One fine day in May, less than two weeks before my son’s 9th birthday, I asked him. “What would you like Mommy and Daddy to give you for your birthday?” He answered, “Just a hug, Mommy.“ I asked why, have I not been hugging him enough? He said, he knows we don’t have money for gifts, so a hug would do.
My husband lost his job in March, and we have always been honest to our kids about our economic standing. We always tell them, we are not rich. We only have enough. But know that you are loved. And we will do everything we can to provide for your needs. The wants will come later.
And on that day, my son didn’t want anything, just a hug for his birthday.
But I insisted. I told him, it’s his birthday, and if he wants something, he just has to tell me, and we’ll discuss if it’s something that we can afford.
So he said, “When we have money, Mommy, can I have KEVA Planks?”
I totally had no idea what it was. Have not heard it before. So, after he went to bed, I Googled it, and found the KEVA site, and fell in love.
My son knows quality when he sees it. Apparently, he found it on YouTube. He’s been fascinated with structures, which started with the Twin Towers in New York, when he was researching on what happened in 9/11. He’s been building structures using his number sticks, in the process learning Math and History.
Below are photos of some of them.
Somehow, he stumbled on a video featuring the KEVA Planks, and he’s been dreaming about it since.
I showed the site to my husband, and we agreed that it would be good for our son to have, that it would be a good investment to further nurture his dream of becoming a structural engineer. We also agreed that it’s too expensive, and that shipping might be a concern.
We decided to sleep on it, and talk about it again another day. Had we found the site a year ago, we could have just have gone ahead and placed an order. But our situation is different now. We have to justify every expense, and however much we want to provide our son with something educational, it’s still too expensive for us.
The following day, I could not focus on my work. I kept on thinking about the planks, and how happy my son would be to have them.
Who am I kidding? I know I will be ecstatic to have them. And so will my husband, and our daughters, too. So I posted a shout-out on Facebook and asked if anyone knew where I could get KEVA Planks in the Philippines.
Sadly, no one (at least, not in my network) has heard of KEVA before. I described the product, and some replied with suggestions of variations of building blocks and Lego.
Nah, those will never do.
So, I went back to the site and inquired about shipping to the Philippines. No other than the Founder of KEVA replied to my inquiry, and he pointed me to the Sales Director of MindWare, the company that distributes KEVA, among other brainy toys. It turns out that MindWare has a distributor in the Philippines. I was given a link to the local site. Unfortunately, they don’t have the particular item that we want. My husband and I decided that we would get the structures set, but the site only offers the contraption set. I repeatedly tried calling for 2 days at different times, but no one picked up. I decided to leave a message on the contact form, asking if I could order the structures set in maple, and I received a reply with a link to the contraption set in pine.
We celebrated my son’s birthday with a simple cake, and a promise that Mommy and Daddy are doing everything we can to get him the planks.
After a few days, I received an e-mail from the local distributor, and he asked if we could meet. Me being from the boondocks, I could not commit to a personal meeting, so I sent him a lengthy e-mail instead, detailing our desire to have our hands on that particular box, the 400 Maple Planks. Well, truth is, we actually wanted the 1000 Maple Planks, but that would be too risky on our dwindling finances.
Never heard back from the distributor after that. 🙁
We considered buying from Amazon, but we were deeply concerned about customs fees. I went back to the MindWare site to see if I could at least get an estimate of the shipping cost. Quite unfortunate though, that they don’t offer international shipping for online orders. So, I wrote to MindWare again, and asked if I could order from them directly. We considered buying from them and have the product delivered to my mom-in-law so she could put it in a Balikbayan box and somehow save on customs fees. But my mom-in-law is elderly, and we really hate to put her to so much trouble over some pieces of wood.
I think by this time, Angela, the kind-hearted and ever so patient Director of Sales, was tired of me and my e-mails, and I further aggravated it by asking her for a coupon code. I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask, you know? A little discount will go a long way, especially with the dollar to peso conversion rate. I do this almost everyday in my online work, managing an online shop – create and give discount codes to those we feel deserve to have them. Our mantra in the business has always been it’s easier to keep old clients than find new ones. So I thought of giving it a try.
You believe that if you pray hard enough and sincerely enough, God will answer? I do. And He did.
I prayed for it as a gift to my son. I prayed for it as a gift to me. On my birthday, I created an online wishlist. Two days after that, I received an e-mail.
She, Angela, wanted to know what particular set my son wants, and asked me for my shipping address.
She was going to send me a set, at no cost.
BUT, I did not see that e-mail until after Typhoon Glenda.
From the day I started my quest for KEVA, I’ve checked my e-mail daily – morning, noon and evening. And always, Ken, the KEVA Founder, and Angela, have been prompt in replying. But after I’ve asked Angela for the coupon code, I did not immediately hear back from her. I was counting the days, and on the fifth day, I just thought maybe it’s not going to work. So I just stopped checking my mail.
Then Glenda happened, and I got so dangerously close to losing my job, too, because we had no power and no internet and my client had to hire someone to take my place while I was offline. I thought, that’s it. I, too, was going to be out of job. I was on the verge of depression then, but thankfully, I was strong enough to ward off the negative thoughts, and instead focused on improving my coaching module so I can offer it to a wider target market, and used my time offline writing new, and tweaking old, business plans.
And then in early August, just as I was getting my groove back, I decided to check on that e-mail address, and there it was.
I was in shock. An answered prayer! From a total stranger.
I replied, and did not ask why she was doing what she was doing. I just thanked her, profusely, and gave my address.
That night, I posted a status on Facebook about the kindness of strangers. It was cryptic, as I was not even sure if we would actually get the planks. I was trying to contain my excitement and my expectations. I told my husband about the e-mail, but we agreed not to let our son in on the secret yet.
On August 19, at dusk, a delivery van of 2Go stopped right in front of our gate, and my heart stopped. I thought I was going to hyperventilate. I don’t know how I managed to open the box without cutting myself in the process.
And for the first time in a long time, my son, whose bed time had always been 8:00PM, was allowed to stay up way past 10:00PM.
You will surely be seeing a lot more photos in the days, weeks and months to come. But for this time, I’m sharing what we have built, so far.
So, what do you think? Do you want to have your own KEVA Planks set? Please send me a message on my page. 🙂