Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

Where to begin?   As some of you may know, my Mommy died suddenly and unexpectedly the week before Christmas 2009 (five months ago, today).   The resulting hole left in our family and in my heart is immeasurable.   She was 63 years young, healthy and wonderful, the world’s best mom to my brother Lance and me, best mother-in-law, and best Grandmom to our four young children.   We don’t know why God felt it was time to call her home, but we are thankful that she did not suffer, and that we were so blessed by her life.   She was a beautiful woman, inside and out, and I can’t wait to see her again.

I didn’t get to say goodbye, but I know she is with me still.   She is in my relatives’ faces and generous love, a gift that truly keeps me going.   She’s in the smiles of her countless friends and neighbors, smiles that let me know that I’m not the only one who misses her.   She’s in the brilliant wit and warm compassion of our children, who knew that their Grandmom rocked, and that “Grandmom boot camp” …aka time with Grandmom when Mom and Dad were at their wit’s end!….was full of love and was always a safe place to be.   (Grandmom was an elementary school teacher her whole career, and if 30 kids daily didn’t scare her, 4 spritely grandchildren wouldn’t shake her, either!)  🙂   She’s in the understanding hugs and prayers from my college-sweetheart, my husband, Bill, who used to get more snacks and spoiling when she’d visit me at school than I did!   She’s in every thing I do / think / touch / see, and she’s in the mirror when I look at myself.   I am so thankful to be just like her, and I hope to make her proud.

My green crayon began, in large part, because of Mom’s encouragement.   She never knew what crazy project I’d be up to next, but she was one of my biggest cheerios, and patiently listened to my nutty schemes.   When I started this recycled crayon project in April 2009 (my birthday is on Earth Day….so it was a fitting time to start!), I had one mold, and no idea what I was doing.   I STILL have no idea what I’m doing :-), but because of Mom, I now have 20+ molds, and a zillion fun shapes to make and share.   In preparation for my 2nd annual Open House fundraiser last fall, she gave me a ginormous box wrapped in Christmas paper, and told me that it was my early Christmas present…in October!   I could never have guessed the contents….more than a dozen new molds that she had carefully been researching and collecting, of every theme and shape…so that I could further my fundraising efforts and stretch the dollars I’d raise to give more to water projects and less to overhead.   I cried my eyes out with joy!   More than a gift of material things, it was a gift of encouragement, and her way of making sure I knew how proud she was of me.   She further supported me by peeling crayons for countless hours, and even made old-fashioned gum-wrapper style chains out of crayon wrappers (to make necklaces and bracelets)…time-consuming and beautiful works of art!   That box would be the last tangible gift she would give me….I will treasure that memory forever.

So Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!   Thank you for the countless gifts you have given to me, to my family, to my soul.   My heart rests in the fact that you are with me still, and that you have made me the person that I am today.   Thank you for encouraging my creative side and passions from an early age, and for being my-kind-of-crazy when it came to my dreams and schemes.   Thank you for working three jobs as a single mom, humbling yourself to enroll us in welfare and make sure we could discretely receive the free school lunches that we desperately needed.   For working so many years as a substitute teacher, when you really wanted your own classroom, just so that you could be home when we were home, always available when we needed you.   Thank you for a crazy amount of babysitting hours logged, so that Bill and I could keep our marriage strong and grab a date or errand or overnight when we needed it.   Thank you for being a clearance-shopper extraordinaire, which for years has clothed me & our children, and restocked my craft room, and filled our fall children’s Secret Santa Shoppe with treasures, raising money for clean water.    Your generosity shone so brightly in all you did, and I am inspired to try and do the same.

I miss you, Mommy.   But you are forever in my heart, and in all that I do.   I am most blessed to have had a mom like you.   I LOVE YOU!

Luv,

Kristen

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Valley Forge Children’s Academy

A big welcome to Valley Forge Children’s Academy of Audubon, PA!   VFCA is doing a crayon drive for us (THANK YOU!), and has welcomed my green crayon to come and share our crayons and our story for Parents’ Day, Friday May 21, 2010.    To all of the staff, children, and their parents that are helping to make this effort a success….THANK YOU!   And remember….25% of crayon sales on Friday will benefit your school (in addition to the 50% of sales that benefit clean water for children all over the world).   Looking forward to meeting you!

The Haiti Campaign

My green crayon, as well as other family fund-raising efforts, had begun by supporting the clean water efforts of Playpumps International…a South African based non-profit that built children’s playground equipment over water pumps, bringing clean water to the surface each time the children played!   In the fall of 2009, PlayPumps granted their constructed pumps and technology to Water for People, a long-standing champion in water and sanitation projects around the globe.   Recognizing a need to diversify, PlayPumps then changed their mission from new-pump construction, to established-pump maintenance.   It was at this time that I decided to do further research into other non-profit water projects, and found charity: water.   When the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, I felt that it was imperative that my green crayon be a part of the recovery efforts…..and was again drawn to charity: water.   After viewing the video below, it was clear that charity: water would be the new inspiration behind our efforts.   I feel so humbled to add a drop to their proverbial bucket in the mission to provide clean water and sanitation to ‘the least of these.’

Limerick Elementary School Crayon Drive and Outdoor Classroom Fundraiser

A huge shout out to the amazing students and staff at Limerick Elementary School, PA.   They began a ‘well-loved’ crayon drive for my green crayon this spring, followed by sales of the remolded crayons to raise money for clean water projects and an outdoor classroom in their school courtyard.   AND DO YOU WANNA HEAR SOMETHING AWESOME?   They’ve sold over $630 worth of crayons!!!!  That’s more than my green crayon has raised since we began crayon sales in September 2009.   THANK YOU to Susan Hess and Jenna Conroy for their amazing energy and leadership, and thank you to the many students who have peeled SO MANY CRAYONS, saving many hours of work before the new crayons can be made.   Every generous offer of help, peeling, donations, support, and encouragement is a gift to me, and to the families who will receive the life-giving gift of clean water as a result of your help.   You are making a difference, and my green crayon sends you a huge THANK YOU and WOOHOO!