Thursday, February 19, 2009

Have a Seat

Today is a long post. Prepare.

Welcome Newcomers! Hopefully there are a handful of you joining this remarkable community for day ONE of year TWO. Highlowaha is a gathering of people from around the world, willing to share their energy and creativity for the good of community. You're in for a fun ride.

Returners, you've noticed some changes. Most obvious are the bright and shinning faces joining me at the table on the front page of our NEW WEBSITE. If one creative and committed person could host so much good in a single year, then just imagine what the five of us will do!

Cheryl, Heather, Katie, (and you) will join me at the table this year, in delivering the new ideas, engaging activities, and thoughtful projects presented to you each morning (except Sunday). In case you think I cooked up this idea last week, not a chance. This idea has been in the works since September. I bent the ear of many a friend and confidante, as I evaluated the pros and cons. Ultimately I concluded, that when it comes to creativity and community, there cannot be too much of a good thing.

That's what I present to you today... A LOT of a good thing.

Weekly planning meetings began in December, so we could begin thinking through, not only a seamless transition, but one I think will knock your socks off. So committed are we to spreading Highlowaha's Spirit of #218, that weekly phone calls often occurred under all sorts of imperfect circumstances. To say they are like postmen, faithfully delivering in spite of rain, snow, sleet, or shine seems, particularly appropriate when in the company of this Snail-Mail-lovin' group.

Before I get down to the business of formally introducing our new and improved Highlowaha Team, a few more points to kick off the new year.
  • Now we're a website and a blog! This is great news for all of you who have lost hours searching old posts for a particular announcement or pieces of information. Over time, we will use the website to better organize all the happenings of our active community.
  • Don't want to bother with all the "other" stuff? Get right down to business by clicking on the button labeled, "Blog."
  • Don't get ahead of yourself by exploring all the tabs... yet. Most of the links will not be activated until we touch on the subject during Orientation Week, next week. Newcomers, you won't want to miss this week, as it is everything you need/want to know to in order to jump right in.
  • You will notice the archive of posts from 2/18/08 - 2/18/09 is gone. That's the beauty of surrounding yourself with so much collective creativity. Who needs last year's old ideas when we can generate a whole new year's worth. In love with a particular post? Have no fear... we are looking into creating a Best of 2008 Highlowaha book. 
Now, introductions (even for those who think you already know us)...

We represent a range of perspectives which, I am certain, will make daily posts more fun and interesting to read (though you will never know which of us will be posting on a given day). The variety means Anon and other readers who can't relate to me, because they think my antics are over the top, will find a friend in one of the other three carefully selected women. Our differences were never more clear than the the week we ended up talking about my Annual Sweet Cereal Day.

I thought it could be fun to introduce each of the new Highlowaha Team members with a short introduction and then a snippet from our Sweet Cereal conversation. It will give great insight into what you can expect from us throughout the year.

Me (Claudia): I am a 43 year old mother of three boys (Ricky, 16; Matthew, 4; and Jack, 1). My husband (Richard), my boys, and I moved to Grapevine, Texas about a year ago. Originally I am from New York (but have lived in a variety of places over the past 20+ years). After a two-year hiatus, I have returned to my former career working in higher education, at the University of North Texas. I must have been an event planner in a former life, because I see everything through the lenses of a party. Me on sweet cereal...
"No. You can't just willy nilly let your kids eat sweet cereal every day. In my house it an annual tradition. We eat it one day a year - January 13, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I make a really big deal out of it. I use special bowls, special spoons, and we talk for days in advance about what kind of cereal we're going to eat. If I was really good, I get balloons and have a banner in the kitchen too!"
Cheryl: Cheryl is a 39 year old, single mother with two boys (Drew, 8 and J.B., 7), who works. She is a scanner-artist, which is to say she dabbles in a lot of creative ventures, but claims never to finish any of them. Cheryl grew up in Texas, did a short stint in Utah, and returned to Texas a couple of years ago, where one fateful night we met at a neighborhood Bunco. Cheryl is the swift hand behind the creation of our beloved blog friend, Ray Wattson. Unlike me, Cheryl doesn't bog herself down with a bunch of needless rules. Instead, she embraces the stress free spirit of "live and let live." Her response to my description of Annual Sweet Cereal Day...
"What, you don't let your kids eat sweet cereal for dinner? Gosh in my house it's a staple."
Heather: Heather is a 29 year old working mother of one little girl, Lily (20 months). Heather and her husband, Bal, recently moved to Grapevine Texas, so Heather could accept a position as Director of Student Conduct at the University of Texas at Arlington. Heather and I met while working at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. As an added bonus, Heather's husband works with my husband (what do you think they talk about over lunch?). Heather grew up as one of seven children, in a single parent household. I say that to help explain why "Frugal" could very well be Heather's middle name. Here's her thought on sweet cereal...  
"In my house, when you eat sweet cereal is determined by when it is on sale in the grocery store. Period."
CSPgrad: Katie is a 22 year old graduate student at James Madison University, in Virigina. She recently graduated from Bellarmine University, where Katie, Heather, and I all originally met. I keep trying to convince Katie she should change the spelling of her name to "Catie." That way whenever she had to participate in fun Student Affairs icebreakers (yes, she is also headed for a career in Student Affairs), she could introduce herelf as "Conscientious Catie." Among some of Katie's "favorites" are: being conscientious, music, driving, Reeses cups, and thinking (so, thinking, while driving in a car listening to music and eating Reeses might very well be Katie's nirvana). She loves to reflect and, in fact, has been faithfully emailing me her weekly "high," "low," and "aha," since freshmen year - 5 years ago. Here's her take on sweet cereal...
"Actually, you each kind of have a point. I can see the value in all three of your approaches. Really it just depends on the situation."
You: You are the fifth valued team member seated at our table. We fully expect that, each day, you will use the comment section to share your ideas and perspectives. How about starting today by telling us your take on eating sweet cereal.

In closing... 
This change to Highlowaha represents my desire to test the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By intentionally sharing the helm, instead of protecting my place at the helm, I expect our community to grow in big and inspiring ways. We will meet far more people, embark on far more interesting adventures, swap more creative ideas than could ever be implemented in a year, and create ripples of kindness that will multiply exponentially.

If you believe it's possible, then meet us here again tomorrow.

Signing off until tomorrow, when guess who kicks off Free For All Friday...

P.S.  Thanks for playing along last night.


Cruise Director said...

Whew~ What a ride! I'm going to be one tired puppy tomorrow! Thanks for all your hard work Claudia, Heather and Katie. I can't wait to be at the table with you ladies this coming year!

Stacie said...

For once in my life, I am the first commenter of the day! Perhaps this is because I haven't gone to bed yet, and you have posted exceedingly early in the morning (I believe it's barely after midnight in TX??). I'll take what I can get. My take on sweet cereal: I eat it at any time of day, and I have no guilt. In fact, I don't believe in food guilt, whether or not cereal is the food in question. It makes an excellent between-meal snack, and as a bonus, it was one of the few things I could regularly eat while pregnant. Fruity Pebbles are my sweet cereal of choice, and tired of cafeteria food after three years, I ate them for dinner almost every night of my senior year of college. This was always followed by a "snack" of Frosted Mini-Wheats, without milk, eaten popcorn-style--a sweet cereal which also happens to provide 90% of the daily allowance of iron, if anyone cares.

Can't wait to see what kind of fun all the big changes bring!

Anonymous said...

Multigrain cheerios are lightly sweetened and provide 100% of your DV of iron.

Love the new look.

cassie p said...

YAY! HLA looks awesome you guys! My take on sweet cereal later...gotta get to the gym!

WAIT. Maybe that is my take- or rather, I DON'T take it!! HAHA

Just Ducky said...

My question for Stacie and Robin the heck did you guys find this place? I didn't think we went "live" until 5 central time this morning when I finally got off the phone with godaddy getting our new site networked.

However you got here I'm glad you did...last year was so much fun and this year is going to be even better!

I can't wait!

Just Ducky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good Morning HLA! Cute show! Here's to year two!
Sweet it and have it whenever! I seem to remember raiding the residence hall caferteria with Claudia and don't think it was ONLY on Jan 13th! Don't worry...I won't tell your kids though! Frosted Flakes are probably my fave but I do like a lot of others as well. Depends on the mood!
Need to run! Have a greatday everyone!
Not letting me post with my id so going with anonymous!

Bean Counter said...

Good morning, HLA!!!

Happy first day of the second year! I am settled down here in Texas after a long day of travel yesterday, and I'm excited to see all that this year is going to bring for us! I feel lucky to be a part of such an amazing we go, HLA!

Peggy said...

Is everybody supposed to have a different blog alias? I didn't get the memo!

Wow, the new blog looks great!! Y'all look like the ladies from "The View"... around the table with your coffee cups!

Cheers to all! Looking forward to falling in love with a new idea! over and over again!

Happy Day y'all... see, after living in TN for 5 years, I still have a little southern left in me, I'll sign off as
Peggy Sue...

Kristen Giger said...

After a very loooong night of not getting the awards show downloaded, a sick baby, a husband with the stomach flu or food poisoning, and a cold myself, i still haven't watched the show...hopefully later today.

I will also be back later to give my two cents on cereal

The new site look great...looking forward to a fun year!

Devil Dog said...

Gooooooood Mornnning HLALand! After six long months and lots of work, it's done! The transition is over and the real fun can begin.

Peggy, yes. Cheryl, Heather, and I have adopted new names to go along with our great new site. Check out "About U" to figure out why we have the names we do. And you hit the nail on the head with the analogy of The View.

I hope everyone is as excited about our new venture as the four of us.

Chaotic said...

awesome page/blog/site/whatever it is now...WOW... how much changes in just one night...did ANY of y'all sleep? Yes, I can say Y'all... I'm from Texas! awesome job. I felt so happy about being nominated for the Oz award last night... ahhh, shucks! I was also sad (my loss, not guilt) about being "lost" so I have put an Outlook reminder on calendar to try to get here (M-F only) @ 8am when I get to work (and hopefully before the boss does) so I can post every weekday... that is my GOAL for 2009.

Fave Sweet Cereal? Cracklin' Oat Bran -- introduced in 1977 by Kellogg's. Oat bran flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg and held together by brown sugar in the form of a Squared O. I pack it for all road trips and airline flights. And, since it is so pricey, I do not dilute it with milk,,, I eat it straight up :-)

Cruise Director said...

Friends!! Chaotic and others... can't remember to check in everyday? Check out the new feature on the sidebar to your right. There is a spot that says:

Suscribe via email.

Enter your email address. Feedburner will send you an email for you to confirm that you actually want the updated email (you know, so we can't just go in and enter your email addresses), click the link in your email and your set up to receive Highlowaha in your email box!!! How great is that?

I'm pretty sure the emails are set to deliver everyday between 7am and 10am but I will have to confirm that!

I'm actually not so much a cereal eater but my boys are! Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the favorite around my house with Lucky Charms rounding out 2nd place!!

Peggy, Peggy, Peggy Sue! I love that you always play along Peggy!!

Hmmm. Lori... Blogger won't let me log in either... Hey and Lori!! What word did Claudia always say in college?

Kat said...

The new site is great! I just finished watching the show from last night and I loved it, too! My take on sweet cereal- it's ok, as long as it isn't too sweet. I am one to eat honey bunches of oats or raisin bran as a sweet cereal instead of captain crunch or froot loops.

Funsies said...

I LOVE this new site! Amazing! Virginia has been very lonely for the past dozen hours or so without or beloved Catie, but I guess we can live without her for exciting HLA things.

I miss you Katie!

As for sweet cereal, I am not a regular partaker. But when I do have a bowl every year or so, I am reminded of those amazing Saturday mornings as a kid when I was allowed to eat it in front of the TV. Cartoons, lucky charms, and a spoon that changes colors when you put it in milk... that might be about as good as life gets under 10.

Whenever I need a stroll down memory lane, I just pour myself a bowl!

Anonymous said...

Crap, I just learned everyone's names before. Now I have to relearn. I'm an old dog...

Is it a sign we're becoming popular when we have removed posts? ;-)

lindsaymarie said...

I am so excited for the HLA new year! I never got to watch the awards show, I lost wireless connection about 10 minutes in and then it wouldn't load at all, boo!
As for sweet cereal, I've never really liked it. When my sister and I were little we would argue in the grocery store - she wanted cocoa puffs and I wanted raisin bran or crispix.

Highlowaha said...

Chaotic and Lindsay... I am so impressed that your actual choice in cereal would contain bran. I ate bran cereal, but only because Marshmallows and chocolate weren't allowed.

Clearly I have a sweet tooth... which I guess is another reason why my new handle (DEVIL DOG) is appropriate.

Just Ducky "Heather" said...

If you didn't get the chance to watch the awards show last night stay tuned because this evening a direct link to the Awards Show will be posted on the new site along with a shorter "Youtube" video of the outtakes only.

Anonymous said...

My choice in sweet cerael is Peanut Butter Cap'N Crunch, hands down! LOVE IT.

However, I try not to buy those sweet ceraels too often... I'm actually a big fan of frosted shredded wheat.

And, very nicely done last night... I knew we were in for a treat with the awards show.

Lastly, the new web site looks fantastic... Love it!


Cruise Director said...

Heather... you may be way ahead me but do you think we can post the list of awards and the winners on the site at sometime? I personally would love for the winners to send a picture of themselves with their Ray!!

Anonymous said...

I don't post very often, but I am guilty of being a total the new changes, and can't wait to see what fun new things are in store! With the 3/4 gals around the table that I know, we really can't go wrong!
As for sweet cereal, I love Lucky Charms - but actually the Kroger brand version, Marshmallow Treasures, or something like that - have it every morning! Maybe when I have children I will be more responsible about their health (since I'm not good about my own!), btu I kinda doubt it...!
~Laura (won't let me sign in either!)

Stacie said...

OK, I SWEAR I was the first commenter last night!! Mine was the only comment that appeared, and now suddenly, Cheryl's comment is above mine. :( Anyway, I was here before the site went live, so the post was there on the old blog, but the new and improved look wasn't up. Congrats on the big changes--I think it looks and sounds great!

Treye said...

Hello friends! I've been gone for a while, and wanted to say that I'm glad to be back. (Sorry for the length of this post)

First off, great job on the Awards Show. Tera and I had a great time watching. As for the website, it looks fantastic. Needless to say I was very impressed, and it made me think about how far HLA has come in the past year.

Cereal: My favorite cereal is Cinnamon Toast Crunch, though I'm most likely to eat Honey Bunches of Oats (with almonds). I also enjoy a bowl of Frosted Flakes.

Two last random ideas:
1) Would anyone have the know-how to create a HLA computer background? I think it would be a good marketing idea for people like me (who have high traffic in their office), while also proving to be a reminder of the wonderful community we're all a part of.

2) When thinking about our one-year HLA anniversary, the idea of new years resolutions popped into my head. This got me to thinking, what would my HLA New Year's Resolution be?

Survey says ... do one Random Act of Kindness every day!

Treye said...

p.s. I love the idea of a mailing list -- the daily reminders will probably help me get back into the habit of visiting the site each day.

Tera said...

Hey everyone!

I LOVE the website. Excellent work, ladies! I really enjoyed the "about us" part. Too cute.

Like Claudia, I'd love to get a recap of last nights winners. The show was great. As Treye said, we had a good time watching it!

My idea for the new year and new website: Create some type of link or tab on the site that is like an address book. If readers choose, they can put their mailing information, email, and whatever other information they want. There are often times I want to send a letter to a HLA reader but don't want to bug Claudia for their information. What do you think?

Also, keep your recipes coming!!! or Tera Johnson, 2590 North Moreland, Apt E22, Shaker Heights, OH 44120.

To the 4 ladies running the site...can someone get the recipes off of the old site that were posted in the past two weeks and get them to me?!

Anonymous said...

I will say that although I am really, really excited about all the changes... i feel sorta bad that we can't go back and look at old posts. I mean, there are a lot of things I may want to refer to, such as recipes, addresses, e-mails, etc.

And, grrr, it still won't let me log in.


Cruise Director said...

Stacie- you are right! You were the first poster of the day (officially at 12:12am) but as we were in change over mode the same post was posted to two sites!

I love all the excitement that is coming through on all of your comments!

Margaret said...

I love Lucky Charms.

I love Fruit Loops.

I am beating Cheryl in the fitness contest at work because she is so busy with the blog!! Yeah me!!

Cheryl is not the best at EVERYTHING!! ha ha!!

Peggy said...

I'm considered a "Veteran"... yikes!

You like me, you really like me... being an old fart....

I too, go back to previous posts to find an answer, look for an address, see what I missed before I even started visiting regularly... we can't have any contests if you guys refer back to anything in the past histoRAY of HLA.

An though you promote yourself with a new idea every day... sometimes that new idea didn't relate to me on the day you presented it... so, with my veteran brain, I need a little 'back' button... to refresh myself!

Bean Counter said...

Hey everyone...let's send our best wishes Maureen's way as today is her daughter's party!!! I hope it is all going well and smooth sailing for you, Maureen! Happy 16th Birthday Krysten!

Bean Counter said...

We knew there would be some of you with separation, have no fear!!!!

We have plans for the future of the website to post the 15 most popular posts from last year.

And, if you really want the information from a particular post...just ask! We can get it to you!

Cruise Director said...

Margaret~ YOU crack me up! Now, get back to work!

Shannon C said...

WOW! This is awesome. I too had trouble downloading the award show last night so I never got a chance to see it. I was even nominated for something and I don't know what it was for. Boo Hoo. And since Claudia and I just recently reconnected I had been reading old posts every night. I started with day 1 and just kept going. I even have a document titled all things Claudia and it has a list of ideas and books and a variety of other things in it. So yes, I am suffering separation anxiety. AARRGGHH!

But I can let that go because this new site and new look are incredible. Way to go ladies. And, I love the idea of getting a daily email!

Congratulations HLA!

Misty said...

Love everything about the new HLA!!

My take on eating sweet cereal" If it works, go for it" Sometimes, well most times my girls eat like birds and they like a snack before bedtime...cereal wins most times because it is quick and easy. What ever is in the pantry, they get...Cherrios, Frosted flakes, Oatmeal Squares, Rice Krispies.
It keeps them from getting up in the middle of the night and that is good for all parties involved :).