Friday Thoughts – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1. Two memes to sum up my existence right now.

That koala bear meme. Please tell me I’m not the only parent that can relate with that one.

And also, the reason I feel like a permanently exhausted pigeon is almost certainly because of the second item in today’s Friday Thoughts lineup.

2. Piglets, piglets, piglets.

If you follow my faux farm account on Instagram, you’ll know that our kunekune pig momma, Olivia, had a litter of piglets 2 1/2 weeks ago. And oh my gosh, they are the cutest things ever. But they are also so much work!

three piglets laying in straw

The original plan was to time the litter birth for when the kids were home from school in the summer, but the best laid plans didn’t account for the pigs taking forever to “get the job done” if you know what I mean.

So. I’ve been largely responsible for the piglets while the kids are at school. And to say these little zoomie rascals are more than I bargained for is an understatement.

We lost one in the first few days to a birth defect, another one has struggled to thrive so I’m constantly trying to keep her eating and growing, and they’re so adorable, that, yes, I spend a lot of time sitting out in the pig hut watching them play, because I can’t tear myself away. #pigsoverpeople

Three of the kids invested their savings in the adult kunekune pigs in the hopes of making their investment back by selling piglets. So, here we are. It’s been an adventure!

If you go to the PIGLETS highlights on Instagram, you’ll see all the antics from the last few weeks. Warning: turns out, piglet content is highly addictive.

Mel's Instagram faux farm page

3. My Friend Maria

I want to tell you about someone really amazing. My friend, Maria.

Earlier this year, Brian came home from work and asked if I still had the reading book I used when our kids were learning how to read. When I asked him why, he said a sweet lady he works with (Maria) had come to his office asking if he had any resources or places that could help her because she didn’t know how to read.

He explained that Maria is one of the most hard working employees at the plant, that she raised five kids as a single mom, and that she is also smart, kind, quiet, and a caretaker of others. Her life has been challenging in ways he and I will never be able to fully understand.

I pulled out my old reading lesson book for Brian to take to work…and immediately felt this strong desire to help Maria learn to read, even though she and I didn’t know each other yet.

After Brian helped arrange things at work, Maria and I started getting together every morning (4X a week) back in May to do reading lessons together. I doubted I’d be a very good teacher, but it turns out, this rather old-fashioned book is just as effective teaching adults to read as it is teaching kids to read!

two women standing in office lobby with masks on

Of course, the main reason for success is because of Maria’s heart. Her determination. Her unfailing willingness to keep trying. She persevered even after years of being told by many, many people that she was stupid because she couldn’t read and that she’d never be able to learn.

Over the last five months, Maria and I started out each lesson together talking about life and family and stresses and food and teenagers and everything in between…and…eventually we got to the reading part. 🙂

I legitimately have tears in my eyes as I’m typing this, because Maria has become such a dear friend and inspiration to me.

She’s taught me that it’s never too late to learn something new or try something hard (especially learning to read in English when your first language is Spanish). She’s taught me it’s ok to cry (she has the kindest heart in the entire world).

She’s taught me that in an era of fiery personalities, divisive opinions, and front and center merit for being “the best,” there’s a quiet, steady power in working hard every day to make your way in a world that most likely won’t ever notice, or reward, you.

And she’s definitely taught me to be more grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in life that too often I take for granted.

The first day that Maria read her first “real” word (it was ‘mat’), she stopped, shook her head, and with absolute awe in her voice kept repeating: wow, wow, wow. She couldn’t believe she was reading. (I was biting my lip HARD under my mask to keep myself from bawling that day.) Now, she’s reading full stories with dialogue and plots and characters. She told me that she feels like a whole new world has been opened to her now that she can read.

She just finished this book about brave Clara Barton. But to me, Maria is the bravest of all. She has defied circumstances stacked against her that would spell devastation for most of us, and she has done so with integrity, kindness, and endless, endless hard work. I’m so grateful to know her.


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