Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

Are you ready for the weekend?  Dumb question, right?  Whoever said, "No.  I want just a couple more days of work."  Not me.  I love Fridays.  It's Pay It Forward Fridays again.  Here is a video you can watch that will describe it all to you.  It's only a couple of minutes and at the end, when it tells you just how many one can turn into is simply amazing.

Pay It Forward

All right here are the three for this week:

This past week I spent the afternoons and evenings down at a park doing photos for a youth football league.  Every single coach needs to be mentioned.  These men are volunteers, they do not get paid for all their time and effort they put into coaching these teams.  Their paycheck is a sunburn on a balding head.  Payment for all the hours spent standing in the sunlight.   Only they're not just coaching boys.  They are dispersing pats on the backs, laughing at pathetic knock knock jokes, helping boys tuck jerseys in, lacing up shoulder pads and clapping endlessly as small boys stagger by in a get up that weighs more than they do.  They are showing young boys what a powerful role model in the community looks like.  Thank you Coaches, for loving the game and the kids that play it.

My rheumotologist is located in a big building in the heart of a college town.  Inside this building is security officer who performed a kind deed.  A patient apparently finished their appointment only to go outside and find a flat tire.  What's a sick lady to do?  She never had a chance to find out.  The security noticed the flat tire and gladly changed the tire for her.

Lastly, my mom is getting her house ready to be put up for sale.  She has hired a man named Keith to do work on two bathrooms, the kitchen and paint all the rooms.  Keith has added another job to the list.  Apparently, he noticed that on my mom's street the garbage is picked up on Friday mornings.  Every Thursday at quitting time he drags her garbage and recycling bin out to her curb and every Friday morning he stashes the empty cans back at the side of her house.  And no, he isn't putting it on his bill.  Just doing a nice thing for a lady that doesn't get around so well anymore. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scenes From A Marriage

     Wife:  "Hey honey, don't forget we have that family reunion on Saturday."
    Husband:  "O.k."

     Wife:  "Dinner will be ready in five minutes.  Don't forget about Saturday.  Family reunion starts at two."
     Husband:  "What's for dinner?"

     Wife:  "Aliens have abducted our son out of the backyard.  I hope they send home in time for the family reunion.  It's Saturday at two."
     Husband:  "Uh huh."

    Wife:  "Going to the grocery store.  Need to get some picnic supplies.  For the family reunion on Saturday."
     Husband:  "All right.  Have fun."

     Wife:  "Tomorrow we should leave about one.  For. The. Family. Reunion."
    Husband:  "Leave.  Are you going somewhere?  Will you please remember to fill up the gas tank this time?"

     Wife:  "Everyone in the car.  Time to go."
    Husband:  "Go.  Go where?"
    Wife:  "Family Reunion."
    Husband:  "Family reunion?  What family reunion?  Why am I just now hearing about it?"


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

Whoo hooo, it's Friday!  The second best day of the week.  Saturday takes top prize of course.  So, everyone knows the bit by now. 

On Fridays I highlight people who are out there in the world making it better by paying it forward.  Here's an interesting little video you can watch if you so desire to.

Pay It Forward Fridays

Normally, I would take three separate instances of people paying it forward and brag about them.  This week I am going to do it a little differently.  Near my house there is a park that is a family favorite.  Fishing lakes, playgrounds, soccer fields, Frisbee golf and miles of miles trails back in the woods.  My husband is a fan of the trails, since he likes to play Lance Armstrong in the afternoons.  This week my Lance wanna be took a vacation day from work, and got up extra early to join a large group of people that were hitting the trails.  Not to have fun.  But to do so much needed trail repair and park clean up.  It was hot.  The supposed food supply never materialised but our park received some much needed tender loving care.  Thank you everyone!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School Of What If

They're baaaaack! 

Rumbling through the neighborhood, with little faces pressed against the glass and tiny hands waving good-byes, the school bus is back.  Must be the first day of school.  And, oh what a day it is.  One day with weeks of preparation and hype leading up to it.  Lots of money spent in honor of it.  It's Christmas without any presents. 

This morning I joined the throng of minivans and sedans outside my son's elementary school.  Time to give him over to another lady for eight hours of every weekday.  I've met the teacher and I like her a lot.  Still, the good-bye is bittersweet.  I send him off.  A small warrior clad in T-shirt, shorts and sneakers with a backpack hanging off skinny shoulders.  Marching in to battle the What Ifs.

What if I can't find anyone to sit next to at lunch?

What if no one will play with me at recess?

What if the teacher calls on me and I don't know the answer?

What if, what if, what if. 

Yet, it's hopeful a day too.  Anything could happen today.  Best friends could meet for the first time.  New games discovered.  New lessons learned.  These days are the days that I both love and hate as a mom.  I love to see him grow and learn as a human being.  I hate to see him nervous.  How I wish I could just go into his class and demand that these children love and accept my child.  How I hate to say good-bye to one more summer.  Most especially, I hate to say good-bye to another first day of school.  Each one only brings us closer to the time there will be no more first days of school.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Of Books, Bird and Poison Ivy

Dear Baby Bird Killer,
This entry is dedicated to you.  There are some damaged people walking around this world and on Friday a baby bird and I, but mostly the baby bird, had the misfortune of crossing paths with one. 

At work, as I was going about my morning ritual of unlocking doors and beginning the day, I found a tiny baby bird sitting in front of the storefront.  The poor little fellow had fallen from his nest atop our building's ledge and hit the pavement right in front of the door.  He was hurt and crying for his momma. I placed a call to Red Wolf Sanctuary and Raptor Rehabilitation Center.  Following their advice I moved the baby bird into our window alcove to give him some shade from the sun, placed a tray of water at his feet and left him alone.  As the day wore on I was able to keep an eye on him since my desk sits feet from the window.  Sure enough, his momma found him and I watched as she twice fed him worms from her beak.  Confident the little guy would be all right I was unprepared for the blond, teenage girl that came along near closing time.  I watched as she stopped and gently ran one finger over baby bird's back petting him gently.  Suddenly, shockingly, she grabbed him in her fist squeezing until I heard him squawking through the glass.  Then, as if she were a major league pitcher going for a strike out, she threw baby bird head first into a parked car.  Baby bird didn't make it.  The impact was to much for his tiny skull.  Worst of all, was the look on that girl's face.  Such a look of menace and pleasure, all on one with baby fat in the cheeks still.  Not only that, but I rushed outside in time to see her give me a smile.  A SMILE!  She found pleasure in killing that bird and in seeing my distress at her action.  In fact she almost skipped along the sidewalk with her pink, fuzzy backpack bouncing behind her.  My first inclination was to give chase and squeeze her until she squawked.  But, I saw the house she went into and if the girl comes from the place I think she does, then life will extract it's own revenge.  And probably already has. 

I will never understand some things in this world.  But, this I do know.  One person can make a difference when they help three people.  And, when those three people help three people, then the world is changed for the better.

pay it forward fridays

Here are the three for this week:
My niece went through her books and donated some to a book drive.  Now, a school has some new books for their students this year.  Very nice!

In my neighborhood we have a store that is part gas station, part ice cream parlor, called UDF.  While I was waiting in line to pay for my gas a small greek tragedy was being played out over by the malt machine.  Seems two brothers had been given $2. and told to share a shake.  They couldn't agree on the flavor.  One wanted chocolate, one wanted vanilla.  To young to have mastered the art of compromise, it was at a stand still.  A man in front of me saved the day.  When paying for his purchases he handed over an extra two dollars and told the cashier to treat the brothers with a shake in each flavor.  Those kids were definitely happy!

Finally, my mom provided this story about her co-worker.  The co-worker's sister and her family were moving into a new house.  Only thing was the backyard opened up into a forest of poison ivy and weeds.  The sister and brother-in-law are very allergic to poison ivy.  So, my mom's co-worker spent her time off from work at the new house with a chainsaw, hacking out a backyard for her nieces and nephews to play in.  A great thing to do her for sister!  I only hope it doesn't give my sister any ideas.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gone To The Dogs

Here in the Midwest we are firmly entrenched in the dog days of summer.  The heat index is soaring to over 105 degrees, typical of August.  Also there is a video sweeping the Internet starring a hero dog.  In the video a little dog trying to cross a busy highway is struck by a car.  Enter the hero dog, who bravely crosses a four lane highway, drags his doggy friend out of the way, saving his buddy's life.   Then there are the two dogs I have draped across my feet at this very moment.  All this dog speak has led me to wonder exactly what it is about dogs that leave us so enamored.  After much consideration I think it all comes down to this:

Dogs have given us their absolute all.   We are the center of their universe, we are the focus of their love, faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
                                                                              -Roger Caras

And, I think therein lies the secret behind man's best friend.  In this world, in this life, isn't it great to have at least one living creature that sees us as the conquering hero?  The deserving object of absolute devotion?  My husband and son love me, but at the end of the day, when I return home from work, it's the dogs that jump up and down, so excited to see me they can barely contain it.  If I sit in my chair then Jesse and Echo will sit there beside me, until the end of time if that's what I ask of them.  All they want in return is a good belly rub, for me to toss them a ball once in awhile and a bowl full of food.  I'm ashamed to admit that even if I forget one of the three, my dogs are still there for me.  Full of love and endless admiration.  Surely we don't deserve it, but there it is.

They sit in the window and watch until I have pulled off the street and out of sight.  When I pull in the drive they're in the same spot, watching.  My husband tells me that he always knows when I have entered our neighborhood.  No matter what the dogs are doing they will stop and walk to the window, tails wagging.  Five minutes later he'll hear the slam of my car door. 

They sleep on a rotation between our bed and our son's, ever vigilant throughout the night.  These two dogs are the first faces that greet my son when he comes home from school.  The last ones he sees before he closes his eyes at night.  They have licked away his tears, snatched his sandwich off the plate and destroyed most of his stuffed animals. 

They have given us their unconditional love.  I'd like to think that in return we have given them the same.  I know that's not always true.  We get busy.  We forget to take them for walks.  We shower them with affection when it's convenient and push them away when it's not.  We buy them a certain type of food because of the price and figure they'll learn to like it.  We've given them a house.  A roof over their heads.  They have turned the house into a home.  When I pull out of my driveway they are the faces I look for, wave at, love. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

Long before Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, there was Otto, Elizabeth and their eleven children.  Pay If Forward believers before there ever was a movie.  Or this video on youtube. 

It began down by the banks of the Ohio River.  That is where one (Otto) became two when he met and fell in love with Elizabeth.  Soon, the poor immigrants were married, working hard and making their way in the world.  A nice home was soon filled with eleven babies.  The eleven children grew up and the family of thirteen had expanded to forty-four by the year 1948. 

December 24 was a big day for this family.  The heart of the family, Elizabeth, celebrated her birthday along with the typical Christmas celebrations.  The family of 44 had outgrown their home and rented a hall to host the joint birthday/Christmas celebrations.  Otto and Elizabeth never forgot the struggles they faced in the beginning.  Now, feeling blessed and wanting to give back to the community, family was asked to bring canned goods which would be donated to the needy.

After more than fifty years what began with two, now numbers close to two hundred.   In December a hall is rented and everyone comes together in memory of Otto and Elizabeth.  There is a raffle of door prizes, and all money raised is donated to local charities.  Over the years it has numbered in the thousands.

My grandpa Carl is one Otto and Elizabeth's eleven children.  What he learned at his mother's knee was put into practice when he grew up.  My grandpa and grandma, along with their two sons (my dad is their youngest) opened their home up to numerous foster children over the years.   Though both my grandparents are gone, they aren't lost to me.  I hear the echo of their voices every year when it's gift giving time.  Be it birthday, Christmas or Father's Day, if I ask my dad what he wants the answer is always the same.  He has all he needs.  Take my money and donate it to a charity.  Do something good out in the world.  One leads to two and two leads to two hundred people out there paying it forward.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Madly, Deeply, Exhaustedly

Before the mom in me was born I used to peer into strollers to ooh and aah over the little angels.  I no longer do this, because I now see the tiny, adorable fakers for who they really are. 

My own son used to do this neat trick.  He would scream his head off for hours on end.  All night long.  Straight through to the morning.  And then into the afternoon.  Non-stop screaming and crying.  But let me bundle him up and go out in public and he instantly turned angelic.  While he peacefully slept, with his tiny bow lips turned up into a sweet smile, women and their ticking, biological clocks would gather round to inhale his baby smell.  As they heaped praise upon my slumbering sweetie, I would nod and smile, ashamed to admit the truth.  That I was afraid to be home alone with my newborn.  Not afraid of what I would do to him.  I love that fellow more than life itself, but of what he could do to me.  I swear the little bugger had it in for me. 

Why else would he revolt against regulars naps, if not to see me go nuts round about four in the afternoon?  I'm pretty sure it wasn't my idea that he only sleep when either being rocked in a rocking chair, an infant swing, or by me as I walked a rut around our dining room table.  I don't even know how that habit happened.  After all,  I read all the books written by the baby experts.  Perhaps, I should have read him the books.  

The books never let me in on a lot of things.  Like how there would be nights that I cried louder than he did.  Or, in a state of new mommy delirium, I would decide to make all his baby food from scratch.  I, who had never even made mashed potatoes from scratch.  That didn't last long.  One thing the books don't instruct upon, but I learned pretty darn quick is how to do everything one handed.  Make dinner, do the laundry, wash dishes and scrub a bathtub with a baby balanced on one hip all made it into my repertoire.  Maybe not safe, but sometimes necessary, was driving with one hand on the wheel, and the other one stretched backward over the seat to locate a missing pacifier/rattle/bottle/fill in the blank with any noun. 

I learned how to carry on an entire, adult conversation with my husband while singing the itsy, bitsy spider to my smiling son at the exact same time.  I learned there's nothing I wouldn't do to bring a smile to my son's face.  And that has included standing on my head, dancing in circles to Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me To The Moon', imitating a monkey, and acting out every word in the book 'Where The Wild Things Are'.  For hours on end if necessary. 

For while the books can't truly prepare you for those sleepless nights, crying fits that stem from no reason, nor the stresses and frustrations that being a new parent can bring, they also cannot prepare you for the changes your heart will undergo.  You may love your spouse, cherish your parents and adore your little, gray haired granny, but until you become a parent it's impossible to comprehend how deeply you can feel those things for another human being.  No book could ever teach that lesson with mere words on a page.  Parenthood is an experience that requires digging in, getting your hands dirty and your heart opened up to a whole new world.