Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bunny Bunny and Blog-a-thon

So much to cover, so little time!  I'll be quick and we'll have the usual announcements at the end.

Today we will start with Rabbit Rabbit, Bunny, Bunny.  For months I have committed to sharing this idea and for months I wake up and suddenly it's the second day of the month.  Too late.  Not this month.  This month, come #!@* or high water, I will remember to share this fun little monthly tradition.

I have no idea the origin of Rabbit Rabbit, Bunny Bunny... what, if any, symbolism there is to this activity, or even how it came to be.  All I know is that my sister and I engaged in this ritual on the last night of each month.  Call it mindless fun.  The idea is simple.  On the last day of a month, make the last words you speak before going to sleep be "Rabbit, Rabbit."  Then, when you wake up the next morning on the first day of the next month, make the first words out of your mouth be "Bunny, Bunny."  It is supposed to bring you a month's worth of good luck. 

Of course, as is the case with siblings, fun revolved around trying to make the other person talk after having said "Rabbit, Rabbit."  All kinds of tactics were applied... making funny faces, hanging upside down from the top bunk and pulling hair... you can imagine.   In the morning, however, we were on the same side.  We put our creative resources together to develop a fool proof method for remembering to say "Bunny, Bunny," before saying anything else.  We wrote notes and hung them on our bunk; Wrote the words "Bunny Bunny" in all capital letters on our chalk board, and employed our mother to wake us up holding cue cards.  Neither one of us was willing to risk finding out whether the myth was true.

So, tonight give it a whirl.  Say "Rabbit Rabbit" before you and your kids go to sleep and then greet Wednesday morning with an emphatic. "Bunny Bunny."  Parents... an added bonus is that for this one night out of the month, "Good night" might actually mean good night, after tucking your kids into their beds.

Next topic...  BLOG-A-THON.  This is big.  This is really big.  I'm sure to Jerry Lewis this is a pittance... nothing even worth mentioning, but to us here at highlowaha, this Highlowaha Blog-a-thon is a BIG deal.  It's a big deal for a lot of reasons.
  • First, it's sole purpose is to raise money for the Helping Hand family we adopted for the holidays.  There are five kids in the family and in to make their holiday's magical, we will need to fundraise with a purpose!
  • Second... this is an exercise in creativity!  Our blog readers are setting out to write a scary story...together!  I cannot wait to see what how the collective creativity of our group works together to create something of note.  Employing or creativity for the good of community.  That is what we're all about.
  • Third... we are thinking big.  To live the spirit of #218, we have to believe we can do something extraordinary.  Anybody can beat the bushes trying to raise money.  And anybody can sit down and attempt to write a story.  But to write a story, while having 24 consecutive hours of participation, with the sole purpose of helping a family in need,... now that is something.  That is the spirit of #218. 
But this will not happen with a lot of effort on our part and a lot of coordination on my part.  Today, 25 days before the event, we begin joining efforts and coordinating blog-a-thon details.  Continue to check the link on the top right hand side of my blog labeled, Blog-a-thon for ongoing information and details (it's not there yet, but keep your eyes open).

The most important task for us to begin tackling today is registration of blog-a-thon participants.  Participants in the Highlowaha Blog-a-thon should know we are operating on Central Standard Time (CST).  
  • Blog-a-thon Goal: The goal is to have 96 - NINETY SIX - people register for a 15 minute block of time, beginning on Friday, October 24 at midnight (CST) and ending at 11:59 p.m. (CST) that same day.  Thank you, reader SUSAN for volunteering to get our story going at 12:00 a.m. on Friday morning!  That fifteen minute slot is taken.  Only 95 more to go.
  • Raising Funds: We will raise money because each writer will secure at least one person to sponsor their fifteen minutes on the blog, at the rate of $1.00 per minute.  Of course, you can secure more than on person to sponsor your time on the blog.  That would be icing on the cake.  If, however, everyone got the minimum sponsorship then we will have raised 96 x $15.00 = $1,440.
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: When a person commits to taking a 15 minute block, he/she must be on www.highlowaha.com for the full 15 minutes.  He or she, however, DOES NOT have to be writing the entire time.  Participants could, for instance, read the previous posts for 1o minutes and then write for five minutes, in the end totaling 15 minutes.
  • Recruitment: To make this work, we will need to employ friends and family who might also be willing.  Lurkers, we really need you to come out of lurker status, if only for a day.  On an average day we have 50-60 people who each check in 2 or 3 times a day.  For this one day, I will trade the repeat visits of loyal readers for 96 people who visit (and post) one time for 15 minutes.
  • International Friends and Readers: Who do we know oversees?  Some of the blocks of time will be hard to manage if we don't solicit the help of some of our international readers and friends.  I have a friend in England.  Rest assured, I will be calling her to take a time slot.  Who do you know and will use please invite them to participate?
  • Sign up: To get the time sheet going, claim your time slot by simply posting your preference in the comment section.
  • Picture of Your Pet: IMPORTANT!  If you have a pet, please email a picture of your pet to CSPgrad at kkolkmeier@gmail.com, by Wednesday at 5:00!  Don't miss out on the fun! 
  • Highlowaha Creativity Basket: Sue asked me to inform the everyone that Highlowaha's Creativity basket was a hit.  It raised over $104.00 and helped toward the larger achievement of raising an estimated grand total of $10,000.  
  • Check into Helping Hand Link:  All this talk about the Blog-a-thon reminds me...  Please check out the link to the right labeled, Helping Hand, to learn more about our holiday initiative and to learn more about the family receiving our thoughtful gestures.  Ages and sizes of the five children are listed, along with a short list of things they would like from Santa.
  • Good Neighbor Day:  Different people went to different lengths on this day.  Me... my attempts were feeble... smiley face balloons attached to bottles of coke.  The notes read, "Have a Coke and a Smile.  Thanks for being my neighbor."  CSPgrad on the other hand... she is a maniac.  CSPgrad baked batches of cookies for the residents in her building at James Madison University.  The kicker... her oven is small, allowing her to only bake THREE cookies at a time!  Now that's impressive!
  • Paint Your Town Red:  I painted my town red with coke bottles for Good Neighbor Day in an effort to generate more donations for Heather's friend, Julie.  Remember, we are collecting Coke Reward Points and sending them to our "Regional Directors," so they can gather points by region.  Maybe Heather will be kind enough to post regions and current tally's some time today in the comment section.  Regional Directors... feel free to chime in with an encouraging or motivational word of your own
Signing off until tomorrow... Rabbit, Rabbit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Post Office Prank... Read On

Happy Monday Morning, everyone.

To be creative you have to read.  That's my latest kick.  I know we're all busy and the last thing we feel like we have time for is another item on your to-do list.  I know.  When I was in graduate school I dreamt about the day my dissertation would be done and I would have a moment of free time to read whatever I wanted...  the Sunday paper, the latest Oprah Book Club selection, or one of the many New Yorker magazines collecting dust, but never getting more than the six minutes of my attention (just long enough to read the cartoons and scan the Table of Contents).
Then I accepted a position working full time...  Then Matthew.  Then Jack.  And all of a sudden I was back to cereal boxes and road signs for leisure reading.

If I have valued anything about not working the past months, I have valued time to read.  I get to scan the paper every morning and actually enjoy books and articles... of my choice.  I love knowing what's going on in the world around me, but I also love how reading literally makes me more creative.  

I read and I make connections between two things that days ago were seemingly disconnected. Highlowaha just celebrated National Cream Filled Donut Day and days later I noticed an article about a new children's book that was published titled, The Donut Chef, by Bob Staake.  Then Friday I read the Wall Street Journal and an article appeared about the Annual Guinness Book of World Records.  One of the record breaking categories was tallest stack of donuts, achieved by stacking one on top of another.  Then Sunday, I read an article about the fact that Dunkin Donuts was making a resurgence in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  One topic and, in the span of a week, three related articles.  To you that might seem like superfluous information, but to me food for feeding my creativity.  I don't know how I'll use all three of those pieces of information, but eventually I will.

I have a collection of articles I've cut out and labeled "highlowaha."  There are articles about people or events that I might someday want to share with you - the readers.

Today's post is one of those topics.  Today's idea came from an article in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, September 12, titled The New Pranksters.  It tells of websites and blogs like the Urban Prankster Network, GuerilLA, and Art of the Prank where people organize in their own city's (and nationally) to perform "stunts."  Creators of these stunts dream up outlandish scenarios and then try to make them happen.  One prank sited was having 15 identical twins dress up in identical outfits, fill a New York subway car and mirror each others actions, without explanation.  Other examples were people gathering in a public place and dancing to music no one else could hear or people looking like zombies, smeared with fake blood, and wandering the streets of San Francisco. 

I was intrigued by the idea of people coming together to do something harmless, but something we suspected could yield responses of surprise or laughter.

Then I remembered reader Julie.  Julie mailed me a cake.  Literally, mailed me a cake.  She took this freshly baked cake, walked into the post office, and announced to the postman her intent to mail it from New York to Dallas, Texas.  According to Julie, the first words out of the postman's mouth were, "You're kidding, right?"  Needless to say... the cake wasn't exactly recognizable when it arrived, but it makes for a GREAT story and I'll derive joy from it for years to come (in a way that even cake can't compete).

As a blog we've touched on the pains of mailing, mailing unconventional items, and some of us have engaged in a fair amount mailing since coming together as a community, but we've never talked about playing a collective prank on the United States Post Office!  Now before you begin worrying about federal offenses and the like, let me assure you... I am talking about a harmless and creative prank.

Here's what it would look like...  On a designated date readers of highlowaha will agree to visit their local post office to mail a package.  The prank is that we will use our creativity to think of the most outlandish thing we can mail.  I just ran this by my husband and he suggested a gold fish.  I will leave the creativity up to you.  You decide what you want to mail... AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T BREAK ANY LAWS!  Then, you will come back and report to the group the experience you had.  It will make for a great day of fun and laughter.

We will mail one week from tomorrow - Tuesday, October 7.  And, I have the perfect mailing address.  I don't want to drone on forever.  Today's post is already verging on too long, with the limited amount of time you have to read.  Suffice it to say, I have a good friend who for reasons I'm not quite sure - I have not spoken to in FAR TOO LONG.  It is time for us to break the ice and reconnect.  This would be the PERFECT ice breaker and just the stunt for me to finally take the plunge.  And, on top of all that...  October 7 is her birthday.  Though the packages won't be arriving on her birthday, it will be a thoughtful gesture in honor of her birthday.

To recap.  Highlowaha will play our own version of the New Pranksters.  On Tuesday, October 7 readers with the spirit of #218 (see post from 9/18, for most recent explanation) will mail the most outlandish, unpackaged item you can come up with.  Once mailed you will return to highlowaha and tell us about your experience.  Before then I will reconnect with my friend and alert her that "mail" will be coming her way.  With a little bit of luck, she will report back to us letting us know what arrived and the condition of each.  Maybe I'll even develop some award categories (most original, biggest, smallest, etc...).

The address you will be mailing to is:
T. Shay 
5600 Ostrom Avenue
Encino, CA 91316

One more reminder... the package you will be sending is to be unpackaged.  In other words... you are NOT to place it in a box or mailing envelope.  You will put the address directly on the item and attempt to mail that!  An inflated beach ball, a plank of wood, an apple... you get the gist. 

I'm getting more excited as I type, so I just decided this will be a "patch yielding" event.  Mail something to T. Shay at the address listed above and earn a patch for your patchwork denim. ( See 8/7 Patchwork for more details).

I'm off to read the paper for more fun ideas.  Signing off until tomorrow... 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Breakfast in Bed... Now That's Wacky!

I want to tell you a story.  This happened last Wednesday, but I continue to think about it.  If I'm still thinking about it then maybe, just maybe, it is worth sharing.

We have those moments as parents. Moments when we feel like we shine.  You know what I'm talking about.  For me those moments usually come when I am doing something with one of my children and I can tell - right then, at that very moment - that I am making a memory.  Something he will remember for the rest of his life (even if he never reads it in that Scrap Journal of his).  For more details about Scrap Journaling see posts dated 7/28-7/30.

I love Wednesdays for this very reason.  Matthew genuinely looks forward to Wacky Wednesday.  Jack (18 mo.) is still to little to understand and Ricky is too old (15) to still care.  But, Matthew.  To Matthew, Wacky Wednesday is magical and filled with possibility. 

Quick background.  For those of you new to the blog or who simply don't remember, I named each day of the week in an effort to help Matthew learn and remember the days in order.  With each day is a small activity for which our the boys can look forward.  The days are Munchkin Monday; Cartoon Tuesday; Wacky Wednesday; Three Time Thursday; Fun in a Box Friday; Sleep in Saturday; and Ice Cream Sunday.  To learn more about the activities of each day of the week, see posts 2/25/08-3/02/08. 

Wacky Wednesday is dedicated to looking for and doing wacky things.  By looking for, I mean we keep our eyes peeled for things around that are not quite as they ought to be.  We've had great examples over time.  Big things like a man pushing a massive globe shaped medicine ball along the interstate in Kentucky and small things like someone accidentally wearing two different socks.  

By doing, I mean we use our imaginations to dream up things we can do that are just a little (or sometimes a lot) silly.  And, in the spirit of my mother, trying never to do the same thing twice.  This, as you can imagine, gets harder and harder with every passing week.  We've covered a lot of ground, from wearing our shirts backwards and inside out to wearing swim trunks to school, to saying Merry Christmas to everyone we meet (even though it's July); to carrying an umbrella on a sunny day; to reassigning names to everyone at our dinner table, and walking every where we go backwards.  

What's magical about this is that Matthew is actually getting more creative at dreaming up ideas.  We play a little game, usually every Tuesday.  He asks, "What do you think we should do wacky tomorrow?"  And I say, "I don't know.  What do you think we should do?"  He throws out his first idea and then I go.  Then he goes.  Then I go.  And on and on the game goes until we settle on tomorrow's activity.

Last week we were struggling.  Neither of us were feeling imaginative and we kept defaulting to things we'd already done.  Then I had an idea.  Not a brilliant idea, but brilliant to Matthew and that's all that mattered.  I said, "I've got it.  What about if tomorrow you eat breakfast in bed, instead of at the breakfast table?"  Now to Matthew this was a totally novel idea.  He knows nothing about the luxury of being served breakfast in bed or the fact that this is a standard treat afforded people on special occasions like Mother's Day, birthdays, etc....  All he knew was that instead of having to sit "square in your chair," he was going to eat breakfast in the comfort of bed.

He started giggling.  He was so pleased... so excited at the prospect of doing something he thought had never been done before, he laughed and talked about it all night long.

We went to sleep and to be honest I completely forgot (I know...Mother of the Year).  That morning Matthew was calling my name from the top of the steps.  I didn't respond immediately, because his normal routine is to wander down stairs and crawl into our bed while I buzz around getting ready.  I figured he would eventually work his way down stairs.  Finally it occurred to me what he was doing...  calling my name from the top of the steps, wondering when he was going to get his breakfast in bed.

I couldn't help but get a huge smile on my face.  I had beds to make, hair to dry, clothes to iron, bags to pack, but I stopped everything I was doing and gladly made him breakfast in bed.  

As for Matthew... he still doesn't know that eating breakfast in bed is something people occasionally do.  In his mind, he did something truly wacky - maybe even something nobody has done before.   On that day, his oatmeal, toast, and orange juice were better than ever before.

That's my story.  A small, magical moment in the life of one of my boys.  On that morning, I shined.

Now for a little bit of help.  I was so taken with the sheer joy in Matthew's eyes that morning and how magical that moment felt, I shared the story with the woman sitting next to me in the swim center on Wednesday evening.  Ricky was in swim practice and Matthew was taking his swim class.  The woman who I told is the mother of a child in Matthew's class and is he quickly becoming a good friend.  She loved the story and asked if next week (this week), we could include Iassac in doing something wacky.  Thrilled at their enthusiasm, we immediately agreed.

Matthew and I brainstormed ideas on the way home... wear a bikini or a hula skirt, write their swim teacher's name on their bellies, put their goggles on backwards, carry umbrellas, and a couple more.  So far there are no ideas that Matthew is either excited about doing or that he is willing to do.  Maybe you can help.  

What wacky thing can Issac and Matthew do during swim class this Wacky Wednesday? 

Quick Announcment:
  • Countdown to the Super Bowl:  Vanilla is the winning secret ingredient!  Final score 12 votes to 8.  Good luck, Nicole and Julie.  Remember, Julie... NO MAILING CAKES!
Signing off until tomorrow...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free For All Friday: Football, Throw Down Final Scores, and Friendly Neighbors

T.G.I.F. Hopefully you all have something fun that you're looking forward to this weekend. We will be cheering Ricky on at his swim meet and, hopefully, Richard and I will take in a movie on Saturday night.

Thanks for engaging with me this week to wrap up details from week's prior and to look ahead at exciting things to come.

Before I open the floor for Free For All Friday - the day you get to talk about, brainstorm, or get input on any topic you want - I have few quick announcements and a couple of Free For All Topics of my own.

  • Focus Group Winners: As promised... I drew five names of people who participated in yesterday's day long focus group (one person for each question posed). And the winners are: Round #1 = Nicole; Round #2: Kelly; Round #2 (since I didn't post at 9:00)  = CSPgrad; Round #4 = Heather; and Round #5 = Peggy.
  • Make Your Mark: Many of your suggestions for what to do with the excess markers were excellent. Our approach will be a compilation of proposals. Details will be forthcoming.
  • R.S.V.P. A.S.A.P.: I think we have a commitment from Heather, Katie and Cassie to host the first three Highlowaha Parties. Heather will take the month of November when she and her friends will celebrate a week of creative notions for maintaining friendships from a distance. Cassie, suggested the idea of hosting a baby shower for Melanie. Kelly from Montana chimed in sharing her exciting news, affirming that we're onto something with the whole baby shower idea. Any others out there? This would make a great topic for January when we ring in a new year. Cassie, Melanie, Kelly... can you muster up a few more pregnant mothers who might want to join our party? Katie, that leaves December for you. Any ideas about which circle of friends you want to invite?
  • It was a Dark and Stormy Night: We will embark on a highlowaha-blog-a-thon on Friday, October 24 in order to raise money for our Helping Hand holiday family. We will need 96 people to claim a fifteen minute block of time. And, during that time we will be co-authoring a scary Halloween story. It isn't too early to begin thinking about what block of time you would like to claim or to think about who you will invite to participate along with us. Lurkers, we NEED you!
Now for our Free For All-ing.
  • First, today we must vote on the secret ingredient for the showdown between Nicole and Julie in this week's Countdown to the Superbowl Throw Down. This week we are choosing between...
Mustard vs. Vanilla
  • Second, what are your predictions for this Sunday's Green Bay game... Green Bay or Tampa Bay? Remember, the person who comes closest to guessing the final score earns a gold star patch for his/her Patchwork denim.
  • Third and finally... share some of your simple ideas about how to celebrate Sunday's National Good Neighbor Day.
Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Come in and Sit Down

Today we will conduct a Highlowaha Virtual Focus Group.  Certainly, if we can attend the opening of the Olympics together, from our respective cities, and engage in a virtual game of Bingo together, then we can participate in a Virtual Focus Group.

The topic...

A Highlowaha journal or calendar.

Here's some background.  While planning for our trip for Taste of USA (for more details see Taste of USA link in top right hand corner of the blog), I decided it would be nice to present each participant with a Highlowaha Journal.  It was, in my mind, a practical treat.  The journal would provide highlowaha readers with first, a place to record all their favorite highlowaha ideas and resources shared by our readers.  Second, the journal could serve as a place for readers to capture their own creative ideas and daydreams... with the hope that maybe some of their creative brainstorms would end up right back in the pages of our beloved highlowaha blog.  

In my mind the journal facilitates the perfect cycle.  Receive ideas from highlowaha... write them in your journal... spark new creative ideas... write them in your journal... contribute new ideas to highlowaha... receive more ideas from highlowaha... and on and on we go.

Already I thought I was onto something.  Then along came Cheryl.  Cheryl had a dream (literally) where she envisioned turning stickers into temporary patches that we could wear on our Patchwork jeans.  She printed off lots and lots of round stickers with pictures representing highlowaha "moments."  Examples of some of the stickers include: Olympic rings (for decathlon); a picture of Ray Wattson; Crayola Markers (for Make your Mark); a fortune cookie (from Virtual Chinese Dinner Date); a cupcake; the Reading Raynbow symbol; and a picture of the "Let's Do Lunch" note cards (from the Let's Do Lunch campaign).  Brilliant, right?

We had extra stickers and so decided randomly stick them throughout the pages of the journals.  Next to each sticker, we wrote a note.  An example... next to the Let's Do Lunch cards, a note that said, "Invite someone to lunch today."  In our mind, the journals went from cool to awesome.  

In the airport on the way home, Cheryl and I talked about the possibility of producing these journals in greater numbers.  Maybe some of our other readers would like one.  Or how about a birthday or holiday gift?  Instead of subscribing a friend or relative to Oprah Magazine or Real Simple, how about welcoming them into our community of ideas?  Present them with a personalized and interactive Highlowaha journal and give them the gift of creativity and community.  The gift that keeps on giving.

Excited, I came home and told Richard.  His response... how about a calendar instead of a journal?

And, the idea of a focus group was born.  I want to hear from you.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Journal?  Calendar? and more.

Here's how our focus group will work.  I will post an open ended question, in the comment section, at the following times today: 5:30, 9:00, 11:00; 1:00; 3:00; and 5:00.  Your job will be to share your opinion and rationale for each of the questions posed.  After 7:00 p.m. you can feel free to respond to any of the questions.

As with all good focus groups, there are treats.  As you know I have been spending the week doing highlowaha housekeeping.  I have a cabinet of fun treats I've acquired over time and I am prepared to share them with you.  After each two hour block of time (except the first block which is 3.5 hours), I will do a drawing for anyone who has provided feedback within that 2-hour block.  This is my way of saying, "thank you" for your willingness to help me think through this idea.  Your opinion is valued.

O.k. here we go with the first question...

What is your initial reaction to the idea of a highlowaha journal or calendar?  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Marker Marketing

On Monday I told you we would be doing some housekeeping this week.

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon packaging Pirate Bingo boxes for the post office, sending emails to package sponsors, and distributing patchwork patches.  I'm using the rest of this week to regroup and to cross all my "t"s and dot all my "i"s.  (See 9/19 for more details on Pirate Bingo).

So while I'm doing Highlowaha housekeeping, I might as well revisit my failed "Make Your Mark" campaign (see 8/5).  I don't mean rehash my gross overestimation of how many people would clamor to participate.  I mean revisit what to do with the 66 remaining boxes of 10 Classic Color Crayola Markers.

I have no preconceived notions... other than... ideally we won't lose money on the deal.  It's icing on the cake if we can use the markers to find a few more committed readers or draw lurkers out of hiding.

This is a job for von Oech and his magical Whack Pack.  For those of you new to the game... the rules are simple.  Take an idea (in this case, what to do with my 66 boxes of Crayola Markers) and whack it by applying one of von Oech's principles of creativity.  Today's principle is...

Flex your Risk Muscle.  Bull's eye every time?  If so, you're standing too close to the target.  As comedian Woody Allen puts it, " "If you're not failing every now and again it's a sign your not doing anything very innovative."  Everyone has a "risk muscle."  You keep it in shape by trying new things.  If you don't, it atrophies and you're no longer able to take chances.  How can you exercise your risk muscle? 

Let me interject two things before we get busy whacking...

First, thank you von Oech.  I accept today's prompt as a subtle reminder that it's ok our Make Your Mark campaign failed miserably.  We were just keeping our "risk muscles" healthy and hunting for the next great innovative idea. 

Second... I've noticed a slow decline in "true whacking" over the past few weeks.  Readers liberally make comments on the dilemma, but few of you are actually applying the concept and truly refining the idea or helping to solve the problem.  Consider this exercise as much a test of your creativity (or a flexing of your "creativity muscle") as it is an opportunity to help highlowaha solve a problem.

So today I will sweeten the pot.  Today I will offer the latest and greatest craft tool to the person who offers the most viable and creative idea/solution (as judged by me and my family tonight at dinner).  The tool I will be giving away comes recommended by Taste of USA participant, Kristen.  Each participant was asked to bring his/her "go-to" craft tool for a short Show and Tell activity.  Kristen's tool got the loudest "oohs" and "aaahs".  We all agreed our lives would be enriched if we owned the...

Fiskars Rotary Cutter  
Valued at $19.99 (at least at Michael's)  
The Rotary Cutter is a superior tool that is ideal for cutting through heavy stock or multiple layers of fabric, paper, felt, vinyl, cardboard, mat board, cloth, leather and fiberglass material.

So consult with von Oech and let me know what you think.  How can we exercise our risk muscle to do something purposeful with the remaining 66 boxes of Crayola Markers?

That's it for me.  I'll step out of the way and let our creative readership get to it.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

R.S.V.P - A.S.A.P

H*A*P*P*Y  B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y  K*A*T*I*E 
a.k.a. CSPGrad

And in honor of Katie's birthday, we'll talk parties.

Everyone loves a good party.  Or, at least most people enjoy most parties.  Except, of course, for those pyramid party things.  Most of us go into those with a little bit of trepidation.

You know the parties I'm talking about...  scrap booking gadgets, cooking gadgets, tupperware, makeup, jewelry, purses, and now... tools for women.  Of course the hostesses famous last words are always reassurance that you, "don't need to buy a thing.  Just come and have fun."

I'm calling bluff on that, because I've never been to one of those parties where I haven't purchased something.  The first pyramid party I ever went to was the year Richard and I got married.  It was a Pampered Chef party.  My husband likes to cook and it was right before the holidays.  I went into the experience with great hope and left the experience excited about all the gadgets I bought him, that I was sure he couldn't live without.  It was Christmas and I was sure he would love them all.

As it turns out, my husband is a cooking snob.  He says he's a cooking purist, but I say... call a spade a spade.  He didn't keep a single thing that I bought him.   So my mother had an extra good Christmas that year and we still measure with the same old measuring spoons, use our same warped baking sheets, and decide when something is finished cooking the good old fashioned way... by using our nose instead of a magnetic timer for the refrigerator.

I'm no fan of pyramid parties, regardless of what you're selling.  But last spring, I tried one once again.  I had just moved to our neighborhood and I thought it would be a fun way to meet people - not to mention keep the one friend I managed to find.  So off I went to, of all things, another cooking ware party.  This time I was more discerning, but still I left having purchased more than I knew my husband would use.

The real point is that while I was there, I started thinking...  here we were this group of women loosely related through our mutual friend and neighbor.  We were coming together more for the fellowship than we were because any of us needed more cooking utensils.  But what came from it was a nice break in the week, a few new ideas for easy dinner recipes, and good conversation about topics ranging from kids, to fitness, to shopping bargains.

I want to try something similar.  No I won't be selling anything and you won't either.  The idea is this...

Once a month I will host a Highlowaha party.  The "hostess" (that's one of you) will "invite" six other people to join us for the week.  They can be friends from work, teammates from your bowling league, high school friends you're in touch with, a book club, a scrap booking group, or old college friends.  Anybody you want from anywhere you want.  

The hostess will consult with his/her friends to determine what topic you would like covered for the week.  Then it will be my job to use that topic to throw a week long party.  All you and your guests have to do?... commit to reading the blog each day for the designated week.  There will be a spotlight on you and your friends, good information, giveaways, and fun conversations.  
At the end of the week, the hostess will be presented with a Patchwork Hostess Patch and a treat from me.

What are some examples I can think of based on who I know some of our readers to be?
  • Katie, Kelly, or Brian... how about a party with you and your hall director staffs?  The topic can be anything from how to motivate staff to achieving balance.
  • Julie... how about you and some of your former classmates?  Easy decorating tips for people who move a lot.
  • Erica, how about your play group?  How about creative ideas for keeping play groups fun or practical fashion tips for stay at home moms.
  • Heather, Peggy, or Cheryl: Are you and your neighbors gearing up for the holidays?  How about creative and inexpensive gift ideas.  Making the holidays stress free or creative wrapping ideas.
  • Lori: Could you and your teacher friends benefit from new and creative ways to start spring semester?
  • Does anybody know anyone getting married or having a baby?  Maybe we could have a virtual bridal shower or baby shower.
Half the fun is thinking about who you might like to invite.  The other half is brainstorming a fun, practical, serious, or zany topic you agree would be fun for our community to cover.

So that's as far as I've taken the idea.  Let's spend the rest of today building on my idea with your suggestions of what will make our monthly Highlowaha parties more fun.  Also, let's book our first three parties.  We need adventurous can-do kinds of people to claim November, December, and January.  R.S.V.P - A.S.A.P.

Everyone loves a party.

  • Bingo Winners and Gift Donors: It will take me until mid day today to make sure the hosts of your packages have your mailing addresses.  Thanks for being patient.  
  • Altoid Table: Thanks, Peggy for inquiring about the never ending saga or our Altoid Tables.  You all just think we'd forgotten about them.  What you don't know is they have been a steady and ongoing project/saga since we started them... quite a while ago (we'll just leave it at that).  We thought we were putting the second set of finishing touches on the tables two nights ago and low and behold, the gorilla glue that held so well we had to chisel the boxes off last time, didn't hold the boxes at all this time.  In fact, they just popped right off.  It seems the glue works better on wood than on tile.  After some inquiry and research, we've determined we are now in the market for Liquid Nails (and a good stiff drink).  It seems Liquid Nails is the only hope of actually securing these tins to the tiled tables.
  • Decathlon Pics and Recipes:  Hmmmm.... I would like to think I would have had these up the day after events were entered.  But alas... another one of Claudia's weaknesses becomes glaringly obvious.  The tedium of loading pics onto blogger is a task as painful to me as poking myself in the eye with a stick.  Most, if not all the pics, are on my computer and someday I imagine I will be so on top of life (no laundry waiting to be folded, no kids needing to be carted here or there, no toys to be picked up) that I will actually load them on.  Until then, I will dream about all my tasky highlowaha friends and continue to imagine how much I would love to have even an ounce of your discipline.  Hope springs eternal, though, so keep on asking! 
Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, September 22, 2008

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

A quick congratulations to Tera
this week's Football Snack Throw Down Winner!  
Check out Struble Suds (click on link on right hand side) 
for pictures and to hear what the judges had to say.  

More announcements at the end.

Ebb and flow.  Ebb and flow.  That's what comes to mind as I sit down this morning prepared to compose today's post.

The energy and activity on our blog moves in cycles...like life, like our moods, and like the changing of the seasons.  So maybe, with yesterday marking the beginning of fall, it is appropriate for members of Highlowaha to pause...to revel in all we've done this passed season and to look ahead at all the upcoming things about which we can get excited.

So that's what we'll do this week.  We'll spend a low key week looking ahead and planning for a few things on our horizon.  I will pick your brain about some projects I've been milling over and we'll generally enjoy each other's company.  

Here's some of what you can expect...
  • Monday - Celebrate Friday's success and Mark your Calendar for our next fundraiser.  Emphasis on the word "FUN."
  • Tuesday: Introduce a new Highlowaha initiative and recruit for November's first "taker."
  • Wednesday: Whack a highlowaha dilemma.
  • Thursday: Participate in a Highlowaha focus group
  • Friday: Free For All and Vote on our next secret ingredient
  • Saturday:  Simple ways to say thank you for National Good Neighbor Day (Sunday 9/28).
Now for a quick summary of last Friday.  If you want to re-live all the fun or see pics, scroll through Friday and Saturday's blog entries.  I don't want to rehash all of it, but I will say this...

As a group - newcomer and veteran readers... active posters and lurkers - we have a lot for which we can be proud.  We adopted a family for the holiday season and less than two months later, we've decided on a family to be the recipient of our gesture and we've raised our first installment of money to help pay for their holiday wish list.  

Friday's Pirate Bingos fundraiser was a success.  Thank you to everyone who was able to participate.  There were a few glitches, but no one ever lost sight of the fact that we were coming together as a community to support our Helping Hand Family.  In the end we raised $223.00 - $73.00 more than my stated goal!  Let me explain.
  • $108.00 was raised in cash from Pirate Bingo
  • $50.00 was donated by Lori in the silent auction for our Limited Edition Highlowaha shirt (thanks for the great idea, Sue).
  • $15.00 was donated by Julie who was unable to participate in Friday's fun, but who wanted to show her support.
  • $50.00 was donated, via a Target Gift Card, by Cheryl
Maybe today you'll brag about our success to a friend or two.  I know, I will.

And when I brag... I'll finish it off by saying... "And, you won't believe what we're doing next!"  And you know what I'll tell them?...

"On Friday, October 24 the Highlowaha community will take on their second fundraiser for our Helping Hand Family.  If you can believe it, we will be doing a...


But wait, it gets better.  Readers will be asked to sign up and to be on the blog for fifteen minutes, at a designated time during the day.  During his or her fifteen minute block of time, participants will co-author a story.  That's right.  We will use our time on the blog that day to write a story - tag team style.  Blog-a-thon person number one starts, then number two, then number three, and on and on until we've been on the blog for a full 24 hours.

And, because it will be so close to Halloween, our story will be a scary story.

How will we make money?  Each participant will ask a minimum of one person to sponsor their time on the blog... $1.00 per minute.  If the requisite 96 people participate we will make $1,440!

And, because so many of our readers have aspirations of writing a book... the idea is a perfect fit!"

That's what I'll tell them.

More Blog-a-thon planning to come.  But, today... just enjoy our ability to make big things happen.

Pirate Bingo: The winners of Friday nights Pirate Bingo prizes are listed below.  Sponsors of packages, I will mail you the addresses before end of day on Tuesday.
  • Highlowaha T-shirt: Lori 
  • Arts and Craft Box: Treye
  • Sppoktacular: Heather
  • Spa-in-a-box: Maureen
  • Trick-or-Treat Smell My Feet: Krysten
  • His and Her Target Cards: Nicole
  • Movie Night-in-a-Box: Mike and Erica
  • Twelve Handmade Cards: Tera
  • Rainy Day-in-a-Box: Debbie from Louisville
Patch Work:  Congratulations to Cheryl and Maureen for earning Hostess Pirate Patches.  They earned them by hosting five or more people at their home for the evening's festivities.  Also, congratulations to Mike and Erica, Tera, and Nicole for earning Bingo Patches.  They earned their patches, because they were each winners of a round of Bingo.  You will receive them in the mail  before week's end.  Do you have your Patch work Denim picked out (pants, jacket, hat, bag, apron... you pick it)?  New to the whole Patch Work thing and have no idea what we are talking about?  Check out the post from 8/7, titled Patchwork 

Dallas v. Green Bay Patch:  Tera earns the Football Snack Throw Down Patch and Katie wins the Gold Star Patch for coming closest to guessing the final score of the game. 

Paint the Town Red:  Check out more about highlowaha's latest philanthropy by looking at the post from 9/13 (Paint the Town Red).  Helping is easy.  Drink Coke (or Coke products) and save your Coke Reward Codes.  Send the codes to your "Regional Director."  Check today's comments for your Regional Director (Heather, might you re-post?).

Now, let's hear from you.  Let us know you're here by commenting on something I mentioned or by telling us what you are looking forward to in this next season...

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A World of Thanks

Thank your for making...

...a big success and a lot of fun!

Is 't 2:00 already?  Boy how time flies. I be so worn ou' after last night`s festivities, I couldna pull myself ou' o' bunk at th' same early hour.

Then 't be off t' a swim meet fer Ricky an' in jus' a wee bit... a birthday party wi' Matthew. Confirmation that if I dasn't get Highlowaha written in th' mornin', 't might nay happen.

Today will wrap up Talk Like a Sea dog Tide ... (or in our case week) an' look fore t' next high tide'...World Gratitude Tide.

Below be a wee fun pictures o' th' fun an' festivities at our house, compliments o' me neighbor Nan. Feel free t' send any pics ye might be havin' an' I`ll pass them along.

I will report total earnings on Monday after the treasure is counted.  Arrrrr!!!!

Now a quick and abrupt transition from Bingo to Blessings.  Tomorrow is World Gratitude Day.  What are you grateful for?

Me...  I am grateful for lots of things...
  • I am grateful there was no mutiny on board last night.
  • I am grateful for my supportive husband.
  • I am grateful for healthy kids.
  • I am grateful for friendships that are nothing short of treasures to me.
  • I am grateful for my parents
  • I am grateful for my health.
  • I am grateful for the many memorable experiences I have had in my life.  Things like sailing around the world, earning degrees, and living in beautiful places around the country. 
I could go on... and I will.  I just won't subject all of you to my gratitude list.  I'd love to hear from all of you.

Signing off until Monday...

Friday, September 19, 2008

R-8:00. Let the Bingo Commence

Before we get started...  

Another look at our 
(and another note of gratitude to the nine people whose donations made it possible)

Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give You Something Good to Eat

Rainy Day in a Box
Filled with treats that will have your kids wishing for rain

His and her Target Gift Cards
Total Value $40.00

Have a Spooktacular Halloween
with these party items, including a cake tin, cookie cutters, sprinkles, plates, and napkins

12 Handmade Greeting Cards
to help you stay in touch year round

Movie Night In A Box
Including Snacks and a $10.00 Blockbuster Card

Arts and Crafts Box, including Scissors, Edgers, and Hole Punches

Not Pictured, but very cool...
This box features bath soaps, lotions, chocolate, and 2 books to read while relaxing
Just what the Dr. ordered!

Welcome to Highlowaha's Second Virtual Party.  Tonight, featuring... Pirate Bingo.  

Thank you for joining us and for helping Highlowaha raise money to support the family we adopted this holiday season. We are a blog that helps community by being creative and exemplifying what it means to "be in community."  That's what I love about who we are and what we do each day.

I won't dilly dally. We'll commence with the evening of fun.  First an overview, then some reminders about the rules of play.  Overview...

Announce Silent Auction Winner
Round #1
prize selection
Round #2
prize plundering 
Round #3
prize plundering 
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not clear your card after Round #3.  
We will use your card from Round #3 to play a Blackout Round
Heather Selects Prize
Congratulations for being the first and only to find a reader from 
Corvallis, Oregon - home of the guys responsible for creating 
National Talk Like a Pirate Day
Prize Awarded
 reader from Tuesday spirited enough to speak in Pirate-ese
Blackout Round
Prize awarded to winner
Final Prize Awarded
 Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Box
Bid you a goodnight and sign off until tomorrow
Click on the "comments" section (located in blue at the bottom of this post).  

Round #1
  • Wait for first Bingo Ball to be announced.  A new number will be announced every 30 seconds.
  • The first person to to successfully achieve BINGO (a complete line across, down, or horizontally) must immediately post the word, "BINGO" along with the number of the winning card (if you bought more than one) and your winning numbers.
  • I will cross reference with my copy of your card
  • Once verified, the winner will select a prize from the terrific "table of prizes."
Round #2.  
  • Repeat Bingo rules from Round #1
  • Winner from Round #2 will have the choice to either steal the prize from Round #1 winner OR to select a prize from the "table of prizes."  Once a prize is stolen three times, it is out of play and remains with whomever got his/her hands on it last.
Round #3.  
  • Repeat rules from Round #2.  
  • DO NOT clear card after Round #3, as we will award another prize to the first person who gets a Bingo Blackout (every number on the card is covered).
Here we go...

And the winner of the
Silent Auction is...
Congratulations on being he proud owner of only the second 
Highlowaha shirt ever printed!

It's time to click on the blue word "comments"
1, 2, 3... go!

Psst... `tis me again. Cap`n Purple Boots...

Greetings all ye bilge rats. As ye can be seein`, I be plannin` on winnin` some Bingo Booty tonight. While Claudia`s been clistin` an` bakin` an` settin` tables an` other whackiness, I`ve been honin` me Bingo skills an` siphonin` off Richard`s rum. This be goin` t` be fun. If ye dasn`t be havin` time fer all th` hoopla, jus` make a quick run t` Arthur Treacher`s or throw some fishsticks in th` oven.

By th` way, I`ve already started me plunderin` an` I`ve stolen th` shirt from Dirty Charity Flint an` I be puttin` `t up fer silent auction. Th` biddin` starts at $5.00. `Tis fer a worthy cause so ye better dig deep or ye`ll be dealin` wi` me.

Th' silent auction be open from now until 7:45 p.m. CST. Th' winner be announced at 8:00 p.m. CST, before Bingo begins.

Now th' booty hunt t' get ye all warmed up. Search me picture fer th' hidden "HLA"s. Thar`s a clue as t' how many ye can find...t' boot!

Reckon, Bingo, Booty, Bucks. Gotta love `t.

'Tis here!

Sorry, I be runnin' late... I`ve been gettin' things ready fer tonight an' I`ve missed placed one o' th' prizes. I`ve been tearin' apart me house in search o', th' Highlowaha t-shirt. I`ll keep lookin', but in th' meantime...

`Tis here! Fridee, Septembree 19, th' one tide o' th' voyage when swabbies all o'er th' country be supposed t' unite an' talk like shipmates! Happy National Talk Like a Shipmate Tide!

Thar be lots o' ways t' celebrate, so hopefully by now ye settled on one or two. Ye can wear clothes that be red an' black; use yer shipmate name all tide long (an' assign shipmate names t' sea dogs an' land lubbers ye know); deli'er shipmate treats t' yer shipmates an' colleagues; or - most importantly - join Highlowaha in an evenin' o' fun, while we play Virtual Shipmate Bingo!

Some wee announcements about Shipmate Bingo an' some other things before we open th' lines fer our traditional Fridee Free fer All.

  • Shipmate Bingo: Join us aft here tonight at 8:00 (CST) fer three rounds o' Virtual Shipmate Bingo. `Tis nay too late t' play. Jus' email me or post in th' "announcements" section yer choice o' Bingo numbers an' letters. Yer treasure ($3.00 per card or three cards fer $5.00) can be sent by mail. Me mailin' address be: 4012 Harvestwood Court, Grapevine, TX, 76051. Reckon, th' cause be a good one. This be a fundraiser fer th' family our blog has adopted this holiday season. Th' treasure we make will go toward buyin' th' family food fer a holiday dinner, along wi' providin' other essentials. Our goal... $150.00. As o' starboard now... $85.00. Cheryl has also generously donated a $50.00 Target Gift Card, bringin' our total donations fer th' family up t' $135.00. Ideally we want t' make $65.00 more pieces o' eight today.
  • Make Your Own Bingo Card:  Remember, it's not too late and we still want $65.00 more dollars.  To make your card simply write the letters B-I-N-G-O across the top of your page.  Then pick numbers as follows: B=1-15; I=16-30; N=31-45; G=45-60; O=61-75.
  • Prizes: Th' prizes fer which we be playin' be GREAT! Check ou' Mondee`s (9/15) post fer a list o' everythin' that be donated. Prizes range from a Spooktacular Halloween treat, t' a Rainy Tide Fun-in-a-Box, t' a variety Pack o' 12 Handmade Notecards... an' so much more! Thank ye t' th' followin' swabbies fer makin' our nine great prizes possible: Sue K., Peggy R., Amy B., Katie K., Heather S., Maureen P., an' Toni B. We appreciate yer generosity!
  • Instructions fer Play: Clear instructions fer play be posted tonight, beginnin' at 7:45 CST.
  • Congratulations t' Shayna (our newest reader!!!): Ye won th' Oiriginal Highlowaha 218 t-shirt. Please send me an email (cbeeny@lslog.com) t' let me know what size shirt ye would like.
  • Countdown t' th' Super Bowl: Dasn't forget t' cheer on yer swabbie Highlowaha participants this weekend, as Stacie an' Tera compete in th' Half-Time Snack Throw Down. Hopefully, by now the'r snacks be well on the'r way t' Struble Suds an' th' bar flies be warmin' up the'r taste buds. The'r secret ingredient fer th' week?... GARLIC!
Now fer Free Fer All`in... Write about whatere`s on yer mind, ask fer help on a creative project, or jus' use today`s comment section t' talk like a shipmate. Whatereyou do, dasn't forget t' make yer guess about th' score o' this weekend`s game. Th' swabbie who comes closest gets a dubloon star fer his/th' lass' Patchwork Britches (be seein' post from 8/7 fer more detail).

This weekend th' Packers be playin'... Th' DALLAS Cowboys! Ye`re goin' down Green Bay!

That`s 't. Dirty Charity Flint be signin' off until... TONIGHT at 8:00 CST. Be thar or be square.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Begad! It's the 18th!

It's me goal to start a new Highlowaha ritual - even in the midst of settin' sail for National Talk Like a Pirate Day,  which is TOMORROW!!!

As many of our longstanding readers know, the number 18 is special to the highlowaha community.  The 18th, according to highlowaha legend, represents the date of our first post.  I say, "legend" because we later learned that the first post wasn't actually until the the 19th of February... not the 18th.  This little factoid compliments of Cheryl - Mad Ethel Bonney. 

No worries.  When presented with such Bilge(!), the highlowaha community rallied and determined that, rather than sweating recovery of the "lost day," we would embrace it as a symbol of what highlowaha stands for.  So today #218 (February 18) carries special meaning.  It means living a life where, no matter how busy you feel or how long your list of things to do is, we make time the little things - the things that make this world a nicer, more civil, and more joyous place to live.

Living the spirit of 218 will mean different things to different readers.  To me it might mean saying "yes" instead of "no" when one of my sons asks if I will help him paint.  It might mean sending a care package or writing a note to someone who I know is down in the dumps.  It might mean walking to the local park on a beautiful day, instead of rigidly following what's on my calendar.  It could mean attending a lecture when I didn't plan to... or reading an article that I might typically write-off as unimportant.  For you it will mean something totally different.

In some ways, highlowaha is embodies #218.  The blog itself is named "highlowaha," because of the simple Beeny ritual of sharing our high, low, and aha each night over dinner.  No matter how busy or bad our day is, we always come back to the safety of the dinner table where together where we settle into this comforting ritual.  

It's also about the writing of this almost-daily-blog.  My writing this blog started as a lark.  I was bored, on maternity leave, and curious to see if I could meet the challenge of posting a new idea each day for one year.  In the beginning making my posts took 15 - 20 minutes.  Seven months later our community has grown and we are busy!  We're earning patches; raising money; reading books; helping those in need; doing random acts of kindness; baking, baking, and more baking; tracking down readers in all corners of the map; painting the town red; and competing in Olympics.  Not to mention giving birth to blog mascot, Ray Wattson!

What used to take me 15-20 minutes now takes 50-75... what with all the announcements and record keeping that must happen.  But, I love it.  Highlowaha is my guilty pleasure.  It's one of those things I make time for, in spite of the fast paced life I live.  It's a small time-out that makes my world a nicer, more civil, and yes... more joyous place. 

The number 18 is additionally special to me, because it is the date of my mother and father's birthdays.  My mother's birthday is August 18 and my dad's is July 18.  Anyone who knows me, and knows my parents, can see glimpses of them in my daily posts.  From my dad I probably get his self-deprecating humor and love for writing (though not his mastery of the English language... and the usage of lay, lain, lie, etc...).  From my mother I get my creativity, my sense of occasion, and of course the life tip that serves as this blogs inspiration.  ...Foster your creativity by never using the same idea twice.

What a long prologue to today's simple post...

On the 18th of every month, no matter what theme week we might be in the middle of, we will stop to reflect on our highs, lows, and ahas.  You can share your high, low, aha since you posted a month ago, since last week, or since you woke up.  Your choice.  The point really is to live the Spirit of 218.  Stop... make time for friends and... make time to reflect on all that's going on in your life.

I'll start.
  • High: The weather in Texas has been beautiful for the past four days and I LOVE sunny weather.
  • Low:  My husband has been out of town for most of the week and I miss him.
  • Aha: I learned a new organizational tip yesterday.  To better manage the paper in your life, try this...  Read whatever the paper is.  If you can't deal with it right then (which of course is the ultimate goal) then write the expiration date in the top right hand corner.  If, for instance, it is a birthday party invitation and the party is on September 27, then you might use October 1 as the expiration date.  Then, when talking on the phone or watching t.v., simply file through your stack of papers and discard any with an "expiration" date that is passed.  This tip allows you to more efficiently manage the stack of papers that can invariably overtake our counter(s).
Maybe we can add this to the mix.  Cheryl and I bantered back and forth about whether highlowaha readers would value/wear a t-shirt bearing the numbers 218 on front.  It would serve as a visible way to communicate the spirit of highlowaha and to celebrate the values behind the numbers.  Vote with your hands.  If you like the idea of the t-shirt then post your high, low, and aha today and your name will go in a drawing for the inaugural shirt! 

Signing off until tomorrow... when we are in full pirate swing and making final preparations for Virtual Pirate Bingo!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Flog the Side of the Head Wednesday!

Hello, me buckos.  

Today is Wednesday, two days before National Talk Like a Pirate Day, and... the day of the week when we whack the side of our head in order to solve a problem or to improve an idea.  We need everyone whacking today's idea or... risk having to walk the plank!

But first, some party planning.  

As of right now only two saucy wenches will earn a patch for hosting five or more people - Mad Ethel Bonney and Mad Ethel Rackham.  Who else?  Anybody, anybody?

Whether you're hosting a whole house of landlubbers, pirates or just a few lads or lasses, there are simple things we can do to make National Talk Like a Pirate Day extra special.

GRUB:  We're serving up fish 'n chips and gold (chicken) nuggets.  To drink the lads and lasses will have Sharks Blood (red punch ice cubes placed in a cup with sprite poured on top).  The older dogs will go down ye hatch with Rum Runners.  Bottoms Up!  Dessert will be pirate cupcakes - chocolate with white frosting, red bandannas and black patches (made with mini oreos, I think).

DECORATIONS: Old maps will be turned into place mats, though I did consider using brown paper bags to make treasure maps with a big "X" marks the spot.  Fish netting, shells, and a Halloween skeleton will help add to the atmosphere.  Place cards at each seat, sporting their fun new pirate names are a must.

SIGNS:  Poster board and paper bags will be turned into fun signs, allowing me to transform my home into the hull of a pirate ship.  And of a course we will hoist the Jolly Roger.  

GAMES:  Pirate Bingo is the main event at our house, but not before the wee lads go digging for treasure.  A small treasure hunt will lead them to chest filled with doubloons and other treats.

COSTUMES:  No one gets passed me door without first putting on a red sash, a bandanna, and a eye patch.  A gold earring, knickers, and a peg leg are optional.

Party planning underway.  Settin' sail and movin' on...

Flogging the side of your head...  We have nine great prizes for Friday night's Virtual Pirate Bingo and we're only playing three rounds of Bingo.  That leaves 6 prizes to be had.  One of the six will claimed by one of the eight people who were spirited enough to talk in pirate-ese yesterday.  Still... that leaves five more treasures to be awarded.  

That there is what we'll be flogging... How best do we give away the five remaining prizes?

Here's what Cap'n von Oech had to say...

Hear the Knock of Opportunity: A leading business school did a study that showed that its graduates did well at first, but in ten years, they were overtaken by a more streetwise, pragmatic group.  The reason according to the professor who ran the study: "We taught them how to solve problems, not recognize opportunities."  Where do you hear opportunity knocking?  How can you answer it?  

It's true.  It's not everyday that we have great prizes to give away.  Aghast!  This is no problem.  It's an opportunity.  How can I use these prizes to promote the purpose and goals of highlowaha? For instance...

How can we use the 5 additional prizes as an opportunity to...
  • Raise the maximum amount of money for the family we are sponsoring this holiday season?
  • Recognize loyal readers?
  • Get to know lurkers?
  • Reach our goal of 9,153 readers by September 30 (we need 2,138 more in the next 12 days).
  • Recruit a new reader?
  • Spread the Spirit of 218 (The lost day symbolizing our commitment to make time for things we might not otherwise do... without that gentle push from highlowaha).
Here's a quick thought to get us started.  

Did you know Talk Like A Pirate Day was "invented" in 1995 by two guys from Corvallis, Oregon?  Oregon... a place from which only 22 views of highlowaha have ever been recorded.  And, notta one of those views came from the town of Corvallis.  Surely, native Corvallian's can appreciate our celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day and of our Virtual Pirate Bingo game.  Can we award one of our nine prizes to the person who brings us a reader from Corvillian, Oregon?  
May I remind you... it was a stunt like this that brought us Kelly from Montana!  And, for that we are forever grateful to Tera... and, of course, Kelly herself.  
  • Virtual Bingo: Remember, I need Virtual Bingo cards by this Friday at 3:00.  I've already started receiving some.  Below is a picture of yet another prize donated for Friday's Virtual Bingo Party.  This was the prize titled, Rainy Day in a Box.  AS you can see, it is chock full of treats that any child would love to have.  That's great, as I expect there will be kids playing along with us on Friday night (or... have it sent to a child you know, as a Random Act of Kindness).
  • Paint the Town Red:  We have all but one of our Regional Directors for Paint the Town Red.  The only region still playing hard to get is MAAHLA(to figure out which region you are in, see the post from 9/13 titled, Paint the Town Red).  States included in the this region include: South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota.  I suppose it's too much to think that Julie A. Cole might volunteer to be our Regional Director.  I know these states are not our most populated, but surely we can find one lone reader who would be willing to step up to the leadership plate.  Just one.  Does anybody know anybody we can tap into?  Yesterday's comment section includes all the names and email addresses of our Regional Directors.  I will work on getting them listed in a central location.
Fair winds.  Dirty Charity Flint signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pirattitude: Get Your Name On

Ahoy Thar, Me Hearties!  Only four days until National Talk Like a Pirate Day and our fun-filled night of Pirate Bingo.  Oh... to attend me party is one thing, but to host ye own party... now that would really be something!

Hosting a celebration can be as involved as inviting people over to your home or as simple - as showing up to your weekly meeting with a special treat.  This is one of those celebrations so unexpected and with so little expectation (if any), that you can't help but be a big hit.  Besides... Highlowaha is about slowing down long enough to celebrate life's simple pleasures - especially when the simple pleasure is as silly as talking like a pirate.  

So don't tune me out, thinking I'm talking to some veteran highlowaha reader or to a more involved reader.  I'm not.  I'm actually talking to you both.  Entertain the idea.  Hear me out and consider organizing some kind of celebrati
on... big or small.  All you have to do today is decide who you would like to invite/involve.

Take a second and think.  Who's someone simple you can invite over?  You know what I'm talking about... someone low maintenance, but who will appreciate your fun side.  The point isn't to create unnecessary work for yourself.  Instead, the point is to use National Talk Like a Pirate Day as excuse to connect with a friend(s), help raise money for Highlowaha's Helping Hand Christmas Project, or as an excuse to exercise your creativity.  

As for who I'll invite?  Nan Anderson, my neighbor.  She also has three kids and a husband who travels.  If I invite Nan and her kids, she'll understand that our gathering is meant to be casual and that anything I provide will be considered "over-delivering."  It'll be a simple chance for our kids to eat dinner together and they'll be gone before Pirate Bingo starts at 8:00 CST. Perfect.

How about you?

Invitations.  That's the only thing we need to do today in order to assure we have people at our gatherings.  If we have to choose between a no-frills invitation and no invitation, we'll go no-frills.  Sure, we could make some elaborate invitations on tea stained paper, with burned edges, and a gothic looking font.  But, we're into no-frills because that's what we have time for. Instead we'll opt for an email, an evite, a handwritten note, knocking on people's doors with a verbal invitation, or leave a simple voice mail message.  

The most creative invitation we can create in the least amount of time.  That's our goal.

Here's the good news...

So big is this underworld of pirate-lovers that there are websites you can visit to access a Pirate Dictionary AND websites you can visit to get your very own Pirate Name!  Imagine how much more fun your (written or verbal) invitation will be if done in Pirate-ese.

So, here's what we'll do to start building excitement for Friday's Pirate Bingo and hopefully to motivate you to do host your own gathering in celebration of National Talk Like a Pirate Day (with our Pirate Bingo game as part of your evening activity).

First, visit http://www.piratequiz.com/ to get your very own pirate name.  Next, visit http://www.io.com/~sj/Pirate Talk.html to brush up on your pirate lingo.  Use what you learn to make a post sharing your plans for Friday.  

Hosting a Pirate Bingo Party?  Delivering a pirate party favor?  Dressing in red and black? Signing all your memos in ye pirate name?  Whatever it is, make a post today using your best pirate lingo, signed in your new pirate name and your name will automatically go in the drawing for one of the SIX prizes that don't get claimed by Friday night's Virtual Bingo winners!  

  • Virtual Pirate Bingo:  Come one, come all to highlowaha's Friday night fundraiser.  In an effort to raise money for the family we adopted this holiday season, highlowaha readers will play three rounds of Bingo.  And, in honor of National Talk Like A Pirate Day, we'll add a twist... Pirate Bingo.  In this exciting version, prizes get won and prizes get plundered.  Where the booty finally lands, nobody quite knows.  Check out yesterday's post (9/15) to get the details.  I need Bingo cards by Friday at 3:00.  
  • Virtual Pirate Bingo Prizes:  Also outlined yesterday are the nine great gifts that can be won.  A few more details about Spa-in-a-Box.  It includes... Bath and Body Works gel; a candle; Oil of Olay Bath Products; the ever appropriate chocolate; and two books written by Nicholas Sparks.  Also, below is a picture of the Limited Edition Highlowaha t-shirt that can be yours.  
  • Countdown to the Super Bowl:  This week's secret ingredient is garlic.  Tera and Stacie are facing off in the Half Time Snack Throw Down.  Hopefully their entries are in the making and will be shipped off in the next couple of days.  Friday we will make predictions about Sunday's score, so that the person who comes closest can win a gold star (just like Cheryl did last week!).
  • Reading Raynbow:  I've been told there will be some sort of update on the Reading Raynbow blog today.  Click on the link in the top right hand side of my blog.  
  • Helping Hand:  Speaking of updates, Brian sent an email today letting me know the Helping Hand blog has been updated.  Check it out.
  • Paint the Town Red: Remember to save your Coke Reward Codes, so we can donate them to Heather's friend, Julie who is sick with a terminal disease.  We have Regional Director for all regions except, MAAHLA (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin) and GLAHLA (South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota).  If you live in any of the states listed and want to help with this initiative, please contact me (cbeeny@lslog.com) or post a comment.  The time commitment is minimal, but the impact BIG!   Once I have all Regional Directors in place, I will post contact information and the specific process we will use for collecting Coke Reward Numbers. 
This is Dirty Charity Flint signing off until tomorrow, me buckos...