Thursday, December 13, 2012

RACK:: Day 9

For our ninth act of kindness, we armed ourselves with candy canes and went to the grocery store ready to hand them out. The girls had a lot of fun as they simply handed them out, smiled and said, "Merry Christmas!" to passing strangers. It brought smiles to their faces as well! Our cashier seemed a grumpy old man at first, but smiled as the girls handed him his treat.

Today brought another visit to the doctor's office. This time, for Lucas. I've managed to bring all three of my kids to the doctor this week (Hannah had the eye problem earlier in the week, both Hannah and Leah had flu shots and today I brought Lucas) which I think is some sort of record for us. At least I should get some sort of award, right? Anyway, he woke up with a fever and nasty sounding cough. And guess what? Pneumonia is in da house! It's a mild case, thankfully, so he is on antibiotics yet again and we're hoping to see a lot of improvement very soon.

This weekend I plan on taking the girls to do a "kindness blitz" where we will do a variety of activities to make up for our crazy week this week. Get ready!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RACK:: Day 8

When we originally made our list of ideas for our random acts of Christmas kindness, we knew that there would need to be some flexibility.  We knew we would experience busy days or days with sick kids and that our kindness act just may not be accomplished.  I knew that this past weekend would be one of those crazy weekends, so we got behind a bit. I am a big believer in grace and so we just shrugged it off and are back on track now.  I can tell you that my friend, Maria, is also participating with me on my Christmas Kindness list, adjusting the list as she sees fit. And we have been adjusting too! You don't have to spend money to show kindness to others! Some of our favorite things so far have been leaving encouraging notes in random places. It really is fun and my kids have looked forward to each and every activity.  Our eighth act of kindness was yesterday. It was one of those free and simple things to do. It was trash day, so the kids and I rolled our neighbor's trash can up from the curb before they got home from work. It took about 30 seconds, but it was a small way to show someone you care. And it showed my kids that being kind doesn't have to cost money or take up tons of time. I hope they learned that you can show kindness anywhere, at any time. My goal is that they live lives looking for those opportunities.

Yesterday also turned out to be a day of unexpected waiting. Hannah woke up complaining about her eye hurting. After a quick examination, it appeared to be nothing, so I sent her to school. Around noon, the school called saying she was in the office again complaining about her eye. To be sure it wasn't pink eye, I took her to our pediatrician. She examined her eye and determined Hannah needed to be seen by a pediatric opthamologist. Something was bothering her eye, but our doctor couldn't see it without the high powered equipment a specialist would use. So off we went again. Another waiting room, more kid wrangling, and eventually we saw the eye doctor. He examined her eye, dropped in more eye drops, looked and looked and eventually flipped her eyelid inside out to determine that she #1 had a scratch on her cornea and #2 had some very small debris up under her eyelid.  Ouch!  He fished out the debris and irrigated her eye and sent us home with ointment to apply for the next five days. Hannah took it all like a champ. Her poor eye was puffy and red and sore, but today when she woke up, she said it felt a bit better. We have no idea how she did that, but we're glad that experience is behind us now!

I hope you all are having a great day! Would love to hear about your own acts of kindness if you have been inspired!

Friday, December 7, 2012

RACK:: Days 6 and 7

Yesterday completely got away from me.  The day was simply "cray cray" (I heard a guy on "Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids Addition" use this phrase the other day and immediately knew I had to incorporate it into my blog somehow).  From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning til my head hit the pillow at night, I was physically moving. It started with the regular routine of getting kids fed, dressed and out the door on time-- a feat that is not for the faint of heart. Even Lucas had school, so it was getting ready times three. Once they were all at school, I ran to two different stores to buy some groceries for the weekend as well as party favors for the girls' upcoming birthday party (tomorrow!). Then I headed home and quickly gave my house a once over clean up job. I made my bed, picked up stray toys, unloaded the dishwasher, wiped down counter tops and even managed to vacuum the living room floor. Next up, I was hosting lunch for three of my friends, so sandwiches were made and soon my doorbell was ringing. After lunch, it was time to do another quick clean up and head to pick up not just Lucas, but the baby boy I babysit for as well. The boys are at two different schools, thankfully close to each other, and soon I was home with them both. Before I knew it the girls arrived home and it was time for after school snacks, a backpack check (no homework! phew!), and then I moved into the next phase called "getting ready to have company."

Mike's sister, Rachel. her husband, Juan and their daughter Velda were driving up from Dallas to spend the night. I quickly threw dinner in the slow cooker, then headed off to put clean sheets on the girls' beds.  Eventually I dropped my sweet babysitting boy off with his mom and came back home literally as my sister-in-law and her crew were walking up to the door. Rachel and Juan are running in the Dallas Marathon this coming Sunday, so they flew to Dallas from their home in Long Island, rented a car and drove the 3.5 hours up to OKC to drop their daughter off with us for the weekend. We'll be driving down to Dallas on Sunday to deliver her safe and sound to her parents again. It was great to see them, and my kids love their cousin so much and were thrilled to have a playmate. The crazy running and screaming of childhood play instantly began. Once Mike arrived home, we had to get ready to head to Lucas' school for his Christmas program. His class was singing two songs. We put our little man in a button up shirt, khaki pants and a tie. He looked so dapper, and he did a wonderful job performing. My dad and Sally even made it to the show! Afterwards, we came home and got the kids ready for bed and then crashed on the couch. We tried to have a conversation with Rachel and Juan, but poor Mike kept falling asleep and I'm afraid I sounded mentally unstable because I was so tired. We gave up and all went to bed at 11:00. It was a full and busy day fo sho!  In all that craziness, we just didn't get to our act of kindness for the day. It was ok though, because we just did two things today!

First we wrote a note and took it to the park down the street from us. We taped it in a secret location and left it for someone to find. It is addressed like this: "To: You. Yes, you at the park today." Inside we wrote out Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future." Hopefully those words will minister to the person who finds it. Later in the afternoon, we baked some chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins as well some Rice Krispie treats to take to our local firestation. The firemen were just sitting down to eat dinner when we knocked on their door.  This was slightly out of my comfort zone, so I was already sweating profusely under my wool coat. But I had told the kids we would do this and so we did. I told the men thank you for their service to our community and that they were the unit who responded when my mother passed away eighteen months ago. They were very appreciative and two of the men offered to take my kids (and my awesome niece) back to see the firetruck.  The kids got to even climb into the truck and turn the lights on. Before we left, we took a picture with the firemen (I will hopefully post it someday). When we got back in the car, the kids all declared it was "the coolest day ever!"

Tomorrow I have a quick, but fun act of kindness planned. It involves a candy cane and an ATM machine. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RACK:: Day 5

Tonight's act of kindess took us to the public library. We had a two-fold mission:  pay for a random person's library fine and leave an encouraging note hidden in a book for someone to find. The girls each took some change out of their money jars and I counted what coins I had in my purse and together we had $3.50. When we got to the library, we first had to pay our own fine. A-hem. But then we offered to put our money toward someone else's fine. The young lady at the desk seemed honestly touched that the girls wanted to do such a thing. Afterwards, we found a book and hid a message inbetween it's pages for someone to find one day. Our note read, "You are loved! You are special!" My prayer is that whomever stumbles upon it will need to hear just those words.

Of course we couldn't leave without checking out a stack of our own books to take home for the next few weeks. Lucas found his favorite book, "Toot! Toot! Beep! Beep!" by Emma Garcia. He always wants to check that one out. That and any book by Eric Carle. The girls have moved into reading chapter books, so they perused the Junie B. Jones and Katy Kazoo books. They are growing up so fast.

And I think they are starting to realize just how fun it is to give.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

RACK:: Day 4

Day four of our random acts of Christmas kindness found us holding a bouquet of flowers and two chocolate bars to take to school this morning. When the girls and I made our "kindness list", I encouraged them to think about people who work at jobs that are service oriented or people who work "in the background." We listed out teachers, school secretaries, nurses, firefighters, custodians, etc. We tried to think of ways to honor and thank these types of people who normally don't receive a lot of recognition. Our two lovely school secretaries not only do the typical secretary work like answering phones and checking students in and out throughout the day, but they also play many other roles-- especially nurse (since we don't have a school nurse). They are the ones to put band-aides on scrapes, comfort feverish kids until a parent arrives, and hand out saltine crackers for upset tummies. They are the first faces anyone sees when they enter our building, and they deal with all kinds of parents (happy, upset, difficult, frantic, etc.).  The girls had a lot of fun walking into the office this morning and handing their gifts to Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Brandon. I think our secretaries really felt loved and appreciated which was our goal, so mission accomplished! Stay tuned for Day 5!

On a side note....I am still working out the picture situation. I will hopefully be able to post some soon!

Monday, December 3, 2012

RACK: Day 3

Today's RACK activity was not so "random." Instead, we kept it simple and decided to make get well cards for my step-mom, Sally. She had hip replacement surgery last week and is home recovering. Oh yeah, I have a step-mom now, did you know that? My dad got married on the 17th of last month. There is so much I could say about that day and the days leading up to it, but I'll save it all for another post. For now, the best word I can use to describe that day is bittersweet. It was sweet to see my dad so happy. I like Sally a lot and I know they will have many happy years together. I look forward to forming a good friendship with her and my kids will have a "grannda-figure" in their lives again. For these things, I am truly grateful. On the other hand, it was also a "bitter" day. In my mind, I saw it as the official end to my family-- the family that I know and love.  I cried and I laughed that day and honestly I am really glad it is over. Now we can simply look forward.

So, Sally, we wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you back even better than before! PaPa should be bringing the cards home tonight after Bridge Club!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

RACK:: Day 2

I am using the acronym RACK to refer to our 25 "Random Acts of Christmas Kindness" project from here on. It's just easier to type! Now on to Day 2!

Tonight we knew we were taking the kids downtown to experience OKC's "Downtown in December" free activities. Besides the obvious free things like looking at all the amazing lights or playing at the cool kids' park, many activities are available at no charge during the month of December. Today the Art Museum was free along with the Crystal Bridge Botanical Garden and the Water Taxi Rides through the Bricktown Canal.  It was a beautiful 70 degree night here, and we didn't even need our jackets. Many people were out and about, and it felt nice to stroll along looking everything. After we played outside at the park we watched the ice skaters swish and slide around the outdoor ice rink, then headed over to the Devon Energy Building to look at all the twinkling Christmas decorations they had displayed. Once the sun was town, we took a stroll through the Botanical Garden which was completely decked out in Christmas lights. For dinner, we tried a new place called Fuzzy's Tacos, and it ended up being quite delicious. Finally, it was time to put our second RACK activity in motion. Our plan was to buy a $5 Sonic gift card, and when our water taxi ride was over, the kids were going to hand it to our boat tour guide as a way to say thank you. We grabbed the gift card then headed to the boat dock only to realize every single person in Oklahoma City had the same idea as us. The line for the free boat rides was long. I mean wrap-around-buildings long. It might have had something to do with the nice weather or the first weekend the rides were free, but whatever the case, it was already 8:00 on a school night and we had to tell the kids it wasn't going to happen.

Plan B.

We still had our gift card in hand, so we decided to pray with the kids to ask God to show us someone around us in need. The girls eagerly began searching as we started the long walk back to where we had parked our van. As we passed by the Cox Convention Center, we all spotted our "victim". An elderly man was emptying the large trash cans in front of the building. He had on a polo shirt with the Cox logo which made it clear that he worked there. Without hesitation, the kids and I walked up to him and handed him the card. We told him we wanted him to have it and hoped he had a wonderful night. We thanked him for his hard work and said, "God bless you!" It was apparent he didn't speak much English, but he smiled a big smile and said, "Thank you."

As we walked off, we explained to the kids that although they were disappointed they didn't get to ride the boat, God had other plans. We told them that the boat drivers get tips for each tour they gave, where that man probably does a thankless job with no extra money. Sometimes God interrupts our plans with his, and his plans are always best.  Leah said, "It was like we were supposed to give it to him." And Hannah told me her heart felt happy.

Oh my Loves, my heart is happy too.

* Pics to come soon. I have apparently surpassed the amount of photos allowed on blogger. I will need to purchase more space sometime soon. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Kindness

Today as I was reading through my facebook newsfeed, I saw a friend of mine post that she was beginning her "25 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness." To kick things off, she and her family went to go to a restaurant where they offered to (anonymously) pay for a family's meal.  She had so many comments on her status that she ended up posting a link to the blog where she got the whole "acts of kindness" idea. I was already trying to come up with ways to make this holiday season more meaningful to our kids, leaning less toward the hectic, busy, commercial Christmas to the more thoughtful and giving side of the season. Focusing less on "me" and more on others is where I wanted to start. So the girls and I sat down and made a big list of random acts of kindness we could show others from now until Christmas Day. And hopefully they will experience the overflowing joy that comes from giving instead of receiving. I plan on posting here what we do each day and maybe some of you will be inspired to do the same!

Our first Christmas Act of Kindness was to simply bake cookies and deliver them to some of our neighbors.  The girls and Lucas and I whipped up our very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and divided the cookies into three bags. We printed out a card with a simple Christmas wish and soon after the sun went down, we headed out. First we went to our neighbors immediately south of us. They are good friends of ours-- a young thirty-something couple with a beautiful two year old little girl. The week of Thanksgiving, my sweet friend lost the baby boy she was carrying. She was 20 weeks along. It was a devastating event for my friend and her husband, and tonight as my kids and I gave them a simple bag of cookies, we hugged her and talked with her and hopefully made her family feel loved. Next we headed to my neighbor directly across the street.  She and I were also neighbors in our old neighborhood, but built and moved into our current homes at the same time. She has known my girls since they were born and has watched them grow up. She was home alone for the weekend as her husband was on a trip to visit his father in another part of the state, and she seemed truly grateful for a little company. Finally we headed to the house across and one south from us. We are just getting to know the newlywed couple who recently moved into that home. They were very sweet and let my kids pet their two very cute dogs.

When we came home, Hannah and Leah were literally jumping around the house saying, "That was fun! I want to do that again!" Leah even asked if we could do more than one act of kindness a day. It was evident that they really enjoyed it and it was already impacting them in a positive way!

Here's a link to the blog which has a bunch of resources for doing your own "25 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness!" If you join in (and it doesn't have to be daily), feel free to let me know and leave a link to your own blog in the comments!

Let the giving begin!