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Archive for "Community"

Old Town Rotary Map Project and Feeling Grateful

Posted on May 21, 2016 by under Community, Events, Family, Things to Do.    

Brian and I got to help with our first Rotary map project over the weekend. Well, Brian got tricked into helping and I wasn’t going to go at first. I didn’t find out about the project that Misty’s Rotary Club (Rotary Club of Old Town Wichita) was working on until the day before. I told her that I was teaching Zumba that morning and couldn’t make it. I really wanted to help but my Zumba class fell right in the middle of the time we were supposed to be be painting. She said they would start at 9 AM and, since Prairie Creek Elementary is right across from the YMCA branch that I teach Zumba at on Saturday mornings, Misty somehow managed to convince me to help. I figured I could go right before my class and then come back to continue helping right after class.

Brian was initially going to just stay home and do house chores while I went to help with the map project and teach my Zumba class. However, I managed to talk him into “dropping me off” at the school. I told him that he could “drop me off” and then I could just walk across the street to the YMCA when it was time for class. I also bribed him with Scooter’s Coffee, which he couldn’t refuse.

Because we are sickeningly punctual, we arrived at the school right at 9 AM. There were only a couple of people there. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough people to help and so I asked Brian, who was only supposed to “drop me off” at the site, to stay and help us. A good number of people showed up to help a little bit later that morning so Brian probably didn’t even need to stay. I think he was glad he stayed though, because the painting project was right up his alley. He’d be reluctant to admit it, but I would venture to say that he actually had fun. Besides that, doing volunteer work every once in a while (despite being tricked into doing it) is good for the soul.

Even though we started late, they made good progress while I was in Zumba class. By the time I walked back to the project site, they were almost completely done. Here are some pictures of our map painting adventure…

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Getting the map template to stay down was kind of tricky because of the wind. Lucky for us, we had a few people who worked on these map projects before so they were pros. They knew exactly what to do and were prepared with milk jugs filled with water to line the perimeter of the template and keep it from blowing away.

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With the template down, we had to chalk all of the holes. This would leave dots that would serve as an outline for us to follow for painting the map.

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Based on experience, they knew that the East Coast would be tricky so those lines had to be drawn before removing the plastic completely.

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Lots of going back and forth between the ground and template happened to check and double check that the lines were drawn properly and no states were missed.

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It’s not difficult to mess it up because the East Coast consists of a bunch of tiny states.

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The lakes are also tricky so those lines had to be drawn before removing the template as well. The template tried to fly away a few times but we managed to hold it down long enough to get all the tricky parts out of the way.

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After the lines were drawn the rest of it was cake.

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When I returned from my Zumba class, we had way more volunteers than paint brushes.

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Having lots of people there to help paint made painting the map go quickly.

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The map was complete before long. It just needed a few touch ups to make the lines more crisp and the colors pop.

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Another cool thing about last Saturday was meeting Andrea and Donovan’s handsome dog Tank for the first time.

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They live right by the school so it wasn’t a long walk.

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Tank is a bit of a ham as you can tell. LOL.

Anyway, last Saturday reminded me of how truly lucky I am to have Brian in my life. I have often complained about not being able to be at two places at once so, even though I want to participate in everything, sometimes I just have to pick and choose and then I feel bad for having to say no to people or missing out. Well, with Brian’s help, I can be at two places at once. I really wanted to participate and help with the map project but I knew I couldn’t be there the entire time. Brian was there to help when I couldn’t be and they actually got an upgrade because Brian is far more talented at that stuff than I am.

Today, it was much the same. I had multiple things that I wanted to do: attend my friend Cari’s party, spend time with Nickira, participate in Zumba in the Square, and get some yummy dinner from the Kamayan Truck. Brian helped me so I could do it all.

I made an appearance at Cari’s party before picking up Nickira from her house. We went home so I could change into workout clothes and pick Brian up. Brian dropped Nickira and I off at the Zumba in the Square event while he went to pick up dinner from the food truck event. We got to enjoy a delicious dinner and then had ice cream for dessert at Churn & Burn after.

As an added bonus, I even got to spend time with my mom. Dad dropped her off at the Zumba thing so she got to hang out with us the rest of the evening and we gave her a ride home. She went with us for ice cream after Zumba and then to drop off Nickira back at her house. Then it was mom’s turn to be dropped off.

Double bonus, I got to see dad as well because we stayed a little while to check out dad’s basement project when we dropped mom off. Anyway, I am super blessed to have such a loving, supportive husband without whom I couldn’t possibly do everything I want to do. Thank you for being awesome, baby! You make my life – correction, our life – great!

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One Crazy, Busy Week

Posted on April 12, 2016 by under Community, Events.    

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After spending most of the week in Madison, I came home to a private shopping party at Chic Street Boutique. It wasn’t well-attended but I was out of town the three days leading up to the event so I couldn’t really hound people to come. It was a combination of poor planning and just being super duper busy.

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For those of you who are not familiar with Chic Street Boutique, they’re located at Central and Rock next to the most awesome tailor ever – Quickstitch. Chic Street has unique clothing and accessories that you can’t really find anywhere else.

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They had some great clearance items the day of the party. I found a few things. I really wanted these pants but they were only available in XS. I was so bummed I couldn’t fit in them. And, then there was this one sheath dress I wanted but, again, it was not available in my size. I really wanted to buy it with the hope of eventually shrinking into it, but my friend Tammie talked sense into me and talked me out of it. Had it not been for her, I would have bought that dress and it would have been hanging in my closet, never being worn, for eternity. It’s important to have friends who will honestly tell you how it is and keep you from doing stupid stuff. Seriously.

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The very next day was the Whine About Wichita YPW event at Union Station. I made Brian go with me. He was a tad overdressed because we came straight after work. Well, kind of. We had to take care of the dogs first and then had a quick bite to eat at TSK.

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I had the chocolate bread pudding for dessert. It was amazing! It was probably the best bread pudding I have ever had. Hands down.

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Ebony was at the Whine About as well. It should come as no surprise because she is on the YPW Board of Trustees and Advisory Council so she is at just about every YPW event. Ebony is not just involved YPW, she’s heavily involved in the community. Everywhere we go, she meets someone she knows.

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She’s like a younger, prettier version of Don Sherman. LOL.

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We got a really cool tour of Union Station.

Here are a few pictures that we took during the tour.

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Obligatory selfie!

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Brian looked really good. He looked like he was part of Mayor Longwell’s entourage.

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I love that Brian humors me and goes to these events with me. I’m not sure if I would go by myself even though I did see quite a few familiar faces including our friend Cindy (@WichitaCindy). It’s crazy how we don’t see each other for years and we got to catch up and visit two days in a row!

I was looking pretty yuck because it had been a long day (more like a long week, actually). I’m glad that we went, though. We got to participate in the “whining” and “toasting” and met some cool people and we got these neat Wichita flag buttons. It was one crazy, busy week but totally worth it.

I love YPW events. YPW is definitely part of what makes Wichita great in book. Looking forward to the 2016 YPW Summit next week!

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Help Me Support Big Brothers Big Sisters

Posted on March 16, 2016 by under Community, Projects, Things to Do.    

It’s that time of year again when I’m obnoxiously raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. There’s not many fundraising events that I aggressively seek out donations for… This happens to be one.

I’ve been “bowling for kids” on and off for almost 15 years. I’ve been a team captain a few times, team member a few times, and donor/supporter every time. I’m involved in the event for a couple of reasons: a) I enjoy bowling; and b) I believe in this program.

Even before I became a Big Sister myself, I was already an avid supporter of this program because I believe the children are our future… Teach them well and let them lead the way… Give them a sense of pride to make it easier… Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be… Everybody’s searching for a hero… People need someone to look up to…

LOL. I can’t keep going with a straight face. See what I did there? I just Whitney-rolled you. If you’re not familiar with the song, watch this video:

Alright, back to seriousness. I really and truly believe in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the power of having positive mentors and role models in your life. I know I would not be the person I am today if there had not been caring adults in my life. I’m sure you can remember a teacher, coach, or other important adult that made time for you. You remember that in between the cooking lessons or fishing trips, that person helped you find your way.

Today (just like last year and the years before that and probably every year after until I die), I’m asking you to support me and Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Your gift will help match another child with a mentor that will help him or her find the confidence he/she needs to overcome problems and make good choices. Click on one of the many links that I’ve spattered all over this blog post to make a donation and start a child on the path to success in school and in life.

Just do it. It’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I promise. And, if you don’t, at least you got a tax write-off out of it. Thanks in advance for supporting a program that is close to my heart. You are wonderful and generous and I appreciate you.

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Let’s Catch Up

Posted on November 7, 2015 by under Community, Life.    

This blog is ridiculously behind. I’m going to attempt to catch us up.

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Did you all see that awesome rainbow that happened last month? It was on October 22. It was an amazing double rainbow. One really vivid one and then another faint one around it. It was a full rainbow too. You could see the arch from end to end. I usually miss these things but I’m so glad that I got to see it. It’s the most beautiful thing I’d seen in a while. I even got a picture of it; though the picture really doesn’t do the rainbow justice. It was amazing. I hope you guys got to see it too.

I love rainbows because they always brighten my day.

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Speaking of brightening someone’s day, my extended team (extended because Faith and Amy joined us) and I did a volunteer service day at the Kansas Food Bank. We packed several “Bob Box” pallets from eight to noon.

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It was a wonderful team building activity. We not only got to work with one another but we also worked with these ladies from a local church who regularly volunteers the food bank and some employees from Cox Communications who volunteer during their lunch hour. The church ladies arrived around ten o’clock and the team from Cox arrived around eleven. We had such a blast the four hours just flew right by.

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I took this photo before everyone showed up. We had a pretty good assembly line going on with just the six of us.

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We spent the day bonding as a team offsite so it was a nice break from the daily grind. I like it when we do fun team building activities like panting or crafting and such, but I really like team building activities that involve community service or volunteerism because then we’re not only having fun bonding but we’re also giving back to the community at the same time.

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Here’s a picture of us with Kansas Food Bank President & CEO Brian Walker accepting our $1000 donation.

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The best part about Westar Energy is that the company encourages employees to do volunteer work and has several matching programs. One of these programs is a team building service match. If we have five employees from the same department do a four-hour service project for a nonprofit then we can request for a $1000 grant from the Westar Energy Foundation to match our time. Of course, the organization and the project have to be vetted first, but it’s great that our company is supportive and encourages community service and volunteerism by donating funds to the projects and nonprofits that employees support.

This was on Friday, October 23. It was a great day for doing volunteer work and bonding with my team. Not so much for the diet, though.

The six of us went to District Taqueria for lunch. I’d never been there before but had been meaning to because it’s owned by the brother of my former dental hygienist. I’m so glad Nykole recommended it. The food was delicious. I have a separate blog post for that because I went back with Brian a week later for my birthday lunch.

Dinner that night was a Granite City with Brian’s Edward Jones office family. His boss (who is also our friend Rune) wanted everyone and their families to get together and meet. Dinner guests consisted of Rune (financial advisor and boss man), Kristen (Rune’s wife who also used to work in their office and still fills in from time to time), their son Eirik, Deb (the senior business office administrator at their office), her husband Mike, Brian (new kid on the block), and me (supportive spouse).

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It was a great start to what would be a crazy-busy weekend consisting of groceries with grandma (which Brian usually does while I teach my Saturday morning Zumba class), brunch at the Good Egg, Connie’s 50th birthday extravaganza at the Kansas Star Casino, the Boo and Brew Ball (a benefit for Dress for Success Wichita), packing for Topeka, and bowling. I’m blogging separately about the birthday party and the Boo and Brew event because I have quite a few pictures to share.

We have been so busy lately that the year has just flown by. I’m hoping we’ll catch a break here eventually because we are so behind on house chores it’s not even funny. My having to work in Topeka four days out of the week doesn’t seem to help matters any. More on that in another post also.

We caught up a little bit but not quite enough. Hopefully I’ve have more time to blog this weekend so we can get completely caught up.

Until then, have a fabulous weekend everyone!

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CPA Update

Posted on October 10, 2015 by under Community.    

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Brian and I had our ride alongs with WPD last Saturday. Last year when I did my ride along, I was going to buy dinner for my police officer but we were so busy that we didn’t have time to stop and eat. I figured it would be more of the same this year so Brian and I decided to stop at Panda Express before heading to the police station.

We both like Panda Express fine but it’s not really high on our list of our favorite places to eat. We just went there because it was on the way to the police station and it was quick. Brian actually made a comment that if he got shot that night, and the meal at Panda Express turned out to be his last, he would be really pissed.

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Brian and I both choose WPD Patrol North on the same day and the same shift so that we could carpool to the police station. He really wanted to do Patrol South, where all the action is, but I did that last year. Also, it’s not like he’s completely unfamiliar with the South side of town. That’s where he grew up. We figured North would be the second most active so we chose it.

I rode with a patrol officer on 41 beat. Brian got paired up with a traffic officer. Other than a few interesting calls, Patrol North was so boring that night. It was not nearly as exciting as my ride along last year on Patrol South. Our friend Bill, who is also in CPA training with us, opted for Patrol East. He rode that same Saturday night and he got to see way more action than we did. I’m thinking my next ride along will be out East.

Brian seemed to have a lot of fun observing all the traffic tickets. He really liked his police officer. I liked mine too. He let me listen to my Zumba music in the rhino. Our police officers were really nice. They would both let us know each time we passed one another on the street. Brian’s officer would go, “There’s your wife” or “Your wife’s in that car.” Mine would go, “There’s your husband” or “We just passed your husband.”

We responded to several interesting calls including an unconscious young female who was dropped off at Wesley and was left there. We also had to assist animal control with a dog extraction and issuing a ticket. There was noise complaint about a party that was out of control. The police officers actually called the two neighbors back who complained about the noise to tell them the outcome. And then there was the double hit and run, which was a first for me. Two vehicles were involved in a traffic accident and both drivers called to report that they were involved in a hit run.

We were Northbound on Oliver looking for a clean restroom. We passed the QT on 13th and Oliver and was surprised that we didn’t stop there. Apparently, not all QTs are created equal. The police officer explained to me that this particular QT was probably the worst in the city. They always have shootings and you never want to be at the first gas pump because it’s the worst. I don’t think I’ve ever pumped gas at that gas station and now I don’t think I ever will. LOL.

So anyway, we were heading North looking for a restroom (I’ve never met anyone who had to pee so frequently) when we passed the location of the hit and run call. The driver pulled into the Tall Oaks parking lot. I asked the officer if we were going to take that call and he said someone else had already picked it up. I wasn’t sure if that was truly the case or if he just didn’t want to take the call because he really had to pee.

At any rate, were free to continue our quest for a restroom. We ended up at the QT on Oliver and K-96. As luck would have it, the officer couldn’t go the restroom straightaway because he got flagged by a citizen needing assistance. The citizen reported that he was just in a hit and run. The officer I was with skipped the hit and run call but had to deal with a hit and run call anyway. What a coincidence! The craziest part is that this guy is in the other vehicle that was involved in the hit and run with the driver who was being interviewed by another police officer at the Tall Oaks parking lot. He’s saying that the other driver fled the scene of the accident while the other driver claimed that he fled. Both drivers were both in a hit and run with one another. While neither were at the scene of the accident, neither of them really fled because they both reported the accident to the authorities. It was strange.

One of the interesting calls we responded to was a man who was stuck around the 1500 block of Topeka because his motorized chair stopped working. He was on his way home to his apartment located at the 200 block of Topeka, which is quite a distance. When we arrived at the scene, there were four firemen already trying to get the chair to work. After several minutes of tinkering, they were able to get it to move a few inches only to die again. The fire fighters could have given up at that point and said, “Sorry, guy. You’re not on fire. See ya later!” and left the man to inch his way home. He had a long way to go so he might not have gotten home until the morning.

Rather than just leaving him there to fend for himself, the patrol officer I was with worked with the firemen to come up with a solution to get the man safely home. There weren’t any agencies we could call on a Saturday night to assist. I know because I called the 211 hotline. We were it. The patrol officer called for one of the WPD vans. While the driver was a bit cranky because he felt this was not appropriate use for the van, he obliged. There was no one else to help this man.

The officer and the firemen helped the man into the patrol officer’s SUV and then hoisted the heavy motorized chair into the police van. We all drove to the man’s apartment. Once there the firemen unloaded the chair and helped the man back on the chair and then all four of them helped him get up to his apartment. Fortunately, the building has an elevator so they didn’t have to carry him and his heavy chair all the way up.

I was really impressed at the kindness that WPD and WFD showed the man. I had profound respect for law enforcement before and after both of my ride alongs, I have an even greater respect for them. Overall it was a slow evening on 41 beat. I guess North has been pretty quiet while East has been really active of late. Brian and I have decided we will probably do a couple more ride alongs because we want to see what goes on in Patrol East and also Patrol West.

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Last Tuesday’s CPA session was at the Sedgwick County Detention Facility. We got a tour of the jail, the 911 dispatch center, and judicial. We did a lot of walking that day and my feet were screaming before the evening was over, but it was totally worth it.

The timing was perfect for Brian because the traffic officer he rode with booked a man for a DUI the Saturday before so he got to see the booking area. On Tuesday we got to tour the rest of the jail so he got to see the back and the inside in the same week. The tour was more extensive this time than the one I had last year with my Leadership Wichita class. We even got to see the shower area and Cpl. Torres, who was an excellent tour guide by the way, even told us about the extensive cavity search to prevent the smuggling of contraband into the jail.

Incidentally, my first tour of the jail and my first time tasting jail food was exactly a year ago today. I was grateful for the educational jail tour but I hope I don’t have to taste that food ever again. Last year we had beef stroganoff for lunch that was really salty. This year dinner was some kind of meat patty that tasted like a pencil eraser, powdered mashed potatoes that had no flavor whatsoever, canned green beans, and canned fruit that looked like peaches but didn’t really taste like them (maybe they were pears, it was really hard to tell). I suppose you’re not there to enjoy the food.

Anyway, the 911 facility is really nice. Everything looked modern and high tech as opposed to judicial where everything looked ancient. Lots of walking overall. The jail is like a city in itself, and then we had to do a lot of walking to and from buildings. It was so educational though, and so worth it. I’m not sure how you sign up to tour these facilities outside of CPA but if you can, I highly recommend it.

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If you have a few evenings to spare, I actually recommend going through CPA because you learn so much more. We’ve learned about meth labs and the different ways people “cook” meth these days. We learned about the force continuum and use of force by law enforcement. We got to tour the Wichita Sedgwick County Joint Firearms Training Facility and do “shoot, no shoot” scenarios. Brian even participated in a live simunition scenario. We’re about halfway through the program and the list of topics we’ve covered already is so long I can’t list them all.

We’re back at the training center this week and then Brian and I will be doing our ride alongs with Sedgwick County Sheriff. I’m looking forward to the coming sessions and am really glad that we signed up.

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