Throw a Surprise Party

My favorite so far is the surprise birthday party my sister and I threw for our mom a few years ago.

This was one of those milestone birthday’s (I won’t say which one so she can’t get mad at me) My sister and I wanted to make sure to do something special. Her birthday is at the end of July and there were several years she had to celebrate it at a swim meet.

I had gone to a friend’s wedding at a little winery not far from our house. It was super cute and their wines were pleasant to taste. I had the place in mind right away when we started discussing this. AND it would serve as a great cover of getting her to it, by using the excuse of wine tasting and then lunch.

We created a list of family and friends and sent out invites. This was my first time planning a big-ish event like this. Lots of little details became clear. Not to mention costs. There was the location, food, drinks, cake, decorations.

My uncle (her brother) was very helpful with the planning and when I became worried about having the money for it all, said he would be willing to help cover the cost of the food. My cousin was dating (and now married to) a very nice gal whose family managed a food place (Armadillo Willy’s). They talked and worked out that they would bring the food as a buffet. It was a perfect choice because it was food we knew my mom would enjoy, especially the coleslaw (side note: I am not much for coleslaw but this one is very yummy).

Next up was ordering a fruit basket cake from Whole Foods. That part wasn’t hard at all. The hard part was getting my sis here from Hawaii and making sure not to blow the party to our mom. I was living in an apartment at the time, so she was able to fly in and stay with me without mom being aware. She went to our house during the day, while mom was at work, and looked for photos to use as part of decorations. We found some fun ones of her throughout her life.

My sis thought she was being clever in setting up a call to mom to make it seem like she was still in Hawaii going about her daily routine. I just had to make sure not to say anything about the party when my mom was around.

We almost got away without her being completing aware, but then the winery made the mistake in calling her house phone instead of my cell phone. They wanted to make sure I was sending the final payment for the event. I was SOOOOO PISSED! It worked out in the end because, as my mom said, I didn’t need to come up with an excuse and she didn’t know what or who might be there.

The day of, we went to the farmer’s market to get a bunch of flowers. Then headed to the winery. Our uncle and family was there to help set up the food and when a few other guests got there a little early, gladly helped us finish setting up tables. We had bought glass jars from Goodwill that we filled with the flowers and then had the photos placed at the different tables. The winery had a table for the wines and set up another one for the cake and any presents people brought. I had a little stereo that had music, but it was small so people couldn’t really hear it (turned out to be unnecessary anyway). Being at the end of July, I wasn’t sure if it’d be super hot like it can often times be. Luckily it was only warm with a slight breeze coming over from the river nearby.

Then I went to go get the guest of honor.

One last thing, the week before my mom had gone out to dinner with a friend. They decided to get a bottle of wine and asked the waitress for a recommendation. She mentioned Scribner Bend to try. My mom came home to tell me that we have to check out this winery and that the wine was very nice. I almost said something then, but I was able to stop myself. Was very glad to know she would enjoy the wine.

So, I went and got her and came back to the winery. Now, where we all were was in the middle of some of the vines, so she couldn’t see it right away. She walked through the flower arch and everyone yelled, “SURPRISE!!” and she was. There were a few people she hadn’t seen in a while. But when she noticed my sister hiding in the back, she said “I KNEW you were here!” Later, she admitted she didn’t really, but had hoped.

In the end, it was a very pleasant afternoon and so fun. Definitely a surprise party to remember and cherish.

Have you thrown a surprise party or been the recipient of one?

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Grow Long Hair

& Donate to Wigs For Kids

I can check off 2 items for this one “Grow Long Hair” and “Donate to…”

Back in 2013 a friend mentioned she was going to start growing out her hair and donate to Locks of Love. I thought, why not do that too!! When I mentioned it to my hair stylist, she told me to look at other organizations that create wigs for children. People assume the wigs they make and give to kids are free. It’s not true. Plus, it is mostly for children that suffer alopecia areata (a type of hair loss). Not to say that is not also important to give wigs to kids that have that, but I was thinking of donating toward a wig for a child that has to deal with cancer (or wider range of reasons a child lost their hair). Researching more, I found they use a sliding fee based on parent’s income. And even though they accept at least 10 inches of pretty much any type of hair (even dyed), they don’t use all of it. Some they sell off. Maybe to help keep costs of making the wigs down, but that was still unclear to me.

I was disillusioned with Locks of Love and started looking for other organizations that fit more with what I wanted my hair to be donated for. I came across Wigs for Kids. “For children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families.” And as far as I can tell, they work to make the wigs complimentary to children.

Side note: I saw on the Wigs for Kids website they have a Girl Scout patch for donating. Where was that when I was a Scout? Would have been fun to earn.

The requirements for Wigs for Kids is at least 12 inches and no chemical treatment to the hair. I figured I can do this challenge and let my hair grow long. It had been quite a challenge for me. I usually keep my hair chin length and anytime it starts to touch my shoulders I chop it off. It’s also quite thick, so when I do the chop, I can feel the weight come off my head. I’ve liked to dye it a reddish color. Growing up it stayed a light brown due to me swimming year round. When I stopped swimming, it went back to my natural color which is a very dark brown and I was very much not used to that. Friends even asked if I dyed my hair.

It took about 4 years to grow, and as soon as I could, I chopped it off as part of a birthday treat for myself. I got it layered and colored.

The back ponytail reached 12 inches but the other ponytails were a tad short. Plan B, donate that one ponytail to Wigs for Kids and the rest to PanteneBeautiful Lengths program. They provide free wigs for women battling cancer. Their requirements were at least 8 inches and color free. Done!!

It was fun to grow out my hair to see how it looked and felt. People said long hair looks good on me. I might grow it out long again but this time style it more than just an even cut and see how that looks. And down the road, I might donate it again. I hope that little bit of hair will help add to making a wig for a child and a woman and bring a smile to their faces.

Have you donated your hair? What organization and how was your experience?

Help Christmas Promise Fulfill Wishes

During Christmas time, lots of people turn out to help make sure others get to celebrate some during the holiday season. People that truly need a break from their problems and struggles and have a moment to cherish.

The Active 20-30 club of Greater Sacramento #1032 I am a member, raises money to help different charities throughout the year. One organization we had set aside money for is called Christmas Promise. 2010 was the first year I was able to sign up to help wrap gifts as well as shop for presents for a family that probably would not have a Christmas if not for this organization. What is Christmas Promise?

Here is a little bit I found that explains it very well: “Christmas Promise is an organization that sends “Santa Claus” to approximately 250 families. Each year teachers, church organizations, and social workers forward “letters to Santa” from disadvantaged children. Christmas Promise fulfills the wishes of these children by sending Santa to the home of the children on Christmas Eve.”

They have been doing this for over 70 years! On the first day of December you can go to their wall where they post these letters sent in and “adopt” a family to shop for. My Active 20-30 club was able to “adopt” and shop for about 38 people. We also volunteered one day/evening to help wrap gifts and other essentials for these families.

Even though I won’t see the family I shopped or wrapped up presents for, open their gifts, it really was touching to read these letters and see how much people did donate toward these families and to help make sure they have a reason to be able to celebrate on Christmas Day.

I would encourage you to do something similar next Christmas.

***They had to shut this down for a couple of years, but it’s being reorganized and hopefully can get up and running again next year (2018)****

Be on a Bone Marrow Registry

Gotta tell you, sometimes I feel like I’m a dog who gets distracted by squirrels, food, and toys, when finding out about some amazing charities. Ones like Active 20-30 Club, Comfort Cases, Girls on the Run, and 916 Ink are JUST A FEW of the ones I love to keep an eye on and see how I might help. And I keep coming across neat non-profits all the time.

Recently heard a story on the national Nightly News about a guy taking a break from college to help his best friend whose cancer returned, and crossing things off his bucketlist. (right here in Citrus Heights, California) They had also created a non-profit called, Gamer’s Gift, that high schoolers run, whose goal it is to help different groups, such as kids in hospitals and seniors, anyone with restricted movements and promote well-being and positive spirits through the use of video games and other electronic media.

NOW, the story of these 2 friends mainly caught I ear because of the bucketlist, I love hearing and reading them. I wanted to see if they had a blog or something where they were posting about their adventures. Sure, enough they are on a few sites. Find, One List, One Life on Facebook.

The biggest reason I am writing about this is because of how much they encourage people to sign up to be on the bone marrow registry. I am already registered as an organ donor. Being on the bone marrow list scares me a little. The more I was thinking about it, the more I realized that is kind of silly. My being scared of needles, prevented me from going and donating blood for a long time. I was fine once I finally worked up my nerve to go try. I am still nervous and can’t watch the needle being inserted or look at the blood because I’d probably faint. But I have gone a couple of times now.

I decided to go ahead and sign up, get that cheek swab kit, send it back, and see what happens. I am a healthy person right now, if I can be a match and help someone, why not do so? It will take a little bit to work up my nerve to help if I get a call, because I know that probably means more needles. I just need to remind myself, I’m fine and I’d like someone else to be fine too and this is one way I can help.

You can sign up here

Donate Blood

Lost Some of My Blood For A Good Cause!

Yesterday was my very first time donating blood and I am very proud of having done it. You might be asking why this is such a big deal, the answer is because it scares me alot. When I’ve heard of people donating blood in the past, I thought, oh good for them, no way would I do that.

As I came across more and more chances, I pondered and debated and became more and more tempted. When I got this most recent opportunity and I knew I couldn’t pass it up and at least go for the experience. As well as helping to save a life.

Got signed up for any appointment and as it got closer to the time I needed to be there, I was very close to backing out. But I decided to suck it up and go. I was very much hoping that they would end up telling me thanks for trying but we can’t use your blood. (because it would be anemic, i’d be to dehydrated for them to get to the veins, my veins would just not pop up, or the fact that I traveled out of the country the last 3 years would cause my blood to not be okay for use right then) They gave me the all clear after the initial questions and tests.

DARN IT. I would have to really do this. I know I was having a little panic attack. I didn’t want to have a needle be stuck in me and I REALLY didn’t want to see any blood. I have no idea why I should be panicking about it. You lay down, hold out your arm and they do all the work really. You just are there to give up a pint of blood in a pretty comfortable way.

It’s a good thing those nurses are funny and easy to talk to. I might have sat down and then jumped up and said, nope can’t do this. I felt that pinch and stayed still. When it was done, I went to the front of the bus and enjoyed some goldfish as I crossed my fingers I wouldn’t faint. There was a couple of times I was younger and went with my mom and sis, my mom went to get blood drawn. My sis watched, I didn’t. But I still got light headed and very white as we walked out. Enough so that I had to quickly sit down for a few minutes. And that was what I was worried would happen here. But I sat and listened to the them joke to the 2 guys getting their blood drawn out.

I asked for a photo and they offered to have me hold a bag of blood. I declined on that part. I know it’s much needed but I don’t know if I could do this again. I would have to pump myself up and keep repeating, it’s okay, there’s nothing to it. It is only about 20 minutes of your time, so if you can do it, i’d suggest you do and help those that need it.

Have you donated?

Surprise Someone with Swedish Fish

I cannot understand WHY this is a “thing to do before you die” item. But since it’s in the book’s list I plan to accomplish the task. At the beginning of the year (2013) there was a Facebook post going around that sounded like fun to do.

A fun way to start of the new year: 2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift – perhaps a book, a doo-dad, homemade treats, or maybe music? – a surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer on their FB status

There were a couple of people that did this on my post. But I completely forgot about it during the year. Luckily I caught it when I was going back through my posts and decided to use this opportunity to cross off this item by sending a person some swedish fish. What a surprise it will be for them?! They probably have forgotten about the post too, and it will be different then traditional holiday treats that one might expect in the mail. Can’t wait to hear a response from this person.

Have you surprised someone with swedish fish? Did you see that Facebook post going around and participate?