Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hear Us.

Day 296
The suicide of 15-year-old Canadian Amanda Todd earlier this month brought a renewed awareness to the serious business of bullying and today’s teen.  Millions have visited her YouTube video that outlines her desperate plea.  In stark black and white, she holds one card up then another.  Each card, sometimes misspelled in a teen girl’s script, tells of her harrowing ordeal of the escalating bullying.

A friend forwarded an online petition that started circulating in mid-October asking the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to bring those responsible for Amanda’s death to be held accountable.  I sign the open letter.  Enough is enough.  

I'm Not Perfect

Day 295
Glennon Melton from Momastery tops my list of favorite bloggers.  She shares her life (warts and all) in an attempt to make us all feel more real. Melton tells it how it is.  She lays it out there: her addiction, parenting, failed adoptions and family.  Who wants to read about a perfect mom with perfect kids with a spotless house?  Certainly not me.

As a stay-at-home mom, it’s easy to get pulled into a competition of my-kid-is-better-than-yours or look-how-together-I-am while behind the curtain the kids roll on the floor like rabid puppies and the scarf as fashion is really a foil to hide the coffee stain from this morning. 

We build each other up by being honest about our struggles.  Plus, no one likes a braggart. 

I see a friend at the grocery store who’s wrangling her twin boys while simultaneously grabbing things for dinner.  (With all three of my boys in school, I shop alone during the day, an unprecedented luxury for stay-at-home moms of little ones.)   

“Didn’t you just feed them dinner yesterday?” I joke. 

“Right?  I know,” she laughs.  We talk for a few minutes about what the kids are up to as her boys sneak items into the cart.  “I see that,” she says without missing a beat. 

“So what are you up to today?” she asks. 

Thinking of Melton and keeping it real, I tell my friend that the boys and I are making caramel apples after school. 

“Oh, we should do that,” she muses. 

“With the caramel wraps I brought last Halloween and didn’t use,” I finish.  “How far past the expiration date do you need to alert Poison Control?”   

She laughs. 

It’s OK to let people know that you haven’t got it all figured out, or heck, even showered that day.  This is life, people.  It’s not always pretty and it’s definitely not perfect.  By admitting to my faults, I let other people know that I won’t judge.  That’s the best kind of friend to be.

I wave bye and head home with my groceries, imaging the boys’ excitement to our after-school surprise.  To be on the safe side, I program Poison Control on speed dial. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What's in a Name?

Day 294
Granola bars topped the list of my go-to snack until I learned how unhealthy many of these touted “health” bars can be.  Thank you, Fooducate for teaching me to make a better choice.   

Even so, I like to keep something in my front car console for when I leave the gym, famished and dangerously close to a McDonalds’ drive-through.  

That’s why I’m so excited when at the gym, I read an article in some health magazine that lists the best of the best bars.  On the way home, I stop in the store to pick up a few to try.  I select the KIND bar because the combination of coconut and almond appeals to me.  I don’t zero in on the name until I get home. 

“Really?  You bought the KIND bars?” Chaz laughs. 

“I didn’t even notice.  I picked them because they sounded chewy,” I say.  It’s true but it sounds unbelievable even to me. 

I examine the wrapping more carefully and find an address for the company web site.  As their name implies, they attempt to do kind acts in their community each month.  If they get a large online commitment, they follow through with a “big” give.  I click to commit and add one more to their roll call.  A counter tallies up kind acts: 283,396 and counting.

A company that makes healthy, hearty snacks and performs acts of kindness to the community?  That’s something I can sink my teeth into.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Think. Think. Think.

Day 293
I pull open the kitchen cabinet to an avalanche of brown, plastic Kroger bags.  I can’t throw them away but instead save them with the intention of bringing them back to the store to recycle.  Each week, I remember my stash only after I pass the collection bin in the front Kroger entry. 

In the last week, I receive an email asking for bags.  But who?  Think.  Think.  Think. 

I stuff the bags into the open mouth of one and tie the plastic handles to prevent the bags from spilling out.  I look at the clock.  The school bus arrives in thirty minutes.  It’s enough time. 

I grab the car keys from the top of the piano, wave goodbye to the dogs and jump in the car.  I drive the mile or so to Finn Meadows Farm slowing down when I hit the dirt road to the farmhouse.

I pass the newly planted apple trees on my right, the barn on my left.  Black and white hens peck at the ground.  A hound dog barks when I park near the garage door.     

The door hangs opens so I run in and drop the bags on the worn, folding table that holds supplies for weekly CSA members to use for weekly vegetable pickup.   

Back in the car, I arrive home with ten minutes to spare.      

Thursday, October 25, 2012

They Grow Up So Fast

Day 292
It’s been on my to-do list for days but I haven’t been motivated to cross it off.  I need a looming deadline to create a sense of urgency.  The book drive ends in two days.  Now, I think, I have a reason to clean. 

The plan is to pull each book from the shelf and stack it in one of three piles: recycle, donate or keep.  I start in A.’s room.  As the youngest, he owns the least amount of stuff and most are well-loved hand-me-downs.  I don’t expect to find many books with binders intact and containing all pages to donate. 

What I do find surprises me.  Winnie the Pooh smiles from the front cover of the hard-covered board book I read to I., then F. and then A.  Jemima Puddle Duck stares at me with her small, accusing eyes.  All of them ask how I can give away such an integral part of my boys’ babyhood. 

These books mark all the stages of my boys’ life.  From chewed corners to long-lost friends Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer, I realize how quickly my boys are growing up. Last night, my oldest read a book on the Titanic disaster while F. scoured through a book that contains all things shark.   

I put the Winnie back on the shelf and sit back on my heels.  How can I give these away? 

I retreat to the kitchen and a cup of coffee hoping the caffeine will knock some sense back into me.  Reasonably, I know I can’t keep every talisman of my kids’ childhood.  Plus, I want another child who may not have access to Beatrix Potter to sit snuggled in their mother’s lap and let the words fall over them like a warm security blanket.   

I give myself permission to keep five favorites.  Books I’ll want to share with my own boys’ children one day.  In the donation pile go Bob and Dora.  They scoot over to make room for books on colors and shapes.  Mother Goose stays with me.  So does Winnie.  And the one board book with corners so nibbled if I look closely enough can see the imprint of I.’s first tooth. 

I rush to drop them off before I change my mind.  

Power Rangers in Kroger

Day 291
When Meghan from Starfire calls on behalf of her client and asks if I can meet, I don’t hesitate.

I know about Starfire through my friend Lucy’s daughter who attends and she loves it.  That’s enough of an endorsement for me.  Launched in 2008, Starfire works to strengthen ties between people with disabilities and the local community.  They arm their program participants with the skills to make their own way in the world by focusing on their unique gifts. 

“Our seniors work on yearlong projects,” Meghan explains.  “I was hoping you’d be willing to meet with one of our seniors who is a writer?”  Her question ends in a hopeful open-ended curl.  

We agree to meet at a local Starbucks.  It seems fitting for two writers to discuss their craft over lattes.  Meghan arrives with Kevin, a tall husky boy who looks to be in his early 20s, and two women both named Ashley.  I find a table while the four of then belly up and order a drink.       

Here’s the thing about writers.  We love to talk about craft and process.  You throw ten writers in one room and you’ll hear ten different ways to get to the same end.  One constant remains.  Writers write.  Everyday. 

Writing isn’t for those afraid of commitment.  It isn’t for those afraid of failure or unwilling to delete the last five pages of a manuscript because it doesn’t work.  Writing’s brutal, unforgiving and wonderful.  That’s how I start. 

From Kevin’s expression, I can see his interest wane.  I switch gears. 

“Tell me what you like to write,” I prompt.  “Maybe even sketch out a rough outline.” 

His face animates and his hands gesture and he begins to describe his love of Power Rangers and science fiction.  He shows me two drafts of works in progress.  He describes in detail several Power Ranger episodes (of which I’m familiar having three boys) and tells me how he’s going to write a story just like that. 

“That’s a great start,” I say.  “Be sure to put your voice in your story.  Tell the story how you want to tell it.  No one else can do that but you.” 

I explain fast writes, a technique to write before your internal critic clogs your words.  When I offer suggestions about short story ideas and placing a Power Ranger in an unexpected location like Kroger and exploring what happens, Kevin’s face crinkles in confusion. 
“Where would you put them?  Where’s the craziest place you can imagine?  What would happen if they were there?”  I don’t want to steer the car, I’m only a volunteer asked to help guide it down a road. He needs to pick the path. 
“I think that’s silly,” he says before quickly adding, “no offense.” 
Meghan calls the next day to thank me for taking the time to meet.  She hems and haws a bit and tells me that Kevin won’t be working with me after all.  I think she’s afraid she’s hurting my feelings. 
“It’s completely OK,” I say. 
“But I have someone else who I think would be perfect,” she says.  “One of our seniors is putting together a yearlong project on kindness.  Do you think you could help mentor her?” 
That sounds right up my alley, I think.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Plan B

Day 290
When it comes to travel, the Ellis family wrote the book.  On what not to do. 

That romantic anniversary trip to France?  Missed the flight to Paris. 

Our honeymoon?  Stranded in a Spanish train station for nearly eight hours before a policeman kicked us out.  We left the station with no place to spend the night and no way to reach the person who was scheduled to pick us up.   

Lost luggage.  Misplaced passports.  Flat tires.  Stolen credit cards.  Are you seeing a theme? 

Ironically, you’d think any of these things might discourage us from travel.  It hasn’t.  Instead, we’ve learned to adapt and are masters at rolling with it.  We move from Plan A to Plan Z in lightening speed.  The kids?  They expect nothing less.  They too can roll with the best of them.  

All of this is a long lead-up to explain that when the Ellis family camps, expect something to do awry.  That the weatherman forecasts unseasonably cold overnight temperatures for the fall Cub Scout camping trip comes as no surprise to us.  Why would we expect anything else in a week previously filled with sunny and warm skies? 

After an afternoon of canoeing, exploring, campfire cooking and s’mores and skits around the evening fire, I’m ready to collapse. I enjoy camping with the Scouts but I wouldn’t claim it’s restful.  Five of us bent into a tent ensure that Chaz and/or I awake with a stiff neck or sore back that takes well into Wednesday to heal. 

“Coffee,” I growl when Chaz zips open the tent to check on the fire.  “Strong.” 

Chaz crawls out of our tent with promises of a steaming cup.  He returns within minutes with the bad news.  “No coffee,” he says. 

“At all?” 

For parents who’ve lived through a Cub Scout camping trip, you understand that morning coffee is essential for survival.  We don’t only want it.  We need it. 

It takes only minutes for Chaz to make a plan.  “I’m going to find some.” 

Within the hour, the hero returns to cheers of gratitude and relief and carrying 40 cups of McDonalds coffee.  I like my Plan B with cream and sugar.   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Impromptu Welcome Wagon

Day 289
“Mom!” A. yells.  “There’s a lady with a dog here to see you!”

Why that child can’t walk ten steps into the kitchen to tell me this, I have no idea. 

I close the recipe book I’m leafing through in search of dinner inspiration and walk towards the front door.  My neighbor Beth stands on the porch.  Her black and white collie Cassie sits patiently beside her.

“Sorry to bother you,” she starts.  “I saw the boys playing in the yard and it reminded me to tell you that a family with a little boy moved in down the street.  I don’t know if you’ve met them yet?” 

I tell her we haven’t. 

“Well, they’re out there now.  The little boy is playing by himself.  I thought you could go over and meet them.  Now?” 

I think of the unmade dinner, a husband arriving home soon from work, and unfinished homework.  I stall.  I inwardly sigh.  I stammer. 

“Where do they live?” I ask.  A. runs around to the side of the house to yell to the other two boys that we’re going to meet a new neighbor. 

“I’ll walk you there and introduce you.” 

I rummage through the shoe basket for something to slip on and grab a light jacket from the closet.  The boys whoop and holler at the prospect of a new playmate. 
“Are we going?” 

“Can I ride my scooter?” 

“Should I bring a glove?”

The boys pepper me with questions as they hop around Beth and I.  “Yes, Yes, Yes,” I answer, turning and looking at each boy as I speak.     

Dinner can wait.  Homework will get finished.  I text Chaz to let him know where we’ll be when he finds an empty house.

OPEN for Business

Day 288
Through my rain splattered windshield I see the CLOSED sign posted by the front door.  That’s not right, I think, looking down at my watch that reads a quarter after ten. 

“You want to wait?” I ask I. who seems content to do just that from the warmth of the backseat as I run into the library to return books.  He nods that he does and I jump out of the car and sprint up the front steps to dodge the rain. 

Through the clear glass doors, I see the lights and people browsing through the shelves.  The library is clearly open. 

Pulling back the front door, I step in and unhook the sign and flip the five-foot, vinyl sign to OPEN.  

“Oh, good, fixing the sign,” says a passing mom entering through the front door with her little girl and an armful of books. 

I drop our books at the returns desk, turn and dash back to the car and my waiting fourth grader.

When I tell him about the sign flipping he tenses up.  “Are you supposed to do that?” my by-the-book kid asks.  

I tell him I was helping but he’s not buying it.  “I don’t think you’re supposed to do that,” he repeats, clearly not impressed with my quick thinking or act of random kindness.     

Friday, October 19, 2012

Special Request

Day 287
“I’m bringing you dinner tomorrow!”

I run into my friend at the library.  She’s walking out.  I’m walking in. 

“No more food!” she laughs.  “We’re drowning in casseroles!” 

When word got out that a doctor diagnosed her husband with cancer, the wagons circled.  Someone set up a meal schedule on Meal Train, an online interactive calendar that allows people to pick a date and note what meal they will bring.  

Friends and neighbors rushed to sign up.  When a family’s as wonderful as this one with four great kids, people fall over themselves to help. 

“Is there anything you need?” I ask.  “Anything?” 

“Maybe some of your cookies,” she smiles. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rabbit, Rabbit

Day 286
In an attempt to make mindful choices about our health and wellbeing, Chaz and I agree to join a CSA, a community supported agriculture co-op, for the season.  A mile from our house, the organic farm sits tucked behind Steak N’ Shake off Montgomery Road.  Named Finn Meadows as a nod to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the farm is a throwback to simpler times.  The owners, a young married couple, live with conviction.  No television.  No central heat.  Lots of canning.  Lots of wandering farm animals and a cat named Huckleberry.


Did I mention it’s behind Steak N’ Shake?  No, the irony isn’t lost on us.

As with all good intentions, our enthusiasm for healthy eating wavers depending on the week.  Sometimes we make our weekly pick-up, sometimes we turn the car into Steak N’ Shake and order up some fries. 

With a few weeks left in the season, we have a sizable balance to eat our way through.  A ravenous rabbit might find itself challenged to eat that much lettuce in so few days.  So, what should we do?  Lettuce see…

At the farm, I pack up a bag of my favorite field greens and another to surprise a friend while the boys chase the chickens in the yard.  I pick out another box of freshly picked tomatoes and add it to our pile.  I add up our take, tally it in a worn black binder and call to the boys to meet me at the car. 

Today we’re not only doing pick-up, we’re doing delivery.      

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Here's My Number. Call Me Maybe.

Day 285
I admit I’m carrying some residual guilt from last fall.  I’d committed to help with the school directory but got sick and couldn’t follow through with my promise.  Even though it was a week in the hospital and not a case of the sniffles, I hated to leave someone in the lurch.

Not this year.  This week I spend hours and hours updating old contact information and adding new families to the PTO school directory.  (To be clear, this isn’t a one-woman show.  It’s a team of PTO moms working together to get this thing to the printer.) 

New privacy laws adopted by the district ban the release of personal information even to non-profits like the parent-teacher organization.  This complicates things a bit. 

We solicit families for addresses.  Reach out to teachers for help.  Use existing communication chains to gather what we need. 

My eyes crisscross in the blur of addresses, home phone numbers and email addresses.  I hope I haven’t inverted too many numbers or mistakenly moved a few families to a new neighborhood.  

Orange Pinto

Day 284
I see her with a lost expression I sometimes wear myself.  

“Do you need help?” I ask the silver-haired woman rocking her shopping cart back and forth. 

“I can’t find my car,” she says.  “It was just here.”

“It’s got to be close.  What’s it look like?”  I ask.  She tells me it’s a gray Toyota and the first two letters of the license plate. 

“I lose my car all the time,” I confess, my eyes scanning the lot for any car that fits her description.  “I always find it.”  

Growing up, my mom drove a bright orange Pinto. I didn’t know anyone on our block, OK, anyone at all, that drove a car the color of that Pinto.  It's a beauty, no?

My dad, the consummate salesman, brought it for a song off the lot.  I’m guessing there weren’t customers lining up for this particular shade of pumpkin.  Even in the psychedelic 70’s, a bright orange car made a statement. 

What it said was, “Hey!! I’m over here!!” 

The upside to driving an orange car is we never lost it in a crowd.  Even once.  We could exit the mall from a different door and like a beckon the orange glow led us home.

“I see it!” I say, pointing towards the woman’s car.  It’s hidden behind a large, navy SUV.  I walk the woman to her car and share the story of the orange Pinto. 

“I should have brought an orange car,” she laughs.  “Or maybe just a ribbon to tie on the antenna.”  I vote for the ribbon.      

Friday, October 12, 2012

Slumber Party

Day 283
It’s thirty minutes into the party and I’m in trouble.  I text Chaz frantically: One crying, three fighting, total chaos.  Come home.  NOW. 

It’s the first time we’re hosted a big slumber party.  Never one to dip our toes in the water, we dive in the deep end and invite ten 8-year-old boys to spend the night.  Why not?  What could possibly go wrong?  Famous last words?  By Custer? 

In agreeing to the plan, I thought how fun a slumber party would be both for the boys spending the night and for the parents free of responsibilities (or at least one kid down).  Plans, shmans.  Where is Chaz?! 

My husband arrives home just as the smoke from the burning pizza cheese begins to collect at the ceiling.

“Everything under control?” he asks.  (He’s enjoying this.  He’s also the one who openly questioned my sanity when I first broached the idea of a sleepover.)  I throw open the windows to let the smoke escape before setting off the alarm.  Crisis averted.    

“Absolutely,” I answer before sneaking back into the kitchen to wipe my sweaty forehead with a dishtowel.

Dinner goes without a hitch.  Then it’s baseball in the yard before an impromptu game of catch the dog.  Everyone safely back inside (dogs included), we head to the backyard for s’mores.  Fire and boys, another of the night’s great ideas.

Next it’s a double feature of The Lorax and Despicable Me, popcorn, chips and drinks.  We pile a half-dozen pillows on the hardwood floors and toss down some quilts. 

“Settle down, boys,” we say.  I congratulate myself on making it an hour closer to bedtime.  Chaz and I lean into the couch cushions to watch Dr. Seuss along with the boys and wait for them to nod off.  And wait.   

Did I mention these are 8-year-old boys?  There’s no nodding.  No settling.  Two hours later, we send them to the basement with half-hearted instructions to brush their teeth. 

“But I didn’t back a toothbrush,” one tells me. 

“Brush them twice when you get home,” I tell him. 

“They’re tired now, right?”  I ask Chaz, fighting to keep my eyes open after a long week and six hours of boy fun.

“Sure,” he grins. 

Pairs of boys march up the stairs every five minutes for the next hour.  Someone’s laughing.  Another’s making farting noises.  There’s something in the bathroom, can we come check?  At one a.m. I grab a pillow to make camp on the basement floor.  I’m the protector, the shh-er, the mom. 

“Boys,” I plead.  “Sleep?  Do you miss it?” 

By two a.m., all boys snore softly.  A tangle of boy limps wrap around each other in a sweet, innocent embrace of childhood friendship.  Lucky and Spot burrow into the spaces between flung arms and tucked legs. 

I’d like to say everyone had a restful night.  But I’d be lying.  Three hours later, our youngest creeps down the stairs and reignites the party by waking the boys.  All the boys. 

I blindly crawl up the stairs to find Chaz asleep on the family room couch. 

“They’re up,” I say. 

“How?  They just went to sleep.”

So, friends, your night off?  How was it? 

You’re welcome. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gooey's Good

Day 282
My kids and I share a love of baking.  OK.  Confession time.  We share a love of eating: baking is how we get our fix. 

As willing assistants, the boys crack eggs, stir chocolate chips into batter and roll cookie dough like the seasoned professionals they are.  Watching them, I forget that not all kids grow up with a whisk in their hand.  

“Have you ever cracked an egg?” I ask Rachel, a sweet, sweet kindergarten girl who stands beside me in our kitchen.  “No?  Oh, this is going to be fun!” 

Her eyes widen at my suggestion that she crack two eggs into a clear, shallow bowl. 

“Break them?” she asks tentatively. 

“Break ‘em wide open,” A. instructs.  For as bull-in-a-china-shop as my youngest is, he’s unnaturally adept at cracking eggs without getting shells in the batter.

Rachel shakes her head side-to-side.  “I don’t want to.  It sounds messy.” 

“We love messy!  Right?”  A. nods his head in agreement.  Messy is our motto.  We worry about cleanup after the cookies cool. 

“How about if we take it slow?  Break it down, if you will.”  Rachel looks unconvinced as I laugh at my own funny. 

I hand her and A. both an egg.  “Take your egg,” I hold mine up to demonstrate, “and tap it lightly on the counter.” 

“Then,” A. jumps in, “you stick your little fingers in the crack, pull it apart and drop the egg in the bowl.”

“Gently,” I add. 

“Gently,” he repeats. 

Rachel taps her egg. 

“A little harder,” I encourage.  Her egg remains perfectly intact.  “Just a little.”  

She taps again, this time splintering the shell and creating a web of delicate lines. 

“Use your fingers and gently pull the shell apart.”  I move the bowl beneath her hands to
allow the yolk and white to slip through her fingerss and drop into the glass. 

“You did it!” I cheer. 

She stares from the bowl to her fingers to the remains of the shell, unsure of what just transpired.  “My hands are all gooey,” she smiles. 

“Gooey’s good,” A. assures.  For boys, it’s a catch-all answer. 

Taking the time to teach a child something new is a wonderful act of kindness.  How else can they learn if we don’t show them?  If you’re wondering, that goes for lots of things besides cracking eggs.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Won't Say I Know

Day 281
Looking at my life, I know I have it pretty good.  Great kids.  Supportive husband.  Nice house.  Loyal friends.  For us, life seems to get better with each passing year. 

My brother and I have shared several conversations recently about the state of the economy.  I hear him but admit in my insulated bubble I don’t feel the pinch.  It’s hard to understand the depth and devastation of long-term unemployment, living without health insurance or losing a home unless it happens to you. 

I’m thinking of all these things as I return from a trip to Over-the-Rhine to drop off boxes of toothpaste, laundry detergent and bath towels as part of a school collection for the Make a Difference committee that I co-chair. 

Looking down Vine Street, it’s hard not to see in very concrete terms how a bad economy continues to effect the quality of life for so many in our community.    

I won’t insult anyone by claiming I understand how it feels, because I don’t.  What I will do is appreciate what I have and not take it for granted.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Friend

Day 280
I’m at the school for a committee meeting and realize it’s nearly lunchtime so decide to sneak down to the cafeteria to say hello to the boys.  I’m glad to see the first graders since A. is the only one thrilled to see me at school these days.

His face breaks into a smile when I approach the long cafeteria table.  He scoots over to make room.  I slip my legs over the bench and slide in next to him. 

I like to think I know all my kids’ friends but don’t recognize the blond sitting directly beside him. 

“Hi!” I say.  “What’s your name?” 

A. jumps in to answer before the boy responds. 

“He’s new.  First day.  Told him to sit next to me at lunch.”  Mr. Business. 

“That was really nice,” I smile.  “And play at lunch recess, too?” 

A. nods his head enthusiastically to indicate “duh, of course.” 

I sit and talk for a few minutes until the monitors indicate that everyone needs to clear out for the next grade arriving for lunch.  “Have fun!” I say to the new boy before leaning in and whispering into A.’s ear, “I’m very proud of you.”  He grins his toothless grin and skips out to join his new friend at recess. 

The first graders gone, the fourth graders file in.  

“He’s over there!” my oldest’s friends yell and point to a long table on the far end of the lunchroom.  I spy him just as he makes a show of ducking beneath the tabletop.    

I have one simple request.  If you see me at school helping out and I wave, have the courtesy to acknowledge me and wave back.  If you don’t (because mom is too uncool for school) there will be consequences.

I hide behind one of a half dozen columns and wait.  And wait.  

He thinks he’s in the clear.  He goes wide.  Then I attack.

I jump from behind the column, wave crazy jazz hands, and let out a “Booga, Booga!”  I. nearly drops his lunch tray.  His friends roll with laughter. 

Even if he won’t admit it, he loves the attention, smiles and rolls his eyes.  I can tell he’s pleased.   

I stride the two steps towards him, wrap my arms around him and shower him with kisses in a I-am-way-too-old-for-this-and-my-mom-is-trying-to-ruin-my-life way.  He attempts to wiggle away but with my arms around him and his arms around his tray, he’s trapped.  

I give him one last smooch and release my grip.  He joins his friends and runs to recess.    

I know.  Embarrassing your kids at school doesn’t qualify as kind, but gosh it’s fun. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Funny, Funny Boy

Day 279
I’m online searching for new ideas for random acts.  I won’t lie.  It’s prompted by my friend Matt’s quip of “You do a lot of the same things.” Lately, he’s right. 

I type in “Random Act of Kindness ideas” on Google and within seconds I’m flooded with options.  Isn’t technology grand?  I click through a promising list of 100 and start to peruse.  Done it.  Done it.  Done it.  Done it.  Ahhh.

Here’s something I can work with, I think.  (I won’t tell you all I read because I’m sticking those in my back pocket for another day.  It’s safe to assume singing at a nursing home isn’t going to happen.  Even in a room full of semi-deaf patients, if I’m the singer, I don’t see any kindness in that option.) 

Instead I choose…. 

No, I’m not going to tell you.  I’m going to see if you can figure it out. 

It’s after-school and I’m pawing through the boys’ backpacks, looking for clues on how they spent their day.  After years of school life (and life with boys) I know I need more that their one-word answers to suffice my need for details. 

I pull F.’s vocabulary test from his home folder.  The teacher’s written in neat print letters across the front Great sentences!  I turn the page over to read them for myself. 

That’s when I stop.  Dead.      

“Uhh?  F?” 


“What does this say?” 

Here, I’ll let you take a look.  What do you think it says?  Yeah, me too. 

I’m biting on my lip to keep from busting out laughing.  Great sentences! I think.  Was the teacher having a chuckle and wanted to alert me to the funny? 

“Clench to squeeze tightly.” 

I nod my head slowly.  Yes, of course.  I see it now. 

“Why what did you think it said?” 

“That.  That’s what I thought it said.”  I pull him into me and kiss his head and laugh. Random Act of Kindness Idea #68: Make someone laugh. I hope you’re laughing, too.   

Monday, October 1, 2012

School Daze

Day 278
“I could do it.”  The words escape my mouth before I can pull them back.  

I’m standing at the curb talking to a mom I don't know in a minivan.  She explains to me how her kindergarten daughter hates the before-school program at my boys’ school and she’s looking for someone to put her on the bus.      

“Really?  You could?” 

I understand I’m making a long-term commitment if I agree.  It’s the start of the school year with hundreds of mornings before summer vacation. 

More than that I think of the fun of mixing it up a bit in my house full of rambunctious boys.  What will happen if we add a little blond girl to our morning routine?  I imagine fun art projects with glitter and feathers.  I picture quiet mornings reading books all five of us snuggled on the over-sized family room couch. 

“Yes.  I think it will be fun.”

School Lesson

Day 277
Being kind to those who are kind to you is easy.  My kids have this lesson down. 

How do I to teach them to be kind to those who are unkind to them?  That’s a harder lesson, one we’re all working on.  (We’re open for suggestions.)