“You gotta just roll with the punches.”
These words from Joe Griffith of Elkhorn seem to echo a family motto of positivity. The father of four exudes happiness and an easygoing manner from the moment the door opens into a bright, airy home full of original artwork designed by his wife, Sara Griffith, often in the form of hand-painted monograms and signs around the house.
Sara’s business is K. Palette, an homage to the original K. Pallet company owned by her father, Edd Kloucek. His K. Pallet made wooden pallets for refrigerators and other appliances. When Sara decided to go into a painting/decorating business, there was only one logical name.
She specializes in hand lettering, apparent from the art on the walls, the chalkboard in the dining room with the family calendar, and the chalkboard in the kitchen with the family meal plan. The meal plan is erased often in exchange for hand-lettered quotes or hand-drawn artwork. Birthday parties, block parties, New Year’s Eve parties…they all happen at the Griffiths, and all offer a chance for Sara to create.
When Sara or Joe aren’t working, they can often be found helping others. Joe, director of operations at Sam & Louie’s, was the PTO president for Westridge Elementary for the past three years, and, at the urging of principal Troy Sidders, will be the PTO president again next year.
“People will do what they do, but I’ll do what I feel is right, which is to help others,” Joe says. “I travel a lot, I work a lot, but we make time to go to church, to see the kids in school functions. When you make a choice to have kids and be part of a community, that’s the responsibility you have.”
The Griffith’s kids—Lucy, 10, Charlie, 7, Max, 6, and Ben, 1—understand this idea. The older three all want to be parents to baby Ben, carrying him around the house and handing him juice. At night, they like to put him to bed.
“I always read him a story and sing him a song,” Lucy says.
Lucy’s love of mothering is also apparent in the doll that she carries throughout the house, carefully rocking it as she sits down at the kitchen table.
Helping with the youngest is an experience the parents hope will be positive for all the kids. They encourage positivity, and reward it with a system of mason jars the kids can fill with colored pom-poms Sara bought from a craft store.
Whenever the kids do something positive, like cleaning up without being told, or doing something nice for someone else, they get to put a pom in the jar. When everyone fills their jars, the family does something fun, such as going bowling.
The activity is even extended to one-year-old Ben, who only speaks a handful of words, but they include “please” and “thank you.”
Charlie is the organizer and goal setter. He started The Chuck Stop lemonade stand last summer, and earned nearly $800—enough money to buy a scooter and an Xbox 360, both of which he likes to play with. He also likes keeping things tidy.
“There was one Saturday morning that we woke up to the vacuum running,” Joe said. “I came out to the living room, and Charlie had everything picked up. I said, ‘What are you doing man?’ He said, ‘I thought I would get the cleaning done now so we could just play or something today.’ This was at 7 a.m.”
Max is shy. In fact, he barely comes out of his room to say hello, then retreats back to his safe space.
Even though Max would prefer to be alone now, he still likes to help with his little brother.
This attitude of doing unto others especially pleases Joe.
“I believe in leading by example. I’m trying to live a good life and teach these kids that’s what you do.”
That includes helping other family members. A couple of years ago, Joe’s parents moved four blocks away from him, and that means the family is around to help with the house and the lawn.
“For me it was about being able to help when I can, but it was more about being able to have my kids around them,” Joe said. “They aren’t going to be around forever.”
It’s a lesson they know well. Sara’s parents have both passed away, and they live in the home where Sara has lived since she was a high school freshman.
“That’s why I was excited to start a family,” Sara says. “I wanted to create that parent-child bond again. It’s good to be with the kids.”