Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Open Letter

Dear Young Man Outside of WinCo,

I still think of you from time to time.  Oh yes, though nearly eight years have passed, I remember you. 

I remember seeing you by the entrance as I approached from the parking lot.  I remember watching you try to get the attention of customers as they entered the building.  And I remember how each of them passed you by.  I remember that you looked a little rough and each time you were ignored you seemed upset, though not offended.

I remember your respectful address, "Excuse me, Miss?"  I remember considering ignoring you like the others.  But I stopped.

Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was pity after seeing you repeatedly ignored by your fellow man.  Either way, I stopped.  And then my lesson began.

You asked if I would like a $20 WinCo credit coin.  I'm not sure how it came to be in your possession, if you cashed a check, had returned items, I don't know.  I remember the feeling of surprise that you were offering something.  I asked you if you could use it, surely there was something inside you might need.  I remember you placing it in my hand and saying, "You can have it."  I said a quiet thank you and then you were gone.

I still wonder why you chose to give it away.  We were at a grocery store!  Surely there was something inside that you needed.  Everyone needs food!  I even asked if you could just use it for junk food; soda, donuts, jelly beans, whatever.  There had to be something that you would eat.  But you gave it away.

What you didn't know is that I was pregnant.  You didn't know that this was my third child.  You didn't know that I was staying at home while my husband worked and went to school and we were basically living on student loans.  You didn't know that weeks earlier we had been in a car accident that totaled our car.  You didn't know any of this.  How could you?

The bigger concern was what others didn't know.  They didn't know that a young man who looked different from them had something to offer.  His outstretched hand intended to give, not to receive.  They didn't know that although they ignored him he remained willing to give.  They didn't know he was going to change my life that day.

That $20 coin did more than help with groceries that day.  It taught me that all have something to offer.  And while I was the recipient that day I, too, have something to offer.  It won't always be money but I can give of myself.  I can look inward, past the outward appearance and see that there is good in others.  I can sacrifice something of mine to share with another. 

I can try to be like you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Memories

I love the fall!  It is by far my favorite time of year. 

Some of my fondest memories as a child are from when my brothers and I would rake leaves under the leaning tree in the backyard.  We'd rake them into clubhouses, mimicking home blueprints, leaving entrances to and from the club and making doorways.  We'd then choose who got to president, vice-president and treasurer.  Treasurer was the best job!  Somehow we always had candy available at that time of year and whoever was treasurer got to hide the candy in their office and be the one to dole out treats.  My favorites were the monster chews; fruity flavored taffy with monsters on the wrappers.  We'd play like this for hours, and as soon as the clubhouse "walls" were no longer discernible it was time for a new floor plan.

Although we always had plenty of leaves in our yard from the several poplar trees I remember one year wanting more leaves.  Luke and I hauled a wheelbarrow over to our neighbor Mary Alice's yard.  She had so many trees!  We piled her leaves into our wheelbarrow, nabbed an apple or two off one of her fruit trees and wheeled the leaves over to our yard.  I'm not sure why we though we needed so many leaves, and neither was my mom.  She didn't seem too pleased at all the extra leaves.  (I get it now, Mom.)

We'd also take turns burying each other in the leaves.  Sometimes we'd even get a blanket, put it over ourselves and then pile the leaves on top.  No one ever stayed under the pile too long, but we each took a turn.

It was always fun to make a giant pile of leaves to run and jump into.  We'd kick the leaves and throw them high in the air and then rake them into a pile again.  Inevitably someone would jump into the leaves and then quote Linus, "Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker." We probably all took our turn doing that as well. 

I can also remember the smell of burning leaves in the air.  I don't remember if we burned ours, I don't think we did, but living in a rural community that, too, was inevitable.

I still love the smell of the air in the fall, the morning frost, the threat of snow just around the corner.  The reminder to slow down, enjoy the season while it lasts, and gather in all that needs protection. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The One On My Mind

Its amazing to me how 4 kids from the same parents have so much in common and yet are so different.  Just when you think you have them figured out something clicks in their mind, they switch gears, and you are left to figure them out all over again.  (As our several different chore chart attempts can attest.)

I have one child who gives me a particular challenge.  Jack.  He's loving and sweet and awful and annoying and funny and a brat.  All. At. Once.  I don't want to document any particulars at this point in time in the hope that in years to come they will all be a thing of the past and I will be left with only the good memories.

The funny thing is that ever since Jack was a baby I have told him several times a day that I love him.  I tell all my kids that I love them daily, but I felt a need to repeat it multiple times a day to Jack. When he began to communicate more I made it into a little game.

"Guess what," I'd say.

He'd offer up a curious, "What?"

"I love you."

Then he'd smile and say, "I love you, too."  Jack thought it was fun for a while.  Pretty quickly he started to respond, "You love me," completely skipping over the formality of answering, "what?" 

As he's grown older I still tell him often that I love him, though we play our game less.  I did it so often that when he heard the words,  "I love you," he'd say, "I 'm tired of you telling me that.  You tell me that everyday."  He even went so far as to insert an eye-roll here and there.  Yeah, good times.

The fact is, Jack is not always well behaved.  He is impulsive, reckless and thoughtless at times. He can be mean, whiny and entitled.  He is all boy.  There are good things, don't get me wrong.  It seems, however, that the good times often come about when he's trying to dig his way out of the bad.  (We're working on it.)

I've wondered if I feet the need to tell him of my love so often as a way for me to crystallize it in my own being before dealing with whatever he may throw my direction.  I've also wondered if he needed to hear it often so that even when I may not be happy with his actions and choices at times he will have the crucial and fundamental knowledge that I love him.  I. Love. Him.

So yes, Jack may tire of hearing it, but I shall never tire of saying it. 

I love you, Jack.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Father's Day Questionnaire

Father's Day Questionnaire
Here's a fun follow-up to the Mother's Day questionnaire. This time it's all about dad!

My favorite thing to do with my dad is:
I: play video games
K: go on daddy daughter dates
J: play dot to dot
H: play jump over the log and bounce

My dad teaches me:
I: a lot
K: how to be kind
J: stuff
H: how to play rise of the robots

My dad makes the best:
I: barbecue
K: of me
J: mac'n'cheese
H: tacos

My dad is good at:
I:  everything
K: making parties
J: doing stuff
H: every game for Nintendo

My dad is as strong as :
I: 50 raccoons
K: an oxen
J: chairs
H: everything

I love my dad because:
I: he's awesome
K: he is awesome
J: he's awesome
H: he's the strongest dad in the world and can lift up our house!

There you have it.  If you ask me a 75% awesome rating is pretty darn good!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Jack's Mail

Quite a while back I signed up Isaac for a subscription to the LEGO magazine.  Since then he has been the envy of the children in the house because he receives mail.  Jack was especially upset last time an issue arrived and declared rather dramatically, "I NEVER get any mail!"  Since I knew my friend Katie had started a tradition of letter-writing on Sundays I texted her and asked if she might be able to convince one of her children to write to Jack.

This afternoon I checked the mailbox and found that she had convinced TWO of her kids to write to Jack.  I left the mail in the box and had Jack check it when he got home from school.  He was surprised and thrilled to see that he had received mail!  We were all impressed with the seriously cool letter-writing of Jacob and Isaac, right down to the sealing wax!

Jack was so excited to return the correspondence that he used the reverse side of the letters they had sent to respond.

I'm thankful for friends who are willing to reach out to help my son feel special (on demand).  And I'm glad that Jack was happy to respond instead of thinking only of himself.  I hope Katie's boys enjoy receiving mail as well!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Kid Questionairre

On Sunday the kids were given paper flower magnets in Primary.  Each petal had a fill-in-the-blank about their mom.  Some of their responses were funny ( Jack signed Isaac's name on his own flower and then gave some bogus answers) and some of them were tender (thank heaven I have a daughter).  While I have them on my fridge for now, I want to keep their answers somewhere more lasting.  So here they are, as they wrote them.

My mom makes the best:
I: Food
K: FOOD in the WOLD
J: food
H: pepperoni pizza

My mom is as pretty as:
I: everything awesome
K: the most beutiful ROSE
J: fairy books
H: a mushroom

I love my mom because:
I: she loves me
K: of everything she does
J: she's awesome
H: cause she let me play the Wii on a Sunday

My favorite thing to do with my mom is:
I: watch a movie
K: chat and play Lalaloopsies
J: Puzzles
H: play a game on iPad with numbers

My mom teaches me:
I: how to eat her food
K: that I (and her) are most beutiful on the inside
J: notheing
H: how to play games