That Mower

John asked me quite awhile ago if we could please, pLeAsE, PLEASE get a new lawnmower. It's not like I really care if he buys himself a new mower, but I do appreciate being part of big-dollar decisions. Then he got a small merit pay bonus, and he asked again. Both times I said, "Go for it!" and yet, he's still pushing that mower. I think it's because our daughter won it in an essay contest when she was a freshman in high school. The assignment was to write about how baseball or softball made you better (or something like that . . .); we were so proud of her Attitude - The Power Within essay. I recently came across the Fox 26 News Coverage clip; it's posted here so you can hear her tell about it.

Here's the essay she wrote: 

Attitude – The Power Within
By Kaitlyn Gruener, age 14

I am the pitcher on my junior varsity fastpitch softball team. My pitching coach gives me weekly tests. If I don’t pass the task, I retake it the next lesson until I master that skill. The Distractions Test was designed to see how well I could block out distracting noises while on the pitching mound. My coach would talk to me, sneeze, cough, jump up and down to distract me from throwing strikes. It took me 52 weeks, a whole year, to pass this task, longer than it had ever taken anyone else. I repeatedly failed week after week, until I finally realized something. I was going into the lessons saying, “There’s no way I’m going to pass.” My attitude toward the test was negative and pessimistic, and I believed I couldn’t pass it. I had been limiting myself to failure. When I decided to approach the test with the belief that I could achieve this goal, I finally passed. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I passed. Because of telling myself, “I can do it,” instead of, “I can’t,” I was able to overcome an obstacle that troubled me for a long time. An attitude does not just influence how you do on tests. It helps you make decisions in everyday life. Playing softball has inspired me to keep a positive attitude toward life. If you set your sights high, whatever you believe, you can achieve. With this funding, I could help my team by eliminating the candy hop on the grass line of our field. I would obtain a better drainage system for our field, since our field stays wet weeks after it rains. I’d also buy new uniforms for our JV team, because we wear the old hand-me-downs from the varsity team.

My brother Mark commissioned a congratulatory billboard on I-45!!

It was a big deal, the Diamonds in the Rough essay contest, because as the Houston Regional Winner, Kaitlyn also won $5,000.00 cash for the softball field of her choice.  She picked the high school fields - she was pitching for the junior varsity team at the time - and they purchased a big tarp to cover the fields when it rains. Plus they got the mower. Well, that lawn mower sat around in a box for most of the season and, when the team realized that the maintenance crew didn't really need a push mower, it was donated to our school auction and, you guessed it, John cast the winning bid and it came home with us. 
It's been almost five years now, and, with spring just around the corner down here, he really needs a new one. 
But there's just something so darn special about that mower.


  1. Oh Barbara, this story brought tears to my eyes! Your daughter is beautiful and so amazing, reminds me of my own daughter. I can see why John is having such a hard time making that new purchase! You should be so proud!

    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  2. I love your daughters essay! That's so cool. What a wise child she is.

    Grade ONEderful


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