Tuesday, March 4, 2014

California Update

I know many of you saw it on Facebook, but a few weeks months ago our boys' school did a fundraiser for our family to help get Ella to California to the CdLS National Conference. The school had approached me asking if they could do a change drive where kids would hit up their unsuspecting parents for spare coins to bring to school to put together in a jar. This type of sabotage by innocent wide eyes would be properly fueled by a competition between the classes and the promise of a pizza party to the class with the highest amount (and of course all in the good natured spirit of giving as well..). I thought it was a great idea- a good way to introduce Ella to the kids she will soon call her peers and help teach them about differences and kindness and giving and helping others. A way to take the first proverbial step into our school system and lay the foundation alongside the people who will all too soon be entrusted to care for her. So Ella and I took a deep breath, strapped on our boots, and stood in front of the entire school one day and talked to all the kids about CdLS. If you would have told me a few years ago I would be doing that I would have laughed (and cried) in your face. We talked about how having CdLS affects Ella and how it makes some things about Ella a little different, but also how she's just a kid like them, a sometimes pesky little sister, who often will just need a little extra help learning and doing things. (No I did not practice my speech in my head nonstop for an entire week. I was totally cool..)

Anyways.. we live in a very small, very rural community. I expected people to send pennies. Maybe a few nickels. I'm not proud of this, but honestly? That's probably what I would have sent. It's a change drive. I tend to take things literally. I would have sent change. The kids could have dug a few tarnished coins out of the bottom of my purse, proudly packed them in their backpacks, and we would have all went about our day. At the very very most I thought maybe the school would have raised a few hundred dollars. Five hundred tops.

Apparently that's not how everyone else took it.

I went in to the assembly the last day of school before Christmas break so I could be given the check. Ella and I stood in front of the entire school again and the principal announced, to the eruption of many cheers, that the 2nd grade had won the contest and raised over $400! (My poor recovering-from-a-tonsillectomy 2nd grader couldn't even be there for the excitement) I'm not sure what I looked like standing up there in front of the entire Elementary School. I hope I looked thankful. And appreciative. But I'm pretty sure I just looked confused. I was certain she made a mistake. The whole school raised over $400, right? (which would have been awesome in itself..) but she went on to say that 2nd place was Kindergarten who raised over $300. *still confused. and then 1st grade who raised over $200.. *huh? The total raised by our very small, very rural school? over $1500.00.


And completely overwhelmed. I couldn't even speak, I had tears in my eyes the entire day (and right now as I type this.. and months later again as I read over this again), and I was just so grateful. I am absolutely certain we live in the best community EVER. We might not have the nicest weather (oh so many days this winter with -20 to -30, sometimes -50 degree windchill), or the most beautiful scenery (I hear about these things called mountains. And oceans. What are beaches?). We may not live in the wealthiest part of the country (not too many million dollar high rises around here) and definitely not the most populated (our town has... wait for it... 234 people). But I am certain that what we lack in those areas we more than make up for in heart in our small little community.

Over Christmas we continued to be surrounded with love from our amazing family wanting to help-many sacrificing their own Christmas presents and money to put towards our trip. I don't even have words.. Our church and local newspaper wrote up a little article about us and we have had so many donations given and mailed to us from people we either hardly know, or know not at all who just have heard about our trip and want to help us go. Almost weekly we are reminded of our blessings just by opening our mailbox. Thank you THANK YOU everyone!  We are so humbled and reminded that we are here on this earth to help each other. We feel like we have been the receivers of so much love and support-we find ourselves constantly looking around to see where we can be the givers to others in need. This position we're in--this asking for help thing.. I'm not gonna lie- it's definitely not our favorite place to be. But the blog Momastery recently put things in perspective for me. She said:

We Americans are folks who value independence. We really do feel like independence = strong and dependence = weak. Yesterday reminded me that this is some serious bullshit.
Strength is participating fully in life’s rhythms – like being needed and needing. It is being available to help and then being available to be helped. It is taking your turn being the steady shoulder and leaning on another steady shoulder. It is sometimes saying: We Need Help. Because our people need and want to help. That is how we make connections. It’s how we make friendships. We ask people to share their gifts. We allow ourselves to be weak sometimes so that others can be strong.

We might be in a position right now of needing help, but I pray every day that we will be poised and ready when it's our turn to give it away.

Anyways, we are getting super close to our Conference goal. (Would have been there already if it wasn't for that pesky almost $2000 extra dollars for registration fees I somehow miscalculated. Oye..) On our list of things to do:
Reserve hotel rooms: Check
Register for Conference: On my list of things to do today.
Book flight tickets: Ehhhh.. still in the works.
Plan/Organize/Coordinate 5K/Spaghetti Supper/Raffle: Ummmm... any volunteers??

I've been agonizing over dates for the 5K-trying to pick the 'perfect' one. And coming to the obvious conclusion that there is no 'perfect' date. It's looking like the best 2 options are April 12 and May 17. And I keep ping-ponging back and forth between the two. Just as I decide on the April date because it appears as if there's nothing else going on locally that weekend, I remember that the threat of having a foot of snow on the ground that early in the year is a very real possibility. (I was assured that runners don't mind running in the cold. Unfortunately the coordinator of this race most definitely does mind standing in the cold all afternoon.) So then I flip back to May and just as that is sounding great because knee deep snow is less likely (yet still entirely possible I suppose) I remember that although our school's graduation is the week before, there are probably a lot of other area schools with graduations that day. So I go back to April. And look at the calendar and notice that the surrounding weekends are full of other little things requiring substantial planning like Easter, coordinating town Easter egg hunt and stuffing 1000+ Easter eggs, eldest son's 1st Communion, and so on. And the thought of adding a 5K to the mix sends me into a panic. And did anyone else notice how quickly April is coming up?? So I decide.. that's IT! May it is. Until I hear about a local wedding many people will be gone to (see? small town..)... HELP!!

I've already bombarded my crazy-people-I-call-friends-who-do-weird-things-like-run-races-for-fun group with questions the past few weeks so if anyone else wants to chime in (or volunteer to help..) please do! I sort of have this annoying character flaw of being unable to make major decisions without the input of others advice-whether I take it or not, I just like help weighing all the options.

*update since I wrote this. The other day I was talking to someone about the race and describing my predicament with picking a date and she volunteered the idea that I could have it May 18, on Sunday, so it didn't interfere with graduation or the wedding. Oh. Duh! Perfect! (See why I like talking ideas over with people? I can be clueless..) SO unless anyone has any major objections as to why this would be a horrible time to have it, speak now or forever hold your peace. I mean it. FOREVER.

May 18th for a 5K/spaghetti supper sounds great to me! Now who wants to help?? :)


  1. Since I will most definitely NOT be running in this race, I will do what I can to help!

  2. Yay! :) awesome community support! I will probably not be ready to run a 5k by then, but I do plan on starting back up as soon as I get the ok from the doctor. If it is warm, maybe baby girl and I can help out!