Friday, April 18, 2008

Free For All Friday: Fun-In-A-Box, Firemen, and Farewells

TGIF everyone. Thank you all for a great week. The 159 visitors we had view the site yesterday put us at a grand total of 3,883. We are closing in on the magical number 5,000, with only 1,117 views left and thirteen days left to do it. Of course, by now it is well publicized that if I don't reach this goal, I must post a picture of myself wearing a bathing suit on the blog. One very loyal friend resorted to calling her friends and colleagues and making them log onto the site while she waited on the phone. I love - and FULLY endorse - the approach.

Maybe something not as clearly known by all is.... why the goal? The origin of this race to get to 5,000 by April 16 dates way back to February 22, just a couple of days after I started blogging. A number of people questioned why the name of my blog was I decided I would reveal the origin of the name when we hit 5,000 readers. When the prediction was made that April 16 would be the date, I jumped on it. It seemed possible and the date was already special, as it is Matthew's birthday. So, you are working with me to hit 5,000 not JUST so I don't have to put my pride on the line (or the Internet as the case may be), but also so you can learn - with certainty - the origin of my blog name. Now for the business of the day...


As many of you know, my family and I like to periodically celebrate Fun in a Box Friday. To learn more about this family tradition in detail see February 29 (Fun in a Box Friday). In summary, we have a box filled with fun activities (watch a movie, eat dessert in a tent, play a game, visit our favorite isle in Target, etc...). A family member periodically pulls one from the box and then we spend the evening doing whatever the strip of paper revealed. Today I will add a new strip of paper to the box, in honor of all our talk about paper bags earlier in the week.

How could I have forgotten to share this fun and fabulous idea? Not only is it fun for your family, but it can be a great icebreaker or team builder. Introducing PAPER BAG SKITS... Fill a BROWN PAPER BAG (grocery size) with approximately 8-10 random items from your house. It is not essential to divide your group into teams, but I think it is a touch more fun. Tell the group their goal is to develop a fun skit or song somehow incorporating all items placed in the bag. Each group gets about 10-12 minutes to work on their skit and then you get to sit back, watch, and laugh. For added fun... pop some popcorn.


Cheryl presented me with what I considered to be the biggest Free-For-All-Friday challenge to date. After waiting out a tornado threat, just the day before, Cheryl raised a number of questions about the appropriate response and supplies for future emergencies. Not only is this a topic I am not knowledgeable about, but I felt the added challenge of keeping it interesting... or dare I even say... creative.

I decided fulfilling this request required a road trip to our local fire station. So, one day last week I loaded the boys into my car and off we went. The boys loved the invitation to climb on a fire truck and I had no major objection to... shall we say, the scenery. Cheryl and others, here is what they had to say (in bullet form):
  • First and foremost, don't ignore neighborhood sirens when they go off. Some towns sound the alarms for strong winds and others reserve the alarms exclusively for tornado warnings. Either way, take cover when the alarm goes off.

  • You stay in the closet until the storm passes... WHICH YOU WILL KNOW by listening to a portable radio or to a weather radio (approx. $30.00 at some place like Radio Shack).

  • The difference between listening to a portable radio and listening to a weather radio is that the weather radio has direct broadcasting from the National Weather Service.

  • A safety kit is a good idea and should contain items such as: portable radio (for reasons just discussed; spare batteries; flashlight; non-perishable food items, such as granola bars; a blanket, bottled water; a first aid kit; a cell phone; and in the event long term power outages must be withstood... canned food.

  • The closet you hide in must NOT be one with an outer wall.

  • The suggestion to bring a mattress in the closet is to assure you have coverage for you head, in the event a tornado hits. If that doesn't seem realistic, maybe sofa cushions or something else well-padded would work.

  • If you are outdoors seek cover in a low area, even if it means digging a ditch.

  • For more information about emergency responses, the firemen suggested consulting the website of your local t.v. news station. For those in the Grapevine, Colleyville, Euless area Channel 5 News was recommended.

  • Finally, consider conducting your own interview with your local fire station. I asked if it was the kind of thing they would welcome and there seemed to be resounding agreement that they thought it would be great.

  • Hopefully that helps a bit and thanks for the fun assignment. Readers... feel free to contribute any additional tips you might have.

No, this is not a repeat of my April Fool's prank. It is the lead in to today's challenge... submitted to me via email, from a shy and very plugged in reader. Before we begin creatively problem solving... a little background...

Some people walk into work watching the clock and counting minutes until they get to leave again. Others report to an office and bide their time doing good work, but never fully feeling connected to what it is they do. Still others are excellent at their chosen fields, making a difference in the lives of others and feeling rewarded as a result. Finally comes the last group - a group that probably represents less than one percent of the working population. For this group of people, their work is truly an extension of who they are. They are so well suited for what it is they do that their job is not work... it is a calling. In the words of Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist (I HIGHLY recommend) it is their Personal Legend. The person for whom we are brainstorming today falls into this category.

She has been in her position (and office) for close to eight years. During that time she has done the only thing she knows how to do - developed incredibly strong relationships with various students while working with them in leadership positions. Her office has been the stage whereby so many of the meaningful relationship have been established. Students' stories (happy, painful, funny, and sad) have been shared within those four walls. Campus traditions and programs have been born in that office. Life long dreams and future plans have been shared while sitting in the well worn and infamous chair perfectly positioned in the corner. In summary, this office space is meaningful to her, not because she is anti-change, but because so much of the work that means so much to her has been conducted in that space. To move from it and start over somewhere else might feel like arriving at your comfy home only to find it has been painted stark white and all personal belongings have been removed.

And yet, at the end of this academic year... our reader must move from her office and start over in another spot on campus. The challenge for us...

What creative suggestions do we have for how our reader can adequately bring closure to her experience in the beloved office space? Similarly, what might she do to bring closure for the droves of students who have come to know and love that space as a safe haven - a place to go to receive unconditional support from a friend and mentor? Brainstorm away and as always... I will weigh in next Friday.

Signing off and Reaching for 5000...

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