Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 182: Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Today, my friend Rob and I are going to the happiest place on Earth.  No, not Disney World.  The real happiest place on Earth...a Jimmy Buffett concert.  I have been an unabashed Parrothead since I was 17, and I have no intention of ever turning in my Hawaiian shirt, coconut bra, and flip flops.  In fact, I look forward to the day that I can dress Isla up like the Chiquita Banana girl, and take her to her first Buffett concert.  One of the seminal hits that James William Buffett plays at every show is Cheeseburger in Paradise.  The song is about how Jimmy, on one of his boat journeys where he had nothing but sunflower seeds and carrot juice to eat, was craving a good old American cheeseburger.  When he finally arrived in the British Virgin Islands, much to his surprise, he found a place serving the delicious "big warm bun with a huge hunk of meat."  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will try to quell the hunger of my fellow parrotheads by passing out my own cheeseburgers in paradise.  On our way to the show, Rob and I will stop off, purchase some burgers, and hand them out to some happy, hungry, thirsty pirates.  FINS UP!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 181: Welcomed Home Mommy

I know that Daddy is supposed to do all of the random acts, but I figured since he started them because of me, I am entitled to perform a few here and there.  The past few days have been kind of tough.  Daddy is great and all, but I really missed my Mommy.  I had a feeling that Mommy missed me as much as I missed her because she kept saying so on all the phone calls and FaceTimes she made to me.  This has been the longest that we have spent apart in my whole life.  3 days for a baby is like an eternity.  Well I got really excited this morning when Daddy told me that today was the day that Mommy came home, so I asked if I could do a random act for her.  I wanted it to be a surprise, so that is why I waited until now to post the random act.  It has nothing to do with the fact that Daddy had a busy day at work and was stressed because he couldn't find a free couple of minutes to post the act.  So today, for Daddy's my random act of kindness, I welcomed home Mommy with flowers and a home cooked meal.  When she saw me, I think she almost started crying.  I did too, but it was because I had a wet diaper that Daddy hadn't changed for over 2 hours.  I love doing random acts for my Mommy, but if it means that she has to be away from me for 3 days, then I never want to do one again!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 180: Passed Out Water Bottles

If you live in Chicago, stay inside!!  It is already incredibly hot outside, and is only going to get hotter.  Forecasts have the city getting above 100 degrees without even including the humidity.  Needless to say, it is going to be gross.  I don't have the luxury of staying inside because I have a number of appointments around the city today.  Doctors of Chicago can look forward to me showing up in their offices looking like Patrick Ewing after running a marathon.  Luckily, I have the benefit of spending time in air conditioned doctor's offices, as well as my car, where I will keep the A/C cranked to 11.  There are a whole lot of people who don't have that option, however.  Construction workers, traffic cops, the homeless, and others will be stuck outside in this oppressive heat in need of some sort of cool down.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I went and bought a case of water bottles, and I will be passing it out to those I see struggling with the heat during the course of my day.  Now I am off to line my suit with Gold Bond and ice packs.  Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 179: Ate A Frozen Dinner

My wife left town this morning to head to California for few days to hang with her family.  Between now and Friday, Isla and I will be left to fend for ourselves in an effort to prove that we can survive without Lindsey/Mommy.  Before leaving, Lindsey prepared a bunch of food for Isla, so that will make feeding her easy.  I, on the other hand, am not the most adept person in terms of getting myself fed.  This isn't to say that I am starving by any means, but usually when my wife is out of town, I order a pizza and eat it for 3 days rather than cook for myself.  This time, however, I am going to bypass the pizza in order to (easily) feed myself while performing a random act of kindness.

It is estimated that over 684,000 children in my home state of Illinois are facing hunger.  That is nearly 20% of children between the ages of 0-18 that at some point in their lives face being hungry.  ConAgra Foods is looking to change that.  They have partnered with Feeding America in an effort to donate 3,000,000 meals to America's food banks.  By purchasing a ConAgra product (Chef Boyardee, Manwich, Banquet, etc.) and entering the code listed on the packaging, ConAgra will donate a meal on your behalf to a local food bank in your area.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will be purchasing a frozen Banquet dinner for myself and thus donating a meal to a food bank.  If you purchase any of the ConAgra Foods products, or have any in your pantry/refrigerator, I encourage you to find the codes and enter them.  It will only take a few seconds, and you will be helping to end hunger near your home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 178: Bought Tickets For The Cure

Yesterday was a blast being able to pass out lottery tickets.  People were so surprised when we presented them with their lottery tickets.  We didn't hang around to see if anyone won (we thought it was more fun that way), but I am hoping some people brought home some winners.  While picking out tickets we noticed one that had a pink ribbon on it.  Upon further inspection, we saw that the lottery ticket was called "Carolyn Adams' Ticket For A Cure."  The fine print showed that 100% of the net proceeds go to finding a cure for breast cancer.  At that point I decided, as redundant as it may seem, I am going to do another lottery ticket random act around these tickets.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to buy tickets for the cure.  The money I spend on these tickets will automatically go towards breast cancer, but I am making the promise that, no matter how much the amount is, I will donate any winnings to breast cancer research.  If you are a fan of scratch off tickets, and don't really mind which one you play, I suggest that you play these ones.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 177: Passed Out Lotto Tickets

Every year for Christmas since I turned 18, my mom has put scratch off lottery tickets in my stocking.  Every year it turns into a competition between my sister, step-sister, Lindsey and I of who can win the most on those scratch offs.  We really have no control over who will win the most, but it is fun to be able to brag that you did.

While cleaning up around the house yesterday, my wife discovered a pile of winning scratch off lottery tickets that we hadn't turned in for one reason or another (I am guessing that reason was that I misplaced the tickets).  At first we were going to just turn in the tickets for the money (roughly $35), but decided since it was surprise money, we were going to use the winning tickets to purchase new tickets and use them for a random act.  So today, for my random act of kindness, my wife and I will be passing out these tickets randomly throughout the course of our day.  Great customer service at the coffee shop? Free ticket.  Crossing guard helping kids across the street?  Free ticket.  If we see someone performing their own random act? Free ticket.  Today will be a ton of fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 176: Welcomed A Refugee Family

I am sitting in the airport getting ready to board a plane home to Chicago to see my wife and daughter.  It has been a blast getting the opportunity to once again spend time in New York City.  Although I already knew it, this trip really opened my eyes to what New York is: one of the world's biggest melting pots.  A place where you can hear over 800 different languages and, if you spent the time, could meet someone from every country on the planet.  People from around the world have come to New York City to start their life anew, and hope to prosper from the American Dream.  So many, however, have come to New York City, as well as many other cities throughout America, to free themselves from persecution, war, and terror.  These refugees want nothing more for themselves and their families than to live a life of safety and happiness while attaining a peace of mind they couldn't achieve in their homeland.  Recently, World Refugee Day was celebrated across the globe in order to raise awareness from the issues plaguing refugees (and potential refugees) throughout the world.  The on-going theme for World Refugee Day is to "Do One Thing."  One thing to help welcome refugee families to your community to help them escape from the terrible situations that they are coming from.  A group in Chicago, RefugeeOne, has made it their mission to help resettle refugees and, through different programs, help each refugee to become "an independent, self-supporting member of the new community as soon as possible."  To celebrate this year's World Refugee Day, RefugeeOne is holding a drive in order to collect household goods needed to establish a home for 10 families.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am helping to welcome a family by donating a set of mixing bowls to their home.  Since I couldn't be at the drive in person, I utilized RefugeeOne's donation portal to make my donation.  I have to wrap up now because they are calling for my boarding group.  Lindsey and Isla, I will be home very soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 175: Rescued Some Mermaids

I met with my friend Pat today while in New York. Pat, myself and a group of friends took the F Train to Coney Island for something called Mermaid Parade. I wasn't exactly sure what the Mermaid Parade entailed. I soon realized it was a hybrid of a carnival and a Finding Nemo costume party. Everyone was dressed as either a pirate, a crab or a mermaid. I'm not sure if anyone has ever seen someone trying to walk while wearing a mermaid costume but it seems very difficult. Even more difficult? Trying to get up from the ground while wearing said mermaid costume. So today, for my random act of kindness, I "rescued" some mermaids before they got trampled by the parade. I use "rescue" very lightly because all I really did was help them up prior to a group of people running them over. I hadnt intended on this being my random act of kindness for today, and really wasn't even going to blog about it until one of them remarked "wow, that's so kind of you." So a weird day was capped off by a weird random act.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 174: Made Elephant Sounds

The elephant version of Isla and I

I am in New York City once again for work which means my wife is home with our daughter.  I miss them so much that it drives me crazy.  I was in ZocDoc meetings all day, and when they ended, I couldn't wait to call and talk to my girls.  I know it has to be tough on my wife to be with the baby all by herself, especially around this time because it is Isla's "witching hour."  She is an overall happy baby, but when bed time starts to roll around, she gets kinda fussy.  I figured I would give my wife a little respite from the crying and distract Isla over the phone.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I made elephant sounds over the phone to my daughter to make her laugh for a little while.  It may not seem like a big deal, but I am sure the parents reading know how even a precious few minutes free from a crying baby is huge.  Besides, as the quote on the 366 Random Acts Facebook page reads, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 173: Downloaded A Song

Avery Canahuati accomplished a whole lot in a short amount of time on Earth.  Shortly after she was born on 11/11/11, she was diagnosed with Spinal muscular atrophy (or SMA), and was given only 18 months to live.  After receiving this diagnosis, Avery's parents decided that in the time they had left with Avery, they would compile a bucket list of things for her to do that she may not get the opportunity to do in the future.  Things like getting her driver's license (and driving a car), throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, have her first kiss, and have a birthday party.  Avery was able to do so many of these things before, sadly, she passed away on April 30.  Now that I think about it, I shouldn't have spoken in the past tense about Avery's accomplishments because she continues to cross things off of her bucket list even today. 

Recently, recording artist Randy McLellan helped with a couple of items on Avery's list.  Avery had hoped to have someone write a song about her and record it, and that is exactly what Randy did.  "Avery's Song" is currently available to download for 99 cents on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.  Half of each purchase goes toward crossing off another one of Avery's bucket list items: raising 1 million dollars for SMA research.  There is still no known cure for SMA, but it affects 1 in every 6000-10000 births.  I'm sure most of you, like me, had never heard of SMA prior to reading this blogpost (or previously reading about Avery), so any money towards research is huge.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I downloaded "Avery's Song" to help contribute to raise awareness and funds towards fighting SMA. 

This random act is very emotional for me because of my relationship with my daughter.  It has been hard for me to read and write about Avery without crying because it pains me to think of having to endure what Avery's parents had to endure.  I cannot imagine what The Canahuatis (or anyone who has lost a child) are going through.  To everyone out there with a child (or any loved one for that matter), take advantage of every opportunity that you have with them.  Don't let any petty crap get in the way of appreciating the time you have with the ones you love.  Kiss them, hug them, tell them you love them.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 172: Tried To Help A Couple Win A Dream Wedding

Lindsey and I have been invited to 18 weddings this year.  Very few of them have been in Chicago, so needless to say, we have done a lot of traveling.  If the timing works out and it is logistically possible, I try to make it to everyone's wedding.  I do this because I love weddings, but also that if someone invited me to be a part of their special day, I should attend.  Our wedding was so much fun because so many friends and family members made the trip to Capitola, California from all across the country to spend the day with us.  I couldn't imagine my wedding without all of the people that attended because they made it the unbelievable and fun day that it was.  That brings me to today's random act.

The other day, I received a message from a woman named Stevie.  Stevie told me that her sister and future brother-in-law were entered into a contest to win the Pensacola Blockparty Wedding in Pensacola, Florida.  The PBW is a dream wedding put on for free by the many different sponsors of the contest, and also allows for family and friends to attend.  The reason Stevie asked me to promote and vote for her sister is because due to her fiance being from England, if they don't win this contest, most of his friends and family wouldn't be able to attend.  As I said earlier, I couldn't imagine my wedding without my friends and family, so today, for my random act of kindness, I am voting for Rebekah Griffith and Thomas Muldowney to win the PBW contest and ask that you do the same.  Just think about how great you could make one of the most important days in this couple's life.  Man, I am sap for weddings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 171: Voted for Pastor Corey Brooks

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned Pastor Corey Brooks and his walk across America to end violence.  This isn't the first (or last) time that Pastor Brooks is doing something out of the ordinary to bring awareness and change to not just Chicago, but the entire country.  From late November 2011 to late February 2012, Pastor Brooks lived on top of the roof of an abandoned motel on Chicago's South Side.  The motel was a place that fostered crime in the area, and his goal was to stay on the roof until he had raised enough money to demolish it.  Thanks to a generous donation from Tyler Perry (as well as countless others), Pastor Brooks achieved that goal.  Now, he is walking from New York to Los Angeles to raise awareness for gun violence and to raise money to build a community center where the motel once stood.  He is a tremendous community leader, and someone that should be recognized as such.  Luckily, he was recently announced as a finalist for Steve Harvey's Hoodie Awards for the nation's Best Community Leader.  Because I feel so strongly about the change that he is making, today for my random act of kindness, I voted for Pastor Brooks to win the award.  I ask that you please jump over to the website to vote for him as it won't take longer than 30 seconds.  A lot of good will come from a victory for Pastor Brooks, I am sure of it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 170: Lit A Candle

Another weekend in Chicago.  Another weekend of needless shooting injuries and deaths.  It is completely insane how many people continue to be shot on a daily basis here in this city.  Over the weekend, 3 people were shot just blocks away from our house adding to the total of 8 dead and 54 either stabbed or shot from Friday to Sunday.  I love Chicago so much, but I honestly can't continue to live here if it is going to continue to be a war zone.  It really isn't cool being from the murder capital of the United States.  Although Chicago has the most shooting deaths in the country, I realize that this epidemic isn't isolated to here.  There are great people bringing awareness to how insane it is getting in this country such as Pastor Corey Brooks who continues his march across the United States, and Heather Berry who has put together National Light A Candle In Your Driveway Day as a way to remember those slain due to gun violence, specifically her grandson, Emanuel David Berry and his friend Angelica Escalante.  Berry and Escalante were simply standing in a driveway in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles when a random drive-by shooting occurred, taking both of their lives.  So tonight, for my random act of kindness, I will join Heather and others around the country by lighting a candle in front of my home to remember those who have been slain by gun violence.  I ask that if you have the time, please join us at 10PM local time and post pictures in the comments section or on the 366 Random Acts Facebook page.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 169: Made A Shirt

Before getting into my random act, I need to mention that today is a really bittersweet day.  Although it is my first Father's Day, it is also the first Father's Day for my wife without her dad.  It is important that we use today not as another day of grieving, but as a day to remember just how tremendous of a father, father-in-law, and grandfather he was.  We love and miss him a ton, and I will be sure to continue to do what it takes to be every bit as great a father as he was to Lindsey and her brothers.  Now on to today's act.

Wow.  My first Father's Day.  This is kind of weird.  Never in a million years could I have dreamed of having such a wonderful wife and beautiful, smiling little girl.  I am so happy and blessed to have them in my life.  Another person I am very blessed to have in my life is my step-dad, Kevin.  Kevin is an incredible man who has made my mom such an unbelievably happy person.  He is someone that I really look up to and admire for his caring personality, his selfless attitude, and how hard he has worked in his life.  I don't think I have taken the opportunity to thank him for all he has done for not just me, but for my sister, mom, wife and daughter.  But if I can make one thing perfectly clear, it is that I love him and thank him so much.  Seeing my daughter with her "Papa" is very heartwarming.  He melts when she is around and Papa's girl has her run of the house when she is there.  For Father's Day, I decided to do something so that Kevin could always have a constant reminder of Papa's girl.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I made a t-shirt with the above picture on it for him.  I am sure he will proudly wear it to work, Taste of Italy, Cabela's and on his fishing trips. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 168: Ironed My Friends' Clothes

We are back in Bloomington, Indiana for the wedding of our friends, Ian and Allison. We are only a couple hours from the wedding and are spending the in-between time at my favorite bar on Earth, Kilroys. On our way to Kilroys, my friend Brian jokingly suggested that I iron his clothes for the wedding for my random act today. Not one to turn down random act ideas, I took him up on his offer. So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to be ironing both Brian's and my other friend Andrew's clothes. Now back to a couple afternoon cocktails with my friends.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 167: Bought Some Gummi Bears

I try to use this forum to give a look into my life as much as possible (although I still am not sure why anyone is particularly interested). I guess a blog that started based off of my relationship with my daughter would be inherently personal, but I try to make a conscious effort to let everyone into my world without turning this blog into the online version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I thjnk I have made it pretty clear how much I love my Chicago sports teams, but I have not until now shared my relationship with a certain team from Chicago. A team that I love so much that I consider them a family member. That team is the Chicago Bears. I am going to allow Isla to be as independent and free-thinking as she wants to be as she grows up, but she will be forced to be a fan of the Chicago Bears (This is not a joke.  She is forced)...

...I just stopped writing this post for about 10 minutes so that I could go read Bears news because I got so excited.

Before I completely lose my train of thought I need to explain why I brought the Bears up in the first place. For the past 9 seasons, the Chicago Bears have had one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL patrolling the defensive backfield. However, for as many great things as Charles "Peanut" Tillman does on the field, he does so many more off. Through his Cornerstone Foundation, Peanut has spent the past 7 years "helping chronically and critically ill children by providing them and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems, and other electronic handheld games, to pass the time during recovery and treatment." Recently, the Chicago candy store, Candyality, started selling blue and orange Bear Down Gummi Bears with a portion of each purchase going towards the Cornerstone Foundation. So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought some Bear Down Gummi Bears for my wife.  I know I mentioned forcing my daughter to become a Bears fan, but with inspiring leaders such as Charles Tillman on the team, I don't think it will be that difficult to convince her (Unless we lose to the Vikings this year.)  While we are on the topic of sharing information, this is a good time to mention that my wife has an insatiable sweet tooth. If she could move into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, she would force me and Isla to move their with her.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 166: Gave A Sympathy Card

When I started typing this I realized what day it was.  Day 166.  Only 200 days left in my mission.  That is crazy to me because it is a steamy mid-June day and I remember it being freezing cold out while I was hugging people on State St. in downtown Chicago.  This experience has been insane so far, and the people I have gotten to meet as a result of it have been inspirational and life-changing.  So many of these people have left an indelible mark on my life and my family's life that I will forever hold them in my memories.  Memories are such an important thing because you never know when the last time you speak to someone will be.  That kind of brings me to my random act today.  Yesterday, our incredible nanny, Kelli, lost her uncle.  To be honest, I wouldn't have objected (and should have offered) had she taken today and tomorrow off, but she committed to watching the baby.  Although it is just a small gesture, today, for my random act of kindness, I gave Kelli a sympathy card from Lindsey, Isla and myself.   Our family has recently experienced the loss of a loved one, and without the caring gestures by those around us, we wouldn't have been able to get through it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 165: Paid For A Stranger's Gas

Yesterday, I had a great time at the Cook Public Library speaking to the audience and participating in the different random act stations that they had set up afterwards.  I was able to meet so many great people and got some awesome suggestions for future random acts.  When I was first contacted by Ellen Bassett from Cook, she asked how much I charged for appearances, etc.  First and foremost, I told her that as part of my journey, I am not able to benefit financially from any of my random acts, and so I wouldn't charge.  Secondly, it was enough of an honor to be asked to speak to people that I wouldn't even thinking about charging anyway.  After the event, Ellen gave me an envelope with some money for gas.  Even though it was such a thoughtful gesture, in accordance with my "rules" I couldn't accept the money.  I could however, use the money for one of my future random acts.  I decided to do that sooner rather than later.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I stopped at a gas station and offered to pay for a stranger's gas.  At first, he was reluctant and thought I wanted something, but when I explained to him my random acts, he more than happily obliged.  I guess I can't take full credit for this random act because it all started with Ellen's kindness.  So thank you Ellen!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 164: Kicked Off Summer Reading Club

A couple of months ago, I was invited by a woman, Ellen Bassett, to speak at a kickoff event for her library's summer reading club.  Although I wasn't sure exactly what I would speak about, I happily obliged due to the fact that Ellen was planning on having the group perform random acts of kindness afterwards.  She is setting up "Random Act of Kindness "stations where attendees will plant a flower to deliver to someone, make greeting cards for someone, write letters to soldiers, and make PB&Js that will be delivered to the local homeless shelter.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will help kick off the summer reading program for the Cook Memorial Public Library District. The program that Ellen is putting together this summer is tremendous because she is making reading a really fun activity for children and adults alike.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to my wife and I that Isla enjoys reading, and how important we feel it is to her educational development.  Getting her involved in programs such as this, along with reading with her every night, will help to show that importance.  If you are in the northern suburbs, please join us tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 163: Gave Some Advice to a Co-Worker

Recently, I referred the relative of a friend into my company, ZocDoc, and she was hired to our team here in Chicago.  Today was the first day I was in town since she has been in the field, so to start the day off I thought I would give her a call to chat.  She had some questions for me and asked if there was any advice or tips that I could give her to help her succeed in the field.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave her a few pieces of advice that I thought would be able to help her in the field.  I'm not one (and neither are the others in my company) that keeps successful practices for themselves, as I like to see everyone around me shine in their roles.  She is going to do tremendously, and in a matter of time she will be killing it like everyone else in my company. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 162: Shared A Drink With A Veteran

We have finally arrived back home in Chicago after a travel day full of hiccups. We had to deplane our first flight out of San Jose due to equipment failure, and by the time we arrived in LA for our connection, our flight had already boarded. This meant that Lindsey, Isla and I couldn't all sit together. After some seat rearranging by the crew, Isla and I plunked down in the last row of the plane. When we got settled, Isla was entertained by the gentleman that was in the aisle seat of our row. I got to chatting with the gentleman, Larry, and found out that he was a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. He told me the story of how he left his job on the south side of Chicago as a 19 year old, and traveled the world with the Air Force. I decided that since I'd be traveling all day, this was a great time to perform today's act. So today, for my random act of kindness I bought Larry a beer and shared a conversation with him. Before we got off the flight, I thanked him for his service and wished him well on his trip.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 161: Delivered Breakfast to the Bride to Be

 The Married Couple-To-Be

The wedding day has finally arrived here in Monterey.  In a few short hours, Taylor and Greg will be saying their "I Do's" and I will proceed to set the dance floor on fire with moves ranging from the Tango to the Dougie.  Whenever I attend a wedding, it always makes me reminisce about my own wedding day.  During the morning, as my wife and her bridesmaids were being delivered a wonderful assortment of croissants, fruit, and mimosas, my groomsmen and I were playing beer pong and cranking Kanye West and AC/DC to get pumped for the wedding.  My friends did a great job of relaxing me and eliminating any last minute jitters I was having (although I would be remiss not to attribute some of my relaxation to the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch).  As I was trying to figure out what to do for today's random act, I kept thinking back to that day, and how my wife (who I thought would be a stress case) was pretty chill thanks to those around her doing things for her; the aforementioned breakfast being one of them.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I "catered" breakfast for Taylor and her bridesmaids as she got ready for her big day.  Now if I could just get them to start playing some Kanye, I know I will have done my job.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 160: Ate Clam Chowder

Before meeting my wife, my diet consisted of meat, potatoes, fast food, and more meat.  I have always had a very limited palate. Up until the age of 20, I never ate anything green.  This is not a joke.  Any green food made me gag, and I always felt like it tasted terrible.  Somehow now, surprisingly, spinach is one of my favorite foods.   I have really broadened my horizons when it comes to food, but one thing that I am still not a fan of is seafood.  I've had shrimp, calamari, and lobster risotto, but other than that, my seafood experience is very limited, which annoys my wife a ton.  Growing up near Santa Cruz, my wife has always been in love with seafood, especially clam chowder, and always chastises me for not ever trying it.  After going back and forth for about a half an hour trying to get out of trying it, my wife pulled the trump card on me and asked if I would try clam chowder as a random act of kindness to her.  She said it is very important to her and that it totally qualified as a random act.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I tried clam chowder.  It wasn't the worst thing on Earth, but I sure am not a fan of the consistency of the clams.  It felt like I was chewing on erasers.  Either way, I did the random act for her and she can't hold the fact that I haven't tried clam chowder against me any longer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 159: Donated to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

We are coming to you live from Monterey, California.  The weather here is perfect.  So perfect that Isla might be taking her first ever dip into the Pacific Ocean if the water isn't too cold.  It is the wedding weekend for Lindsey's cousin, Taylor and her husband to be, Greg, and as a lover of weddings, I am really looking forward to it.  While Lindsey will be joining Taylor for a bachelorette party today/this evening, Isla and I will be taking a trip to the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The Aquarium is incredible, and it will be the first time Isla gets to see great white sharks, seahorses and sea otters.  Whenever I travel this year, I try to make it a point to perform random acts that are local to the area I am located.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will be making a donation to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the name of Taylor and Greg.  Their names will be listed in the Shorelines magazine for Monterey Bay Aquarium members wishing them a "Happy Wedding!"  Now, off to the aquarium with Bean so that she can sea some animals.   

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 158: Gave Away My Lunch

My job at ZocDoc requires me to meet with different doctors all throughout Chicago.  As I drive around, I am always saddened by the fact that I see so many homeless people waiting on the on ramps asking for food and money.  As much as I would like to, I can't afford to give money to each one, and I feel super guilty at the fact that I have given to others but not these specific people.  It sucks actually that I can't but I try to find different ways to at least give them something small or wish them well.  During my driving today, I encountered a man on the side of the road that read "I'll Take A Smile And/Or A Meal."  Well, today, for my random act of kindness, he received both.  I could stand to miss a meal or two on my mission to lose weight and get in shape, so I gave the man my lunch for today.  Now, I am off to California where more random acts await!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 157: Brought A Thank You Pie

My family is traveling to Monterey, California this weekend for the wedding of one of my wife's cousins.  I am looking forward to basking in the sun for a few days on the beach with Isla while my wife does her duties as a bridesmaid.  When we get back, I know I have a lifetime couple of weeks worth of my wife bugging me about us moving back to California, but other than that, it should be a nice relaxing trip.  Although our cat, Karen, can fend for herself with just a little attention and monitoring by our friend, our dog, Vinny, isn't as self-sufficient.  This evening, I will be bringing that handsome little guy down to my parent's house where he will have his own relaxing weekend, free from Isla's ear pulls or the cat attempting to ride him like a rodeo horse.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will be thanking them for watching my dog with a delicious Chocolate Chess pie from Hoosier Mama Pie Company here in Chicago.  366 Random Acts is ad free, but I must say that if you get the chance to go to Hoosier Mama or order one online, you will not be disappointed.  In all honesty, my random act may turn into bringing only a partial pie to their house.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 156: Fruit for All

Finding free ways to give to others is very important to me.  For one, having 366 Random Acts to complete would make me go broke if I had to pay for them every day.  On top of that, and more importantly, it allows more people the opportunity to take a few minutes out of their day to help spread kindness with me at no cost at all.  I recently received an email from a reader that described one of these ways.

Thanks in part to the hard work and mastery of the baby food maker, my wife has my daughter eating organic, healthy foods on a daily basis (in all honesty, the child eats about 407% healthier than I do).  It is very important to us that she maintains this because we want her to live a very long and healthy life.  I learned of a term recently that I hadn't heard of before: food insecurity.  Food insecurity means that there is a lack of access to enough nutritionally adequate foods for a healthy, active life.  It is estimated that 1 in 5 children (or 16 million American kids) are currently considered "food insecure."  This is an astounding number, and it is a problem that can lead to everything from hunger to diabetes to childhood obesity.   As I mentioned earlier, I received an email from a reader about a program looking to battle food insecurity here in the states.  Juicy Juice has teamed up with Feeding America to start their Fruit for All Project.  The project's goal is to provide 35 million pieces of fruit to children and families in need so that children can get the necessary amount of fruit in their diets.  Each week they are offering a challenge on their website which allows users to complete one of the challenges that they have put forth.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I completed the first of these challenges, a pop quiz, and donated fruit.  I will keep coming back each week to complete these challenges and donate as much fruit as possible!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 155: Gave Money to a Street Performer

Today was an important day in my daughter's life.  Today was the day that I took her to see her favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, for the first time.  I've been looking forward to this since the day she was born, and it will be the first of many ball games that we take in together.  In 30 years I have never made it on the big screen at any sporting event.  It took Isla 3 innings.  While not starring on the Jumbotron or reaching for Mommy and Daddy's Polish Sausages smothered in mustard and onions, she seemed to really concentrate and enjoy the game.  Another thing that Isla was able to experience was the many street performers that surround the stadium on a gameday.  There were the trombone and trumpet quartet, the harmonica player, and Isla's favorite, the bucket drummers.  As they played those buckets like drums, she started dancing like crazy.  So today, for our random act of kindness, Isla and I gave money to the street performers for entertaining her for a few minutes.  The White Sox won the game (they've been doing that a lot these days seeing as how they are in first place), so outside of the overabundance of smelly guys rocking sleeveless shirts, it was an overall great day. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 154: Wrote to a Prisoner

As I have gotten older, I have gotten a little more forgiving.  When I was young, if someone wronged me or my loved ones, I wrote them off as a person I wouldn't talk to ever again.  As years passed, I have begun to soften my stance and believe that most people deserve a second chance.  To be honest, I wouldn't be married to a beautiful wife and have a gorgeous daughter if my wife didn't give me a second opportunity to make a first impression. With the idea of second chances in mind, for today's random act of kindness, I wrote a letter to a prisoner offering words of encouragement and positivity so that they could move forward in the right direction.  I found a website called Write A Prisoner that allows you to search for incarcerated individuals throughout the country, read about them in their profile, and send them a letter or email should you choose.  I know it may not be for everyone, and everyone may not agree with this, but I have said from the beginning that no one is below receiving an act of kindness.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 153: Catching Kindness

My wife has been my #1 supporter of my random acts since Day 1.  She has helped me plan, helped me see the random acts through, and been a cheerleader for me at times.  Recently, she came up with an idea to get her students involved in 366 Random Acts in an effort to get them to spread kindness and to treat others with respect.  So we sat down and were throwing out all kinds of ideas as to what we could do to get the children involved.  My wife came up with the idea for a contest called Catching Kindness.  Each student would make their own baseball mitt and each time they performed a random act of kindness, they would get a tally (ball) in the mitt.  For each tally that the students received, they would get a raffle ticket entered into the jar.  From what I hear, there are a ton of entries into the contest. So today, for OUR random act of kindness, my wife is conducting the raffle and I will deliver the prize at the end of the day.  The students don't know it yet, but the winner is going to have their choice of going to either a White Sox or Cubs game as the prize to keep with the baseball theme (hopefully the winner is wise and chooses the Sox).