Flying Together: Spanish Fork’s Brian and Tricia Stauffer are on the road to an empty nest

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Eric Stauffer (left) is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to family activities, but his parents Tricia and Brian are emotionally preparing for their last chick to leave the nest. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

Eric Stauffer (left) is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to family activities, but his parents Tricia and Brian are emotionally preparing for their last chick to leave the nest. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

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Adventure Bus Siting

A fully decorated bus — owned by a teenager — isn’t something you’ll find in many driveways. However, when Eric Stauffer bought an old school bus off KSL, he had a plan to turn that bus into money.

“Eight of my friends — with the help of the grandpa of one of the girls — fixed up the bus and got it ready to take on some adventures,” Eric says.

With an Instagram account @adventure.bus, Eric and his friends earned a sponsorship deal with Maverik. The crew members post their “bus adventures” on Instagram and get paid based on how many followers they have.

“Eric’s really entrepreneurial and looks at life a little differently than his siblings,” says Brian Stauffer, Eric’s dad. “I always tell him that his brothers will probably be using their degrees to work for him.”

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Maybe “dread” is too strong of a word, but Brian and Tricia Stauffer of Spanish Fork certainly aren’t looking forward to the peace and quiet of empty nester-dom. The parents of four have already had three chicks fly from the nest and had a hard time with each departure.

 “When our oldest, Chelsea, went to Snow College, we cried the whole drive back home,” Brian says. “And not a little cry. We’re talking snot-nosed crying. I had to stop a couple of times because I couldn’t see through the tears enough to drive.”

The fact that Tim McGraw’s song “My Little Girl” played a couple of times during the trip didn’t help.

The next two to fly away were identical twins — Taylor and Riley — who entered the Missionary Training Center at the exact same time. Again, the waterworks came.

“Times two,” Tricia says.

Now, Eric — the youngest by six years — is finishing his junior year in high school and looking forward to his chance to fly, while Brian and Tricia are still trying to enjoy their high school swan song.

The center of it all

For the Stauffers, their children have been at the center of their lives for 26 years. Their time was spent at dance recitals, cheerleading events, baseball games and school activities. Their collective calendars were filled, not with free-time hobbies, but with pre-determined activity schedules.

“Our kids were our hobbies,” Tricia says. “We stayed busy doing what they were doing. That was what felt right at the time, although now it makes life harder because we won’t have those activities planned for us.”

Some of Brian’s best family memories come from helping coach his sons’ baseball teams. He even claims responsibility for being the one who helped Chelsea get over the mental hurdles stopping her from the back handspring required to be a cheerleader.

Last one standing

While Eric enjoys the attention that comes from being the youngest in the family, he finds being the lone child at home draws some unwanted attention from mom and dad. But even with the increased face time, Eric has managed to keep a few things under the radar.

A big example?

“I bought a bus off of KSL when I was 15,” Eric says. “I didn’t have a driver’s license, so the guy had to drive it down to my house. Oh, and my parents didn’t know I was going to do it.”

And even if his parents had known his intentions, he still may have ended up with it in the driveway because of his persuasive personality.

“If he would have been a middle child, he wouldn’t have bought the bus,” Tricia admits. “He’s harder to say ‘no’ to because he’s the youngest. The first three handled themselves well, but Eric has a mind of his own. We have our challenges.”

The Adventure Bus crew has left its mark on the blackboard as well as the lives of the Stauffers. Each of the eight crew members has a name — and interest — in the adventure venture. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

The Adventure Bus crew has left its mark on the blackboard as well as the lives of the Stauffers. Each of the eight crew members has a name — and interest — in the adventure venture. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

What’s next?

With Chelsea living in Wisconsin while her husband works through his medical training and the twins each married and finishing school at Utah State University, the Stauffers appreciate the satisfaction that comes from the children leaving home and spreading their wings.

Regardless of how much they love the noise of a house full of children, they wouldn’t change what they’ve experienced or where they are in life.

“The thing about being an empty nester is that you mourn the loss of your kids being at home, but you don’t want them to move back in, either,” Brian says. “They are each out doing amazing things and building great lives. We love that.”

The twins got married last summer, and in September 2015 Chelsea delivered the Stauffers their first grandchild — a granddaughter named Chloe.

“It just starts over with that little girl,” Brian says. “We love seeing her as much as we can.”

In fact, when considering their impending empty nester status, the potential for more grandchildren is a highlight.

“If we can figure out what to do with the dog, we will probably spend our time traveling to visit our children and our grandchildren,” Brian says.

And helping their children build their own nests.

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Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at greg.utahvalley360@gmail.com.

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