Thursday, May 30, 2013

Save the drama for your momma

I wish I was blogging about our awesome trip to Montana. Yet, tonight I had to reply to a nasty "anonymous" letter sent to us. I process through writing.I am pretty sure I know who sent it. So should I actually print it off and take it to his house or just print it off and post it in our big 'ol pile of dirt? Or just take the guy cookies and kill him with kindness??

**Back story** So those who may not know, we are re-landscaping our front yard. We are including some amazing garden boxes my husband built. They are big (good to grow lots of veggies in) and they take up about a third of our front yard. We are debating whether or not to put a fence in front of it. (I want to, Josh doesn't.) Right now we have a bunch of big metal and wood garden boxes, a pile of dirt, a pile of manure, and a TON of mud. Not a pretty sight, but an OBVIOUS work in progress. It has been a work in progress for a month now--way longer than we anticipated. Yet, we are making slow but steady progress. Albeit, it doesn't look like progress yet!

So today we get a letter in the mail. It is addressed to my husband. It is written in shaky-elderly writing. It has our address as the return address. It was a little printed piece of paper that was cut out--about 4"x4" square. Centered at the top of the paper what the word: why. Then it proceeded with an unnumbered list of 12 why questions. Here is the list with my responses.

Dear why,
I am pretty sure that your intent by your letter was not to get answers. If you truly wanted answers you probably would have asked us these questions in person or at least signed the letter and put your return address (instead of ours.) We clearly received your intention of intimidation and harassment. Yet we would like to take the opportunity to answer each question and ask some of our own. Your intent to stay anonymous forces us to publicly reply (although we are fairly certain as to who sent the letter.) We would have preferred to have kept the matter just between us.

1.   Why are you destroying the beauty of our neighborhood?
We understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We probably have a very different view of what beauty is. Yet we are in the middle of this project and are not even near completion. I would hope that when we are done most people will see it as a thing of beauty. Not everyone will as there are so many ugly bushes in this neighborhood that we despise, yet they are not ours and not in our yard so we just don’t worry ourselves about it.
2.   Why are you creating such an ugly sight?
Most construction sights are not pretty. Progress takes work—and work isn’t pretty. Again we are not done with this project.
3.   Why can’t you have the boxes in back or at the side of your house?
The optimal sun is in the front yard. The correlating landscape that will be going with our boxes will beautify our front yard (of course –our opinion.)
4.   Why take play area away from your children?
Our children need healthy food more than they need more play area. Our back yard is sufficient. We also go to parks. Thank you for your concern in our children’s wellbeing.
5.   Why are you lowering the value of our houses?
Again, I ask for your patience. I don’t expect everyone to have our same vision. I can tell by this letter that you are really worried about what the end product is going to be. I assure you, we are not done. Yet I don’t feel like we are lowering property values. The generation that is buying houses are largely apart of the “grow gardens—not lawns” movement.
6.   Why aren’t you thinking of what is good for the neighborhood?
We assure you that we had no idea that people would be so upset by our intent to garden. It seemed pretty innocent to us. We had no intentions of maliciously hurting anyone.  Yet we also have to consider what is good for our family. Having more organically grown fruit and vegetables is really important to us. We don’t belong to a generation that can count on the food in the grocery stores being the healthiest for us. With some of the health concerns our family has, the cost of all organic fruits and vegetables is quite expensive.
7.   Why didn’t you move out in the farm area?
I don’t know if you have priced farms lately—it is a rich man’s game now. We wish that we had the millions of dollars to buy a nice piece of property with a house on it. But we don’t. We have our little slice of suburbia and we have to make the most of that for now. If you would like to purchase us a farm that my husband can still commute to his job, we would be more than happy to accept the donation.

***Up to this point the questions weren't nice, but tolerable--this is where it gets personal!***

8.   Why did you gradually destroy the beauty of your place?
Again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We actually are not fans of bushes. We have been gradually taking out bushes since we bought the house. I can see, to someone whom loves bushes, that this would appear that we were gradually destroying the beauty of our place. Different generation—different tastes.  Yet we have had a vision of what it can be. We are doing it little by little as we can.
9.   Why don’t you fix the down spout?
We do know our down spout has had issues since it blew off in the windstorm of 2011. Yet it has been fixed—or so we thought before we got your letter. If we did not do this to your standard, please feel free to teach us a better way to do this.
10.                   Why can’t you be better neighbors?
This is actually the question that injured me the most. I am not the best neighbor. I have severe anxiety, and am really shy before I get to know someone. Yet I have made an effort to get to know my neighbors despite the difficulty for me. I have tried to be kind, wave, and offer a hello to all those that I meet. I have taken food to neighbors I don’t even know when they have been ill. We  roll our neighbor’s garbage cans in and out weekly. If this is who I think it is, after the big wind storm we spent the next day cleaning up a huge tree that fell in YOUR yard. I had all four of my kids out in the December air. My twins strapped into strollers because they couldn't even walk. Yet I was out there, my boys were out there. We cleaned your yard up. No one came and helped us--no one. I can only assume that if you feel we have not been good neighbors, it is because there has also been no effort on your part. Yet I am truly sorry if we have done anything that was not neighborly. Please show us what a good neighbor is.
11.                   Why have you not tried to improve your place instead of letting it go to pot?
I realize that this statement is written by someone who must not remember the amount of work it takes to raise a young family. I can only assume that you never had 4 kids in 4 years—including a set of twins. It is all I can do some days to get my kids dressed and fed. Our yard is far from perfect. Our home is also. We are a work in progress (as well as our yard) there has been a lot that we have learned as we have gone along. It will never be perfect. We will never be perfect. I am so sorry that you have taken it as a personal injury.
12.                   Why can’t you make us happy and proud to have you in our neighborhood?
Well, one thing I have learned in my life, thus far, is that no one can make you happy but yourself. I am sorry that you are unhappy. I will not take credit for it though. If you are unhappy with us and not proud of us, I would challenge you to get to know us. We are more than our yard. We are good people, with good hearts.

So here are our questions:
1.      Why couldn’t you come talk to us and find out what we were doing? No, we didn’t take the time and expense to have an artist do a rendering of what our landscaping is going to look like. If we could have, you might even like what it is going to look like. Right now all you see is a piece of the puzzle—and a small one at that.
2.      Why is it that you felt you had to criticize and demean us?
3.      What were you hoping to accomplish with your letter? Were you trying to create peace and harmony in the neighborhood? Were you hoping convince us that we needed a landscape to match yours? Were you lifting us up? Or did you just mean to hurt us and cause ill feelings in the neighborhood? Are you trying to divide the neighborhood?

I can only assume by this letter that you are not the kind of person to admit when you are wrong. Yet I hope that when we are done, you will realize that you were too hasty in your judgments of what is going on. Please be patient with this process. With four little ones, and my health problems, and the copious amounts of rain we have been getting, it takes time.

Love and Laughter,
The Thomsons

**Self-esteem takes a big hit with this one today!!


  1. How stressful! I hope all can be reconciled soon. I hate that feeling when someone misjudges me for the worst.

  2. Oh Tiff, I'm so sorry. THAT was not a neighborly note. I can't even imagine ANY neighbors sending that. i don't see how they could have thought that would help anything. Keep your head up, I'm sure it will look great!

  3. You need to put a big sign in front of your yard that says "Before you complain about our mess, offer to HELP since we're doing the best we can by ourselves!" That seriously bothers me. We've been working on our front yard since last spring (we've been in the house since 2007 with no landscaping) but luckily we haven't had complaints. I have had something similar happen to me about something else though (I got reported on watching too many kids without a license which I didn't know the state could limit at the time, and it was by someone in my ward who reported me rather than coming and talking to me.) It made me so mad and if it wasn't for my testimony, I probably would have quit going to church knowing someone at church did that to me. Be strong. You are amazing and I am really excited to see your yard, especially since we're in the same process as you. Maybe if the people complaining are in your ward you should have someone ask during Priesthood opening exercises if anyone can come help since everyone is complaining it's not getting done fast enough. Maybe they'd figure out you're doing the best you can and even come help. Good luck and keep smiling! Everyone else in the world loves you even if your neighbors are whiners!!

  4. This is so disheartening. I'm so sorry! I'm not sure what happens to some people when they get old, but if I ever get that way I've told my kids to slap me!! We deal with similar things living in these condos. I'm sure your yard will be awesome, and people need to know that awesomeness takes time. Try not to let one mean person get you down!!


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