Turning Strangers into Friends

(Chris and Amaira by Richard Renaldi via CBS News)

I came across this story recently and loved it so much, I had to share. The images are magical and the idea behind the project is just lovely. A photographer in New York City grabs strangers off the street and then asks them to pose intimately, as if they are lovers, friends or family members. The results are stunning.

(Thanks to Rachel for the heads up on this story!)

Dreaming of the Quiet Zone

I heard this story the other day on NPR about an area in West Virgina where cell towers and WiFi signals are banned due to a giant telescope in the area. Radio, cell and other high frequency signals will mess with the telescope’s systems, so there is 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia, which is a designated quiet zone. In this part of the country, people still go to the local library to use dial-up internet, and phone booths are common. There are actual police that will write you a ticket for using any banned device.

One resident made a comment in the piece that really spoke to me:

“It’s nice to be able to pull something out of your pocket and send a message to someone and get a response within 30 seconds or so. But I don’t know that it’s that necessary. At least it’s not around here.”

Is it weird that I’m dreaming of such a place? It’s probably even weirder, considering I make my living writing online and doing online marketing for an IT company…but I can’t help it. The thought of a disconnected life is giving me goosebumps.

What do you think, could you ever live in a place where you couldn’t have a cell phone or wireless internet? Do you want to start a commune with me? I promise, I’m less strange than I appear!


Photo via John W. Poole for NPR, sourced here

A Gentlemen’s Debate

How much do I love, LOVE this video…so freaking much. I am personally a horrible debater, I tend to get way to emotionally involved and frazzled until I start saying things like “I know you are, but what am I!” like a fourth-grader. What I wouldn’t give to be as eloquent, funny and smart as these dudes.

(A Debate Between an Atheist and a Christian via Upworthy)

Rumination’s on Being a Second Grader

I remember second grade so very well. It was the year things changed for me. Until that year I’d been “normal.” A little odd and silly, perhaps, but a girl with a lot of friends and a happy little life. I was a lot like my little Lulu is now, sunny and funny and sweet. But in second grade my parents decided to move me to a private religious school in order for my brother, who had some learning issues, to get more attention than they thought he’d get at a public school.


From that year until well into junior high, I was considered a bit of a weirdo. Kids were mean and unwelcoming, and the teachers didn’t seem to notice, or care. My mom still recalls going to a parent teacher conference where the teacher informed them I never had a partner at computer time. “Why not?” my parents questioned. Well, it seemed that no one wanted to be my partner, but I told the teacher it was okay, and I didn’t mind working by myself, so there I sat all year. Alone.

Now, I should be clear that none of these kids were inherently mean, just scared of someone different and following the pack, as many kids (and adults) tend to do. I also should point out that so much good came out of this situation. I eventually found a wonderful tribe of misfits and those people were some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Still are. I also know that I wouldn’t have become who I am today without these experiences, and I think I’m pretty rad. I don’t know if that means I’m happy I was bullied, I just know that I was blessed that I found a path that didn’t crush me or send my self-esteem to a point of no return. Many aren’t so lucky.

So today when I sent Lu off to second grade, I looked at her happy skipping body and her smiling eyes and found myself praying to the universe or God or whatever is out there that she is held safe these long school days. I told her she is loved beyond compare and that will never change, regardless of the number of awards she wins or friends she has. I told her about my experience, in the hopes that if she sees someone suffering, she will reach out. Those people who reached out when I was in second grade? They saved me. I think of them often and silently thank them for every gesture of kindness they bestowed upon me.


I have big hopes for this girl. Not hopes for straight A’s or medals or trophies, but hope that her light can reach someone that needs it this year. I hope her smile or kind words from her lips will make a small difference to someone. I may not know much, but I know my hopes will be fulfilled.

Kansas City Doing Good : HappyBottoms


Being a mom can be so very hard. As a mom of two, I can tell you that one of the hardest times as a parent is when your kids are in diapers. Sure, I haven’t been through those teenage years yet (knock on wood!), but I know that for me, the newborn and toddler years were/are pretty darn difficult. I am so fortunate to have had a ton of support and cheerleaders as I dove headfirst in to motherhood, but there are so many moms out there that aren’t so lucky. One in six children in the Kansas City metro area lives in poverty, and one of the most fundamental needs that is overlooked for the kids and moms is access to diapers. Imagine choosing between diapers and paying your electric bill. Or putting gas in your car. Clean, dry diapers are important to the health and well-being of growing babies. It’s not uncommon for babies to be left in a diaper for an entire day (or longer) or for parents to re-use a disposable diaper, leading to possible urinary tract or skin infections. There is also an increased risk of child abuse when parents and caregivers lack a supply of clean diapers. Without regular changing, dirty diapers can be a source for the outbreak of viral meningitis, dysentery and Hepatitis A throughout the community.


This is where the fantastic non-profit HappyBottoms comes in! HappyBottoms is the only diaper drive in Kansas City, and provides free diapers to an estimated 1000 children every month. I was unaware that diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps or through the WIC program, two main monetary resources for those below poverty level in our community. So for some families, buying fresh diapers just isn’t an option. Isn’t that insane?! I can’t imagine not being able to change my baby’s diaper as he wailed and fussed because I didn’t have a new one to put on him. And the stress that a crying baby puts on a new mom, especially one who is already dealing with the daily stress of living under the poverty line, must be horrific.


HappyBottoms works with 18 partner agencies throughout our community to distribute diapers to those who need it most, but the demand far outweighs what they can currently provide. I was able to visit HappyBottoms’ headquarters and warehouse and was so inspired by everyone I met. Diapers are collected via donation, either through diaper drives, corporate donations or private giving. HappyBottoms takes any new diaper, even if the package has already been opened, and repackages them to deliver to their partner agencies. So if you’ve still got an extra pack of diapers in the house after your youngest was potty trained, you can drop if off at any of their donation locations, regardless of if you already opened the package. Pretty cool, right?!


Another way you can contribute to HappyBottoms is monetarily. Currently, HappyBottoms is partnering with Huggies, who is providing a number of diapers to the organization. They also hope to have several more large donations this year, in order to serve our community. But to do this, they need certain things. More warehouse space! A delivery truck! Staff! A new computer system to track the huge numbers of diapers that will hopefully be coming through the door! So to do that, they are doing some big fundraisers this year, including the upcoming “Make a Difference for Mother’s Day” campaign.


Are you looking for a special way to honor your mom this Mother’s Day? Why not donate to HappyBottoms in her honor?! Head over to the HappyBottoms website to donate, and HappyBottoms will recognize your mom on their Honor Roll on their site and Facebook page. They will also send you a certificate that you can present to your mom. Your donation will directly impact moms and babies in our area that need our help! Or, if you’d like to donate diapers directly, HappyBottoms is creating a REALLY BIG Diaper Drive in honor of Mother’s Day. They have joined with Price Chopper to hold a diaper drive from Friday, May 10th from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday May 11th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at four Price Chopper locations in the metro area (click here for participating locations). And don’t forget, they take open diaper packages too!

I love Kansas City. This community is a giving one, and people here really do what they can to help others in need. I hope you join me in supporting HappyBottoms this Mother’s Day! Let’s help provide life, liberty, and diapers for all!

For more information on HappyBottoms, please visit www.happybottoms.org or click here. Special thanks to HappyBottoms Board President, Liz Sutherlin, for showing me around HappyBottoms HQ!

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