Saturday, December 28, 2013

Acts of Kindess (Part 1)

Hey boo,

How's it going?  I'm just trying to round me up some Christmas cheer...

It is really tough.

Basically, this horrible, no good, crappy thing happened to our family.  But on the other hand, we have been so incredibly blessed.  It is so weird, like the biggest oxymoron ever.  I've noticed that I am pretty much a walking oxymoron, but that is just something I'll have to tell you about later...

Anyways, as I was saying, pretty much the worst thing ever happened.  But after that, we have been surrounded by so many generous, caring, compassionate people and been given SO MUCH!

So, I've been trying to get some Christmas cheer by paying those blessings forward.  That's what the Christmas spirit is supposed to be, right?  It is better to give than receive...

I guess some people call it Pay It Forward.  Others call it Acts of Kindness.  I guess we are doing Acts of Kindness to Pay It Forward... :-P

And I'm really trying to get the kids involved too.  They might not completely realize what I'm trying to do, but it'll sink in eventually, and I hope they'll love to give instead of get as they grow up.

I've read that some people do 25 Acts of Kindess, for the first 25 days of December leading up to Christmas.  That seemed a little out of our league right now, so we are just doing what we can, when we can.  Also, it seems like a lot of Acts of Kindess involve money, and we have done some things that cost money, but I am also trying to do "free-ish" Acts too, so we can keep on our budget!  :-)

Here are a few things we've done so far:

1)  We put a toy in the Toys for Tots collection bin at the kids’ daycare.  I chose Monopoly as our toy, in honor of you.  You loved that game (even though you were a big cheater!). J  Plus, it was on sale for only $5.  Score!  I want the kids to be involved in our acts of kindness, so I tried to have the girls put the game in the box, and take a picture of them doing it.  Yeah, I’m sure you can guess how that went...  They wouldn’t take the game from me, they just stood there staring like, “huh…?”.  Oh well, if we keep doing it every year, I’m sure they’ll be excited about it eventually! 

2)  Since November, we've been decorating supper sacks for the organization in Grand Rapids called Kids Food Basket.  They provide suppers for kids who likely won’t have a meal when they get home.  I figured decorating the sacks would be something the girls could do.  So, I bought a bunch of brown paper sacks from GFS.  Then, I put the girls in their chairs with crayons and markers, and let them get to work!  I even decorated a few too, although the girls artwork probably looks better than mine! J  I had help from M and T on a bunch too.  The pack I bought had 500 sacks in it, so we definitely won’t be able to decorate them all, but I’m sure the organization will appreciate the blank ones too.  This Act of Kindness has probably been one that the girls participated in the most.  And Will can get involved with this next year!

Charlotte getting ready to color a supper sack!

Charlotte hard at work

Violet hard at work!

Violet decorating a supper sack.

A different day of coloring supper sacks.

A different day of coloring supper sacks.


Some of the bags the girls and I decorated. :-)  So far, we have 110 completed!!!

Some of the bags M & T decorated! :-)

3)  We had A LOT of diapers donated to us.  Unfortunately, big Will has grown out of size 3 diapers and we still had quite a few boxes of that size left.  So, I passed along the donated diapers to an organization out of Holland called Nestlings.  I brought over 300 size 3 diapers (3 boxes) to a donation drop-off near work.  I think that could diaper 1 baby for over 30 days!  We also ended up supporting this same organization at work for our Christmas Giving, so I brought in 2 more packages of diapers for that collection. I think we still have even more that I plan on passing along to others as they need them.

4) In more baby related Acts of Kindness, I gave L & B one of our infant car seats and 2 bases to go with it for their new baby grandson.  I know they were going to try and save money by purchasing a used car seat, so I'd rather have them get a car seat that they know is safe than to buy one from a stranger.

5) I volunteered to be on the Christmas Giving Team at work this year, where we supported the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and as I said before, Nestlings.  I didn't actually do much because of my schedule, but I helped where I could.  I also passed along a gift card to a store that I don't shop at, so the team could shop for anything that was left on the list of items needed.

6)  A different department at work sponsored an elderly care home called Rest Haven.  They set up an "Angel Tree" type of thing, where each member of the home had a few items on their "wish" list.  So, I grabbed one of the names off the tree, and thanks to my attempts at "super couponing", I was able to snag her items for under the $15 limit.  They required multiple items to be wrapped in one package, as each person was only allowed to open one gift at the home's Christmas party.  In trying to get the kids involved, I tried to have the girls "help" me wrap the box... Um, that probably wasn't my best idea.  They just wanted to walk all over the wrapping paper.  Hopefully the person opening our gift didn't realize how wrinkled the paper was! :-)

Our gift to someone at Resthaven!

Charlotte holding the tag from the "Angel Tree."

Will "helping" wrap...

Violet "helping" wrap our gift to Resthaven

Will "helping"...

Being good helpers!

Putting tape on...

Our wrapped gift ready to put under the "Angel Tree" at work!

7)  This is dorky, but thanks to Pinterest, I put this little present in the mailbox for our mail carrier.  I feel like that person has been working a lot of overtime or something, because I got a package on a Sunday, two weeks in a row!

A little something for our mail carrier! :-)

8) Someone told me about another woman in the area who is also 30-something, and her husband passed away suddenly a couple months after you did.  They also had young kids.  I told the person to pass along my email address to her, if she ever wanted to talk to someone who totally understood what she was going through.  I haven't heard from her yet, which I completely understand.  But I sent her an anonymous gift card to, because I know it's hard to find time to get to the store, and shopping online is so convenient.  Plus, you can buy anything from Amazon, whether it be necessities like toilet paper or diapers, or just something nice for herself.  I hope it helps her out in some way, even if it just makes her smile when she gets it.

And, there are a few more things in progress that I'll have to tell you about later... 

But the thing is, despite my small attempts to pay our blessings forward, we continue to be blessed 10 times more!!!  What is that saying about something coming back to you 10-fold???  It's basically like that.  We are  just surrounded by some seriously generous people!  I am always so overwhelmed by what people do to help us.  I just can't believe what everyone is doing for our family.  I'll have to send you another email just to talk about all of that stuff!  It is AMAZING!

But anyways, most of the time, I try not to think about Christmas, and the fact that you won't be here for it.  I'm really just going through the general motions of this holiday season, and not letting anything really sink in.  It's pretty much impossible for me to think about Christmas morning without getting choked up.  Honestly, I can't even type what I'm feeling because it hurts so bad.  It's weird how this time of year is just so incredibly hard...  I just can't even process it...

A couple weeks ago, I was flipping through a Women's Health or some kind of women's magazine like that in the waiting room at therapy.  I happened to see an article where in big bold letters it said that "a person is 30% more likely to die within 5 years of a stressful, traumatic life event." (I put that in quotes, but it is still paraphrased, the statistic is right, but I can't remember the exact wording.)  I read that, and thought, "Awesome."  Seriously, what else could go wrong, now I have to worry about that too (as if I don't already!)?!?!  But then I started reading the article.  It said the one thing that took that 30% risk completely away was "helping others."  Huh, who knew??  That made me feel better, because we had already begun our Acts of Kindness at that time.  I mentioned what I had read and what we were doing to my therapist.  I said I couldn't imagine not helping others, don't people do that every day?  Whether it be as simple as holding the door open for someone, or letting someone pull out in front of you when traffic is backed up?  And my therapist said "No, people don't do that."  She said that A LOT of people are so caught up in their own trauma, they are just wrapped up in what is going on in their lives.  She said they don't think about others. ["Others." Ha, LOST reference :-P]  She said she was glad that I happened to "stumble upon" it and start doing our Acts of Kindness.  She said she would have brought it up eventually, but I figured it out on my own. It didn't really feel like I figured anything out, I was just doing something that was helping me, so it was still selfish in a way...

So yeah, moral of the story is, I'm glad I'm working on our Acts of Kindness!  Even though I said we were just going to do what we could, I actually think I took on a few too many projects this season, because I've been really busy at night trying to get everything done... But all of that busy-ness has actually helped me get through this holiday season...

But I'll still be glad when it's over...


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