Sunday, December 20, 2009

Excitement...but with a heavy heart...

As we leave for this holiday vacation....heading to the north country for fun and festivities with my family....I am so excited that I could burst. But this year, there is a special little man here in Fernandina Beach that I have come to know just a bit. And while we are eating and drinking and being Merry....he will be spending his Christmas this year - on Amelia Island...In a homeless shelter.

He will spend his Christmas with a homeless grandmother that has been dealt some bad cards. She is angry and struggling and doing her best to make the next day happen for she and her grandson. But alas...her efforts merely afford them a roof over their head and a meal that will suffice, but not fill.

When I asked this little man (age 6) what he wanted from Santa....he promptly told me that "There ain't no such thing as a darn SANTA!" And he looked so sad and so angry when he said it. I shared with him that Santa was a belief and that each person had to choose weather or not they believed in Santa. And that I - personally - believed that there Was a Santa and each year I receive a gift from him. He assured me that his Grandmother had told him there was no such thing. And so I left him with a thought.

Let's do something this Christmas, that is just in your own head. Let's believe this one time. Believe that the magic of Santa and of Christmas is real. And it just may bring some goodies your way. And if it does, then you will know that Santa is real. And if it does not bring goodies your way, then you will know Santa is not real. But I assured him of my true belief and that I felt very positive that he would be proven wrong.

I asked him, "If there is a Santa, what would you wish that he brought you?" And without hesitation, he said, "I ain't never had no remote control cars?" (said with a question in his eyes...like....if I wish for that, could I possibly get it?)

And so we went, that day after school, to Walmart with Ben and Kyle. I explained, without using names, what we were there to do. We searched high and low and I allowed Ben and Kyle to decide what was the best one to buy. Ben decided that a homeless person would not have their own floor, so this car needed to be able to go on the grass. The boys were gracious and understanding that this present was not about them, and they didn't even ask for something for themselves.

When we finally picked out the R/C Hum V, Kyle said...we better get lots of batteries because this kid may not be able to get any more when they run out? Good thought...and so that we did.

And we came home, wrapped, and took the gift to the right place...the best place...to assure that it would get to this dear boy on Christmas. And with it was a card from Santa, telling this boy what a good guy he had been this year and how much Santa loves him. And there were other parents in this childs class that also sent in gifts from Santa! He will have Christmas, and can't help but really think that he will BELIEVE in some magic on Christmas day!

It felt good to help just a bit to make holiday magic happen, and I was happy that we could add just a moment of joy to his day. But the long and the short of it is....what we did is just so small. So small in the big picture for a life that sees such a bleak future, that lacks stability and support, and safety, and warmth? I almost don't feel right having a good time in PA when I know that someone that we love suffers so.

Of course this scenario is EVERY DAY, with so MANY MANY people and so MANY MANY Children. And I know that it will never end. But for whatever reason, as I get older, the plight of underprivileged children is weighing more and more heavy on my heart. And when you mix that with the joy of the holiday season and the lack of joy that so many experience, I feel very committed to somehow making a difference in it all. Not sure how, or when - because my own family needs to come first - especially when they are so young and needy themselves. But somehow and someday.

Not even sure why I write this, except to try and get it out in the open and to share it with all of you so that your prayers and your love can help to lift this little boy up in some way. Enjoy your families and all that we have in them! Celebrate the love that is all around you. And take a moment each day to think of the people who have so much less. Who have a life that we can't imagine. And pray for a their future. It will help.

Merry Christmas to you all!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Cookies.....mmmm.....mmmmm...GOOD!

The Mongold Boys made some very festive cookies to take with us to several parties and to give to friends this holiday season! And if you ate any of the Mongold special Holiday cookies.......
















I AM SO SORRY!!!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!





















(Disclaimer: The children in these photos are NOT actors...but...the cookies we gave away - I iced by myself and I DID NOT LICK my fingers or the knife!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Once upon a time in second grade! :)











Once upon a time there was a special second grade.










And for a special holiday project the plans were being laid.







22 houses ready to go.















And lots of donated goodies to help with the show.













First the gift exchange game, that was tons of fun!












Ben and his buddies share the loot that they "won!" :)








Strap on a bib so the laundry is no hassle....





And ready set go, time to decorate your castle!


Not sure who had more fun...the kid or the mom'...




But in the end this project truly was the bomb!


And as for the art that we set out to make!







These special second graders made top notch work look like a piece of cake! :)






Worth every minute of the parents/teachers time to get it all done...






To all of our second grade friends....Merry Christmas Everyone!









And a huge Thank you to Mrs. Brussard and all the mom's that helped pull off this awesome Christmas party! Truly...in my years of school to date...this was the best party EVER! :) THANK YOU SO MUCH!

A reminder that Compassion is not always a clear cut path...

Three years ago, just before the holidays, I was sitting in my studio in Chesapeake Virginia. A few mom's were painting holiday gifts with their young children and we were enjoying some Starbucks and great conversation as beautiful art was being created!

In the back of my mind, while I was enjoying the company and the business, I was stressing about all the work that i had yet to do in order to complete all of the many holiday orders that were upon me.

And at this, an elderly lady walks through the front door. At least 88 if not older. She was holding a zip lock back with a lump of clay in it. She walked up to the front of the store and she started to shake and tears came to her eyes...as she held out the lump of clay and told me her story.

The clay held the paw print of her deceased cat. The cat had been her only roommate, her only love, and it has passed away of natural causes just a few days before. It had been cremated and the vet had placed a paw print of the Cat in this lump of clay that she held before me.

It was all she had left. It had cat hair stuck in it and it was a rough looking piece of clay. She asked me in the most kind voice I have ever heard, "Can you help me to make this more special and bake it for me so that it will always be with me and it won't be so fragile?"

Of course I offered to do this at no cost and in short order. I asked her about what kind of clay it was, she gave me the details..... and gave her a date to come back for her memories... and she left.

I looked up the type of clay right away - so that I did right by this special piece of art... and started painting and engraving the lump so that it could make my next oven load of goodies! Two days later, it emerged from the oven. Or wait...no it didn't. The darn lump of clay with the cats paw print EXPLODED IN THE OVEN. It not only did not survive the process, but in the explosion, the fragments ruined about 15 other pieces of art that people had worked very hard on.

And so the process of calling the people and telling them that they had to re-make grandmas mug and the vase for mom...began. Never easy to call and say you have screwed up, but it happened now and again and I did it. With a lump in my throat and sweaty palms...but I always made those calls and gave my whole heart full of sympathy...offered a free replacement, and offered my help to get it done in short order.

But the paw print? That can't be replace? That was going to be my hardest call yet. Allof a sudden the stress of the holidays seemd a vacation from this situation that was upon me.

So this day, as I sat quietly watching people paint, I had a mom come up to me and say, "Renee, you are not yourself today...is everything ok?" And while I would not normally give my tails of woe to a customer, I was so full of sadness that I dumped it all on her. Even shed a tear as I spoke?

When I was finished with the story, this mom looked at me and said, "Ya know Renee...there are some truths that do not benefit the world." "I have a plan!"

she revealed that she had a cat at home that would be more than happy - not - to oblige a footprint, and that she knew I had clay, and if we worked together, we could give this nice woman the memory that she longed for. And she further convinced me that this small lie would bring peace at the holidays to a very lonely woman and that this lie was what was necessary to do the right thing.

well if there is one thing harder for me than admitting to customers that I had messed up their art...it was Lying? But just the same, this mom gave me her number and said, think about it and call me.

After sleeping on it that night, I decided that she was right. The next day - as she promised, she came and picked up a new and similar piece of clay and went to work with her cat at home. She brought back in the lump with a print in it..I decorated it, engraved it....cooked it...and called our dear lady friend to tell her it was done!

The lady came in that next day and she walked just as fast as she could over to me and hugged me with all she had in her. She got tears in here eyes as she told me that she could now celebrate the holidays knowing that her baby was with her forever!

I swore I would never tell anyone that I did this, and I have shared it with a few people, but not many! :) But today it seemed fitting. Because three years later, I can still remember her hug, and her gratitude. And while the lie was hard for me, it was necessary. Compassion was necessary, but not in the normal realm and I am thankful for the mom that showed this to me and I am thankful that I had faith in what I didn't understand.

Show compassion this holiday season...and all year for that matter! Show it with all that you have! And make sure that the true needs of the receiver are in your heart when you do!! True compassion makes the world a better place and all these years later, I am actually grateful that I was able to do this backwards, yet necessary show of love for a dear lady at Christmas time! :)

Merry Christmas to you all!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

WE LOVE YOU JOSH


Happy Gotcha Day little man! :)


Our world is forever better because you are in it!! :)


We love you JAWA MONGOLD! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snap Shot Thursday?...close enough to Sunday right?

Kyle is my most sensitive kid. That may surprise people who know my children well. On the surface it may seem that Ben is our most sensitive child, but in truth - if I look at all areas of sensitivity - it is for certain - Kyle.

His feelings can get hurt easy, and he does not like change. At the same time, he is the most sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. His view of the world is much more mature than most 6 year old boys. It is far from self centered - as is the norm for his age and gender.



Kyle is a good friend to his brothers and also to his friends outside the family. He is very well liked at school and by his peers. We joke that he is the mayor of Fernandina Beach, because he knows more people than all the rest of the Mongolds put together! And for whatever reason...many many many of them...are sweet little girls?!?!


Kyle can move from being a big brother, to being a peer seamlessly.

All of the Mongold Brothers claim KYLE as their best friend. When you ask Kyle who his best friend his...he will say "LOTS OF PEOPLE."



Kyle has a desire for adventure, but a fear inside that often holds him back and frustrates him. But he works slowly toward his goal and will not give up. And he works tward his goals sliently. And all of a sudden..one day..he "got on his bike and rode down the street!"



And most importantly, Kyle is a clown. Silly....always making people laugh.





And what is more...he is not just always TRYING to make people laugh...he usually succeeds in making both children and adults - truly - laugh!


Silly!



Very silly....always silly!


Since he was old enough to BE silly.......He has been......SILLY! And please don't compliment Kyle...because he will just make a silly face and tell you a joke. Never will he say thank you. I think - in the next picture - someone must have said, "Kyle..you are so smart." Because this is the face you get if you compliment him in any way!

Each child in my family holds a different place. A necessary place. Together we make a whole. We love you Kyle....and we are so thankful for all that you bring to our world! :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Josh is such a happy boy! But one year ago????














One year ago.....

One year ago today, I had one of the most emotionally challenging days of my life. When I looked at the date this morning as I was writing a check, it all came flying back to me! So, I came to my blog and read my post for last December 9th!

It made me cry, and it made me see the world in such a different way...all at the same time. One year ago, I was filled with so much doubt. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was scared and heartbroken.....and excited and nervous. I knew that what I was about to do was the right thing for our family, but I doubted my ability to get it done!

If you feel like it - click on the link and read my account of last December 9th! It is definately a tribute today to how great life is! It will remind you of how the darkest days lead you to the brightest of times! I know it reminded me to have faith in myself and my decisions - even when that seems the hardest thing to do! :)

One year ago I embarked on a journey that changed out lives for the better - forever for the better! And I know that I said it one year ago....but today - as I remember it all as if it were yesterday - THANK YOU! To everyone that got me through that crazy time. THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU! Your words, your actions, your love.....I sit here today writing this blog because of you.


http://athousandreasonstosmile.blogspot.com/2008/12/crazy-beginning-to-amazing-experience.html

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nice to mee-choo!



Because Josh does not always talk so clear...I think we underestimate what he truly knows and understands.

Since China we have called him Joshee. This what the boys call him, and what Steve and I call him. But outside of our family: School, some of the grandparents, and people in the neighborhood....well...they call him Joshua.

It seems that Joshee has a preference as to what he is called? If I call him Joshee, he will correct me and say - "My JAWA" ;like the star wars characters. Jah - wah. Yep...that's him. (shu) is hard for JAWA to say...the SH mixed with a vowel throws him for a loop!! :)

And to take it one step further - we are in the post office yesterday and JAWA walks up to a lady sorting mail and said, "My JAWA...nice to mee - CHoo!" and then he giggled and walked away. ...And she said back to him, "Nice to meet you Joshua." OH my....she understood him and he just smiled from ear to ear knowing that she had a full understanding of what he had said!! :) Success!!!

It's official...Joshee is no longer....please meet JAWA Mongold! :)