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#benice

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Be Nice Play Nice!

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*I apologize for all the non-social media users! I meant to post this here a lot earlier than now!
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Who:
YOU, your friends and family!

What:
April's Nice on the 9th will be an evening of collecting ANY type of new or lightly-used sports equipment, in ANY size, and for ANY sport for underserved kids. This includes but is not limited to gloves, balls, pads, cleats, and rackets. The only piece of equipment they don’t stock are football helmets. Spring is here! This is a perfect opportunity to go through your closets and give a child the chance to play. We will also be writing notes of encouragement for the kids who will be receiving these donations. Our friends at Deer Creek Fit Body Boot Camp will also share a few tips on keeping our bodies playing nicely.

When:
April 9th, 7-9pm

Where:
Deer Creek Fit Body Boot Camp
16501 Network Ave.
Edmond, OK 73012

Why:
"C4K" or Cleats for Kids helps young people live healthier lifestyles and learn life lessons through sports. They provide sports shoes and safe equipment to youth in need. By getting more kids involved in sports, C4K changes lives and gives underserved children hope and self-confidence.

More about Cleats for Kids:
http://okc.cleatsforkids.org/

Be Nice and Play Nice this 9th! As usual, if you aren't local, we would love for you to find an organization or child in your area to play nice in your own special way. See you on the 9th!

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Nice on the 9th-Pints for Paws

Caleb and his rescue kitty, Smudge

Caleb and his rescue kitty, Smudge

Our pint-sized little lad absolutely LOVED his three furmily members (see picture for further proof)! One overprotective German Shepherd/Lab, one shy Seal Point, and one extremely tolerant Lynx Point all had their paws in raising him. All three also came to us via local rescue groups (thank you Aunt Nancy). Hence, this month we chose three organizations (one shelter, one rescue, and one reduced price spay and neuter organization) who keep animals like Caleb's safe and do their part in controlling the population. 

The holiday season may bring many good tidings but unfortunately it also sends an influx of returned "gifts" to the shelters as well. 

How can you help? 

Come to Pints for Paws at The Garage (2900 W Britton Rd OKC, OK 73120) on Jan 9th from 6-9pm and bring wish list items for three wonderful organizations providing care for vulnerable animals. Stick around for a burger (vegan options available) and your favorite beverage and 10% of all sales (INCLUDING ALCOHOL) will be donated to The Caleb Effect. We will be using these funds to purchase supplies for the organizations. As usual, we will also be writing a few notes which will be delivered with the supplies to the volunteers and staff. 
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WISH LIST ITEMS:
**denotes high demand items

• **CLEAN Towels/washcloths/blankets/sheets
• **Pet food (including canned kitten and puppy food)
• **Cat litter
• NEW small litter boxes 
• Pet beds
• Collars/leashes
• Soft treats/peanut butter/Kongs
• Cat and dog toys (without catnip)
• Puppy pads
• Salt licks
• Bleach 
• Pine-Sol
• **Paper towels
• Plastic baggies (all sizes)
• Laundry detergent
• Hand soap
• Dish soap (regular and dishwasher)
• Odor neutralizer spray
• Disinfecting wipes with bleach
• Spray bottles
• Sponges and scrub pads
• Lint rollers
• Kleenex
• **gift cards to grocery, pet supply, home improvement stores, office supply & auto parts stores
• **Monetary donations (we will have jars set up for each organization and proceeds from food/beverage sales will be split equally)

Not local? As usual, there are furry friends in your area who need your help! Be Nice on the 9th wherever you are and introduce someone new to Caleb.

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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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"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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Celebrate a Senior-April 2018-Nice On The 9th!

Prepping for the 9th! Grippy socks for the win!

Prepping for the 9th! Grippy socks for the win!

I wouldn't have thought about little things like lens wipes, but Papa  Roy  told me how he likes to bring them to senior centers. He said he used to visit his mom and her glasses could always use a good cleaning. It's the little things.  Also, how cool are these bags? Yes, keep giving the love. — at  Anne-Paige .

I wouldn't have thought about little things like lens wipes, but Papa Roy told me how he likes to bring them to senior centers. He said he used to visit his mom and her glasses could always use a good cleaning. It's the little things.

Also, how cool are these bags? Yes, keep giving the love. — at Anne-Paige.

Handwritten notes to let people know we love seniors and that we care.

Handwritten notes to let people know we love seniors and that we care.

We had a VERY busy day planned so I left a little earlier than usual. Oklahoma may have wind sweeping down the plains but the skies make up for some of its neurotic behavior. Also,  Ken Toey , that vroom vroom reminded me of a certain one you carry in your pocket.

We had a VERY busy day planned so I left a little earlier than usual. Oklahoma may have wind sweeping down the plains but the skies make up for some of its neurotic behavior. Also, Ken Toey, that vroom vroom reminded me of a certain one you carry in your pocket.

Stop #1: Norman Regional Hospital  Grandma Faye (Adam's grandma) came here a couple of times after surgery but you were already gone. She didn’t even have a pencil to write down a phone number or anything. Not being one to ask for anything, she was bored out of her mind until someone came to see her. We didn't want anyone else to have to wait to receive these items so we made a big bag of supplies to hand out to patients and left them for others who experience a similar circumstance.   You brought her a ladybug inside her hospital room during a time that ladybugs were not in season and you disappeared just as quickly when the next person came to visit.  I think it was here that the lady at the nurse’s station said that she liked how we noted that you were “borrowed” from Heaven. I told her I always knew you were never really mine. You just had some of my DNA.   Bonus points for pretty flowers!

Stop #1: Norman Regional Hospital
Grandma Faye (Adam's grandma) came here a couple of times after surgery but you were already gone. She didn’t even have a pencil to write down a phone number or anything. Not being one to ask for anything, she was bored out of her mind until someone came to see her. We didn't want anyone else to have to wait to receive these items so we made a big bag of supplies to hand out to patients and left them for others who experience a similar circumstance. 

You brought her a ladybug inside her hospital room during a time that ladybugs were not in season and you disappeared just as quickly when the next person came to visit.

I think it was here that the lady at the nurse’s station said that she liked how we noted that you were “borrowed” from Heaven. I told her I always knew you were never really mine. You just had some of my DNA. 

Bonus points for pretty flowers!

Stop #2: "Mee Maw's" house! I should've discovered at this point that all my pictures were being taken in "live" mode, which means a lot of them ended up being blurry. Oh well.  Mee Maw is not my biological grandma but this sweet lady treats me like she is. Do you remember going to visit her? She is the grandmother of a dear friend I met at OU on the day she moved into the dorms and whose family “adopted” me as one of their own ever since. They are my "S family" and always know how to make me feel like a surrogate daughter.   I graduated college post 9/11 (a really terrible day) when advertising executives were being laid off in droves and working at Starbucks to make connections. Companies could pick whoever and whatever experience or specialty they wanted, so until I found my first "real job" Mee Maw rented me her spare bedroom for next to nothing.   I love this feisty, John Phillip Sousa loving, S. Meemz, beautiful, Sooner Sue!  She also knows the heartache of outliving her son.  — with  Sue Jansing .

Stop #2: "Mee Maw's" house!
I should've discovered at this point that all my pictures were being taken in "live" mode, which means a lot of them ended up being blurry. Oh well.

Mee Maw is not my biological grandma but this sweet lady treats me like she is. Do you remember going to visit her? She is the grandmother of a dear friend I met at OU on the day she moved into the dorms and whose family “adopted” me as one of their own ever since. They are my "S family" and always know how to make me feel like a surrogate daughter. 

I graduated college post 9/11 (a really terrible day) when advertising executives were being laid off in droves and working at Starbucks to make connections. Companies could pick whoever and whatever experience or specialty they wanted, so until I found my first "real job" Mee Maw rented me her spare bedroom for next to nothing. 

I love this feisty, John Phillip Sousa loving, S. Meemz, beautiful, Sooner Sue!

She also knows the heartache of outliving her son.

— with Sue Jansing.

Stop 3-Remember Leesa? My “surrogate sister” has added "Physical Therapy Assistant" to her title. She does home health visits for many elderly patients so we left her some handwritten notes and a few goodies to spread some love.  Her tiny assistants-in-training were also there to greet me and check out your necklace, but the taller one escaped my photos.   Leesa asked me if I had eaten breakfast and when I told her I forgot to grab what I had planned, she whipped up the best bowl of oatmeal I think I've ever eaten in my life. I don't think I've ever left her house without being sent away with food. You would've loved it!  Thank you for looking out for me, Leesa! Hope you had a good day with your patients! So glad I got to see my S. Family today.   — with  Hooman Torabi , Suzanne Annesley  and  Leesa Torabi .

Stop 3-Remember Leesa? My “surrogate sister” has added "Physical Therapy Assistant" to her title. She does home health visits for many elderly patients so we left her some handwritten notes and a few goodies to spread some love.

Her tiny assistants-in-training were also there to greet me and check out your necklace, but the taller one escaped my photos. 

Leesa asked me if I had eaten breakfast and when I told her I forgot to grab what I had planned, she whipped up the best bowl of oatmeal I think I've ever eaten in my life. I don't think I've ever left her house without being sent away with food. You would've loved it!

Thank you for looking out for me, Leesa! Hope you had a good day with your patients! So glad I got to see my S. Family today.

 — with Hooman Torabi,Suzanne Annesley and Leesa Torabi.

Stop #4: Grandma Faye's House! Your great-grandma is one of the biggest inspirations for choosing this topic this month. She got one of the cool Anne-Paige bags, too.  You loved to throw your vroom vrooms into Grandma's walker and push it all around the room. Grandma still carries around one of your trucks. Do you see that, Caleb? Your vroom vroom is still there, although I heard you were hitchhiking for a couple days after the vroom vroom fell out of Grandma’s walker during one of her trips to visit the doctor.  Grandma shared a special bond with you and I hope she doesn't mind me posting one pic of our visit even though she hates pictures of herself.   This is another entertaining, sassy, beautiful, genuine lady that I love more than she knows.  Also, Baby Boy, this was a surprise visit and when I arrived, Grandma was sitting in the dark because her light bulb broke down to the socket. She told me she didn't want me to fix it and ehem, that I COULDN'T fix it without cutting myself, so the challenge was accepted. Guess what, Baby? As you can see from the picture, Grandma told me where to find her tools and I fixed the light. Also, please note that there is not so much as even a scratch on any of my fingers. So Caleb, you literally brought light back to her room!   Thank you for pushing me to change this month to honor seniors even if you DID do that this weekend. Next month, could I have a little more notice please?

Stop #4: Grandma Faye's House!
Your great-grandma is one of the biggest inspirations for choosing this topic this month. She got one of the cool Anne-Paige bags, too.

You loved to throw your vroom vrooms into Grandma's walker and push it all around the room. Grandma still carries around one of your trucks. Do you see that, Caleb? Your vroom vroom is still there, although I heard you were hitchhiking for a couple days after the vroom vroom fell out of Grandma’s walker during one of her trips to visit the doctor.

Grandma shared a special bond with you and I hope she doesn't mind me posting one pic of our visit even though she hates pictures of herself. 

This is another entertaining, sassy, beautiful, genuine lady that I love more than she knows.

Also, Baby Boy, this was a surprise visit and when I arrived, Grandma was sitting in the dark because her light bulb broke down to the socket. She told me she didn't want me to fix it and ehem, that I COULDN'T fix it without cutting myself, so the challenge was accepted. Guess what, Baby? As you can see from the picture, Grandma told me where to find her tools and I fixed the light. Also, please note that there is not so much as even a scratch on any of my fingers. So Caleb, you literally brought light back to her room! 

Thank you for pushing me to change this month to honor seniors even if you DID do that this weekend. Next month, could I have a little more notice please?

Stop #5: St. Luke's Downtown (WHAT?) That's right. AFTER we had already decided to switch this month to celebrate seniors, I found this "Stand Up for Seniors" event hosted by LeadingAge Oklahoma. It was originally scheduled to be at the State Capitol but because of the teacher walkout it just "coincidentally" moved to the same place where you went to daycare. I felt bad not sticking around or saying “hi” to anyone, but I did drive past your class, playground, and drop-off/pick-up parking. Whew. — with  LeadingAge  at  St. Luke's United Methodist Church .

Stop #5: St. Luke's Downtown (WHAT?)
That's right. AFTER we had already decided to switch this month to celebrate seniors, I found this "Stand Up for Seniors" event hosted by LeadingAge Oklahoma. It was originally scheduled to be at the State Capitol but because of the teacher walkout it just "coincidentally" moved to the same place where you went to daycare. I felt bad not sticking around or saying “hi” to anyone, but I did drive past your class, playground, and drop-off/pick-up parking. Whew. — with LeadingAge at St. Luke's United Methodist Church.

Where am I? What stop is this? Oh yes: Stop #6-USPS Sent some love and mailed a package to my only living grandparent, your great-grandma. I met my new friend KiKi (not sure if that is how you spell it or not because according to her name tag, as I teased her, her name was “Trainee"). I liked her right away. She had fun hair with blue and green accents, so that made me know she didn't take herself too seriously. I was the only customer in there (also highly unusual) so she was taking her time and being friendly with me. Her questions went beyond the standard “Do you have anything liquid, fragile, perishable, hazardous, etc?” She noticed that the first name on the package was “Grandma,” and asked me if I spent summers in California with my grandma when I was growing up. I told her that I wished I did but that I've only had a few opportunities to see her in my life. I don’t normally tell people about you in these kinds of settings, but she was genuinely curious why I was sending this package and I think KiKi even said something asking if there was a specific reason I was sending your great-grandma something. Maybe it is rare for people to mail their grandparents a package so she wanted to know more. I told her about “Nice On The 9th” and gave her one of your cards. The lady at the next station heard me talking about you and about SUDC and showed me a picture she keeps at her station of a friend's little one who also died in their sleep. Her friend's child was under 1, so it was labeled as SIDS, but maybe you have now met this new friend, too.   I reminded them to not take any days for granted and had to get a picture of my new friend. Once again, it was on that weird mode, so blur city was all I got. Maybe they are following your page now and will see this posted. I know they will remember you hopefully for a really long time.

Where am I? What stop is this? Oh yes:
Stop #6-USPS
Sent some love and mailed a package to my only living grandparent, your great-grandma. I met my new friend KiKi (not sure if that is how you spell it or not because according to her name tag, as I teased her, her name was “Trainee"). I liked her right away. She had fun hair with blue and green accents, so that made me know she didn't take herself too seriously. I was the only customer in there (also highly unusual) so she was taking her time and being friendly with me. Her questions went beyond the standard “Do you have anything liquid, fragile, perishable, hazardous, etc?” She noticed that the first name on the package was “Grandma,” and asked me if I spent summers in California with my grandma when I was growing up. I told her that I wished I did but that I've only had a few opportunities to see her in my life. I don’t normally tell people about you in these kinds of settings, but she was genuinely curious why I was sending this package and I think KiKi even said something asking if there was a specific reason I was sending your great-grandma something. Maybe it is rare for people to mail their grandparents a package so she wanted to know more. I told her about “Nice On The 9th” and gave her one of your cards. The lady at the next station heard me talking about you and about SUDC and showed me a picture she keeps at her station of a friend's little one who also died in their sleep. Her friend's child was under 1, so it was labeled as SIDS, but maybe you have now met this new friend, too. 

I reminded them to not take any days for granted and had to get a picture of my new friend. Once again, it was on that weird mode, so blur city was all I got. Maybe they are following your page now and will see this posted. I know they will remember you hopefully for a really long time.

Stop #7: The address listed online for a meal delivery organization was not correct.  Nothing to see here but keep this timing in mind for all the other signs or "coincidences" that were to come.

Stop #7:
The address listed online for a meal delivery organization was not correct.

Nothing to see here but keep this timing in mind for all the other signs or "coincidences" that were to come.

Stop #8: Bellevue Health & Rehabilitation Another one of your non-biological Grandmas came here when she was still alive. She was the only person you met in this life who was there with you when you left us on May 2nd.   I will never forget the day we surprised her at her favorite ice cream place and your Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bryan had driven all the way from Colorado just to surprise her. Grandma Nell” walked into the ice cream place, took one look at you and said, "well there's my birthday present right there!" Aunt Nancy did not find it as amusing at the time, but later she wondered if you were her early birthday present for her next birthday.   Grandma Nell spent quite a while here a couple different times so we donated a bag of goodies to remember her. The only reason we had the pleasure of knowing her was because your Aunt Nancy was her neighbor and always took good care of her. She called you a "doll baby" and told me that you were the cutest baby she had ever seen.  I hope you are having fun playing with the doggies and kitties in heaven together. Tell Grandma we said "hi" and that she is also being remembered.  — with  Viewfinder Photography  at  Bellevue .

Stop #8: Bellevue Health & Rehabilitation
Another one of your non-biological Grandmas came here when she was still alive. She was the only person you met in this life who was there with you when you left us on May 2nd. 

I will never forget the day we surprised her at her favorite ice cream place and your Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bryan had driven all the way from Colorado just to surprise her. Grandma Nell” walked into the ice cream place, took one look at you and said, "well there's my birthday present right there!" Aunt Nancy did not find it as amusing at the time, but later she wondered if you were her early birthday present for her next birthday. 

Grandma Nell spent quite a while here a couple different times so we donated a bag of goodies to remember her. The only reason we had the pleasure of knowing her was because your Aunt Nancy was her neighbor and always took good care of her. She called you a "doll baby" and told me that you were the cutest baby she had ever seen.

I hope you are having fun playing with the doggies and kitties in heaven together. Tell Grandma we said "hi" and that she is also being remembered.

— with Viewfinder Photography at Bellevue.

Stop #9: Buy For Less They have the BEST flowers here! We bought a dozen roses since roses are one of your signs. The florist was so kind and patient. I asked her if she had any regular customers who might be coming in today and she told me of a man who comes in every day, sometimes twice a day (Wilbur). I told her to give one of the roses to him so she saved one back. I didn't have the templates inside with me, so I gave her one of your cards to include and told her how you loved older people. I found out later that she sold me a baker’s dozen and gave me a heck of a deal when it was time to ring up. She also told me she was going to share Caleb’s story with her church and pray for Daddy and me. How nice is that?  I handed out the first rose to a lady in the parking lot who was leaving. She asked what she owed me and was surprised when I told her "nothing."

Stop #9: Buy For Less
They have the BEST flowers here!
We bought a dozen roses since roses are one of your signs. The florist was so kind and patient. I asked her if she had any regular customers who might be coming in today and she told me of a man who comes in every day, sometimes twice a day (Wilbur). I told her to give one of the roses to him so she saved one back. I didn't have the templates inside with me, so I gave her one of your cards to include and told her how you loved older people. I found out later that she sold me a baker’s dozen and gave me a heck of a deal when it was time to ring up. She also told me she was going to share Caleb’s story with her church and pray for Daddy and me. How nice is that?

I handed out the first rose to a lady in the parking lot who was leaving. She asked what she owed me and was surprised when I told her "nothing."

Stop #10: Something told me to turn the opposite direction from where I was headed and there was even a really bright almost shimmery object that caught my attention. I thought to myself that I must be going crazy or really in need of sleep, but then I saw her.  A friendly  The Curbside Chronicle  vendor, and even though she is probably not old enough to be considered "elderly" we wanted to show her some love, too. She got rose #3.  Grandma Faye insisted on giving me money to use for someone else that you are helping, so it paid for the roses, the magazine, and even had enough to share a little extra with this vendor. I still have 89 cents sitting on the kitchen table so I think I'm going to have to add another quarter to one of the templates and leave it at a dollar store or something.  Also, talk about signs... On the way to this stop, I passed my guitar teacher and wouldn't have even noticed except he hauls a very distinctive red canoe on top. I still didn't think much of it, except for later when I was talking to Daddy and I thought about how perfectly timed that had to have been and how if the one stop would've been the right address, I wouldn't have passed him. I've been putting music on the back burner even though it is what I love most. I've wanted to give up a lot lately because it always seems like I'm starting over every week and I feel like the judgment for questions like "how long have you been taking lessons" will not have the results I probably should by now. I started playing before we lost you, but even then it wasn't the most ideal time to learn a new instrument. Every day since May 2nd has been beyond challenging and it still isn't a great time to learn, but I'm doing it anyway. I haven't dedicated the time I need or want to making myself as good as I want to be. However, it is one of the things I feel like you are pushing me to do even though it is hard to concentrate and sit still to practice. Neither of us was ever any good at sitting for long periods of time but I promise to keep working on it.   THEN after I am guided over to the Curbside vendor, I see this muscle car that looks like it would fit in with your vroom vrooms. It is hard to tell from this picture, but the way it is painted, it turns from orange to green in the light. Okay, I'm listening. You have my attention.

Stop #10: Something told me to turn the opposite direction from where I was headed and there was even a really bright almost shimmery object that caught my attention. I thought to myself that I must be going crazy or really in need of sleep, but then I saw her.

A friendly The Curbside Chronicle vendor, and even though she is probably not old enough to be considered "elderly" we wanted to show her some love, too. She got rose #3.

Grandma Faye insisted on giving me money to use for someone else that you are helping, so it paid for the roses, the magazine, and even had enough to share a little extra with this vendor. I still have 89 cents sitting on the kitchen table so I think I'm going to have to add another quarter to one of the templates and leave it at a dollar store or something.

Also, talk about signs...
On the way to this stop, I passed my guitar teacher and wouldn't have even noticed except he hauls a very distinctive red canoe on top. I still didn't think much of it, except for later when I was talking to Daddy and I thought about how perfectly timed that had to have been and how if the one stop would've been the right address, I wouldn't have passed him. I've been putting music on the back burner even though it is what I love most. I've wanted to give up a lot lately because it always seems like I'm starting over every week and I feel like the judgment for questions like "how long have you been taking lessons" will not have the results I probably should by now. I started playing before we lost you, but even then it wasn't the most ideal time to learn a new instrument. Every day since May 2nd has been beyond challenging and it still isn't a great time to learn, but I'm doing it anyway. I haven't dedicated the time I need or want to making myself as good as I want to be. However, it is one of the things I feel like you are pushing me to do even though it is hard to concentrate and sit still to practice. Neither of us was ever any good at sitting for long periods of time but I promise to keep working on it. 

THEN after I am guided over to the Curbside vendor, I see this muscle car that looks like it would fit in with your vroom vrooms. It is hard to tell from this picture, but the way it is painted, it turns from orange to green in the light. Okay, I'm listening. You have my attention.

Stop #11, 12, and 13-Handing out more roses: -Walgreens parking lot-to a great-grandma -At the Crossings Clinic to two ladies leaving (view from my back windshield trying not to be a creeper) -At "Grandma Pat's" work (yes, another one that is not related by blood but that I love dearly. I told her she wasn’t really old enough to get one of these, but she always let my nieces and I call her and her husband "Grandma  Pat " and "Grandpa George" when we lived next door, so she still qualified. Do we have some terrific people in our lives or what? — at  Crossings Community Center & Clinic .

Stop #11, 12, and 13-Handing out more roses:
-Walgreens parking lot-to a great-grandma
-At the Crossings Clinic to two ladies leaving (view from my back windshield trying not to be a creeper)
-At "Grandma Pat's" work (yes, another one that is not related by blood but that I love dearly. I told her she wasn’t really old enough to get one of these, but she always let my nieces and I call her and her husband "Grandma Pat" and "Grandpa George" when we lived next door, so she still qualified. Do we have some terrific people in our lives or what? — at Crossings Community Center & Clinic.

Okay, Caleb, I told you I was listening, but you knew I was still skeptical. Stop #14: Dropping off vroom vrooms to a friend in honor of his elderly mother who has Alzheimer's and remembering your Aunt Danna.  Our friend takes recycled jars and puts fun little toppers on them. Then he sells them to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. We are going to have him make a Millennium Falcon and Lightning McQueen jar so we can help support the cause and we gave him ten other vroom vrooms to sell at the store, too. He said it was perfect timing because he just received a bunch of jars but didn't have any toppers left. He also said people had asked for jars for kids. Imagine that.   Also, on my way to drop these off, yes, I did see the yellow Hummer. Wow.   — with  Darrell Willoughby .

Okay, Caleb, I told you I was listening, but you knew I was still skeptical.
Stop #14: Dropping off vroom vrooms to a friend in honor of his elderly mother who has Alzheimer's and remembering your Aunt Danna.

Our friend takes recycled jars and puts fun little toppers on them. Then he sells them to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. We are going to have him make a Millennium Falcon and Lightning McQueen jar so we can help support the cause and we gave him ten other vroom vrooms to sell at the store, too. He said it was perfect timing because he just received a bunch of jars but didn't have any toppers left. He also said people had asked for jars for kids. Imagine that. 

Also, on my way to drop these off, yes, I did see the yellow Hummer. Wow.

 — with Darrell Willoughby.

Stop #15: So our friend that is raising money for the Alzheimer's Association told me of a place where there might be some people here in need of some extra TLC. I wasn’t sure where I was going to hand out the rest of the roses but figured you would also direct that move. Looks like I was right. The remaining roses went to: -A lady who was on her way to see a musician. She lit up when she got her rose and kept thanking me. -A man who will be 104 in June and who gave his rose to one of the caretakers who works her butt off there. -An 89-year old from Hawaii who has been married for 66 years. She told me to start saving 10% of my money by the time I’m 30. I didn’t burst her bubble and let her know I was well past that age and have always been a frugalista. -The sweetest and most friendly lady who perked up and got out of bed when she got her rose. -A gentleman who loves grandfather clocks and started working on his family farm from a very young age. He was having a rough day, but the staff was so kind in holding his hand and letting him talk as long as he needed. I hope the rose let him know that no matter how many bad days he has had, someone is still thinking of him and loves him just the way he is. -Another grateful lady watching TV in her room.  -And look at that! A picture of a ladybug. I also saw a monarch butterfly one and a cardinal figurine. Hmmmm...   — at  Epworth Villa .

Stop #15: So our friend that is raising money for the Alzheimer's Association told me of a place where there might be some people here in need of some extra TLC. I wasn’t sure where I was going to hand out the rest of the roses but figured you would also direct that move. Looks like I was right. The remaining roses went to:
-A lady who was on her way to see a musician. She lit up when she got her rose and kept thanking me.
-A man who will be 104 in June and who gave his rose to one of the caretakers who works her butt off there.
-An 89-year old from Hawaii who has been married for 66 years. She told me to start saving 10% of my money by the time I’m 30. I didn’t burst her bubble and let her know I was well past that age and have always been a frugalista.
-The sweetest and most friendly lady who perked up and got out of bed when she got her rose.
-A gentleman who loves grandfather clocks and started working on his family farm from a very young age. He was having a rough day, but the staff was so kind in holding his hand and letting him talk as long as he needed. I hope the rose let him know that no matter how many bad days he has had, someone is still thinking of him and loves him just the way he is.
-Another grateful lady watching TV in her room.

-And look at that! A picture of a ladybug. I also saw a monarch butterfly one and a cardinal figurine. Hmmmm...

 — at Epworth Villa.

Stop #16: (oh and I did swing by a fast food restaurant and grabbed lunch at about 3:30pm) Victorian Estates Assisted Living Centers -Daddy got to join me after work! -This happy soul keeps people who are confused from running away and trying to "go home." He doesn’t complain about the food and has a pretty impressive Polka record collection and saw clock! He has a positive energy about him and even though he never met me before May 1st, 2016, he always tells me that he loves me when I hang up. He told us that another man at the center didn’t like the way they cooked his bacon and he told him to just think of it as nutrition that his body needed. From then on, the other man ate all his food and has stayed healthy.   That's right. You and I met this man and his daughter the day before we lost you. Remember him? I hadn't seen him since that day I met him when you had an ear infection. It was Sunday so your pediatrician's office was closed. He walked in wearing a Gulfstream ServiceCenter jacket and my eyes immediately were drawn to it. That is where my dad worked when he was alive. Apparently it has been out of business for many years so I was shocked to see the familiar logo. I asked him if he knew my dad and he recognized his name immediately even though he has some trouble remembering things now. He told me that he loved it when my dad took him up for a ride along to check out an airplane. He also told me that he even let him fly the plane and was learning a lot from my dad/your grandpa you never met but that is with you now.   Mommy has a hard time remembering details but I remembered his first and last name even after I got home which is a small miracle for me. It really upsets me that you died by yourself without me and it is something I still agonize about every day. My oldest brother, your Uncle  Paul Lindo  told me that maybe you weren't by yourself and that maybe our encounter was a sign that my dad was there, too. I don't know if that is the case or not, but I DO know that I was meant to meet this wonderful gentle man.   — at  Victorian Estates .

Stop #16: (oh and I did swing by a fast food restaurant and grabbed lunch at about 3:30pm)
Victorian Estates Assisted Living Centers
-Daddy got to join me after work!
-This happy soul keeps people who are confused from running away and trying to "go home." He doesn’t complain about the food and has a pretty impressive Polka record collection and saw clock! He has a positive energy about him and even though he never met me before May 1st, 2016, he always tells me that he loves me when I hang up. He told us that another man at the center didn’t like the way they cooked his bacon and he told him to just think of it as nutrition that his body needed. From then on, the other man ate all his food and has stayed healthy. 

That's right. You and I met this man and his daughter the day before we lost you. Remember him? I hadn't seen him since that day I met him when you had an ear infection. It was Sunday so your pediatrician's office was closed. He walked in wearing a Gulfstream ServiceCenter jacket and my eyes immediately were drawn to it. That is where my dad worked when he was alive. Apparently it has been out of business for many years so I was shocked to see the familiar logo. I asked him if he knew my dad and he recognized his name immediately even though he has some trouble remembering things now. He told me that he loved it when my dad took him up for a ride along to check out an airplane. He also told me that he even let him fly the plane and was learning a lot from my dad/your grandpa you never met but that is with you now. 

Mommy has a hard time remembering details but I remembered his first and last name even after I got home which is a small miracle for me. It really upsets me that you died by yourself without me and it is something I still agonize about every day. My oldest brother, your Uncle Paul Lindo told me that maybe you weren't by yourself and that maybe our encounter was a sign that my dad was there, too. I don't know if that is the case or not, but I DO know that I was meant to meet this wonderful gentle man.

 — at Victorian Estates.

Stop #17! Strawberry Fields Senior Living -As I said in my Facebook Live video, this was not part of the original plan, but is anyone surprised at this point? You had been in so many different cities already that I wanted our last stop to be a senior living center in Mustang, the town closest to where we live. Daddy wracked his brain and the only place he could think of was this place. What?? Also, if people do not believe in signs after ALL of these today, I can’t wait until you do something even more grand like you keep doing for Mommy and Daddy. I admit that I am a skeptic and a person who likes proof, so I'm sorry you have to work a little harder for me. However, as I told you, you know what I need and you keep making my mouth drop open when I’m not sure I should trust my own eyes. Also, the lady inside already knew all about you, Caleb Lennon and said she got emotional just seeing us walking in with our shirts. The goodies we left here are going to be used for this low-income retirement community’s bingo prizes.   April 2018-Nice On The 9th Recap:  7 cities (Norman, Moore, OKC, The Village, Edmond, Yukon, and Mustang) + 12 hours of being “Nice On The 9th” =PRICELESS day of spreading The Caleb Effect with our community.  I love you, Caleb. Now and always.   — with  Ken Toey  at  Strawberry Fields Senior Living & Retirement Community .

Stop #17! Strawberry Fields Senior Living
-As I said in my Facebook Live video, this was not part of the original plan, but is anyone surprised at this point? You had been in so many different cities already that I wanted our last stop to be a senior living center in Mustang, the town closest to where we live. Daddy wracked his brain and the only place he could think of was this place. What?? Also, if people do not believe in signs after ALL of these today, I can’t wait until you do something even more grand like you keep doing for Mommy and Daddy. I admit that I am a skeptic and a person who likes proof, so I'm sorry you have to work a little harder for me. However, as I told you, you know what I need and you keep making my mouth drop open when I’m not sure I should trust my own eyes. Also, the lady inside already knew all about you, Caleb Lennon and said she got emotional just seeing us walking in with our shirts. The goodies we left here are going to be used for this low-income retirement community’s bingo prizes. 

April 2018-Nice On The 9th Recap:

7 cities (Norman, Moore, OKC, The Village, Edmond, Yukon, and Mustang)
+ 12 hours of being “Nice On The 9th”
=PRICELESS day of spreading The Caleb Effect with our community.

I love you, Caleb. Now and always.

 — with Ken Toey at Strawberry Fields Senior Living & Retirement Community.

And here is the lady from the airplane.   It would be so awesome to find her. She has or had family in the Seattle area in September of 2015 but I can't remember where she and her husband live.

And here is the lady from the airplane. 

It would be so awesome to find her. She has or had family in the Seattle area in September of 2015 but I can't remember where she and her husband live.


Hi Baby! I love you. I can’t even tell you how much I love you because there aren’t words that exist in this world that are even close to being adequate. Just know that Mommy loves you more than you loved any vroom vroom or even going “wimming,” and think of you far more often than you thought about how wheels on your toys went around and around. You are always on my mind, heart, and soul, and as I’ve told you before, I hope most of my soul already left with you so that you never wonder where Daddy and I went. My love for you is never going to be in the past tense. Saying I “loved” you is not the way I feel about you. You may be gone physically, but I love you and I will ALWAYS love you, Caleb Lennon. You are my everything, my beautiful boy and you always will be.

I still wonder constantly what you are doing and if your days (or whatever they are now) are still consumed with some version of vroom vrooms that keep you curious and able to tune out the rest of your surroundings. However, I know I probably couldn’t even fathom all the things you now know even if I kept trying for the rest of my days here on Earth.

I know this message is coming to you late again but I hope you have been hearing me when I talk to you and already see that it was not physically or mentally possible over the last couple of days. Because of you, Mommy is really trying hard to pay close attention and push herself outside what is comfortable. I’m still not always courageous enough to do the things I think you want me to do, but I AM listening, Baby Boy, and I really do feel you directing me. I want the whole world to know you even if it is just through stories, pictures and videos. I hate it with all my might that this is my only option I have left. Even though my heart is decimated (that means destroyed and crumpled so small there are only tiny pieces like crumbs left), I want to be able to put that aside so everyone can see you through me. I want to represent you even if it is just a tiny fraction of the person you showed me how to be. I know they can’t see your joy and love when I’m sobbing or despondent (that’s a kind of unhappiness that you thankfully never knew). I have to keep getting off the couch, keep trying, and continuing to tell everyone what I think you would want them to learn. It IS hard to answer questions and meet new people (the cards help though and for anyone reading this who has lost a child, you can make your own version from the “Be Nice” section of the website or click here: https://thecalebeffect.com/kindness/ ). I know the first few questions will always include “Do you have kids?” and it does hurt knowing my only baby isn’t in my arms anymore. It CAN be hard to smile on the 9th or when we visit places in the community for you, but I hope you really do know you are always worth it and your life is worth sharing. This is why we celebrate the 9th, because we want everyone to see the way you lived your life and feel your presence and good-nature as it applies to their own.

Maybe that’s why this was the busiest 9th yet because I wanted to send you in as many directions as possible. Did you see what we did for “Nice On The 9th” this month? We decided to postpone our original theme for this month THIS WEEKEND because we wanted to have more time to make sure when we tackle this upcoming topic, we get it right and have the best picture of the situation. Mommy was already running on borrowed steam, but you helped me make it through somehow. Thank you, Baby. I hope you already know everything I tell you. Maybe you even know things that are still to come, but I don’t live in the same dimension where you have been sent, so for now, this is just my way of telling you, and keeping a record for this life.

This month we chose to be nice to people who have been on this planet longer than us. Some of them have been in this universe for quite a bit longer than us and we wanted to make sure they knew they are still really important people in our community.

You LOVED older people and really did have a sixth sense about what they needed and how you could brighten their day. Daddy loved pushing you in the shopping cart backwards so you could greet everyone and I think you enjoyed entertaining the older crowd more than almost anyone else (except babies). Every time you guys would come home from the store, I would ask him to share the details of your new fan club. Each time you guys went, there was a new story about how you made someone’s day. Daddy turned grocery shopping into a fun outing for you and a way for me to get a few things done at home. I have to admit though, sometimes I was jealous that I didn’t get to see some of these interactions, too. I have been told I’m a pretty empathetic person, but I had nothing on you. Caleb, how did you know exactly what every single person needed from you and exactly how to give it to them?

I don’t know if you have memories of your entire life or how that works now, but there was a time when we were on an airplane flying home from visiting your family in Washington and you stretched out your arms to a complete stranger a few rows away. She asked if she looked like someone you knew or maybe a grandmother, but there was no resemblance to anyone in your routine life. She looked pretty harmless and since we were on an airplane, I knew she couldn’t get very far even if she wanted to. I hoisted you over to her and took my seat in our row. The lady lit up as you pointed out the window and jibber-jabbered something I couldn’t understand from where I was sitting. You sat with her for takeoff and went back and talked to her again for probably at least another 30 minutes until we landed. She thanked us for letting you visit with her and we found out that when we had boarded the plane, she was terribly upset because she had just left her own grandkids. She wasn’t crying and Daddy and I probably didn’t even notice her because we were too busy trying to figure out the best way to maneuver what your Uncle Lon termed “crappage” into the overhead bins. However, you did. You didn’t just notice her or even just perceive that she needed you, but you also did something about it. You weren’t even old enough to have your own seat on the airplane, but you found your own way to help her anyway. You stretched out your arms to her and took the edge off her pain. You went even beyond that and made her smile.

This is one of the most perfect examples of how you instinctively knew things that the rest of us couldn’t. I don’t know how I was ever chosen to be your mommy, but it is what I will be most grateful for for the rest of my life. You knew what I needed and always gave me the best tight hugs, extra kisses, the most delightful giggles, and play time spent cracking each other up that made all my stress melt away. I know I am supposed to keep carrying that love and pure joy you shared with me and make it last for the rest of my lifetime. I will cherish every nanosecond I had with you here and I will never stop trying to be more like you, Baby Boy.

Because of you, there are literally hundreds of people who experienced a thoughtful surprise (or are soon to experience one as the goodies are handed out in the coming days and weeks). You only aged two years so you never had to experience things that come with getting older. As we get more candles on our cakes, we usually become wiser and our priorities clearer. Unfortunately there are also some not so great things that come with every “Happy Birthday” song, too. Our health, favorite possessions (that’s stuff we own), privacy, independence, regular human interaction, participation in events, hobbies, and even just access to decent meals can be lost.

We say we don’t have time to visit others because we know sometimes it might take a while to chat or maybe some of our older friends might have trouble saying goodbye as your Uncle Thomas has dubbed “The Lindo Linger.” Booger Bear, you were the exception. You did not walk past an older person, dismiss them, or get angry when they took an extra few minutes to collect an item off the shelf or cross the street. You always made sure to wave at them, say “hi,” give a high-five, or let them know you loved them just as they were. Did you just know these things because you were a child and still so innocent in the ways of the world or were you given some supernatural gifts? We are taught that it isn’t polite to stare at people, but maybe we use that as an excuse to dismiss everyone else and only worry about our own needs. Is it just human-nature or part of self-preservation that as we become adults, we start focusing more and more on ourselves? Whatever it is, I think this may be a good reminder to stop and nonchalantly (that’s when you don’t make it obvious) people watch long enough to notice someone who needs us.

Baby Bear, Mommy realizes now that she has more energy than most people, but I hope the 17 stops (not including lunch) proved that even a small amount of quality time being present with people who need them is possible and necessary even if it isn’t done all in one day. I know Mommy is not the only one going at a 150 mile an hour pace trying to get it all done. There are work obligations, ball games, birthday parties, church events, and all kinds of other distractions, but even a 10-minute phone call on your way to one of these activities could mean the world to someone who spends most of the day by themselves.

Little Bear Cub, you were always the one person who could always keep up with me and I know you are the reason I was able to keep up with you without crashing. Thank you. I miss running around like a crazy person with you so much, but I also hope the 9th was a day that many others also took time to slow down and have a conversation with an elderly neighbor down the street, a grandparent, or a new friend who needs them.

Help us to see what people need and to go further by noticing others. Guide us to look up from our phones and really see people and sense their suffering. Let us reach our arms out to people who need us and encourage us to do go a step further and do something about it. Give us the courage to sit with someone in their pain and make their day. Your Uncle Andy was right, you were a superhero whose powers were to make everyone love you even if they didn’t intend on letting you in their hearts. You are my light in the darkest of places.

One day we will both be in the light and I will get to see you on a day that both of our arms will be stretched out as wide as your smile. I will squeal and sprint as fast as I can to get to you, and I will never let you out of my arms again. All of my pain will disappear and I will finally get to introduce you in person to every last fan you are making here.

I can’t wait to finally experience that kind of day where both of us knows what the other needs and the only thing we need is our little family back intact again. I love you forever, always, and completely.

One day.

I love you. 
Love, 
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#Niceonthe9th
#eldercare
#SeniorCitizens
#alzheimers
#benice
#dosomething
#signsareeverywhere

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Tomorrow is the 9th! Celebrate a Senior!

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The 9th is tomorrow!! Caleb shared a special bond with his great grandma, and even said “I luh you guh..,” when he should’ve been way too young to have been able to say that. Whether it is an elderly neighbor who is lonely, a stranger in a nursing home, a little old man at the grocery store, or just someone wearing an “old man” style hat, we hope you will join us tomorrow in your new colorful shirts to buy a cup of coffee, sit with a new friend, or find your own way to spread some love! Don’t have a shirt? Link is in my Instagram bio, and pasted here as well. Shirts are only available until Tues (11 PM EST), so get them while you still can!
https://www.bonfire.com/4caleblennon/
#calebeffect
#niceonthe9th
#elderlycare
#benice

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Random Acts of Kindness-Week 2-SUDC Awareness Month 2018

We know we are getting a late start for week 2 of SUDC Awareness Month, but it's Random Acts of Kindness Week! Sickness hit our house this week so we had to hide out at home and spread kindness by not spreading our germs to anyone else. We are no longer contagious so we are sharing Caleb's love and educating our community about SUDC. Come join us and do something nice this week as well! Use  #SUDCawareness  and get creative. If you need templates to include with your kindness you can print them from Caleb's website here:  https://thecalebeffect.com/kindness/   Also, it takes mail a while to make it all the way to Switzerland, but we love the fortuitous timing of this package! What will you do to brighten someone's day? #SUDCawareness  #SUDC   #calebeffect   #benice   #RAOK

We know we are getting a late start for week 2 of SUDC Awareness Month, but it's Random Acts of Kindness Week!
Sickness hit our house this week so we had to hide out at home and spread kindness by not spreading our germs to anyone else. We are no longer contagious so we are sharing Caleb's love and educating our community about SUDC. Come join us and do something nice this week as well! Use #SUDCawareness and get creative. If you need templates to include with your kindness you can print them from Caleb's website here:
https://thecalebeffect.com/kindness/

Also, it takes mail a while to make it all the way to Switzerland, but we love the fortuitous timing of this package! What will you do to brighten someone's day?
#SUDCawareness
#SUDC
#calebeffect
#benice
#RAOK

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Home - March 2018-Nice on the 9th

Hi Baby. I love you. I miss you. I've been more than a little distracted lately but I'm still trying. Remember the lady I was telling you about a few months ago when the eclipse was here? The one who sat with us and found paper plates for us to help enjoy nature's show? She was the one who despite living outside in the heat, smiled easily and was grateful for the sandwich and snacks Mommy gave her. Well, yesterday we decided to help people like her, and a few others who only recently found safe shelter in our state.

I know you know we miss you but we really hope by doing nice things for you on the day of the month that you were born, it really does make you happy. We are listening, Baby Bear, and other people are, too.

Mommy's first stop was more secret that our usual "Nice on the 9th," but your kindness has been there before so you probably recognized it. I didn't take any pictures and I'm not going to put it in the blog because some of the people there have to hide from others who are trying to hurt them. If people want to help, I will let them know they can just ask Mommy.

I don't understand how some people can be so mean, especially to kids, but the truth is that it still happens every day here on Earth. I'm grateful you never knew that you had to be careful when talking to new people, but I know if you would've grown up, we would've had to have more serious conversations about this, too. The world was still your oyster, Baby Boy and maybe somehow it still is even if it isn't in the way that we want. You had a 6th sense about what people needed and it taught us so much about being open to meeting new friends we were initially skeptical about approaching. However, some kids not much older than you have already learned first-hand that it isn't always safe to be carefree and friendly all the time. Luckily, every single person I've ever met who works for this organization has always shown that extra care and understanding for the kids, and the children there know these are adults they can trust.

Speaking of adults, when Mommy was dropping everything off, the lady who is in charge of one of the programs where Mommy used to volunteer already knew all about you! I never told anyone during my time as a volunteer our story so she HAD to have either read one of your templates, seen you on the news or in one of the publications, or heard about you from one of our donations or a friend. The Caleb Effect really is spreading!!

The next place we visited was the The Homeless Alliance, where multiple non-profits (that's a company that usually has a heart for others) who help homeless people have offices. (Thank you for the yellow Hummer on my way there, by the way). Instead of making someone try to take a bus to multiple locations all over town for things like seeing a doctor, talking to someone about all the things that overwhelm them, or just helping them get an ID, there are several agencies that assist them all in one spot.

Even just being 2, you had a lot of stuff, but imagine if Mommy and Daddy had to carry around everything you loved most, everywhere we went. You would be REALLY mad if we didn't take all your vroom vrooms or enough packets and Veggie Straws. You would also want to "read" your books every night, too. People who don't have a house or apartment have to carry around EVERYTHING that is important to them, and that can be a vulnerable (that's when someone feels like they are leaving themselves open to being hurt) feeling. One of the things they have at the Homeless Alliance is lockers so the people there don't have to worry about something getting stolen or having to carry so much on their backs. They also have the only day shelter in Oklahoma City. People who live outside and sleep in parking garages or in makeshift boxes can come use the computers; showers; eat breakfast, lunch and a snack; and even come take their doggies to play. A lot of people refuse to get protection from things like freezing or scorching temperatures because the regular shelters won't allow animals, so this is a place where people with animals can come without having to worry about leaving their furry friends behind. They also have a vet who comes and checks on the "woof woofs" and makes sure they are okay, too. Pretty awesome, huh? Your Aunt Nancy Viewfinder Photography and Pam North will be really happy to hear this.

We had no idea that so many wonderful things were happening under one roof, but one of the programs that we DID know about is called The Curbside Chronicle. It is a magazine that gives homeless people a chance to sell magazines and work their way to a better future. Instead of just standing on the street begging for money, it allows someone who might have trouble getting a traditional job a legitimate opportunity to make money. It also gives people like Mommy and Daddy a glimpse into the day in the life of someone living on the streets, and even displays a little humor in the section titled "Hoboscope," (AKA horoscope). Anytime we see someone wearing one of the green vests (and assuming we actually have cash on us), we buy one. I was a little bummed (no pun intended) that I didn't see any vendors while we were in the area but keep listening and you won't be disappointed.

We knew that a lot of people who are homeless don't have the basic necessities so we put together goody bags for 15 people (see pictures to learn what went into each bag). We also delivered tons of socks from Grandma and our friend, Jennifer; sticks of deodorants; bars of soap; stuff for ladies that you would be even more confused if I tried to explain; and snacks for our new friend, Ranya Forgotson O'Connor to keep in her office and offer to vendors when they are there. Some of our longtime friends and YaYa met us there and brought supplies, too! Baby Boy, did you see the faces of the people when Mommy opened the hatch on her vroom vroom? We didn't even have the bags unloaded yet and they were already excited and asking us for a bag! One of the ladies looked a little sad but Mommy told her how I was there to spread some love for you. I gave her a little encouragement and a hug, but maybe you could also watch over her, too.

We left the Homeless Alliance even more grateful for things like a computer to write you this message, a choice whether to share our space or not, and a hot shower anytime we want. You ALWAYS loved splashing in the bath, using your net to "catch" your rubber fish, and squeezing (and usually drinking) water out of your squirt toys. However, there is not a bath tub at this facility and no one gets to sit in a deep tub of bubbles or drop Elmo's colorful tablets in their water. I'm also willing to bet none of these people have a Mickey Mouse toothbrush to brush (or mostly just chew) their teeth, or a Monster's Inc or various animal-themed hooded towel to dry off with when they were finished. All of your things are as you left them. I wish there was some sort of magic trick we could perform that would bring you back just as shockingly fast as you were taken away. It still seems like you are going to pop out from behind the curtains and start laughing when you see our elated faces. Maybe that's what heaven will be like. It will come swiftly and we won't even believe what we are seeing. We will just be so happy to be with you again.

Not everyone believes in heaven, but the people at our 3rd stop most certainly do. Much like the Homeless Alliance, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City offers many programs to people of various walks of life inside one building. Some of the other social services agencies are only blocks apart, so they call this whole area the "Corridor of Hope." Catholic Charities recently moved to this new location and built in many symbols of their faith and community both in and outside the building. One fun fact of the day is that one of the more unique and artistic symbols (which also will be in the pictures) was even requested to be taken to the Vatican and replaced with a replica (that's a copy).

We came there specifically to learn more about their Refugee Resettlement Program and got to meet Maleeha Siddique, a former refugee from Afghanistan and Mark Chan, who run the program. I'd love to hear more about Maleeha's story, but we did learn that she speaks 5 languages which has proven to be highly useful to refugees coming into their new community.

I know this month we are highlighting homelessness so maybe you are wondering why we chose to "be nice" to refugees, too. Maybe you are also wondering what a refugee is. Well, my sweet boy, a refugee is someone who has had no other choice but to leave their home due to a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." That sounds pretty scary to me.

You were fearless. It didn't matter if you were starting a new "school," hiding in a pitch-black room to scare us, or jumping into the water and insisting on no "floaties." However, we have always lived in America, in a place where you didn't need to worry much about someone coming to do mean things to our family. Not every place in the world is like it is here. I imagine if we were forced to live in a country where mommies got in trouble just for driving you somewhere or not believing the same things the head of the government believes, fear would've found you eventually, too.

I also know that refugees aren't "homeless" in the traditional sense, but to me, home means more than just four walls. Home means having the people you love with you and feeling a sense of safety and comfort. Many of these people have lost family members in terrible circumstances and have endured unspeakable trauma and hardships. When Catholic Charities arrives to pick them up at the airport, some only have the clothes on their backs and a small bag given to them by another agency. They do not know anyone, many don't speak English, and literally nothing except the family they might have with them is familiar. I'm sure it is very lonely and overwhelming to make such drastic changes all at once, so we hope the supplies we brought them help make them feel a little more welcome.

Some literally went from living in camps for many years to getting on a plane and walking into their first apartment of their own. Some of the refugees are not accustomed to the modern conveniences we enjoy in the Western world so it is an even bigger culture shock for them. The Executive Director, Patrick, was our tour guide and told us that they have had people who have tried to cook with charcoal in the middle of their living room because they are used to cooking everything over an open fire. He also shared with us that many of the refugees come from places where corruption is widespread and where bribery is expected. He said that since most refugees aren't familiar with how the laws in the U.S. work, and they have to be taught things like not giving a police officer or person of authority money when encountering them.

There are so many things we take for granted simply because we live in America. Mommy was raised Catholic and Daddy was raised Baptist, but neither of us are members of our original churches now. In many parts of the world, this would be reason enough to treat us with really terrible punishments way worse than time out. You are not old enough for Mommy to tell you all the details about these kinds of things, but just know that we were all fortunate to be born in the U.S. Although Daddy and I aren't Catholic, we appreciate the work this charity is doing (especially for refugees), and are also grateful they serve both the uppercase Catholic and lowercase catholic community. (In fact, we learned that 85% of the people they serve are not Catholic) Another fun fact is that the definition of "catholic" is "universal, including a wide variety of things; all-embracing." You, my forever "Little C," still encompass this better than anyone I've ever met. Help us to keep embracing those who need you and to welcome our newest neighbors so they truly feel that Oklahoma is home.

Mommy's last stop of the day was to the Sunnyside Diner, where they have a public pantry. The sign says, "Leave what you can. Take what you need." It is probably human nature to take more than we need, but something I've observed from the homeless community is that many seem to adhere to this principle. They know there are others like them who are still in need, so they leave enough for others and take what they need. We wanted the people who are in need to have food that is nutritious and will fill their bellies, so we left some tuna lunch kits and an assortment of protein packs. Originally, I was going to leave a third box of tuna kits inside, but something inside me told me that I should save one box back for anyone else I may encounter.

Well, guess what? On my way to meet up with the rest of our group, Mommy saw a lady selling the Curbside Chronicle! I pulled over into a parking lot and loaded a couple of tuna packs into my lap and circled back to be on the correct side of the road to buy a magazine from her. As soon as I got to the light, I flagged her down and she came to my window. I asked her if she liked tuna and she was so happy to receive a couple extra meals. Mommy finally got to buy her magazine. Pretty fantastic way to end another successful Nice on the 9th, Baby Boy.

I love you. I always will. Someday we will all be "home" together and none of us will ever have another fear or heartache again.

One day. One glorious day.

Love,

Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

P.S. For all your friends who read the entire super long post: Shirts are still coming soon, but I noticed a large discrepancy in the names, so I am looking into this to ensure that all families who want to have their child represented will have the chance.

#calebeffect
#benice
#NiceOnThe9th
#homelessness
#refugees
#humanrights

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Come Join Us for March "Nice on the 9th!"

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WOW! You guys rocked February's Nice on the 9th so much, it is hard to believe it is already almost time to do it again!

This month we will be spotlighting homelessness, so get out your new Caleb Effect t-shirts and spread some love wherever you are! 

We will be delivering items to a few locations throughout the day. If you are local and would like to donate an item or simply tour a facility with us, please join us! (comment below and let us know if you plan to attend one or both locations):

-2pm-Tour the Homeless Alliance and learn more about The Curbside Chronicle
(1724 NW 4th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106) 

**Curbside Chronicle wish list includes:
-Packaged Snacks
-Bottled Water
-Hygiene Products
-Feminine Products
-Socks (sometimes these are worn for weeks or months at a time so the higher quality, the better)
-Hand/Body warmers

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-4pm-Tour Catholic Charities as they share information about their Refugee Resettlement program
(1232 N Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK, 73106)

**Refugee Resettlement program wish list includes:
-Sheets
-Blankets
-Pillows
-Pots and Pans
-Household Items
-Hygiene products
-Dishes
-Cleaning Supplies (brooms/dust pans/mops/buckets, cleaning products, rags, etc)
-Trash cans

#CalebEffect
#benice
#NiceOnThe9th
#Homelessness
#HumanRIghts
#Refugees

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Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb's 2nd birthday

Happy birthday, Caleb Baby. Daddy (Ken Toey) and I haven't even read through these messages and pictures yet but wow, do you see how much you are loved, Baby Boy?

Daddy and I stuck to ourselves and hid away from the world. It is really hard to be around people on days like today, a day when our hearts are missing someone as much as we miss you. We hope you got our messages and the Cars balloons, or noticed the flicker in the candle that we lit just for you. We hope you light up the faces when the kids your size find the vroom vrooms we left for them, too.

We still wish we were lighting birthday candles and buying you vroom vrooms. That is a reality that makes Mommy and Daddy very sad. However, many people far beyond our house and community are getting to know you because of the kind of little boy you keep showing the world that you will always be. (I DID buy you two new domains and am going to make it a goal to be switched over to those sites and officially up as a non-profit organization by Easter.)

The Caleb Effect army of yours was out in full force so please show up in your unique way and tell them THANK YOU!!!!!

Baby Bear, you've added over 200 friends in one week! Who can say they have ever made that many friends so fast? We will probably never fully realize all the ripples of kindness you have thrown into this big pond we call life, but I hope you are getting to see every last way people are going to "be nice" because of you.

I ate veggie straws, "cah-doe," (avocado), turkey, and mango but I probably didn't eat the same quantity that you devoured when you were here. Mommy also drew the line at frozen peas. Tell Papa Roy, he is going to have to pick up the slack in that department.

I want you to know that your love transcends everything. Every political party, race, lifestyle, age, gender, religion, loneliness, wealth, hurts, and everything in-between. Today, your love was celebrated and people were united because of you. It will not stop there. Your love will be spread over and over not just on special days like today, but for many lifetimes still to come.

I started writing a list of some of the things I love about you and there ended up being 64 before I could squeak this under the wire and still make it to be posted on your special day. Coincidence? I think not. So, Caleb Baby, here are some of the literally millions of things I love about you and always will:

-That life was an adventure no matter how ordinary. I never could've known how much fun just riding in the car with you could be.

-Your sandy hair that was starting to thicken but that was still interlaced with the finest baby strands.

-Putting your cheeks with the perfect layer of "baby blubber" against mine. I could kiss you over and over for hours. Sometimes I was told that I held you too much, but I didn't care. I knew even then that there was nothing else I would rather be doing.

-Your beautiful blue eyes, so full of curiosity, inquisitive deliberations, wonder, determination, independence, your own way of doing things, joy, pure love, inclusive welcome, empathy, and a plan all your own.

-The way you would dance. Whether it was during the Greek Festival, at home listening to P!nk, pretending to be on Ellen, or just dancing to the music that was ingrained in our souls. I loved to watch you bob from one foot to the other as you threw in random "headbangs."

-Your slightly petite frame (shoulders, little feet ((although when you were a baby, they were too wide to find sandals)). You were never going to be a linebacker and being a touch small meant you already got to enjoy "hand-me-downs (or "hand-me-ups" as was the case for some of the things you wore from your slightly younger friends).

-The way you would run to me when it was time to pick you up from "1s" (you didn't do it as often when you went to "2s." You preferred to show me something or have me chase you (which also turned into chasing your friends and then getting jealous “my mommy”).

-Watching you eat. Stopping mid-bite to tell me something or point out whatever captured your attention.

-Your friendly and social nature, with the highest emotional intelligence of anyone I've ever met.

-The way you put both arms around my neck and squeezed me as tight as you could. I miss holding you and being so close.

-How your laughter was a full-body experience, contagious in every magical way.

-I love the way you love me.

-How you loved to stack things. You would get so mad when you would stack your vroom vrooms and the top car would fall down. Why did you insist on doing this? One day I will get to ask you this in person.

-When you ate so much your belly would stick out. Every now and then you would even misjudge how much clearance you had after a big meal. I had never seen a child eat so much in my life and I was slightly concerned for what our grocery bill would've become during your teenage years.

-The way you tried to take your own temperature when you were sick.

-The way you pronounced "Superman." It was something like "soup-uh-man," with a slight pause after the first syllable.

-Your high fives. "Aww wiiiiiiiiight."

-That no one could steal your joy. Your blaze of happiness engulfed everyone in your path and there was nothing they could do to stop you.

-The way you hooked your arm around mine when I carried you.

-Your love of the water. You put your face straight into the water even before you could walk. The next year, you jumped off the ledge after watching one of the big kids, and refused to wear your floaties from that point on. I would give anything to take you "wimming" just one more time. I hope you are teaching surfing lessons and playing with Nemo. Save a spot in your class for Mommy.

-The best laugh I've ever heard. A delightful sound that made us all double over like you and smile through squinted eyes. Oh how you must be keeping so many people entertained right now. I'm jealous of the angels and all your newest friends.

-How you really did smile with your whole face and love unconditionally with your whole heart.

-Your love of sirens and all emergency vehicles.

-The wonder in your eyes whenever you got to climb into all those vehicles at "touch-a-truck." I don't know who had more fun, you or Mommy.

-The way you loved your vroom vrooms and anything that moved. Your book "things that go" was pretty appropriate for you. You were just like that. Always on the go. Constantly in motion.

-Hearing you say "I love you!" I'm thankful I have a video of you shouting this to me. I love you, too, Baby Boy. I always will.

-Your smell. When you were brand new to this world it really was true. Your head still smelled of heaven. I would sit with the crown of your head right under mine and go back and forth, kissing your head.

-The way you always pointed out Jesus on the wall at school even though we had never been to church together.

-Your soft, porcelain skin. They say boys aren't supposed to be pretty, but you were.

-Fixing your hair. I loved spiking your hair with your gel or just smoothing it straight upwards and every which way in the bath (oh how you loved bath time).

-The way you walked around pinching your cheeks or belly for some reason. You were cute no matter what you were doing.

-Your sweet voice. The sweetest I've ever heard. A tiny, excited voice, said with a slight high-pitch and lips pressed together trying to contain the incoming smile.

-Your perfect little eyelashes. They were darker than the hair on your head, but not overly dramatic. They were barely long enough to start a small curl upward, as if a light rake was flipped upside-down, and just waiting to capture new friends and draw everyone closer.

-The way you raised your eyebrows JUST. LIKE. DADDY.

-Your stubbornness (I don't know where you got that…).

-The way you read to yourself. There is a picture of you sitting in your cubby by yourself (where most kids had to go for their "me time" to calm down) but you didn’t mind doing your own thing.

-Your baby lips that loved to give kisses. You had even had your first kiss, already. (I don't think Abigail's mommy was as entertained as I was, but I had already prepared myself to let you spread your love to whoever captured your affections).

-Your "boy ears" that were masculine and slightly floppy, and also very selectively tuned-in to whatever you were determined to be focused on on your own terms. I especially loved seeing your little ears as various hats rested on them. You were really starting to look more like a toddler and not a baby anymore when you wore them.

-How you just knew what people needed and how you acted immediately upon those needs. Daddy and I have told dozens of people about the lady on the airplane. (The one who you reached out to and went to sit with because somehow you knew she was sad because she just left her own grandkids).

-The way you loved "The Letter Show" AKA Wheel of Fortune.

-Watching you play with your toys. There was not a vroom vroom, boat, airplane, dump truck, or plastic singing recycling truck you didn’t love.

-Coming to "find" you when you didn't think I knew where you went to hide.

-How peculiar it was that you didn't mind hiding from Mommy in the pitch dark inside the laundry room. (I've wondered now if the reason you were okay with this was because you always had enough light within yourself to never be scared or fully in the dark).

-Your excitement and enthusiasm for each new day.

-How you never seemed to be afraid of anything (annoyed and not big enough to get away, but never terrified). One such time was trying to get away from YaYa and PaPa's dog. You were truly fearless, Little Boy.

-How you never let strep, random daycare illnesses, or asthma stop you from doing everything that you loved.

-The way you put your hands on my face (I didn't notice that until Ellis' mommy, Mira pointed it out).

-How you loved to cuddle, just like Mommy.

-How incredibly smart you were. You could count to 20, knew your colors and letters, and could nearly spell your name (I will never forget the look on Heather’s face when you started spelling your name on your 2nd birthday or when Sarah Toy told me that you knew more than some of the kids in her kindergarten class).

-You had my nose and I loved when you rested it on mine. We made each other laugh because our faces were so close and distorted. I miss being silly with you, Baby.

-I loved your impression of a fish. Opening and closing your mouth really quickly like you were gobbling the water.

-Your little chin that hadn't quite lost ALL your extra baby cheeks, and stuck out (especially when you made your eyes wide as you did when you were extra passionate about something).

-I love the way we both loved to give each other kisses and how Daddy had to intervene when our affections were delaying your bedtime.

-How you love me despite all my shortcomings. I wish I could take some things back or make other moments more grand, but I'm grateful that I truly never have to worry if you knew you were loved in this life and will always be loved by us for the rest of eternity. I just can't wait to love you for eternity, in-person.

-I loved how you clapped for yourself. We should all have Caleb-sized self-esteem.

-The way you ran and looked back at the same time. One such time resulted in a crash with the corner in the hallway, and a goose egg with a perfect line straight down the middle. You were not happy with the ice I put on it to get the swelling to go down so we didn't leave it on for near as long as I would've preferred. I felt so bad because I was the one chasing you.

-How we could make each other laugh without ever saying a word. Pictures and videos are still so hard, Baby Boy, but I will forever cherish the video of us laughing together on the couch. Neither of us says one word and Daddy even cut the video off before we were finished with our own made up game, but we said plenty and had the best time “chatting.”

-How you would blindly plop straight into my lap when you wanted me to read you a story.

-How you greeted Mr. Jeff and Nemo every time you came to school. I loved how Mr. Jeff would wait for us to get there and give him "fives" before going about his day as well.

-Your "hurricane hair" with a perfect swirl on the crown of your head.

-The sympathy pains you had for Grandma Faye after she hurt her knee. You rolled up your pant leg and told me how much it "hewwwt," and more than a week later, you were crawling on the floor and had convinced your teachers enough to call me. I was about to come pick you up when Mandi somehow figured out that you were okay and the doctors could hold off on their x-ray.

-Horse playing. I loved nothing more than being in the floor pretending with you and making you laugh. I usually get in trouble for "winding the kids up" but there was no one I loved to be animated and playful with as I did with you.

-How happy you made me.

-How you understood me perfectly and I completely understood you, too.

-Listening to you sing. I imagine that when I get to heaven and finally get to hold you, I will fall asleep to the sound of you singing to Mommy. Then, I will relax and truly rest. I think this is what people mean when they say "rest in peace." I will be so beyond ready for this day when it finally comes to greet me.

Happy birthday, Baby Boy.

I love you, Caleb Lennon. I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy

XOXOXOXOX

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