The ramblings of a working, knitting, writing wife and mother.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fundraising Request (and raffle)

I know you’re all here because you want to learn more about winning a pair of handknit fingerless gloves, and I’m really jazzed to give you all the details. However, me being me, I want to start off with a story.
Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. Back in those days, the wee girlies did not stand in front of your local Trader Joe’s selling cookies with their parents. No, ma’am. They took their order sheets and pens and went out into the town, door to door, repeating the same phrase over and over, for hours after school. I did this as a solitary activity. It was often snowing. It was always cold.
One particularly frosty day, as it was getting dark, I was struggling with my motivation for selling cookies. I never sold many. I disliked talking to strangers. I realized it was counterproductive to hope someone wasn’t home when I knocked on the door. I knew that it didn’t help me much to be relieved when no one answered. But I always hoped. I was often relieved.
But on this cold, windy day in a tiny town in Illinois, I knocked on a door where someone was home. I took a deep breath, stared at the icy patch on his front steps, and recited my plea for a purchase. Help us out, sir? Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?
He told me he was sorry, but he had already bought some.
I tried not to cry on his freezing front porch, but as I nodded, thanked him, and turned to go, it must have been extremely obvious on my face how disheartened and disappointed I was about this unrewarding, social-anxiety-inducing activity because he called me back.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “You know what? I think I need some more.” He then proceeded to buy TEN boxes of Thin Mints, the most I’d ever sold to one person who wasn’t my mother.
I loved that man. I still cried on his steps, but it was because I was so, so grateful. On May Day, I secretly put flowers on his porch.
Why am I telling you this story? To let you know that this kind of stuff is something I dislike, but I do it when I have to, and since I am older, with access to better skills and more resources, I can do a little better than leaving flowers on your front steps.
Here’s the deal: My daughter, Ezri, is signed up with the Kare Youth League. It’s fantastic. It’s all girls and young women. They do sports together on Saturday mornings. The older girls mentor the younger ones. Ezri is having so much fun with it, and it’s right by our house. Great stuff. However, (you knew this was coming – I prepared you, but go ahead and a take a deep breath anyway) they require fundraising as part of the program. Our quota is to raise $75 in ticket sales.
Tickets for what? Glad you asked. On June 6, that’s a Saturday, from 4 – 8 pm, the Kare Youth League will be holding their annual SoccerFest at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. All the leagues from the area will gather and, get this – it’s awesome, play a soccer tournament On the Rose Bowl Grass. What an opportunity!
In addition to the games, there will be food and performances and a large family carnival. There will be pony rides, a petting zoo, and all those fun little games that you used to play when you were young (fishing behind a curtain, spinning a wheel, knocking down the milk bottles, you get the idea). We went to one of these carnivals before we really knew what Kare Youth League was, and I remember it was lovely and the prizes for the games were surprisingly good.
So here’s what I want from you: Please help us out. Buy a ticket. They are $5 each.
What’s in it for you: You get admittance to the SoccerFest, and you will be entered into a drawing to win a $1000 shopping spree to either Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club. There is also a coupon for a free Subway sandwich and 30 oz drink attached to the bottom of the ticket stub. You will also be put into my own personal drawing to win a pair of handknit fingerless gloves.
What if you don’t live here / are busy that day / don’t really care about soccer / don’t want to ride a pony: Good question. You can still be entered into the $1000 shopping spree (you don't have to be present to win) and the fingerless glove drawing by donating $5.
What if you really don’t want to buy a ticket, but you still want a chance for the gloves: For the glove raffle, I will put in your name one time for every dollar that you donate regardless of a ticket purchase. So if you want your name in once, you can donate $1, twice - $2, and so on and so forth. If you buy tickets for your family of four, I’ll put your name in 20 times. Make sense?
How do you enter? Either find me in real life to buy tickets from me, contact me by email or Facebook to set up a pick up / drop off, or if you are far away, you may send funds via Paypal to duckies_in_a_rowATyahoo.com. (I can mail your tickets to you easily.)

Please include the following information. I have to put it on your entry:
Phone Number

I will draw for the gloves on Memorial Day, May 25, and ship out the gloves on Monday, June 15. Should we talk about the gloves some more? YES! We Should! Please get on with it! I’m going to draw for THREE pairs of gloves this time, since I’m actually asking for money for them. Not only that, you can pick from the ones below. Gentlemen, I know that these are mostly women’s gloves. Keep in mind that commissioning a pair as a gift for your honey goes a long way for you. Let’s check them out (please note that some of these are photos of gloves I've made before - others have been taken from online sources, and yes, I am using them without permission).
For those who like them functional, I give you the plainest pair of gloves in the land (you can pick the color, though). For the record, these are the only pair that I own:

How about cables? Everyone likes the elegance of cables.

Evangelines (you choose color)

Staghorns (again with the color choice)

Skeleton Key (in your favorite color)
 Sapphire (and these ones are this color only)
 Oak Grove (I suppose you could pick another color, but Why Would You?)

Waterbending (in whatever color the winner likes best)
Where are my geeks? How about one of these charming designs?

For the Lord of the Rings fans - I give you Evenstar Mitts (not in purple, though, most likely a white or silver, or you know, whatever color really)

For the literary minded, I give you Ravens in the Snow (in cream and black only)

And for my dear, dear Doctor Who fans, there are these mitts that the sharp-eyed among you will recognize as replicas of the mitts Rose Tyler wears in the episode Doomsday. In this color only

This pattern is called Zombie Vixen, for when you want to take out corpses in style and warmth (you pick the color)

And these Helix mitts will be perfect for your steam punk costume. Or your Tshirt. Color scheme of your choice

How about something whimsical? These will do the trick.

 Catching Butterflies (they don't have to be blue)

Woodsy Association - your choice of deer, owl, wolf, badger, or raccoon. Those are the colors for them, though.

I hear you - you're not into that. You want something more appropriate for a grown up. Something you can feel sophisticated wrapping around your Starbucks cup. I've got you covered too:

Button cuffs are super stylish (this colorway only)
  Fair Isle - always in style! (again, only this color - I have a kit, you see)

What better to cup your Pumpkin Latte than a pair of pumpkin lace mitts? (this color only)

And for all my pretty, fancy princesses, here are a couple options:

Twin Leaf lace for your next tea party (you can pick the color this time)

Ruffle Cuffs to wear at the piano recital (only in these colors, though)

Don't worry, men, there are some options for you as well. In addition to the plain black pair (how could you go wrong?) there are these:

Straight Forward Mitts - probably a more masculine color (unless you like this color; it's all the same to me)

Loch Lomond - in whatever color you think would work for you.

Whew, that's a lot of options. But you've got some time to think about which ones you'd want, and in what color if applicable, before the drawing on Memorial Day. Thanks for your help with our fundraiser. It really means a lot to me. If anyone has any questions, please, please do let me know either via comment or message. I don’t want anyone confused!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Runner Five

So, I’m a runner.

Oh! Sorry - I should have warned those who went to high school with me that I was going to start with a joke like that so they would have known not to take a sip of coffee right then. Yeah, sorry about making you spit it all over your monitor – shall we try again? Ok, put the beverage down.

I admit, the running is new, and I’m actually more of a brisk walker / jogger than a runner. Before I got pregnant the first time, I attended a gym regularly and had started in the running thing – my personal best being 2.6 miles at 4.5 miles per hour. I think the first time I ran my first mile straight (in like fifteen minutes), I went around to everyone in the gym and made them give me a high five. But two babies, fifty pounds, and a little over four years later, I’d definitely lost any ability or drive.

Enter my mother who showed me a coupon for a 5k race close to my house. She wasn’t horribly out of the blue; I was four months into a weight-loss journey to gain at least my pre-pregnancy body back if not better, but even considering that, she showed me the email without any sincerity. I laughed at it with her until stuff started resonating in that tiny little piece of my spirit that contains anything like ambition.

It was a Pumpkin themed 5k the first week of October. I love pumpkins. I adore October. There would be a Tshirt – with a pumpkin on it. There would be a medal for those finishing the race – also with a pumpkin on it. I wouldn’t have to drive far to participate. Walkers were welcome. And with the attached coupon, the registration price was cheaper than a delivered pizza. I spontaneously decided that I could definitely walk 3.1 miles and paying that price for a Tshirt and a medal (did I mention the pumpkins?) would be an experience I was willing to have. I registered.

And I meant to walk, really, but since it was early summer it crossed my mind that I could maybe try to at least jog. Right? Would I really be ok wearing that shirt or that medal without even really trying? I googled a 5k running schedule and that was the first time I learned of the existence of Zombies Run.

I watched the trailer, read a bit about it, and wanted it more than I have ever wanted anything close to a video game in my life. How motivating would that be to train for a 5k while running away from zombies! Unfortunately, I did not at that time own any kind of device that would support the app. I trained for my pumpkin 5k with the Couch-to-5k (C25K) schedule, which is also very good, and worked well enough that I did indeed run the entire 5k to earn my Tshirt and medal, but there was a significant lack of zombies in my life that I felt deeply.

Small surprise that last Christmas, upon receiving my first smart phone, the first thing I did after adding some music was download the Zombies, Run app. There is also a Zombies 5k app, but since I had kept up my running after my first race, that seemed like not enough for my level (oops, sorry, maybe just refrain from drinking until you’re done reading, eh?). I was ready for the main app, and now that I’ve done a few different things on it, I’d like to pass on my review to those not sure.

Why on earth are you not sure? It’s like reading a story, engaging in a role-play, real-life video game, and getting your exercise all in one! What’s not to like? Buy it! Buy it now!

What? Not convinced? Fine - Here we go. Reasons to purchase the Zombies, Run app.

1.     British accents. I didn’t realize, but this is a UK-run app. With a bit of Scottish peppered on top. Because the only thing better than pretending to outrun zombies is having someone British shouting encouragement to you to outrun zombies.
2.     It’s a story. Yeah! A continuous story with over 120 missions. Reoccurring characters, bits of drama. Stuff to make you think while you’re running to take your mind off of how much it sucks to be running.
3.     It works with your playlist. Depending on how long you set your mission length (30 minutes or 60) a bit of mission transmission will play, then one or two songs from your playlist, then another transmission. Or you can choose not to have any music at all.
4.     Once you are done with the mission transmissions, but aren’t necessarily finished with your run, an imaginary radio station picks up to keep going with your playlist as long as you like. Well, maybe it does have limitations, but I haven’t exhausted them yet. (Don’t run that long.)
5.     It works on a treadmill or with GPS – versatility is good for those of us who might not want to go any farther than our backyard some nights while we’re being a single parent.
6.     You don’t have to run. You can still get out and exercise while doing missions with this app at a walk. Your pace, your level, no problem.
7.     It has oodles of options. Mission length, playlist selection, GPS or accelerometer, do you want zombie chase enabled or not.
8.     It has the option of an “Air Drop” mission for those with GPS devices. Pick a spot on a map, a real map, like if I wanted to run to the library and back. You can pick if you want it to be a one-way or return mission and the app will build an adventure around your chosen distance.
9.     There are race options – 2 each for a 5k, 10k, and 20k (I think). I haven’t done these yet, but I’m sure they are awesome.
10. Did I mention the zombie chase? If you have GPS on, every once in a while a little voice pops up that says, “Zombies – 100 meters” and that means you have to increase your pace by at least 10% for 60 seconds to avoid being caught. Or you can turn it off if that freaks you out.
11. You can’t actually die in the game (no starting over!). If the zombies are too close (you get caught), you drop some of the supplies you’re carrying to distract them and get yourself away. While it’s no fun to lose your hard-earned supplies, at least you aren’t dead.
12. This app keeps track of all your statistics. It has run logs so you can see what happened on every run you did (where were your fast points, your average speed, how far did you go, how many calories did you burn, check your route out on the map). It also keeps track of total stats – how many total miles (or kilometers if you prefer) you’ve done playing the game, how many calories, how many hours have you been running, how many zombies have you avoided, how many sports bras have you brought in to help Abel township. What was your fastest ever time?
13. Have I talked about Abel township yet? No? It’s the imaginary base where you live with your still-human survivors. As you run, you aren’t only avoiding zombies but you collect things to bring back to the base – batteries, tins of food, clothes, pain meds, whatever. When you are done with your run, you can sync your app to ZombieLink, a website that also keeps stats. With the supplies you collect, you can improve Abel by updating defenses, constructing new buildings, all of which increase your township’s population, safety, and morale. You’re a hero!
14. Also on the website are a collection of achievements to unlock. Tons of them, and they are all cleverly named.
15. You can go back and rerun any episode you like, or play them out of order.
16. You can also, once you’ve unlocked a sound bit in a mission, you can go online and play it again, individually. Which is good for kids like me who are all, “hey wait, what did they say?”
17. Sam Yao.

Is there a downside to this app? Maybe. Here are two (that’s it, could only think of two).

1.     It crashes. I’ve only had it happen once, and it was because someone called my phone in the middle of my run twice within a 60-second window. It crashed my app. I’ve heard of other people having similar problems. I was extremely disappointed. I’d had such a great run; I was almost finished, and I didn’t get to hear the very end of the mission. On the up side – the run did appear in my stats page so it wasn’t a total loss and the likelihood of that happening again is very minimal.
2.      Price. The initial $3.99 purchase will get you three of the six races, season one, access to airdrop missions, and I think seven episodes of season two. After that, if you want to continue (Of course you do!), the remaining episodes and races are available for additional purchase. I believe that a full access pass to everything (initial app and ALL the seasons) is about $20. But hang on a second. Let’s put this into proper perspective. Think about all that stuff this app can do. Stats, missions, storyline, GPS tracking, interval training, playlist maintenance – all of that stuff, plus we’re talking about hours and hours and hours of missions here (and I hear they are making a Season 4, so there’s more to come!) for the price of ONE workout DVD. Hmm. If you’re like me, and if you’re reading my blog I suspect that might be so, I bet you have one dusty workout DVD on your shelf / in your closet that cost more than this app and was way less satisfying.

So there you go. Zombies, Run – super fun. I find my runs, even on the treadmill, extremely less tedious, and I look forward to hearing what’s going on in the story next. Incredibly motivating all around.

And it made me a runner. Runner Five!