Sunday, February 23, 2020

Week 27: Giving Blood, Saving Lives

If you're having a déjà vu moment seeing me post about donating blood, you are not incorrect; I wrote about my blood donation back in Week 10, but thought it was important enough for another reminder.

As I mentioned back in October, I donate blood every 8 week. I schedule my next appointment as I'm sitting with my donor pals, eating snacks and sipping juice, with the volunteer who comes round and adds our names to our usual time slots.

Note for local readers: I go to the Cedarburg Lion's Club blood drive and my time slot is always between 1:00-1:15, in case anyone wants to get in on the fun; I kill the Cedarburg trivia game so you're almost guaranteed a prize! ;)

As I told a friend this week, the Versiti workers who coordinate the intake and draw the blood are some amazing, friendly, and uplifting people, we always have a good time! I've become friends with a lot of them and look forward to checking in on each other's families and big life moments every other month!

Wherever you are, I'm sure there is a regular blood drive just waiting for you to build a community...a group who gives, where you laugh and share and eat yummy snacks together, where you will give your blood and therefore allow someone to see another birthday, overcome a serious injury, watch their child get married, help them battle cancer, and live for the joy of hearing their favorite song come on the radio, when they'll sing loud and proud and feel like anything is possible.

You can make that happen.

Be a hero. Schedule your blood donation today!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Week 26: Freeing Fire Hydrants

Growing up with a firefighter for a father impacts not only your formative years, but each of the years beyond.

It is because of my childhood experiences that I desire a strong community, care deeply and express if often (I've never not been aware of how precious life is), and don't mind my unusual work schedule. It is why I seek daring adventures and simultaneously possess an equally strong sense of responsibility.

I am almost 45 years old and being the daughter of a firefighter is still one of the characteristic traits that best describes me. Want some proof? I present to you Exhibit C, the third Kindness Countdown activity inspired by my father's former profession (and I have another coming up in a few weeks).

In summary, old habits die hard.

Because of this, I couldn't help but notice the many fire hydrants still buried in snow while driving my son to school this morning; I instantly knew what this week's KC activity would be.

I armed myself with a shovel and drove around my neighborhood for two hours this morning, digging out fire hydrants that needed some breathing room. 

I noticed the hydrant across the street from my house was, as always, clean as a whistle (thanks, Doug!). But things quickly changed...I turned left out of my driveway and didn't make it three houses before seeing another almost entirely covered.

After working my way through the neighborhood I headed to a home I recently sold. (This realtor doesn't stop caring for her clients and their homes after the deal is done...once you're my client, I'm in it for the long haul. ;) I chopped up some frozen ice left by a plow and cleared two more hydrants on that block. 

(Sidenote: If you know anyone in the Milwaukee area looking to buy or sell a home, I'm your full-service girl!

In total, I made it easier for firefighters (and dogs) to access 10 fire hydrants this morning - before heading to Noodles for some much-deserved macaroni and cheese.

I'm sad to say the number of hydrants I saw needing TLC this morning greatly outnumbered the ones being cared for. And because of that, I'm posting this week's blog early, in hopes of spreading the word on the importance of maintaining a clean perimeter around your block's hydrant.

Fire fighters require three feet of space to work, and it needs to be accessible from the street.

Take a look around your neighborhood and ensure the hydrant nearest your home is operative in an emergency. And then call your loved ones and tell them to do the same. (If a neighbor is already caring for yours, adopt one near an elderly or disabled neighbor...we all know someone who could use a helping hand in the winter.)

The latest statistic shows that it takes only 3-4 minutes for a home to become engulfed in flames (newer homes and the furniture in them burns much faster than they used to...and if your home houses as many books as mine does, well, you get the picture). 

When seconds count, you do not want firefighters to waste valuable time locating and clearing a hydrant. 

You want them to spend their time doing what matters: fighting the fire. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Week 25: Paying for Penny Pony Rides

The kids and I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Western Michigan each summer these past 15 years.

We love their sandy beaches with crazy high dunes and the small towns that pepper the shore and the many ice cream shops in each of them. And we love that our kids only remember a life that includes Sandy the Penny Pony at Meijer stores (the stores only started popping up in Wisconsin a few years ago).

It's a genius idea to have a 1c mechanical ride at the check out, the finish line, of such a large store. It's nice to have something you can reward your kids with for their good behavior at the end of running errands...and it's practically.

Our local Meijer has a plastic cup located on Sandy that usually houses a handful of pennies; most of us shoppers drop our coppers in when we get them in our change. Who doesn't want to fund smiles on kids' faces?!

And so, when my kids and I had plans to go to a different part of town, where I knew there was a Meijer, we sorted through my piggy bank and pulled out all the pennies to leave at their Sandy.

While we drove to the store, my daughters asked if I was going to ride Sandy. I said no.

They said they really wanted me to. I said I didn't think that was a good idea.

They explained it wasn't our local store and no one we knew would be there. I said I knew they'd take a picture and then everyone I knew would see it anyway.

They laughed and begged and said it would make their day. I said maybe.

I snapped a picture of me holding the pot of pennies and put it down on Sandy when my oldest said, "I really think you should at least sit on her. It would be so much fun to see you up there!"

And because I work hard to reserve my "no" answers for when I really mean it, I found myself saying "OK."

And then my other daughter quickly stuck a penny in the pony, she played some loud music and started moving...and then we all (including everyone around us) started laughing.

And so I guess you could say I did two acts of kindness this week.

All y'all are welcome. Yeehaw!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Week 24: Helping Hands at Mitten Fest

My good friend BJ owns a little bar called Burnhearts in Bay View on Milwaukee's South Side. No matter where you live, if you like beer, you've probably heard of it

It's made many a Thrillist (including Best Beer Bar), was called out by the New York Times as a must-stop if you visit Milwaukee, and even Draft Magazine put it on their top 100 bar list! 

And while that's all most certainly true, the fact about Burnhearts that carries the most weight with me is the kind heart of my friend, it's owner, Mr. Seidel (standing next to me in the photo below). 

Not all business owners would place importance on raising awareness, money, and collecting food donations when running a street festival, but that's just what my buddy has done. And I'm not talking small potatoes.

I'm talking almost $3,000 and 5,000 pounds of food raised in 2019, a record I expect was crushed this weekend (we're still waiting on final tallies).

This week's Kindness Countdown activity was a no-brainer: I donated food to the Hunger Task Force, and I made cookies for my friend Biju working the stage, the bands that played, and my friends and I who are spoiled enough to hang out in the spacious stage tent (Mitten Fest gets quite crowded).

A great time was had by all! Lots of cute winter attire was worn, people purchased amazing food truck eats, and it's Milwaukee so duh, loads of beer was consumed. All responsibly, I hope.

I'm already looking forward to next year. Be sure to join in the fun!