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Be Nice-Pack The Pockets!

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2.5 years today since we've seen your beautiful, smiling face. A face I miss more than anything in the whole wide world. I know you are still watching over us, Baby Boy. Thank you for all the signs this week. Help us to be nice and pack the pockets full this 9th. I love you. One day.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX


https://www.facebook.com/events/449457432249561/
It's getting COLD outside and our friends at Elemental Coffee are making it easier for people to stay warm! Come drop off coats you and your family don't need anymore, or swing by to pick out a free coat packed with love. All sizes and styles of coats, socks and gloves appreciated.

For November's Nice on the 9th, we are going to be "packing the pockets" with baggies full of goodies and would love your help!! Come by Elemental Coffee (downtown) on the 9th anytime from 8:15am-6pm and enjoy a cup of coffee from their small-batch roastery and cafe while you spread some warmth for someone in need. 

Items needed to pack the pockets include:
-Notes of encouragement
-Gloves
-Chapstick
-Kleenex
-Hand warmers
-Trial size lotion
-gum/small, individually wrapped candy
-small hand sanitizer
-bus passes
-gift cards
-anything else you can think of that is small enough to fit in a coat pocket

-Not local? Why not host a coat drive of your own or donate an item to keep someone comfortable. Kindness templates available here: https://thecalebeffect.org/kindness/

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"I Never Met A Man I Didn't Like."

Today a friend posted a message that a complete stranger sent to him online. The person knew only one thing about him yet felt the need to call him extremely offensive names and even WISH HIM DEAD! My friend reported it to the proper authorities and fortunately is secure in his self-worth. As he said, "Thankfully, I’m old and wise enough to let this type of disgusting bullying roll off my back, but can you imagine how a teenager feels when they get a message like this?"

I'd like to think that it is 2018 and therefore things like this don't happen as much anymore. After all, the world is a much smaller place than it used to be and sheer positive personal experience HAS to be changing some minds, right? Those people we might have only known enough to put in our neat little boxes now have many representatives with familiar faces we've come to know and love. Those faces must be rendering all the former labels invalid so I shake my head and wonder why this behavior is still happening. Aren't most of us interacting daily with a variety of people who aren't exactly like us? Are we not going to school, working, traveling, playing sports, serving, and living with people from all over the world and with every kind of belief and genetic composition? Have we still not found ANYTHING to love about the other humans occupying this temporary home or are we so scared of actually liking someone we throw around vitriol when they breach that comfortable distance?

Now I’m not saying I’m all kumbaya for everyone, nor do I have some delusional fantasy that writing this will make doves glide through the air as we skip arm-in-arm delivering apple pies to those we’ve wronged. I have to consciously work at loving people the way Caleb loves them and sometimes that is REALLY hard! Some people manage to absolutely max out my patience or disappoint me in ways I didn’t think they ever could. No amount of yelling, calling them names, or even trying to have civil disagreements helps correct their behavior so I focus my attention on people and things more practical and deserving. Traffic is still my arch nemesis but I haven’t given up that fight either (for that story, you can be so enlightened here: https://thecalebeffect.org/kindness/).

Outside of the roadways there are still daily frustrations and overwhelming struggles. You might have even seen me on a day that the conflict had nearly consumed me and not even known it. That’s not much different than many people you might’ve encountered today. There is a gentle soul who was ridiculed by her peers in home room for wearing her head scarf; another who cried himself to sleep last night after being disowned for being his true self; and too many families with empty chairs at dinner tonight after hate entered their synagogue. They still had to take care of their responsibilities today and they will have to keep doing that tomorrow and the next day, too. Will you be too busy whispering something under your breath or being impatient with them when they take a little longer in your line? What if instead we went out of our way to surprise someone by extending them some common courtesy that isn’t nearly so common?

We all have our battles but how we react to all this Earthy pain matters. They say “hurt people hurt people” but I feel pretty qualified in saying I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse. I’ve said before and I still believe it to be true - we are supposed to see people a little like Will Rogers who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Once again, I don’t think he said it because he was going to be besties with the whole world, but I DO think he meant that there really IS something to like about every person in the world.

I am a naturally curious person who is constantly chasing my sidebar of thoughts just to stay on topic. I'm probably captain of asking questions that I would've been scolded for uttering as a kid. What I’ve learned so far though is the more I ask, the more people seem to be grateful to share with me. I can do the small talk, but I prefer bigger dialogue that goes beyond the weather, football teams, and TV shows. I grew up in a small town with people who had many similarities. It was a good place to learn how to avoid potholes and how a community comes together during tragedies, but my diversity training got a later start than a majority of my friends. (In fact, I didn’t fly on a commercial airline until I was 21 years old when my sister took me to Hawaii on a trip she earned from work.)

Every time we had a foreign exchange student I wanted to know everything about the way they lived, ate, celebrated holidays, and how to say things in their language. I loved learning about a whole new world and the truth is I am still learning. Part of that has meant discovering things I've done that were offensive but that I never knew were hurtful until after the fact. They say when you know better you do better and that is what I have tried to do. Whenever I wonder how to best proceed with a topic I don’t know enough about, I just ask someone qualified and honest enough to give me their uncensored thoughts. I am grateful to call so many distinctive and beautiful people my true friends. Thank you for loving me and welcoming me even when I was pretty clueless. I hope I have always been the kind of friend who loves and welcomes you, too.

For the guy behind an anonymous screen, dismissing my friend’s life as one without value, I feel pity for you. I suspect you and my friend have more in common that you are willing to admit but now you will never have the chance to find out. I am sorry you are so filled with hate that you feel compelled to tell people you don’t even know that they need to die. You missed out on an educated, hard-working, kind, fun-loving, potential friend.

Will Rogers was right. I never met a man I didn’t like either. If my path ever crosses yours, I will focus my attention on the less malevolent parts that must still be innate in you somewhere and a forever 2-year-old boy will hold me back from gloating about what an awesome guy my friend really is. In the meantime, I’m sincerely wishing you find your happy place soon.

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K Club + Ca leb

 Wearing makeup and telling the world about our boys. — with  Heather Holeman ,  Bernie Lindo Wile ,  Holly Barron  and  KFOR-TV  at  Main Event .

Wearing makeup and telling the world about our boys. — with Heather Holeman, Bernie Lindo Wile, Holly Barron and KFOR-TV at Main Event.

 Welcome to Nice on the 9th, K Club Style! — with Holly Barron ,  Bernie Lindo Wile  and  Adam Wile  at  Main Event .

Welcome to Nice on the 9th, K Club Style! — withHolly Barron, Bernie Lindo Wile and Adam Wile at Main Event.

 Our logos were posted on the tvs and one special friend made her own stickers. :) — with  Tim Kraus  and  Kissy Padron  at  Main Event .

Our logos were posted on the tvs and one special friend made her own stickers. :) — with Tim Kraus and Kissy Padron at Main Event.

 We had a lot of helpers make the day a success!— with  Kate Cormeny Geesaman  at  Main Event .

We had a lot of helpers make the day a success!— with Kate Cormeny Geesaman at Main Event.

 Handwritten notes are part of every Nice on the 9th. These are going to kids fighting cancer in the hospital. Are they adorable or what? — with  Kissy Padron  and  Kate Cormeny Geesaman  at  Main Event .

Handwritten notes are part of every Nice on the 9th. These are going to kids fighting cancer in the hospital. Are they adorable or what? — with Kissy Padron and Kate Cormeny Geesaman at Main Event.

 All the kids were being EXTRA nice to their younger friends! — with  Thomas Lundy ,  Adriana Mejia ,  Rose Lindo ,  Bernie Lindo Wile  and  Christine Burk  at  Main Event .

All the kids were being EXTRA nice to their younger friends! — with Thomas Lundy, Adriana Mejia, Rose Lindo, Bernie Lindo Wile and Christine Burk at Main Event.

 Caleb's friends brought awesome Legos and their creativity to help us. — with  Matt Burns ,  Christine Burk ,  Adriana Mejia  and  Natalie Burns  at  Main Event .

Caleb's friends brought awesome Legos and their creativity to help us. — with Matt Burns, Christine Burk, Adriana Mejia and Natalie Burns at Main Event.

 The Lego table filled up almost as fast as our hearts. — with  Ruby Willoughby Wile ,  Roy Wile ,  Holly Barron  and  Pat Westerman-Weston  at  Main Event .

The Lego table filled up almost as fast as our hearts. — with Ruby Willoughby Wile, Roy Wile, Holly Barron and Pat Westerman-Weston at Main Event.

 The Main Event was the perfect place to spread some love! — with  Kay Tangner ,  Luke Barron ,  Holly Barron ,  Tim Kraus ,  Monica Kawabata Conn  and  Jacob Maxfield  at  Main Event .

The Main Event was the perfect place to spread some love! — with Kay Tangner, Luke Barron, Holly Barron, Tim Kraus, Monica Kawabata Conn and Jacob Maxfield at Main Event.

 It's fun to be nice!! Look how many Legos we collected from our generous friends! — with  Tessa Mathews ,  Bernie Lindo Wile ,  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger ,  Gretchen Sass ,  Courtney Flinton  and  Adam Wile  at  Main Event .

It's fun to be nice!! Look how many Legos we collected from our generous friends! — with Tessa Mathews, Bernie Lindo Wile, Erica DeGiusti Bollinger, Gretchen Sass, Courtney Flinton and Adam Wile at Main Event.

 Start to finish, a tremendous success!! Thank you to everyone who came! We filled an entire minivan full!!! — at  Main Event .

Start to finish, a tremendous success!! Thank you to everyone who came! We filled an entire minivan full!!! — at Main Event.

 The  K Club  and  The Caleb Effect Foundation  couldn't have done it without all of you who stopped by or the amazing team at Main Event. If you need a place to book a party, they get all the thumbs up, high fives, and 10 star reviews! — with Tim Kraus ,  Monica Kawabata Conn ,  Kay Tangner , Holly Barron ,  Adam Wile ,  Bernie Lindo Wile ,  Luke Barron ,  Kate Cormeny Geesaman  and  Main Event  at  Main Event .

The K Club and The Caleb Effect Foundation couldn't have done it without all of you who stopped by or the amazing team at Main Event. If you need a place to book a party, they get all the thumbs up, high fives, and 10 star reviews! — withTim Kraus, Monica Kawabata Conn, Kay Tangner,Holly Barron, Adam Wile, Bernie Lindo Wile, Luke Barron, Kate Cormeny Geesaman and Main Event at Main Event.

 Keep your eyes open for the signs when you need them most. Thank you, Caleb and Keaton. We love you.   One day. — at  Main Event .

Keep your eyes open for the signs when you need them most. Thank you, Caleb and Keaton. We love you.

One day. — at Main Event.


Hi Baby Boy. I love you. I hope above all else you know this and feel my love every second of every day and night. I don’t know if you have seconds, days or nights where you are but I’m never not thinking about you. You have my heart and soul so intertwined in yours it is impossible to separate. I really do hope these pieces of myself already left this world with you. I truly believe they have so you never feel like we aren’t with you. I just wish I had proof. For now, I have to think my evidence is in the fact that I don’t feel things like I did when you were here. All my awe, wonder and excitement are with you. You brought these purest things to me and they were everything magical and perfect that I never knew could exist in this dimension. You gave me enough love to last my whole life and I will spend the rest of my life trying to share that gift with a world who still needs you. Caleb, you were truly all the best parts of Daddy and me and a massive dose of something for which we could never share the credit.

I don’t know how we ever got so exceptionally lucky to be your parents here on Earth. Another great mystery I wish you were allowed to tell us. Did you handpick us or does it work another way? Did you know from the start that your time was limited? Daddy said he thought you knew how desperately we would miss you and that when you cried at night you were really crying for us. Is that why you always gave me hundreds of kisses and squeezed me as tight as you could before I left your room? I always let you stay up later and loved how you always wanted to keep giving me all your smooches. The more responsible parental unit was not nearly as enamored when he had to come break up the love fest, but he knew if he didn’t intervene, neither of us would ever go to sleep. It was so easy being with you, Baby Boy. I’ve never had anyone “get me” so much as you. I loved just being with you. It didn’t even matter what we were doing. I could stare at you “reading” and talking to yourself or watching the wheels from your toys for hours. No one has ever made me laugh or given me so much pure love as you. You were my little buddy. The most fun little bear cub who would’ve probably always stayed quite smaller than any real bear. Being without you now is more than I know how to handle.

Yes, I always come back to this central theme. I miss you, Caleb. God only knows how much. I would give anything in this world or the next to get to kiss you goodnight right now. I still wish I had some sort of Facebook Live stream so I could at least see you again. I am constantly wondering what you are doing in every space of time. Do you still hear Mommy’s daily messages or are you forced to travel further into all the secret places and leave these connections behind?

There is no way to even begin telling you how much you are missed, Baby Boy. More with every second of every day and night. Is it selfish to miss someone so intensely when they are literally your flesh and bone and half of your own DNA? Does this mean I miss a huge part of myself, too? It’s a kind of primal yearning that is more powerful than any of your deepest wishes. You know how we took you to the place with the fire engine, dump truck, tanker, police cars, and all those awesome vroom vrooms with huge tires and buttons that made everything light up or activate computers or sirens? Do you remember how you tried to keep fitting as many vroom vrooms as you could hold in your hands when Mommy hid them in your eggs for you on Easter? It’s like yanking you out of the tallest of all of those trucks and ripping every last vroom vroom from your hands. It’s kind of like that and no one ever explains why they did that cruel thing to you. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask or say “peas,” you never get to see them ever again. People make up their own reasons why you don’t get these things anymore and you spend hours trying to find out what you did to deserve this and how you could’ve stopped the evil people from stealing your greatest joy. I miss you more than you’ve ever loved a vroom vroom from any store or parking lot.

I see those videos of soldiers coming home and surprising their kids after months of being apart. Each child jumps into their parent’s arms and cries and never wants to let go. This is what I want to do with you. I wish someone would surprise me and send you running out from the hallway giggling with every step closer. I would scoop you off the ground so fast into my arms and there would be so many tears. I probably might collapse into the floor with you and never stop giving you kisses. Everything else in the world would disappear and all would be made right. It would be a fierce, ugly cry too intense for Kleenex to contain and too much emotion to even say a word. I would squeeze you so close to me and finally get to see you smile with your whole face while hearing that high-pitched, hysterical laughter again, a mere inch from my own contented expression.

I’m waiting for someone to tell me all of this was just a long snap of psychosis and I am finally cured of this prolonged, wicked torture. Still, experience tells me there are not dreams that last this long or that have this many disturbing details. I know this isn’t how your story ends and I’m trying my hardest to not let it be the end of mine either. Daddy and I are still sharing you just as we did when you were here. I know you were never really ours to keep. I just thought we would get to have you a lot longer than 2 years, 2 months, and 23 days.

As usual, people are also still strongly drawn to you. You have that special something that compels us to become a better version of ourselves. Even those who never met you are overcome by making room in their unsuspecting hearts. People who swear they aren’t “kid people” adore you. How do you do that, Caleb? How do you win over every single person without even trying?

It seems like every month I have less and less time and energy to keep my eyes open and write to you, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about having such a delay. We live in a “hurry up” world where the longer we wait the more likely we risk losing our small window of opportunity. There are many pressures here and things you never had to experience and also other stressors and expectations all my own.

Still, I don’t want any more time to slip by without telling you about Nice on the 9th this month. I know you and your new friend, Keaton, were so hard at work and play. I can only hope you guys were happy with all of the ways you were introduced and remembered. We hope we made you proud.

There are so many things you never knew existed here. One of those things is cancer. You had more than your share of doctor visits and days where you weren’t feeling great because of strep, croup, asthma, the flu, or multiple other common sicknesses. However, except for the time spent immediately after birth, you never spent a whole day or night being stuck in the hospital.

Cancer is one of those enormous topics we never explained to you because you were so little. Then again, there are so many conversations we didn’t get to have. This one isn’t a happy topic but it’s the reality for too many. Your friend, Keaton, and thousands of other kids have had to live at the hospital for days and even months at a time after discovering they had this really awful thing living inside them. When cancer shows up, everything changes.

Instead of just taking regular grape-flavored medicine to fight off the things making them feel yucky, they have to have these things called “ports” installed on their bodies so their medicine can work better and the hospital can test their blood a little easier. There is a lot I could say just about this part of their treatment that would make you uncomfortable, so for now I will just tell you it isn’t very fun and would probably make you say “owwie.”

When you got sick, you got to stay at home in your zip-up, footie jammies, but kids in the hospital don’t get to put on their regular clothes and they don’t get to be at home with their families. They have to wear a gown with snaps on the shoulders and sides, and sometimes they have to put on a little blue mask so the germs don’t jump into their mouth or nose. Our hospital here has gowns with orange tigers on them but I don’t recall ever seeing any with vroom vrooms or superheroes like were on the outfits you got to wear (maybe you can help change that).

Rarely, when you were feeling especially bad, you would let Mommy comb your hair with her fingers and trace the “hurricane” of thickening, mousy strands perfectly swirled around the crown of your head. A lot of kids like Keaton take medicine that makes all of their hair fall out so their mommies and daddies don’t get to soothe them this way. The children have to wear hats or cover themselves in blankets to stay warm. You LOVED to eat but sometimes kids with cancer have a hard time even keeping food in their tummies.

Some little ones are too small to even understand why they feel like this or why there are strange people in their rooms all the time. You were such a social little boy, having new people coming to see you probably wouldn’t have bothered you, but when you have cancer, you don’t get to be around your friends or play in the floor with your trucks. You have to be connected to tubes and drag beeping machines with you everywhere you go. You loved taking in all the new adventures of life, but some toddlers don’t even get to leave their rooms! Even steamy nebulizer masks and ear drops couldn’t make them feel better.

You don’t have any siblings, but the kind of cancer Keaton had made it hard for his body to fight off any of the things that make us sick. His brothers didn’t get to go to fun places like on an airplane to visit family, “twos,” or a playground where you got to make lots of other friends.

This is just a tiny glimpse into the world of cancer. It’s not even close to the whole, gut-wrenching picture of devastation but I don’t think you are allowed to know about all of those kinds of things from where you are now anyway. Mommy volunteered at the hospital for a long time before you were born and witnessed both incredibly tragic events as well as some of the toughest, most beautiful little souls I had ever met before you came along. I was allowed to be included in some of the most private moments a family could ever face and for those times, I will always feel privileged to have been a small part of caring for their kids. Still, there is no way of experiencing everything a family has to face when someone they love has this terrible disease.

I couldn’t just tell you about our project for the month without telling you why this is so important, so now that you have the back story, we can get to the happy parts. LEGOS!!!! Did you know that this month Keaton’s mommy and I got to talk about you on the news? Heather Holeman with KFOR-TV showed your pictures on the screen and let two beautiful boys capture the attention of thousands. With so many heated debates down here, this was one story that united people of all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs. Everyone can agree that giving Legos to kids fighting cancer in the hospital is a good thing, so that is exactly what this Nice on the 9th provided.

Since kids don’t get to go play with their friends at school or leave the hospital, people like the “K Club” bring huge Lego sets to the kids and let them choose one to keep. Little patients spend a lot of time being told what medicines to take, when to eat or drink, and how they have to do almost everything. Getting to pick a Lego set might be the only decision they get to make in a day and it’s also a really good distraction from all of the serious things. Building Lego creations lets kids use their imagination and just be kids. We think that is pretty awesome so we chose the K Club as our charity of choice for October.

Before Keaton joined you in the clouds, he created the K Club with his friend, Kay. Even though he was in the hospital with a cancer that invaded his body since the time he was just a couple of months older than you, he was still thinking about other people more than himself up until his last moments. The “K” in Keaton’s club is for “kindness,” and that is the gift he continues to give to this world. I knew as soon as a friend told me about them that we needed to join forces. When I saw the video I knew somehow you had already found him. Together, you are even more mighty than before.

We spent the 9th at Main Event and we could not have been happier with all of the ways you had people showing up to “be nice” and how Keaton was still silently cheering on incredible displays of kindness. From the very first person who showed up early to drop off Legos on his way to his own cancer treatment, to the last employee who shared his story of overcoming obstacles, it was a massive success.

One of our earlier visitors was a couple who came in and had no idea about Nice on the 9th or the K Club. They saw both of your pictures at the entrance and Mommy told them all about you guys and why there was a growing collection of Legos. The woman told me that they almost didn’t go to Main Event because they were afraid it was for little kids and didn’t want to be the weird adults bowling. Without knowing you or Keaton, she opened her wallet, pulled out $25 and said “Here. I know Legos are expensive.” Wow!

The man with her told us how his son had cancer at 2 and has been fortunate to be cancer free now for many years. Then, as I was introducing our new friends to Keaton’s mommy and daddy, the lady decided she wasn’t finished giving. She asked if she could say a prayer for us and once again gave from her heart. I am MUCH more of a “go to your closet and pray” kind of person, but I knew she was overcome by both of you and wanted to do whatever she could to help. She was sincere and shared many personal details and struggles she and her son with autism have faced over the years. She said, “Where two or more are gathered in your name, God we know you are right here next to us.” I’ve heard this before but why do we say this? Maybe that is just because I don’t stop thinking about things, but I imagine God is also there with one person or a trillion. For what it is worth, I made a note to ask someone about this later. Despite my slight mental distraction, it was pretty surreal to think about God being right next to us. Even heaven is a hard concept for me to imagine but I’ve heard too many near death or end-of-life stories that make me think there has to be more than just nothingness. Things I never would’ve believed before and FAR too many signs that cannot all just be “coincidence” have to add up to something. Still, I think whatever version of heaven with harps and chubby angels (they are called “cherubs”) aren’t my idea of what this place would really be like. My brain was not at all prepared to stop and close my eyes as I try to keep my “game face” on in these situations. However, listening to a perfect stranger asking God to help us through all of our pain of not having our little boys in our arms was more overwhelming than I had imagined for my afternoon. After a quick trip to the bathroom to fix my “waterproof” mascara, I was just in time to greet another friend with a bag full of Legos.

There are so many things I could tell you about the way you guys came together to show us how to live but this is already longer than you ever would sat still to hear. It seemed like every few minutes there was another new friend bringing the conversation deeper and deeper. There was an athletic man who drove a truck for a long time. We talked about being away from home and dealing with issues of loneliness and race. We were both perfectly comfortable talking about scenarios that most people who’ve known each other for years shy away from discussing. He laughed as he told me about how he has to make the lighting right in pictures or sometimes you can’t see him at all. I told him how he was our kind of person and how refreshing it was to discuss our obvious differences in such a light-hearted way.

Even the employees took turns in telling us about their personal lives. One told us how he was doing his best to show his kids a good example; another showed up and his first question was “how can I help?” The same teenage offered to donate all their tips for the night for a future event. What? I remember being a waitress and I definitely couldn’t afford to spare more than a few dollars, much less an entire night of pay.

I really hope you got to hear some of the deep conversations you guys prompted. In all of these visits, not one person brought up all the drama going on in our political world right now and they didn’t try to gauge how much money anyone had or didn’t. Whether you had multiple degrees or a variety of degrees of experience, everyone was just another person with so much more in common than not. It is something I love about these events. We don’t have to have anything in common in order to be nice to support a worthy cause. Gabby Mangrum gets extra bonus points as she insisted that she both pay for my dinner and that I actually sit down for a minute and eat it after the event was over. Thank you.    

Our mission was to collect Legos and notes of encouragement for those still going through a very physically and emotionally draining time. However, I can confidently say that everyone who attended got to leave with a full heart (and for some a few less tears), and so much more than a colorful sticker that showed their participation.

Your friends helped us create 55 letters and pictures, meet some of the friendliest people, and load A HUGE mountain of Legos that filled Keaton’s entire minivan. Last I heard the count was up past 150 Lego sets!!!! The lady we met earlier in the day was right. Legos ARE expensive. This means a LOT of people were EXTRA nice on the 9th!

Please send a very special thank you to the nicest staff at Main Event. We try to use as much of the donations we receive in your memory on spreading kindness and promoting awareness of SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) and the SUDC Foundation, but we had no idea they would be so accommodating. In addition to not charging us a penny to use their clean, centrally-located and FUN facility, there was always someone there asking us if we needed more water; introducing us to their crew; filling out more $10 bonus play cards when the Lego donations kept coming; and ensuring all their employees knew of the two boys with hearts so much bigger than their Earthly bodies could contain in this life. They most certainly earned their “I was nice on the 9th” sticker they proudly wore to honor the day of the month you were borrowed from the stars.

Thank you, Baby Boy for such a meaningful day with old friends and new. Look after all of the people like your teacher, Ms. Shannon, who are fighting cancer. Be especially present with the kids and their families as they make decisions and wrestle with options no parent or child should ever have to face.

Thank you for making that little feather appear right next to the pile of Legos for your friend, Keaton. His buddy, Kay was there when we discovered it on the floor and she showed us the chills it sent all down her arms. That made two feathers for Mommy in one week. Thank you, Baby. Also, I like how you made sure TWO, star balloons made their way onto the ceiling. Perhaps that’s just another coincidence. I wonder how long they will stay there.

You really are making this world a nicer place, Caleb. Keep showing us the way. I’m late again, but I hope you and Keaton had a very happy 9th.

I love you. I always will. I can’t wait to be nice on the 9th and every other day when I’m finally with you again.

One day.

I love you.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#kclubkindness
#niceonthe9th
#fightingcancerwithlegos

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Hugs and Heroes

Hi Baby. I love you. I miss you. I still wonder all the time what you are doing, who you are with, and how you must be keeping everyone smiling just hearing your sweetest giggles. I can’t wait to hear them in person again, too. Daddy and I went to a meeting for people who have a hard time hearing (Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America) and they all got to experience your pure joy, listening to you cracking up on the video with PaPa, popping bubble packs. Someday we will also have your memorial ready and we will celebrate with enough air packs for everyone!

It’s already been a busy month and you made many new friends who were nice on the 9th for you! Did you see everyone throwing the frisbees, writing letters, and bringing snacks and toothpaste for all the brave troops?

I know it has taken me an extra-long time to write this specific message, but I’ve been directing my time to another project that needs my focused attention (or as focused as Mommy can be anymore). I also can’t physically stay awake like I used to be able to push my body to do. I’m sorry. The animals are trying to stand guard for me or act as additional weighted security blankets. Smudge still thinks he is a dog just the way you thought you were a big kid. He really is doing his best and I promise you, so am I. A handful of people have also told me they have been praying that I get some rest so maybe it’s a combination of everything blowing in like these terrible hurricanes and rapidly spiraling out of control. I honestly never knew it was even humanly possible to be awake for the number of hours I’ve been, but the other part of my brain says I have to try harder. I still very much have a need to stay ready to spring into action but there is also a desperate biological shutdown overriding everything as well. It’s like a condescending highway patrol officer I met once who walked up to me swaying awkwardly, and with bowed legs. One side of my brain wants to tell that insecure shmuck to hurry up and give me the ticket already so I can be on my merry way, and the other part knows no matter what I say, he’s not going to listen. I wouldn’t have taught you to be this way to yourself, but I can’t help but to keep demanding my body to “Suck it up, buttercup!” I knew eventually this would happen, but I hate that it is not on my own terms. The migraine martinet wildly shakes his baton and demands closed eyes but my unconscious “rest” jolts them open in a panic. Meanwhile time is ticking by, and no matter how many minutes of seconds have passed, there are only losers in this argument

I know I’ve sent you my other thoughts but I am sorry this one had to take a back seat. I really hope the new things I’m doing make a difference for you and for so many like you. I’ve felt a tiny burst of excitement about this project the way confetti erupts from the present when you type, “congratulations” in Facebook. It may only last a few seconds, but that is also a rarity for Mommy. It’s a different kind of celebration that isn’t filled with all the pure “Caleb love beams” you sent straight to my heart as you jumped into my arms. It is more like that guy doing a silent 3-second dance behind an unsuspecting person, and then going straight back to work. I want to have moments like this but they are also always mixed with sadness for all the that could’ve been, and whys of how this could even be my real world. You might be the only one on heaven or Earth who understands me (or maybe a few of the other Myers-Briggs’ “Ns” of the world, too). However, if I can’t turn off my brain, please help me use it in a way that makes some of this a tiny sliver easier for those who have to dig so much deeper just to make it through the days and nights.

There are many other conflicts raging in this world both here in our little section of the globe and across the entire map. Little Boy, you really are teaching people how to set aside some of those differences to spread your love. People tell Daddy and I that we are amazing, but all we are doing is telling them how you saw your world. Help them see past us to really see you. I don’t know how to paint all the pictures of life that you made so effortlessly beautiful, but I DO try to remember this quote when people have strong opinions that are completely opposite of mine. It says, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.” It is not known who wrote this but I couldn’t agree more.

So many people who come to your Nice On The 9th events might only have this quote in common. We are not a group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, people who vote or don’t; men or women; addicts or those less tempted; red, brown, or white; gay, transgendered or straight; Atheist, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim; dripping in riches or starving on the streets. We are just a group of people being nice because a little boy keeps demanding this for us at least once a month. You never knew or cared about any of these subcategories and you never once asked anyone what they did for a living. However, you MIGHT have grown up to be one of those people who wanted to check out your friends’ vroom vrooms, but I have a feeling you would’ve adored the ones that looked more like Mater, and the ones that went as fast as Lightning McQueen. I will try to see my world through your eyes for the rest of my life. There is nothing I wish more than to have been able to actually watch you see all the marvel and wonder through your curious, blue eyes. I absolutely adored seeing you staring at the wheels of all your little vroom vrooms, and I don’t know if I will ever feel like this is not just some strange dimension I’m trapped inside that isn’t really reality. Will a part of me always be in shock because that’s how big the ripples of your love really are? It can’t really be so that this bizarre series of circumstances equate to not having you here. You have to be secretly tucked away somewhere just waiting to come play.

Speaking of that, maybe that is why you like to send butterflies and  ladybugs to visit. Thank you for the ladybug AND monarch butterfly at the Myriad. I was going to take one last picture of the ladybug being passed around but it flew away and I didn’t see it again.

Right after my ladybug encounter, one of your littlest friends came to give me a hug before he left. I crouched down into a squat and he put his little arms around Mommy’s neck. It was only my second time to ever meet him so I thought he was just going to give me a quick little baby hug or maybe a fist bump as he headed out with his family. Instead, he just stayed there standing there holding on to me. He laid his head of curls on my shoulder and started patting me almost instantly. I could feel his little fingers on my shoulder blades reassuring me that he was happy to be there and perfectly content to send me some extra love. My legs started getting tired so I stood up and held him and hummed a little tune. I couldn’t see his face but his mommy said he was falling asleep and then drooling on my shirt. I didn’t care one little bit about that and neither did he. I just have to wonder if you have been sending people like this to come give Mommy hugs. His mommy told me he doesn’t usually go to people he doesn’t know very well, so I can’t tell if it is just the big kid in me that some kids see or if this was something you devised.

There have been several recent incidences where someone has been there with a hug at just the right time when I needed it most. It is in times like this that it has been impossible to keep my emotions at bay, but with 34 people at the event on Sunday, I did manage for the most part. Still, how did he know? Did you show up to him and tell him to do that? Whew.

Speaking of hugs, I shouldn’t get any further into this story without telling you about what we did this month.

This 9th we chose The Hugs Project, which sends care packages to the military to help them have a few of the necessities and comforts of home. This organization was the first to make cooling ties to send to troops and since then they have sent out over 2 1/2 MILLION of these “hugs”, 800,000 “kisses” (helmet coolers), and more than 3,000 TONS of care package items.

Mommy was never in the military and there are not enough push-ups or drill sergeants yelling in my face that would’ve convinced me to shed the heaping pile of stubbornness in my soul. Yet, I have a deep respect for those who have humbled themselves to accept these challenges and serve their nation above themselves.  

I have views, theories, and beliefs I’ve been taught in my upbringing and many I’ve collected or left behind in my adulthood. I would’ve expected and even encouraged you to explore what you thought was right and challenge me when you thought I was being narrow-minded. That is the beauty of living in a “united” country. We can be vastly different, but unified at the same time.

You were blissfully unaware of this fact, but the United States is not very united at all right now. However, we live in a country that allows free thinking and to agree to disagree. Not everyone in the world is as fortunate, and that might be one of the biggest understatements of the year. People who join the military and get deployed get a rare glimpse of life in another land. Sometimes they get to hand out toys to kids who have nothing. Sometimes they get to make friends with people who look, dress and worship completely different from them but with whom they share common goals.

I can’t even imagine all the people you are meeting or maybe you instantly know and understand everyone where you are. Maybe even passionate disagreements are settled and many surprised people of all kinds of walks of life are gathered peacefully. That is my hope anyway.  

Baby Boy, I wish I could tell you some wonderful story about how everyone here gets along and we never fight but that’s not the kind of world where we live. We are a group of broken people who come from all kinds of different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and beliefs. This makes humanity both a wonderfully interesting place, and also a complex dwelling where we don’t always understand each other’s points of view. Sometimes we don’t speak the same language or have the same customs so even trying to communicate to work out our differences takes major effort. Even with people who we DO share a common language, we still can’t seem to get along!

Sometimes these disagreements turn into bigger events and sometimes this even includes war. This is not a subject we spent much time talking to you about when you were here, but you come from a long line of military and Veterans like Daddy who signed up to serve their country. My Daddy also served in the military and so did Aunt Michelle, Uncle Andy, Aunt Shari, and PaPa. People like them help keep us safe from the bad guys. They raise their right hand and swear to support and defend our nation even if that means sacrificing their life for people they’ve never even met. This is the true definition of bravery.

I want to tell you about another such brave soul. Baby Boy, Mommy and Daddy aren’t the only ones missing someone they love dearly. The Nice On The 9th events are always done in your memory, but we hope you didn’t mind sharing the spotlight and dedicating the event especially to Command Sergeant Major Timothy Allen Bolyard. He gave his life for his country and joined you in the clouds on September 3rd. He had many friends in this life, but on the day he left this world for the next, he was betrayed by people he thought were part of that sacred circle. It also hit home a little harder when I read he was the same age as Daddy.

Mommy never got to meet this man, but he served with someone she knows. His life didn’t last into old age, but just like you, it was chock full of action. I read that CSM Bolyard was deployed (that means he was sent somewhere in order to do his job) seven times, and that he earned six bronze stars. I’ll admit, I had to look up the specifics to see what qualifies someone for this award (Mommy isn’t the best at remembering details learned in American History class in high school). This is what it says: “The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, after December 6, 1941, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight.” This courageous man was already deemed a hero multiple times yet he still kept volunteering to go back to dangerous places. Wow.

You were always more of a high-five kind of boy, but I wouldn’t mind if CSM Bolyard teaches you how to look a person in the eye and shake their hand. In fact, I would be honored if you could shake his hand for all of us, okay, Baby? Tell him thank you for living and serving and trying to better the lives of people he never even knew.

Another soldier who received eight boxes from The Hugs Project in one day wrote a note to The Hugs Project and Karen Stark, the Executive Director relayed his story. "His interpreter said, ‘You have a lot of relatives.' And the soldier said, ‘Well, these aren't my family.' The interpreter said, ‘Well, you have lots of friends.' And the soldier replied, ‘I don't know these people.' And the interpreter could not believe. He said, ‘Why are people doing this for you?' And the soldier said, ‘Because we're all Americans."

This is the America for which I believe CSM Bolyard gave his life. He made many dear friends with people from all over the world and became the humble advisor and coach to those who served alongside him. This dutiful American hero was less than 2 months away from retirement when he was promoted to his permanent command post. Please tell him we all salute him and send love to all who will forever keep his memory close.

I never earned a Bronze Star or attained a hero’s status, but I’m certainly grateful for all of those selfless men and women who have. “Thank you for your service” is a nice start but not nearly what is owed. Freedom is truly not free. All I want from my freedom here is for you to be proud of me, Caleb Lennon. I will do my best to earn this every day. I can’t wait to get an extra-long hug from you again and for you to pat me on the back until my legs get tired and I get to stand with you still resting your soft cheeks against mine for eternity.

I’m dreaming of that day. One perfect truly united day.

I love you. I always will.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#NiceOnThe9th
#kindness
#unity
#military
#thehugsproject
#hero
#sacrifice
#love
#benice

 We dedicate this day to you, CSM Bolyard. With deepest appreciation for your life and service.

We dedicate this day to you, CSM Bolyard. With deepest appreciation for your life and service.

 This is from a 2nd grader!

This is from a 2nd grader!

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 All the Veterans received The Caleb Effect dog tags. Thank you! Someone still had his original military ID!!

All the Veterans received The Caleb Effect dog tags. Thank you! Someone still had his original military ID!!

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 Nice handwriting and he comes up with creative letters!

Nice handwriting and he comes up with creative letters!

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 We thought Caleb might want to have one balloon back before he stole it anyway. I showed the ladybug that joined us that I had wings for the day as well. Thank you everyone for coming! September was once again our largest Nice On The 9th with 34 people, several visitors and a dozen vroom vrooms sent out into the world. I will post more pictures when I finally get a minute to drop off all the goodies as well! See you next month!!

We thought Caleb might want to have one balloon back before he stole it anyway. I showed the ladybug that joined us that I had wings for the day as well. Thank you everyone for coming! September was once again our largest Nice On The 9th with 34 people, several visitors and a dozen vroom vrooms sent out into the world. I will post more pictures when I finally get a minute to drop off all the goodies as well! See you next month!!

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Be Nice-Hug a Veteran/Military Servicemember

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September's Nice On The 9th is dedicated to the brave men and women who are serving (or who have served in the past) in the military.

-Caleb's daddy, NUMEROUS relatives and friends, and many other brave men and women have served in the military (or are still currently serving). Come write letters to someone who is currently deployed or who has proudly served their country in the past. If you have someone in mind who could use some extra love, please PM me. I will only be sharing first names and any info you think would be helpful (years/conflicts served, hobbies, etc) with our letter-writing crew.

-We are also collecting supplies for The Hugs Project. http://www.thehugsproject.com/ Here are a list of items they need for their care packages:
MOST NEEDED ITEMS IN CAPS!!
-DRINK MIX STICKS TO POUR INTO WATER BOTTLES
-GUM
-FULL-SIZE TUBES OF TOOTHPASTE

-Canned food – fruit and soup
-Hygiene Items – Deodorant, 3 blade razors, small bottles of shampoo and body wash, packages of Baby Wipes, toothpaste
-Individual packets of powdered drink
-Band Aids
-Fingernail clippers
-Nuts
-Socks
-Handmade Christmas ornaments and Christmas stockings (we need 1,000 of each for Christmas boxes – we collect these year round)
-Small sewing kits
-Snack crackers
-Peanut Butter (small plastic jars)
-Microwave Popcorn

Join us at the Myriad Gardens Great Lawn (look for the balloons) from 2-4pm. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy one of the last nice days outdoors. Come write a note, drop off a few cans of food, or throw a frisbee with us on the lawn! 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1741177959268790/

Not in Oklahoma? Show us what you are doing and post your pictures to The Caleb Effect Foundation!

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"How About Them Apples?"-August Nice On The 9th-Back To School Style

I'm late as usual in posting this but this topic was chosen for a very special reason that is more emotional than most to discuss. I had to stop multiple times and do something else but it's finally done and pictures are uploaded.

Thank you to everyone who donated supplies to help our schools. If you didn't watch the Facebook Live video, you will notice these pictures don't even quite do it justice. We will post our donation to F.D. Moon Elementary as well when we get to go visit them. Thank you also to everyone who sent me personal notes to share all the ways you were Nice On The 9th in Caleb's honor. We sincerely hope this allows kids a little nourishment in their bodies, paper and pencils in their backpacks, and less time and personal resources being forced out of teachers' humble paychecks. Caleb has some pretty special people spreading love for him. Join us next month on the 9th and stay tuned for a special opportunity for teachers all over the map.


Hi Baby. I love you. Mommy is so worn out she feels like a slug trying to make it through an Ironman. I don’t want to have to work so hard or so slow just to make it a few inches but I know that is what I’m supposed to do for you. However, I realize if I let the sweat and tears win, the salt will dissolve my flesh and leave me silently melting into the ground. I’m not even trying to compete; I just want to cross the finish line for you.

I’m still trying to “be nice,” but there is no way for you to realize how much some people make that ESPECIALLY difficult! I’ve spared you the details from people you know and plenty you don’t who test my patience on a regular basis. Baby Boy, you will figure it out on your own, but if I’m supposed to keep at least part of my brain sane, please go ahead and remove those who don’t deserve a front row to my life or at least send them way up into the balcony (or maybe even into someone else’s balcony).

You are ALWAYS at the top of my mind so luckily for hot heads in traffic with more horsepower than IQ points, I’m more conscious of my reactions. There was one such genius behind me yesterday who decided to honk at me for not turning despite the steady flow of cars that would’ve slammed into me. I didn’t give him the hand gesture or stare down he deserved, but I did say some things to myself that I would’ve done my best not to let you learn. Just as you can’t hear these kinds of words from where you are, neither could the other driver. However, I don’t know if it’s this special moon phase or whatever that I keep hearing about, but please remind everyone 16 and older that a regular green light means you have to wait for people moving in the opposite direction before you get to turn left. Do you remember how I was teaching you the rules of traffic and what each light meant?

Okay, now that that is out of my system I have some other things that have been weighing heavily on my mind and soul. I know I’ve told you this before, but your little fish friends do still come to mind often, “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” Mommy is “wimming,” but just like Dory, I forget what I’m doing and lose my way constantly. Maybe you are used to this by now or you just know you really are thought of literally non-stop. Still, I’m sorry it has taken me this long to have enough energy to write to you and tell you about the 9th.

I miss you in a way that makes my heart physically ache for you. I actually thought I might be having a heart attack the other night, but I think it was just a mixture of missing you and our old friend, acid reflux. Remember the way you used to soak Mommy literally from head to toe until we figured out dairy was a “no go” for both of us?

One of your last appointments confirmed you inherited this condition from both of your parents. If I had known you wouldn’t be here much longer, I wouldn’t have made you go through with the visit or drink the thick, potent, concoction you were NOT at all happy to ingest. I wouldn’t even care if you threw up on me now because that would mean you would still be in my arms. However, because you went, and despite only meeting new friends at the clinic one time, you left an impression on every person you met that day. One of the nurses even remembered how joyful and intelligent you were and wrote in the sympathy card recalling how you were showing off for her and singing “rain, rain go away.”

I knew you were and always will be special but it was nice when other people noticed, too. Every single day we had with you brought more joy than I can ever capture with simple, mortal words. I’ve never laughed so hard or smiled so wide as when you threw your toddler arms around my neck and squeezed every bit of love and worry straight out of my heart. I’ve never been loved by anyone the way you gave your sweetest, pure affections to me. I miss every pat on the back and infectious giggle. I tell you all the time but it’s true. I miss every single thing about you, Caleb Lennon. People didn’t even have a choice whether or not to love you. As soon as they saw you, even from afar, it was over. I hope even though people only get to see you from afar now, they still recognize your spirit and fall in love instantaneously even if they never had the privilege of cuddling you in their arms. I want them to still talk about you and to know you are still helping all of us figure out how to be patient and grateful for the people we take for granted.

Baby Boy, we had lived enough life to experience profound losses (and extremely close potential ones). We really did do our best to take in the little moments and record the time so we could go back and relive the moments together as you grew older. That probably adds to the fact that every second we have to spend without you here is that much more agonizing. Our hearts continue beating even when we wonder how that is even humanly possible after being dealt such a traumatic, horrific blow. We cry with an overflow of love our bodies cannot contain. We know what we are missing not having you here but we also grieve every plan we had already envisioned for you.

You would’ve bid farewell to your friends at daycare this week (Would you have called it “4s?”). I would’ve been sad to leave a place that became so comfortable and fun for you and hugged all your friends and teachers who cared for you so well. I know your teachers would’ve probably given you a tearful departure, too. You would’ve wanted to say goodbye to Nemo one more time, and maybe we would’ve had to linger until every last person received their high five. I would’ve taken you back to visit when we had the chance, but that is not how your story was written. We never knew your last day at “2s” would be your last with all your friends or that we would never get another chance to see you pull out the wooden step all by yourself as you left your fingerprints on the glass and blew Nemo kisses from the other side of the tank. We never would’ve expected to be handed a paper grocery sack with your extra outfits, artwork, and the remnants of your newly emptied cubby after looking into the red faces of your teachers, hugging, sobbing, and holding me upright. Whether you know it or not, we are all still overwhelmed by your mysterious, unexpected departure from this life. There is not a day or night that goes by that I don’t wonder what happened and how I could’ve changed your life from ending.

Caleb Baby, we would’ve emptied your cubby this week, but we would’ve been doing so for a completely different promotion. School starts on Thursday and you would be going to Pre-K with the twins next door who moved in days before we lost you. So many of your friends are starting this brand-new experience and all I want is for you to have it, too. Mommy’s heart is having a very tough time knowing you will never get to go to school. That sentence alone makes Mommy cry. I know how much fun you would’ve had being there. You absolutely LOVED learning and somehow you just knew things Daddy and I never taught you. We got such a kick out of watching you standing and focusing your whole attention on “The Letter Show” (AKA Wheel of Fortune) as you repeated the letters that were guessed. Since you already knew your letters and many other things, maybe you really would’ve been bored as Ms. Shannon predicted for your future as you made your way to “real school.” Even so, you would’ve been perfectly content to “read” to yourself and interact with the group when they needed you. Who knows, maybe you WOULD already be sounding out the words or keeping the teachers on their toes as they thought they could still spell out words they didn’t want the class to understand yet. Whatever you would’ve soaked into that beautiful mind or not, I just know you would’ve had such a ball being around a whole school of new friends.

Would you be sitting a little more still for Mommy so she could give you a fresh, new school haircut or would I have been too frustrated to try and continue to do it on my own as you squirmed as the buzzing got closer to your ears? Would you still let me spike your hair into the most adorable little mohawk and seal it in place with your gel? Would your hair be getting darker like I’ve watched happen recently with some of your friends? What kind of oversized backpack would you have picked to swallow your petite frame? I imagine you would’ve wanted to write your name by yourself on everything that was required to be labeled.

Would you be picky about your outfits or dress yourself in a mismatched hodgepodge (to be clear, I would’ve let you wear whatever you wanted)? What would you insist we had to buy that wasn’t on your list? I have a feeling you would want us to pick up something to bring to your new teacher and they would have to work hard to pretend you aren’t one of their favorites. I also know you would’ve tucked away a few vroom vrooms as the “Hot Wheel Hitchhikers“ became unofficial “Show and Tell” stars.

Would I cry knowing you were growing up so quickly or feel guilty for not spending enough time together? Would we have already moved so you could’ve attended another school district? Would you have known other kids in the neighborhood? There was a back-to-school party at the pool today. We didn’t go (as we haven’t all summer), but would you have mastered “wimming” with the rest of the kids by now? Would we have forgotten you ever called it “wimming” as I got farther and farther behind in making you a baby book? What kinds of books would you want us to read to you now or would you have clung to a few old favorites?

I hear people complain about what their kids are required to bring to school or how they had to shop at multiple stores to find everything. I would buy anything you wanted, go to every store in the city, and pick up 3 of everything your teacher requested if I could bring you back. I think about the teachers as well. Which teacher will never know they are missing out on an entertaining angel that should be in their class? Who will never get to see how excited you became when you saw an orange, school bus squeal to a halt? You would’ve had to wait one more year to actually get to ride them but I can just picture you standing at the window or jumping up and down as you got out of the car from the drop-off lane! They would be so close every day and you would get to wave and smile at them with your whole face!

Yes, this year, the first day of school is going to be a rough one for Mommy and Daddy. It combines everything you love and all the things we will never get to watch you experience. Mommy is so excited for all your friends who are about to start school for the very first time. She hopes you watch over each of them and guide them to be nice and to remember the kids that are sitting by themselves or who need the friendship and love they may not receive anywhere else. I just wish so badly I could be there to watch you go through these milestones, too.

Baby Boy, we can’t have you pose with your new teacher or have a chalkboard announcing your first day of school. We can’t buy number two pencils, 24-count Crayola crayons, or boxes of Kleenex you would need replenished in the first month at Pre-K. I hate these facts more than I can ever express to you. We don’t get to enroll you or buy all the new things on your list, so this 9th we made sure you would be attending elementary, middle, AND high school another way.

What in the world do I mean? Well, I hope you already know, but we picked four schools with a lot of kids who have to make tough decisions this time of year. Some families might be able to buy the paper, pencils, and folders on their supply lists, but this might also mean they have to skip dinner if they buy everything they need for school. Too many teachers give their time, love, and what’s left of their modest paychecks just to have to the necessities (those are things you have to have) for their class.

We know how much you loved to learn so we thought you would want to help as many kids do that as possible. We wish we could have funded every school, but we have some ideas for that still to come. The Shriner’s were gracious enough to let us use their building (thank you, Mike) to collect school supplies and you wouldn’t even believe how full each school’s table became by the end of the night. You had SO MANY generous friends show up to bring things like crayons, index cards, and glue sticks and even more who dropped off bags of goodies early or donated extra funds for this project.

You would not be surprised to know that we were also strategic in buying the limit of each of the best deals from stores around town so our money could stretch a little further. We wanted to buy as many Clorox wipes, notebooks, and wish list items as possible with the funds we had available (Something we definitely would’ve taught you as you got older and started earning your own money).

If you would’ve been bored in Pre-K, now you can participate in the science lab at Del-City High School, too. That’s right. One of the classrooms who will now know you will be Ms. Geary’s. Remember how Ms. Maria’s food coloring experiment at “2s” made your mouth stay open because you couldn’t believe what you were watching? Ms. Geary also coaches track so now you can watch in amazement at the bubbly concoctions that change colors in a glass beaker OR at how fast her girls’ make it around the field!

We’ve delivered all but one school’s supplies but you will have plenty of options to make a difference this year. We hope you show up to Roosevelt Middle School and give the kids confidence to learn how to present themselves for an interview, make lifelong friends, or conquer English. We hope the notes of encouragement for the teachers and kids help inspire kindness as kids begin their formal education at Apollo or F.D. Moon Elementary. Fill their little bellies with snacks and let them know their school is a safe place to be themselves and learn to trust caring adults. Be with them when they feel like no one loves them or understands all their challenges they’ve already had to face in their short lives. Let them know you are there to help guide them even if we never know it was of your doing.

My little Baby Bear Cub, you will never know just how inspiring you really are. Happy 9th just a few days late!

We may be slugging through Thursday and it will probably feel like someone is slugging us over and over, but I hope all that is reflected is the love you’ve shown us how to share and the excitement for learning you realize every child deserves. Keep scooting us along, even if it’s only one millimeter at a time.

Little Boy, you never made it to school but you will always be the wisest person I’ve ever met.

I love you, Sweet Boy.

One day.

Love, Mommy
XXXOOOXXX

P.S. Mommy wrote this while being fueled by Veggie Straws and mangoes. It’s not “owenj ice,” but I didn’t think you would mind me settling for the dried variety.

#calebeffect
#niceonthe9th
#weloveteachers
#backtoschool
#thefirstdayyouwillneverhave
#sendingotherstherewiththethingstheyneed
#helpusmakeittothefinishline
#sluglife
#oneday

 Happy 9th!

Happy 9th!

 The best one I could get with the babies! You win the youngest participant of the month award! We love how you are teaching your sweet love bugs to be nice! — with  Gabrielle Luebke  and  Christian Mangrum .

The best one I could get with the babies! You win the youngest participant of the month award! We love how you are teaching your sweet love bugs to be nice! — with Gabrielle Luebke and Christian Mangrum.

    Handwritten notes are part of every Nice On the 9th. Here are a few for the kids and teachers. — with  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger ,  Kissy Padron  and Alyssa Moss .

 

Handwritten notes are part of every Nice On the 9th. Here are a few for the kids and teachers. — with Erica DeGiusti BollingerKissy Padron andAlyssa Moss.

    THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS DONORS!! A few sent from other states and countries!! — with Rose Lindo ,  Suzanne Annesley ,  Cody Roberts West  and  Annie Lindo .

 

THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS DONORS!! A few sent from other states and countries!! — withRose LindoSuzanne AnnesleyCody Roberts West and Annie Lindo.

    A lot of people got to experience their first Nice On The 9th this month! Thanks for coming! — with  Luke Barron .

 

A lot of people got to experience their first Nice On The 9th this month! Thanks for coming! — with Luke Barron.

    SO MANY SUPPLIES!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!

 

SO MANY SUPPLIES!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!

    This kid is going places. I want to be cool like him when I grow up. Ha. — with  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger .

 

This kid is going places. I want to be cool like him when I grow up. Ha. — with Erica DeGiusti Bollinger.

    Vroom vrooms with new friends. Thanks Papa  Roy !— with  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger  and  Roy Wile .

 

Vroom vrooms with new friends. Thanks Papa Roy!— with Erica DeGiusti Bollinger and Roy Wile.

    Are they adorable or what? — with  Kissy Padron .

 

Are they adorable or what? — with Kissy Padron.

    Awwwwww. — with  Tessa Mathews  and  Rose Lindo .

 

Awwwwww. — with Tessa Mathews and Rose Lindo.

    I won't tell you why they are laughing... — with  Suzanne Annesley .

 

I won't tell you why they are laughing... — with Suzanne Annesley.

    Free wagon rides. Even teaching the baby dolls how to "be nice." — with  Kissy Padron  and  Thomas Lundy .

 

Free wagon rides. Even teaching the baby dolls how to "be nice." — with Kissy Padron and Thomas Lundy.

    These boys were great helpers! — with  Candice Grier Mason .

 

These boys were great helpers! — with Candice Grier Mason.

    He earned his free sticker! — with  Roy Wile .

 

He earned his free sticker! — with Roy Wile.

    So glad to have them in the same state again. Thank you for being extra nice! These guys bought supplies and let our friends who couldn't make it drop off their bags of goodies at their casa. — with  Thomas Lundy ,  Sabrina Conrady ,  Rose Lindo and  Kylie Schween Dixon .

 

So glad to have them in the same state again. Thank you for being extra nice! These guys bought supplies and let our friends who couldn't make it drop off their bags of goodies at their casa. — with Thomas LundySabrina ConradyRose Lindoand Kylie Schween Dixon.

    Just say "no,"  Thomas !

 

Just say "no," Thomas!

    Give this cutie a balloon and he will smile all night!— with  Kissy Padron .

 

Give this cutie a balloon and he will smile all night!— with Kissy Padron.

    Our volunteers sorted a mountain of supplies! Thank you!! — with  Gabrielle Luebke .

 

Our volunteers sorted a mountain of supplies! Thank you!! — with Gabrielle Luebke.

 A surprise visitor came from Chicago to participate! — with  Adam Wile ,  Steve Lindo  and  Rose Lindo .

A surprise visitor came from Chicago to participate! — with Adam WileSteve Lindo and Rose Lindo.

    Didn't know this sweet lady was coming either! — with  Sandy Meier .  

 

Didn't know this sweet lady was coming either! — with Sandy Meier.
 

 Nice On The 9th is never complete without vroom vrooms! The kids got to take one or learn about kindness by sharing with a friend. — with  Hot Wheels .

Nice On The 9th is never complete without vroom vrooms! The kids got to take one or learn about kindness by sharing with a friend. — with Hot Wheels.

 It was a come and go event but we had a big crew that helped us the whole night! THANK YOU! — with  Rose Lindo ,  Alyssa Moss ,  Roy Wile ,  Adam Wile ,  Hailee Lindo ,  Ruby Willoughby Wile ,  Suzanne Annesley ,  Kissy Padron ,  Steve Lindo  and  Tessa Mathews .

It was a come and go event but we had a big crew that helped us the whole night! THANK YOU! — with Rose LindoAlyssa MossRoy WileAdam WileHailee LindoRuby Willoughby WileSuzanne AnnesleyKissy PadronSteve Lindo and Tessa Mathews.

  Adam Wile , AKA Lady Liberty. :) — with  Rose Lindo  and  Adam Wile .

Adam Wile, AKA Lady Liberty. :) — with Rose Lindo and Adam Wile.

    Our volunteers hard at work sorting! Raising them right,  Kissy Padron  and Jake! — with  Ruby Willoughby Wile .  

 

Our volunteers hard at work sorting! Raising them right, Kissy Padron and Jake! — with Ruby Willoughby Wile.
 

 Always so good to see this sweet face. — with  Candice Grier Mason  and  Rose Lindo .

Always so good to see this sweet face. — with Candice Grier Mason and Rose Lindo.

  Makaria  wins the prize for best placed Nice On The 9th sticker! Thanks for coming by and sharing the love!

Makaria wins the prize for best placed Nice On The 9th sticker! Thanks for coming by and sharing the love!

 We go waaaaaaaaaaaaay back! Thanks for coming, Mama Meier! — with  Rose Lindo  and  Sandy Meier .

We go waaaaaaaaaaaaay back! Thanks for coming, Mama Meier! — with Rose Lindo and Sandy Meier.

 Little bit did NOT want to tie up her "dress." Stubborn like her auntie. :)

Little bit did NOT want to tie up her "dress." Stubborn like her auntie. :)

 Thank you for sharing this quote,  Lisa Macri . It has never been more true as it is with our schools. We can all do something. Also, we filled 4 vehicles with all kinds of things from the schools' wish lists. Ironic that when we finished shopping this car with the butterfly sun shade was parked in front of us?? Hmmm.

Thank you for sharing this quote, Lisa Macri. It has never been more true as it is with our schools. We can all do something. Also, we filled 4 vehicles with all kinds of things from the schools' wish lists. Ironic that when we finished shopping this car with the butterfly sun shade was parked in front of us?? Hmmm.

 If you missed our Facebook Live video, here is a pic of 3 out of the 4 tables full of donations!

If you missed our Facebook Live video, here is a pic of 3 out of the 4 tables full of donations!

    Handwritten notes courtesy of these guys and gals! — with  Rose Lindo ,  Hailee Lindo ,  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger ,  Christian Mangrum  and Suzanne Annesley .  

 

Handwritten notes courtesy of these guys and gals! — with Rose LindoHailee LindoErica DeGiusti BollingerChristian Mangrum andSuzanne Annesley.
 

 Ummmm. is it just me or does the sun glowing in a particular shape??

Ummmm. is it just me or does the sun glowing in a particular shape??

 Delivery #1!  RooseveltMiddle School ! Thanks for the tour, Scott Farley! P.S. You guys should come by just purely for the entertaining lady at the front desk. I was admiring the statue of the kids on the bench and she said "the only quiet ones we've got." HAHAHAHAHA!! — with  The Caleb Effect Foundation .

Delivery #1! RooseveltMiddle School! Thanks for the tour, Scott Farley! P.S. You guys should come by just purely for the entertaining lady at the front desk. I was admiring the statue of the kids on the bench and she said "the only quiet ones we've got." HAHAHAHAHA!! — with The Caleb Effect Foundation.

    Ivana came running up to us on our tour because she was so excited to take a picture! She already knew all about  The Caleb Effect Foundation  because of her friend,  Kara . It was so nice to meet you, Ivana, and thanks for telling her about us, Kara! — with  Ivana Beatty  and  Adam Wile .

 

Ivana came running up to us on our tour because she was so excited to take a picture! She already knew all about The Caleb Effect Foundation because of her friend, Kara. It was so nice to meet you, Ivana, and thanks for telling her about us, Kara! — with Ivana Beatty and Adam Wile.

 Stop #2-  Del City High School  We got to meet Ms. Geary and pretend to be creating more supplies in her lab. It takes a special teacher to do her job and we hope the notes and supplies help start her year off well. In all her spare time (ha) she is also the track coach. We went to several stores looking for stopwatches from her wish list but struck out. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if anyone wanted to buy a few for her online (or you can ship it to me and I will make sure she gets them).

Stop #2- Del City High School We got to meet Ms. Geary and pretend to be creating more supplies in her lab. It takes a special teacher to do her job and we hope the notes and supplies help start her year off well. In all her spare time (ha) she is also the track coach. We went to several stores looking for stopwatches from her wish list but struck out. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if anyone wanted to buy a few for her online (or you can ship it to me and I will make sure she gets them).

 Stop #3-Apollo Elementary I think you could safely say they were surprised to be receiving so many donations. Special thanks to Jennifer Seal  with  Putnam City Foundation  for coming to our Nice On The 9th event to thank us in person. It means more than you know to have your appreciation and support of  The Caleb Effect Foundation . We hope you see Caleb's bright spirit spreading through your classes and out into the community. — with  Rose Lindo .

Stop #3-Apollo Elementary
I think you could safely say they were surprised to be receiving so many donations. Special thanks toJennifer Seal with Putnam City Foundation for coming to our Nice On The 9th event to thank us in person. It means more than you know to have your appreciation and support of The Caleb Effect Foundation. We hope you see Caleb's bright spirit spreading through your classes and out into the community. — with Rose Lindo.

 Stop #4 complete! My niece,  Hailee  helped me unload all of these wonderful donations to F.D. Moon Elementary. Pictures don’t really do it justice to reveal just how many school supplies filled my car. Thank you to everyone who was extra nice this 9th and to  Aaron Kellert  for letting us come by and meet you and a few kiddos.

Stop #4 complete! My niece, Hailee helped me unload all of these wonderful donations to F.D. Moon Elementary. Pictures don’t really do it justice to reveal just how many school supplies filled my car. Thank you to everyone who was extra nice this 9th and to Aaron Kellert for letting us come by and meet you and a few kiddos.

 Our cool kid on the bus. It was for senior citizens, but the driver was so nice to let him come inside and explore.

Our cool kid on the bus. It was for senior citizens, but the driver was so nice to let him come inside and explore.

 You in your cubby at school. Wish it was still yours.  #SoHardToSeePictures   #CalebsCubby   #GodIMissYou

You in your cubby at school. Wish it was still yours.
#SoHardToSeePictures
#CalebsCubby
#GodIMissYou

 Your Elmo backpack is ready when you are. Wish you would just jump out from hiding in the hallway and scare us in the best way we could ever imagine. I love you, Baby Boy. One day.

Your Elmo backpack is ready when you are. Wish you would just jump out from hiding in the hallway and scare us in the best way we could ever imagine. I love you, Baby Boy. One day.

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Be Nice-Buy Some Crayons!

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Who: You and all your friends

What: Help us supply crayons and essentials for kids who need them. Wish lists for each school are below (posting lists as they are received). As we do with every event, we will be including handwritten notes of encouragement. Bring your littles (or bigs) to come draw a picture or two and tell kids and teachers how much they rock!

When: August 9th from 5:30-7:30pm

Where: India Shriners
3601 NW 36th St,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112

Why: Because four local schools (and many others) have many kids who struggle to have the supplies they need to learn. If you haven't been inside a classroom recently, have a teacher show you the books being held together with duct tape or tell you how they bought all the copy paper after the first two weeks using their own money. If a child came up to you at the store asking if you would buy them a pack of glue sticks or the same kind of crayons all their classmates have, would you do it? You may not get to hear their formal requests, so consider this as such. Close your eyes and imagine the hundreds of little faces that will receive these supplies and smile knowing you are doing something to help our future generation as you add a few extra items to your cart. We are also very happy to accept online purchases or pass along gift cards (we hear Target and Wal-Mart are favorites). 

WISH LISTS!
Apollo Elementary: 
-Elmer’s glue sticks
-Crayola crayons –16 ct and 24 ct
-Crayola washable markers – 8 ct
-colored pencils – 12 ct
-#2 pencils
-composition notebooks – wide-ruled
-spiral notebooks – wide-ruled – 70 pages
-dry erase markers
-small school boxes (5" x 8")
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Del City High School:
-Pencils/pens
-Lined paper
-Copy paper
-Hand sanitizer
-Glue sticks
-Staplers
-Expo markers
-Binder clips
-Index cards
-Colored pencils
-Crayons
-Markers
-Composition books
-Kleenex
-Metric rulers
-Stop watches
-Sharpies
-Snacks for teachers to keep in their desk to feed hungry kids
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F.D. Moon Elementary:
-No. 2 Pencils
-Pink Erasers
-Broad Tip Markers
-Glue/Glue Sticks
-Box of Crayons (24/Pkg)
-Washable Markers
-Rulers
-Highlighters
-3x5 index cards
-Scissors
-Pencil Box/Bag
-Pocket Folders
-Wide Ruled Spiral Bound Notebooks
-Composition Notebooks
-Packages of Ruled Loose Leaf Paper
-Pencil Sharpeners
-Printer paper
-Blue or black ink pens

MOST FORGOTTEN ITEMS:
-Boxes of Tissues
-Bottles of Hand Sanitizer
-Clorox Wipes
-Snacks of all kinds for the little ones
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Roosevelt Middle School:

-Green, purple, blue, orange pocket folders as many as possible
-3 ring binders
-Colored pencils
-One subject notebooks
-Pencils
-Glue sticks
-Loose leaf college ruled paper
-Scissors
-Colored copy paper
-Cap erasers
-Paper clips
-Post its
-Construction paper (all colors)
-Dish soap (used to clean paint brushes)
-Anti-bacterial wipes
-Germ-x
-Tissue
-Dry erase markers
-Dry erase cleaner
----------------------------
See you on the 9th! 
Wear your Caleb Effect shirt if you have one!

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814 Days With You. 814 Without.

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Feel like I should preface this with a note that I do not want phone calls or texts and that I'm not going to harm myself. 
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Hi Baby. I love you. I miss and love you more than I can ever possibly convey. I hope that even if you are traveling further into all the places I can’t know about until I’m finally finished here, you can still feel how much I love you. I do see all the signs you are sending but there is still doubt if it is really you. I want to believe these and I know sometimes I really do, but the other part of my brain still wants all the synapses to deliver the hard proof directly into my soul so I can really feel it even if I have trouble believing with my eyes. 

Do I just see these and want it to be you so badly that I am willing to trust them? Am I just attuned to notice more things now than before or would those perfectly-timed feathers and roses have been there regardless if you left us or not? Please don’t leave me. My heart is squeezed so tightly missing you. I’m completely overwhelmed and depleted in every way. Another unfolded pile of clothes that will sit in baskets for weeks, stacks of well-intentioned projects abandoned on every flat surface, and plants showing signs that we aren’t capable of tending to their basic needs either. Life keeps ticking by even though ours stopped when you left this world. It’s truly not fair. What a huge disrespect for time to keep moving without you. 

I’ve said it before but it is even truer today. Doesn’t the sun know you aren’t here anymore? How dare it still shine? Don’t the birds realize your sweetest face is still not here to kiss? Why do they still go about singing, fluttering, taking leisurely wide-winged rides, and floating idly in sync with the breeze? Nature acts as if nothing ever happened but we know the most beautiful, little creation we’ve ever seen is the one so obviously missing from our laps. I curl into a ball and hold tight my knees instead, but my heart and arms ache for you and will continue to be devastated until my last breath is expelled from my lungs. I wish upon every attempted, peaceful painted sky and look for you to guide me through another lonely, paralyzing night. My body is being forced to sleep more, but with that comes panic and sweat, guilt, and horrific sights that play on repeat. Too many thoughts of what happened to you after the small-statured man took you away and all the ruthless events before and after. We didn’t know him or if he was trustworthy being alone with you. We didn’t know if he was a reckless driver or had evil intentions. However, we also weren’t given the typical options that are normally standard protocol in these situations. The knot is raging but I’m trying my best to be okay.

Today is a day I didn’t want to arrive, and tomorrow will be even worse. The minutes and activities all around keep going on like I’m inside a terrible movie that keeps me tense and cringing. I still can’t believe this is really our life and that this world that once had the privilege of knowing you fully and completely has now limped by without you for the same span of Earthly intervals. It feels eerily similar to when your first birthday here came without you. I seriously thought the day wouldn’t actually come because that would be far too cruel. Maybe the world would come to an end so we wouldn’t have to stare this milestone right in the eye. But it did and so will this. 

I just want to hold you and be with you now. I feel stuck here because I don’t want to go on anymore. So many days my tears cry out to God or whoever else is in the room, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.” I rarely tell you these kinds of things in these messages, but I’ve already censored this more than you realize. I just miss you too much, Caleb. You are so easy to love that not having you to kiss with your giggly, affectionate lips or nuzzle under my chin is not something I will ever be used to or “through.” That love is why I stay here and why I also know I owe it to you to tell everyone about you. You deserve a baby book, a memorial, and a functioning non-profit. No one else will do it the way I will, and no one knows all the adorable stories and love the way you so joyfully gave them to me. I promise you all of those things will be complete someday. Truthfully, I still want more than that, Caleb. I just want you back. I want our old life back. I know I’m not supposed to want that. Daddy even says we don’t want you back here, we just want to be where you are, but we were happy here together. 

Either way feels like losing. If I live it’s like plowing over you. It’s not the same. No one can really know what you’re like just by telling everyone or showing them your videos. However, if that’s all I have, your love warrants for them to at least know you in that way. People are forgetting that you were here or that our lives are forever changed, but we will never forget you. At least two people at work even asked Daddy how his Father’s Day was this year. Wow.

Last week I visited prisons and my mind has been too wrapped up in other things that I haven’t told you much about that experience. Everyone there was read their rights and told why they were being sentenced, but I still wonder what Daddy and I did to deserve this punishment. As I’ve said before, losing you is a lifetime sentence with no parole.

814 days with you and now 814 without. It’s a truth that makes me want to vomit and never stop. My body is exhausted and yet somehow it hasn’t collapsed into a flimsy pile the way it feels like it should’ve by now. I always said that if you left this world before me, they would have to bury me with you. However, when your worst nightmare comes true, you don’t really get that option. I still don’t have that choice and I’m beginning to wonder if your memorial will ever be complete. I don’t understand how my heart continues beating while no one on Earth can tell me why yours stopped.

I heard recently that you aren’t supposed to say certain things “shouldn’t” have happened because we are supposed to just accept that they do, but apparently, I’m not as enlightened. So, in my lowly imperfect opinion, no, it’s not supposed to be this way. I miss you too much. So many milestones and things I wish for you that you will never have and that I will never get to watch you achieve. It’s summer which means you would be wearing new adorable bathing suit trunks, “wimming” and splashing until you got too cold in the water. I can almost hear your sweet laughter and it makes me hope that heaven has the biggest pool where we never get wrinkled or cold. 

Even Daddy has a new bike and I can’t help but think about how I wish you would’ve had a chance to ride one, too. I see the carefree faces of your friends and the other kids getting taller, playing sports, running and pretending, or taking silly pictures on vacation. While I truly love seeing them and feeling an easy connection as “the big girl” just eager to play, I come home so crushed wanting these same things for you, and for us as a family, too. I think about how often I hear parents say things like “stop growing up” or being “heartbroken” that their kids are having another birthday. I know they don’t mean anything by it but I want to tell all of them that it’s not a BAD thing to have their kids long enough in this world to let them grow up. I want to remind them that heartbreak and emotions from another candle on the cake is something Daddy and I would give anything to feel if our special person came back from being missed at every birthday, picture, and dream. The guilt I feel when someone says “I managed to keep them alive again for another year” only makes me repeat in my head “yea, well, I didn’t.” For that, I am sorry, Caleb Lennon. I know everyone says it’s not my fault and that I would’ve moved heaven and Earth if I could’ve saved you, but I still feel like I failed you. They say I won’t get answers in this lifetime, but what if they are wrong? I will never stop trying to figure out why this happened to you and what stole you from us. Your two youngest cousins are now both older than you, but no matter how many days and years pass while I’m still here, you will always be the wisest person I’ve ever met. 

I realize this is not a happy message, Caleb, but you should know that despite all of this, you are still inspiring all kinds of joy. I’m sorry Mommy is telling you this kind of truth, but sometimes there are things I have to get out of my head so they don’t put me in a straitjacket and leave me rocking back and forth in the corner of a demented facility. Sometimes this is what I have to do to make it to a day that I’d rather not see. I do it for you, and my little Booger Bear, you are ALWAYS worth it. All my days in this new, foreign territory will be lived for you. Someday I will never count another day that goes by because we will be never be apart again.

I love you with all my heart and soul. Now and forever, Baby Boy.

One day.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

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A 9th Mixed With Sadness, Signs, Stories, and Support

Hi Baby. I love you. I miss you more than words can adequately describe in this world. Yesterday was the kind of day that tugged on our heartstrings even more than our typical 9th, and one mixed with a more somber tone as well.

Yesterday, your baby cousin became older than you. You lost another place in the family chronology, and my heart sank to another depth I didn’t want to explore. I want her to live and thrive but I want you to be there playing and growing, too. This is something that will never make sense to me and one I know I will wish over and over during every happy moment with her. I know you guys would’ve had an absolute BALL playing and pretending together. My heart aches not ever getting that chance. In the same moment, I am also grateful she was sent here, and I know it did everyone’s heart well to see her in her purple t-shirt “dress” as she spread love for you.

As you also know, Grandma Faye is with you now so we all got together to celebrate her life yesterday as well. It was impossible to be fully mentally present for a variety of reasons, but I did my best. There were intense, unpleasant memories from searching for a cemetery for you, and that had Mommy’s anxiety at full throttle even before I left the house. Several other factors were not helping the situation as well but I’ll spare you those details.

There is still an uneasiness about everything and I will always be kicking myself for NOT going to visit Grandma on the day we had planned. We were going to surprise her on the 4th but Daddy’s bike showed it was due to arrive early and fear of it being stolen kept us away. I had decided I would just go see her by myself but another kind of fear dashed those plans, too. Instead, we were going to go see her at her new place on Saturday, but she died the next day. I even specifically mentioned “there might not be a Saturday for Grandma,” but fears won the day. I of all people know that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us. Grandma and I had even talked about the fact that her age meant she was in the final chapter of her life. Still, I wish I would’ve had a chance to see her one more time, to hug and kiss her, tell her “well done,” and that it was okay to let her weakened and aching body give up the struggles of this life.

I still don’t quite understand why since losing you, I haven’t been consumed by rage like I was when I lost my daddy or others I will always love. Maybe it is because I am still too in a fog or all of it was used up on the ME’s office and the (insert all the naughty words here) that was so callous when we were “cemetery shopping.” Even thinking about it makes my heart race so Mommy’s blood was boiling in my veins before I even arrived. My head was going in a million and one different directions but on my way into the chapel a very well-placed white feather was waiting for me in the grass. Thank you.

Since it was the 9th, Mommy wore your Caleb Effect shirt and made sure to choose a blue one since that was Grandma’s favorite color. Times like this make me wonder if you would’ve had a favorite as well. Do you have a favorite now? I hear that in heaven there are even more colors than we have on Earth so maybe your favorite color is a color I don’t even know exists and one that is too beautiful to see with human eyes.

I had been to this chapel for other services in the past but hadn’t remembered the name. The “Chapel of the Rose,” interesting. It was another warm July day outside but it gave the stained-glass roses appear even brighter having the sun glowing behind it. Grandma had a variety of friends and family at her service and the purest white, plump roses covering her baby blue casket. It was a short service which seemed appropriate since Grandma wasn’t the type who liked a lot of attention or people fussing over her. Even when Daddy and I would bring her cheap fast food she tried to pay us for it but she knew it was an argument she wasn’t going to win. After it was over, “Aunt Gin-ny” came up to me with one of the oversized roses in her hand. She said “Grandma wanted me to give this to you.” I didn’t see anyone else with a rose so that hit me pretty hard. Wow. Please tell her “thank you” for Mommy. I feel special and guilty all at the same time. Help me carry out some of the ideas that are brewing, Baby Bear.

Whew. I gave out all my hugs and then we were off to be Nice On The 9th. I couldn’t leave the rose in the car to wither so I made a mad dash home before meeting up with our little crew. Much to my surprise, I also retrieved another package from your friend, Jennifer, with items sent for the Exodus House and New Day Camp!

We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all of our projects for the 9th without your friends with big hearts so please show up to them in ways only you are able. You probably already know this by now, but yesterday our focus was on prison outreach. This is not something I really ever thought very much about, but several months ago Daddy felt like this was a topic that needed your attention. There were several other signs immediately following this that confirmed this should be on our radar but we originally intended to highlight this in April. We didn’t have all the pieces we needed to do the event the way we wanted so we decided to postpone it at the last second. Mommy has never been great at remembering details but April was the month we chose to be Nice On The 9th to the elderly instead. Grandma Faye was one of the people we visited that day. If the topics were swapped from April to July, we wouldn’t have been able to surprise Grandma with a visit. Yet another “wow moment.”

Want to hear another “wow?” Mommy wrote out 9 example notes and letters to be given to kids who have one or more parent in prison, those who are newly released from prison, and people still currently serving time. Since we lost Grandma 4 days before the event, we thought it would be a nice tribute to her to have at least 91 letters and pictures created in honor of each of her years of life. I honestly didn’t know if this would be a realistic goal and had prepared myself for writing additional letters if the target was too lofty. However, your friends absolutely rocked it and made 97 letters and pictures to take to the various groups.

We only had time to visit the Exodus House, but Mommy will be taking the other donations and letters to the other groups on her own next week. We met everyone at the Exodus House and got to hear how special each of these notes is to the new tenants. I already told you how something so simple became a turning point for Tony Altizer, a graduate and now Facilities Manager, but it bears repeating. After reading the note that was left for him on his new bed he said, “I had no idea what love looked like. That’s what addiction is. When I was shown somebody loved me and didn’t know me, that was a new concept to me.”

The Exodus House shows people that kind of love and we wanted them to feel the magical powers of yours, too. Former inmates who are typically condemned from society after serving a prison sentence are provided a 6-month, residential program where they are taught life skills, tools for dealing with addiction, unhealthy relationships, a positive spiritual connection with a God who loves them, and all kinds of other amazing things that would make this message even longer than it is getting.

I know this topic is outside the realm of comfort for many. It probably would’ve stretched the old me, too. Why would we help people who have committed crimes or caused hurt to themselves, their families, and innocent people?

When planning your memorial service there were people who hadn’t always treated us or some of the people we love most very fairly. Daddy and I were talking about if we should invite them and all we could think about was that you didn’t have any grudges. You wouldn’t care if everyone in the entire world was invited so we let everyone know it was an open invitation to honor and celebrate you the way you would’ve wanted. That lesson, Baby Boy is something we’ve carried with us and one that first made me coin the phrase “The Caleb Effect.” Every “Caleb Card” we hand out when people ask us what The Caleb Effect is, or when they ask us “Do you have kids?” says it. “Caleb smiled with his whole face & loved unconditionally with his whole heart. He never knew a stranger & gave love freely to everyone he met. Caleb is still making the world a better place. Embrace Caleb’s effect in your own life: Do something kind for someone else today. Say “I love you” & mean it. Forgive. Don’t wait.”

Since your service we’ve heard from other people that without you, people who normally would never be in the same building together have gathered and even reconciled. We’ve said “I love you” and hugged people that we never dreamed we would embrace. We aren’t perfect at this and we know you still have your work cut out for you, but we hope we represented you well yesterday.

I love you, Caleb Lennon. What a 9th.
Give Grandma extra kisses for us until we can finally make it there, too.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

One day.

Love, 
Mommy

#calebeffect
#niceonthe9th
#prisonoutreach
#lovewithoutcondition
#forgive
#dontwait

    A feather right before I walked into Grandma’s service in the Chapel of the Roses. Last but not least, the most special rose of my life. — with  Faye Willoughby .

 

A feather right before I walked into Grandma’s service in the Chapel of the Roses. Last but not least, the most special rose of my life. — with Faye Willoughby.

 We had a letter and picture making party! — with Christine Burk ,  Rose Lindo ,  Thomas Lundy  and Kara Walk .

We had a letter and picture making party! — withChristine BurkRose LindoThomas Lundy andKara Walk.

 These guys were busy!! — with  Christine Burk , Savannah White  and  Thomas Lundy .

These guys were busy!! — with Christine Burk,Savannah White and Thomas Lundy.

 With the help of the littlest magicians, our goal of at least 91 pictures and letters to honor each year of Grandma’s life was met!! — with  Kara Walk , Harry Hophead ,  Candace Fish ,  Thomas Lundy  and  Christine Burk .

With the help of the littlest magicians, our goal of at least 91 pictures and letters to honor each year of Grandma’s life was met!! — with Kara Walk,Harry HopheadCandace FishThomas Lundy and Christine Burk.

 With the help of the littlest magicians, our goal of at least 91 pictures and letters to honor each year of Grandma’s life was met!! — with  Kara Walk , Harry Hophead ,  Candace Fish ,  Thomas Lundy  and Christine Burk .

With the help of the littlest magicians, our goal of at least 91 pictures and letters to honor each year of Grandma’s life was met!! — with Kara Walk,Harry HopheadCandace FishThomas Lundy andChristine Burk.

 Special thank you to  Jennifer Yowell  for her generous donations!!

Special thank you to Jennifer Yowell for her generous donations!!

    We toured the  Exodus House OKC  and brought a truckload of supplies. — with  Adam Wile ,  Savannah White ,  Kara Walk ,  Ruby Willoughby Wile  and  Thomas Lundy .

 

We toured the Exodus House OKC and brought a truckload of supplies. — with Adam WileSavannah WhiteKara WalkRuby Willoughby Wile and Thomas Lundy.

 We heard heartfelt stories of how people break down when they learn they get to keep all the furniture provided for their apartment. If you would like to donate new or gently used household items (no sleeper sofas, big entertainment centers or items with rips/stains), they accept them on Mondays and will also pick up!! — with  Ruby Willoughby Wile .

We heard heartfelt stories of how people break down when they learn they get to keep all the furniture provided for their apartment. If you would like to donate new or gently used household items (no sleeper sofas, big entertainment centers or items with rips/stains), they accept them on Mondays and will also pick up!! — with Ruby Willoughby Wile.

 Tony and Robin keep things running smoothly and are also graduates of the program. They only accept non-violent former offenders because children live there. They said most of the bikes they have available for the kids need repairs so if anyone knows of someone who might like a worthwhile project, please contact them!! — with Bernie Lindo Wile  and  Adam Wile .

Tony and Robin keep things running smoothly and are also graduates of the program. They only accept non-violent former offenders because children live there. They said most of the bikes they have available for the kids need repairs so if anyone knows of someone who might like a worthwhile project, please contact them!! — withBernie Lindo Wile and Adam Wile.

 Speaking of children, we also collected and purchased items for children with one or more incarcerated parent. I will be delivering these next week to Camp New Day. I can’t wait!!

Speaking of children, we also collected and purchased items for children with one or more incarcerated parent. I will be delivering these next week to Camp New Day. I can’t wait!!

 Some of the letters to the kids.

Some of the letters to the kids.

 Bags are packed and ready to go!

Bags are packed and ready to go!

 If anyone wants to contribute, here’s what they need.

If anyone wants to contribute, here’s what they need.

    I will also be visiting 4 prisons next week and bringing people the handwritten notes. Thank you to everyone who filled in for us and helped make this 9th another very meaningful one! 💜 — with Savannah White  and  Christine Burk .

 

I will also be visiting 4 prisons next week and bringing people the handwritten notes. Thank you to everyone who filled in for us and helped make this 9th another very meaningful one! 💜 — withSavannah White and Christine Burk.

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As we were going home, Adam noticed this...coincidence?

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Be Nice-Do Something to Support Mental Health

 We had so many donations we had to stop by earlier in the week so it would all fit in our cars! THANK YOU!!

We had so many donations we had to stop by earlier in the week so it would all fit in our cars! THANK YOU!!

 Some of the donations and supplies delivered in those many bags and suitcases.

Some of the donations and supplies delivered in those many bags and suitcases.

 So many people made these care packages possible. We hope even the Kleenex offers a little hope.

So many people made these care packages possible. We hope even the Kleenex offers a little hope.

 Even after our early delivery, we had to take both cars to get all of these supplies to their new home!

Even after our early delivery, we had to take both cars to get all of these supplies to their new home!

 It was HOT!! Bill made sure the watermelon was good enough to serve. Ha!

It was HOT!! Bill made sure the watermelon was good enough to serve. Ha!

 A cooler full of watermelon and Flavor-Ice to offered a small break from the heat.

A cooler full of watermelon and Flavor-Ice to offered a small break from the heat.

 Every one of these suitcases, bags, and boxes were full of clothes, shoes, and necessary supplies.

Every one of these suitcases, bags, and boxes were full of clothes, shoes, and necessary supplies.

 This crew rocked it!

This crew rocked it!

 Should've had someone take this for us, but we swapped out the guys to get the job done. Ha!

Should've had someone take this for us, but we swapped out the guys to get the job done. Ha!

 Organizers extraordinaire!

Organizers extraordinaire!

 One of the things we do with every Nice On The 9th project is to include a handwritten note. This was one that went into the hygiene care packages for the guests of the Lottie House.

One of the things we do with every Nice On The 9th project is to include a handwritten note. This was one that went into the hygiene care packages for the guests of the Lottie House.

 Sorting clothes and keeping each other entertained.

Sorting clothes and keeping each other entertained.

 Delivering necessary items that are always needed. 

Delivering necessary items that are always needed. 

 Almost to the bottom of the piles!

Almost to the bottom of the piles!

 They asked for shoes!

They asked for shoes!

 Brightening days one shoe at a time!

Brightening days one shoe at a time!

 You guys did NOT disappoint! 

You guys did NOT disappoint! 

 The men's section.

The men's section.

 Our first shoe recipient!! Thanks for the donation, Mom! He loves his new shoes!

Our first shoe recipient!! Thanks for the donation, Mom! He loves his new shoes!

 Love their mission and this sign.

Love their mission and this sign.

 Getting it done!

Getting it done!

 The Lottie House security guard is my favorite. You guys should go visit just to meet this lady.

The Lottie House security guard is my favorite. You guys should go visit just to meet this lady.

 They said rolling suitcases were treasures so my sister posted a message on her neighborhood page and collected all of these!! Thank you!

They said rolling suitcases were treasures so my sister posted a message on her neighborhood page and collected all of these!! Thank you!

 More suitcase love.

More suitcase love.

 These volunteers didn't stop until the job was done!

These volunteers didn't stop until the job was done!

 One of the men's care packages.

One of the men's care packages.

 Service with a smile! 

Service with a smile! 

 This was the word on the Lottie House label maker when Adam turned it on! Can't make up this stuff!

This was the word on the Lottie House label maker when Adam turned it on! Can't make up this stuff!

 Added a few more bins to the supply closet!

Added a few more bins to the supply closet!

 One of the things we love about the Lottie House is all the activities guests can do when they visit. Karaoke fun or a quiet visit in the library. The choice is yours!

One of the things we love about the Lottie House is all the activities guests can do when they visit. Karaoke fun or a quiet visit in the library. The choice is yours!

 Caleb made sure we knew he was visiting, too. Hello little ladybug!

Caleb made sure we knew he was visiting, too. Hello little ladybug!

 And speaking of lady...

And speaking of lady...

 And we're done!!

And we're done!!

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 Included lots of resources for anyone who needs it. Share and share alike!

Included lots of resources for anyone who needs it. Share and share alike!

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Hi Baby. I love you. What a day. Even Mommy is worn out, and that is saying something. This month we decided to do something for people who are battling mental illnesses. I imagine you don’t see the sort of reports that usually make headlines here, but it’s been a really sad week here in America as we publicly feel the effects of just one of these serious illnesses. However, if there was ever a month to get people discussing topics that are taboo (that means they aren’t okay to talk about), this is it. We picked this subject before the world lost two famous people who hurt so much they couldn’t see any hope or a future past all of the pain. This is something Mommy DOES understand, especially since you’ve been gone, but it is one of the deep struggles of the brain that so many are suffering alone in silence. I never would have told you anything about this subject until you were older, but since you are forever 2, but I’ll do my best to open this messy can of worms and explain it in a way you might understand.

Suicide. It’s a word that hurts deeply. No one wants to talk about it even though it happens every day in our world. People who have never wrestled with severe depression that leads to this outcome or contemplation of this result don’t know its power. I DO know what it is like to feel so low I don’t want to live another second. Living without you is THE hardest thing I have to do every day. You made my life so much fun and brought me a kind of pure, joyful love I never knew was possible. It is a love I can’t adequately describe, Baby Boy. It is that good. Losing you and trying to wrap my mind around that concept is too much for me to handle by myself and it makes me want to be with you NOW. I miss you with every microscopic cell in my body and yes, there are so many days I don’t want to have to wait any longer. That is my reality, but as I already described in a recent post, you deserve for Mommy to keep sharing your love and telling the world about the most amazing, happy boy I’ve ever met.

People who have never walked in my shoes or those of so many others hear things like “you are so selfish,” or “you need to pray about it and have more faith.” They probably have good intentions, but they don’t understand what it feels like when someone like me is in a state where they have nothing left. They’ve never felt so depleted that they literally don’t have the capacity to care about anything. Anyone who has reached this point is not in their right frame of mind, but desperately need people who ARE to love and accept them for wherever they are in that moment.

The Lottie House does exactly that so we were so glad we got to visit them this month. Staci Willis, a Team Leader there sent me a message that said “It seems like such a good fit, I kept thinking about how you described Caleb, and even at his young age it seemed like he fulfilled our biggest mission, to meet people right where they are and love them without condition.” I know I told you this before, but it deserves to be mentioned again. Yes, you did this flawlessly, and we got to witness first-hand that they are succeeding in that motto, too. What a wonderful and necessary place they have provided for people most of society dismisses. They welcome and connect people and take them by the hand away from their darkest places.

Sometimes all we can do is wait. I hate waiting but that is how Mommy has made it this far. I wait until the chemicals in my brain rearrange themselves, until the hormones or lack of sleep bring me to a safer place, or until a safe person sits with me until another second, hour, or day has been beat. Not everyone has that last, most critical piece so I’m going to challenge anyone who reads this to reach out to someone they know may be having a rough time and become that safe person.

Maybe you are wondering what is this whole “mental illness” thing is anyway and what did we do in your honor? I thought about how I might describe this to you in a way you could understand, but I think you probably know a lot of things I haven’t given you proper credit for learning along the way.

I talked about the result of just one of the mental illnesses that plague people’s brains, but there are many others. When a person is experiencing these, they can make us feel overwhelmingly sad, angry, forgetful, scared, worried, unworthy, hopeless, and a variety of other emotions that can affect the way we think, feel, and behave. Not everyone has a mind that always thinks so clearly and beautifully as yours 100% of the time. Some of us struggle more than others, and it can make it harder for people to love us or be close to us, but as you taught me, we need to “be nice” anyway. I don’t always get this right but keep pushing me to keep giving it another shot when I fail.

We still need a lot of help from you, Caleb. This life isn’t like the dimension you are now in. Help us become a place where we don’t live in fear of seeking help because it would mean things like our employment being threatened if we actually took care of ourselves. If we want to label anything “crazy” it is not the people living with these mental illnesses, but the system that prevents proper treatment. Military, civilians with special clearances, and SOOOOOOOOOOOOO many others in various positions have to hide their true selves or avoid vital medication and treatment out of legitimate fear of losing their livelihood or leadership positions. You have a lot of friends with you now, so maybe you guys can get together and work on this for those of us who are still on this planet.

We will keep working on these things as well. I know everyone is capable of doing SOMETHING. Nine (ironic???) volunteers shared this vision in your honor on Saturday. We worked to try to make a few guests of the Lottie House a little more comfortable, so we hope you like what we did this month. Since it was 100 degrees, we brought an ice chest full of watermelon and Flavor-Ice for guests. Many of the people there have to walk or take a bus in the heat so they were grateful for the cold treats as soon as they walked in the door. We sorted the mountain of donations that so many in your fan club gave us, organized the library and craft room, and talked to a few new friends. We also brought care packages with things like shampoo, candy, and a personal note to let them know someone cares. It is something we like to do with every project because we know you always made it a point to put your personal touch on everything.

I miss your personal touch more than I can tell you, my sweet boy. I’m doing my best to do that FOR you now, but I know it’s not even close to the same. I’m not as good at this as you and I miss you giving Mommy those extra hugs and love when I needed them most. I tell everyone who will listen, but it’s true. Caleb, you had a sixth sense about what everyone needed and you had a way to give all of us exactly that. I still don’t know how you did it, but without even spending a dime or hours packaging goody bags, you gave every, single person you ever encountered true treasures that could never be found in any store.

I love you, Sweet Boy. God, I miss you.

I keep thinking about how you might have interacted with some of the guests there. They would’ve absolutely LOVED having you. They can’t allow children there, but I think you showed up anyway. Thanks for the ladybug tissue paper craft. You always find a way to let us know you are still doing things your own way and refusing to let the rules keep you from showing up.

Thank you for loving Mommy exactly how I am. You will always be my pride and joy and I will never stop telling everyone all about you. I’m thankful you never had to experience any of these mental illnesses, but I would hope that if you did, you would’ve known Mommy and Daddy would always be here for you no matter what. I know not even that is not enough for some people going through their own personal hell, so I’ve also included some resources and pictures that I hope direct people to finding professional help, especially people who are suicidal.

I love you. Happy 9th (a little late again)! I’m so proud of you, Angel Baby.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
One day.

Love,
Mommy

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How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

In the US:
-Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, at any time, about any type of crisis

-The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

-The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Outside the US:
-The International Association for Suicide Prevention lists a number of suicide hotlines by country. https://www.iasp.info/

-Befrienders Worldwide
https://www.befrienders.org/

-Psychology Today
Find a local counselor. You can sort therapists by insurances accepted and specialty.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

-Amwell
Online therapy from your couch
https://amwell.com/

In Oklahoma
http://www.mhaok.org/

Anywhere!
Be a safe friend and help someone who needs you.

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Join Us At The Lottie House-June 9th

 I love this so much.

I love this so much.

 These are the only shoes they have left.

These are the only shoes they have left.

 Calling all crafters! If you know how to use a plastic loom, you are especially needed here.

Calling all crafters! If you know how to use a plastic loom, you are especially needed here.

 Coloring and daily activities are always available to guests.

Coloring and daily activities are always available to guests.

 I can't imagine this being my only shelter at night, but for many this is a reality. We will be collecting needed items and delivering them on the 9th. These are only a few dollars but would protect those experiencing homelessness.

I can't imagine this being my only shelter at night, but for many this is a reality. We will be collecting needed items and delivering them on the 9th. These are only a few dollars but would protect those experiencing homelessness.

 These straps are needed to hold the tarp in place. Whether you are bringing extra goodies or the gift of your warm presence, we will be excited to have you join us on June 9th!

These straps are needed to hold the tarp in place. Whether you are bringing extra goodies or the gift of your warm presence, we will be excited to have you join us on June 9th!

I visited the Lottie House, site of our next Nice On The 9th project. It is a drop-in center for people experiencing mental health challenges. They require visitors to be sober but I love their response to people who aren’t. “Try again tomorrow.”

I was only there for an hour but 3 pages of sign-in sheets were filled just in that span.

June 9th is a Saturday so if you’ve been waiting for a weekend to volunteer with us, now is your chance! We will be volunteering from 1-4pm and all volunteers must be at least 18. We will be organizing the library, sorting supplies in the craft room, and anything else they need us to do.

Comment below and I will send you an event invitation.

Can’t make it on the 9th?

We’re collecting the following items:
-SHOES!! They are in desperate need of shoes! Used and even VERY USED are just fine with them. Gently used tennis shoes are preferred but they will take others as well.

-New or used t-shirts, shorts, jeans, backpacks or bags (they said suitcases that roll are treasures)

-New hygiene products (soap, shampoo, feminine products, lotion, sunscreen)

-New underwear, leisure socks, and plain tees.

-Art supplies (regular or stock paper, drawing pencils, canvases, art erasers (white), craft kits)

-Packaged snacks (tuna packets, protein packs, granola bars, flavor ice)

-Tarps and bungees to provide shelter (pics 5 & 6)

-Sleeping bags

We can shake our heads when we see another person on the news who was in need of mental health services, or we can do something about it.

Sign up today!

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Some MAJOR NEWS to celebrate a whole year of being Nice On The 9th!!!!

 Our big news!! It's official!!!  The Caleb Effect  is now The Caleb Effect Foundation a 501(c)(3)!!!!

Our big news!! It's official!!! The Caleb Effect is now The Caleb Effect Foundation a 501(c)(3)!!!!

 Kindness Kits for our winners

Kindness Kits for our winners

 Some of the goodies in the regular kindness kits

Some of the goodies in the regular kindness kits

 Meet George and  Christen Askren Hannegan !

Meet George and Christen Askren Hannegan!

 George was happy!

George was happy!

 Tyler and  Ken Toey

Tyler and Ken Toey

 Surprise!

Surprise!

  Gabrielle  was in on our secret plan to surprise  Jeff !

Gabrielle was in on our secret plan to surprise Jeff!

 Love him! — with  Jeff Freshour  and  Ken Toey .

Love him! — with Jeff Freshour and Ken Toey.

 Surprising Eduardo! Thank you  Susan Barron !

Surprising Eduardo! Thank you Susan Barron!

    Fun surprise! — with  Susan Barron  and  Ken Toey .

 

Fun surprise! — with Susan Barron and Ken Toey.

    Found these guys as we were on our way to the bank! Don't mind if I do help fill the boot today in memory of my dad.

 

Found these guys as we were on our way to the bank! Don't mind if I do help fill the boot today in memory of my dad.

    Shirts are here!!

 

Shirts are here!!

    Thank you to everyone who wore your new shirts on the 9th!! — with  Molly Bombardier Gravens .

 

Thank you to everyone who wore your new shirts on the 9th!! — with Molly Bombardier Gravens.

 In honor of Dominic Zettergren who also died without explanation.

In honor of Dominic Zettergren who also died without explanation.

 Representing in Destin, FL!! — with  Debbie Freeman Stephens  and  Kathern Freeman .

Representing in Destin, FL!! — with Debbie Freeman Stephens and Kathern Freeman.

 Love this family!

Love this family!

    LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOWED THEIR SUPPORT!!!!

 

LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOWED THEIR SUPPORT!!!!

    Still looks like she is a teenager but she has teens of her own! Hi,  Dinky Hammam ! — with  Dinky Hammam .

 

Still looks like she is a teenager but she has teens of her own! Hi, Dinky Hammam! — with Dinky Hammam.

    Thank you,  Andrea Large ! Miss seeing this happy face. — with  Andrea Large .

 

Thank you, Andrea Large! Miss seeing this happy face. — with Andrea Large.

     Molly Bombardier Gravens ' family sent Caleb some love in memory of their daughter, Bliss, who also died without an explanation.

 

Molly Bombardier Gravens' family sent Caleb some love in memory of their daughter, Bliss, who also died without an explanation.

    More Florida love! (All of these amazing people have Caleb's shirts but it's HOT in Florida!) — with Alan Atkins ,  Debbie Freeman Stephens  and Kathern Freeman .

 

More Florida love! (All of these amazing people have Caleb's shirts but it's HOT in Florida!) — withAlan AtkinsDebbie Freeman Stephens andKathern Freeman.

     Melissa Parker , this is awesome!! Thank you!

 

Melissa Parker, this is awesome!! Thank you!

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. That's  Ken Toey 's back as they were changing the dressing.

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. That's Ken Toey's back as they were changing the dressing.

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. That's  Ken Toey 's helmet. There was a stick poking through the hole in the lower center section. If it would've been an inch to the left or right, it would've gone through his head. Wear a helmet!

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. That's Ken Toey's helmet. There was a stick poking through the hole in the lower center section. If it would've been an inch to the left or right, it would've gone through his head. Wear a helmet!

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is Ken Toey's new back.

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is Ken Toey's new back.

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is Ken Toey's new back.

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is Ken Toey's new back.

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is how I kept myself entertained once he moved to a step-down room.

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is how I kept myself entertained once he moved to a step-down room.

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. Exactly a year ago today this is also how I kept everyone updated and myself sane (although I think my sister is responsible for some of these).

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. Exactly a year ago today this is also how I kept everyone updated and myself sane (although I think my sister is responsible for some of these).

    May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is how I FINALLY got to take him home. — with  Ken Toey .

 

May 9th, 2011 was a day we almost lost Adam. This is how I FINALLY got to take him home. — with Ken Toey.

    "I Was Nice On The 9th!" Were you? — with  Taylor Easttom  and  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger .

 

"I Was Nice On The 9th!" Were you? — with Taylor Easttom and Erica DeGiusti Bollinger.

 It was hot and windy but we had fun! — with  Shari Wile ,  Christine Burk ,  Ruby Willoughby Wile ,  Ken Toey ,  Roy Wile ,  Taylor Easttom  and  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger .

It was hot and windy but we had fun! — with Shari WileChristine BurkRuby Willoughby WileKen ToeyRoy WileTaylor Easttom and Erica DeGiusti Bollinger.

    Bubbles and shade for the win! — with  Taylor Easttom ,  Ken Toey ,  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger  and Shari Wile .

 

Bubbles and shade for the win! — with Taylor EasttomKen ToeyErica DeGiusti Bollinger andShari Wile.

    They were speedy and put together the kits faster than I thought. Shenanigans took over until we had our Facebook Live announcement. — with  Taylor Easttom ,  Ruby Willoughby Wile ,  Ken Toey  and Shari Wile .

 

They were speedy and put together the kits faster than I thought. Shenanigans took over until we had our Facebook Live announcement. — with Taylor EasttomRuby Willoughby WileKen Toey andShari Wile.

    A bunch of monkeys took over the park! — with Roy Wile ,  Ruby Willoughby Wile ,  Christine Burk , Erica DeGiusti Bollinger ,  Taylor Easttom  and  Ken Toey .

 

A bunch of monkeys took over the park! — withRoy WileRuby Willoughby WileChristine Burk,Erica DeGiusti BollingerTaylor Easttom and Ken Toey.

 Found another cousin to the beetle from the other day.

Found another cousin to the beetle from the other day.

    Annnnnnnnnnnnd, a ladybug as we were leaving.

 

Annnnnnnnnnnnd, a ladybug as we were leaving.

    Until next time, Lake Hefner.

 

Until next time, Lake Hefner.

    Beautiful end to a VERY meaningful 9th.

 

Beautiful end to a VERY meaningful 9th.

Hi Baby Boy. I love you. I’ve had so many distractions, but I’m finally getting to write to you instead of just constantly thinking about you and wishing I could tell you all of these things in person. I miss you. I miss my happy baby. I miss your hugs and kisses more than anything. I still send them to you and I hope you feel my love no matter how far you go. The longer time goes by I wonder if that means you are farther and farther “into the light” or somehow farther removed from this world and it makes me even more sad having all this space separating us. You weren’t a baby anymore but you will always be my baby boy, Caleb.

You know how much you love babies? It’s hard for Mommy to explain, but I love you even more than that. I don’t think I ever told you this but that saying, “I love you so much it hurts” is true. I think you only know the kind of love that doesn’t come with any hurt, but I’m telling you, you are the most powerful little boy I’ve ever met. I still find it so shocking how you manage to climb right into hearts so quickly. It reminds me of how you used to get yourself up to your car seat after “2s” all by yourself (but I think you captivate people even faster than that). You never wanted any help as you grunted and pulled yourself from the pavement and floorboard all the way into your seat. When you got yourself twisted and shimmied into position you always gave Mommy one of your trademark smiles that I tell everyone all about. It’s like you were telling me “See Mommy, I did it!”

Baby Boy, I was so proud of you then and I’m forever proud of you now. I hope you are still smiling with your whole face the way you did in the little #HUNK picture where you are cheesing it extra wide. I can’t wait to see that smile with your whole face again one day. One of the things I know for certain and don’t have to wonder about is if you know Daddy and I love you. You made it so easy to love you while you were here and you still do.

We love you and really do think of you non-stop, but every 9th we go a little outside our comfort zone to make sure others get to know you, too. May’s Nice On The 9th was all about honoring people behind the scenes. People who don’t normally receive much appreciation or hear very many “thank yous,” especially trash collectors, maintenance people, and housekeepers. We picked two people in our lives and chose two others who were nominated on your Facebook page.

Mommy started the day in Piedmont surprising Mr. George who picks up trash for the ENTIRE rapidly growing town! That’s right! One truck, one funny guy with a positive attitude, and one helping heart. He is still following his mommy’s advice she gave him as a kid and tries not to take anyone too seriously. His buddy, Christen Askren Hannegan nominated him and this is why: “George is our trash truck driver out in Piedmont. He is a great guy and he does a great job. He walks up to get carts of our elderly or handicapped customers, not because he has to but because that’s who he is. People aren’t always nice to him but he goes above and beyond anyway and takes pride in his work. I nominate George.”

Christen told George that she needed him to come to the office to discuss some emails so he was trying to think about what he could’ve done wrong. Christen assured him he wasn’t in trouble but the man in the yellow, reflective vest and industrial headset was even more surprised when I told him why I came to visit. I explained to him how you would’ve loved to meet him and how your cousin in Chicago loves trash trucks! George told me that if he sees kids out admiring the truck he will stop and let them check it out or wail on the horn. Isn’t that awesome?! Remember when we got to go inside a trash truck at “Touch-a-Truck?” We might have received some disapproving looks and scolding for honking the horn, but you loved it (sorry, not sorry)!

You loved vroom vrooms of all shapes and sizes, but you especially loved opening and closing the hatch on your blue recycling truck and staring at the wheels. No matter how many times I told you that it was a recycling truck, you always called it a “twash twuck.”

While I was there, a man came in with an injured leg and pushing a scooter. He said George pulled his trash barrel in for him and shook his hand. Nice timing. :)

I had a chance to talk to Mr. George for quite a while and I could see him tear up every now and then. I held it together and told him to keep his eyes open for some extra ladybugs. Booger Bear, it would be really awesome if you would send some his way and introduce yourself, too.

Daddy honored the janitor at his work who cleans up after some really yucky situations. DaDa talked to Tyler before, but never knew his name. He made it a point to use your special day to find out. Tyler is an especially quiet, hard-working person who perfectly fit the description of the kind of selfless spirit we wanted to reward. You weren’t old enough to clean the potty, but this is one of the things a janitor does as part of their daily to-do list. It is not a fun job, especially when it’s not even your own potty mess but Tyler makes sure every inch is scrubbed to perfection. Most people like having a clean bathroom to use, but probably don’t think about the people who keep it that way. Daddy made sure to thank Tyler and gave him the bag of goodies for a job well done. We hope Tyler realizes that his work is important and so is he.

Daddy met me in Edmond and no introductions are needed for this next recipient, Jeff Freshour or just plain “Jeff” to you. After switching to your new class, Mr. Jeff would wait for you to come to “school” downtown everyday. Right after saying “hi” to Nemo, Jeff would be waiting by the door to get your “fives” and hear your sweet, tiny voice announce, “Hi, Jeff!” You were ALWAYS so excited to see him and so was he. You had recently transitioned to the 2-year-old class on the other side of the building and I wasn’t sure how I would like it after having such wonderful teachers who doted on you in “1s.” I knew it wouldn’t phase you one bit as you had been to several new classes in your life without batting an eye. I was right. You never missed a beat going into another room and being with new friends but Jeff made the new routine easier for ME. I always felt better after seeing him and soon I learned your new teachers adored you, too. They taught you things like how to drink out of a cup without a lid and always commented on your sense of wonder for learning new things.

You loved to learn and I loved watching your various dramatic expressions as you took things in for the first time. I memorized your new teachers’ names but I wouldn’t have known Jeff’s without you. Jeff didn’t work specifically for the daycare, but rather took care of the building maintenance for all of St. Luke’s. We didn’t go to church then and never went to any activities outside of your daycare so it was only in those morning exchanges that I got to know Jeff. Being kind to you and making you feel special was not part of his job requirements but he waited for us every day and always made us smile anyway.

I don’t know if you see all the things he takes care of, but the church and daycare have all kinds of activities going on at each campus and he usually has a hand in helping in some way or the other. There are regular church services, yoga classes, bible studies, birthday parties, luncheons, meetings, service projects, and special events. Jeff works up a sweat moving hundreds of chairs from place-to-place and keeps everything in the building (and some things outside, too) running smoothly. Then he comes back and helps run the Audio-Visual equipment on the weekends, too.

Yes, Jeff is behind many different scenes in a variety of venues. I don’t know what his hours are, but they are definitely not Monday through Friday from 8 to 5. He works until the job is done and then goes home and keeps working on projects there as well.

One project I know he never wanted to have to add to his schedule was your memorial service. Jeff never grumbled when the room where you used to play started running out of chairs as the time to celebrate you grew nearer. He just quietly got a red dolly and kept moving more and more seats into the room. After your service was over he also didn’t complain about having to retrieve some sneaky helium balloons off the ceiling that were probably more than a hundred feet in the air.

After losing you we came back to collect your things from your cubby. There were so many hugs and even more tears. We did our best to make it through seeing your teachers and your classmates but walking through those halls and seeing Jeff was especially crushing. Everyone still loves you there and is devastated but when I look into Jeff’s eyes I also see the heartbreak he holds for you there. I know he misses you, too. I’ve often wondered if he still gives fives to the kids or if losing you has made him a little more guarded.

Jeff may wear the keys to every room of the church on his belt loop, but you never needed a key or any extra chairs to take up residence deep inside his heart. Once again, we did our best to hold it all together but Jeff broke all of us. I told him that I wished I had you with me to give him his surprise and I hope somehow, I still did. Daddy and I gave him some fives and told him how much we love him. Don’t forget to send him some signs sometimes, too, okay? Thank you, Baby Boy.

Whew.

After redoing what is supposed to be “waterproof” mascara (something I’ve worn since the day of your service, May 6th), Daddy and I headed to Guthrie to meet our last winner, Eduardo Robles at St. Mary Catholic School. Susan Barron nominated him and told us “He’s a friend to all & has worked hard to keep our school together for 20+ years! He’s always smiling, the kids love him & he’s an incredibly hard worker!!!”

We didn’t make the connection that we were visiting a school named after Saint Mary until we typed it into our GPS. Before calling Eduardo to come meet us and despite never knowing anything about your rose stories, Susan also had one of her own. WHAT?!

Susan couldn’t be more correct and we couldn’t have picked a more deserving person. Eduardo does not look even remotely close to his age but I think his positive attitude and being around all the kids keep him young at heart. He was humbled to be receiving any special attention, and like George, he kept telling us what a blessed man he was.

Mommy can’t feel things like she used to but for whatever reason I think her ESP (which stands for Extrasensory Perception and is like a 6th sense about things - something you had firing every second of every day) is getting better. We like to include personal notes in every random act of kindness we do and I just got an overwhelming feeling that Eduardo was a very gentle person. In his note I thanked him for being a gentle soul before I ever met him.

Eduardo is a petite, soft-spoken man, but perked up when the kids would walk by and say “hi” or refer to him as “Edward.” We heard he is also known for sharing candy and going above and beyond for anyone who needs his help, but we hope he keeps some of his new gifts to enjoy for himself, too.

Eduardo was the perfect ending to visiting all the honorees who work so hard despite not many people knowing or appreciating all the ways that make them special. We explained what the 9th means to us, but our mouths dropped open when Eduardo told us why May 9th was so significant to him. Eduardo explained that his wife died many years ago but May 9th was his wedding day! WOW! Maybe you have met his wife now, too.

I never would have believed all of these little things, and sometimes I still struggle to truly know you had a hand in orchestrating some of these connections. I know it usually takes a little more convincing or a few extra signs, but I hope you will keep being patient with your mommy.

After visiting Eduardo, Daddy and I went to Valliance Bank where we got to see our friend, Bridget Jaime. We already had a whirlwind of emotions all day and apparently, I needed some talk therapy because Mommy was chattering about a thousand words a minute as soon as we saw her. I wasn’t sure if Bridget already filled Debbie (the lady that opened your new account) in on The Caleb Effect so I was cautiously trying to keep my “game face” on before I thought I would have to answer any questions about why we were there and what our foundation is doing. Luckily, Daddy was not as overwhelmed or sleep-deprived as I was, so he took care of most of the business of opening the new account while I caught Bridget up with my flurry of thoughts.

It didn’t take long but when Daddy and I found out Debbie already knew all about you, we told her some of the ways you are making the world a nicer place. I also told her how I’ve known Bridget for over 20 years and how we met while we were both working at camp at Lake Murray in July. The camp was really delipidated with holes in the walls and floorboards, no air-conditioning, and uninvited campers such as Copperheads and scorpions. However, going through this unique experience together also helped create lifelong bonds with all of us who worked as staff.

We don’t wish this the unique and unpleasant situation we have wrestled since May 2nd on anyone, but we love it when people like Bridget embrace your message and continue to show the ways they love all three of us.

I also wanted Debbie to know how special Bridget is so I told her how excited I was just to be invited to Bridget’s little boy’s upcoming birthday party. That’s fairly unusual for us now, so when I read the rest of the details on the event I was absolutely blown away. I know you must remember me writing to you about this, but instead of asking for presents for her baby, she told everyone they could bring a toy to donate to The Caleb Effect! Debbie hadn’t even read the heartfelt message that went with the invitation that made Mommy ugly cry, but this detail sent her over the edge and had her stopping the official paperwork to reach for a Kleenex. I knew right then and there, even with her phone ringing and multi-tasking capabilities that were keeping her on her toes, you had claimed another unsuspecting admirer. (We might as well climb to the top of their tower and put a flag there that says, “Caleb was here!”) We also think she’s going to have fun giving out the dozen vroom vrooms Daddy left for her to distribute to her littlest patrons (those are customers).

Little “Doo-duh” (the way you pronounced dude), the next part of the story changes everything for The Caleb Effect. You never did much of anything on our schedule so it shouldn’t be surprising that this piece of the puzzle didn’t happen on our timetable either.

Last month Mommy “happened” to drop off some vroom vrooms to our friend, Lance for his Alzheimer’s fundraiser project. As I told you, I saw that yellow Hummer on the way there and even got a picture of it but didn’t think more about it until today. Lance asked how The Caleb Effect was coming along and I told him how we had met some incredible people along the way but had experienced a series of setbacks in the path of becoming an official 501(c)(3). We have been planning to take this next step since his news crew showed up at Aunt RoRo’s house 10 months ago, so I suppose it was also fitting that this idea was planted in our heads and also became reality with his assistance, too.

As it turned out, when I was talking to Lance West he told me he might have a friend who could help. Sure enough, a few days after our conversation he put us in touch with her and she sprang into action.

Since we started celebrating Nice On The 9th one year ago, yesterday, we decided it would be the perfect day to make your foundation official. I hope you already know the big news we shared yesterday, but Caleb, you now OFFICIALLY have a non-profit organization!! Yes, Baby Boy, on May 9th, Kelli Masters filed our papers for us and The Caleb Effect became “The Caleb Effect Foundation!!!!!!!!!” Is that awesome or what?! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I really hope you are clapping for yourself right now.)

All day yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about how these nominations and surprise visits reminded me of “Pay It 4Ward.” Kelli had seen our story when it aired and spread your love by delivering a big meal to a family who was going through a hard time. She had already seen you, our little mohawk man, and had already spread some of your kindness into the world as well. Normally this would cost a new organization a significant amount of money, but Kelli did all of this out of the kindness of her heart. THANK YOU, KELLI and THANK YOU Lance for continuing to “be nice” and helping us share Caleb with the world!!!! We know “thank you” is not quite adequate, but we are truly grateful to have you in our lives.

I told Kelli how you like to show up with ladybugs and roses to let people know you are watching. When I got the email that everything was filed I saw a little note at the end. It said, “P.S. I have seen so many lady bugs this week!” Wow! You’re quick, Baby Boy and so was Kelli! I found her online and saw not only is she highly qualified as a professor teaching non-profit and sports law, but she’s a beautiful lady on the outside, too. Is that why you keep coming back and bringing her ladybugs? Ha. Oh, my little boy. All the ladies always do love you here on Earth.

Now that we have non-profit status, you will be able to help even more people and spread your love to places we’ve only dreamed of seeing.

May 9th was the one-year anniversary of devoting a whole day to being Nice On The 9th. We pause on the 9th of every month because that is the day we finally got to meet you and kiss your tiny, crying face that had just been evicted from your nice, warm home. It is a celebration of your beautiful life and a way to let your glimmering light reflect off of every painful tear.

May 9th is also a day that is ingrained in our memory because it is a day that almost stole Daddy away from us. Seven years ago, Daddy Ken Toeywas in a terrible, freak accident. He was riding his mountain bike on a trail where he had never been before and went off a bridge. He landed on his head and then onto his back. At the insistence of his friend, he was wearing a brand, new helmet purchased just a few days prior. It ultimately, saved his life. Still, the broken bones included 6 vertebrae, 10 ribs, his sternum, and a shoulder blade (and that doesn’t even include some of the other complications like the collapsed lung or the liter and a half of blood that was drained out of it). The surgeon implanted 13 permanent titanium pieces from his toolbox including 13 screws, 2 rods, and 1 stabilizer bar. He also told Daddy as we headed to the inpatient rehab center that most people with his injuries are either paralyzed or dead. Having Daddy in the Trauma ICU hooked up to all kinds of IVs and tubes was one of the scariest times of our lives but he made it. It’s a completely different situation, but we are still making it one second and minute at a time now, too. It’s not the way we planned to live our lives and there’s not a pain pump dumping medicine into our systems every few minutes but we are still here. Yes, yesterday was a very special day that gives us one more reason to celebrate life.

We had a last-minute kindness kit assembly party at one of Mommy’s favorite places in Oklahoma City, Lake Hefner. Despite only having one day of notice, and 91-degree heat, you had quite a few family and friends stop by. We made 30 kits to give to other people who do a lot of work in the background of life but go unrecognized a majority of the time. Some of your friends came and made sweet notes and colorful pictures to include in the bags, too.

We hope everyone had a wonderful time celebrating this momentous day! We know with this next step in place you and The Caleb Effect FOUNDATION are about to do some really big things! I would also like it to be noted here that Nemo’s best friend, Ellen DeGeneres is going to LOVE you and want everyone to know about you immediately when she hears about you (and I think she is definitely going to hear about you in the near future).

Also, did you see all of those amazing people wearing their new shirts? If not, check out the photos to see your friends!

THANK YOU FOR ALL THE LOVE, SUPPORT, PARTICIPATION, AND SPACE YOU KEEP MAKING IN THE HEARTS OF ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS.

I love you, Baby. I miss you more than I can even explain to you in words, but Mommy is so proud of her little boy. You received half of each of Mommy and Daddy’s DNA, but there were some extra special genes methodically placed in your soul that had nothing to do with either one of us. You are still my gift, my light, and my forever treasure. I love you more.

One day.

Sending all my love now and always.

Love, 
Mommy
XXXOOOXXX

P.S. I've heard from several people this week who told me they read EVERY WORD of these messages to you. 😲 I'm always surprised to hear this so if anyone has made it this far, I'm sure you are thinking of a line from Bon Qui Qui's routine, "DANG, anything else?" If you've made it to the end, feel free to work in a Bon Qui Qui quote in the comments. This should be entertaining. If you don't know who Bon Qui Qui is, we obviously have not spent more than 10 minutes together in real life. Ha! Happy 9th (and 10th and 11th now)!

#calebeffect
#benice
#NiceOnThe9th
#CelebratingPeopleBehindTheScenes
#Thankyou
#OneWholeYearOfKindness
#ItsOfficial
#Added501c3ToOurName
#CalebEffectFOUNDATION
#GetReadyEllen
#CalebIsReadyToMeetYou

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My Nephew the Super Hero-By Andy Wile

Caleb's Uncle, Andy Wile wrote this heartfelt true story two years ago, but it is an absolute, must-read letter that deserves to be shared again. I can't make it to the end without crying.

Thank you for sharing your deep love for Caleb and recognizing his simple yet mighty affections he so freely gave to you. It's one of the many reasons why not having him here with us is so exceptionally difficult.

Andy, it is obvious Caleb didn't even make it to round one before creating the love and pride I can see all over your face in this picture. Thank you for the most beautiful tribute to our giggly super hero. I agree with Ken Toey's sentiments of two-years ago. Please share this over and over again. We love you, "Unka Annie." 💜

May 7, 2016

Written by my brother, my Bubba - all of you, share this please..


A True Life Story by Uncle Andy Wile

My nephew the Super Hero.

Unfortunately, it took me until May 6, 2016 to recognize that my nephew, Caleb Lennon Wile, was a super hero.
We all know that Wile children possess super abilities but not all of these powers are glaringly obvious. 

However, Caleb, when brought into this world carried the message and gift of love. While some call it unconditional love, I prefer the words
love with no limits, love without trepidation or rejection, love for everyone and anyone he came into contact with. Anyone with the gift of sight,
the gift of hearing, and the gift of life was susceptible to his power. Even the hardest of hearts and strongest of the strong were no match
for him. As with every Super Hero, there were a variety of tactics in his arsenal.

First he would run around and just be himself, a normal inquisitive boy. While he would not reject the proffer of wearing a cape, tights and maybe a mask, he didn't need that attire for his super powers. If someone was able to resist loving him simply from being in the room with him, he would recognize and prepare for Round 2. 

Round two, would be his contagious laugh. His laugh was so contagious the CDC would have severe difficulty in preparing for it. To my knowledge, this is the first recorded sound related infectious material. He could find anything and I mean anything hilarious. He could bellow out his laugh akin to the testing of a tornado siren on a Saturday at noon. If at this point, he had not conquered and devoured someone's resistance to love, the final round was about to begin.

It would begin by him fixing his gaze into their eyes, then he would run, not walk, to the person. Then he would outstretch his arms and hands to heaven expressing the universal language that means "pick me up right damn now". At this point he has already won the war, just the person (aka challenger) does not recognize it yet. Unwittingly, and for reasons that everyone of us already comprehend, the victim immediately and without hesitation would reach down and snatch him up. All the while, his blue eyes were staring into their soul and he would retrieve their love and put it on display for all to see. One would think that Caleb would be finished at this point but no, he was not. He has to inflict the finishing blow. 

The finishing blow was something so simple, so discreet, so effortless it was...his smile. One could wonder why he did not lead with
"the smile" but if one considers that the challenger did not capitulate in Round 1 or 2, the challenger must have buried love so deep that the finishing blow was required. Parenthetically, it is not for me to critique a super hero's techniques and abilities. "The smile" was so categorically awesome that it would release pain, make people slack jawed, and could briefly cure all known ailments. 

His smile would also cause physical changes in Caleb. It would literally cause his ears to raise a 1/2 inch, his eyes would squint as if he was looking at the sun, and he would show you his teeth, that give the very definition of pearly whites. Some would call this his "victory grin" but it was not
a competition with him. That is not what he was here for. He was made with a hollow in his heart that was only temporarily pacified every time he exposed, received and gave someone love. 

And as always, in every super hero comic book and movie, there is a twist that no one on Earth could have possibly predicted. Ultimately, God called Caleb home on May 2, 2016. Unbeknowst to all of us once we received and gave Caleb our love, we in turn are left with a hollow in our heart yearning for his never ending addictive love. This love is more addictive than any drug known to man. While his pictures, movies and memories temporarily pacify the hollow, it still returns. Consequently, it will permanently be filled upon our ascent to heaven. Until then, we have our voluminous pictures, enthralling movies and precious memories that no one can take away. Additionally, we have his love and stories to share with anyone that will listen. So now our mission has not changed. We still must carry on and spread his love. Unfortunately, at this time, the undersigned lacks the ability to emit comprehendable noise on this matter and can only express himself in written format.

And while I was not there to witness, I am positive that God said "Well done my good and faithful servant. Let me introduce you to some family of mine and yours." 

God, Thank You for the gift of Caleb. Caleb, aka "Cal-L" we love you...but you already knew that.

Uncle Andy

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The Knot-(Something I wrote about 6 months ago but that is so appropriate for today)

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The Knot

The pit of my stomach still feels the pangs and cinched knots growing like one of those rubber band balls, except these bands are tied and matted in every direction. They are not uniform or circular-shaped and they definitely do not bounce when you try to toss and turn them all through the night.

They don’t shift much except to stab my heart when I least expect it, and there is no passing this knot to anyone else. The bands are not rubber, but rather thick, sharp pieces of iron and steel stuck and twisted around my organs. Like a masterful bomb chocked full of shrapnel, and implanted into the center of my intestines while I wasn’t looking. I hear the timer ticking constantly, waiting impatiently for its demise.

It radiates heat from attacking me suddenly and involuntarily, then melting my insides together with a blow torch. The knot forcefully smashes through every vein and muscle on its way to my gut and doesn’t care about the trail of blood and vomit left in its path. Losing a child leaves a physical sort of reverse-birth that is more excruciating than any baby’s arrival, and without a joyful bundle to cradle in your arms after all the damage is done.

It is so sweltering and torturous that my sobbing tries to soften or rust this painful tangle, but the beast laughs as the flow of salt water fades into my shirt. It mocks any attempt of eroding the impenetrable labyrinth, as it knows within minutes there won’t be any proof of the tears that once struggled to dissolve it. It tightly cramps and grips its fist all the way around my waist. The knot wraps itself around my hips and squeezes the oxygen out of my lungs until I am gasping for air and coughing. It is a living organism like a tumorous mass accumulating more cells for its wicked project. It aches with the kind of agony and wailing that only those who have lost a child could begin to understand. It pulses its erratic toxins until my limbs are heavy and numb.

Some days I wish it would just hurry up and explode or claim me as its latest victim. Still, it shows no mercy. There is no reprieve from the hurt. No crying “uncle.” You are still gone. They say that even coal can be turned into diamonds with time and pressure, so I wait. I try to be patient, but I miss you too much. I don’t know how to let time and nature work on the snarled conglomeration, and I know that realistically, even stellar endurance and grit won’t unravel this mess. I want a sledgehammer and the Jaws of Life and I want it now. I wonder if I really will make it or if the knot will cut one too many holes into my already shattered heart. I’m broken and tired in so many ways.

Others farther down this path say the knot never goes away but that it changes and isn’t as overwhelming as it is now. They say this cruel, punishing suffering will always be intense because so is the love. However, they swear the knot doesn’t consume them as frequently as it did in the earlier days. Still, I wonder if this really is true. A year-and-a-half gone by and I miss you more with every additional day that I don’t get to see you. I yearn more each slowly passing month to hold you and kiss your beautiful, perfect face. I want to feel your soft, toddler cheeks against mine and make you laugh. I want to watch you play with your “vroom vrooms” and study their wheels, or have you excitedly climb on my back as we run through the living room like superheroes zooming through the air. I want to see your brilliant, smiling little teeth and be thankful for each of them, even though they caused sleepless nights for all of us. I just want our old life back.

Realistically, I know that not until this body undergoes its own final deterioration will the wretched knot dissipate, and I will finally get to shed my shell.

In the meantime, I’m doing my best. As I often do these days, I ask for guidance from the wisest, most radiant soul I’ve ever met. Caleb, one day I will see you again and tell you “I love you” face-to-face. I know I’m forever wounded by this mangled build-up in my core, but I will carry you with me no matter how slow I have to crawl or how many bruises this monster leaves in its rage. I will keep fighting, writing, and sharing your beautiful, joyful life, and Baby Boy, your love will shine above this tormenting knot. The knot will NOT win. I love you and I always will.

Love, Mommy
XXXOOOXXX

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May 6th-The Day of Your Service 2-Years Ago

Ladybug

5/6/18-(2:09pm)-(Interesting timing)-Hi Baby Boy. I love you. I miss you but there aren’t even words to tell you how deeply and completely. So much it makes my stomach clench and shudder when I try to exhale through my tears. Today is hard. This month is excruciating. Distractions aren’t working, and as I said before, it all just boils down to missing you. You are always going to be my favorite person in this world or the next. I try to remember that Daddy’s DNA made up half of yours and when I show my love to him, maybe somehow that means I’m still loving you here, too.

Two-years ago at this time, we were at your daycare desperately rifling through pictures and trying to get everything set up for your memorial service. There was an army of family and friends helping us but I was still stressed to the max trying to make every detail perfect for you. A balloon crew, people we didn’t even know preparing food in the kitchen, a thoughtful set of cakes from your uncle, a smoothie from your aunt that I couldn’t even force myself to drink, all your favorite toys on display, and more people than we even had time to hug. Your cousins even flew in from Washington JUST FOR YOUR SERVICE and turned around and took a plane ride home. I have tried to tell myself that this is where my focus should be. I’m trying to remember all the outpouring of love for you and all the ways you are still making us better people. However, I can’t help feeling like I’m suffocating without you.

Apparently, it is Bereaved Mother’s Day today. It’s an interesting concept I just learned of that I suppose at least recognizes that next Sunday doesn’t have the same meaning it once did. I guess it is to acknowledge all of the mommies who have to live without their favorite people but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Yes, I wish I could still be gifted with your simple handprint art but once again, all I really ever needed then and now is you. I never needed or wanted anything special for holidays or birthdays because we already had enough just being together.

Baby Boy, I admit that I still have the gift card Daddy gave me six days after we lost you (my first Mother’s Day here without you). I actually have a plastic bag with several other gift cards I’ve never used, too. It’s not that I’m not using them on purpose, but I will go to a store or online and I try to find something, but I just don’t have any desire to buy the things I once might have. None of these things matter anymore and I’m already spending too much time going through all the extra “stuff” we don’t need and that is cluttering our house as it is.

I knew we had it all then, and Baby Boy, I really WAS grateful. As you can hopefully see now, you are spending your days (or whatever they are where you are) with so many people we were lucky enough to know here on Earth. We will always love them and be excited to hug them someday, too, but no one will ever compare to you. We were already taught many lessons about not taking our days for granted, so I don’t understand why Daddy and I had to have you stolen away to keep that ingrained in our minds.

If there IS one thing that has shifted more than anything it is that my priorities are narrowed. I don’t try to keep as wide of a social circle and I’m doing my best at setting more boundaries to avoid the toxic, draining people or tasks that used to claim more of my time. Mommy never cared much about what other kids at school or other social circles had to say but now it is even more evident. EVERYONE has an opinion on what I should or shouldn’t be doing, but I have bags and bags of something I’m pretty sure you were also born with - IDGARA “I Don’t Give A Rat’s…uh, um, Arm.” You got along with everyone you ever met, but you also always did your own thing, too. I remember your teacher sending me a picture of you “reading” to yourself in your cubby. This was normally reserved for “me time” when someone got in trouble, but you didn’t care. Apparently, you must’ve wanted to read a story and have some time to yourself, so you did.

Caleb Lennon, I will live the rest of my life trying to be more like you. You needed some “me time,” but you didn’t see it as a negative thing. Baby Bear, Mommy is still learning how to have that “me time,” but it is something so foreign and not one I’ve ever been comfortable practicing. I HAVE had to step away from the crowd and have some solitude far more often than I have ever had to do in my life, but it’s still different than the kind of space you gave yourself. In fact, I don’t remember hardly any instances before losing you that I felt the kind of discomfort being in a crowd of people (unless it was a stuffy, formal party where people were going to great lengths to impress each other). Mommy has always been a person that liked people and is even fascinated by our differences. You were starting to grow up and become very similar as well. I DO believe in the idea from Will Rogers “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I don’t think we have to like everyone, but I DO think there is something to like about each person.

I love everything about you and that makes not having you here such a stab in the chest. I will always love you. One thing that is sure to make me absolutely crazy is for people to talk about my love for you in the past tense. THAT WILL NEVER BE TRUE! Please tell everyone to stop saying that. My love for you will always be constant. There is nothing anyone can say or do to me that will ever change that. Maybe it sounds crazy but I loved you even before I was pregnant with you. I didn’t know you like I do now, but I do know I’ve always loved you and I will keep loving you for infinity.

Mommy wrote something about 6 months ago but never posted it anywhere. It seems appropriate on this “Bereaved Mother’s Day” to share it, especially for the others I’ve “met” online who also know what it is like living with this overwhelming ache. (link at the bottom/next blog post)

Someday I will shed this body and this growing knot that lives inside of me and there will never be days like this again.

One day.

I LOVE YOU.

Before, then, now, and always. I love you forever, Little Boy.

Love,
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

https://thecalebeffect.com/…/the-knot-something-i-wrote-abo…

P.S. Thank you for the perfectly-timed ladybug that came to see me when I needed it most.

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"Piece," Love, and Keeping Austin Weird

 The star of the day, Austin!

The star of the day, Austin!

 Austin's wonderful family!

Austin's wonderful family!

 Austin's brother loving on his mommy.

Austin's brother loving on his mommy.

 Austin's mama getting her workout in. Ha!

Austin's mama getting her workout in. Ha!

 Austin's awesome mama.

Austin's awesome mama.

 The most thoughtful letter-(page 1)

The most thoughtful letter-(page 1)

 The most thoughtful letter-(page 2)

The most thoughtful letter-(page 2)

 A bracelet full of love.

A bracelet full of love.

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 We love them! Thank you, Maria!

We love them! Thank you, Maria!

 We love them! Thank you, Maria!

We love them! Thank you, Maria!

 Bags of vroom vrooms for children at  Inova Fair Oaks Hospital .

Bags of vroom vrooms for children at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.

 Team Keep Austin Weird!! We love you, Austin!

Team Keep Austin Weird!! We love you, Austin!

We had a great morning at the AutismOklahoma PieceWalk & 5k honoring our little buddy, Austin!!

But first, let me back up a little bit and tell you about another amazing human being.

My sister, Gaust Ama AKA "Michelle" was selling some of my nieces' toys when she found out the buyer taught in an enhanced autism classroom. She donated the items as a way of spreading The Caleb Effect, and probably didn't think twice about ever hearing from the sweet teacher again.

They say actions speak louder than words, and if you Googled "thoughtful woman of action," Maria Casado's picture should appear from now on!

After receiving the toys, she and her kids put together bags of vroom vrooms in Caleb's honor and donated them for children at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, but she didn't stop there.

While out shopping she replaced a bag of candy that was already in her cart in order to purchase more vroom vrooms. Then, she bought $20 worth of vroom vrooms to honor victims of the OKC bombing during our Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon project last weekend. If that wasn't already enough, her kids found out that only four names were left on the lists they chose and what did they do? "My boys felt bad that 4 people were left off so they took $2 each from their wallets." 😲

Do you think I'm finished with their random acts of kindness to a person they have never met and who lives 1,300 miles away? 
WRONG!

I received the attached letter along with two beautiful bracelets (again each item chosen with an enormous amount of care).

Today, after leaving the Piece Walk, I went to the post office to pick up a package. What did I see? Another kind envelope from Maria. This time it included lots of little Caleb Effect tags that we will be using to spread Caleb's love. WOW!

If ALL of these things weren't already enough to absolutely make our jaws drop and cry knowing The Caleb Effect really is spreading, Maria bought a globe for her class and they are now tracking all of the places in the world (all 50 states and 69 countries if you are curious) where The Caleb Effect has been!!

Maria, we only intended to come to the Piece Walk, hand out a few vroom vrooms and support our friend, Austin and his family, but you made today an even more special event. The kids loved handing out the vroom vrooms, and Austin's mom, Renee Hays said to tell you that she is never taking the bracelet off! 
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Austin's dad, Rob Brian, also shared this: 
"I want to thank everyone who made today possible. Whether you bought a T-shirt, stopped by for the garage sale, donated to our team (Keep Austin Weird), sent words of encouragement, or quietly prayed or sent positive thoughts our way, thank you from Renee and I.

People ask us how do we handle all of this every day. The answer is we just do. We don’t have a choice. What makes it easier is all of you. Your love and support is what gives us the positive energy to stay strong.

Today was clearly evident of that. There was a record number of people at the Piecewalk today. The energy and love that enveloped the event was so incredible. It reminds us that we are not alone in this. That Austin is not alone. That being weird is not a bad thing, but just the opposite.

Being weird is awesome. Being unique is a good thing. The Piecewalk is an event where weird and unique individuals are celebrated for who they are, not defined by how they act or look.

Thank you to everyone who participated today. Austin may not come up to you and say thank you, but I promise you today meant a lot to him. It meant even more to Renee and I."

https://piecewalk.org/team/keep-austin-weird/
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Ken Toey (Adam) and I bought t-shirts and made a donation today in honor of Austin, your students, a special boy in Colorado, and all of those who are impacted by autism. Weird is the new awesome and we are so glad we had a chance to be a part of this incredible event!

Thank you for heeding the call to be nice and for sharing Caleb with the world.

(Also, we already heard back from one of the vroom vroom recipients today.)

https://www.facebook.com/thecalebeffect/…/2078123205791090/…

#beweird
#benice
#peoplearefightingbattlesyouknownothingabout
#autism
#piecewalk
#SUDCawareness
#vroomvrooms
#actionsspeaklouderthanwords
#onekindactleadstoanother
#calebeffect
#itsworking
#thankyou

https://thecalebeffect.org/

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Hell Day-2 Years

Hi Baby. I love you. I miss you so much. It has been 2 exceptionally long years since I got to hold you and kiss your angelic, happy face, and 1 year and 364 days since I got to have you hug me, lay your sandy hair on my shoulder, and kiss me back. I miss the way you would squeeze me and we would give each other smooches until it made us both laugh. I hope you feel all my hugs and kisses even though I only get to write them to you now. Just like your “Baby Kisses” book says, “Mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah.” I love you and no matter how many more seconds, days or years I have to keep living here, that will NEVER EVER change. I will ALWAYS love you FIERCELY with my whole heart and soul. You have every bit of both and I hope that because of that, it somehow makes it seem like I’m already with you. I know a huge piece of Mommy died that day, too and I’ve often theorized that this might be why people say we don’t have to wait long for those we love to show up after we get to your dimension.

It is a very odd thing knowing you are somewhere I’m not even though we know a lot of trustworthy people who’ve made it there, too. With the exception of daycare, we only left a babysitter with you 4 times in your whole life. Even though we know quite a crowd of family and friends up there, this is still WAY longer than I ever would’ve given you permission to be gone without me, especially without any kind of acknowledgement or request that you were even going anywhere without my supervision. I don’t know if you knew this was going to be happening all along and you just snuck out when we weren’t watching, if you were stolen all at once, or if you struggled and tried to fight off whatever attacked your body. I have so many questions and zero answers. I hate today so much.

I woke up today sweating and it reminded me of 2-years ago when I had probably crawled into bed exhausted, without a shower, and still wearing my clothes from the day before. Then waking up to what I did, and all the other horrors of the day left Mommy feeling a kind of icky I can’t even describe in words. Another tiny shred of symbolism to go with the other repulsive details of the worst day of my life, yet what I hope (but is still too hard to imagine) was the most glorious day of yours. 

There is no way you actually remember this but when you were really tiny you used to throw up all over Mama in a most impressive, drenching way until we discovered that BOTH of us didn’t do so great when eating anything made from a “moo Cow.” That’s how I feel today, Baby. I didn’t eat any ice cream or cheese, but I feel like at any moment the knot in the pit of my stomach could erupt and soak everything in vomit. I don’t think you are aging, but just thinking about getting sick made me think your friends who still celebrate birthdays here might actually think watching this sight would be pretty awesome now that they are 4 and into grossing out their parents. 

It is true that living here every second since I found you 2 years ago is excruciating. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do over and over, every single day, but I also know that sharing the way you taught us to love is worth it. It is what I’m supposed to do for you now because you can’t do it physically on your own. Keep reminding me of that on days like today, okay?

Today’s weather matches my heart. It’s cloudy and humid and the hail and tornadoes are still to come. I wish we could fast forward or stop at yesterday but the calendar we keep in this world keeps moving no matter how badly we wish or will it to “be nice.” As we learned last year, it is unbelievable that days like today would have the nerve to actually keep coming around. However, as I’ve told you before, the days don’t take their direction from me. I’m just one of the players, not the keeper of all the games. 

Thinking about tornadoes this morning reminded me that what makes a tornado is a mixture of hot and cold air. It reminded me of May 2nd. The most perfect, spirited, heated air and energy that I loved to feel on my skin symbolizes your beautiful life and the cruel, coldness that hurts all the way to the bone represents your death (God knows how much I hate writing that). Put them together and you have the darkest storm and everything spinning completely out of control. Your breath and everything perfectly warm and comforting was sucked out with the coldest brutal truth of life. Everything spun out of control and in so many ways we are still dizzy and sick. We’ve cried a thunderstorm of tears and felt like hail was nailing us in the heart over and over again. However, Daddy and I are trying our best to try to hang on to each other to weather the gloomiest clouds and most severe thunder that roars at night. 

Sometimes I think I must still be in shock. I don’t feel things like I used to and I don’t know that I ever will without you. Much like Sunday’s race, I’m trying not to worry about time and just make sure I make it to the finish line, but that is so much easier said than done.

I miss you. It all boils down to missing you. I can’t “go there” and think about what happened 2 years ago but my brain still remembers and certain things take me anyway. I also wonder things like if you saw yourself in the out of body experience people talk about before they leave this world. Maybe it was too dark in your room for you to see yourself when you left or maybe someone shielded your eyes. That’s what my hope for you is today. There are still no answers for why you had to leave us so quickly, and Mommy is still haunted by the “what.” What happened, what stole you from us, what is still out there ready to silence Daddy, your cousins, or your animals, and from “what” was it that I should’ve protected you? I wish you could just tell me.

I do not want this day to win and Baby Boy, I’m working my behind off to make sure that doesn’t happen. However, it is literally the challenge of my life. Help me be strong for as long as I have left to live here. It IS what I want to do for you. 

I hope you see all 508 shirts with your name on them and know people ARE listening to you and becoming more aware of the ways you show up to let them know you are still here. It is not AT ALL in the way I wish I could have you on Earth, but I’m trying to be grateful that you are still attracting attention and teaching people all over the world how to love like you. 

You were always a natural teacher as one of the older ones in your class. You taught the younger kids letters, new words, and even how to greet a new friend joining the group. Caleb Baby, you are getting more virtual pupils all the time, but I miss being in your classroom and seeing your joyous face every day. I just miss you my sweet boy and I can’t wait to have you in my arms and kiss your perfect face again and again. I know there are a lot of people where you are but I’m going to go ahead and warn you that they all better hurry up and get their turn with you now because I WILL be hogging you as soon as my body here is done. Just as you said “My Mommy” when you got jealous that I was playing with your friends, “My Caleb,” I am anxiously waiting my turn with you, too.

You used to tell me that the sun was hiding behind the clouds. I will keep telling myself that my son is hiding behind all of those clouds and that someday I will get to sit and enjoy all your peaceful, bright rays again.

You are the most beautiful boy in the world who ever lived and I will never stop telling anyone who will listen about you. Someday you can tell everyone yourself, too.

I love you through the most violent storms, just help Mommy and Daddy hang on a little tighter on days like today.

One day.

I love you, Angel Baby.

Love, Mommy
XXXOOOXXX
OOOXXXOOO
XXXOOOXXX
OOOXXXOOO
XXXOOOXXX
OOOXXXOOO
XXXOOOXXX
OOOXXXOOO
XXXOOOXXX

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We Ran and Remember-OKC Memorial Marathon 2018

Hi Baby. I love you. The Caleb Effect was all over the city today (quite literally), and in many parts of the country as well. Four of your friends and Daddy got up extra early to spread some of your love and vroom vrooms and run the relay in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for you. You also introduced three out of the five to their very first race and they finished in under 5 hours!! Woo hoo!!

Another group of your friends set up a special area in the kids' marathon and passed out 75 vroom vrooms to honor you and the people who were killed there in 1995. That was long before you made it into this world, but a day Mommy and Daddy will never forget.

There were also more than a dozen people who wore your shirts in the race to spread some love. Did you see them? Aunt RoRo ran her first half-marathon and still had steam left in her tank to go for a walk with your cousin afterward.

Do you remember race day, Caleb? You always had SO much fun seeing all the new people and festivities and it was really hard knowing you were not going to be at the finish line greeting me with the happiest smile in the world. I miss you my little bear cub.

Mommy ran today as well but did not break any land records. Thank you for helping me make it to the finish line, which was the only goal I could hope for today. I know Mommy was not properly trained for this and had many setbacks, but I promise you there is NOTHING in this world or the next that will ever stop me from loving you and sharing your happy, friendly spirit.

This was the first race Mommy has signed up to run since you've been gone. I hope you know that I crossed the finish line smiling just for you and knowing the flu of two months ago, the ridiculous training weather, all the deep sadness, and not even shingles or a fever would be victorious today. You didn't ever get to run a race, but Baby Bear, today you won big.

I love you more than you will ever know and I can't wait for that day I get to run to you faster than I've ever sprinted on any course in this life.

One day.

I love you forever and always.
Love, Mommy
XXXOOOXXX

#calebeffect
#runokc
#weremember
#vroomvroom
#benice

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