Tag Archives: project

The Ripple Effect………..

So, I pledged to participate in the Generosity Day Project and made some donations on Feb. 13th. On Feb. 14th, I pledged to myself that I would not just take the easy way out and make my contributions solely monetary darts thrown from the comfy, cozy chair in front of my computer.

The giver gets the gift

Every where I went, I tried to think, “what would be generous to do here”.

And while standing at the checkout line at Walmart, I tried to figure out something generous to do. Several people came up after me with much smaller loads than I had but the cashier had already started processing my items. It was too late to let them go ahead of me. Dang. Then I thought about offering to pay for their items. But there was that whole monetary darts thing. And besides it really would have just seemed, well, weird. Especially given that several of them were buying valentinesy kinds of things.

Can’t you just hear it:

Valentine: Honey, you shouldn’t have (brought me this fabulous gift from Walmart)
Gift Giver: Uhm, actually, I didn’t.
Valentine: What?
Gift Giver: Nevermind, it’s too weird to explain

Almost everyone who got behind me quickly changed over to the express lane. Except one man. He was a much older man in a mobile shopping cart. He was already moving kind of slow so my multitude of c.r.a.p. didn’t seem too daunting.

Ah-ha. There was my chance. I offered to load his items on to the conveyer belt for him. I was careful to say “would you like help” rather than “do you need help”, in an effort to not offend him. His face wrinkled and he kind of smirked and said he could do it. He wasn’t insulted but he also wasn’t thrilled that I had noticed that maybe he couldn’t do it alone.

Feeling a little uneasy and thinking he might be feeling it too, I joked that it was Valentine’s Day and said “hey, today of all days we should try to be nice to each other, right?”

He agreed. Then he joked back and said that if he wasn’t married, he would ask me to be his valentine. And don’t worry, it wasn’t in a creepy-I’d-better-be-careful-walking-back-to-my-car kind of way. Just in a nice, funny way. Totally like my grandfather would have done.

And I said pretty much the same thing back. And he laughed and looked a little sad at the same time.

He said that when he isn’t sitting in a cart, he is 6’2″ tall and that it is interesting to look up at people.He said it gave him a whole new perspective – this opportunity to look up. He almost seemed like he felt invisible when he was in the cart. That must be quite a change for a man who used to stand 6’2″ and tower over nearly everyone else.

Anyway, we laughed and had a nice chat. And when I turned to leave the store, we both had little bitty tears in our eyes. He seemed so appreciative of not being overlooked and he reminded me so much of my grandfather that I couldn’t help but get choked up a tad. And then he said, “your husband is a lucky man.”

I know, awwwwwww.

How I ended up with the bigger smile is maybe not such a mystery. I started out to just do something kind – something so simple as stop and help another person – and I ended up having a nice conversation, making someone smile, and being flooded with memories of one of my most favorite people in the whole universe. All in about 2.5 minutes. (All while I would have been otherwise just standing and waiting – doing nothing important.)

As I got in the car to drive away, I didn’t check my rear view mirror to make sure he wasn’t following me. I simply wondered why, why, why.

Why don’t we stop being so distracted so that we can enjoy interactions with those around us. Even if we don’t know them?

Why are we so busy that we ignore what a plain old smile or a helping hand can cure?

Why can’t we just slow down and breathe deeply and exhale slowly so that we can fully enjoy the precious minutes we are given?

I started off by trying to help him and his smile rippled right through my memories and warmed my heart. It’s true that the giver gets the greatest gift.

Putting my money where my keyboard is……

Yesterday I wrote about Sasha’s Generosity Day Project and I pledged to participate on February 14th. Well, dear readers, I just got me a jumpstart.

I started by donating to a project called Acres for Agnes. Naomi is a friend from my Delhi life and her mom has already reached her goal of $12,000 which will do this for Agnes and her family…

Buying me some bovines for the Generosity Day Project.

  • buy 2 acres of farm land
  • build a simple mud hut and separate kitchen
  • dig a pit latrine, with an adjoining washroom (for bathing)
  • and possibly be enough to dig a well so that she and the boys can have clean drinking water

So I figured a little extra can’t hurt because maybe it will be that little extra that will get them a well for clean drinking water. Let’s hear it for clean drinking water! Yeah!

Then I bought me some heifers at Heifers.org. These bovines will be donated to families in need. And I also donated to the Seeds of Change in Arkansas and Appalachia through the Heifer.org website to help those families struggling in America.

And yes, I feel amazing! Tomorrow might not be about monetary donations but I am going to make sure I am generous in one way or another! You can still join in the fun by clicking here to pledge! You will be the one who gets the greatest gift! Pinky Swear!

Taking Valentine’s Day to a whole new level…..

Generosity Day

One of the blogs I read regularly is written by Seth Godwin and today he wrote about selfishness.

He reminds us that, basically, the more we give the more we get. And he is so right – it is a true gift to do something for someone else – and not for the getter but for the giver.

In his post, Seth also mentioned Sasha’s Generosity Day Project. He has deemed Feb. 14th as Generosity Day and invites us all to do more than just give chocolates and flowers.

He had me at: “I felt like what was smart was keeping me from doing what was right.”

I just signed up – won’t you join me?

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye…….

My dear friend from college put out a request on Facebook to see who might be interested in taking her daughter’s Flat Elizabeth on an adventure.

If you have never been entrusted with a Flat Stanley and do not have any idea what I am talking about, you should really consider what kind of friend you have been. For those of us who are trustworthy and creative and just spectacular in general, sometimes our friends will send us a Flat Stanley (or other cutout doll named after their child).  There is a children’s book about a boy named Stanley who gets smushed by a blackboard and accidentally sealed in an envelope and he ends up on a grand adventure. And some teachers think it is a great idea for kids in their class to create their own cutout doll and send him/her on his/her own grand adventure.

It is a really fun way for the kids to learn about the world.

Being so competitive willing to help another mother out, I raised my hand immediately. And, no I did not knock three other mothers down in the process – remember it was a virtual competition – I behaved myself quite nicely. After all, I am a civilized competitor – but I might have shouted “me, me, me” into the web-o-sphere once or twice. Maybe. And maybe not. But maybe.

In fact, lots of people offered (to no avail) to play tour guide to Flat Elizabeth. My friend is a delightful person and so it makes sense that a lot of friends would offer to help her. And I am not at all suggesting that they are losers in the Flat Elizabeth campaign – but you can see where she ended up. 😉

On a slow train to Ranthambore – the tiger preserve in India. Oh, yes, in case you have forgotten, India is where “I” live. Flat Elizabeth came to visit me! Yahoo! Not the other losers friends who offered to help out. I’m just sayin – I won, I won. tee hee.

She was a delightful travel companion. She didn’t each much and never had to stop for potty breaks. She didn’t even fight with her siblings – of course, that might have something to do with the fact that she does not have any siblings – but she did not fight once. And, yes, she is absolutely adorable. My friend friend’s daughter  is no slacker. She would never send a ragtag Flat Elizabeth to visit.

So Elizabeth went on a tiger safari and saw real tigers.

She went to an Indian classroom and found her initial on the board.

She saw forts and monkeys and learned a lot about the emperors of India.

She also rode a camel and an elephant.

She played in a band.

The only snafu that we hit was that security was tight at the Taj Mahal and they would not let dolls in. Yes, I know you would think the real threat would be guns, knives, or other expl*sives. But apparently, dolls are also on the no-go list. I tried as hard as I could to get them to change their minds. I explained it was for a school project – that Flat Elizabeth is really not a terr*rist and meant no harm to the Indian people. But it seems to have more to do with advertising – they do not want people taking pictures of the Taj with dolls and using them for advertisements. And, yes, I did my best to explain that in the west, we do not consider a piece of paper a doll. No offense intended to Flat Elizabeth – as I mentioned, she is the bestest Flat Elizabeth e.v.e.r –  but she hasn’t actually been offered a modeling career and her intentions were purely academic.

But we did not let that stop us. We found a picture of the Taj and took her picture in front of it and checked the Taj Mahal off our list.

She also had her picture taken with a member of the royal family.

Okay, now you are just being picky. He was a member of the royal family and he is sadly no longer with us – but once we stretched our imagination with the Taj Mahal, anything went. So, yes, that is a picture of her with a king. Truth be told, I think he was actually flirting with her. Don’t laugh – they have a lot in common you know – being made of paper is just one of the fine qualities they shared. Although I think she is from better stock than he is – or was.

She even wore a makeshift sari.

She also got all the diet coke she wanted. Shhhhh. Don’t tell my friend that part. But we loaded her up on caffeine.

Flat Elizabeth also got to stay in a palace. And enjoyed every second of the royal treatment.

And her bath at the end of the day was nothing short of divine.

Somewhere along the line, poor Flat Elizabeth lost an eye. I have sworn myself to secrecy on this one – mostly because I have no idea how it happened. But my dear friend understands that traveling in India can be dangerous. She has assured me that she knows of a very reputable eye surgeon in the U.S. who will keep it all on the down low.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of her with only one eye because I did not want any evidence of the mishap should I be asked to testify later simply forgot. But I assure you, she was the cutest dang one-eyed “doll” e.v.e.r.

All the votes are in and it is o.f.f.i.c.i.a.l. – I am the best Flat Elizabeth hostess ever. Me, Me, Me.

My friend was so grateful that she sent this note…

Dear Queen of all things Flat Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for opening your heart and home to Flat Elizabeth. Your adventures with her far exceeded our highest expectations. You are just amazing. Our project will be so much better than anyone else’s. You are a rock star. It is as simple as that. We are hereby nominating you to the highest order of Flat Elizabethness and crown you supreme hostess and tour guide. It is with humble hearts and grateful friendship that we thank you for all that you have done for us. Even Mother Teresa herself could not have done such justice to this project.

Okay – what it really said was …

Dear A Reason 2 Write

Flat Elizabeth had a great time. Thanks.

Oh sure, the real version was more toned down than what I imagined it might be. But I know in my heart the Academy will be calling soon. Don’t doubt me. 😉

WOW Science………..

Sometimes in life, your kids want to do something and you just cannot bring yourself to say yes to even though you know you really should just say yes. You know that they will grow from it, learn from it, enjoy it. But it requires adult participation. Oh bother. Such as it was with the school science fair.

Participation was voluntary (did you hear that – v.o.l.u.n.t.a.r.y.) – no grades given – no first place – no nothing. Just the love of a little science experiment. Oh yeah and you get a t-shirt. Bear and Flower had no interest whatsoever – so I am off the hook, right? Silly rabbit, that’s what I thought too. But there is Angel. With eyes full of wonder and a heart full of enthusiasm. And great hopes for a t-shirt.

Angel: Mom, can I sign up for the science fair?
Me: Honey, you realize you don’t HAVE to sign up, right?
Angel: Yeah, I know, I just WANT to.
Me: I am not sure there are any spots left (yes, I will tell my children a fib – sue me)
Angel: Then what is that table for over THERE?
Me: Flu shots.
Angel: NO it isn’t – it’s for the science fair
Me to myself: (damn, that’s right, she can read now)
Me to Angel: Yes, dear it is – but you realize you don’t HAVE to do it.
Angel: I know, I just WANT to.
Me: Fine.

So, we sign up about 6 weeks before the day of the science fair. Angel decides (with a little good old-fashioned coaxing) that she wants to do the Coke/Mentos experiment. Fine – that’s easy enough. So, little by little I buy 2 liter bottles of soda and mentos candies. We stock pile them in the kitchen. I had to go back and get extra mentos because apparently Bear and Flower “forgot” the candy was for the experiment. (Very supportive those two.)

We I get two of each kind of soda – I roll like that – even in my hesitation to agree to do the project, I must be prepared in case one of the sodas is flat. (Oh ye of little faith – it is highly probable here that a soda might be flat.) I delay her starting the project because I am trying to find Diet Coke in 2 liter bottles. Good luck with that. I am not sure why – but I could not find it. And, sadly, it works the best.

Everything sits in our kitchen. She is distracted by knitting practice, watching tv, fighting with her brother and sister, and that damn reading habit of hers –  you name it. She almost forgot about the science fair.

But, finally she remembers that she wants to participate. I think it was because she tripped over the big science fair poster board they gave her for her display. I know, rookie mistake – I should have hidden it better. Next year. But, you can be sure I am not begging her to get started. She needs to find that inner motivation – prove that she really wants to do it. Wouldn’t you know, she found it right there on the floor next to the poster.

Now, I will admit that after number one hubby disagreed over how to measure the explosion of soda and after we discussed whether the experiment should be done on the porch or in the park, we actually all had a lot of fun. (FYI, I was right on both counts – just for the record – yes that made the project more fun.) And no, we did not ask Angel how she thought we should measure the explosion – it was her project after all – we are perfectly capable of fighting over discussing a solution without her help. Thank. you. very. much. 😉

Here is our line up.

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Coke went the highest.

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Sprite was a dud. And, yes, we tried it twice. Remember, I was prepared with reinforcements.

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Fanta looked pretty cool but also did not rise to the occasion.

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Afterwards we went to the park. (Better late than never.) And we found out that if you try to drink the soda while it is exploding, it will most definitely go up your nose.

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And we found out that it is fun to have a coke-that-has-exploded fight in the park.

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We also found out that Angel is perfectly capable of standing alone with her project for 3 hours and discussing it with anyone. Adults, children, teachers. She had no fear whatsoever. In fact, she really enjoyed it. Yes, she made her own poster.

poster

And she got this ribbon – and a certificate – and a t-shirt. WOW Science indeed.

ribbon

If you want to melt into the landscape of India and enjoy it unnoticed, I suggest you not hang out with us. Exit stage left. Immediately. There is nothing like drawing attention to yourselves by using perfectly good soda and making it explode with perfectly good candy on the porch while in the land of “we waste nothing”. Yep, we did not go unnoticed today. I wonder what our Indian neighbors really thought about our experiment and ensuing soda fight in the park. They must think us strange birds indeed.

All in all, we have survived and quite thoroughly enjoyed the science fair. But I draw the line at Girl Scouts – I am pretty sure that is an American organization that is underrepresented here – at least that will be my story and I will distract her from any sign up tables.

And by the way, Angel wore her t-shirt to school. Priceless.