October 31, 2014

New Halloween traditions

As of yesterday, I still didn't know what I was going to do today for Mark's birthday. It's been our tradition every year to go to my parents' house for dinner, cake, and ice cream, let Mark open his presents, and then hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. 

It rained pretty much all day today, starting just after I started my long run. My long run was only six miles this week, so I didn't mind running in the rain. I kept the pace slow, and just tried to enjoy the run.

I got an e-mail that I thought was so awesome I just have to share. It's from a woman named Kimberly Cherry, who followed along with Mark's story (I asked her permission to share the email):
"Hi Katie,
When Mark died and you asked for random acts of kindness.... ice cream came to my mind instantly : )  I grabbed vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, along with every possible topping me or anyone I asked in the grocery store could think of, and headed to a nearby nursing home. 
The look on the residents' faces was priceless... and the staff was in tears.  
When I told my son (he's 11) about it that evening.... he said, "let's do it again !"  So... I arranged for with the nursing home for us to come out and have a "dessert party" once a month....every month.  We chose dessert...because that's our happiest meal and Mark taught me from so far away... the value of being happy.
It has been SO MUCH FUN, I can't even begin to tell you... It's always the second Saturday of the month so the residents look forward to it and know we'll be coming.  We've done: a cookie, cobbler, cake, brownie, ice cream (homemade) month.... and since we live in the south- you have to have a pie month!  And we've done a couple of "international dessert" months when we've made desserts from other countries and even made a PowerPoint presentation about the countries to share with the residents.
We've lost a few residents.... a couple have died, a few went home (but their families have brought them back for the parties!) and we've gotten new residents.
We can't imagine not doing this.... we've carried some of our family members with us, friends of my son... and some of my co workers.  Everyone has such a GOOD time !
And I think of Mark every time ...and thank him for reminding me to be happy...and how so often it comes from creating "happy" for someone else.
I'm thinking about you Katie and your family.... and I know Mark is too."

Isn't that just amazing? That is more than I ever dreamed would happen when I suggested that people do random acts of kindness in Mark's honor! After reading that email, I knew what I had to do today to celebrate Mark's birthday.

This afternoon, I went to the store and bought two gallons of ice cream, some whipped cream, and several topping choices for sundaes. Then Jerry, the kids, and my parents went to Mark's group home to bring them the sundae supplies to enjoy for dessert tonight.

The last time I was there was when Mark was dying, and hospice came to evaluate him. I wanted to go back several times, but I feel like I don't really have a purpose to go now that Mark is gone. Bringing the sundae supplies was a good reason to go, and I know Mark would certainly approve ;)

My mom had a bunch of ring lights that she passes out with candy on Halloween, so we handed those out to the residents, and they thought they were pretty cool. Most of the residents are very quiet, but there are a couple that are talkative, and I always like listening to what they have to say. One of the guys proudly showed us some Halloween buttons on his shirt, and another guy told us about the doctor coming to check out his ear, because he hurt it while he was sleeping.

We didn't stay long, because they were getting ready to have dinner, but I'm so glad that I went. I feel like I did something good in Mark's honor, and I know the residents will be happy to have sundaes tonight. Afterward, I went home to pass out candy to any trick-or-treaters that may come. I've never actually been home on Halloween, so I wasn't sure how many kids come down our street, but my neighbors said they usually only get 3-4 kids each year. (As I ended this post, trick-or-treating was over. We got a total of 8 kids! Haha. The leftover candy is going in the Kitchen Safe.)

My kids went trick-or-treating with Jerry's mom. I have no idea what Noah's costume is supposed to be... he just saw it at Goodwill and wanted it. Eli is a zombie, and I bought make-up to put on him, but he didn't want to use it ;)

My parents went to the movies tonight instead of passing out candy. They asked if I wanted to go, but I really wanted to stay home tonight and pass out candy. When we left the group home, my mom handed me my own treat for Halloween:

Coffee Crisp!! I adore these candy bars, but you can only get them in Canada, so I don't get them very often. It's kind of funny, because whenever someone in my family goes to Canada for whatever reason (we live about 30 minutes from the border in Detroit), they come home with a ton of Coffee Crisp candy bars ;) It was 7 PointsPlus, and the perfect treat for Halloween. I went all of October without having any Halloween candy, so this was worth the wait!

Anyway, I think I will make it a new tradition to bring dessert to the group home every Halloween in honor of Mark (and hopefully more often--maybe monthly or every other month). Kimberly's email was very inspiring, and I hope that it inspires people to do something kind for someone else. I wish Mark was around to see just how big of an impact he made!


  1. Haha, I live in Canada and wasn't sure why you were so excited about the chocolate bar. I didn't realize there were no Coffee Crisps over the boarder. I don't like them too much anyways, you can have mine :)

  2. Katie,
    Mark knows. Who do you think planted the idea in your mind through Kimberly? They are always with us, you just have to be aware.

  3. Very nice! You popped into my thoughts last night and I wondered how you were feeling about the Halloween celebration. I can tell from your blog how much Mark meant to you. I'm so glad you found a way to honor his memory on his birthday/Halloween.

    And the email you received from Kimberly is so great. It's really great to see how one person's life can make an impact on others!

  4. Happy Birthday in Heaven Mark. What a lovely blog. Tears are in my eyes, as I read about the good things you and Kimberly did for people in nursing homes, who so often are forgotten. This is definitely the BEST way to remember your wonderful friend Mark. I'm so glad he had you and your family to make his life happy. You did a great job!
    I didn't eat any Halloween candy until yesterday, and it wasn't really "Halloween" candy per se. I went and had my nails done and they had a big bowl of those mini Tootsie Rolls sitting there at the counter. I always allow myself one, but yesterday, I ate one, then grabbed two more and put them in my pocket. Later, when I stopped for sandwiches for lunch, they too had a big bowl of mini Tootsie Rolls, so I had another one (or two--it was Halloween--who's counting?), and by the time I got home, all those Tootsie Rolls were gone. I bought some candy bars for the grandkids and then didn't get them delivered, I also got about 8 more in case we had any trick or treaters. We rarely get any kids, since we live in the country, on an acreage, but I wanted to be prepared. Now I wish I had a kitchen safe!!! I will send them with my husband in his lunch, in fact I will send ALL of them with him Monday, cause I need to get them out of my house ASAP. I did have some WW caramels last night, when hubs ate a couple of the candy bars, but is that really candy? I suppose it is. They are sure delicious!

    And now we enter the worst time of all--HOLIDAY SEASON! I just filled out my National Weight Control Registry Survey for the year, and was glad I had lost most of that weight I put back on, otherwise, even though they tell you to fill out no matter what, it would be embarrassing to fill it out if I hadn't dropped back into my goal weight range. That's probably why their results and stats might be a little skewed, people's reluctance to admit they have gained. Last year during this time, starting with Halloween and that darned candy corn I kept buying (and eating) was when my gain started and I am determined not to let it happen this year. I'm still working on losing 5 more pounds, in fact I need to lose at least ONE pound before my Diet Bet weigh-in on Tuesday. Wish me luck, and thanks for being you Katie!

  5. Oh wow! That email from Kimberley is so inspiring. It just warms my heart. I think you did just the right thing to honor Mark. And thanks for sharing the pics of him. Seeing them brought a smile to my face.

  6. Jessica RogersNovember 03, 2014

    That email from Kimberley gave me goosebumps! How sweet!! That was very sweet of you to take dessert over to Mark's group home. I may have to do something like this too!

  7. This is awesome!! Her email brought tears to my eyes. <3

  8. this post made me tear up. i think our loved ones in heaven have funny ways of showing us they're around. and it's always nice to start new traditions


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