August 27, 2014

Project iAm at Toledo Pride

Sometimes I get a great idea for a blog, but then when I sit down to actually write it, I realize I have no beginning, middle, or end…just a project.

How about I start from the beginning…

T-shirt I found on Pinterest
My nephew, Matt, is autistic and awhile ago I came across this really cute shirt on Pinterest. I thought it would be great to have one, but at $25 plus S&H, I figured I could just make my own. You can buy one here. I pinned it on Pinterest and quite frankly forgot about it.

Skip ahead awhile, my friend, Heather, asked me if I was free and wanted to volunteer with her at "HoHoHo on Monroe."  You volunteer for a few hours and then get into the event for free. I'm down for free entrance.  It wasn't until the day of the event that Heather told me about the charity, Project iAm,  we were volunteering for.  Project iAm is a charity that gives scholarships to children living on the autism spectrum in the Toledo area.  Suddenly, I was more excited about the volunteering than I was about the free entrance to HoHoHo on Monroe.

I spent most of the night, even after my volunteering shift was over collecting donations in exchange for one of these Project iAm bracelets.

My next opportunity to volunteer for Project iAm was this past weekend at Toledo Pride.  Heather and I started coordinating outfits which included rainbow…basically everything but my favorite part were the tutus and suspenders.  However, as Pride got closer and closer I still hadn't decided on a shirt to pair with my tutu and suspenders.  The rainbow clothing was obviously to support Pride but I had nothing showing that I was also there to support Project iAm. That's when the memory of the autism shirt that I had pinned so long ago came back.

I went out and bought a white v-neck shirt, a large pieced children's puzzle (the kind where they place the puzzle into the board) and this set of fabric spray paint.  You can buy fabric spray paint at any craft store, but I got mine at JoAnn Fabric's for around $20.  I did this project out in the garage and I started with an old white tank top to practice on.  I wanted my puzzle pieces up the side of the shirt similar to the one I saw on Pinterest so I laid the shirt on it's side and put a towel INSIDE the shirt.  The towel is very important, it keeps the color from bleeding from one side of the shirt to the other.  Then I flattened out the towel and the shirt and laid out my puzzle pieces where I wanted them.  Like I said, I practiced on an older shirt first, there isn't a special secret way to spraying around the pieces, just pick your colors and do it.

Luckily, for my friend Whitney, I did the practice shirt first because she didn't have a shirt to wear either. I wore the tank top and she wore the v-neck.

I'm very happy with the way they turned out, and now I have two autism awareness shirts for the next time I volunteer for Project iAm.

Oh, and Pride was pretty amazing too :)

My amazing (and autistic) nephew Matt

Maggie believes in equality too
Volunteering at Pride

August 13, 2014


It was about a year ago when I came across GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.)  I don't recall where I found out about GISHWHES but I do remember that it was right in the middle of the 2013 hunt.  I was so bummed out that I couldn't take part but I added my email address to the mailing list so I was sure to not miss it this year.

When the 2014 GISHWHES hunt arrived, I managed to get my husband and 4 of our friends to join my team "Toledoans".  Each team, however, has to have exactly 15 people; luckily if you don't have 15 people, Gishbot will combine you with another team and/or add individuals to fill out your team.  Team "Toledoans" was combined us with a team from Great Britain and became officially known as team "RedBeardLovesToledoans".  Meeting my new teammates (via basecamp) was the first task that GISHWHES required of me, that was out of my comfort zone.

That's what GISHWHES is though,  it's a scavenger hunt that asks you to break our of your comfort zone by completing strange, gross, funny, and charitable tasks that sometimes occur in public.  I must say, we got combined with some AMAZING teammates which made me much less nervous about the whole thing.  Everyone was very supportive and encouraging which unfortunately isn't something I experience everyday, and especially not with complete strangers.  I even commented to my husband, Brad, several times how awesome it was to have everyone commenting things like "great job"or "that's awesome".

My very first GISHWHES item ever was...
147. IMAGE. It's summertime and everyone loves a lemonade stand. But then again, every Tom, Dick and Harry is setting up a lemonade stand in the summertime and the market is flooded.  Respond to consumer demand and carve our your own niche.  Let's see two children manning a "Hot Pasta With Jam Sauce" stand.

Other than setting this up in front of my house with neighbors looking on, it wasn't too embarrassing for me.  I did have to ask for some outside help though (many GISHWHES items require your soliciting help from people who are not participating in the hunt).  Luckily, my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces stepped into help me with this one.  I was excited about how excited they were to help me.

This item was pretty quick and easy for my helpers though.  It took approximately 30 minutes, they got to wear whatever, and they left clean and dry.

Other items I requested of my friends weren't so easy…

I asked them to put on their Sunday best for a boat regatta at a public fountain

28. IMAGE. Stage a mini-newspaper boat regatta in a public fountain with at least four competing vessels.  We must see intense competitiveness and gambling.

We asked these lovely ladies to lie on the ground, and let us tie their hair in knot
55. IMAGE or VIDEO. Create the famous "Spider-hair-knot." Eight long-haired people lying on their backs with their hair tied all together in one big beautiful weave or nasty knot.  Photograph from above.

These amazing people came downtown, in business suits for a water balloon fight.  Several of who we called at the last minute because we didn't have enough participants.
11. VIDEO (slow motion). Set to opera music, stage a water balloon fight between 10 or more participants all wearing business suits.

Still, asking (and sometimes, even begging) your family and friends for help isn't nearly as awkward as asking a stranger for help.  We had to talk several strangers into helping us with this
25. IMAGE. Get all of the checkout employees at a supermarket to wear "Mishapocalypse" masks as they ring up customers.  They all must be working their individual registers when you take the picture.  There must be a minimum of four checkout workers.  The more cashiers, the more points.

We were asked to do a lot of strange and ridiculous things.  We were challenged to embarrass ourselves and hold our heads high.  Oh to see the looks Brad received while buying toilet paper was quite a sight.  The three of us with him, I think, were more embarrassed than he was.

99. IMAGE. Zombies need to buy toilet paper too, right? What does that transaction look like?

To be honest though, not one of those items was as difficult for me as this one.

13. IMAGE. Time flies like a Wooster gone wild.  There's someone in your life - an older family member or an older friend - that will someday be gone.  There's something you used to do with them that you enjoyed or have been meaning to do with them, but never have. Do it now, before it's too late.

This is me and my Grandma.  She has Alzheimer's and we had to move her into an assisted living home over a year ago, probably more.  I've not gone to visit her once even though I keep telling myself I will.  Instead of going though, I'd make lame excuse after lame excuse.  When contemplating writing this blog about GISHWHES, I'd considered not including this item.  To be honest, I'm embarrassed that it took an online scavenger hunt to get me to visit my own grandmother.  I should've gone before, but it's so hard to see her this way.  I decided to add it anyway because I'm grateful that GISHWHES pushed me to do something I was quite frankly, afraid to do.  I won't lie, it was hard visiting my grandma and I cried, a lot, but I'm so glad I finally made the trip to see her.

GISHWHES pushes you out of you comfort zone, but, like in this case, it has the most wonderful results.  My grandma was so happy to see Brad and I, and even though she couldn't remember my name, she knew who I was and she remembered that I was there.  I like to think that we both took something away from that visit.

Obviously, I'd like team RedBeardLovesToledo to win GISHWHES, but on many levels I already feel like a winner. I made new friends and spent quality time with the ones I already had, I laughed a lot, made a fool of myself, and experienced life in a whole new way.   I got to enjoy a week of shenanigans with my husband. All that, plus finally, visiting my grandma, yep…I'm a winner already.


17. IMAGE. You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined! Dress yourself in an outfit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom. 

35. IMAGE. Suck blood from a doughnut.

47. IMAGE. Cavemen get a bad rap, but really, they're  no different from you and me.  They like to dine at fine restaurants just like us!

49. IMAGE. Make a 5-foot in diameter bird's nest on a sidewalk in an upscale neighborhood. Nest in it.

100. IMAGE. Provide visual evidence that unicorns really do fart rainbows. No Photoshopping!

109. IMAGE. Obviously, everyone's favorite Captain of the USS Enterprise was Jean-Luc Picard. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc.) for paint.

116. IMAGE. Food trucks are all the rage, but I think they tend to be a bit speciesist.  Get a food truck to sell cat food.  It must be on the menu and we must see a cat placing the order.

133. IMAGE. Draw a New-Yorker-style cartoon for the caption "I told them he was half-elephant!"

164. VIDEO. Your friend is in bed, not feeling well.  Feed them a big bowl of warm (not hot) chicken noodle soup. One caveat: instead of feeding them with a spoon, use a leaf blower.

Thank you team RedBeardLovesToledoans for an amazing GISHWHES experience!
69. IMAGE (one image with 15 images edited into it). An image of each of the members of your team in Brady-Bunch style grid format. Photos should be mug-shot style with each team member holding a black and white sign stating their city and country of residence

Note:  These are only a portion of RedBeardLovesToledo's submissions.