Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fundraiser Yard Sale


This post is a bunch of stories that all intersect into one.  I've been trying to figure out how to tell them and bring them all together.  Just know that if something's not making sense it hopefully will by the end.

First of all I have to give a shout-out to my two great friends, Rachel and Natalie.  We would never have met if I hadn't transferred my kids to their current school.  Even then we probably would not have met without some intervention by our mutual friend Jason who was a teacher at the school.  He brought us all together, along with our husbands, outside of school.  I can say without a moment of hesitation that the best thing about switching schools was that I now have these two amazing women that I can count as true friends.

Do you remember my post about our awesome school crossing guard?  The kids have been missing him a lot lately.  Frankly, so have the parents.  He's been fighting cancer and has gotten to where he just can't make it to the corner anymore to talk with the kids and wave at the cars and start our mornings with a smile as he helps everyone cross the street safely.

My family doesn't live right by the school the kids attend.  We choose to drive over to this school because it's worth it.  But most of the school community all know each other because they live right there within walking distance of the school.  That includes our crossing guard Mr. E and his wife, who teaches at the school.  A lot of them even go to church together.  This is how most people knew about Mr. E and his fight with cancer.

A few weeks ago my friend Rachel called and told me what was going on.  She asked if I knew how to throw a successful fundraising yard sale and if I'd be willing to help with one for Mr. E.  I was totally in.  This is my kind of thing.  Especially when it's for people as awesome as Mr. and Mrs. E.

We had a little preliminary meeting to gather resources and support and of course our friend Natalie was there.  The whole fundraiser pretty much became a joint effort between the three of us - with a bunch of back-up from other neighbors and church members and family members who helped manage things.

The day before the sale the three of us were scrambling through our own homes, trying to gather up a good amount of items to sell.  We had sent flyers home with all of the students at the school but so far the donations were pretty scarce.  Later that night donations of items and baked goods started pouring in like crazy and we started to feel hopeful that we could bring in a good amount of money for Mr. and Mrs. E. 

The day of the sale was overcast with a decent chance of rain.  Throughout the day the wind would pick up or we'd feel a few drops of rain - but we would just say a little prayer to please hold the rain off until 8 o'clock or to please calm the winds until things are put away.  We are all strong believers in the power of prayer.  We watched all day long as the storm moved around us.  All day long people would come and tell us that they were in a downpour in the city to the north or south of us and that the rain was coming.  Do you think it was a coincidence that the clouds broke open over us at 8:02 that evening, after most of our leftover items were bagged up?  We don't.

Awesome little miracles and tender mercies happened all day long.  People brought envelopes with donations inside.  People who didn't even know Mr. or Mrs. E would buy a cupcake or a shirt or a book, hand us five or fifteen or fifty dollars and tell us to wish them all the best.  Strangers who had lost someone to cancer would stop and hand us money when they saw what we were doing.

One mother who owned a boutique business set up her booth and let us sell her custom-made bows, skirts, hair clips and fairy wings and keep 100% of the proceeds for Mr. and Mrs. E.

Teachers from the school came and found a few small treasures then wrote checks for much more than they needed to pay.  

There were kids who went through their toys, sometimes choosing a favorite one, wanting to donate to the sale in hopes that their contribution would bring in some money for the teacher and crossing guard that they love so much.

A sixth grade boy came and asked Rachel if he could make a donation to help out the E family.  He then handed her $50 of his own money.  Do you know how much $50 is to a sixth grade boy?  We were all very touched by his generosity. 

One man was looking through the clothes for sale and found $27 in a pocket which he immediately gave to Rachel for the fundraiser.  He then paid a generous amount for the three items he purchased.

All day long people continued to bring goodies and items to sell.  Many of the donated items were an obvious sacrifice to those who brought them.  But everyone wanted to help in some way.

When we were cleaning up in the downpour at the end of the sale we kept finding bills on the ground.  It was as if it was raining money!  We had no idea where these bills came from.  The soaked bills we found scattered around the parking lot totaled about $35.

When the sale was over we went to give Mr. and Mrs. E the money we had raised.  As we started to count the money we were all in a state of something between shock and wonder and amazement.  We had hoped to raise a good amount but we had no idea where all of this money had come from.  Even as we sold things all day long and saw how much money came in we had anticipated a much lower amount than what it all came to.  Let's just say it was a whole heck of a lot more than you'd think could be earned from a yard sale.  Take how much you think we could have made and multiply it by a huge amount of support and love and then times that by twenty.  We were all in (happy) tears and filled with gratitude.

Rachel, Natalie, Me.

The thing about big projects like this is that someone always gets all of the credit.  Those someones ended up being Rachel, Natalie and I.  But there were so many more people who deserved to be recognized for their efforts.  Every person who brought items from their homes for us to sell.  All the women who made treats for the bake sale.  Everyone who came and shopped.  All the people who made monetary donations just because they could and they wanted to.  The men who helped us set tables out in the morning and who helped us pick up, load and unload large items.  The people who helped organize tables and keep things orderly.  Everyone who offered kind words of encouragement and support for the E family.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping him or herself."  It is true, serving others really does something good to the soul.  It teaches us lessons in love and reminds us that miracles happen every day when we remember to look for them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Come What MAY

May brought the discovery of a window shot out for fun on a Friday night:

and a phone call from ElemenoB about a little fender bender on a weekday morning:

then a news report about a tornado in the town that my oldest boy just moved to:

photo credit

all stacked on top of a bunch of other things I won't mention.  I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and scared and sad and emotional.

But then I remembered that there were senior pictures taken of my brilliant, beautiful oldest daughter:

and an impromptu slumber party in my bedroom when Allen was out of town:

and the most splendid tea party with friends:

as well as All-a-Boy's choir performance where he sang in a trio and had a solo in ASL:

and finding out that this gorgeous and amazing young woman made it into the choir she auditioned for:

along with a million other little blessings and tender mercies and even miracles, mixed with the laughter of my children and letters from my missionary son and a feeling of hope and peace and happiness.  And suddenly May felt a whole lot better.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Policemen Do

I was cleaning out Hubba's backpack and found quite a few interesting writing projects.  This page was in a book about community helpers.  The kids were supposed to write what they think each community helper does while at work. 

Suddenly I fully understand why boys want to be policemen when they grow up.  Eating endless donuts, riding a motorcycle, having a dog and terminating zombies, all while catching the bad guys?  It's a little boy's dream come true.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Quick Quips

Little O (to a man handing out popcorn at Home Depot): If you give me some popcorn I'll tell you a real good secret about my mom.

"What's with the smoke." 

Little O: I like holding hands with you, Mom.  Holding hands makes my feel feel better.

Little O was standing by the bathroom mirror, watching me get ready for church.
Me: What do you think?  How do I look?
Little O: I would totally take you to the ball.
(This is probably my favorite of any compliment I have ever received in my entire life.)

Me: Why do you squeeze your eyes shut when you smile sometimes?
Little O: I am just SO, SO happy and the happy might come out from my eyeballs!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Little O with me in Sunday School, taking refuge beneath the table at the front of the room.

For weeks and weeks Little O refused to go to his class at church.  He would wake up Sunday morning mourning his fate.  Is it Sunday?  I hate Sunday!  I don't like church.  I want to go to class with you.  I don't want to go to my class!  I want to stay with you at church, Mom!

And then, for his 5th birthday, he made one repeated request.  He never asked for anything else, just this one thing:  a church tie with a phone box Tardis on it.

Thanks to my brother-in-law, Lance, my kids are all well-versed in Doctor Who.  I have only watched one episode and it didn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me, but whatever.  The kids are obsessed.  Even if the littler ones sometimes can't shut their eyes at night just in case the Weeping Angels get closer.  (Thanks a lot for that, Lance.)

About 3 days before his birthday I realized that this really, truly was all that he wanted.  A church tie with a Tardis on it.  I searched everywhere for a kid-sized tie with a phone box.  I even looked for phone box fabric, thinking I could make him one.  No such luck!  The day before his birthday I had the idea to look for a Tardis tie tack and found one on Etsy.  You know it is fate when the person selling the exact thing you need by tomorrow lives only 20 minutes from you.  He hand delivered the tie tack, I found a snazzy tie to attach it to, and Little O was absolutely thrilled.

Little did I know that this gift would be a present for me as well!  The Sunday after his birthday he woke up excited for church!  His devastation turned to elation when he realized it was Sunday.  He babbled on all morning about how excited he was to go to church.  Is it Sunday?  I can't wait to go to church!  I love my teacher!  I want to show my teacher my tie!

His teacher reported to me after church that he came to class, kissed her on the cheek and showed her his new tie.  He then proceeded to try to kiss every girl in his class.  (sigh.)  When I asked him about that and told him it wasn't really appropriate behavior he responded, "I just don't know why I like girls SOOOO much!"

Looks like I have a new problem to deal with.

Friday, May 10, 2013

My Littlest Stinker

My Little X is such a rascal!  It's tough, because I love this age and I hate it.  I love how he is finding his words and will animatedly babble on and on about things that obviously make sense to him.  I love the big hugs and messy kisses and understanding just what Little X means when he says "Ahyahboo!"

The worst thing that every one of my kids do at this age is turn into escape artists.  They have found their independence and they want the freedom to roam the world!  The deadbolt on the front door is no match for them.  A simple right-hand turn to freedom?  Easy!  Because of this we installed what we called the Hubba Lock.  It's a second, much higher and harder to reach lock that can only be undone with a key.  (Hubba mastered that in about 3 days.  Little X is still frustrated by it.) 

The problem with the Hubba Lock is that when there are 11 people living in a house there is plenty of coming and going happening and sometimes that lock is forgotten.  Little X has radar sensors that tell him when this is the case and at any given moment he finds his way to freedom.  Luckily we have always found him within a couple of houses away from our home.  But it's always scary to know he's been out there without supervision for any amount of time.

The other thing that scares me at this age is quiet.  As in, I know he's downstairs - but it's so quiet down there.  It always means the same thing - something is happening that I don't want happening.  Like the time I found him yesterday happily splashing his feet in the bathroom sink (socks, shoes and pant legs included), forming an impressive puddle on the floor.  Or when I found him sitting in his diaper on top of a mountain of clothes in the little girls' room (that he had made with every item from their now-empty closet and dressers) drawing on himself with red marker.  "Ta-da!" he happily called to me when I found him, his arms open wide - obviously impressed with his creation.

The most recent shenanigan happened as I was typing up an agenda for a meeting and Thumbelina stood in the kitchen making cookies.  He was right behind me and right behind her, happily playing with his cars.

In the flour.  On the carpet.

I had a million things to do that day.  I had no time to be upset.  Instead, I took a picture.  Thumbelina asked, "Why are you taking his picture?  He'll think he's cute and do it again."  I told her that I take pictures of moments like these because eventually they'll be really funny.

(And also because he's cute.  Even when he's being naughty.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jokes For Kids

Except for the rare occasion when we give them money for school lunch I have always packed lunches for my kids.  I used to pack them in brown paper bags with their names written on the front.  It seemed like wasted space, so I started making decorating their names with various themes.  Sometimes I would even write a little note to each of them.

Eventually I decided to start adding a daily joke on each lunch bag with the question on the front and the answer on the bottom.  My kids really looked forward to the jokes every day.  They had classmates and teachers who would always ask what today's joke was.  I had found my niche.

When I switched over to lunchboxes to cut down on the expense of the paper bags my kids were concerned.  What about the jokes? they asked.  So I started writing them on index cards or scrap paper and tucking them in with their sandwiches and fruit.

After writing jokes and riddles down for 4 years I worried that the kids were getting sick of them.  Besides that, I was running out of material!  So I wrote them an uplifting or funny quote each day.  They liked that just fine but I never stopped hearing about how much they (and their friends) missed the jokes.  So the next year, I started up again - recycling some of my jokes from the first couple of years.

It's been somewhere around 7 or 8 years now that I've been doing this.  I've found jokes in books, online, heard them from friends and asked for ideas on Facebook and it's been a lot of fun.  Little X is only 2 now, so I figure I've got at least another 16 years of lunch jokes ahead of me.

Here are some of our favorites.

What is brown and sticky?
A stick.

What is green and has wheels?
Grass.  I lied about the wheels.

What do you call a pig with three eyes?
A piiig.

What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No eye deer.

What do you call a fish with no eyes?
A fsh.

What's the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?
Nobody cries when you chop up a bagpipe.

What did one snowman say to the other?
Do you smell carrots?

What do lawyers wear to court?

What has a bottom at the top?
Your legs!

Why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?
To get to the bottom!

Why did the tree get in trouble?
It was being knotty.

What's the difference between a fly and a bird?
A bird can fly but a fly can't bird.

What do you call a piece of wood with nothing to do?

What do you call a cow with a twitch?
Beef jerky.

Why wouldn't the oyster give anyone its pearl?
It was shellfish.

What did one elevator say to the other?
I think I'm coming down with something!

What did the girl say to her math homework?
I'm not a therapist!  Solve your own problems!

What's blue and smells like red paint?
Blue paint!

Want to hear 2 short jokes and a long joke?
Joke.  Joke.  Jooooooooooooooooooooke.

Why did the wagon train stop?
It was having Injun trouble!

What do you call a bear with no teeth?
A gummy bear!

Why did Beethoven get rid of his chickens?
They kept saying, "Bach! Bach! Bach!"

What is Beethoven doing in his grave?

What's brown and sits on a piano bench?
Beethoven's last movement.

Why did the clock get in trouble at school?
It wouldn't stop tocking!

What did the cow say to the pig in its way?

Which of Tigger's friends weighs the least?
Skinny the Pooh.

Why was Tigger looking in the toilet?
He was trying to find Pooh.

Why should you never shower with a Pokemon in the room?
It might Pikachu.

Why did the whale cross the road?
To get to the other tide.

What has four wheels and flies?
A garbage truck.

Why did the banana go out with the prune?
Because it couldn't get a date.

How did Noah see the animals in the ark at night?
With flood lights.

Why did the picture go to jail?
It was framed!

What do you call someone who doesn't fart in public?
A private tooter.

What kind of music do aliens like?

How do you get a baby alien to sleep?
You rock-et.

Why don't witches wear flat hats?
Because there's no point!

What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
Anyone can roast beef.

If a fire hydrant has H2O on the inside, what does it have on the outside?

What's mean and round?
A vicious circle.

Why are pirates great singers?
They can hit the high Cs.

How much did the pirate pay to have his ears pierced?
A buck an ear.

Why couldn't the pirates play cards?
Because the captain was standing on the deck!

Why do seagulls live by the sea?
Because if they lived by the bay they'd be bay gulls.

Why did the tomato blush?
Because it saw the salad dressing.

Why did the car blush?
It saw the light changing.

When does a doctor get mad?
When he runs out of patients.

What does a triceratops sit on?
Its tricera-bottom!

What did the horse say when it fell?
I've fallen and I can't giddy-up!

What does a nosy pepper do?
It gets jalapeno face!  (say it a few times, it will make sense)

What do you call a short psychic who escapes from jail?
A small medium at large.

What did Lincoln say when he went to court?
I'm in-a-cent!  (Thumbelina made that one up.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Awful Waffles and Taco Bloop

One time when I was gone and Allen was tasked with making dinner for the kids, he decided to make waffles.  Instead of baking powder he used baking soda and instead of teaspoons he used tablespoons and apparently they turned out pretty gross.  The kids still talk about the time they ate 'Awful Waffles' for dinner.

I never had this kind of story until last Halloween.  I made a pot of Taco Soup and told the kids they had to eat some before they could go Trick-or-Treating.  A couple of them mentioned that it tasted different but I thought that they were making excuses.  I had used a different brand of beans and added green peppers to it, so I thought that was the 'it-tastes-different' culprit.  They all ate every last bite then headed out to collect their loot.  Once things slowed down a bit I sat down to have a bowl of soup for myself.  I about gagged with the first bite.  It was so salty!  And then I realized my mistake.  Instead of Taco Seasoning I had used Seasoned Salt.  A heaping 1/4 cup worth.  I felt terrible for making each of the kids eat a whole bowl of it.

A few months later, I made Taco Soup with seasoning salt again.  It got nicknamed Taco Bloop.

A few weeks ago I almost made the same mistake a third time.  I caught myself after pouring just a bit of salt into the pot and was able to salvage it by scooping out most of the salt.

In my defense, the containers for Taco Seasoning and Seasoning Salt look almost exactly the same.  And the contents look pretty similar, too.

Thumbelina decided that she had seen enough salty soup and made me a new label for the Seasoning Salt.



 Problem solved.