Support the Girls

I’ve always had a desire to work in the nonprofit sector. While I’ve never officially worked for a nonprofit, I’ve worked with various groups to raise money for causes close to my heart. With so much negativity over the past year and a half, particularly in the past several months, I’ve been feeling the need to get back to my nonprofit involvement. This desire has lead me to figure out what I can do to make a difference. I can march (I did and it was an amazing experience!), I can make calls, send letters and emails to my representatives, which allows me to participate in our government, but what I was really searching for is something that can make a difference for someone right here at home. Something with an immediate impact. Enter my sorority sister Emy.

For months I’d been seeing her Facebook posts about an organization called Support the Girls. She’s been collecting bras, tampons, pads and underwear for women in homeless and domestic abuse shelters. Her goal this year is to collect 500 bras and she’s over half way to meeting that goal. To put in perspective why these are so important to donate/collect: The average woman will use 240 tampons/year and/or 200+ pads or liners/year. That cost adds up and when it’s choosing between a meal or hygiene products, likely, the meal will win. Not to mention how expensive bras are. I take for granted that I can just run to Target or Victoria’s Secret when I need a new bra. That is absolutely a luxury that many women do not have.

As I researched the organization, I saw that they did not have a Twin Cities affiliate. Our metro area has organizations that get women appropriate attire for job interviews and work, food shelves, toy and book drives, etc. I didn’t find one that focused on undergarments and hygiene products. It was like a light bulb turned on. I could be the Twin Cities affiliate.

So it started with a phone call with the outreach coordinator. With a Facebook post on my page and our city mom’s group page, my collections began. After finding a handful of shelters to accept my initial donations, I started thinking bigger. I contacted my Orangetheory and worked with them to get a drive going for the month of February. I posted on Nextdoor to get my neighbors involved and put a bin on my porch so people can drop off donations at their convenience. It’s gaining traction and I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. It reminds me that society as a whole, has the best intentions. People care about other people and want to give when and what they can.

So far I have collected more than 130 bras, 800 tampons, 750 pads/liners and 50 pairs of underwear. That’s in just two and a half weeks! My community, family and friends have been so supportive and generous. I’m so excited to deliver donations to various shelters.

After this first donation drive, I’ll become an official affiliate of the program which means that all other Twin Cities inquiries will be sent my way. I’m already working on scheduling a drive at our church in the next few months and getting satellite drives going throughout the Twin Cities metro area so that we can provide these items for as many shelters as we can.

Interested in making a donation? There are a few ways you can help! First, you can visit the Support the Girls website to see if there is a local affiliate near you accepting donations. If there is not, you can start your own drive and ship the items to the headquarters. You can also donate money to their Crowdrise account. If you are interested in donating in the Twin Cities or just have some stuff you want to send my way, you can email me.

 

Fall Friends and Family Fest

Spending time with old friends and family do wonders for the soul. We’ve been lucky enough to host and visit a slew of friends and family in the past month. We reminisced, laughed at how ‘old’ we’ve gotten and had fun just hanging around in sweats having a cocktail or two.

Our first guests of the fall were our friends Ryan and Claire. They’ve been friends of ours for about a decade now (what?!) and currently live in Rhode Island. Huge Colorado State fans, we planned their trip for a visit two years ago when the 2016 CSU football team announced a game at Minnesota. Needless to say we’d been looking forward to it for some time.

While not all of the fun things I had planned came to fruition thanks to crummy weather and most of us coming down with bad colds, we had a great time! Here are a few highlights.

 


A few days after they left, we drove to Omaha to celebrate my Great Uncle Dan’s 75th birthday. It was a mini-family reunion of sorts. Unfortunately my dad and stepmom were out of the country and my Walker siblings away at school, but it was so much fun having almost the entire family together. It was fun introducing my kids to extended family and just celebrating as we used to on holidays when I was growing up.

Once back home, we only had to wait a few more days for my sorority sister Kirsten and her husband Brandon to arrive. Kirsten rocked the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler! It was definitely fun to be a spectator for once. Ella and I also ran the Family Mile. She finished it in 12 minutes which I’m pretty sure is faster than I ran my first mile!

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We had better luck with babysitters and were out and about all weekend.

Ah, it was a like a breathe of fresh air being with them. I definitely ate and drank too much and ran too little, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

Just this past weekend we also were treated to a visit from Josh’s parents. We enjoyed a nice dinner, took in a show at the Guthrie Theater and went on a train ride with the entire family. It was another great weekend.

Next weekend, it’s off to Indianapolis for the Monumental Half. I’ll have to write a little update on how training has shaped up. It’s been quite a ride these past several weeks. Can’t wait for more visitors, even if it isn’t until we thaw in the spring!

Adventures in Travel and Recovery

What a busy three weeks it’s been since the marathon. I’m exhausted and while I’m not finally home, things are not really slowing down all that much. Quick and hopefully, abbreviated review of the past several weeks. I was going to add a bunch of pictures but then I may never actually publish this:

Week One:

I walked, walked some more, foam rolled and slept a little more than usual. I was itching for a run and met my BRF for a few loops around Elm Creek. We ended up doing nine miles which felt like plenty to me. After that run my hamstring was incredibly sore. Like so sore it hurt to push on it and walk. Ugh, more rest.

Week Two:

Off on a cross-country trip with the kids. Yes, just me and the kids, by myself for 12 days. First stop, Denver for my brother Ted and my sister Audrey’s high school graduation. Crazy that I have siblings in high school right? What is crazy is that when I graduated and went off to college, they were not yet four years old, younger than Ella is now. It was almost surreal watching them graduate. They are off to SOKA University and the University of Colorado in the fall. I think my favorite part of their graduation week was the time I got to spend with them. I feel like I missed they’re entire childhood because I went to college, then got married, had kids and now live states away. I got to do a long walk with Audrey, tour the Botanic Gardens with Ted and stayed up until 2:30 am talking to both of them. It was worth being exhausted the next day.

We had a great trip filled with lots of family time. My grandparents flew in from San Diego which meant we had four generations together. We went on a cultural adventure around Denver which included the Museum of Nature and Science as well as the Denver Art Museum. On our last day in Denver we also spent hours playing in and walking around the Denver Botanic Gardens.

I also got to sneak in a Florence and the Machine concert with my BFF Rachael. Our night also had to include a stop at The Market for my favorite cake. I ran a few times, slow and not far, but between altitude and an irregular sleep schedule, it was all I felt like doing.

Week Three:

Onto Indiana! Who has three siblings that were all graduating this year? Me! Next up was my sister Emma’s high school graduation. We arrived in Indianapolis LATE. We got to my mom’s house around midnight and the kids weren’t in bed until 1 am. Luckily we were working on Mountain Time which mean it was only 11 pm technically. The kids were so far off their schedule by this point, it didn’t matter. Luckily they slept in pretty much every day.

My grandma and step-grandpa Max drove up from Missouri for the occasion and I got to watch my brother Riley work his pastry chef magic on some of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. We spent my time there eating. We had a special girls only trip to The Cake Bake Shop to toast to Emma’s graduation and my birthday. This is the second time we’ve done this with four generations and I think it will be a new tradition. It’s a good thing I went to Orangetheory and ran a few times while I was in town. While we were doing the girls thing, Anderson was busy with Papa riding in the Jeep and visiting the tracker store.

Late in the week, I got to watch Emma graduate with honors. She just looked so happy and I was proud of how great she did not only in academics but also in how many close friends she’s made in the two years since they moved from California. It is not easy moving across the country, especially in high school. Her graduation party was the next day and boy did we have good food. It was a nice party aside from one of her classmates asking me if I was her mom. I mean really. She is off to Indiana University in the fall.

Week Four:

We finally headed home! It was a two short flights but one long layover in Chicago. I was so happy to be home when we landed.I met my friends Morgan and Ashley for an easy, unplanned 10 miles that Sunday evening to get myself back on track. While I’m not really training for Chicago, I at least need to keep my base.

That brings us to this week and I still feel like I’m recovering. I’m working on a huge project for my old company and all of our summer activities are starting up. I hand wrote two other posts on the plane, but I cannot find them at the moment. Oops.

 

 

Ella Does a Show

“Just picture the audience in their underpants,” I said to Ella as we drove to the ice arena after she confided in me that she was nervous because there would be a lot of people she didn’t know watching her skate.  Hysterical laughter erupted from the backseat.

By the time we made our way downstairs to check her in, she was ready. She seemed so grown up all of the sudden. She confidently gave me a hug goodbye and walked back with one of the volunteers to the locker room where the kids in her group would spend most of Saturday. Hair curled, flower clipped in, one frilly costume and a pair of white ice skates – she was ready for the big show.

As I walked away, I felt nervous for her. Would she feel scared being in a room with a bunch of strangers all day, would she freeze when she got onto the ice, would she forget the routine and get upset? A half hour later, we took our seats in the front row where she’d be able to see us. She had a whole section cheering for her as she took the ice.

She is second from the right, next to the little boy. She was cautious, which she said she was going to be since she didn’t get to wear her helmet and didn’t want to fall, but she worked her way through the routine.

She had done it. I was proud of her for being brave enough to participate in the show. When we picked her up after the first show, she was beaming with pride and loved getting flowers.

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She could not wait to do the second show later that evening. It was her best performance of the day. I wish I would have been able to get video of it rather than just catching it from the far end with the other volunteers. When I told her that she’d be able to watch it on TV later this week, she was super excited.

After a very long day, I took her our for frozen yogurt, just the two of us. She just could not stop smiling and saying how much she loved being in the ice show. It looks like we found an activity that may stick, at least for now.

This morning she passed her current level and is going to be starting in the lessons for older kids. She’s so happy and I’m happy for her.

Three Things Thursday {Little Bit of Life}

I don’t know about you, but this time change has caused nothing but problems this week. Grumpy, emotional kids and a husband working late every day, has made for an exceptionally trying week. It hasn’t been all bad though. Here are three things that have made my week.

  1. Ella has been in ice skating lessons since the fall. She has loved it and is super excited to participate in the annual ice skating show next month. Monday we had the pre-show pictures. I still cannot get over this adorable kid.3395_10102678455635423_8306562227290657710_n
  2. Anderson has blossomed into a kid, basically overnight. I swear the minute he turned 2.5 years old, he decided he was ready to really talk. He is now talking and singing up a storm. In music class and in our early childhood class, he is answering questions and singing along loudly. When I laughed the other day and said, who are you? He just looked at me and said, “I’m AJ mommy.” Yes, yes you are.12694889_10102620219116873_3252754204973665080_o
  3. Ella is really into St. Patrick’s Day. I think it’s just because she loves holidays. I put her in charge of helping me decide on things she wants to do to celebrate. First she wanted to make leprechauns which was easy enough. Then she found rainbow cookies on Pinterest. 11313056_10102682218888833_2943611067533248874_oTwo hours later, here we are. I’m never making them again, but both kids were so excited and appreciative. It was worth it.

It’s really the little things that brighten my day and week. Training has also been awesome, so that update to come!