a special life

We took a little Craigslist inspired roadtrip yesterday.  We had two things on our agenda:  a unicycle and a brown bus.  The unicycle, because Keats became obsessed after trying one at a friend’s house, and has been driving us nuts for one ever since.  The brown bus because Jonny has this big crazy plan to turn a bus into an RV this summer, maybe not so coincidentally inspired by the same friends with the unicycle.

The bus turned out to be not quite right for us, which was mildly disappointing for Jonny because he has had a brown bus obsession ever since first spying this one on Craigslist over a month ago.  In fact, he used the photo from the listing as his screensaver for awhile.  This bus project will be quite an adventure, and I guess the process of finding the right one is going to be part of that.

The unicycle, on the other hand, is perfect.  Keats is still obsessed, but at least he can now work towards realizing this new dream of being able to ride his unicycle everywhere with perfect skill.

Nearing the end of this day we stopped at a rest area for our dozenth potty break, and another round of cooler food.  The hillside between the rest area and the highway was covered in Japanese flowering cherries (Prunus ‘Kanzan’ I think) in full bloom.  The wind was sweeping through, causing petals to fall like snow, thrilling my kids.

Our little ones were dirty, and some were yogurt covered.  Job at some point got a diaper change and his onesie never managed to get snapped up again. We were all a little disheveled.

I was taking photographs when I noticed an elderly man watching me.  I could see him considering approaching me, maybe a bit hesitant, and I was admittedly a little nervous at the prospect.  I guess it was his hesitance that worried me.  Was he thinking about chastising me?  Did he disapprove of our family for some reason, for our children racing around the hillside?

I tried to appear open and friendly, because truly I am.  I am not typically wary of strangers.  The first thing he asked was if he was counting correctly.  He said, “6.”  I said actually “7.”

He said that it must be hard today to raise a large family these days, that it must be expensive.  I noted that we don’t buy much in the way of electronics.  We don’t drive new cars.  We buy lots of used clothing.  I added that we lived on some acreage, spending a lot of time outdoors.

He spoke of a friend who was one of 17, how they never vacationed.  I told him of our plan to start traveling in a renovated school bus, the reason for our trip that day.

I could tell that he was weighing my words carefully, and then he noted that our kids looked really happy.  He must have noticed that Jonny and I are too.

As we parted he said to me, “Enjoy your special life.  You’re very lucky.”

His words spun around my head throughout the rest of our drive.  They made me feel warm, and happy, thankful, and satisfied.  Oftentimes people don’t view a family full of children as a good thing.  But he clearly saw that for us, it is.  Easy?  No.  But, good?  Yes.

Enjoy your special life.

I think I will always carry his words with me, a reminder that my life is truly very special.


  1. I just found you via Down to Earth Blog. Wanted to say ‘hi’. I’m also a Catholic home schooling mom of seven. Totally agreed on having and living a special life!
    Our oldest is 18yo and hoping to enter Seminary in the Fall……our youngest is 5yo.
    Enjoy your day with your beautiful family!!!!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Such beautiful photos. Your boy may be interested in reading about my old neighbor…I loved catching him cycling by my kitchen windows. 🙂



  3. anothermom says:

    Ginny, I love that your family plans to convert an old bus into an rv! Brings back such fond memories! When I was a young girl our family did the very same thing. We painted our retired school bus silver, the cheapest paint we could find at a local salvage store. My youngest brother stepped in one of the cans of paint, of course wearing his only pair of shoes; he had to wear one black, one silver shoe the rest of that year. With leftover paint from another project we emblazoned the sides with “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for”. My father outfitted the entire bus with salvaged materials scrounged from here, there and everywhere. He built several sets of bunk beds and used an old table and a piano hinge between two of the bus bench seats for dining/sleeping. My parents were certainly ahead of their time, since there was no internet or pinterest to spark their imaginations! Have a grand time and enjoy every special moment with your family

  4. What a lovely stranger and a lovely tidbit that he left you with!
    <3 Jessa

  5. Oh, what a wonderful blessing that stranger gave you. It gave me chills to read that line. I loved it so much so that I wrote it in my journal.

  6. Hello Ginny,

    I read 4 blogs regularly (including yours) and the woman who writes one of the other ones (Janet Shumway) just bought a bus with the purpose of converting it to an RV. They have already started their adventures, and you can read about it at: http://www.aweshumbus.blogspot.com/

    I just thought 2 like minded homeschoolers should become acquainted. I have been reading her blog for years, but she just recently locked all of her old posts to start fresh documenting this phase of their lives. You should start at the beginning.


  7. This made me cry a little. How beautiful. And what a gift he gave you. And yes, you – him.

  8. The pictures of your kids playing in the cherry blossom “snow” are magical!

  9. I love the words of the stranger. They brought tears to my eyes. I have five which includes three year old spontaneous triplets. We get some off and mean comments. We live in Seattle where the norm is 2 children. It is so lovely when someone offers kind words and encouragement. I am so thankful you shared your conversation with him. Maybe it isn’t easy all the time, but happy kids are such a great reward!!! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Those petal pictures are magical:)

  11. Barbara says:

    Happy Mothers Day and enjoy your “special” life and family!

  12. For sure. Thanks for that reminder.

  13. Brigitte says:

    Beautiful in many ways. My takeaway…we should each “enjoy our special life”– truly it is. Also remembering….this too shall pass…..helps remind me how special each season of life is. Thanks for another great post.

  14. You were up near my current neck of the woods. Isn’t that APG radar blimp (JLENS) the craziest thing? I see it on my way to/from work and it makes me laugh because it looks like a giant floating goldfish cracker.

  15. Love the new header photo you chose!
    And I agree with a ton of other comments that I welled up with tears reading this post, Ginny. What a perfect mother’s day gift for you to hear those words from a stranger.

  16. Yes, “a special life” – a God blessed life. The photographs in among the blossoms are gorgeous.

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