25 October 2016

Bucket Fillin'

Little Billy and I have been talking a lot lately about being a bucket filler. He first learned about this concept in kindergarten, or maybe a little earlier, and quickly embraced it. He's a darn good bucket filler, if I do say so myself!

Since he has the school and home settings down, I've been trying to introduce him to other situations where bucket filling could make a difference. Enter soccer.

Billy's spring soccer team was undefeated. They had a great coach, worked well together and, most importantly, had a lot of fun. This season? Not so much. The coaches are trying hard, but they're not syncing with the kids and the kids aren't syncing with each other. They've only won one game and they're not having fun. It's been such a bust that Billy doesn't plan to play next year.

I've never been a coach, so I don't have the technical skills to solve any of the team's problems, but I can see that they aren't working well together. There's no "team" in their team. So, I told Billy that one of the best ways he can contribute is by being a bucket filler. Telling his teammates good job or nice try on the field. Giving them high fives. Cheering for the little wins, like a steal or save or near score.

He gets it and he tried, sort of, but he's not comfortable being so vocal (on the soccer field, at home we can't get him to be quiet!). It's something we continue to work on.

Now that soccer is almost over (thank the heavens!), I want to find other ways for him to be a bucket filler. And I want to continue to model the positive side effects of being a bucket filler and having your bucket filled. Today, for example, a coworker told me that I was a good editor. I'll take that compliment any day, but first thing in the morning after a hectic day? That is super bucket filling! I'm now ready to face my day in a way I wasn't an hour ago.

Are you an active bucket filler? What are some things guaranteed to fill your bucket?

15 June 2016

It's Going to be OK

Every once in awhile I worry about what this world is coming to, what it will be like for my son as he gets older. And then I get sad. This is one of the main reasons I stopped being a newspaper reporter and it is the main reason I stopped watching the news. I can't handle "all negative, all the time."

But every week for the last few months, I've had the opportunity to interview and write about people who are going to make sure the world turns out OK. People who have the ability and energy to truly make a positive impact.

I am lucky and honored and blessed and all the other words to be able to hear and share these stories. This is the writing job I always wanted, but never knew I could have. It has reminded me that there are amazing people all around us, even if the media doesn't cover them as much as the not-so-amazing people.

Maybe by sharing these stories, other people will realize that the same thing - the world is only somewhat bad, some of the time. The rest of the time, it's pretty darn amazing.

02 June 2016

Happy Mail!

This is old news, but ... I love mail! Getting mail. Sending mail. Evidently, writing about mail. So I'm going to do something I haven't done in ages - curate an Etsy list! I used to love doing this; let's see if it's as much fun as I remember.

Read, think or say "happy mail" too many times and it sounds a lot like "Happy Meal." And now I'm hungry.

Even without cute stamps or stickers or paper, you can send some happy mail today! So get to it!

21 April 2016

Welcome to Cecil

I'm from a small town. So small, in fact, that I rarely even bother mentioning it when someone asks me where I'm from. Ditto the next closest town. I usually say Defiance, and even then people give me blank stares.

Some people know, though, that I'm from Cecil. Technically I lived 3.1 miles outside of Cecil. In a different county altogether. But my mailbox had the pleasure of living on the south side of the road, so, Cecil it is.

Population 172.

Earlier this week, a friend shared an article on my Facebook page about, of all places, my hometown. I couldn't think of any reason Cecil would make the news, so I quickly clicked to learn more. Imagine my surprise when I read: 10 Small Towns in Ohio Where You'd Never Want to Live. #1? You guessed it!

Using science and data (population, unemployment rates, housing cost, median income, education and crime), the author declared my town the winner, er, loser?

I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first. I don't have any real connection to Cecil. My only memory of Cecil involves a store that had gigantic jawbreakers. And the post office. I think I went there once. There was also a bar around there I remember going to once or twice (as a minor, oddly enough, with my parents).

That's it. That's all I got for Cecil.

It is small; that's a fact. I can't argue the crime rate, because I don't know anything about it other than what the author wrote. And I didn't know graduating high school was such an accomplishment (something 2 out of 3 people barely do) - yay me. The thing I did take offense to was the author's "boring" label. Just because a town is small doesn't mean it's boring.

I have amazing memories of growing up in the middle of nowhere. Sure, I couldn't walk to my friends' houses or call them all the time (unless it was after 7 p.m., long-distance charges, don'tcha know), but we had fun. Sometimes we'd go into Sherwood (population 813) and Rollerblade. Or Ney (population 348) and drink (when we were 21, of course). Other times, most times, we just hung out. Listened to music. Went swimming in someone's pond. Went fishing or canoeing in a pond or on the river. Had bonfires. Went four-wheeling. Risked our lives on our homemade ziplines and rope swings. Definitely not boring.

The author would probably argue that I liked living in the country, not specifically Cecil, but you have to be from somewhere and my mailbox says I'm from Cecil.

02 February 2016

(Note: Another post from the archive. This originally ran in February 2013 on the Toledo Area Parent website.)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I asked our 4-year-old son, Billy, if he wanted to go to a college hockey game. He said yes and we bought the tickets, excited to share this sport with him for the first time.

When it came time to leave for the game, though, Billy had changed his mind. He didn’t want to leave his new Rescue Bots, prized birthday presents. We were torn. Our son playing happily by himself was a big deal.

But, we had bought the tickets and put our game shirts on; we were going!

My husband and I value experiences over things. We enjoy visiting local pumpkin farms and apple orchards. We go to baseball games and shows at the Huntington Center. We take classes at the YMCA. We’re always trying to find new, exciting places to camp. And we take advantage of our amazing park system.

But Billy? We realized recently that despite our noble approach to parenting, we forgot our audience. He enjoys watching the river fish at the local hunting and fishing store as much or more than the exotic ocean fish at the Shedd Aquarium. He enjoys playing with my craft supplies more than painting his own pottery at a studio. He likes the escalator at the mall as much as the rides at the festivals we pack our summer with.

Even piling sleeping bags and pillows and blankets on the living room floor, popping popcorn in the microwave and watching “Despicable Me” for the 100th time is as cool to him as seeing a drive-in movie.

Those things, those basic things, seem boring to us. But we’re not 4. Everything is new to Billy. Every experience. Every trip to the grocery store. Every day at the park. It’s all an adventure.

We think, “Well, we’ve been to this park or that park 16 times, it’s lost its appeal,” but to Billy, it’s a new day, and the slide is calling his name.

We realized we don’t have to expand his world so quickly – he loves the one he knows, and isn’t done exploring it yet. Squeezing every last drop of joy out of it. The important thing to him isn’t where he is, as long as he’s with us.

Billy didn’t love the hockey game. He was excited to see where his dad and I had gone to college. He liked watching the kids his size ice skating before the game. He loved hearing the pep band and seeing the team’s mascots. But he was bored. The highlight of his weekend was playing with his dad’s hockey stick and a ball in the living room. Our living room. Not an ice arena. Not a fancy aquarium. Not a far-away campground. Our living room. It’s a lot more exciting to a 4-year-old than a “hasn’t-been-4-in-a-long-time-year-old”.