Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 27: Easter Egg Hide

The kids and I had such a great time with our latest random act of kindness!  We took a trip to Target to purchase some colorful plastic eggs and then searched the store for the best prizes to put inside. 

Our first thought was to fill them with sweets since candy eggs are our favorites to find on egg hunts...but we didn't want critters in our town to run off with our treats, not to mention we didn't want to exclude the growing number of people with food allergies. 

We were thrilled when we happened upon these little animals and knew right away they would be perfect!

Once home, we filled each of our 40 eggs with either an ape, elephant, bear, zebra, rhinoceros, tiger, cheetah, giraffe, moose or camel.  I wrote "Open Me" on each egg while my children drew smiley faces on the other side. 

And then the real fun began!

We visited the two largest parks in our town and hid eggs on the playgrounds, near the picnic tables, on bridges and even inside trees!  We also placed a dozen eggs outside of our library and near the coffee shops and bakeries in town. 

The next day we drove to all of the places and marveled at the missing eggs...only 3 remained.  I hope the children (and adults) had fun on their unexpected egg hunt!

"I like the serendipitous surprises of reality." - Lawrence Wright

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 26: Fight for Air Climb

This* is the Milwaukee skyline as seen from Lake Michigan.  The tall building on the left is the US Bank building, the tallest building in Wisconsin.  Saturday afternoon I climbed its 47 floors of stairs...and I lived to tell about it.

The Fight for Air Climb fundraising events, like the one I took part in, is coordinated by the American Lung Association to raise the funds necessary to provide life-saving education, research and advocacy to help people beat lung disease and find for research to find a cure.  

There was an excited atmosphere in the US Bank building Saturday morning when I arrived for my start time.  I was drawn to the large group of firefighters who had just finished their climb in full gear.

You see, on the morning of 9/11 and the days/weeks/months/years that have followed, like everyone else, I have thought about the people on the planes and those in the buildings that were hit and the loved ones they left behind. But as a daughter of a firefighter, I think about the firefighters, the men and women climbing UP the stairs as everyone else rushed down. Their heroism and sacrifice leaves me speechless. 

The other motivation for my climb on Saturday was my grandma.  She was my biggest fan and gave the best back scratches. Her and my grandpa kept their house stocked with my favorite foods and drinks to enjoy post-tennis matches and took me shopping for a new school outfit each year. She had flawless style and like me, was uncomfortable sitting "normal" in a chair. She passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease almost 22 years ago. I cannot believe I've now lived more than half of my life without her.

These were the people I thought of as I climbed and climbed and climbed up the 1,034 steps and they were the people who inspired me to motivate others on my way up.

"This was a terrible idea!" a woman exclaimed to me as I approached floor 35.  I stopped and looked at her and said, "We only have 12 more floors to go."  "That makes me feel sick to my stomach," she retorted.  I took a breath and said, "But look back...we've climbed 35 floors already!  And this building will be here for ages to come and we can always look at it and say, 'I did THAT!'  You can do this!  Keep climbing!"

I saw her at the top when I was talking to my mom on the phone, checking in to tell her I made it.  We exchanged a knowing smile as she walked past.  

After stopping to take a handful of pictures, pausing for a couple of glasses of water, and to offer a few short pep talks, my official finishing time was 15 minutes and 34 seconds. Not too shabby. 

If you'd like to volunteer or participate in this "vertical road race," visit the American Lung Association site to find an event in a prominent skyscraper, stadium or arena near you.

Registration for the Fight for Air Climb events consists of a $25 registration fee and a minimum fundraising goal of $100.  Individuals, organizations and companies can also form teams with a fundraising goal of $1,000.

I'm pleased to say that I raised $150 in donations for the American Lung Association as this week's Kindness Countdown activity.

"There is no elevator to have to take the stairs." - Zig Ziglar

* The Milwaukee skyline photograph is by Aaron C. Jors and can be purchased on his webiste at

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Week 25: Diaper Delivery

I was thinking of my friend Mary when I added "deliver diapers to a friend who had a baby" to my list of Kindness Countdown ideas many moons ago.  She is a friend who had three daughters just younger than my own children when she announced she was pregnant with twins at the end of last summer.  Two months later she announced both babies were boys! 

Her little men were born earlier this week and are healthy and handsome.  My kids and I had fun buying newborn diapers and wipes for them.  "These are for babies under 10 pounds!  That's so tiny!" my daughter exclaimed when she read the package. 

We left the gifts and a "Keep Calm and Carry On" card (I thought it seemed appropriate for a mama of three school-aged girls and twin newborn boys) on their porch while the family was away, probably visiting their newest family members in the hospital.  What a fun adventure their life has become! 

My kids asked, as we drove home, about what visitors that came to the hospital on the days they were born.  While I tell them their birth story each year on their birthdays, we hadn't really talked about visiting each other when my younger children were born.  It was nice to remember those early days of getting to know each other and fun to recall the kids' reactions to first meeting each other. 

I have a whole lot to be thankful for and taking the time to think of my blessings has been a gift I didn't foresee in the Kindness Countdown.  What a blessing this adventure continues to be!  

"A new baby is like the beginning of all things...wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities."  - Eda J. LeShan

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 24: Dollar Donations

My life is a day-to-day balancing's the only way to manage homeschooling and a career as a communication consultant.  I am fortunate to work from home 99% of the time, but last week Tuesday I had a morning client meeting in Milwaukee.  To make it work, my husband stayed home for a few bonus hours with the kids and then drove them into the city where we switched, taking the one with the kids in it home.

But first, we made a super fun Kindness Countdown stop!

We went to a dollar store in the heart of the city and peppered it with dollar bills.  Before we headed into the store I told the kids we would have to be kindness ninjas and not make too much noise; we discussed the reasons we wouldn't want to draw attention to ourselves. 

Because we enjoyed picturing children finding money in the toy department, we taped the majority of our Washingtons to dolls, puzzles, toy cars, books, crayons and hair accessories. My kids had a great time shopping for others! 

And because I am an adult who knows how NOT fun it is to spend endless money on diapers and laundry detergent, I left some for those necessities as well. 

"While earning your daily bread, be sure you share a slice with those less fortunate." - Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Welcome to the Kindness Countdown!

I've noticed a lot of new traffic to the exciting!  Welcome, everyone!  In addition to this blog, there is a growing community of kindness on the Kindness Countdown Facebook page.  Click like  to receive the uplifting articles and images shared there, along with my random act of kindness of the week. 

I hope you're having a great day...and have done something to improve the day of someone else as well.  (:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week 23: Personal Pen Pals

I am good at a few things.  I can multitask like no one's business.  I am a decent cook.  I like to think I'm not screwing up this parenting thing too badly (at least on most days).  I am a faithful friend.

I come up short on a few things as well.  I lack patience.  I almost always choose fun over work.  I buy new shoes when I do not need them.  I am, at times, too straightforward.  I have terrible penmanship.

This week I combined one talent and one weakness:  I wrote a pile of letters to special friends and family members. Handwritten letters.  The old school kind.

I had a scary situation Monday night while my husband was out of town: one of our daughters registered a temperature of 105.2.  After a panicky phone call to my husband and a visit to urgent care, I settled the kids into bed (my daughter in mine so I could keep a close eye on her and her fever) and wrote a heartfelt Facebook post.

I know that sounds cold, but you don't know my friends.  They are true and loving.  Thoughtful and prayerful.  I knew they'd have my back. What I underestimated, however, was how strongly I would feel their support.

Mere moments after pressing "post" my home phone rang, my cell buzzed with texts, and I received thoughtful messages and comments from friends in town and across the country.  The love and support expressed was overwhelming, bringing tears to my eyes and peace to my soul.  Knowing so many people were thinking and praying for our family was more powerful and peaceful than I could have imagined.

Writing letters to loved ones is something I've been intending to do for quite some time.  So, Tuesday morning, after my daughter's fever broke and inspired by the words that meant so much to me the night before, I settled down and wrote the first one.  And then another and another.  Wednesday, I did the same.  As well as Thursday and Friday.

I penned 15 letters in all...each one unique and personal and true.  Each one full of memories, hopes for the future, and words of appreciation and affection for the special someone it was addressed to.  But I'm far from done.  I find myself adding more names to my mental list of recipients with each letter I write.  I wrote another letter today and then added the name of a grade school teacher...whose address I now have to track down.  And I can't wait to begin!

Who are you going to write to?  What do you want to say?  How will you encourage/thank/forgive them?

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." - Phyllis Theroux

PS: The beautiful stationary I used for my letters is by the always-beautiful, Rifle Paper Co.  You can purchase a set of 25 Monarch envelopes and a writing pad of 60 sheets here.