This week I have a theme for the posts–all two of them– I have planned. Neither of them will be about writing, so I apologize in advance to those of you who’ve come to this site expecting to see things of a writery nature. But there will be writing for you to read, so I hope you’ll stay for that.
And, while lacking writery things, there will be things of a Mormon-y nature. So, again, I’ll give fair warning to anyone reading who was looking for something else. I hope you’ll stick around anyway.
Because what my posts this week are about is Gratitude. And not just because it’s the first full week of school–even though I am VERY grateful for that–but because it’s something everyone can give. Whether you are a writer–or not– or a Mormon, a Catholic, a Muslim, or an aethist. We can all make the world a little better place by showing more gratitude.
If you’ve been here for a few weeks, you may remember how my big city girls went to the country and learned how to herd cows. If not, here it is. Read it, then come on back.
Or not. It’s not really necessary.The point is, I never said why my children were herding cattle. I mean, besides
me wanting them out of my hair for a few hours the chance it gave them to learn the value of hard work. They also did it to earn a few bucks. Not to spend on themselves, but because of this (you do have to watch this video. Sorry, it is a requirement to understand the rest of this post. But it will be worth it): http://humanitarianday.blogspot.com/2011/06/of-one-heart-zacks-shack.html
Cute, huh? But I have to believe that mom sometimes yells at that kid. It can’t be all cookies and lemonade at their house. Right?
Anyway, that is beside the point, so let’s get back to it. My Relief Society* President–who is awesome and one of my favorite people in the whole world–saw this video and decided to organize a ward (this is a funny name for a Mormon congregation) humanitarian mission where families who wanted to participate would earn money to donate for wheelchairs, just like Zach did. She especially encouraged us to get our children involved.
Pretty great idea, right? You know what’s even better about it? We live in a place with nice houses, good schools, fancy cars and lots of people who have a lot of stuff. Sound like your neighborhood? And sometimes when life is pretty good, you forget it’s not that way for everybody. Especially if you’re a kid and you’ve never seen anything different. Having a lot of stuff seems like the norm, rather than something to be grateful for.
Our family wanted to be involved, but had to figure out a way to do it since the kids and I were going to be gone for a big chunk of the summer. That’s why my girls asked my parents’ neighbors if they could help with their horses and cows. They came up with the idea themselves and it worked pretty well.
But it didn’t earn them nearly what they needed for the wheelchair. For that we had to go to Plan B. Which involved my surfng Afro uncle, his sons and the distribution warehouse they run, and my aunt’s idea to set up recycling cans in each of the five breakrooms at the warehouse. The nuts and bolts of this plan were to 1) buy five plastic laundry basket thingys from IKEA 2) make posters about why my kids wanted to recycle cans and bottles 3) take the posters and baskets/make-shift garbages to the warehouse 4) ride around in a golf cart–much to my kids’ delight–to the five different breakrooms to set up the garbages and hang the posters. 5) Leave the posters and garbages there for six weeks and 6) let my cousins do the actual work of emptying the recycling bins when they got full, into garbage bags and then storing them for us.
And guess what? Plan B totally worked. By the time I got back from vacation my cousin, Chris, had a room full of giant garbage bags full of soda cans, water bottles, and juice containers. Many of which were empty, save for the last few sips. So you can imagine that smell after they’d been sitting in a hot room for six weeks.
Chris offered to drive them all down to me, but I sure didn’t want those things in my house. Plus, I have a friend who owns a recycling business in Fontana that pays a little better than the ones in Orange County. And, since it was only a thirty minute drive from the warehouse to Fontana and– having never been to Fontana– I thought it made perfect sense to just drive the forty-five minutes from my house to the warehouse, then the thirty minutes to Fontana, and finally the hour back to my house. Because somehow the extra few dollars we would earn by going to Fontana would offset the $100 in gas the trip would cost. (This is maybe why I am not an accountant.)
Also, did I mention this friend (who is an accountant and did the math to figure out letting other people haul this stuff around for me would save me a lot of time and money) offered to take all the bags up to Fontana himself?
Yeah, maybe should have taken up those offers.
Instead, on our last real day of summer vacation, I loaded the kids into my still pretty new SUV–which I had just barely paid $40 to get the dirt and cow poop washed out of it– and drove them to the warehouse where our pile of garbage awaited. The pile, as it turned out, was much larger in real life than in the picture Chris had sent me. Go figure. Again, he offered to let me use his truck to haul it all away, but I refused. Ah, hindsight — it really is 20/20.
I put down the back row of seats in my car, looked at our giant pile, then put down one of the seats in the middle row. Girl 1 would have to ride in the front seat, which, instead of illiciting excitment, evoked a panic attack on her part over whether or not I could turn off the airbags. What, the what? What kid doesn’t want to ride in the front seat?
After covering every surface possible with plastic, my cousins and I began shoving garbage bags in my car. The SUV got more and more full, but the pile somehow didn’t get much smaller. But, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, we determined to “make it work.” Finally, we made the kids get in and started piling the garbage around them–praying we wouldn’t have to pile it on them– until they were all smushed in there together.
Except for the last bag, which somehow we had missed. Our solution for getting it in was to roll down the back window and then, while I rolled the window back up, Ty kept the garbage from falling out and Chris shoved the last bag in. Which actually worked, much to the amazement — and amusement–of the warehouse guys watching their bosses help some blonde chick with three kids haul away garbage in her fancy car.
And, just so you’re not left out, here are the pictures: