Sites of Jaipur and More

Wednesday, December 28:

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Emily was still not feeling great on Wednesday, so she stayed home again from teaching school. Thank goodness Gopi was there to help me again when they got a little wild. We got there a little early, and all the kids were seated on a blanket and Gopi was having them stand up and was looking at their hands and talking to them in Hindi. I asked Luna what was going on and she said he was looking at their nails and had them smile to see if they had clean teeth. If no, he would send them to the sink house to wash up.

I started with the alphabet and then broke it down into words. I am finding they are memorizing the alphabet, but when you ask some of them what letter it is not saying the entire alphabet, they don’t know. I tried to work one on one best I could with some that I saw struggling.

During play time, a truck came to fill there water tank so that added some extra excitement to the day. Next we went on to work on math skills. Some of them are really bright in knowing there numbers and how to add. Again, I tried to work one-on-one but it is hard when they are all trying to get your attention, yelling “Dee Dee” – which means Sister. That is what they called all of us.

Drinking our chia in the textile shop.

Drinking our chia in the textile shop.

After school we had lunch and good news was Emily was feeling better and food and water was staying down but continued to rest for the day. Olivia, Luna and I had Shakeer pick us up to do some shopping. He is so sweet, we get in the tuk tuk and he had mini bottles of special perfume he had made for each of us. It smelled so good. He also had a box of sweets for us. (An Indian dessert). We wanted to go to the market and he said he knew of some places to get nice textiles not the tourist shops. He took us to a textile place and the shop owner reminded me of Danny Devito. He made us all chia tea and then he showed us all sorts of samples for pants and kurta (India style shirt). We got to pick out a fabric we wanted and then they measured us, and were hand making them and will be delivered a day later. I got a pair of pants and a kurta hand made for $28 US dollars! Olivia also got pants and a beautiful scarf made for her on site. Both her and Luna also tried on sari’s. Very beautiful.

Next stop Shakeer took us to was for jewelry. We went to a shop with real silver and stones. I picked up quite a few gifts for family and friends.

By this time it was almost 7pm, and Shakeer took us back in time for dinner. After dinner, we just chilled out and I was in bed by 10pm. I can’t believe how tired I am at the ends of some of these days.

Thursday, December 29:

Emily was feeling better and was able to join the rest of us teaching today. Hard to believe this was our second to the last day. It’s exhausting when you are there, but then when you leave, all those sweet voices “dee dee” “Bye” “See you tomorrow”. I just hope my week I spent with them will impact their life in some way. Two of the students, in just a couple days, I have seen actual improvement in their math skills. I write addition tables in their note books and have them answer, and when they come up to show me, if all are correct “good job” and I put a smiley face on there paper. They really want to please and do a good job. Some get mad when I tell them they have a wrong answer, but I try to explain and use my fingers for them to count, and then once we figure it out together, then “good job”? I say yes, “good job”.

We had Shakeer pick us up again after lunch and we headed to some sights based on his recommendation. First up was Gaitor – it is the marble cenotaphs of the Kachhawaha kings enclosed in the walled garden just below Nahargarh Fort. It was beautiful, and if you climbed to the top of one of the buildings, you saw an incredible view of the city.

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Our next stop was Panna Mian ka Kund built in the 17th century by a eunuch Panna Mian, a leading figure at the court of Raja Jai Singh.

We finished up our night with a quick stop to take pictures of the Jai Majal, or better know as the “water palace” and stopped at a few markets.

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Made it back in time for dinner at 7pm, and now all of us are just cleaning up a bit because there are two more girls moving in on Friday. Can’t believe tomorrow is my last day at the school.

Teaching the Street Kids

First Day of School

Today was my first day of teaching the street kids in the school Sankalp has set up. Emily and I had eleven children ranging in age from 6-8 but their ability to read, write and math varied immensely. School days start at 9:30am and we are done at 12:30.

The first thing I noticed was there beautiful smiles meeting us for the first time. We were like a “shiny new penny” to them. We were met by Gopi, who managed the school. He rounded up the class for us, and talk a little bit about what they know and what to work on.

There they were all sitting with their maroon sweaters on, crossed legged on a blanket looking at us. Emily and I started out with the alphabet and wrote all the letter on the chalk board and we went through them. All in unison there little voices. Next we worked on words – Apple, Boy, Cat…. By this time, we were starting to lose them a bit. All the children are at different levels so it is hard to assess who is more advanced to give harder words to and who needs some extra attention. The language barrier is also a factor.

Gopi had to come around a few times and tell the kids in Hindi to basically sit down and listen. We (and others before and after us) are trying our best to better these kids lives. Without this program, these kids wouldn’t be able to afford to go to school or have any chance of getting an education based on their home life. It is still a struggle to teach with very little resources and a structured curriculum.

Monday after school, we get back to our house by 1:00pm in time for lunch made by Puni. After lunch, Amberee, Emily, Olivia and myself we head to Galti Ji (also know as the Monkey Temple.) Galta Ji is a large Hindu Temple complex unique in that it is centered around a natural spring that has been channeled to fill seven large pools people pilgrimage to. It was a rough ride out there by tuk tuk. One of the main roads where closed so we had to go this back way and I think the roads were all pot holes and speed bumps, it also doesn’t help when you have four packed in the back seat. Emily wasn’t feeling good, but was trooper in going, but that ride, and the smells did not help someone feeling like they could vomit every 5 minutes.

We finally make it after an hour and half in the tuk tuk. The place was beautiful. You walk in and the first thing you notice is monkeys everywhere. You can buy peanuts to feed them, and they will crawl on you. I have to admit, monkeys creep me (pardon my language) — THE FUCK OUT! I am ok looking at them, but to have them jump on me, hell no. I bought a pack of peanuts and just the site and sound of the bag crunching I had multiple come after me, and one attempted to climb my leg to get the peanuts in my bag.

Nope, not happening. Olivia and Amberee, took a motor bike up to the top of the mountain to see the Sun Temple. Emily, got sick again and so her and I just sat on a bench at the front of the park waiting for those two. Back in the tuk tuk and made it home just in time for Puni’s dinner for us.

Between kids and monkeys, I was ready for a hot shower to wash the dirt and germs off me.

Second Day of School:

Emily wasn’t feeling well yet, so I was one my own with the class. Thank goodness Gopi was there to assist me, and get the kids back in line, when they got a little wild. They are really good at knowing the letters in order, but once you mix them up, they really don’t know. I went over words and how to spell them focusing on what each letters was. Reading and vocabulary is tougher for them than math. Again I contribute it to a language barrier.

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It was interesting, that while we were teaching, a plane went over. All kids stopped what they were doing and ran over to the fence and was yelling, plane, plane…. They found it fascinating this big thing in the sky. I hope one day, when they grow up they can experience being in a plane that takes them some place amazing.

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We get home from school, and Emily was feeling a bit better after sleeping all day. We had lunch and then Shakeer picks us up in his tuk tuk. Shakeer is a really nice guy. He is one of the main tuk tuk drivers that the organization uses. He took us to multiple ATM’s the day before and this day to find money.

There is a money shortage in India. All the 1000 and 500 rupee notes are no longer good and you had a time to trade in, and after that they are worthless. During that time with everyone cashing in for other denominations, there was a money shortage. At the airport I was only allowed to cash in $70.00 which was over 4,000 rupees. We finally found an ATM with money in it and I was able to take out 2,500 rupees. Money goes along way here. A tuk tuk ride into the city, we negotiated a rate of 150 rupees or $2.21 US dollar.

Now that we have money, we are off to go see Elephants. We travel through the town again, and I am just taking in the sites and sounds. We get to this one place, and the Elephants are in a small area and have chains on their ankle. I do go up and pet them as Shakeer assured they were properly cared for. Some of the girls didn’t feel comfortable with this place, so Shakeer took us to a different one, where they are more in the open. We arrive at Elephant Village and yes, this place is much better. Wide open spaces.

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Olivia and I pay 600 rupees to pet, feed and take our picture on the elephants. It was amazing. Such big animals, but so gentle. When it came time to taking our picture, the guide was like, do you want to get on the real way – by the truck…. You only live ones, so up I go! I mounted the elephant by stepping on is truck and walking up his head to his back. It was so fantastic, I felt like I was on top of the world.

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After we let the Elephant Village, we went for dinner at The Stag. We sat upstairs of the restaurant and had a beautiful view of Amber Fort. After dinner we plan to go to see the light show, and we find out as we get there that we missed it. It was a good thing, because Emily got sick again, and so we squish in the tuk tuk again and Shakeer takes us home.

Hard to believe I have been here almost a week now. This trip is flying by and it is more than I ever expected.

My Travel to India!

India Adventure – Day 1

I am sitting in O’Hare Airport, terminal 2 waiting to board my first flight to Toronto on Air Canada. I have to say, I love airports. The mix of so many people from so many different places and all with a different story on where they are going and why.

The first leg of my journey was fantastic! Anyone living in Madison, and if you are looking to go to Chicago (Airport or Downtown) I highly recommend the bus. I took an Uber from my house to the bus pick up location (800 University on the UW Campus) and it was only $10. I boarded the bus at 8:30am, and I was dropped off right at my gate by 11:15. Round trip bus ticket is $60.00. You can’t go wrong for that price.

I checked in at my gate flying Air Canada, and I loved how the attendants interchanged english and french. Madame Meyer would be proud that I could understand bits and pieces of what they were saying.

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First stop, magazine shop – air travel is the time to allow myself the guilty pleasure of buying trashy gossip magazines, grab a giant bottle of water and find a quite spot to charge up and reflect on the journey I am about to begin.

Am I nervous? Not really, it is more nervous excitement. I think my mother is worrying enough for me, but then again, no matter what age you are, that’s what Moms do.

For those of you who don’t know I am going to India to do volunteer work with the organization Sankalp Volunteer. Five years ago, I did an international service trip to Swaziland with the organization Heart for Africa. It was one of most amazing trips of my life. I have been searching since then to find other organizations with a program similar to Heart for Africa. I love the fact that I can pay a flat fee (some people do fundraise for their trips, but I do enough of that in my day to day world) and everything is taken care of when I get there. Place to stay, meals, travel within the country and I have people that can speak the language and help me navigate this new land. The best part of these types of trips is getting to actually experience real people and day to day life. You are not just hitting the “tourist” parts.

Getting to experience different cultures, meet new people and see new corners of the word is why I continually have a wanderlust for travel. Wisconsin will always be my home, but the world is my playground.

Day 1 – Extended

My first flight out of Chicago to Toronto went well. We had a slight delay in boarding, and in that time while waiting, I struck up a conversation with a cute guy from London, all from saying “Bless You” when he sneezed. I must admit, I think the British accent is one of the sexiest accents out there. I was hoping by fate, we would have been sitting next to each other, but, he was 5 rows up from me. He did look behind at me as he was exiting the plane and gave me a little smile and wink. Swoon!

The Toronto airport has a very weird set up when you get off the plane. You are confined to this long glass corridor, that you keep walking until you are escorted by an airline worker to a customs area and then you are allowed in the main gate area to find your connecting international flight. I had to pee so bad when I got off the plane, and when I asked the lady, who was going to escort me to the next area where the bathroom was, she said not until your gate, half way across the airport. She then said, let me take you to this one downstairs for staff. She was so nice. I don’t think I would have made it across the airport.

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I finally got to my gate for my flight to Delhi. We had a 30 minute delay. Instead of 9:20, boarding was at 9:50. As I looked around, there was people from all ethnic backgrounds waiting to board. In this one area we have people that speak many different languages, but the one thing that transcends in any language is a smile. By just smiling at someone – being a flight attendant, fellow passenger, gate attendant, you can see their mood and face change.

We board the plane, and there is some weather in Toronto that delays us on the tarmac. Our plane has to be de-iced. We sat on the tarmac waiting for takeoff for an hour and 20 min. I didn’t really notice the time because thank goodness we have a tv screen in the headrest of the seat in front of us. I was busy watching Bad Moms! Finally in the air – total flight time is 12.5 hours and my eta to Dehli is now 11:00pm.

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From Day 1 to Day 3 –

It is now 7:45am on December 23 – I made it to my new home for two weeks in Jaipur. It reminds me of the youth hostels I stayed in when I was in Scotland and did the whole backpacking thing. It was a little bit of an adventure to get here. I got off the plane and got through customs, exchanged some money, got my bag and then walked toward the exit and I was never so happy to see a middle aged Indian gentlemen holding up a piece of paper with my name on it. He was my driver to take me to Jaipur.

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It is about 280 Kilometers from Delhi to Jaipur. After 14+ hours of being on a plane, I had another 5+ in a car. We left the airport about midnight. The city was still jammed pack with traffic and as we hit the highway I couldn’t believe how many vehicles where on the road at that time of night. My driver told me his name, but I don’t remember what it is. He barely spoke any english, so it was a quite car ride besides the Indian music playing. I was amazed at all the little open “roadside” shops along the highway. We got about an hour in and my driver stopped to eat, I was not hungry so I stayed in the car while he ate at a roadside stand. I didn’t know if I wanted to be that adventurous only 2 hours being in India. We get back on the road and a little while later stop for gas. Navigating the Indian traffic was insane. There is no way in hell I could EVER drive in this country. No one uses the lanes, people are darting in and out of switching imaginary lanes and I think a few times there was only inches between us and the next vehicle with the tailgating, oh, and lets not forget all the honking.

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It is about 3am now, and my driver asks if he can pull over to sleep an hour. I don’t want him falling asleep, so I say ok. He pulls over along the highway, and puts his seat back and is snoring in 2 minutes. By this time, I am exhausted as well, so I do the same. A little cat nap off an Indian highway at 3am with a strange guy that just picked me up….. Brave or stupid… not sure, but all turned out ok. Back on road by 4:30. At about 5:30, my driver says stop for tea? I think he says stop to pee, so I am all for it. Lost in translation there. Either way, we accomplish both. About half hour out of the city, we stop at this open roadside shop/cafe and we order chia tea. It was surreal — here I am in India, at 5:30am drinking tea from a road side stand off the highway taking in all the sites and sounds around me.

imageI get to the house at about 6am, just as the sun was coming up. I was greeted by Puni, who lives here in the house and is also our cook for our lunch and dinner. She helped me to my room and made me coffee. The house is still asleep so I am taking this time to reflect and document everything while it is fresh in my head…. speaking of that, along the road while driving, I saw people leading camels and as we got into town, sure shit — cows everywhere wandering the streets. Looking forward to what the rest of this day has in store for me.

Day 3 – Continued…. I met the rest of the girls in the hours. Emily, who is one year away from her nursing degree is from Liverpool and also on the two week program like me. The rest of the girls have already been here for awhile and have their work placement. The four of them went off by 9am to the school to teach and work with the street kid program.

I had to keep moving or I would have crashed hard and I didn’t want to sleep my first day away. Finally I got a chance to shower after leaving my house at 8am on Dec 21st! Pure heaven. Emily and I decided to take a tuk tuk into town and find an Indian market. Let’s just say thank goodness I have a chiropractor appointments scheduled first thing when I get home because I will need it!!! It’s crazy – darting in and out of traffic, the honking, speed bumps, rough roads, cows in the middle of the road, people everywhere, camels used for travel….. those are just a few of the sites and sounds from my first tuk tuk ride.

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We eventually found a market and went into a few shops. I did end up getting two scarves. One for myself and one for a gift. We came back to the house for 1pm lunch and it was very delicious. After lunch we went up to the roof top to soak up the sun’s rays while we waited until our 3pm orientation with Amita.

She went over how Sankalp started, the history of the organization and the programs that they support. Based on our length of stay, we are going to be teaching street kids in school. Emily and I are going to team teach the kids 4-6 building upon their current knowledge and work with them on  colors and words to go with the colors, basic body parts and math.  We start that on Monday, Dec 26 for one week.

Sitting during the orientation I was starting to hit the wall. I almost fell asleep during it. After we got done going over our program, house rules and other basic information we should know Emily and I walked to the grocery store so she could get a few items. Got back to the house at 7pm, had dinner, cooked by Puska, and then I was ready for bed. It was 7:30 and I was out cold… and now it is 10:30 and I am wide awake writing this.

Tomorrow I am super excited for our overnight trip into Agra and to see the Taj Mahal.

Finish Line

finish lineIt has been ten days since I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon! Yesterday morning I went out for a two-mile run. This was the first time I have run since completing the half. It was an amazing feeling to run because I “wanted” to, not because I had to for training.

What a mind shift. When I started this journey on January 9, 2016 I couldn’t (or didn’t think I could) even run a mile, and now I am a 13.1 mile finisher, and I am running for enjoyment and exercise.

My head has been flooded with different thoughts, feelings and emotions that it has taken some time to sort it all out and share my race weekend experience.

Friday: I signed up for the race weekend experience and well worth the extra money. Friday night there was a cocktail party sponsored by Fellow Flowers. You got a sweet swag bag, free drink ticket, lovely display of appetizers and desserts + a badass dj, that cranked the tunes and kept the dance floor packed all night.  I was a good girl all week, and didn’t have any alcohol and drinking extra water to stay hydrated, but I couldn’t resist a free cocktail so I did have the “flowertini”. I was on my feet all day at work, so I was not your typical dance machine, but it was so much fun to absorb the positive energy and excitement of 500 ladies.  Check out this cool video of the party & see if you can spot me! 🙂

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A few of my Foundations Training Run ladies. We clean up nicely!

Saturday:  You could start the day with a “shake-out” run, but there would be no more running for me until the big day on Sunday.  I did take part in the yoga yogaclass led by Kula Yoga and Wellness. That is exactly want I needed to get ready. It was the perfect amount of stretch and relaxation. After yoga is was time to pick up my packet and visit the expo full of running goodies. I splurged on a bracelet and a 13.1 charm. I then met up with one of my fellow Foundations training partners, Lori, and we walked around the farmers market and then rolled out our yoga mats on the grass outside the Capitol Square and bib pick upenjoyed the beautiful sun, blue sky and trees.  We had time to kill before the guest speaker series at DreamBank. The day ended by listening to two inspiration women in their own way talk about their adventures in life and in running.

After an amazing day, I went home, put my feet up and kept drinking my water.  I was actually in bed by 10pm and slept!

Sunday:  I got up at 5pm. I made myself breakfast consisting of a veggie omelet, toast and coffee. This is what I had the last two long training runs and it seemed to give me the fuel I needed and helped me “take care of business” before I left the house.

I got to Hilldale Shopping Center at 6:45am. I wanted to cheer on the 7:00am 13.1 walkers. Thank goodness the main storms passed by 6:30am and the set up crew scrambled to get everything in place. Thanks to Race Director, Jen Anderson and her crew, the walkers were only delayed by 15 minutes. Now it was our turn! Coach Flo had us gather for our traditional Foundations Training Run picture. On the way I ran into my friends from Green Bay, Brian, Kate and her boyfriend!

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Brian, me and Kate!

I was so excited to see these friendly faces on the morning of my first half! It was a weird déjà vu feeling that I was the one running and they were cheering me on, versus the other way around.

Ten minutes to the start.  It was a weird feeling….. I thought I would be more nervous but I wasn’t. I was ready to do this! I was not excited about the temps and humidity, but it was weather similar to my 12 mile training run, and if I had to walk, to make it, then I had to walk.

at the start8:00am – I line up with the pacing group at the 3 hour mark. My goal was to come in at 3.5 hours, so I thought if I stayed with the 3 hour group for most of it, if I have to walk some, I could still come in with the time I was shooting for.

The horn sounds, and I start running.  It was amazing to see as I rounded the first corner, joining Brian was Marla, Stosh and Sarah. They made it for the start! I was all thumbs up and smiling.

blood signWe are starting out uphill and we run past the Red Cross building.  There is Megan with the best sign ever! Before I know it I have made it to mile 1 – only 12.1 to go!

On Saturday, at the expo, I attended Jen’s race day course talk.  She said there will be ice on the course and if you feel yourself overheating, to put ice in your sports bra and over your heart to cool your blood. Rookie mistake….. I forgot to ask WHAT “AID STATIONS the ice will be at.

We get to the first aid station, and I was starting to feel pretty warm… “Do you have ice?” Awesome volunteer, “no”.  Get to the second aid station, “Do you have ice?” again a no…. this is happens again at mile 6 – still no ice.  By this time, I can feel my face getting beet red. My saviors and amazing “Route Rockers” were there for me to cheer me on just past mile 6, and I go to them (could have been in a demonic voice at this point) “GET ME ICE”.

Sarah pouring ice down my pants and sports bra!

Sarah pouring ice down my pants and sports bra!

Mile 7, I see my angels and Sarah has a cup with ice, and I let her dump it right down my shirt and sports bra.  I also had them dump ice down each leg. Instantly, I could feel my core temp starting to lower. This went on for every mile.  My team was there with a cup of ice to dump down my sports bra.  I did finally see ice at the aid station, but it was not until mile 10.  I would have over heated by then and left to the buzzards. This course was a tough one.  Observatory Hill, some additional hill beasts and some full sun areas that made you want to melt. I did have to walk the last mile.  It was mostly up hill, full sun and I was starting to feel a little dizzy.  Slow and steady has been my motto and I really channeled that mantra in

Finish Line with high Fives!

Finish Line with high Fives!

the final stretch.  I passed the Red Cross building again, and after that I knew it was all downhill (literally). I started to run again. I get to the final stretch and I see the finish line, I see about 20 women lined up on both sides and I picked up the pace, running through their dance party,  giving high fives and finally crossing the finish line and this little girl handing me my medal!

Now I know why people do this crazy shit! After all the training, hard work and sacrifices, crossing the finish was AMAZING.

WE DID IT!

WE DID IT! My official time: 3:42:07

Amazing Route Rockers and Ice Team!

Amazing Route Rockers and Ice Team!

After I crossed the finish line my “ice angels” where there, and some of my Foundations running teammates. No matter how tired and hot I was, I was so excited and proud of myself. I finished the day with a beer at Great Dane with my Route Rockers, then I went home, showered, slept two hours, and had a smile on my face for the rest of the day!

BEER!!!

BEER!!!

 

MY FINAL COMMENTS! I wrote this a few hours after I finished and still holds true.

blingIt is hard to put into words how amazing today was. My “word” going into today was “Believe” my word after finishing my first Half Marathon is “Grateful”. Grateful for all the messages & cards of support, Grateful for my training run teammates, grateful for my Route Rockers who saved me by being my own personal ice delivery crew & provided needed words of encouragement on the course, finally grateful for my legs & health that allowed me to be a Half Marathon Finisher!!!!!

31 Days of Giving: Day 24 & 25 – The Gift of Family

 

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Merry Christmas to you and your families.  May all your days be filled with love, joy and peace. As we come to a close on this Christmas Day, I offer a Christmas wish to all:

  • Happiness May your life be filled with joy and happiness and may each new day bring you moments to cherish.
  • Love– On this joyous day, and throughout the new year, may your life be filled with an abundance of love.
  • Fulfillment–Merry Christmas and may you live a long and happy life filled with goodwill and friendship.
  • Peace– May this new year bring you peace and tranquility, and as you walk your path may it bring you contentment.
  • Prosperity–On this joyous day, and throughout the coming year, may your life be filled with good luck and prosperity.
  • Friendship– I wish you a very merry Christmas and may we enjoy many more years together as friends.
  • Joy of Giving– May your heart be filled with the joy of giving, as it is the expression of the love in your heart and the kindness in your soul.
  • Blessings–May the light of love shine upon you, and may your life be filled with blessings in this Christmas season.
  • Kindness–On this most blessed day, I wish you love for all your kindness, and I hope the new year will bring you many days of happiness.

 

 

31 Days of Giving: Day 20 – Gift of Pinterest

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This weekend, I found my inner craft diva and searched the Pinterest boards for projects with cork. I figured I would finally put all those wine corks to good use that I have been saving. I have to admit, among all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sitting down and crafting was extremely relaxing.

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I made two projects, an earring holder and a key chain.  When I looked around my place for supplies, I amazed myself that I had all the materials and re-purposed some others.  The earring holder, I used a frame that I already had, and I had the hooks in my “junk drawer”. The cork key ring I used an old bracelet that broke and one lone earring, that I lost the other one several years ago.

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I am mighty impressed with my two Pinterest projects and I know of two special people who will hopefully like these home-made creations.

Look around your house, search Pinterests and get your inner craft diva on!  Enjoy, relax & have fun.

31 Days of Giving: Day 17-18-19 – Gift of a Card

68074e3c33017f1819cf5669b840cf5b lettersThis time of the year, I love going to my mailbox to see who I have received a card from versus the usual bills and store ads in my mailbox. With the use of technology, writing a letter or sending someone a note, almost seems like a lost art form. I love my technology, but I am still a big believer in the power of a hand written thank you card, or sending a note “just because”.  Think about the last time you received a card and it wasn’t your birthday or the holidays.  How did that make you feel?

Day 17, 18 and 19 I spent writing holiday cards to send to family and friends letting them know I am thinking of them during this holiday season. I challenge everyone to pick up a pen and paper, and write a little something to someone special in your life – and give them a great gift when they open their mailbox!

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31 Days of Giving: Day 16 – Gift of Lights

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Our oldest volunteer at the Red Cross is Blanche.  She will be 99 on March 13. She volunteers every Thursday in our blood center helping to register the blood donors. She lives alone, and recently gave up driving. She has her day out on Thursday, but otherwise she might only get out one additional time during the week.

Knowing that she is now housebound most of her days I thought I would see if she wanted to go for a tour of Christmas lights tonight.

I called her up, and we made plans for me to pick her up after work and we would go take a tour of the Christmas lights around town and go for dinner – her choice.

We toured all over town to some of the biggest lights displays. She was in awe of the new Schreiber Foods building and how beautiful it looked lit up, she was telling me decorations she liked and those she didn’t like, she shared with me stories of how she used to work at a bakery on Adams Street and then they moved to Broadway.

She also shared with me how much this meant to her, because when you live as long as she has all your friends are dead. Blunt, but true statement. She used to play cards 3-4 days a week, and none of those ladies are alive anymore. As she said, “I make new friends as I get older, but you still miss all your old ones.”

Our final landmark on the tour of lights was of course Lambeau Field. I told her all about the new construction and pointed out the new sections and as we round the corner in the parking lot by the new Lambeau Leap statue I said, “Blanche, how would you like to Lambeau Leap at almost 99?”   Greatest picture ever!

Blanche Lambeau Leap

We finished our tour with greasy burgers, fries and cheese curds at Kroll’s West. As I dropped her off and gave her a big hug, she told me again how much this meant to her. Looking back on this night, it meant the world to me as well.

If you know of someone who is housebound, take the time and visit or pick them up and go for a drive. It will mean the world to them, but trust me, it will leave a pretty big impression on your heart too.

31 Days of Giving: Day 14– Gift of Books

reading quote

A friend of mine put out a facebook message if anyone was willing to help load books for the Give-A-Kid-A-Book Campaign this Sunday am. I was more than happy to lend a hand or I should say some muscle! Our group of awesome volunteers loaded 10,000 books in less than an hour.

Next week the books will be distributed to kids in our community. Because of the great turn out of new books donated and the financial support by the community, each child, will be able to receive two books.

Did you know donations are accepted all year long? Donations of new, unwrapped books for babies, children, or teens to age 18 can be dropped off at any Brown County Library at any time. Just let them know they are for Give-A-Kid-A-Book! Help every child discover the joy of receiving one’s very own book.

Did you know? 

  • If a child reads for 20 minutes every day, they are exposed to about 1.8 million words of text every year. That is 137 new words per minute!
  • If families read together for 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week, they get more than 121 hours of bonding time every year!
  • Many states use third-grade reading scores to predict the number of jail cells they might need in the future (about three out of five prisoners in America are illiterate).
  • For every year you read with your child, average lifetime earnings increase by $50,000. You make a $250,000 gift to your child from birth to age 5 by reading aloud, just 20 minutes a day!
  • Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3–4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

Stats from the following website: http://www.kidcentraltn.com/article/benefits-of-reading-to-your-child

31 Days of Giving: Day 11– Gift of Laughter

LaughterQuote1

When was the last time you had a good belly laugh among family, friends or co-workers?  If you can’t remember you need to go out stat, and find something or someone who can make you laugh!

Tonight, I am fortunate to have shared MANY laughs with my co-workers and volunteers. I had two holiday parties to go to, and at one of the parties we had a “white elephant” exchange. I have to admit, I got the best gift. You can not help but look at this object and laugh, and the greatest part, is every year, it continues to be part of the white elephant exchange and we look forward to see who gets it the next year. I hope you get as good of a laugh as we all did from “her” tonight.

photo boobs

If you feel you need to laugh more, here are some tips and a link to a great article I found online from the Huffpost:Healthy Living: Ways to incorporate more laughter and joy in your life:

• Don’t take life too seriously.

• Find the humor in a bad situation.

• Remind yourself of funny moments from the past.

Surround yourself with fun people who like to laugh a lot.

• Get a pet.