  Now, waiting a half hour at the doctors office might not sound too bad but when you close 3 crazy little boys in a room with nothing to do because you thought it would be a quick in and out visit time slows down.  Way down.

They found a way to keep themselves busy by jumping off the stool that was in the room.  It was exactly like the stool in the picture above.  They would jump off the top step and see who could go the farthest.  When they started jumping I noticed that the stool was a little wobbly but I figured they weren’t hurting anything and I just let them keep jumping.  They were happy and occupied and weren’t causing any trouble.

Eventually Eli jumped off the stool as hard as he could and the whole stool shifted.  It didn’t fall apart but it was leaning sideways and there were spaces in between the wood where spaces weren’t supposed to be.  I could tell it wasn’t good.

When the nurse finally came in to administer the shots I told her about the stool.  She tried to push it upright and the whole thing fell apart.  Wood pieces, with nails sticking out, in a pile on the floor.  I was pretty embarrassed.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I felt bad that we had broken it and almost offered to bring it home and have Chris fix it and then bring it back but I figured that was a little weird.  So, we just got our flu shots and left.

Now more than two years later I’m still not sure if I’m happy that in our own, unplanned way we got our revenge on them for making us wait so long or if I’m just so embarrassed that the whole thing happened.  And every time I bring the kids to the doctor I get to think about it.

Love Notes

If you have ever read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then you know that one of the 5 love languages he writes about is words of affirmation.  While this isn’t mine or Chris’ primary love language it is one of the ways that we all fell loved.  I’m not very good at giving verbal words of affirmation.  It’s easier for me to write things down so a few years ago I made this:DSC_9159colorIt’s just a frame, that I spray painted white, with some scrapbook paper in it on which I printed out “I love you because”.  Then we use a dry erase marker to write messages to each other.  It’s a simple idea really, but one that we have enjoyed over the years.

We actually keep ours in our master bathroom (so romantic right?).  I do that for many reasons.  First, it’s not something that I want visitors or other people reading and very few people go into that bathroom.  Second, the bathroom is somewhere that we both frequent so you know the message will be viewed.  Lastly, sometimes when you are in the bathroom you have a little time to sit and think about the many ways that you love your spouse.

This is a little gesture of love that can sometimes go a long way.  Last week my husband gave me one of the nicest compliments that I’ve ever received and it was written on this little board.  He wrote, “If more women in the world were like you there would be far less problems and far greater men.”  I’m not sure how true that is in general but it’s sure nice to know that he thinks that.

DSC_9154colorLike I said before, it’s a pretty simple idea. Simple to make and simple to use but sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make a big difference.

Simplifying Laundry


It’s practically a swear word for most mothers.  I never felt that way until I had my last baby.  Since then, I just couldn’t keep up with it.  There was always a big pile of dirty laundry on the laundry room floor or a big pile of clean laundry on the couch needing to be folded.  I felt like laundry was my life, all I ever did or felt like I should be doing.

I used to do laundry the way I thought it was “supposed” to be done, by dumping all the laundry in a big pile, sorting it by color and then washing, drying, folding until it’s all done.  Except that it was NEVER done.  Then several months ago I came across two different posts about laundry.  The first was this one on Instagram:

Captureand the second is here.

Exciting right?

Okay, not really but it got me thinking about how I do my own laundry and I decided to try something different.  I don’t actually do what they do in either of those posts but they helped me to see that I can do things differently.  Now when I do laundry I take the laundry basket from one bedroom and bring it into the laundry room.  Only one at a time.  I start the washer and put almost all of the clothes in that basket into the washer.  Reds, khakis, and dark jeans, it doesn’t matter, they all go in together.  I do sort out the whites, towels and underwear because I like to use bleach on those so I wash them separately.  (I have two empty laundry baskets in the laundry room that I put whites and undies/towels into as I’m adding the rest of the stuff to the washer.)   It usually only takes one load for the kids clothes and sometimes, like today, I could fit both of the little kids clothes into one load.   Once the laundry basket I’m working from is empty, I put it back where it goes and move on to the next room.

One of the things about my old system that drove me crazy is that there was always dirty laundry on the laundry room floor.  This mostly solves that problem.  My kids still throw dirty laundry in on the floor sometimes but a shirt and some socks here and there isn’t nearly as annoying to have on the floor as all of the clothes we own.

Probably the biggest problem from my old system was folding.  Ugh!  It was the worst.  There could be anything in that basket of clothes, my shirt, some kids shorts, my husbands uniform, etc.  So not only did you need a lot of room to sort and fold everything, once you were done there were 5 different rooms that you had to go in to put it all away.  And for that reason, I always put off folding the laundry.


Now, when I get clothes out of the dryer THEY ALL GO IN THE SAME ROOM!  It’s kind of amazing how big of a difference that makes to me.  I usually fold the clothes as I take them out of the dryer because it’s only one persons clothes and there is room on top of the washer and dryer for all of the different piles I need.  Then when they’re folded it’s one trip into one room to put them all away.  Sometimes I will even take the clean, unfolded laundry into the room where it goes and fold it and put it away all at the same time.  Either way it’s so much faster and easier to maintain than my old way.

And I don’t hate laundry anymore!

This is a perfect example to me about what I was trying to say in my post on simplifying.  I still have the exact same amount of laundry to do and the same amount of time to do it but by finding a different way to do it I get a much better result.  The benefits of this go beyond getting the laundry done.  I no longer feel like laundry is my life and I should always be doing it.  It has taken away some of the “I’m always behind in life and can’t ever catch up.” feelings that I have struggled with.  And that feels so good that now I’m wondering what process to change up next.