School Bus Drivers

Whether you grew up riding to school on a “cheese wagon” or only rode it a few times for field trips, we all have a memory or two of a bus driver. My first memory of the bus was winter 1979, I was a cute little kindergartner, on my way to school. The bus was headed down a small hill with a blind corner at the bottom and there was black ice on the road. My guess, (since I was only 5 and didn’t know anything about driving) is that she started to slide and ended up in the oncoming traffic lane. Coming toward the bus in the other direction was a red and white pickup truck driven by my mother. The bus collided head on into the truck. That will give you a jolt 3/4 of the way back in the bus. I looked out the bus window and saw a small red heart-shaped rock. I didn’t know we’d hit my mom, just that we’d hit something. Of course the kids and the driver knew who had been hit and they didn’t want me to see the truck. It was pretty smashed up. My mom had hit her head off the steering wheel, broke a few teeth and cut her lip. My mom went off to the hospital and they sent another bus to take us on to school.

Invariably, once or twice a winter, our bus driver, Mrs. Bruce, would slide off the road. I rode that bus with her from age 5 until I was about 14 and a freshman. She seemed to see everything and sometimes things that really didn’t happen….. Like the time my brother got kicked off for something that happened when he wasn’t even riding. We always had assigned seats and she was a stickler for the rules. I really tried to just lay low but sometimes I got yelled at and talked to off the bus. My view of school bus drivers really wasn’t good. I never thought that one day I’d be a school bus driver. Just about a year ago, that is what I became. What an eye opening experience it has been!

How did this happen? How did I become a pilot of a 73 passenger big yellow school bus? Back up a few years, to 2005, I have 6 kids ages 11 to 1 at the time. A family at church needed a sitter for their 3 month old baby, I figured I could do that. Really, what was one more?! So I started sitting for them and then later added another little boy to the group. I sat for the first family until Riley was about three, and for the other family until Kyle went to kindergarten. I watched a few other children at times as well. I took a year off and then our insurance agent and mutual friend of Riley’s family called inquiring if I might be interested in watching her granddaughter, Talena, a one year old. After a meeting with mom and baby, I decided to get back into child care. I watched Tal and eventually her little sister until Tal went to school. Another friend told her friend that she knew someone who would probably be up for watching a two and a half year old. I started to sit for Nick and a few years later he got a little sister, Rachel. I’ve been watching Nick and Rachel for almost 7 years, they have become practically family. Babysitting doesn’t pay well in monetary ways, but you can sure come to love the kids. Nick went off to school and the dollars decreased, unfortunately I have bills and my husband really felt that I should maybe get another better paying job. I really didn’t want to give up Nick and Rachel so I put it off and tried to ignore his insistence of a new job. One day I was picking Nick up from school and the guy who is in charge of the bus barn (who just happens to be Riley’s dad) says how he really needs more drivers. I joke with him and he tells me it’s just like driving my suburban! I didn’t believe him for one moment! I also told him I just couldn’t give up watching Rachel. I thought about our need for more income and filled out the application. The bus barn boss, Charles, said he thought that it would be alright if Rachel rode with me on the days that I watch her.

I got the CDL drivers manual and studied a lot for the next few months. Have you ever picked up and looked through the CDL drivers manual? Oh my goodness is there a lot of information to process and memorize! I hadn’t realized that one practically needs to be a mechanic to pass the test! You need to know what everything under the bus and under the hood is and what it does and how to check it. You need to know specific measurements of tire tread, how far to stop before railroad tracks, how far from the bus to put warning triangles in any given situation, when to use flashers and warning lights, how to load and unload students, how to parallel park, alley dock, how to keep your eyes on the road and all the mirrors including the student mirror, and many more things. If you survive the reading and studying of the manual, then you set up a time to take the written test and cross all your fingers that the studying actually stuck inside your brain! My husband, who spent several years as a substitute bus driver, offered to help me study. I’m stubborn and didn’t want his help. I went in and took the “written” test (it’s administrated on a computer and once you get too many wrong, it just ends! Yep, I didn’t pass. I did pass the part I was really worried about, the air brakes section! I had to reschedule the test to try again on the other parts. I was not happy. I came in a few weeks later and was given a real paper test, two copies of the test actually. After grading, the DMV guy went over the ones I got wrong, circled them on the second test for me to try one last time. Grrr! I did pass finally. Second step, to get an appointment for a DOT medical card that says I am fit enough to drive a commercial vehicle. Yikes are those expensive! Thankfully the school district reimburses you for that. Once I got that back to the drivers licensing, I had my learners permit. Next step, get in a bus and learn to drive! That was scary! I went out many times with a few different drivers and got my experience driving a school bus. It wasn’t too bad, a nearly empty bus. One of the drivers gave me a lot of helpful tips and tricks to make it easier. I spent the summer learning and stressing a little about whether I really could drive a bus full of children. I set up an appointment for the day before school started. (Wasn’t really my choice I would have chosen a few days before in case I didn’t pass.) I was pretty nervous, I practiced before the examiner showed up, I felt pretty good about the skills and the driving, but was pretty worried about the mechanical stuff. The first part of the test was the mechanical stuff, and of course, I was “randomly” selected to get the full bumper to bumper test. It was terrible! I didn’t know half of what he was asking me. I didn’t even get the opportunity to try the other two parts of the test: the skills and driving sections. The examiner just said to reschedule for another time in 2 weeks and then he drove off. I was SO mad! I had to sit and just cry it out before calling Charles to come get the bus.

I rescheduled, and I studied even more. Still to this day, I think its crazy that you have to know all that mechanical stuff! I promise that if something happens to the bus, I’m not climbing under to try to fix it! I took the test again and since I live in a small town, we only have one examiner. I thankfully only had to know things on one side and only in the front of the bus, plus tire questions. I just passed. Then the skills test I did a little better in that section and moved on to the driving section which included a student pick up and drop off. We headed out for the road test I thought I was doing fairly well, I made it over the railroad tracks and remembered to put the flashers on, have the window open, look and listen for a train. I was checking my mirrors, then he asked me to do an emergency stop on the side of the road. I failed to put on my flashers and he used the opportunity to tell me that I would fail if I continued to not watch all my mirrors! WHAT? I said: “I thought I was checking them.” He said “I NEED to see you turning your head to check the drivers side, the student mirror and the passenger side mirror.” Pretty much constantly checking the mirrors. I pull back into traffic and finish the driving test. I pass by the skin of my teeth, but I pass! Then he tells me I can bring it in and get a license in a few days because they don’t do them on that particular day of the week, only the testing! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I let the boss man know that I’ve passed but I can’t get my license here in town today. He call the examiner’s boss and lets us know we can travel to Sidney (an hour away) and get it tomorrow. I head home to let my husband and my friend know I passed we all decided a celebratory lunch was in order. I did ride along with the sub driver on the route that would be mine that afternoon.

The next morning, my friend and I head to Sidney with Rachel and the little boy she was watching. I put the drivers licensing into my phone and tell it to take us there…… we wind up on a road with a wheat field on either side of us! I give in and call the boss and see if he has better directions, he does. We were close. Got there and gave her the paperwork, they tell me I’m missing papers. Not happy. Finally the head lady arrives and finds all my papers and gets everything in order. They take my picture and soon hand me my fresh off the presses CDL. We prepare to leave, when she chases us down and asks for the license back. UGH! Turns out she needed to put that I can’t drive a stick shift commercial vehicle. WHAT THE HECK??? I can drive a stick shift car or pickup just not any big rigs. (Good thing all of our school buses are automatic!) She reissues me my CDL and we finally leave.

Rachel and I are ready to give this bus driving a try, well Rachel is ready, I’m a little nervous to have a bus full of potentially unruly children ages 5 to 18 behind me! The sub says she will ride with me for the first few runs. I’m telling ya, it was petrifying! These kids hadn’t had a steady driver for at least a year and were use to just doing whatever! That wasn’t going to fly with me! It’s s very distracting to have kids moving around and standing while the bus is in motion as well as it being very dangerous. The responsibility of getting all those children safely to their destinations is real! I’m not gonna lie, I returned after every run for the first 2 weeks drenched in sweat. I had to get a handle on their naughtiness. I tried to let the older kids have the back and the little ones in the front, but the older kids were terrible about staying seated before the bus came to a complete stop. After asking nice and then yelling at them to stay seated and continually being ignored, I did something about it!

I had just picked up the middle schoolers and we were heading to the first drop off, I noticed kids standing and not listening, so I pulled the bus over, parked it and got up out of the drivers seat. I faced the students and we had a one sided conversation! I asked them all to stand. they pretty much thought I was crazy and didn’t want to stand then. I said: “Come on, you seem to love to stand while the bus is moving! Everyone stand!” Finally, I had their attention. I asked them to remain standing until I told them they could sit. Then I explained that the reason they need to remain seated if for their safety and not because I want to be a jerk. I also told that I wasn’t here to be their best friends and they didn’t have to like me, I was here to get them to and from school safely. I made them a promise too. Since it was one whole bus stop that was continually standing about a block before I stopped the bus, I told them if I saw even one student from that stop stand before the bus was was completely stopped,  the entire bus stop would be assigned to the front of the bus. I asked them to sit down, returned to the drivers seat fastened my seat belt and carried on with my route. They were good for about a day and they someone stood up too soon! That afternoon, I had sectioned off the bus by bus stop. Oh were they less than pleased when they got on! Soon I had personalized seats within the sections for those who were still having a hard time following the rules. The seat assignments remained that way for the rest of the school year. Some students made other unwise decisions and got themselves removed from the bus for certain periods of time. They learned a valuable lesson: I was serious about the rules and I made good on my promises!

I have had a few memorable experiences in this first year of driving, some that other drivers who have been driving for 20+ years haven’t had!

I was just starting feel comfortable and no longer coming home a dripping mess of sweat, when the first snow fell! Now my route includes in town stops and some more rural ones on a stretch of very bumpy dirt road with a railroad crossing and stops on a two lane highway. I was not looking forward to driving in the yucky wet slick snowy conditions. The advice given to me was: take it slow. Ok I can do this! I do my pre-trip inspection and back out ready to beat this snow. (In the back of my mind though, I can see still Mrs. Bruce sliding off into the ditch, and I pray that I can keep the bus on the roads.) All goes fairly well, I make my last pick up and head to the stop light. Make my right turn to go up and over the bridge, I think I’m taking this turn slowly, when the back end of the bus swings and we are sideways in the road! The kids are all whooping thinking that was totally cool! Meanwhile, I’m white knuckling the steering wheel and coaxing the bus into the proper direction. Mission accomplished and we make it safely over the bridge. I complete my drop offs at the high school, middle school and the grades three through fifth school without a hitch. Make my last pick up and continue to the other grade school. I approach the turn for the school road, I feel like I’m taking the turn nice and slowly. The line of cars coming down the hill is solid, no breaks for the intersection. I make the turn, only the bus has a mind of its own and it doesn’t want to turn right, it would rather just head straight toward the line of traffic! I’m standing on the break as best as one can seat belted with the wheel cranked and I am just sure I will collide with the pickup in front of me! The guy in the truck is sure of that as well. Finally, at the very last second, er inch, the bus stops! Whew! I make the turn and head up the hill to drop off those kindergarteners through second graders without another incident. By this point I’m pretty sure I’m DONE driving! But I’m almost always up for a challenge so I don’t quit!

So, I had the oldest bus in the fleet but would be getting a new one sometime around Christmas or after Christmas break.

This is old two parked out in front of my house sometimes if I have extra driving it’s easier to just bring the bus home.

My new bus did arrive and they got it all ready for me. It was so nice to have a much quieter ride 😉. I was soon to have an eventful week.

Posted on Facebook January 13, 2017:

“Because I’m tired of this crazy bus week….. Tuesday my bran-new bus refused to go faster than 5 mph, so I had to go start the, cold sitting out in the snow, old bus. It fires up and I head out to the first stop, where the students inform me it has a flat! I call it in and it’s decided that I just drive slowly and keep on trucking. Make it to my second to last pick up and this group of students really look worried, so I step out to have a look at the flat and realize that I have 2 flats and there’s no way I can go any farther. I call for a rescue. Buses come and take my students to their respective schools. The bus gets new tires in time for the afternoon run. Today I pick up the high school kids and head off to grab the middle schoolers, but the bus has other plans. The gages go crazy and I attempt to call the boss man but my radio chooses to not let me hear him reply and then the bus just quits on a hill! Thankfully another bus was behind me and called me a rescue! The rescue bus has been having its own troubles so I cross my fingers and finish the run. Only I hadn’t ever driven this bus and I can’t get it moving! Turns out the pedal has to be nearly to the floor to get it moving! Finish the route and have to park in an unfamiliar spot, I got ‘er parked. (Yay me) Boss man asks me if I’m ready to bye done with this bus week, I told him: “I quit!” He said I can’t quit until someone is there to replace me or I’m dead! So guess I don’t really quit 😏. I find out that the alternator went out.

Discussing the week at dinner, and it has been decided that it all went bad after I changed my earrings…. putting my Irish earrings back in right now!”

The new bus was gone for awhile as they tried to figure out what was up with it. I’m not sure they ever figured it out but I got it back and it’s been good (knock on wood). hWe are about a month into the 2017-2018 school year. I decided that to start the year right, I would send home the bus rules and have parents and students sign and return the bottom half. The new kids are learning the rules and the kids from last year are happy to have no assigned seat, yet. I’ve also implemented a new way to know when it’s safe to stand. The kids need to listen for the sound of the air brake being applied. It makes a ppchttt sound that is pretty loud. When they stand before I’ve pulled it, I just look at them and tell then to sit, then I pull the brake on and give them a nod. They are learning, it’s nice. We’ve already had a few field trips. They present new challenges: teachers and students who haven’t ridden my bus and don’t understand my seriousness for the rules. Teachers who don’t understand that my job is mare than just driving from point A to point B. I try and give them the opportunity to ride herd on their students, but often they just don’t pay attention. When I need to reprimand I start out in a nice tone, but often they don’t listen and I have to breakout my scary “bus driver voice”. That usually gets everyone’s attention.

Recently, I had a busload of fourth graders and three teachers. We were returning to their school from the high school after listening to a concert. It’s a daily short drive, we hadn’t gotten even half way back and I had a few kids who didn’t think they needed to remain seated. I asked nicely a few times and then busted out “the voice”, they still stood hung over the seats. I pulled over and had a little one sided conversation. I pained that because they were choosing to not follow the rules, we would put all the buses behind for picking up students after school. I told them that on my bus we sit and stay seated until the brake has been set and that his bus would remain parked until all butts were planted in the seats and faces forward. Then we waited as the two students I was really addressing finally got the hint and sat properly. When we arrived at the school, one of the teachers talked to the busload of kids and told them it was important for them to sit right so the driver could pay attention to the road.

On Monday, I was visiting with a friend and she told me that one of the teachers on that bus ride was angry and sure that the driver was out of line and needed to just spend more time with her eyes on the road and less on the mirror. My friend told the teacher that it is the driver’s responsibility to keep everyone on the bus safe and if students are not following the rules it is up to her to correct the problem. I also told her that I have to be checking the student mirror and my other mirrors constantly. Personally I hate it when the teachers stand up either to get after student or just to talk to them. What are they teaching them? That it’s ok to stand on the moving bus! It’s not ok ever, you don’t know when I may have some reason to apply the brakes sharply and if you’re standing when that happens, well it’s not going to be pretty. If something happens to anyone riding my bus, guess who’s going to be responsible? The teacher that was failing to keep her class in line or who might have been standing herself, or the operator of the bus? Yep you guessed it, the driver! So remember: my bus my rules, if you don’t like it, choose another bus! Or simply follow the rules! I just wish it was standard that school buses came with seat belts.

Here’s my most recent bus adventure:

Bus Adventures

I’ve got the lunch run this week. I get to the bus barn, start the lunch bus, it’s was kinda not wanting to start, but that’s fairly normal for old mini 2. I give it a few mins to run and then take off. I notice that it doesn’t really want to run the radio, but figure it should be fine sitting and running while I load the warmers. I arrive at the middle school, back up to the doors and get the lift down. The lunch ladies roll the first warmer onto the lift and I start the slow accent, when the bus dies! I say: “Hummm that can’t be good.” The lift is just barely moving so I stop and step onto the bus. Attempt to restart the bus and it just clicks! I try to call the boss man on his cell, no answer, I try the radio but with the bus dead, the radio is also not working. I try the office number and it say the number has been changed! WHAT THE HECK?! The lunch ladies have walked away by this point, I guess they figured it wasn’t their problem. So I try his cell again and again, finally I get an answer. I inform him that the bus has died and he says: “again? Ok I’ll come see what I can do. I’ll bring the other mini and we’ll load up on it.” So, I bring the lift back down and wait. Boss man arrived and sees that I’m not crazy it won’t start. He attempts to give it a jump but it’s not having any of that. The other mini arrives and we load up and head to the grade school to deliver lunch. We get it all unloaded and I walk towards the bus barn and give my daughter a call. She said she saw the lunch bus on the bridge holding up traffic! They were hooking it up to a pickup to tow back to the barn!

Turns out it’s the alternator.

#busbriverlife #busadventures #neveradullmoment

In the morning we (the twins and Nick and Rachel) take a selfie before we head out on the route. Lunch bus Sometimes I have a helper with the sweeping!

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Mothers

What is a mother?

1) the female parent of a child, 2) one who bears children, 3) one who raises, influences, cares for, loves and nurtures a child or children.

When I think about what shaped me into the mother that I am, I reflect on those mothers in my life and my history. Of course my mom, was and is a huge influence in my life, but there are others who helped to mother me. When you take the best of what your mom has to offer, one can’t help but know that they took the best from their mothers too, so who I am goes back to those mothers in my family history. I think we also take a little bit from all the mothers who we come in contact with too. So my friend’s moms, grandmothers, and my mother in law have also influenced me.

My grandmothers: Grace Flynn and Lucile Booher influenced their children and me when I had the opportunity to spend time with each of them. My gramma Grace was a quiet strength who kept a very clean house, had beautiful roses and always made sure her family was fed before her. Gramma Booher a more vocal woman who kept a tidy house that was filled with the materials to make anything. They grew an enormous garden and fruit trees, she bottled food. She taught me it is important to spend time with family. She drove and always made sure we had time with Gramma Grace who didn’t drive. Because of her example, I did my best to make sure my children got the chance to know their only living great grandparents.


These are Troy’s grandparents: Bob and Dorothy Herrin. When we lived in Vegas, I would take my kids: Cody, Shantel and Savanna over every Wednesday for lunch with Nana and Papa and then we would stay and visit and play with them for an hour or two. I’m not sure if they remember, but I do, and I tell them. Cody and Shantel remember playing with the toys that they had. Toys that their dad played with when he was little. Toys that their kids can play with when they come to visit at great grandma and grandpa Keiser’s. Nana took me under her wing and taught me the love crafting things. She would take me to the craft day at church, helped me make cards and shared her knowledge with me.


My in laws: Bob and Mary Keiser, live close and they help and teach and influence me and my children in many ways. We share recipes, tips on crocheting, she has helped me tie a quilt, taught Shantel to sew. She teaches and influences as she can, we take what we need from that.


My mom, Myrna Flynn, what can I say about this woman? She is amazing, strong, determined, independent, faithful, patient, bold, she is a fixer. She has taught me to be strong, independent, confident, to cook, and bake. She taught me to have fun, to enjoy life, that you are only as old as you feel, that I can do anything, and not to stress too much. She had 8 single births and has 34 grandchildren and almost 7 great grandchildren.

She is the one I call when I need to talk, to complain, to ask how to do this or that. She will do all she can to help those she loves. She is not huggy and kissy and she doesn’t get to emotional, but you know where you stand with her. She is not perfect but she is my mom and I would not be the person I am without her influence and that influence that has trickled down from her mom and all the moms that shaped her and her mom and her mom and so on back in time.


I hope that my daughters and daughters in law can take all the good that the moms in their lives can give and become the best moms they can be.  That they can see how each generation has something to offer, something that they can take and make their own and pass that on to their children and keep the cycle moving and growing and ever learning.


Thank you mom! I love you!

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Legacy 

My dad turned 80 on the 23rd of March. We planned and pulled off a surprise party for him. All of my siblings were able to make it! 🙂 That’s a big feat, there are 8 of us. The last time we were all together at one event was when our Gramma Grace passed away 10.5 years ago.  Looking around the house at all the people I got to thinking; “what a legacy my parents are leaving.”  (Be sure to click on the hyperlinks.)

When I think of  a family tree, I see it like this, with roots and branches. Our forebears are our roots, our children are our branches, and we are the trunk — that which links the two together.


So lets back this story up a few years…….

One day Sam met Lucile, they liked each other and in 1930 they married.  They had 4 children: Duane, James, Edgar and *Myrna. They raised their children well.


Meanwhile, Willard met Grace and soon they were married in 1934. They had three boys:  *Daren, Lawrence, and Lonny. They raised their boys up right.


Daren met Myrna and they were married in 1958. Over the course of 22 years they had eight children:  Colleen, Sean, Martin, Brandon, *Carrie, Ryanne, Clancy and Megan.   


Now each of these children married and have children as well:  (Colleen)- Hosanna, Hokan, Maja, Anders; (Sean)- Shannon, Samuel, Kelsie, Trever; (Martin)- Brandon, Adrianna, Kenneth, Andrae, Charles, William; (Brandon)- Stephanie, CX, Khyle, Kodyn; (Carrie)- Cody, Shantel, Savanna, Robby, Scott, EmmaLece; (Ryanne)-  Javin, Orissa; (Clancy)- Grace, Livia, Stella, Collett, Brooks; (Megan)- Shaylee, Liam, and Clara. This next picture is not all of the grandchildren, but a pretty good chunk of them.


A few of the grandchildren are married and have or are expecting children: (Hosanna)- Layla, Jemma, ?; (Stephanie)- Alaina; (Cody)- Fae; and (Shantel)- ?. Hokan is getting married on the 31st. Our simple tree is turning into quite a forest. 🙂

We weren’t raised in the lap of luxury, but we had what mattered most, love.  At the party, most of the grandchildren in attendance sang and played the song Daddy’s Hands for Grumpa. It was questioned as to why they didn’t sing a song about grandpas, the reason is that our children are more musically inclined than their parents. 🙂 When the song was finished, we took the opportunity to share a special memory, or a saying of our father’s that has stuck with us. What an awesome thing it was to share our memories with our parents and siblings. 

With a 22 year span between the first and the last child you can imagine that we didn’t all have the same experiences.  For the older childern, dad was home and he worked in radio and television. Colleen recalled a time when dad became quite flustered that no one checked the oil on a regular basis and came in the house saying: “I don’t care what kind of oil you put in there, just put something in!” Because of that, she is very diligent at checking the oil in her vehicles. Sean told of a time he took the car for a joyride with his friend when Dad wasn’t home.  Then while they were out and about, he remembered he had an eye appointment. Sean went on to the appointment and when he came through the door, dad was sitting there. Sean said that he spent the whole appointment thinking:  “I’m dead I’m dead!”  Dad looked at him and said: “I had to ride the bike!” Never take the car without permission even if you are sure your parents are not going to be home! Martin remembered going to work with dad at the radio station, and later driving the truck with him. Brandon remembered a time when he skipped school with Sean and Martin. Unknown to Brandon, the older boys had ratted him out for having skipped school with them. Upon being asked how school was he responded that it was great. (He was like 5 and the older boys would have been 9 and 12). Brandon learned if dad asked you something, he probably already knows the answer.   He also had another memory of getting a bunch of pop out of a vending machine with the same two quarters. The middle kids, didn’t really have a huge opportunity to spend time with dad because he had changed careers and was now a long haul truck driver.  So my memories are mostly of going on the truck with dad in the summers.  One summer, I went trucking with him all by myself. He had a load in Ohio, and it rained a lot there.  We played a lot of backgammon while we waited for the rain to stop. I got BLTs every time we ate at a truck stop and I saved a soda straw from all the places we went. The things I remember him saying, were’t really sayings, but funny songs: Katalina Matalina Hoopingsteiner Walking on a Hogan Pogan Logan was her Name and Kitchy Kitcht Kaimeo. Ryanne recalled having to learn lessons the hard way, but always being reassured of dad’s love after discipline was needed. And also how when she went trucking and they were in Baltimore, dad found every opportunity to drive through the tunnel that goes under the Chesapeake Bay just to watch her cringe. Clancy told of going trucking with dad and playing baseball on the side of the road as well as learning a life lesson about people. He had said something not nice about someone he felt could make more of their life and Dad told him that it takes all kinds of people to make it work. Something dad said one day to Clancy that he remembers is: “if you think it’s right then do it.” It was said after he had asked to do something he knew dad wouldn’t  approve of. He wisely chose not to do it. Now, by the time Megan was in Middle school, dad went from long haul to hauling locally, so she had more of an opportunity to get to know dad. Megan talked about a smell that reminds her of dad, the smell of mechanical grease.  She also remembers being on my horse’s back in the field with dad walking along side, and the neighbor called the horse.  The horse took off and Megan fell, dad carried her into the house. One more thing Megan remembers is how she and dad would run their feet across the carpet and then shock each other. They have a similar sense of humor which might have made mom crazy how they fed off of each other. Megan ended with a grateful heart for the parents we have. Colleen also had a few parting words of love and appreciation for mom and dad. Dad had a few words to say after our stories. He said how he wouldn’t have been able to raise us without my mom. He got a little emotional, it was sweet. He also told a few stories on himself. My mom said that there was a year when dad was gone 360 of 365 days!  Yeah mom is tough and lived a good portion of her child rearing years as if she were a single parent. She is wise and is usually the first person I call when I need to know one thing or another. We are blessed that they are still with us and have been our rocks. They have been married for 58 years. As matriarch and patriarch of our ever growing family, they deserve our respect and love always.

A few more stories were shared here and here.  


Now family dynamics can be interesting. With so many people coming from different backgrounds joining the family, there’s bound to be some disagreements and some hurt feelings. The trick is to see this creation of a new family within the family with a long term perspective.  The perspective we need to have is this:  In the eternal scope of things, does this really matter?  If the answer is yes, then do something about it. If the answer is no, then breathe deeply and let it go. Families are forever and we need to remember that!  It doesn’t matter if you were born into, adopted into or married into the family, it is yours now! There will be times when we think we are right or should be in charge. This can and will cause hurt feelings. If we try hard to think before we act or speak, realize when we haven’t been kind, be humble and forgiving, then these bumps on the road to forever can be overcome. 

I have always told my children that in the end all we really have is family. Friends come and go, (a few stick with you through thick and thin) but family is connected by roots and branches weaved together to create a tight mesh that holds us together. Love strongly, forgive freely and set your sights on the future.

The legacy we want to leave behind is one of love!



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New Beginnings 

Emmy gave a talk at New Beginnings tonight. (New Beginnings is a welcoming for the girls turning 12 this year and moving into the young women’s program.) The leaders and some of the older girls give talks to introduce the new girls to the young women’s theme:
And teach them about the virtues listed in the theme. It also helps reaffirm them to the older girls, it’s a good review for everyone.

Each virtue has a color associated with it:


EmmaLece was asked to give a 3 minute talk on one of these virtues. Em gets really nervous speaking in public and she really didn’t want to do it, but she sat down and started to research and write her talk.  She got a good start. Her dad read it over and said he would look up a few talks on the subject that she could read and maybe use some of one to add to what she had written. 

When she got home from school, her dad had found a good talk for her to read and hopefully use in her talk. She read over it and when I arrived home, I helped her pick and choose parts of the talk then she typed it up. After reading it through she had about a 5 min talk ready to go.  

We arrived at church and she was becoming nervous, trying to remember to breathe deeply and be brave.  The leaders gave their talks and then the young women got up in turn and gave their talks. EmmaLece continued to have increasing nerves as the other girls gave one and two minute talks. She really didn’t want to do it, but we smiled at her and gave her encouragement.

She wore a dark purple blouse to represent her virtue.


She got up and shared her talk: 

Integrity
I was asked to speak on integrity. In a talk titled “True Blue, Through and Through” by Sheri L. Dew, she says: “Today I want to talk with you about a virtue that is just plain smart and that will have as much impact on your happiness, your peace of mind, and your ability to fulfill your life’s mission as any virtue I can think of.

It is a virtue that will ultimately make you or break you. It will make or break you as a husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister, colleague or friend or leader. It will make or break your career. And most significantly, it will make or break your efforts to achieve exaltation. For it will define your relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

This is a virtue that every man or woman of God must come to possess in increasing degrees. It is a virtue found in every true follower of Jesus Christ.  

 It is the virtue of integrity.

We tend to define integrity as honesty. And without question, it includes that. But telling the truth is just the beginning of integrity.” Close quote. 

The dictionary defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. What are moral principles? Moral principles are good standards. So, integrity means the quality of being honest and having good moral standards. 

Integrity is the foundational virtue upon which all other virtues are dependant. It is the first rung on the character ladder. Where there is integrity, other virtues will follow. Where there is no integrity, other virtues have no chance of developing. (Sheri L. Dew- True Blue, Through and Through)

President Joseph F. Smith called integrity “the cornerstone of character” (4 April 1897 General Conference). And President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of integrity this way: “Men and women of integrity understand intrinsically ( in an essential or natural way) that theirs is the precious right to hold their heads in the sunlight of truth, unashamed before anyone” (Standing for Something, 29). 
Sheri Dew has seven suggestions to help us become men and women of integrity:

“1. Decide today, once and for all, that you will be worthy of trust-the trust of family and friends, colleagues and business associates, and most of all, the Lord. The more the Lord trusts you, the more knowledge and power He will give you. The Holy Ghost is not able to inspire or endorse the words or actions of someone who is not true and who can’t be trusted. So decide now, today, once and for all, that at all cost you will be a man or woman of integrity who can be trusted.

2. Have faith that the Lord can and will help you, and then diligently seek His help. Challenges that test our faith are almost always opportunities to strengthen our faith. So believe the Lord will help you, and then diligently seek after His help.

3. Make covenants and keep them. In other words, do what you say you will do. This begins with keeping the covenants you made at baptism and again in the House of the Lord, and then being precisely, completely true to those covenants.

But it also includes being fair and square with others. Here is a sample checklist: Do you do what you say you will do, or do you often make excuses for not coming through? Will you rationalize taking advantage of someone else if it is to your advantage? Are you doing your own classwork? Do you give your best effort at work or just put in time? Do you pay a full tithe? Are you really living the Honor Code? Would you date your best friend’s boyfriend behind her back? Are you honest with those you date, or are you leading someone on because no one better has come along and you don’t want to sit home Friday night? Are you straight with your parents about how you spend their money? If you could improve your chance for graduate school by cheating, would you do it? What DVDs do you watch and web sites do you visit when you’re alone? Are you honest and moral in the dark of night as well as broad daylight? Are you true to those who have trusted you with their love and confidence? Are you living worthy of the kind of man or woman you hope to marry, and of the children whom our Father will entrust to your care?

4. Stand up for what you believe. In fact, look for every opportunity to do so. Don’t be showy or loud about it, and please don’t ever criticize or judge others in the process. But relish every opportunity to stand for something, to be true to what you know is right.

5. Expect your integrity to be challenged. Metaphorically speaking, be on the lookout for Potiphar’s wife. She will show up again and again. Be ready to leave your cloak in her hand and flee again and again, because Satan won’t tempt you just once. Moses had to resist Satan’s temptations four times. And he had to tell Satan to beat it four times before he finally left–and that was after ranting and raving, weeping and wailing, and exposing Moses to the bitterness of hell (see Moses 1:19-22).

6. Don’t give up. This is a lifelong process. No one except the Savior will live a perfect life, and no one is perfected in a day. It takes time and sheer work to develop and refine our integrity. Heber J. Grant said it this way: “I know of no easy formula for success. Persist, persist, PERSIST; work, work, WORK–is what counts in the battle of life”

7. Covenant–or perhaps I should say, renew your covenant–with our Father and His Son to do what you came here to do. For doing what we agreed to do premortally is the ultimate expression of our integrity.

There is no such thing as slightly breaking a law–whether a law of the land or a law of God–because even a slight breach of integrity opens the door for Satan.” Close quote.

The color that was chosen for this value is purple, so when ever you see the color purple, think of integrity. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

By the time she made it to the last point, she was a bit teary but she made it through to the “amen” and ran for the bathroom.  I followed her as did one of the leaders and her best bud.  They gave her hugs and told her what a great job she had done.  Everyone was impressed with her ability to do just what she had been asked to do. She is working on developing the virtue of Integrity! We are so pleased with her accomplishments. 

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I’m getting a new title…

It has been a while since I blogged and a lot has happened.  Life moves quickly and we can’t seem to slow it down at all! (Here’s a quick overview of the last few years…)

Three children have graduated from high school!  How does this happen?

Cody graduated in 2013

Cody served a mission in Buenos Aries, Argentina from Feb 2014 till July 2015.

Shantel graduated in 2014

Shantel joined her Aunt Colleen and cousin, Maja on a trip to Hawaii.

Savanna graduated in 2016

Savanna excelled in sports and academics, visited a college and made a plan (at least for a year!). She took a once in a lifetime trip to Australia with Down Under Sports and competed in a multi-nation track and field meet in the discus and the shot put. What an experience she had.

My other three children have grown up as well: Robby is a junior now. He excels in sports, academics and music. He spent two summers at Scout camp working and learning. He took a trip to Washington DC with the NRA and had a wonderful time. He is considering joining the Marines.

The twins: Scott and EmmaLece are in the 7th grade!

Scott tried wrestling and although he never won a match, he had a great time and plans to join the team again.  He loves playing the drums and feels the rhythm of life everywhere!

EmmaLece loves to sing and competed in the music festival earning a superior rating on her solo! She broke her arm.

This year has been especially busy. In February Cody got married!  That resulted in a 900 mile (one way) trip to the happy event.

Savanna graduated from high school with honors.

We learned we are to be grandparents come November, thanks to Cody and Megan. (The ultrasound says it’s a girl!)

Shantel got engaged and then married in August. Closer to home only about an hour and half drive to Medicine Rocks State Park.

Savanna went off on her new adventure: college 9 hours away!

The twins turned 12 in July and were able to go to the temple this past Saturday (September 10, 2016) for the first time. They had a good experience and we had a memorable drive home. Somehow the cap to the coolant was off and the engine overheated. We spent a good 45 mins on the side of the freeway until we were rescued and able to head on home.

So on to this new title: Grandma! I’m still not sure how I feel about that?! I want a cool gramma name, that much I do know. As I think on this new title, I think of what a grandma is and how can I possibly live up to that? What comes to mind first when you hear the words Grandma and Grandpa?  The faces of all the grandparents I’ve had or borrowed come to mind and all the things they did for me. What they taught me and how they shaped who I have become is in the forefront of my mind.  What have I got to offer?  How will I be an influential part of their lives? How will these future grandkid remember me?  Am I ready for this? (Not that I have much of a choice! Hahaha! I am excited to watch my children experience this new adventure:  Parenthood!)

Who were my grandparents and what did I learn from them?  I had my Grampa Sam and Gramma Booher and my Gramma Grace.  Admittedly, we spent more time with my mom’s parents than with my dad’s mom. I do wish I had gotten the opportunity  to know Gramma Grace better, but she didn’t drive and I guess it was more work for us to get to her house. Whatever the reason, we didn’t go often and she passed away many years ago.  It may be what motivates me to want to be an approachable involved gramma.  My Gramma Booher drove and she saw the importance of us at least getting to know gramma Grace some. She would take us over for a few days visit.  My opinion of her was a very quiet, private person who kept a very tidy house and grew beautiful flowers.  Gramma and Grampa Booher, on the other-hand, were adventurous; taking road trips, going fishing or out to cut wood. They grew a huge garden, gramma bottled a lot of stuff and made us clothing and quilts.  She was a robust little woman who knew what she wanted.  She was talented and she shared what she had with those around her.  My grampa was funny and fun. We learned how to chase the neighbors cows away with a slingshot and a water hose. We learned how to sing the alphabet backwards and all about bottle hounding (Collecting old bottles and how best to display them for maximum color.).  Gramma tried to impart her knowledge to us, patiently teaching how to sew (Sadly, she gave up on me, I did manage to make a duck pillow!). I think it was Gramma Grace who attempted to teach me to crochet (I wasn’t very good or patient with myself and it took me until I was in my 20’s to give those skills another go.)

When I got married, I gained another set of grandparents: Bob and Dorothy Herrin (Nana and Papa). What a wonderful cute couple they were.  We had the opportunity to live rather close to them (In the same city! What a treat, to visit my grandparents, as a child it was about a 3-4 hour drive!) I was determined to to get to know them to not take them for granted. I hoped to make memories for my young children with them.  I made it a point to take them at least once a week for a lunch visit.  I went to craft days with Nana and learned with her. She was a very talented lady (a lot like gramma Booher). I was sad to leave Vegas knowing it would not be often we would get to see them. Sadly, the twins never met Papa, we never got the chance to take them to Vegas before he passed on. Nana came to Montana to visit and ended up living out the rest of her days here. All of my children were able to spend time with her and help to care for her in her last years.  It was hard to see age take it’s toll on her, but I hope that my children learned compassion, service and love for their great-grandma.  I hope that they have learned that grandparents deserve respect and admiration and love for they are the matriarchs and patriarchs of our family.  They paved the way for us and them and for their future children.  Age is a vicious thing! When we are young we dream only of growing up and doing more and when we are grown we yearn for our youth.

As I approach the cusp of this new adventure, I want to be all of these grandparents best qualities. I want my children to be able to see the many great and wonderful qualities that their grandparents have. I want my children to love, cherish, respect and enjoy making memories with their grandparents. I want my children to honor their grandparents living or not. I want them to remember that grandparents are the make-up of their parents and thusly of them.  When my children look in the mirror, do they see them smiling at them in love and pride for who they have become?  Becoming a parent and a grandparent is carrying on a legacy of love, sacrifice and service. I reach for this new title with excited shaky hands and a prayer that I will be the best of all that came before me!

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2013 The Elves Adventures Begin 

The elves heard the kids talking about putting up the Christmas tree, they also heard how tired people were and so decided to just help out a little.
    
It was a bit of work, but Lily and Fredwardo are pretty tricky elves!

  
The next evening, they found the box of Little People.

 
With a little teamwork they were able to have quite a bit of fun.
Since they are new to our house, there are a lot of things and places to explore. One never knows what to expect in the morning. 

   
This evening they did a little exploring and decorating. 
Lily and Fredwardo found that we have a great Little People Nativity and a fun Christmas book. Who doesn’t love a good Christmas story?

  
They learned quick that there many things they don’t know. Lily and Fredwardo are quick though and took to the web to find this fun string game to share with Scott and Em.

  
A Christmas carol is always a good idea.

  
With a little creative stacking the elves were able to get up to the window and have a peak outside.

  
Paper airplanes are so much fun that Lily and Fredwardo thought they’d make a few.

  
Phase 10 was next to be conquered by our good little elves. 

  
Lily was thinking hard about creating something fun, but then she fell asleep under a few papers.

  
Fredwardo got busy crafting and made some fun snowflake decorations.

  
I’m not sure if lily and Fredwardo were playing hide and seek or trying to fold the laundry.

  
A snowball fight! What creative elves have come to visit us.

  
Digging through the books they came up with this fun one.  

 Do you know how much fun it is to read and play along with these Can You See What I See books? Fredwardo and lily sure had a good time.

  

 
They were curious about the crochet project laying out. I guess they thought they could finish up the rug for Rez. They might have bitten off more than they could chew…. But it’s always good to learn new things.

  
This evening, they wanted to remind Scott and Em about the true meaning of Christmas and drew them some pictures.

  
They have been paying attention to our nightly routine and have message of reminder for us all.

  
They sometimes need to climb a little to find a nice place to just rest!

  
Lily and Fredwardo found the kitchen and discovered the wonder of baking.those look like really yummy cookies!

  
The twins had to wrap up the mugs for the exchange. Such good helpers.

  
Checking out the African mounts: Impala and blesbok.

     
Card houses, I used to make these or try to when I was a kid. Lily and Fredwardo did a good job with theirs. 

    
All that building worked up a good appetite and they decided some banana bread would make a yummy snack. I sure like helper elves like Lily and Fredwardo.

   
 A little game of hide and seek is always fun.

  
Fredwardo decided to check things out in Scott’s room.

  

  
Lily went down to Em’s room, but as she got in the door, Em started to rummage around. She spent the evening guarding the door.

  
With Fredwardo and Lily on the job, the presents were successfully placed under the tree and Scott’s plan to capture Santa foiled! 

#christmaselves #lilyandfredwardoadventures

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Christmas Elves

December 2012 Scott and Em heard about the Elf on a Shelf and wanted one. I did a little research and didn’t like that elf! I found a cute Christmas Elf crochet pattern and told them I’d make them a cool elf.   
This is Lily and she is the first I made. I followed the instructions, but wasn’t really happy with the results. So I made a few changes for Scott’s elf.

  
Meet Fredwardo, he and lily are going to have many adventures each December! We don’t tolerate naughty elves in this house, so let’s hope that they are helpful and fun loving elves!

#christmaselves #lilyandfredwardo 

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