Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers!

A while back I told everyone about a geography project Danielle and I came up with for Sam while he recuperates and we asked that people send Sam a letter or card and tell him about yourself and where you live. We would then use a combination of a globe and Google Earth to find them and learn more about their area while having fun and teaching Sam great geography lessons. Sam also got a talking globe as a Christmas present from his Aunts which makes this project even more fun.

Soooo, I wasn't sure what to expect...

And then...

the letters and cards began to come in...

Port Washington, WI with letters from children and friends of Possibility Playground
Show Low, AZ with a beautiful magazine showing pictures of Arizona
a post card from New Orleans, LA
a Christmas card and note from Middleboro, MA
a letter from Ringgold, GA
a letter from Butler, MO
a card and brownies from Guam
a post card from Peoria, AZ
a Christmas card and letter from Glenview, IL
pictures and a letter from Clinton, TN
a Christmas card and letter from Lincolnshire, IL
a Christmas card and letter from Port Washington, WI
a card and letter from Dixon, MO
a card from St. Louis, MO
a card from Kildeer, IL
a letter from Houston, TX
a card and letter from Ingleside, IL
another card from Ingleside, IL
a card from Saukville, WI
a card from Fredonia, WI
a card and ornament from Orlando, FL
a postcard from New York City, NY
a card from Germantown, WI
a funny letter from 3 dogs in Lake Bluff, IL
a funny Christmas card and stickers from Port Washington, WI
a Christmas card and picture from Cedarburg, WI
a post card from Toronto, Canada
a Christmas card from the Mississippi Gulf Coast
a post card of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI
a card from Port Washington, WI
a card and gift from Mequon, WI
a letter from Ras Tanura, Saudia Arabia
a letter and pictures from Cambridge, WI
a letter from Mundelein, IL
a funny card from N.R.H. Texas
a letter, calendar and sticker book from New Zealand
a card from Port Washington, WI
a post card from the Philippines
a post card of Graceland from Orlando, FL
a letter from Mundelein, IL
a post card from New Orleans, LA
a Christmas card from Fort Lauderdale, FL
a letter from Saint Thomas, MO
a Christmas card from Rochelle, IL
a Christmas card and note from Vanndale, AR
a Christmas card and letter from Fort Worth, TX
a Christmas card and note from San Mateo, CA

...and they continue to come in.

WOW...Sam and I are both amazed and touched by this outpouring of kindness. Spending 6 to 8 weeks in a body brace is made so much easier when you can look forward to bringing in the mail each day and seeing all the cards and letters...and this doesn't include our family Christmas cards of which over 80+ cards came in.

I continue to be inspired by the notes and letters and the sheer kindness of people who are taking time to write to Sam, a boy they have never met and me, a woman who writes about her life and journey on a blog that was started on a whim. When I started this blog it was partly therapeutic and partly an attempt to test my writing skills to see if I could pursue a career in writing. I never anticipated the response I would have from family, friends and strangers from around the globe that would touch my heart and keep me going, writing and sharing my thoughts, feelings and journey on a regular basis. God bless all of you for inspiring me.

Sam loves the postcards and pictures and he is a wee bit addicted to the singing cards. I want to share how we work with each letter/card/postcard. As they come in each day I share the joy of opening and seeing where they are from with Sam. I read each card and note and then add them to our file. Each day we bring out a card/letter and we look and talk about the card, we look at the return address and find it through Google Earth, then we locate it again on our regular globe and apply a raised dot. We watch the videos on Brain Pop Jr. regarding reading maps and geography and work on the projects there. We also review some common globe terms: equator, north pole, south pole, compass, northern hemisphere, southern hemipshere, continent, country, state, city, capitol, ocean, river, lake, mountains, deserts, longitude and latitude. We look to see how far the letter has come by measuring with our globe tape (660 miles per inch) and we talk about if Sam has ever been there. I work with Sam to help him read the letter and then we look at the pictures included or find pictures of the area on Google Earth or Google. We also try to figure out the weather in the area and compare it to ours. We are just starting to send return notes to those that have provided a return address. Sam is just starting to learn how to type so I help him type at least a couple words on each reply and then Sam signs his name. Added to this each day are our math exercises, a little writing, word review and teaching new words, computer games, therapeutic exercises and the Ipad.

Now...honestly...if we get all that done, it's a really good day and Sam was feeling good and open to learning. There are some days when Sam's interest is not there and we move on to something else or we have an abbreviated school day. With Sam's current situation it is even harder to figure out where he is at and don't think for a minute that Sam wouldn't play up his situation. It's a balancing act to figure out what is a medical issue and what is Sam trying to work his way out of something. This week my goal has been to limit the TV unless he wants to watch Brain Pop videos and to get him re-engaged in puzzles and games, reading and talking...basically learning. We have had good days and bad due to the coughing issues he continues to have and his inability to tell me if he has pain. So much with Sam feels like a guessing game and I hope and pray I am guessing correctly.

My back has added a new dimension into this journey also. I have two ruptured discs in my lower back and I had hoped by this point in my life they had fused themselves since my back issues began when I was in my 20's. My attempting to move and re-position Sam which I equate to moving 106 lbs. of jello is slowly taking it's toll. My morning back ache doesn't always go away and the tinges of severe back pain have been more frequent. 3 weeks in...only 3 to 5 more to go. Argh!!!

Praying that the Lord decides that my back going out at this point would not be such a great idea or a new twist in our journey that needs to be taken. I guess I could use this as leverage to get Jeff to go to church...always looking at my options.

Each day it is fun to re-read a letter and learn about the area the person lives in...kinda makes me want to plan the next road trip. Ahhh...I should probably hold off on that for a while, you know...get Sam through this first...but it doesn't hurt to dream. I have enjoyed seeing and learning about parts of the world I may never get to, sorry Helen and Debra...I'm thinking Guam might be a stretch for a road trip and dreaming about those I may want to travel to some day. I am touched by the kind letters from people of every age, even a gentleman in his 80's sent Sam a card and just makes you feel like there is still a lot of good people in this world.

If you haven't joined the effort, please send a card/letter or postcard to Sam Mayer at 679 Kara Road, Grafton WI 53024. If possible write or type in a larger font and tell Sam about yourself and where you live. He loves pictures and please include your return address.

Thank you all and I hope God blessed your Christmas and will continue to bless your families in the new year!!!!

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