I woke up yesterday morning still trying to figure out something for the kids to do to honor MLK’s legacy. I postponed my research on volunteer activities this year, and therefore, missed out on some events that needed pre-registration. When the kids were little, I took them to the MLK March downtown and to volunteer at the YWCA. However, in the past few years, we have not participated in an organized event (thank you Covid).

I spent an extra 20 minutes lying in bed this morning searching for activities around Columbus. I had no luck. I looked up articles about MLK to read with the kids. I watched a video on the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. What shall I do?

Maria was downstairs on the couch working on her homework. I interrupted her studies to ask her to help me find something for us to do to celebrate MLK. She informed me that she had woken up in the morning and already acted. I was confused. “What did you do”, I asked her.

“I read about education reform, and called Senator Rob Portman to express my concerns about the segregation of the education system.”


“Yea, here is the site if you want to take action. You can also call the Senator to express concern about CRT and student debt. The site has a script you can read off of if needed.”

Well, I’ll be darned (as one of my relatives used to say when I was growing up). My girl had already taken action without me even asking. It was a proud moment, and I teared up. Maria looked at me as if this was no big deal – second nature to find a cause and take action. Jon and I did something right with this girl. She is on her way to improving public policy and changing this world for the better.

On the other hand, Mario was already out sled riding by the time Maria and I connected. He was enjoying the day off with his buddies. When I picked him up at his buddy’s house, I asked him what we could do to honor MLK. He was at a loss for ideas. Lesson learned with this kid for next year. I need to plan something for he and I to do.

He ended up agreeing to write a letter of appreciation to his grandma for her service to her grandkids, including Mario. He wrote about how grateful he was for all of the love and dedication she provides to him. It was a token of love in honor of MLK. He also was forced to play a boardgame with me and Maria. We played Monopoly – haven’t played that game together in quite some time. His love for money came out strong. When Maria and I play, we tend to feel bad if we are taking others’ last dollars. Not Mario – he relishes every moment and rubs it in. After he beat us, I told him I would not be worried about that love of money as long as he took a portion of it and did some thing good for the world with it. He agreed. That’s a win.

In the evening, we all sat down for home-made ribs Jon cooked on his new smoker, and talked about Mario going to high school and Maria’s thoughts on classes he should take. We said a prayer of gratitude to Grandma Menkedick whose birthday was on the same day. I made vinegar-based cole slaw in her honor (hers was much better).

I was grateful for the family dinner. Watching Jon love on his ribs was delightful. Listening to Maria talk about her socialist self playing a capitalist game in Monopoly was amusing. Play jabbing Mario as we ate brought joy. Being present to notice all these things shows I’m learning – learning to embrace the moment and allow the joy to seep in.

Thank you Dr. King for your work, and your commitment to justice and equality.

Chill Sunday

Sunday morning Monopoly.

Not Sunday morning run.
Not Sunday morning yoga.
Not Sunday morning gym time.
It is hard for me to sit still. I blame this whole-heartedly on both the Menkedick and Heile sides of the family. My dad never stops. My mom is always walking. My grandmas on both sides worked and played voraciously. My Grandma Heile was mowing the grass in her 80s and my Grandma Menkedick was taking walking tours in hers. And so when I wake up, I’m ready to go go go.
But Sunday morning, I walked down the stairs to find myself being embraced in a full body hug by Mario.
“Let’s wrestle!”
Maria, he and I went at it rolling around the family room and tossing each other from one end to the other. It ended ten minutes later with Ri getting hurt; Mario slammed her earring into the back of her head. She cried for a second and then shot up on her feet and demanded: “let’s play monopoly!”
I hesitated.
It was 9 am and there was a yoga class at 10 am downtown. They rushed around the room trying to find the Monopoly game.
“I found it!” Mario exclaimed as he ran into the kitchen and knocked into Ri. She turned around and hugged him screaming “you are the man, Mario!”
They both turned to me and matter-of-factly said “ok, mom, you are the banker, let’s get started!”
How could I resist those sweet faces?
They are my trainers. They are making me work on chilling the heck out. They will make me plant my butt in the chair and remain seated for longer than two minutes. They will make me see what a gift it is to stay still and be fully present with them.
Mario rolled a ten and landed on a railroad.
“Yes! You will owe me $25 if you land on this railroad.”
Nothing like promoting his love of money by playing a game of Monopoly.
Ri has a bit more strategic thinking in her play – she goes straight after Park Place and Broadway.
After about 20 minutes of playing, it wasn’t me that stood up antsy. Ri and Mario both got up in search of food. We decided on chocolate chip pancakes. I prepared the batter and Ri and I flipped the cakes. Meanwhile, we continued to play the game. While the kiddos may have taught me to chill, they have not taught me to stop multi-tasking!