Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Mudula Water – What it’s about and why we need you

“Mudula Mamas”, three mothers of children born in Mudula, Ethiopia, have come together from different states to compete as one relay team in the Toyota US Open Triathlon and Janus Charity Challenge. These 3 friends are fundraising for “Mudula Water,” a large water project that will bring potable water to over 10,000 people in this rural village of southern Ethiopia. While they are training hard for their event, ever present is the knowledge that women and girls are carrying over 40lb jugs of dirty water for hours each and every day in the drought stricken area of Mudula. Not only does this water make them sick, time spent collecting the water keeps girls from going to school and women from attending to children, managing the farm and running small businesses.

The Mudula Water project will deliver clean, accessible water by a
gravity flow water system with over 10 miles of hand-laid piping to feed 8
separate public water taps. The project ensures individuals will be healthier,
girls will be able to stay in school, and women will have time to invest in
their families and communities. This project represents life.

The “Mudula Mamas” are racing the clock – their competition in the
Janus Charity Challenge ends on Saturday morning, October 1. The triathlon where my friends will swim, bike, and run is on Sunday, October 2. The mamas will race hard AND will be racing other charity competitors for the win for the people of Mudula.  The competition is tough for the first place $8000 charity award.  The Mudula Mamas need to earn that award for the families surrounding Mudula.

Please give them your financial support before time runs out!

Help these women race for water. Help these women race for life.

To learn more about Mudula Water: .

I am personally donating $1 for every person who ‘like’s the Mudula Water page on Facebook. The donation runs through Friday, September 30. You can do something right now – find that page. If you want to double your dollar donation without getting out of your chair or opening your wallet, like Hope by twelve  page Facebook. The founder of Hope by twelve has announced the same challenge.

My wise husband always tells me, ‘you get to make the offer – you don’t get to choose who takes you up on it.’

Take me up on it. Please.


Tri-ing times 3, that is. It’s the season of triathlons and I am HARD at work. NO! I’m not doing 3 triathlons, but I am advocating for 3 important charities through the Janus Charity Challenge. As the weeks advance, there are days I wonder if I might switch places and trade the fundraising for the physical task of a Tri. No. Scratch that.I’m still in the thick of training for my little bitty 5K through the couch to 5K program. My legs ache as I type this from week 7 day 2! Yeah, NO tri for me.

The first Tri has come and gone – and we have results. Fairy Godmother and I organized our 4th annual Team Plumpy’Nut for Doctors Without Borders Fundraiser (see here, here, and here for 1, 2, and 3). The Janus Charity Challenge  ‘switched teams’ and relocated their resources with the Lifetime/Toyota Triathlon series. Thus, our favorite local venue, the Wisconsin Ironman, was replaced by our neighboring state’s Lifetime Chicago Triathlon. Not intimidated, Fairy Godmother  and I recruited a lovely local man who was using the Chicago Triathlon as his ‘taper’ for the fabulous Wisconsin Ironman. His TAPER! We raised over $14,000 for Doctors Without Borders – feeding over 466 kids in the Horn of Africa. We are THRILLED with our result of FOURTH PLACE and a $500 additional cash award for Doctors Without Borders.  We were beat by competitors who had triple digit fundraising totals – we could not be prouder of our grassroots effort to bring compassionate care and nourishment to our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa. It was a WIN for our Team Plumpy’Nut. I celebrated with Mr. SillyPants and Blueberry by camping out in Lot 60 during the Ironman WI event. Fairy Godmother worked “officially” for the Ironman – supporting athletes as they ran through our beloved Camp Randall on the last 8 mile leg of the entire venue. Our fabulous athlete wore his MSF jersey during the bike and ran past me in his bright yellow running shirt. We held hands, exchanged smiles, and our family cheered for his big heart and a strong finish. That run is grueling. The whole dang Ironman is grueling.

During training Philip asked me about rules for finishing the Tri in Chicago. He said, “if mother’s in East Africa are carrying their dying children for months in search of food and help, I can crawl on my hands and knees to the finish line.” I was moved by his spirit and his determination for solidarity with the families stricken by one of the worst famines of our time. Thank you to Philip for his courage and determination. YOU are a WINNER.

Just for kicks, here is an image of Blueberry’s FIRST Ironbaby campaign. It’s fair to say, you’ve come a LONG WAY BABY! We are looking forward to our 5th annual campaign next year!

Of course, I never argue with a good idea, and I’ve been working on bringing some other stellar nonprofits to the Janus Charity Challenge at other venues. Enter Mudula Water Project and the Mudula Mamas. 3 amazing women are traveling to Dallas from across the US to join together for one cause – WATER. I am so excited about this Tri team and their dedication to bring water to over 10,000 people in Ethiopia. Each woman will do one leg of the race – my small part is simply that I’ve joined their effort by bringing them into the Janus Charity Challenge. This is an event WE NEED to dominate (please help!).  2 weeks until the race – so don’t delay!

The piece that makes me wildly giddy is that shortly after this event I’ll be heading to ETHIOPIA with the Mudula Water Team. How cool would it be to have fundraised nearly all of our funds? Hmmmm? No amount of donation is too small. And, for those of you who can make a larger donation, please do. I promise the BEST PICTURES EVER of Mudula Ethiopia and nearby communities that will have access to the water from this gravity well. Plus, I really want to see THIS TREE and know I’ve had a small part in changing the lives of these kids. The Janus Charity Challenge in Dallas is a deal maker for me. I brought this team together with the hope that we’ll rock the charity win  – we need your help to do this.

Last, but by no means least, Los Angeles is hosting an AHOPE for Children athlete at the LA Triathlon on September 25th. Y’all know how much I LOVE AHOPE for Children. Nick is bringin’ that love to the water, bike, and pavement when he Tri’s for AHOPE.  I blogged about all the reasons I love this non-profit and THEN I went ahead and accepted a seat on their Board. Yep. I did. I’m helping connect families with AHOPE and AHOPE with families. Be my connecting families, ok? Help us put the programs in place that AHOPE knows bring kids into better health and bigger hope. And remember how I said I’m traveling to Mudula? Well, I’ll be visiting AHOPE Ethiopia too. I am SO EXCITED to be there, back in the orphanage that received a donation that Waffles so carefully prepared when we traveled to Ethiopia to become Blue’s family. We had 5 travelers, which meant 5 personal bags and 5 bags full of donations.   This photo is circa 2008 —-> Blast from the past – it’s funny how the past becomes my present in my ‘becoming.’

Whew! 3 athletes and 3 venues. There are 2 remaining in which you can make a difference and help us win charity purse $!!!!! Mr. Sillypants, who is wise, has said to me, “Ms. Plum, it’s your job to make the offer, but you don’t get to decide who takes you up on the offer.” I know he’s right, but I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME UP ON THIS OFFER!  I do. It’s personal. I’m petty like that.

Make sure you get it done before the deadlines:  AHOPE before September 24th. Mudula Water before Oct 1.               Amaseganalou.

WW – stride

On becoming…

If you know me, you know I’m engaged in a life long process of ‘becoming.’  I guess that’s not interesting news – you’re all on the path too. One big piece of my personal work has involved crafting a life that makes sense; deliberate and purposeful integration  of my life occupies a lot of my brain space (and I don’t have that much!).   I am sometimes woefully short of my goals – or find that my goals don’t make sense when bundled together – or discover that I’m simply grabbing something that really isn’t hitched to my heart and soul.

The offers for ‘becoming’ stalk the landscape of my days; different schooling, try yoga, be a vegetarian, sell my belongings and simplify, activate as an activist, grow vegetables, weed my garden, spend more time with my kids, learn how to run a non-profit, read more and read better, write a new high school human rights curriculum, run or bike daily, bird in solitude, travel more, strike inertia with a hot poker…or simply, take the dog for a walk! Gads. I search constantly for feeling content, feeling fulfilled, feeling complete. I’m grateful for my full cup of mothering – for a perfectly imperfect family – for the spaces of deliberation and the means to tackle opportunities OR create them. I have that piece pretty well managed, but it doesn’t complete ME. Family *is* the one thing that feels like my forever sweetness, but I still have this nagging nagging nagging empty space. What the heck is it?

<I feel self absorbed putting this into words, but here it is, ugly with whiney privilege>

I sit here with 2 days a week that are unencumbered and with personal and familial permission to attend to my ‘becoming’. I’m a bit paralyzed. I’m on family leave this year from teaching high school. I had hoped to teach part time, but when that didn’t work out with my school, I asked for family leave to tend to the continuing attachment work that is important for sweet Blue (and oh my gosh we’re having really great days!). Yet,  I’m not sure how to proceed on the 2 days that Blueberry is in morning preschool  followed by afternoon play-time with his little Ethiopian pals. Truly. 2 days. Holy cow I’m woefully unprepared for this. I don’t remember how to pay attention to myself (did I ever? I mean, in a positive way?) without oodles of background noise and demands.  AND I don’t know how to attend to my ‘becoming’ in such open space.  “Pick me, Pick me!” yell my competing interests (some of them not interesting at all, like the laundry!) I fear I will wallow in indecision and spend it doing the oh so uninteresting laundry and cleaning up of  chaos that is always  sometimes our home. Staying in the comfort of ‘mindless doing’ is my specialty – –

Yeah, so I had better get my head around what’s next….because this really could be exciting. And I need to do it – just do it – without apology or excuse. I just have to give myself over to “it”, to the ‘becoming’.  How to do that…how to do that….and how to figure out what the heck it is!

Pure Puddin’ OR Our Version of the Swiss Family Robinson

Waffles was home from CSU for a quick (very quick) home visit this weekend. We managed a family pic (300 or so, see last post) with a reluctant Blueberry. The biggies, it is clear, are photo glamorous. But Waffles, jeeesh. He has NO business being so stinkin’ cute at 18 years old. And all you folks, worried about having beastly adolescent boys…think again. Waffles is (and has always been) pure puddin’. You need proofi? I’m putting a FB conversation out for the world to witness. Sorry Waffles, there is no hiding your silly charm.

Me:  Ghandigirl <Waffles’ girlfriend>, I’m just gonna say, Waffles is looking way too cute for words. Something about the way he’s hangin’ on the fort – it’s just super “Waffles”

Gandhigirl: Can I like that comment x1,000,000,000? Agreeeeed!

Waffles:  Ohh thanks Mom (: you’re lookin adorable yourself, and Gandhigirl, you were looken good with the camera, in fact we’re are just a good lookin group of people (:

Me:  Waffles, there are so many reasons I love you – and this is just announcing why to the whole wide world!

Surprise weekend: All the Biggies are Home…

This hasn’t happened since before June 1 around here. QUICK – take a picture!  (Or take 300 and hope that in one of them all of you are sort of looking like the perfectly imperfect family that you are – Blueberry is NOT a fan of the paprazzi).

*you guessed it – it’s PPR time*

I cannot help but share that looking through 300+ images of our family created such a sweet sense of our perfectly imperfect crew. Lucky.Lucky.Lucky.