Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hair Donation!

I am one of those pretty low maintenance hair people. Usually you will see me in a ponytail because it's easy. Sometimes I take the time in the morning to add a small braid or put it up in a funky messy bun like this:
...but nothing that requires an intense amount of work. The end result is that I usually look like this:

...with no real concept of how long my hair is.  It just keeps on growing.

I decided that I really should get my hair cut one afternoon this summer and fortunately my favorite hairdresser Kelly was free.  On a whim, I asked her if I had enough to donate.  I'd donated my hair before a few years ago so this wasn't new to me.  She measured and sure enough I did.  This is what my hair looked like before:
...and here it is 8 or 9 inches shorter!

For me donating my hair just seems like a good thing to do.  It grows back after all and helps out someone in need.  The Canadian Cancer Society helps people find wigs and other types of headwear for those having cancer treatments.  I sent mine to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which is a nation-wide program.  There are many other programs available. 
Here is my hair, all ready to go.  I asked Kelly to do two braids to get as much length in as possible.

Me after...still long and a cute bit o'style going on.
I asked Kelly if many people donate their hair.  She told me that not as many as you would think.  People seem pretty hesitant and she isn't sure why.  She told me about one woman who had even more hair cut than I did just not seem interested.  Kelly sent her away with her hair braided and in a bag anyway, just in case she changed her mind.  She also told me that more younger girls will come in ready to donate.  I know one of our students in grade 2 last year did, it was very sweet.
After I posted my before and after pictures on Facebook, a cousin of mine messaged me to thank me.  She has battled cancer and said that it means more than you could ever realize to donate your hair.   For me, it's not a big deal and it is pretty easy to do.  Just make sure you check out which organization you wish to go through before you do it as each of them have their own requirements and procedures.  When I sent it in, I was able to send it regular post, so cost me just under $2.00 to send so really, it's not a pricy thing to do either. 
I want to encourage anyone who is considering cutting their hair to look into donating it as well.  It means so much to someone who is going through cancer treatments to have a real hair wig to be able to feel healthy and beautiful.

Movie Themed Birthday Party!

My oldest child turned 9 this past week. 9! A 9 year old boy's birthday party is a little bit trickier to plan than birthday parties of years past. In some ways it is easier. He has outgrown most party games (variations of pin the tail on the donkey and pass the present etc.). He still has a group of friends he wants to invite over and celebrate with. He wants the party to be cool. Cool to a group of 8-10 year old kids has to be cool in their eyes, not the eyes of the birthday boys mother.
We looked into options beyond hosting something at the house. We have a set budget of $100 for everything - food, decorations, party bags, activities - everything. We looked into going bowling with just a couple of close friends and having a pizza after. He liked the idea of that, but didn't want to leave any of his friends out. We proposed going to the movies. We knew we could get a Costco Kids Movie pass for about $10 each, they could see a movie and have the kids pack of popcorn/drink/candy. He really liked that idea, but there weren't any movies playing the day he wanted it that would work. (Cartoons being too babyish and nothing really tween in theatres that day).
My husband came up with a movie alternative. We could have a movie theatre party at home. We could borrow an LCD projector and screen and turn our living room into a theatre. He could invite more friends too. He loved the idea! Chosing the movie was the next tricky part. We searched out New Releases on iTunes and again, nothing really Tween oriented popped out. We figured that we should try to find a movie that most of them hadn't seen too. I teach at the school my son goes to and remembered how we had shown National Treasure for movie night in the spring as that age group's target movie. The kids had really loved it. It is a slightly older movie that is clean, but still adventurous enough for them to enjoy. Plus, most of them hadn't seen it before. I tried to think of another movie that would fit that description. Night at the Museum came to mind. We showed our son the preview and he thought it looked really funny and approved the choice.
Once we had the go ahead, I went to into Planner Mom mode! Here's how the party played out:
First, the setup - 
The Concession table

I bought most of this at the Dollarama - I gave tickets out to each guest to spend on their movie treats.

The bowl of popcorn cake
 I wrote directions on how to make this cake on my foodie blog Whatcha-Eatin?  You can find them here.
The snacks ready to purchase

Concession Pricing

Now Showing...
The entrance to the theatre
The Hollywood Star wall with all the kid's names
And now the party:
It was a beautiful hot, sunny day so we spent the first hour outside playing water games.  I gave them all water guns and let them go - they loved this!  I did have some ideas for indoor games if needed but the forecast was cooperative.

Our second game was a bucket race.  I had a large bucked of water at the front of the line and a bowl at the end of the line.  Each child had a cup.  The first one had to scoop water into his cup and pour it over their head into the cup of the person behind them, continuing on until the last person poured it into the bowl.  So much fun!

Each child got to pick a "prop" (funky party glasses from the Dollarama).  I did take individual pictures of the kids each as well.

Opening the gifts

Enjoying the movie.  I did rearrange my living room furniture into movie theatre rows.  We served them pizza for supper to munch on as they watched.  My friend Jen (thank you Jen!) made popcorn too which we served to them in individual popcorn containers (from the Dollarama) that they got to take home.  The kids also used their tickets to purchase drinks and candy from the concession.

We had a movie intermission for cake

Overall, the movie themed party was a success.  I'm very glad we pulled it off!  What surprised me the most was how much the kids loved the tickets aspect to buy their concession.  They really, really loved it!  Instead of goodie bags, the kids took home their popcorn containers, water guns and funky glasses.  Most important to me is that my son loved it and that he and his friends had a good time.  (And yes, we did it all for under $100)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fingerpainting Art - Name Tutorial

I saw this very cute idea on Pinterest. Here's how we did ours.
I used painters tape to make the letters of my daughter's name.  The canvas we used was smaller, so I cut the width of the tape in half before fashioning the letters.  The straight line letters are much easier to create than the round O and a.  I bought the canvas at the Dollarama - 2 for $1.25

I set my daughter free to fingerpaint over top of the whole canvas.  We used Crayola's fingerpaint.

We then set the finished product to dry.  I know this is upside-down, but you get the idea.

Once dry, I very carefully removed the painters tape.  That's it.  Super cute!

Footprint Art - Butterfly

This Butterfly art idea was found on Pinterest and super easy to do.  My daughter chose the purple and blue colours.  I painted her feet one at a time and pressed them to the canvas.  You can find cheap canvases at the Dollarama.  I drew in the butterfly middle with a Sharpie marker and used her thumbprints for the ends of the antennae.  Super cute and she loves it!

Lego Quest Week 2 - Monochromatic

This week's Lego Quest was Monochromatic. Here's what my kids came up with:
My 3 year old's blue hammer
My 9 year old's green secret swamp base, complete with trap doors and random hidden catapults.
My 6 year old's Black Tank
Lego Quest Kids is a worldwide non-competitive challenge and can be found here: Lego Quest Kids

Better Sports Pictures of Your Kids - DIY

The photography by the person who takes the soccer pictures for our league is truly awful.  I really mean it.  I have all sorts of respect for photographers of children out there.  It is not an easy job.  The photographers who have taken my kids hockey and lacrosse pictures have done a fantastic job!  But this soccer photographer?  It's like he knows he has the contract and he really doesn't care.  He doesn't know how to work with the light he has.  He over processes everything.  His pictures are all pixel-ly and the result is just weird looking kids.   Last year, I thought it was just an anomaly.  So I gave him another chance.  This year's pictures were just as bad.  What a waste of money!
Well, no more!  I took my own pictures (with my iPhone no less) and edited them with my Smilebox app to make them look like sports cards.  I printed them off at Costco for 14 cents a picture and the result is wonderful.  As long as that photographer is on the job, I will be taking my own pictures.  It's simply not worth it otherwise!

The picture taken by the professional photographer - note how darkly outlined my son is and the weird light.  My son just doesn't look like this in real life.

My photo of my son.  I took this with my iPhone and edited with Smilebox. 

The professional photo of my daughter.  Again, the weird light doesn't make her look like her.  The soccer ball prop is flat.

My photo of my daughter, taken with my iPhone and edited with Smilebox.  The soccer ball is normal.

The professional photographer charged me $15 each package for a team photo with a 3x5 plus 2 4x6 pictures.  Getting any sports cards would have been an extra $10 each.  I spent $30 for crap pictures.
Doing it myself cost me $1.40 for 10 4x6 edited pictures at Costco.  Smilebox is a free app for your iPhone.  I added their names to the pictures on the ones I ordered. 
To get this look, I clicked:
1. Designs
2. Life
3. Sports
4. MVP assortment
5. Camera Roll to choose the picture I wanted
6. Chose the frame I wanted
7. Chose the sticker I wanted and re-sized it in place
8. Brightened the picture
9. Chose Pop for the coloring
10. Chose All Caps for the lettering, typed in the text I wanted, re-sized it in place and saved it to the roll.
I then uploaded them to my computer and uploaded again to Costco photo.  The pictures are ready a day later.  I can choose as many as I want and the size I want.

Smilebox on your computer
Smilebox at the app store