Friday, March 29, 2013

Friend Wagon

Day 364
I’ve always said that no one knows what happens inside a marriage but the two who are in it. 

Still, when my friend tells me last week that she and her husband are divorcing I feel sad: for her, for her husband and for her daughter.  I’m sad for all their dreams they shared as they started their life together as a couple.  I’m sad for all the plans they made as parents of a young child, a new family of three.  I’m sad for how those dreams shifted and split as years and circumstances changed both them and the things they wanted or needed. 

“Don’t be sad,” she says, promising me that she is thrilled for her future and excited about starting this new chapter.  I tell her I won’t.  Ultimately, I want what’s best for her. 

Being a friend means supporting choices.  Whether it be divorcing or staying together, parenting styles or lifestyle choices, a friend is a friend. 

It’s been a crazy day with the boys but I know without a doubt that I need to make the effort and stop by my friend’s housewarming party.  A. and I pick up something to bring and we schlep over. 

My spirits and energy immediately lift as I see her in her new kitchen smiling and laughing.  “Welcome,” she calls from her barstool throne.  “Welcome to me new home!” 

She offers me hot tea, something to eat, a hug.  All things that say home.  She outlines her plans for her new space as we walk from room to room.  “I’m going to knock out this wall,” she says pointing.  “And redo this bathroom.” 

I offer my SUV for moving this week.  “Whatever you need,” I say.  “You’ll call?” 

She smiles yes.  And I know, without a doubt, that she’s going to be OK.      

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teacher. Teacher.

Day 363
Each spring, Montgomery Elementary hosts a staff appreciation luncheon for the hard-working folks at our sister school in Over-The-Rhine. 

I drag A. along to Costco to pick up sandwiches and enough cake to feed an army.  Another mom shops for several door prizes and gift cards to be given away.  Other parents work from home, chopping and creating salads they’ll bring to school for today’s feast.

I explain to A. that it’s a team effort.  Lots of hands will help today.  My friend and I are only lucky enough to be the delivery crew. 

“Why us?” he asks.  He wants to know why Montgomery Elementary.  Why our school?  Why our families? 

What’s the right answer?  Because when you have a lot you have a responsibility to share?  Because teachers pour their hearts into their kids and deserve our thanks? 

“Because teachers help all of you,” I say.  “You, your brothers, your friends.”  I search for words to explain. 

“Teachers everywhere, right now, are helping to shape all the little people who will one day grow up and be all the big people.  All those big people will be what our country becomes.  All the doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers.  Even the president.  Somewhere, the person who will be president when you are an adult is sitting in a classroom somewhere listening to a teacher.” 

A. considers this. 

“Important job those teachers have, right?  A good reason to say thank you?” 

A. nods yes. 

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for making this luncheon into a lesson that stretches farther than our little five-mile radius town.  “Any questions?” 

A. looks at the sheet cakes stacked in our cart.  “So teachers must really like cake.”

Pride is a dangerous vice.  

Snow Day Surprise

Day 362
When you’re a kid, nothing brings joy to your heart like the announcement of a snow day.  Sledding.  Hot chocolate.  Movies with hot, buttered popcorn.

In a neighborhood filled with kids, a snow day also means a houseful of friends.  It’s not yet 8:30 am when the first knock on the door announces the arrival of our first friend.  I’m moving slowly and the effort to find mittens and scarves seems like a job better suited for later in the morning so I send the kids to the basement to play. 

There’s squealing and laughing and general mayhem.  It’s pure joy of a found day nestled in the middle of homework and piano lessons.

I. dashes up the stairs to find something but stops short in the front hall.  “Mom!” he yells “There’s a dog on our porch!” 

I don’t doubt him but walk to the door to check. 

A large black and brown dog stands by the door, his nose pressed against the window sidelights.  His friendly eyes beg to be let in to play. 

“Should I let him in?” 

“Why not?” I answer.  Once the volume hits a certain decimal range the ear ringing becomes a non-issue. 

The dog bounds into the house.  Our two dogs (Did I mention we have two golden retrievers?) bark in welcome.  About time we had a play date of our own, they think and wag themselves silly. 

Our focus shifts from finding mittens to finding the dog’s owner.  The kids feel for a collar.  They find one but it contains no contact information. 

“Go play,” I say.  “Let me think for a minute.”  The gaggle of kids and dogs romp around the house. 

I have an idea who of the dog’s owner.  I call out to the kids to bundle up because we’re going on a dog hunt.

The kids forge a trail in the snow down Jolain.  The dog whom they’ve named Snickers hops alongside them.  We knock.  Once.  Twice.  Three times. 

“No one’s home,” I say. 

“So we get to keep him!” the kids cheer. 

“For a little while longer,” I laugh and our parade marches back in our trodden down path towards our house.     

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lost and Found

Day 361
“Have you seen Cameron’s dad?” Chaz asks. 

Maybe, I think.  Since I don’t know what he looks like he may have walked past.

As a Cub Master, Chaz knows lots of dads that I don’t.  He often refers to Ethan’s dad or Zack’s dad.  I nod and try to follow.  I’m sure he feels the same when I start doing a mom roll call.

“Is he missing?”  I ask looking from Chaz to Cameron.  We're standing in a packed high school gymnasium full of kids of all ages and their families.  I understand how easy it might be to turn your head for a second and lose sight of someone in the crowd.  Still, it’s awful when parents go and get themselves lost. 

“Stay with the boys and I’ll make a loop,” Chaz says.  This seems like a good idea since sending me out to look for someone I don’t know doesn’t sound like a promising plan. 

“So,” I start looking at Cameron.  “Lost dad?”  He nods.  “Bummer.” 

He gives me a small smile. 

“Don’t worry,” I continue.  “They always turn up.”  

As I say this, Chaz and Cameron’s dad walk through the high school gym doors.  Lost parent found.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unexpected Hero

Day 360
Sometimes it’s nice to be the hero.   

I order seven large pizzas for lunch for F.’s second grade class expecting each child to eat two slices.  Some do but many don’t.  Everyone finishes lunch and I still have one large pizza left over. 

“Take it home,” suggests the teacher.  She knows I have three boys and three bottomless stomachs. 

“How about the custodial staff?  Do you think they’d like pizza?” 

She agrees they would and I box up the remaining pie and head downstairs. 

To get to the custodial office, I cut through the cafeteria.  My timing couldn’t be more perfect.  I’s class enters as I do and he waves hello. 

“You brought me pizza?” his eyes light up in surprise.  We’ve been having a rough few days.  Life is hard when you’re ten and your mom keeps telling you what to do. 

“Would you like pizza?” I ask.  I think of the packed lunch in his hand of sliced oranges and a turkey sandwich. 

“Yeah!” he grins. 

Luckily, along with the pizza box, I also carry a stack of plates.  I pile two large slices and hand them to my child. 

“Lucky!” shouts a friend from the other side of a lunch table.  No, I think.  I’m lucky.  I have this great kid and I happen to walk through the lunchroom during his assigned time with a large cheese pizza.  What are the chances?    

“Hey,” I mock whisper to I. and he steps closer.  “Have a great day, okay?”

My friend and I continue our trek to the custodians to deliver the pizza. 

“You are a hero!” she jokes. 

For parents, our status of cool to drool drops faster than a lead balloon.  

Hero?  Hardly.  But if he wants to believe it for the next five minutes, I'll happily let him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snooty Fox

Day 359
“Hello?” I start.  “I’m returning your call.” 

“Were you in our store earlier?” the sales clerk asks. 

I tell her that I was.  I recently rediscovered The Snooty Fox, a high-end consignment shop with insane deals on finds such as 7 for Mankind jeans and Prada shoes.  I’d stopped in earlier to return a pair of pants and ended up purchasing a few can’t-live-without shirts. 

“I made a mistake,” the clerk explains.  “I forgot to run your card.” 

I open my wallet and search for a receipt.  I remember signing something at the store but didn’t look at it in great detail before tucking it into my purse. 

“You’re right,” I say.  “I’m only looking at the return slip.” 

I give her my card number over the phone and wait on the line until she completes the transaction.

“Thank you,” she says again.  “Thank you for calling back.” 

The number of times she repeats these words gives me pause.  Did she think I wouldn’t?  Is it an assumption today that a person will jump on any opportunity to benefit from another’s mistake? 

Author C. S. Lewis wrote that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  I would add the same about kindness. 

Doing the right thing and doing the kind thing are often the same.  Even when no one is watching.   

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Advocare Advocate

Day 358
When you try a new restaurant or find a steal on Groupon, we women are the first to share.  Try this!  Go there!  We herald the good news and it spreads like a fire through dry grass. 

That’s why I can’t help telling everyone I meet about Advocare. 

It starts with a shocked, “What are you doing?” to which I smile and give a small spin. 

In January, I started a 10-day cleanse and followed it with a 14-day regiment of vitamins and supplements.  I did it because of too many spins through the McDonald’s drive-thru lane.  I did it because I wanted to sleep better at night.  I did it because I plan to live to 100 so I can spend as many days with my husband and boys as possible. 

I did it for better nutrition.  It’s a happy coincidence that I’m down 15 pounds and into some smoking skinny jeans.       

More than that I feel great.  I’m making healthier choices for my family.  I enjoy more energy.  I feel like a 20-year-old with the wisdom of a 43-year-old.  Could there be anything better than that?  Except maybe getting all my friends to feel the same? 

Kindness means wanting others to succeed and doing what you can to help them.      

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Speak to Me

Day 357
Every spring, the high school in our town hosts a district-wide art show.  It’s a chance for students of all ages to show off their talent.  One lap around the gym and it’s clear that there’s no shortage of amazing in our town. 

From kindergarten drawings to middle school ceramics to furniture to fashion, the creativity blows me away.  Every year.     

The center section of the gym showcases the senior AP Art students’ portfolios.  F., my artist, pauses in front of each display and soaks it in. 

“Do you think I could do something like that someday?” 

“Without a doubt,” I say.  There are no limits to what that boy will achieve.   

As we walk, I notice notebooks and pens lie in front of each display.  Please leave comments the artist scribble in a black sharpie across the cover. 

I pick up a pen and notebook and turn to a blank page. 

“What are you doing?” A. asks, walking up to join F. and I at the display. 

“I’m telling the artist which pieces spoke to me and what they said.”

“Art talks?” he asks confused. 

“It says all sorts of things if you’re paying attention,” I say and point to one of my favorites of the showcase.  “This one says, “Look out, World.  Here I come.”  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Slow Wins the Race

Day 356
I spy the older woman as I edge closer towards my car and purposely slow my pace.  I intentionally stand back hidden from view and give her space.

The woman struggles with the passenger side door.  She grabs the doorframe for balance and with some effort pulls herself into the large SUV on the second attempt. 

I watch all this from behind my car’s back window.  I’m parked beside her and don’t want her to feel rushed or worried that she’s too slow. 

This woman now safely tucked and buckled into her SUV, I wait for her to pull out of her spot.  Only then do I turn the corner of my car, unlock my door and drive away. 

When I’m out shopping with the boys, I feel obligated to scoot them into the car if another driver who parks next to us arrives.  “Move, move, move,” I scold and rush, rush, rush them into the car so that another won’t be inconvenienced 30-seconds. 

I may be projecting.  These other drivers don’t tell me to hurry.  They stand patiently with their keys at the ready waiting for me to finish.  But why not stand back and out of view so the person can enter their car without feeling rushed?

It seems such a small act of kindness, this awareness of others and our surroundings.  But then again if you add all the little things together you get something big.       

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Odd Jobs

Day 355
When temperatures drop below 40-degrees, the boys’ school cancels outside recess and instead herds the kids back to their classrooms following lunch.  As a mother of three boys, this adds up to trouble-trouble-trouble.  A week of no midday running around makes for three wound-up boys. 

The squeal of the school bus brakes alert me to their arrival.  Five-four-three-two.  “YAAAA!” they yell, running and whooping through the house.  “Snack! Snack!” they cry, jumping in place as I finish placing oranges and cookies on a plate. 

“So,” I start, “how was indoor recess?” 

“How’d you know?” A. asks. 

Oh, sweetie.  Some things Mommas just know.  “What’d you play?” 

“I did odd jobs,” he answers.   

“Is that a game?” I ask. 

“No,” he says, rolling his eyes.  When did my first-grader learn to roll his eyes?  “Odd jobs?  Like clean up things?”  He explains that he emptied the trashcan, put away crayons, tidied up the reading corner.  

This stops me.  “You chose odd jobs instead of playing?”

He nods.  “I like helping.”   

I throw my arm over his shoulder and pull him into a hug.  “That is so nice.”

Just when you think you’ve figured them out, your kids go and surprise you all over again.