Posted in about me, gifts, parenting, storytelling

Father’s Day gifts…belated

So … it’s not anywhere close to Father’s Day.

Here’s the story:

The Kid and I went to Burst of Butterflies, a local painting place (canvas, ceramic, etc.) where he painted two small identical tiles that said #1 Dad.

We were traveling for the actual holiday and picked up the tiles after we returned. We had talked about what we were going to do with them but didn’t do it.

And didn’t do it.

And forgot about it.

A week or two ago, I was cleaning out one (of too many) piles in the office and found the tiles.

Oops.

So I mentioned it to The Kid, and we decided to continue with the plan.

What was the plan again?

I’m not sure that what we settled on is exactly what we had decided originally, but what we made turned out well.

He chose a photo of himself with each daddy; I had them printed.

Using some craft foamy stuff, hot glue, and wide popsicle sticks, we made a picture frame for each photo (photo very much not removable), then added the tile to the top left corner, as per The Kid’s requirements.

We agreed that magnets would be the best way to make them hangable—they’re very imbalanced—but I don’t have any on hand. Those will need to be added later.

Overall, they turned out well, and we’re both happy with how they look. As for the daddies? They haven’t seen them yet, but moreso than in June, they’re sure going to be surprised!

Also, on a tangent: as we were getting all of the materials out and organized, The Kid said, “You know, Mom, we could make a video about making this and post it on YouTube. And then other kids could know how to make a great Father’s Day present.”

We could. But Mama is tired. And other minor resistances.

So when I sat down to write a blog post and was completely uninspired, I asked The Kid, “What should I write about?”

“Mom! You should write about making the Father’s Day presents! It’s a good story!”

And so it came to be.

By request:

The end.

Posted in connections, gifts, gratitude, mindset, thoughtfulness

Giving, generosity, and the humanity of recipients

Thanksgiving. Natural disasters. Christmas. Man-made disasters.

Toys. Food. Clothes. Household items. Socks. Diapers. Toiletries.

There are always people in need. There are times when, as an outsider, it seems more dire. And so, we have stuff drives.

My request to you—and it’s definitely not an original to me—is to be mindful with your donations.

The climbing gym has a food drive every winter that includes a sign indicating that expired foods won’t be accepted. Because they had so many people “donating” expired food.

It’s not a cleaning-out-the-pantry exercise. You’re providing food for people who don’t have food or don’t have enough food. Give them something tasty, something decent-quality. Give them something you would serve to guests.

Can you imagine how hard your life would be if you were food insecure? How much pride you’d swallow to eat at a soup kitchen? In that moment, imagine the food you’ve been gifted is not just better than nothing but is actually a treat.

That meal is extra luxurious in the midst of hardship. Simply because a donor spent $15 instead of $6 on donated food.

Clean out the pantry and throw away expired food. (If you won’t eat it, don’t give it to “beggars can’t be choosers” to eat.)

In the wake of disasters, in donating household items, again, it’s not a time to purge things that are not in good condition. Do that another time. Books should have all their pages. Games and puzzles should have all their pieces. Clothes should be clean and without tears or excessive wear.

Again, put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. Your house filled with water. You and your family are safe (or maybe they’re not…) but all of your possessions are gone.

You’re grateful and humbled by donations to get you through until you can get yourself moving again. (Months? Years?) What do you want? Are you “just happy to have something” if the clothes you’re offered smell? Or are stained? Are you grateful to have toys for your kids if the toys are broken?

As hurricane season commences, donation centers will be popping up. The holidays fall in line behind that.

Be generous. Be thoughtful. Be humble. Be grateful.

Posted in connections, gifts, vulnerability

Advantages to living out loud

The Climbing Daddy needed a run. I wanted to take pictures of some of the fantastic thunderheads we had that day. We went to a local park with small mountains/big rocks where he ran, I photographed, and we were both happy.

(Thunderheads are big, puffy clouds that are common during monsoon season here.)

I got a few good shots—mostly of cactus and trees, though one or two of clouds—and posted them on Facebook. (I’ll share them here on Sunday in my weekly photos post.)

The next day, I got the text in the above image.

Dear Heat’s Camera,

Are you seeing the clouds right now?!

-[friend’s name] eyes

If I wasn’t an “oversharer” on Facebook, I wouldn’t have gotten the tip to head outside.

(I did go out, and the clouds were amazing—added bonus for heat lightning!—but there wasn’t anywhere good to shoot from at home. We need to build a crow’s nest for just such occasions!)

This lesson has been a long time comin’. I’ve always been socially anxious and also introverted. (You can be introverted without being socially anxious; I’m not.) I’ve spent decades working on being more comfortable talking to people, and while I’m still not good at cold-starting conversations, I can hold up my end most of the time. (If I’m comfortable with you, I can and often will talk quite a bit.)

I’ve learned that in being somewhat transparent about my experiences with depression, I’ve given others someone to whom they can say, “Me, too.” That point of connection, especially in darkness, is priceless. (Every post on this topic, whether here or on Facebook, elicits at least one person reaching out.)

I’ve learned that in being open about my experience with cancer, friends who know someone diagnosed will ask me for advice in how to help them navigate their new minefield. (Unfortunately, this happens at least once or twice a year.)

I’ve learned that in talking about health- and wellness-related topics, people are more often comfortable asking me questions… which helps them on their path.

And, as in the example above, I’ve learned that if I’m just open about things I’m trying, places I’m going, things I’m thinking, sometimes someone else will have a tip for me.

I know I’ve done that as well—saw something and thought, “Oh, This Friend is into That Thing. I wonder if they know about This Thing that I just saw!” And I’ll let them know about it.

Sure, sometimes there are duplicates, but rarely are there so many that I feel anything negative about it. How lovely that people see something that reminds them of me and they take time to tell me! And, fortunately, all of the “somethings” so far have been positive.

Every now and then, it even leads to a tangible gift: a kitchen tool or a yard tool or a book or some other small miscellaneous thing that is perfect for whatever random project I’ve dreamed up.

It works in reverse as well. I had a new friend who posted on Facebook that they were looking for a roof shingle or two at the same time that we were getting our roof replaced. Perfect! If she hadn’t said anything, I never would have known.

So hobbies and stories and struggles and dreams and new pursuits and ditched pursuits will all still be shared, because I know that some of it reaches people who need to be reached … and sometimes that someone is me.

Posted in food, gifts, know better do better, thoughtfulness

Pretend it’s Thanksgiving

Every winter, there are countless holiday food drives. I’ve donated to some of them. I suspect many of you have as well.

But now is actually the time of year when they need more.

Why?

School is out. (Or it’s getting close.)

Many impoverished kids get two of their daily meals at school. Others get their only two meals at school.

With schools closed, food banks become more necessary to those communities.

I’m not sure if it’s the lack of feel-good or what that has prevented “school’s out” food drives, but I’ve never seen one.

While we’re here and talking about it… I’ve read that donating money to food banks leads to more food availability than donating food itself. The explanation I saw said that because they can buy in bulk or otherwise have cheaper-per-unit powers, giving $1 buys more food than donating a $1 can of something.

There are also issues of fit with the community, of health issues within the community, and of people just plain being jerks and donating expired food.

It’s not an opportunity to clean out your pantry.

So. If you’re a food donating kind of person, take a few bucks to your local food bank and help out your neighborhood youth. They’ll be grateful.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, gifts, vulnerability

Mother’s Day. It’s complicated.

I’ve written and deleted three fully-written posts for today, each full of different stories and details than the others.

All were true, but none seemed right.

I know that the more I heal from the trauma of my childhood, the more years that go by without choosing the least disingenuous card I can find, the less today hurts. The more I can be happy for people who have great relationships with their moms.

The Kid is usually with The Tall Daddy on Saturdays overnight and on Sundays during the day. I’ve not spent Mother’s Day with him since he was very little.

It’s always been a kind of isolating day.

Add to the mix friends struggling with infertility, friends who are still mourning the loss of their moms, friends who are mourning the loss of their kids, and it’s just a plain old rough day.

A few years ago, a good friend suggested that her family and The Kid and I get dinner together, and thus, a tradition was born. We’ll share a meal tonight for the fifth year in a row.

Yesterday, for early Mother’s Day, The Kid and The Climbing Daddy took me to a local nursery where I got to pick out a desert rose and a pot for it. I have always admired these plants at the Desert Botanical Garden. The Climbing Daddy found out some information about taking care of them, and it’s possible.

I chose the one with the best roots (this one had a tunnel!), because the flowers will come.