Viewing entries tagged
#calebeffect

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Nice on the 9th in Norman-Costumes for Kids

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Halloween was always a day full of fun for our little family and we think Caleb would love making it special for other kids as well! Join us from 5:30-7:30 pm at the J.D. McCarty Center (2002 E. Robinson St. Norman, OK 73071) to write notes of love and supply new costumes or neon bandanas to kids with developmental disabilities. All sizes and varieties are appreciated.

The J.D. McCarty Center serves children from birth to age 21. Their services are tailored to meet the unique needs of children with developmental disabilities and are designed to improve their skills, confidence and promote independence.

Learn more at:
https://www.jdmc.org/

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Nice on the 9th for Seniors!

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September’s Nice on the 9th is for our beloved seniors! RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) of Central Oklahoma provides transportation to medical appointments for low-income seniors in need. With your help we are going to be sending them with a goody bag as well!

Bring something from the list below or simply come write a few notes or have the kids color pictures.

We will be in the Training Room at Sunbeam Family Services (1100 NW 14th St, OKC, OK 73106) from 5:30-7:30pm.

Needed items include:
-Gripper socks
-LARGE PRINT word finds/coloring/playing cards
-eyeglass wipes
-chapstick
-lotion
-snacks
-travel Kleenex
-small notepads/pens
-handmade notes/coloring pages of love
-anything else you think an elderly person may enjoy

As usual, you don't need to be local to participate! Find a senior in your area to spoil and introduce someone to The Caleb Effect!

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Caleb and Camp Cavett!

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-Going to camp is something many kids get to experience. However, most with special medical needs are unable to attend. July's Nice on the 9th is a patio party at Children's Hospital where we are going to be collecting supplies for Camp Cavett and writing letters of encouragement!

-About Camp Cavett:
Camp Cavett's founder, Mr. Danny Cavett, dreamt of joining all pediatric patients battling chronic and life-threatening illnesses together to learn from each other. From this vision and two successful camps under his belt, Camp Cavett was born! Now there are 200+ campers and 150 volunteers!
https://cavettkids.org/camps-more-1

-Bring supplies from the wish list below to Children's Hospital from 6-8pm and help kids concentrate on being a kid! We will be on the patio just inside the old emergency room entrance. The patio is off NW 13th and Everett (South on Everett). You can pull through and drop off items or park in the metered spots (free after 5pm). If you want to stay for the whole time, please park in the garage on the west side of the hospital and we will be just outside of 1J. See pictures below.

Wish list (those with *** are in high demand):
***$5 gift card prizes
Aloe vera gel
Band-Aids
8oz bottled water
Bug spray
Cardstock-brights
Clorox wipes
Deodorant
Dermoplast spray
Extension cords
***Gatorade
Hand sanitizer
***Hobby Lobby gift card
***Lifejackets
Paper towels
White printer paper
Spray glitter
***Spray-in hair color
***Sunscreen spray
Tampons & pads
Thin markers
Toothbrush
Travel toothpaste, body wash, shampoo
***Walmart gift card
Water shoes

Turn south on Everett and you will see this…

Turn south on Everett and you will see this…

The hospital is open! We will be on the patio of this building.

The hospital is open! We will be on the patio of this building.

See all those tables ad chairs? We will be there having a patio party!

See all those tables ad chairs? We will be there having a patio party!

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Be Nice-Go Fish-Honor Vets

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-UPDATE!!

We had to cancel this event due to lightning and flooding. Rescheduled for Saturday, July 13th (same times)!

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Whether you've never casted a line or fishing IS your lifeline, come join us for Nice on the 9th benefitting Fifty Cal Fishing in memory of Dan Housh. We will be hosting a morning of low-key fishing and fun from 8am-noon at Crystal Lake (6901 SW 15th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73128).

-A little about Dan:

Dan was a Vietnam Veteran who served his country in the U.S. Navy. He loved his family, his faith, and fishing! When Dan passed away from Pancreatic Cancer last October, donations were generously sent to The Caleb Effect in lieu of flowers. We thought it would be fitting to host a day of camaraderie on the water and be Nice on the 9th to Veterans served through Fifty Cal Fishing.

-Fifty Cal Fishing uses fishing as an outlet for Veterans and first responders to fight PTSD on the water and help prevent PTSD-related suicide.

https://fiftycalfishing.com/
https://kfor.com/2018/06/06/war-veteran-helps-other-wounded-warriors-with-fishing-trips/

We think Dan would love knowing his life is still being remembered and celebrated in this way.

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Other helpful info:

-A limited quantity of fishing equipment will be available but bring your own chair/gear if you have it.

-We will be writing notes of appreciation to Veterans who will be participating in future Fifty Cal Fishing outings.

-Prizes awarded for the biggest and smallest fish (and possibly a few others)!

-Fun activities for even the smallest kids!

-OKC Kayak will be on hand from 10-3 for anyone who wants to try out their variety of boats for short trial runs on the lake!

-NO ALCOHOL ALLOWED.

-Water provided by Valliance Bank! Thank you!

-Donations to Fifty Cal Fishing will be graciously accepted!

-All that is required to bring is yourself and anything you use to fish if you have it. However, if you want to be able to bring something tangible, we will collect new fishing gear and donate it to a charity that uses fishing to battle bullying.

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The Caleb Effect Turns 1!!!

Caleb’s first taste of sugar was sweet and so are all the things he is still doing in this world.

Caleb’s first taste of sugar was sweet and so are all the things he is still doing in this world.

We're almost 1! Come celebrate The Caleb Effect's 1st birthday as an official 501(c)(3) organization! Join the party at the Main Event (1441 W Memorial Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73114) on Thursday, May 9th from 5-8pm. Go bowling, play on the gravity ropes or try one of their 100+ arcade games for the kids (or the kid at heart inside of each of us). Leave your receipts with us and 20% of all proceeds from arcade games, food, gift cards, activities, and non-alcoholic beverages from 5-8pm will be donated to The Caleb Effect so we can continue spreading love all year!

We will be collecting vroom vrooms and all sizes of toiletries as these are common items we purchase as part of our Nice on the 9th events. We will also have all the supplies to write notes or color a picture for anyone you might know who could use some extra TLC.

Come enjoy a delicious dinner with the staples kids love as well as a grown up menu and full bar. Whether you choose the Strawberry Fields salad (rather appropriate given Caleb's middle name), fish and chips, a massive bacon burger, or their gluten free pizza, we would love to share a meal and hug your neck.

We have also created an Amazon Wish List for anyone who wants to be nice any time: https://smile.amazon.com/hz/charitylist/ls/36T42A5SGU2X0/ref=smi_ext_lnk_lcl_cl

See you on the 9th online or in person!

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3 years. Hell. The only appropriate description.

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Hi Baby. I love you. God, I love you. I only have access to Earth’s meager, pale words and they will never be sufficient enough for you. I will always love you, Caleb, but you will never know just exactly how much. How do I show you I love you now? Not a second goes by that I’m not thinking about you and wishing I could be with you. I love you more than this world can contain and miss you so fiercely I’m not sure how I haven’t ended up sitting in a corner sucking my thumb, rocking back and forth.

There are so many questions and still zero answers. I was made with a child’s soul but you were born with a heavenly one. You knew how to read me better than anyone and understood exactly what I told you without ever saying a thing. These conversations will always be my favorite but I still wish for so many more. I could just turn my face to yours and you would have exactly the right look to make me laugh hysterically no matter what kind of day I was having. Sometimes you would try to keep a straight face but you couldn’t hide the sparkle in your blue eyes. I saw it and inched closer until it made its way into mine. Your contagious joy was reflected back to you and neither one of us could try to pretend there was anything but bliss being passed back and forth. How do I see your sparkle light up the room now? How do I send it back to where it belongs?

Three years is too long to have to live without you. How many more are still left? I hate today. I hate it with everything in my heart, soul and beyond. It feels like the knot in my stomach is being kicked and stabbed and then stomped about over and over as I try to distract myself from what is still incomprehensible. I still don’t believe it. This can’t really be true. How is this even possible? Yet it is. I was there. No matter what I do, I know what happened yet it’s still such a massive, overwhelming shock I can’t comprehend. It feels like if I didn’t hold myself back I would vomit everywhere. It’s the most brutal beating straight to the gut and with no one to curse or throw my punches into.

There are so many words going through my head that you don’t know. Three years ago today was a day full of people who deserved a lot of punches to the gut. So many ways you didn’t get the treatment you deserved and I have a long list of regrets as well. Did we make all the right split-second decisions you would’ve wanted? What did I do to have earned so much pain?

I’m used to fighting. I’ve done it my entire life. Still, this is different. Being one of the younger ones growing up, I knew even if I wasn’t going to win the battle, I would still kick and punch or claw in every direction so they would also have some of their own blood to clean. I got resourceful in using whatever I could so maybe they would think twice about picking the next fight with me. I thought I’d reached a point in my life where the worst fights of my life were over but I was wrong.

Every day is a struggle chock full of pulling up my boot straps, self-pep talks, and countdowns just to make it through. Most people would never understand all the little things people in our shoes have to will themselves to do. They have the luxury of not knowing that when your heart and soul are no longer together, it is something you can’t fight chasing. I wrote about a mask when I was 18 but I think most people are so used to seeing it that it greatly upsets them when they catch a glimpse of my real face.

They say it’s okay to be happy and live my life but they have absolutely no idea how hard I am already working to do that for you. I am not the same person you knew but I’m forcing myself deeper than is even healthy and still counting on your signs to survive. You deserve for me to show up for you but I’m tired. Maybe you heard me tell Daddy, but I want you back. I want you in my arms. I want to be with you. Safe. Not like I found you.

There are fluffy words I hear and hate for making the worst day of our lives sound like something it isn’t. An anniversary is something to be celebrated but May 2nd was anything but a celebration. What do I call the best day of your life but the absolute worst for Daddy and me? How does my heart still beat after trying to make yours start again? There are some things too horrific to relive but not having you here is a separate kind of torture incomparable to anything else. There are things that not even my “black Nesquik” box with my ashes will know. No one will ever be able to hurt me worse than what I already experience without you in my arms.

You’ve been gone more years now than you were here and that is another dagger.

I can keep myself busier than most humans could sustain and try my hardest to do things I wish you would have the chance to do but it doesn’t matter. What I know and saw will always come back to find me and make my heart race.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? Where’s my green light. I want you to hear you tell me to “GO!”

All I want is to play, and play, and play. I want to chase you and hear your high-pitched laughter. I want to kiss you and have your wet hair straight from your bath nuzzled right under my chin. I would read you any book or sing you any song over and over if I could have you back. I would take any ear infection or strep you could bring home and stay up with you all night as many nights as you needed me to sit with you and make you feel better. I just miss you more than I can bear.

I know every normal person thinks their kids hung the moon but sometimes I do wonder if you really were too pure for this cruel world. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason but people love telling me that tidbit in order to make it somehow negate this kind of terror in their minds. I hope you know there will never be a reason in this world or the next that would ever be good enough to have to lose you.

I can tell touching stories about you and even show people a video of you doing things you shouldn’t have been old enough to do, but they will never truly understand how special you will always be. You ARE my gift, my light and my treasure and all of us still left on this planet are sorely missing out.

So many people have commented at how you have your little hand on my face in the picture after the last race day you ever got to witness here. It’s not something I ever thought twice about when you were here, but it’s another layer of missing you. You can so purely see how happy we were together, and your toddler hand extending love is just one more pint-size example of the most affectionate little soul I will ever know. Caleb Baby, how do I reach through the veil and make you laugh now? How do I hug you and never let you out of my arms and eyesight again? We are not on level playgrounds anymore but then again, I knew we never were. I’m trying so hard to do things FOR you but do you really get to experience them through me? Is what you have so much better that you just accept the intention for what it is and then keep leaping to your next social, trampoline party?

You were only 2, my little booger bear. How did you know so much?

Sometimes all the doubts come flooding in and I don’t even know what to believe anymore. So often I think we weren’t good enough for you. We couldn’t be as perfect as you so maybe God took you back. I feel like I’m going mad being denied over and over what was once so simple. I loved being your mommy and I wish I knew what stole you away from me. I still wish so badly I was there with you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you left us and I’m sorry all of me is not with you now either.

I can fight like hell swinging with all my might but healing does not exist for the hole that is just as bloody and raw as it was 3 years ago. Some days I’m out of words. I’m numb and there is nothing left. You are in every thought and every bit of self-control but I’m worn out. Truthfully, I wish I didn’t have any words because when I see you, none will be needed. They never were. I don’t understand and I never will.

Your great grandma is going to be 95 in two weeks and all I can think about is that I don’t want to have to wait that long.

I love you. I miss you. Three years feels like three hundred but so does every second without you. I wrote it on my arm the other day just to remind myself but “so help me, God.” So help me, Baby Boy too. I still need you. I wasn’t finished.

Caleb, help me let your life win. You are always worth it.

I love you and I always will.

One day.

Love,
Mommy

XOXOXOXOX

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168 Special Vroom Vrooms

Calling all runners, walkers, and those who only do these things if you are being chased! Once again, The Caleb Effect will be participating in the OKC Memorial Marathon on Sunday! This is an event to remember the 168 victims of the bombing of the Murrah Building on April 19th, 1995 (click on the link at the bottom to learn more about each person) and to support The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Caleb absolutely LOVED race day! Seeing new excited faces, bands playing, giving unlimited high fives to the runners, and being the cutest, jumping fan, clapping and beaming with joy was so much fun for him. In fact, some of our last, precious memories of Caleb were made at the 2016 race. A week later our little life of the party was gone. We want to make sure he is always there in spirit so we have had a relay team and various runners participating with The Caleb Effect shirt in his honor (and around the world) ever since.

If you would like to join us either in the race, somewhere along the course, or WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE WORLD, please download this special template we created just for this event and spread the love by handing out a few vroom vrooms. Post on our Facebook page which of the 168 names you will be writing in the blanks when you hand these to an unsuspecting child (see The Caleb Effect Facebook page for the up-to-date list of those still needing someone to honor them). Even if we have to find a way to carry 168 vroom vrooms with us, every person WILL be remembered on Sunday!

Before losing Caleb, we ran this race many times to remember all the lives lost and to honor Caleb's great-aunt, Ruth, a survivor who lost her eye, a job she loved, and too many dear friends. Every mile of every race we run is dedicated to someone who is no longer here physically. We run for those who can't and we hope you will feel compelled to do something, too.

As the event website says, "Our mission is to celebrate life, reach for the future, honor the memories of those who were killed and unite the world in hope. This is not just another marathon. It is a Run to Remember…and a race to show that we can each make a difference and change the world."

The Caleb Effect believes in making a difference and we know one forever 2-year-old who will be with us every step of the way. We can't wait to see all of you changing the world in Caleb's memory and feeling The Caleb Effect wherever life takes you. "Auntie Ruth" will be waiting for you at the finish line to give you your medal. See you next Sunday!

https://oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org/people/

Lucio Aleman Jr.

Teresa Antionette Alexander

Richard A. Allen

Ted L Allen

Miss Baylee Almon

Diane (Hollingsworth) Althouse

Rebecca Needham Anderson

Pamela Cleveland Argo

Saundra G. (Sandy) Avery

Peter R. Avillanoza

Calvin Battle

Peola Battle

Danielle Nicole Bell

Oleta Christine Biddy

Shelly D. Bland

Andrea Yvette Blanton

Olen Burl Bloomer

Lola Bolden

James E. Boles

Mark Allen Bolte

Casandra Kay Booker

Carol Louise Bowers

Peachlyn Bradley

Woodrow Clifford “Woody” Brady

Cynthia L. Brown

Paul Gregory Beatty Broxterman

Gabreon D. L. Bruce

Kimberly Ruth Burgess

David Neil Burkett

Donald Earl Burns, Sr.

Karen Gist Carr

Michael Carrillo

Zackary Taylor Chavez

Robert N. Chipman

Kimberly Kay Clark

Dr. Margaret L. “Peggy” Clark

Antonio Ansara Cooper Jr.

Anthony Christopher Cooper II

Dana LeAnne Cooper

Harley Richard Cottingham

Kim R. Cousins

Aaron M. Coverdale

Elijah Coverdale

Jaci Rae Coyne

Katherine Louise Cregan

Richard (Dick) Cummins

Steven Douglas Curry

Brenda Faye Daniels

Benjamin LaRanzo Davis

Diana Lynn Day

Peter L. DeMaster

Castine Brooks Hearn Deveroux

Tylor Santoi Eaves

Ashley Megan Eckles

Susan Jane Ferrell

Carrol June “Chip” Fields

Kathy A. Finley

Judy J. (Froh) Fisher

Linda Louise Florence

Mary Anne Fritzler

Donald Fritzler

Tevin D’Aundrae Garrett

Laura Jane Garrison

Jamie (Fialkowski) Genzer

Sheila R. Gigger-Driver and baby

Margaret Betterton Goodson

Kevin “Lee” Gottshall II

Ethel L. Griffin

J. Colleen Guiles

Randolph A. Guzman

Cheryl E. Hammon

Ronald Vernon Harding, Sr.

Thomas Lynn Hawthorne Sr.

Doris “Adele” Higginbottom

Anita Christine Hightower

Thompson Eugene “Gene” Hodges, Jr.

Peggy Louise Holland

Linda Coleen Housley

George Michael Howard DVM

Wanda Lee Howell

Robbin Ann Huff and baby

Jean Hurlburt

Dr. Charles Erwin Hurlburt

Paul D. Ice

Christi Yolanda Jenkins

Norma Jean Johnson

Raymond Lee Johnson

Dominique Ravae (Johnson)-London

Larry James Jones

Alvin J. Justes

Blake Ryan Kennedy

Carole Sue Khalil

Valerie Jo Koelsch

Ann Kreymborg

Rona Linn Kuehner-Chafey

Teresa Lea Taylor Lauderdale

Mary Leasure-Rentie

Kathy Cagle Leinen

Carrie Ann Lenz and baby

Donald Ray Leonard

LaKesha Richardson Levy

Rheta Bender Long

Michael L. Loudenslager

Robert Lee Luster Jr.

Aurelia Donna Luster

Mickey B. Maroney

James K. Martin

Rev. Gilbert X. Martinez

James A. McCarthy II

Kenneth Glenn McCullough

Betsy J. (Beebe) McGonnell

Linda G. McKinney

Cartney J. McRaven

Claude Arthur Medearis

Claudette (Duke) Meek

Frankie Ann Merrell

Derwin W. Miller

Eula Leigh Mitchell

John C. Moss III

Ronota Ann Newberry-Woodbridge

Patricia Ann Nix

Jerry Lee Parker

Jill Diane Randolph

Michelle A. Reeder

Terry Smith Rees

Antonio “Tony” C. Reyes

Kathryn Elizabeth Ridley

Trudy Jean Rigney

Claudine Ritter

Christy Rosas

Sonja Lynn Sanders

Lanny Lee David Scroggins

Kathy Lynn Seidl

Leora Lee Sells

Karan Howell Shepherd

Colton Wade Smith

Chase Dalton Smith

Victoria (Vickey) L. Sohn

John Thomas Stewart

Dolores (Dee) Stratton

Emilio Tapia

Victoria Jeanette Texter

Charlotte Andrea Lewis Thomas

Michael George Thompson

Virginia M. Thompson

Kayla Marie Titsworth

Rick L. Tomlin

LaRue A. Treanor

Luther Treanor

Larry L. Turner

Jules A. Valdez

John Karl Van Ess III

Johnny Allen Wade

Robert N. Walker Jr.

David Jack Walker

Wanda Lee Watkins

Michael D. Weaver

Julie Marie Welch

Robert G. Westberry

Alan G. Whicher

Jo Ann Whittenberg

Frances “Fran” Ann Williams

Scott D. Williams

W. Stephen Williams

Clarence Eugene Wilson, Sr.

Sharon Louise Wood-Chesnut

Tresia Jo Worton

John A. Youngblood

#calebeffect
#okcmemorialmarathon
#weremember
#wewillneverforget
#benice
#runforthosewhocant
#neverforget
#vroomvroom
#HotWheels

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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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Be Nice Be SUDC Aware

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March is SUDC Awareness Month! Week 2 is “Raising Awareness One Person at a Time Week.” Help us prepare goody bags for first responders and those in the medical community Saturday, March 9th at Firehouse Subs (5924 SW 3rd St, OKC, OK 73127) from 6-8:30pm! We will be including SUDC fact sheets but if you would like to bring small items like “vroom vrooms” (AKA Hot Wheels), rolls of Life Savers, pocket-sized hand sanitizer, hand warmers, and non-perishable snacks (or any other items you think they would appreciate), we would LOVE to see you!

As usual, if you are not in OKC, you can do something similar wherever you live! The fact sheets we are using can be found here https://sudc.org/…/Foundation%20Broch…/SUDCF1PGGENAUD19.pdf…. Caleb’s picture is on the bottom right.

We chose Firehouse Subs because a portion of every dollar is donated to grants to purchase life-saving equipment for first responders. See more here: https://www.firehousesubs.com/public-safety-foundation/

See you on Saturday to be Nice on the 9th!!

https://sudc.org/get-involved/sudc-awareness-month

#calebeffect
#niceonthe9th
sudcawareness

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Of All the Creatures Big and Small, I Will Always Love You Most of All

Caleb's animals. Top left-Sofie (01/04/04-05/05/15) Top Right-Sanka Bottom-Smudge All three came from shelters but they rescued us from more than they will ever know. Sanka and Smudge are brothers.   To find out what a sucker I am, ask  Adam  about how both of our kitties came to own us.  Thank you to  Viewfinder Photography  for helping us get each of these beautiful furmily members.

Caleb's animals.
Top left-Sofie (01/04/04-05/05/15)
Top Right-Sanka
Bottom-Smudge
All three came from shelters but they rescued us from more than they will ever know. Sanka and Smudge are brothers.

To find out what a sucker I am, ask Adam about how both of our kitties came to own us.

Thank you to Viewfinder Photography for helping us get each of these beautiful furmily members.

As I was leaving to go to our event I saw a huge hawk. The picture doesn't do it justice but it was the best I could do from my car window.

As I was leaving to go to our event I saw a huge hawk. The picture doesn't do it justice but it was the best I could do from my car window.

We had lots of fun activities for the whole family!! I also thought it was rather appropriate that it was at "The Garage," the place where vroom vrooms live.

We had lots of fun activities for the whole family!! I also thought it was rather appropriate that it was at "The Garage," the place where vroom vrooms live.

One smart and absolutely stunning little soul helped us write notes to the volunteers and staff at the 3 non-profits we supported this month. I can't wait to deliver all of these sweet messages!— with  Jennifer Yowell .

One smart and absolutely stunning little soul helped us write notes to the volunteers and staff at the 3 non-profits we supported this month. I can't wait to deliver all of these sweet messages!— with Jennifer Yowell.

We met some really sweet new friends this month and two of their girls even had kitties on their shirts! Coincidence??

We met some really sweet new friends this month and two of their girls even had kitties on their shirts! Coincidence??

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No one had to cook on the 9th! Woo hoo! We loved seeing our faithful friends and their growing babies! — with  Gabrielle Luebke  and  Christian Mangrum .

No one had to cook on the 9th! Woo hoo! We loved seeing our faithful friends and their growing babies! — with Gabrielle Luebke and Christian Mangrum.

This gorgeous lady is nice every day on and off her meaningful job as an adoption attorney and we are so happy she brought her whole family to help us be Nice on the 9th for our furry friends. Thank you, Yowell family! — with  Jennifer Yowell .

This gorgeous lady is nice every day on and off her meaningful job as an adoption attorney and we are so happy she brought her whole family to help us be Nice on the 9th for our furry friends. Thank you, Yowell family! — with Jennifer Yowell.

The Lindo/Lundys showing some love! — with Thomas Lundy ,  Annie Lindo  and  Rose Lindo .

The Lindo/Lundys showing some love! — withThomas Lundy, Annie Lindo and Rose Lindo.

This might be my new favorite picture of Caleb's grandparents! Thank you for all your help! — with Roy Wile  and  Ruby Willoughby Wile .

This might be my new favorite picture of Caleb's grandparents! Thank you for all your help! — withRoy Wile and Ruby Willoughby Wile.

These beautiful friends have been here since the beginning! Wish we had more time to catch up! — with  Bradley Bollinger ,  Stephanie Fine  and  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger .

These beautiful friends have been here since the beginning! Wish we had more time to catch up! — with Bradley Bollinger, Stephanie Fine and Erica DeGiusti Bollinger.

It's fun to be nice!! Vroom vrooms, markers good food and company AND no one had to cook OR do dishes! Thank you  The Garage  for all your warm hospitality and support of charities like ours! — with  Adam Wile ,  Bernie Lindo Wile ,  Shari Wile  and Rose Lindo .

It's fun to be nice!! Vroom vrooms, markers good food and company AND no one had to cook OR do dishes!
Thank you The Garage for all your warm hospitality and support of charities like ours! — with Adam Wile, Bernie Lindo Wile, Shari Wile andRose Lindo.

A. DOR. A. BLE. If I carried cash, I would've given her all my quarters! — with  Jennifer Yowell .

A. DOR. A. BLE.
If I carried cash, I would've given her all my quarters! — with Jennifer Yowell.

The Lindo/Lundy/Wile ladies. (P.S. Rose, you will be happy to know that Facebook automatically tagged you as you in this picture, ha) — with  Thomas Lundy ,  Bernie Lindo Wile ,  Annie Lindo  and  Rose Lindo .

The Lindo/Lundy/Wile ladies.
(P.S. Rose, you will be happy to know that Facebook automatically tagged you as you in this picture, ha) — with Thomas Lundy, Bernie Lindo Wile, Annie Lindo and Rose Lindo.

Everyone made new friends! I got some people on the live video but sadly, this was the only picture I got of the Maxfield representative who showed up with a car FULL of supplies for the animals!! Thank you guys!! — with  Jacob Maxfield ,  Kissy Padron and  Jennifer Yowell .

Everyone made new friends! I got some people on the live video but sadly, this was the only picture I got of the Maxfield representative who showed up with a car FULL of supplies for the animals!! Thank you guys!! — with Jacob Maxfield, Kissy Padronand Jennifer Yowell.

Someone thought she was a big kid driving with her buddy! Thanks for being so gentle and patient, Will! You earned your Nice on the 9th sticker! — with  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger  and  Rose Lindo .

Someone thought she was a big kid driving with her buddy! Thanks for being so gentle and patient, Will! You earned your Nice on the 9th sticker! — with Erica DeGiusti Bollinger and Rose Lindo.

I've missed these ladies! We go waaaaaaaaaaaaay back to the days before I could even drive a car when I was "Babysitter Bernie." You would be hard-pressed to find anyone nicer to animals than the North family. — with  Pam North ,  Bernie Lindo Wile  and  Jess North .

I've missed these ladies! We go waaaaaaaaaaaaay back to the days before I could even drive a car when I was "Babysitter Bernie." You would be hard-pressed to find anyone nicer to animals than the North family. — with Pam North, Bernie Lindo Wile and Jess North.

These precious ones know most of the volunteers and staff working to help animals deserve more than a few wet-nosed kisses to keep their spirits up. — with  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger  and  Jennifer Yowell .

These precious ones know most of the volunteers and staff working to help animals deserve more than a few wet-nosed kisses to keep their spirits up. — with Erica DeGiusti Bollinger and Jennifer Yowell.

Caleb's grandma finally found a kitty that doesn't make her sneeze! — with  Thomas Lundy  and  Rose Lindo .

Caleb's grandma finally found a kitty that doesn't make her sneeze! — with Thomas Lundy and Rose Lindo.

Being able to collect supplies for our furry friends puts a smile on this guy's face! — with  Adam Wile .

Being able to collect supplies for our furry friends puts a smile on this guy's face! — with Adam Wile.

Annie's first local Nice on the 9th!! Welcome home, Annalou!!! — with  Thomas Lundy ,  Annie Lindo  and  Rose Lindo .

Annie's first local Nice on the 9th!! Welcome home, Annalou!!! — with Thomas Lundy, Annie Lindo and Rose Lindo.

I ordered my food and look what number I got. Hmmmmmmm... — with  Stephanie Fine ,  Bernie Lindo Wile  and  Erica DeGiusti Bollinger .

I ordered my food and look what number I got. Hmmmmmmm... — with Stephanie Fine, Bernie Lindo Wile and Erica DeGiusti Bollinger.

So good to get to catch up a little bit with Caleb's auntie,  Shari Wile ! — with  Adam Wile .

So good to get to catch up a little bit with Caleb's auntie, Shari Wile! — with Adam Wile.

Nikki with  Safe Haven Animal Rescue  was so excited to see the new items (and checks) she got to take back to all the animals being fostered! It was so good to meet you!!

Nikki with Safe Haven Animal Rescue was so excited to see the new items (and checks) she got to take back to all the animals being fostered! It was so good to meet you!!

We hope everyone enjoyed being Nice on the 9th for all creatures big and small.

We hope everyone enjoyed being Nice on the 9th for all creatures big and small.

Hi Baby. I love you. I miss you more than words can even begin to tell you. Tonight we celebrated one of your favorites in this world – animals!

Mommy showed everyone the picture of you kissing Smudge and it still makes me wonder why in the world he was so tolerant of everything you did. How did you manage to make him sit still while you drove your vroom vrooms all over his back? Why didn’t he run away when you made him your personal pillow on the couch? We had to teach you not to grab his tail that was right at your level but he never used his claws to take a swipe at you. It’s like he wanted to play and he was willing to be slightly uncomfortable just so he could be close to you. He kept coming back and rubbing his whiskers against you or flopping right in front of you and letting you “hug” him. I think you must have been telling him things without even saying a word. I think he is still listening, Baby Boy.

Mommy is still trying her best to listen too. We try to be nice to our friends who have hands and feet but also the ones with paws and claws. You always knew your furry roommates were special but some of them are still in shelters and foster homes waiting to have a little buddy to adore them too. All three of your animals you had in your life had volunteers and special people taking care of them before they ever came to live with us. In fact, Mommy had Sofie, your German Shepherd/Lab before she had Daddy or you. Thinking about it now, she was just a few months older than you when I adopted her. This fact in itself breaks Mommy’s heart. We know in advance that our animals don’t have the same average lifespan as humans but even all your animals have been able to stay in our laps for more than 5 times as long as you did. Humans can live past 100 so why did you only get 2 much too brief years? There are so many questions but no answers no matter how many times they come hurriedly into our brains.

Smudge’s brother, Sanka is the shy one but you always seemed amused watching him jump over the gate and up the stairs to safety. I think you knew that most kitties are more like Sanka and that he didn’t mean anything with his stingy affections. Still, you never stopped trying to make him love you the way you loved him. Sanka liked to watch you play at his watchful distance and then check it out for himself after the lively, little boy went on to the next fun thing. He liked some of the same toys you did and still hides in your Thomas the Train tent and behind the curtains the way you would. He is also a little on the small side like you and knows exactly when it’s time to eat. You probably couldn’t convince him to eat frozen peas but if they made kitty food in packets he would probably cry and demand his servants squeeze it out into his dish for him and then immediately act disinterested until he was coaxed back to the bowl. He thinks I don’t notice that he comes slinking around and pawing at me only when he is trying to get me to give in and feed him early but I know all his tricks. A really long time ago kitty cats were royalty and there is a phrase that says that they have not ever forgotten this fact. Sanka has definitely not forgotten but every now and then he will come curl up with me and make your Daddy jealous.

I’m jealous of all the people who get to carry you on their backs or kiss your perfect cheeks right now. Mommy misses her mini, snuggly bear cub more than she knows how to comprehend and I think your kitty knows that as well. Sometimes the overflow of emotions is too hard to contain but Smudge is paying attention. A tear came out of my eye last night and he wasted no time jumping onto my chest. He took his paw and gently wiped the drop off my face and then nestled his head right against mine. I’ve never had an animal do this in all my life and I never knew I could love a kitty like this. You knew how to love all creations equally but I had already selected my favorites. I’m the dog lover so it’s a change for me to have a cat who is so tolerant (that means he puts up with a lot of stuff) and has always acted more like a dog. The childproof locks were in place well before you were born, but he has not given up testing their strength and opening any door in the house that is not securely latched. Also, in case you were wondering, yes, both your kitties still growl and hide when they hear the doorbell. I’m still going to claim it is because your “woof woof,” Sofie raised your kitties since the time they were little fluff balls that both fit in Daddy’s hands.

Speaking of Sofie, you didn’t get to really play with her during your lifetime but I could see it all over your face that you wished you could’ve. I could see it in her soulful stare that she was curious about you as well but she wasn’t as sure about the little boy who made high-pitched squeals and was becoming increasingly more mobile. She had a lot of people let her down in her life so she was scared of most humans. I didn’t know this when I adopted her, but from the minute I saw her picture on my computer I knew we were meant to be. Before Daddy came along, Mommy liked to run by herself at night. I thought Sofie would make a nice running partner but she had a very strict 2-mile maximum rule before she nearly had to be carried back to the car. What she lacked in being my running buddy, she made up for in spades in being the most loyal, protective watchdog I will ever have. Unfortunately, she was a little too protective of me as Mommy discovered very quickly after introducing her to new people. She always went straight for the calves and then ran off. After literally making a significant mark in Aunt “8.5” (something for which I still feel horrible) I tried everything I knew to do, but I still couldn’t fix her fear. I bet you didn’t know this but before Daddy earned Sofie’s trust, even he couldn’t escape the trademark ninja nip she left in his jeans. Despite being shamed in obedience school for being a biter, she passed with flying colors. People told me I should get rid of her or do something that you don’t need to know about, but I knew none of those people understood her and didn’t even care to try. Eventually she came to love Daddy and everyone else who was patient enough to let her love them back on her time frame. I think she knew you were equal parts of both Daddy and me and she hated it when you were upset. When you were a tiny baby, you were having a good cry because your tummy was not happy. Sofie came into the room and started howling right along with you! I wasn’t sure whether I should be laughing or crying because I was so sleep deprived and delirious at that point. In the end, I decided it was entertaining and took a video of the moment in time when I couldn’t make either of you happy. We were still trying to accomplish this when you started crawling so we decided to make the biggest baby and woof woof playpens to give each of you enough space. I truly think Sofie would’ve allowed much more from you than any other typical human, but her circle of trust was too small to risk your safety. You had just learned to walk when Sofie suddenly became very sick. Only days later we had to let her dig her muddy nose all the way to the Rainbow Bridge. I hope you get to play with her and all the other two and four-legged friends with you now. It seems like lately there have been a lot of people who had to say goodbye to their doggies and kitty cats so please kiss and hug each of them the way you did with Smudge, okay?

This month in honor of all three of your “furmily” members, we picked three charities doing their part to make sure animals like yours have a good start or a happier new beginning. We knew that this time of year OKC Animal Welfare would be overloaded with returned “gifts” and furry friends who are sick, hurt, or just need a warm place to live. They are Oklahoma City’s only shelter and they help doggies, kitties, birds, wild animals, snakes and even animals you might see on Old MacDonald’s farm. January hasn’t had very many days yet but they have already found new homes for almost 80 animals!

We also knew that once the shelter filled up, there would be nice people like Safe Haven Animal Rescue who rely on volunteers to foster animals at their house. They have mostly dogs, cats and ferrets but they also take care of mice and rats, guinea pigs, bunnies, birds, iguanas, and other small animals! I can only imagine the faces you would make if you got to see all of these little critters. You loved learning new things and I miss watching the amazement in your eyes seeing your world becoming more unlocked every day. I hope you saw all the people who came to The Garage to show how much they love you and all the fur babies. We got to meet Safe Haven’s president, Nikki during Nice on the 9th and we loaded her car with comfy beds and supplies for all the creatures staying with their temporary families.

After the doggies, kitties, bunnies (and maybe some other small animals) get a safe place to rest their heads, Spayway makes sure they won’t have future babies and that they get what they need to stay healthy. They also put a tiny little device inside so if the animal gets lost, they will have a way to connect them to their home. There are so many doggies and kitties in the world that don’t have families to love and care for them that they end up in really bad situations. Again, I won’t tell you the details, but you will just have to trust me that none of them are desirable options. SpayWay also has a vroom vroom where they go all over the place to help people who wouldn’t have been able to afford to take their animals anywhere else! I hope you will give them a sign to let them know you are cheering them on wherever they go.

We don’t know the final totals of how much we raised from our night at The Garage yet, but I can’t wait to go shopping to get these three deserving organizations some desperately needed items. I CAN tell you that they also got a boost from your very generous supporters who left money for each in their designated collection areas. The total raised just by your friends for all three groups was almost $500! Pretty awesome, huh?

Baby Boy. You continue to amaze me. You really are inspiring a kinder, gentler world. Thank you for teaching us how to love each other and take time to admire all the quirks of beauty in each of nature’s varieties. Mommy literally carries a lint brush everywhere, but you never even noticed when your clothes collected fur from one of your extraordinarily hairy animals (am I right Apple Brown?). You didn’t care about the things grown-ups do and I love you even more for every miniscule way you showed me how to live and love. I know you are still showing us. I want to be just like you, Caleb Lennon. I love your furry family too, but even so, it pales in comparison to how I love you. You are my favorite little being in this world and the next. I will always miss kissing your angelic face the way you loved kissing your kitty. I wish I could sneak up to the couch and grab each of your baby, soft cheeks in my hands the way you did with Smudge. I would give you all my kisses and never let you out of my arms again. Of all the creatures big and small, I will always love you most of all. Thank you for unlocking a whole new, wildly brilliant world. Mama misses you, Baby Bear.

One day.

I love you, Caleb.

Love, 
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

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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. 
_________________________________
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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All I Want For Christmas Is You - Searching for 70%

All I Want For Christmas Is You - Searching for 70%

The best present we've ever been given.

The best present we've ever been given.

Mid-sentence and something that could keep up with him in each hand.

Mid-sentence and something that could keep up with him in each hand.

"Chewbacca!" I wish I could remember why you were making this face.

"Chewbacca!" I wish I could remember why you were making this face.

He loved his Duplo cars.

He loved his Duplo cars.

Opening his sock monkey from his Virginia family.


Opening his sock monkey from his Virginia family.

Lens cap bandit. This is a fun toy.

Lens cap bandit. This is a fun toy.

Look, Mom, I put it on my head just like that bow!

Look, Mom, I put it on my head just like that bow!

I probably said something like "Hey, that's my lens cap!"  But when you smiled at me like this, you could've had whatever you wanted.

I probably said something like "Hey, that's my lens cap!"
But when you smiled at me like this, you could've had whatever you wanted.

Hangin' with Uncle "Annie." — with  Andy Wile .

Hangin' with Uncle "Annie." — with Andy Wile.

My pretty boy and his Papa.

My pretty boy and his Papa.

So happy to be riding in his own vroom vroom with his friends.

So happy to be riding in his own vroom vroom with his friends.

There were sound effects coming from the driver.

There were sound effects coming from the driver.

Visiting Grandma on Christmas. Caleb was too busy playing with his new "twactwo" to care one bit about taking a picture.

Visiting Grandma on Christmas. Caleb was too busy playing with his new "twactwo" to care one bit about taking a picture.

#iHeartPiedmont 's Hometown Holidays which presented The Caleb Effect Foundation a check for $1200 from their t-shirt fundraiser! Thank you to everyone who made this a success!

#iHeartPiedmont's Hometown Holidays which presented The Caleb Effect Foundation a check for $1200 from their t-shirt fundraiser! Thank you to everyone who made this a success!

McCaleb Homes , a wonderful private donor, and so many of you who have sent us funds helped us buy 50 backpacks and lots of fun goodies for kids getting care through Angel's Foster Family Network.  Academy Sports + Outdoors  even let us borrow a friendly personal shopper to help us. — with  Kailey A Kerr ,  Robin Feuerborn ,  Angels Foster Family Network OKC  and  Academy Sports + Outdoors .

McCaleb Homes, a wonderful private donor, and so many of you who have sent us funds helped us buy 50 backpacks and lots of fun goodies for kids getting care through Angel's Foster Family Network. Academy Sports + Outdoors even let us borrow a friendly personal shopper to help us. — with Kailey A Kerr, Robin Feuerborn, Angels Foster Family Network OKC and Academy Sports + Outdoors.

We had fun at our bag stuffing party! — with  Robin Feuerborn  and  McCaleb Homes .

We had fun at our bag stuffing party! — with Robin Feuerborn and McCaleb Homes.

Each bag was stuffed according to the child's age. We hope they like them. Thank you,  Willingham and Reiter, D.D.S. ! — with  McCaleb Homes .

Each bag was stuffed according to the child's age. We hope they like them. Thank you, Willingham and Reiter, D.D.S.! — with McCaleb Homes.

We hope each child really knows they are loved and treasured. We did this last year and discovered a pre-teen boy saved his note. Link posted below. You never know what two simple sentences could mean to someone going through a really rough time. — with  McCaleb Homes .

We hope each child really knows they are loved and treasured. We did this last year and discovered a pre-teen boy saved his note. Link posted below. You never know what two simple sentences could mean to someone going through a really rough time. — with McCaleb Homes.

Were you Nice on the 9th? We know some faithful volunteers who were but the photographer failed to capture some of them. Also, I'm pretty sure this beautiful couple wins the prize for spreading The Caleb Effect the farthest this 9th. Our dear friends,  Christian  and  Gabrielle  went to Israel and showed Caleb around!! — with  Jacob

Were you Nice on the 9th? We know some faithful volunteers who were but the photographer failed to capture some of them. Also, I'm pretty sure this beautiful couple wins the prize for spreading The Caleb Effect the farthest this 9th. Our dear friends, Christian and Gabrielle went to Israel and showed Caleb around!! — with Jacob

Hannah's Hope drove all the way from Perry to collect toys to share all across our state!  I also found a little elf who volunteered to take donations to  The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital ! It was SOOOOOOOOOO good to see these beautiful people! Someone else was camera shy this month so her handwriting is tagged instead. Ha! — with  Christy VanMeter Kukuk ,  Jeff Kukuk ,  Jennifer Goode Robinson  and  Ruby Willoughby Wile .

Hannah's Hope drove all the way from Perry to collect toys to share all across our state!
I also found a little elf who volunteered to take donations to The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital! It was SOOOOOOOOOO good to see these beautiful people! Someone else was camera shy this month so her handwriting is tagged instead. Ha! — with Christy VanMeter Kukuk, Jeff Kukuk, Jennifer Goode Robinson and Ruby Willoughby Wile.

They make THE BEST notes!!! Thank you,  Jacob Maxfield  and  Kissy Padron  for teaching your kids how to love others so well. We love having you with us on the 9th! — with  Bernie Lindo Wile .

They make THE BEST notes!!! Thank you, Jacob Maxfield and Kissy Padron for teaching your kids how to love others so well. We love having you with us on the 9th! — with Bernie Lindo Wile.

Sweetest family with some stinking adorable babies! — with  Jacob Maxfield ,  Kissy Padron  and Church of the Servant .

Sweetest family with some stinking adorable babies! — with Jacob Maxfield, Kissy Padron andChurch of the Servant.

Caleb's YaYa,  Ruby  delivered some really fun toys and arts and crafts to Little Light Christian School, where kids have one or more parent incarcerated.  Our last stop was to The Children's Hospital Volunteers where Caleb was born. Since every new patient gets to pick a new toy on their 1st or 961st visit, we sent them the majority of our collection.  Belinda Anderson , check out the valet! I love it! Also,  Sara Jacobson , someone is going to get THE most adorable note!  Kissy  and  Jacob , this one was my favorite! — with  Robin Hanes Khoury , The Children's Hospital at OU Medicine ,  The Children's Hospital Volunteers  and  Little Light Christian School .

Caleb's YaYa, Ruby delivered some really fun toys and arts and crafts to Little Light Christian School, where kids have one or more parent incarcerated.

Our last stop was to The Children's Hospital Volunteers where Caleb was born. Since every new patient gets to pick a new toy on their 1st or 961st visit, we sent them the majority of our collection. Belinda Anderson, check out the valet! I love it! Also, Sara Jacobson, someone is going to get THE most adorable note! Kissy and Jacob, this one was my favorite! — with Robin Hanes Khoury,The Children's Hospital at OU Medicine, The Children's Hospital Volunteers and Little Light Christian School.

Nailed it! Cutest elf EVER!

Nailed it! Cutest elf EVER!

Hi Baby Boy. I love you my little star.

You’ve been busy sprinkling your magic and excitement “alllllllll through the town.” I wish I could still sing your favorite songs with you even if you wanted the same ones sung over and over and over. Moments so simple and innocent that when I was in them I knew they were special yet still couldn’t fully cherish them the way I do now. I wished then that you would’ve picked another tune to change up the monotony (that’s when things stay the same), but every time we would finish, a little voice from your car seat and the kicking feet insisted, “Bus song! Bus song! Bus song!” Your baby cousin is older than you now and she knows this song too. She did the little motions last week and it made me wonder if you taught her to bring her index finger to her face just exactly the way you did, “shh, shhh, shhhhhhh, shh, shhh, shhhhhhh.” I hate that she doesn’t have you here to sing songs and pretend together just as I can’t stand that your other now older baby cousin doesn’t get to hide and play trains in your Thomas tent. I would love to hear the entertaining conversations you guys would be having inside your homemade box forts. I don’t think your youngest cousin could convince you to play babies with her but then again, I have a feeling you would’ve let her have her way. I wish you could still play with all of your cousins and be doted on by the bigger ones. I want the little ones to know you more than just in pictures and videos but we don’t have that option anymore. I hope you show up for them when no one else is looking.

This is the time of year that used to be SO fun watching your animated face take in the wonder and lights. It was a season to take extra days away from work and spend all day together in our jammies. I will never forget your last Christmas. We wanted to let you wake up in your own room and have a quiet tradition celebrating with just you, Daddy, and me. You loved seeing the new train around the tree but you didn’t want to limit it to just going around in the same circle. We took it off the track and let it run around the kitchen floor for you, but you got scared when the clanging and lights got too close. We watched you open your presents and even captured some of these moments on video. You were battling the latest daycare bug but the coughing and runny nose didn’t stop you from tearing through the paper and discovering your new, red Duplo Jeep or “Tah Wohrs” books. There were toys and puzzles put away with plans to open later but just like the Toys''R''Us gift card you never got to spend, we didn’t know the chance for “later” would never come. I hope you get all the things we were never able to give you in this life my blue-eyed boy.

Caleb, you were the cutest and most loving little elf I will ever meet. It’s like you had already talked to Santa and he whispered every last desire securely tucked inside every heart. You knew how to make a soul overflow with joy and I will always wonder how you did it. December 25th will come and go, but Christmas will never be Christmas without you. I know the holiday is not just about decorations and presents but we can’t help aching with every little experience we are missing since you were stolen away from us. It hurts so much that we don’t get to buy you the things you love and it still feels like a horrible, completely unfair nightmare where we wake up gasping for air. I know life is ticking by but it’s almost like watching myself from above sometimes. It’s like a very prolonged out of body experience but maybe that’s because I really am already with you. Even so, the self that still exists in this dimension desperately wants to buy you cargo loads of every kind of vroom vroom and read you all kinds of new stories. I would make sure to make up the best voices for each character and read them as many times as you wanted.

We weren’t finished doing all the things we had planned. I was taking notes on all the things I never knew were a common part of family festivities and had so many ideas waiting for December. Daddy and I were trying to ensure you really DID have the kind of peaceful celebration that a baby born in a manger brought so long ago. We were creating traditions we hoped you would love enough to carry on even after we went to live in the twinkle of your own holiday lights. I wish by some Christmas miracle you could come back even if it was just for one night. We would drive to the nearest snowy hill and get to use the bright, yellow sled we bought for you at a summer garage sale. We took it to White Sands National Monument and sent your vroom vrooms on the maiden voyage for you but it is still not the same. There is nothing I wanted to do more on your next Christmas than to ride the Polar Express as a family in our matching pajamas. Mommy has never made a gingerbread house and I was waiting to get to make our first, colorful one together. We would’ve made our own designs mixing what came in the kit and adding in a mess of frosting, brownie bites and maybe even some marshmallows.

We dreamed of so many hopes and futures but there are too many moments that never came to be. You had moved up to a new class and were finally going to be old enough to go to the chapel and sing. Daddy and I couldn’t wait to watch you cheese it up at a holiday program and have the whole audience cracking up at your expressions. My little ham, you would’ve been so proud of yourself and stolen the whole show.

You are still stealing the show down here whether on tv or center stage. It’s very “you” and I’m grateful for this way of sharing my little boy. However, it’s not at all in the way I wish the world could see you. I wish I could let everyone experience one of your tight hugs and pats on the back, or watch you stare a thousand full-grown deliberations into the wheels of your plastic airplane. I know I am the luckiest one in the world to have earned your affections and to have tickled my eyelashes across your laughter-filled, baby face. I was so proud to be your mommy and be the one to kiss your perfect, miniature lips more times than anyone else. All the words in the dictionary are not enough to describe how special you are, how much you are loved, or how deeply you are missed. I will die trying, but I will never be able to convey everything you will always be onto a card or quick sound bite. It makes Mommy and Daddy so sad to only be allowed our limited human constraints to sum up your superhuman, infinitely loving and treasured life. Not even showing videos and talking about you non-stop for the rest of our lives could accomplish that. Still, I hope people can still see you through us and somehow you reach them even if they never know it was you.

Baby Boy, your Velcro, size 5 shoes that you haven’t worn in far too long are still here, but the tiny space your feet left remain a colossal hole I will never be able to fill. No, I can’t buy you the most amazing vroom vroom you’ve ever seen but Mommy and Daddy ARE still working on a project that we hope comes close. If everything works out, 2019 will see the creation of our final family pit stop on this planet. However, just like your personality, Mommy’s ideas were brighter than what exists in this limited Earthly world. We’ve literally searched the globe to give you this one last present and we finally found an element that fulfills my biggest request (even if it IS on a mere technicality). We’re doing our best to finish our stint but we need you to help us get it just right.

You’ve been getting it right all week but Mommy hasn’t had time to tell you about it.

Mommy’s home town raised money through the #iHeartPiedmont Hometown Holidays charity tees in memory of you and two other beautiful boys. I have to believe you greeted your new playmates when they arrived and you are taking turns sharing all your favorites from this world. Rhett loved “moos,” Mason adored dinosaurs, and you typically had at least one vroom vroom in each hand. Joyce Mills Leach and her hype girls made sure Santa remembered each of your special toys on his trip to visit you from the North Pole, and some friends not much bigger than you had a ball handing out your beloved vroom vrooms to help warm the frigid air. Is it just me or is it a little ironic that AllStar Screen Printing was the generous designer and t-shirt printer, donating a majority of the costs in memory of three all stars? Because of their kindness, and the help of several sponsors (including your uncle, Lindo Paul Construction), Piedmont Public School Education Foundation and The Caleb Effect Foundation both received checks for $1200! We already have ideas brewing for a future 9th but we are thinking it will have to wait until the weather is a little warmer. Thank you!

You also had a lot of love sent last week from McCaleb Homes, a very special couple, and your Caleb Effect crew. Together, we bought 50 backpacks for kids who have to leave their house and their families (many times without time to bring what they need) and live in the care of a foster family. This is the second year we have been able to send this gift to some kids who deserve a heaping dose of kindness. We tried to put things in the bags that would make them feel the love we know you are still sending. Everyone got a backpack (thank you, Academy Sports + Outdoors for being patient and lending us a personal shopping assistant); hand-written note; shampoo and conditioner; a toothbrush and toothpaste (thank you, Willingham and Reiter, D.D.S.); a book; crayons or pencils to write or draw their feelings; a journal or notepad; toys or vroom vrooms; a stuffed animal or stress reliever; and a few things to take their minds off going to sleep in a place that isn’t familiar. We got to deliver these bags directly to Angels Foster Family Network OKC and meet Jennifer Abney and her team. They are making a big difference so it is my hope that your video sends many more helpers their way. Make everything in the bags come together to ease their young minds and let them know that so many people care about them.

The weather played a practical joke on us for the 9th, but we still had a few faithful make it to be nice. Your friends and family brought a sock monkey, board games, dinosaurs, books, and so many fun toys to give to kids. Mr. Donald Jay Cole with Church of the Servant made sure you could be seen from a prominent spot and just as he suspected, you did attract a few curious concert attendees who wanted to know more about the cheerful boy clapping for himself in the picture. We gave away the last of the presents from your friend’s 1st birthday, and also emptied every donation we had been saving from Dollar General and Family Dollar. At the end of the week, we sent or delivered toys to six different groups! The Children’s Hospital Volunteers; Little Light Christian School (for kids who have mommies and daddies who are away in prison); Noble County DHS Christmas Store; Northwest Toys for Tots; The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital (thank you for the bear hug and for collecting the toys, Jennifer Goode Robinson); and The Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospital were our lucky recipients! We also got to make a special video to drop off toys to the hospital where you were born. We got to see Mommy’s friends, Sara Jacobson and Belinda Anderson, who have been there since Mommy was a volunteer. They make sure all the kids who have to stay in the hospital get to pick a fun gift from the toy cart. It is still hard to visit the place where you were born so Skyler and her therapy dog, "Targa,” came through at just the right time to make sure Mommy was okay.

Caleb Baby, even spreading all your love and cheer far and wide, there is simply not a way to ever be as happy as we were when you were in our arms. With you, no matter what we had been through before, we had it all. When describing this to a new friend who we met through our connection with the SUDC Foundation, Julia and Wade agreed. Their daughter, Vivienne, left this life without a reason or warning as well. He and Julia know that the happiest days of life really are behind us but they are still choosing Vivienne's Joy (Vivienne's Joy Foundation) for themselves, their surviving daughter, and for Vivie. It was so good to meet others who didn’t try to paint a serene fantasy overtone and dismiss our daily struggles. Wade explained that while we will never get back to our 100% level of happiness when our families were whole, maybe we can strive for a new high with a few 70% moments sprinkled in next to the 5% ones. I’m guessing some of the kids who will receive one of your presents will never get back to 100% either. In fact, maybe they never had a quality of life that brought them anywhere close. Whatever kind of day we are asked to face, please keep helping us have some double-digit days until we get to make it to our checkered flags too.

Caleb, my beautiful boy, and Santa’s happiest helper. Wherever you are with the jolly, ol’ St. Nick, may the secrets you so instinctively knew be whispered in my ears tonight too. Even when we are struggling to make it to a measurable number even after coffee and candy canes, help me share your love you still beam down to all of us at 100%. We don’t have a stitch of decoration hanging in our house, but I hope by sending surprises to other kids it brings the true Christmas spirit you deserve.

All I want for Christmas is you.

I love you, Caleb Lennon.

One day.

Love,
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

Angels Foster Family Network OKC
The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital
The Children's Hospital Volunteers
Little Light Christian School
Oklahoma Department of Human Services
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City

A special thank you to Hannah’s Toy Boxes of Hope for driving so far to collect and distribute toys. You truly are bringing hope to so many who still need Hannah’s special touch.

#calebeffect
#niceonthe9th
#shopping
#fostercare
#backpacks
#toys
#holidaysinthehospital
#rehabilitation
#hannahshope
#toysfortots
#santa
#therapydogs
#newfriends
#childloss
#grief
#sudc
#sudcawareness
#lifeafterloss
#christmas
#shatteredheart
#helpabovehurt
#theelveshavebeenbusy
#heresto70percent
#beautifulboy
#loveisforever
#alliwantforchristmasisyou
#oneday

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Nice on the 9th-Charity Toy Giveaway!

https://www.facebook.com/events/357039718390939/

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We've been doing good things all year and Santa has been filling the house very full! We are completely out of space so this month we are giving away all remaining items to registered charities!! We have lots of toys and beauty supplies like you see pictured as well as a ton of hardback books, activity pads, and a few miscellaneous odds and ends. Tag a charity to come stock their shelves until it is all gone! We will also post wish lists of any charities who let us know you will be there.

Find us at Church of the Servant (14343 N MacArthur Blvd, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73142) in South Adult Ed. rooms 1, 2 and 3. As usual, we will also have a letter writing/picture coloring station to wish the gift recipients well. 

If you would like to bring an unwrapped toy (or items from wish lists once they are posted), the elves will make sure they find a good home.

See you on the 9th!

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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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