Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beautiful Lengths...

Well I finally did it! I cut and donated my hair! As of this Sunday, I had been growing my hair out for donation for two years and nine months. I donated a total of sixteen inches to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths Program.

I chose to donate through Pantene this year (I donated through Locks for Love after I had Alan) for a few different reasons. Around the time I had originally planned on donating, I had heard some negative comments about Locks for Love. I spoke with my boss, who also runs the Livestrong Program at the Y, about other options and she introduced me to Beautiful Lengths. Pantene joined with The American Cancer Society to develop this program in 2006. They have since donated more then 500,000 ponytails! That is 24,000 wigs! :D They also are a bit more lenient on their donation requirements, which is more realistic to these days with how many women dye their hair. This was the program for me.

If you have never heard of Beautiful Lengths:
(Taken directly from their website…)

Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene® and the American Cancer Society®, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease. The role of Pantene is to help women grow long, strong, beautiful hair and to provide the funds to turn this hair into free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country. To see if you are eligible to receive a free wig or if there are wigs available in your area, please call the American Cancer Society’s Wig Bank Line at 1-877-227-1596.

Since Pantene started the Beautiful Lengths program back in July 2006, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Every year, we receive page after page with messages of hope and gratitude, of love and of loss. We receive boxes of photos of women, children, and even men holding their ponytails, sporting a new short style, with notes attached in memory of their loved ones. These photos, letters, and cards are moving and inspiring in the purest way.

I know people from all walks of life who have been affected by cancer. Parents, children, friends, family members, classmates, coworkers… Cancer is a complete life-changer. Even after recovery, your life is never the same. As long as I continue to be healthy, I will continue to support cancer research and will continue to donate my hair. If you would also like to donate your hair to Beautiful Lengths, here are the requirements.

For durable and realistic wigs, donated hair must meet these requirements: 

**Donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long (hair is measured from just above the elastic band of the ponytail to the ends)
**Donors may straighten hair to measure wavy/curly hair
**Hair is washed and completely dry, without any styling products
**Hair may be colored with vegetable dyes, rinses and semi-permanent dyes. It cannot be bleached, permanently colored or chemically treated
**Hair may not be more than 5% gray

This is because it takes eight ponytails to make each wig, and the ponytails for a single wig will be dyed a uniform color. Gray hair (along with permanently colored, bleached, or chemically treated hair) doesn't absorb color at the same rates as other types of hair, making a uniform color unachievable.

To us, it’s hair, but to women with cancer, it’s hope.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tucker's Birthday Party

I love my job, for sooooooooo many reasons! One of them is my Y family! The people that I work with aren't just coworkers, we are a community, we are our own family. Our children grow up together, we celebrate holidays and birthdays together, we support those who need it and praise those who have succeeded. I wouldn't want my little family to grow up anywhere else! :D

Speaking of Y family members, one of Alan's best buddies had his fifth birthday this weekend. He just happened to have it at the Y (as do most staff kids, our birthday parties are so popular!) and he invited Alan. We all had such a wonderful time! The party was football themed and there were several of Alan's classmates there as well. Anna tagged along for the party, she did pretty good too, considering she was the youngest in the whole group! :) She hung out with Tucker's teenage sisters almost the whole time lol. Already such a diva…

Thanks for inviting us Tucker! We had a wonderful time! Happy fifth birthday!

Oh and by the way… Just in case anyone was having a suspense free day, I will leave you with this lovely photo…

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The YMCA Annual Campaign and Dance Stuff

BIG things going on for me in 2015, big and exciting things! :D I had a wonderful weekend with some friends who were town, who are very well known choreographers in the dance world. And I had two super cool things happen to me at work as well. Yes! I am so happy and cannot wait for this year! After all the hard work and the rough year we had in 2013 and 2014, I know that wonderful things were bound to happen this year! I just hope that a new house for our family is ALSO in the cards this year. I will keep praying and keep spreading that good karma!

So we will begin with the work news: I was offered to join the YMCA's annual campaign this year. Our annual campaign raises money to provide more memberships, scholarships and healthy lifestyle programs for our community. All of our annual campaign donations help with either our preschool or afterschool programs, our scholarships to families and senior members, our Livestrong program, our Get Started program, our aquatics and sports scholarships, our Active 6 program and our BOLD/GOLD program. That list of beneficiaries from the campaign is soooooooo long, I think there is something for everyone in there. And that is the point of the YMCA, that is the point of the annual campaign. The YMCA is a community-based movement for healthy, independent living. We are for everyone, we turn nobody away. This is truly one place for every person to succeed at something and feel good about themeselves. I am so completely honored to be apart of this life-changing movement and to be apart of the annual campaign this year. Everyday I am inspired by members of my Y family, my family and I wouldn't be where we are today without them. The fact that I can give back to my community AND share my love for our movement is such a blessing!

I give because... every child, every teenager, every adult, every PERSON deserves a chance to succeed at something and feel good about themselves.

My friend Ambrose was in town this weekend. Diversity Dance held a mock competition at a local church to prepare for the many big competitions they have coming up this year. They have TWO Velocity competitions this year! Lon and I were able to hang out with him every night he was in town, it was so cool! :D I was also able to make it to the performance the last day that he was in town. All I have to say about the dances is, I hope that everyone is ready because Diversity has sure stepped up the game! Wowza!

Just for some fun, here is a photo of Miss Anna Banana in a Sullivan from Monsters Inc. costume at dance class recently. I know I share so many darn photos of her in dance class but what can I say? I am a dance mom. ;) Plus, I couldn't pass this photo opportunity, it is too adorable! I mean, its Sully from Monsters Inc! Where's Mike Wazoski?

And speaking of dance, my final bit of big news for y'all! I am officially teaching at another dance studio! This has been a goal of mine for sometime now, I am just beside myself! I now officially teach Anna's dance class at Diversity Dance Studio! :D So that makes 10 total classes, 5 gymnastics classes, 5 dance classes, and 2 different dance studios! Yay! 2015 is going to rock! I am offically on my way to progressing my dance carreer!

I cannot wait to see what else 2015 has in store for my family and I. Here's hoping that its a house at some point! It would be absolutely perfect to finally live together again after living apart for fifteen months. I will keep hoping, keep praying, keep following the Tao and keep up that good karma! Hopefully my next post is about a potential place!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Break Adventures

Alan has his winter break from school until next Monday. With the snow finally falling in MT (after almost having a brown Christmas here, yuck) it makes planning activities to keep the kids from going crazy a bit more of a challenge. We have yet to be able to do a Snow Day, because temps have been just barely in the double digits at their highest. But I never said that I didn't like a challenge! :) So here are some things we have done to keep busy!

Saturday we went to Chuck E Cheese to play some games. I had a few bucks leftover on a Mastercard gift card from Christmas and we thought that we would take a quick trip to burn off some energy. It was a bit busy, but still tons of fun! Alan and Anna played that snow mobile game probably a million times! Maybe my little snow puppies were hinting at something? ;) We had a great time though!

Sunday brought even more snow! We wanted to go sledding with Grandpa and Uncle Kal but the weather got wild and blizzard-y so we couldn't go with them. Boo! Instead, we packed the car up and headed over to the Village Inn, which was closed for the day. Lon was working and we hung out by the fire, watching movies and playing. It wasn't much more then we do almost EVERY Sunday, but I enjoyed it. How does that song go?

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but inside its so delightful. And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, LET IT SNOW!!!!!!!!!!"

We went back to Chuck E's the next evening for Alan's friend Jasper's fourth birthday party. It was nice to see Alan's school friends (Jasper and big brother Adam both go to Alan's preschool) and to play with all the boys! :D The Reid family has six boys total! Wow! It was great, Anna had a buddy to play with and Alan had two! Jasper's party was Power Ranger themed and he had a delicious ice cream cake! We totally missed the Chuck E. show due to work running late, but it was a wonderful time regardless. Thanks for the invite Reid family! Happy birthday Jasper!

I ended up taking the kids to Scheels on Thursday. I originally was thinking of going to the mall but we had already been there several times that month. However, Scheels has a play area and a cafeteria and a bowling alley and lots of other places to explore! They also have lots of "photo booth" areas, where you can pose with stuffed animals or ride on a monster truck. So cool! The kids loved that part! We took a picture at each of the spots! Only one of them didn't work, it was a fish one where they were supposed to hold a piece of wood that was supposed to look like a fish in the picture? I didn't understand that one lol. I thought it would be the perfect place to go and not spend an arm and a leg for fun! And it was! :) We were there for over two hours that day and I didn't spend a dime! We almost stopped in the cafeteria on the way out but decided against it. Man, that is another great place for the kids to run and play during winter. I am adding it to our list of things to do!

And that brings us to yesterday, the last day of Alan's winter vacation from preschool. I put quite a bit of thought into this day, like with his last days of summer, I wanted this to be special. Lon and I both did our part to make this day special. I reserved a bowling lane at tour local bowling alley, Lon made a delicious dinner of Alan's favorites (pizza, quesedillas and chicken nuggets) and he picked out the PERFECT new movie for after dinner. It was a great way to wrap up the winter break!

It was a wonderful winter break! But I am very happy to have Alan back in school and to have everything back to normal. At least until this weekend... When Ambrose and Theo come to town!!! AAAAAHHHHHH! ;)