Monday, February 28, 2011

For The Kids - Penn State THON 2011

Last weekend Tony and I made a trek up to Penn State for annual Dance MaraTHON. I wrote about it last year, but for those who are new friends, I'll give you a quick recap.

Dance Marathon, aka THON, is the largest student run philanthropy in the world. They raise money throughout the year for the Four Diamonds Fund for Pediatric Cancer. The money goes towards research as well as supplementing heath care costs for the families being treated at the Hershey Medical Center. The fund raising culminates in a 46 hour Dance Marathon.

This was Tony's first time seeing what THON is all about. (I had included it in my 101 in 1001 list as well to make sure he saw what all the hype was about) We got there Saturday afternoon when the dancers had already been going for 20 hours. Right as we showed up Velveeta was taking the stage. They were one of my favorite local bands in college. They play 80's cover songs and rock it out. It was amazing see all the dancers and spectators rocking out to Journey's Don't Stop Believing.

We stuck around for a couple hours cheering on the dancers and just taking in the scene. At one point a man got on stage and told his story of when and how THON helped him. In 1988 he was diagnosed with cancer and was given 24 hours to live. Thanks to THON, he was able to get the transplants he needed, the treatments he needed, and has been cancer free for almost 20 years. There was not a dry eye in the house. 

I wanted to make sure we got to see the line dance being done at least once. They have a new line dance each year that brings in some Penn State history, current events, and motivation for the dancers. Here is this year's line dance:
We went back Sunday morning for another couple hours. We got there at 8am when the dancers still had 8 more hours to go. By the time we left at 10, the place was at capacity. They were counting heads leaving to let folks in at another entrance.

All in all Tony was very impressed. Not only are there over 700 dancers, but there are thousands cheering them on the whole time. The Fraternities and Sororities, organizations and clubs with Dancers are out through the whole time keeping the place rocking. One of the best moments was when the Gary Glitter cheer started and instead of yelling P!!! S!!!!! U!!!! Let's Go P-S-U!!! it was F!!!! T!!!!!! K!!!!! THON ON! FOR THE KIDS!

By the time we got home, I logged online and watched the final hours live. Their total this year was over $9.5 MILLION, over $1.5 Million than last year!!!!

It really makes me proud to be a Penn State Alumni to see such love poured out each and every single year for these kids.

“When they say, ‘We Are Penn State,’ this is what they are talking about.” - Joe Paterno

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!!!

Thank you to everyone that participated. We blew right through the 1,000 visits mark!!!!! 

Using to select a winner at random.....

Our winner is Dana!!!!! 

Congrats! I'll contact you to get the gift card sent to you ASAP!

Keep stopping by for visits! We'll get the next 1,000 visit even faster!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

So we're doing Valentine's Day super low key this year. That's just the nice way of saying we're not doing anything. It being a Monday puts the biggest damper on plans and me not wanting to spend any cash doesn't help either.

We did have dinner at my mom's house last night, so I decided to make some yummy Red/Pink/White treats.

I whipped out my KitchenAid, that has been sitting sad and neglected in the corner, to bake Red Velvet Cupcakes.

I saved some of the frosting to dye pink and decorate. I had a lot of fun playing with the decorations and will have to definitely do this in the future to add some pizazz for future events. I made one batch of mini's with our nephew's names on them, they loved them!

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Are you doing a weekday date night?

P.S. Don't forget that today is your last day to enter my giveaway for a $50 American Express Gift card!!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My New Favorite Things....

I received a mysterious catalog in the mail yesterday, maybe I'm late to the party, but I had never heard of Boden. I oohed and ahhed over every single page and every item in the catalog.

Then I made the mistake of going to their website, I want it all. Every single piece of clothing. I took advantage of their free shipping and free returns to buy two dresses in a couple of sizes from the clearance section to see how their sizing runs and to get a look at the quality. Oh and they icing on the cake? It's on eBates. 3% cash back.

 We have a wedding coming up in a few weeks that I purchased these for. Let's hope they get here in time!!!!

If I love their stuff, I may pick a few pieces to use for motivation in my weight loss goals. The more I lose, the more I can buy!!!!

 This long cardigan? I swoon.

Have you ever ordered from Boden? I can't wait to let you know my findings from my order.

Also! Don't forget about my $50 American Express Giftcard Giveaway!!!! Go here to enter for your chance to win!

*All pictures from the BodenUSA website. 

**To join eBates and start getting cash back on your online purchases, click here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1,000 visits Giveaway

So I've been tracking unique visits to my site using SiteMeter for about 15 months. I've watched those numbers tick up and up and I am SOCLOSE to 1,000 visits. I know 1,000 visits in 15 months is measly for some of the bloggers out there. I'm sure I'm one of thousands that DAILY visit several of my favorite blogs. But 1,000 visits is big to me, so I'm celebrating.(And I've set it to not track my own visits, so no, that's not just me clicking on the site to up my stats) Hopefully this giveaway will push me over the edge.

I wanted to save my first giveaway for a special occasion. I think this warrants it. This also coincides with my first significant check from eBates, guess where that money is going? That's right. To you.

I was trying to think of an amazing prize to giveaway and everything kept pointing back to gift cards. Then I started thinking where I would give away a gift card to. I was worried about localization (does everyone have an Anthropologie or Home Goods?) and was over thinking the whole thing. Since this giveaway is not sponsored (except by my wallet), I'll just do an American Express Gift Card to the lucky winner. That way you can spend it on ANYTHING you want! (As long as they take AmEx). I can also purchase through eBates, to get my next check started off on a good note.

$50 American Express Gift Card to the lucky winner.

How to enter:
The giveaway will be closed at midnight, EST, on February 14, 2011. I'll choose the winner with and announce the winner on February 15. Good luck everybody!!!

1. One entry if you leave a comment below. Say hello. Tell me what you'd do with 50 bucks.Don't forget to include your email address if it's not included in your comment profile.

2. One additional entry if you Follow my blog. Not on your Reader, but on the actual blog. If you are already a follower, leave a comment saying that.

3. One additional entry if you Tweet about this giveaway. Make sure you include @kimrally in your tweet or it doesn't count. Come back and leave a comment that you tweeted.

4. Another additional entry if you blog about the giveaway. Come back, leave a comment with a link to your blog.

Let's get the traffic moving my way and the next 1,000 visits will hopefully be quicker than the first!

Thanks for stopping by and reading so often!!!! I can't wait to hear from everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ape House - Chapters 1-12

Our online, blogger bookclub, is reading Ape House by Sara Gruen, the author of Water For Elephants. I'm only 12 chapters in and I LOVE it. So good. Below are my answers to the questions for the first 12 chapters. SPOILER ALERT. If you plan to read this book, which you should, stop reading here!!!!!

Alright, now that we got that out of the way....
I immediately fell into love with this book. I can't wait to see where it goes. I had to make myself stop reading last night so that I could finish weekend chores and so I didn't finish the book in one sitting.
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans? I didn't see this concept as too far fetched. I think that they are probably closer to us genetically that we think they are. I know ASL has been taught to some primates, probably the extent of their language skills was the most surprising. The fact that they could be asked to accept or reject visitors, order food, etc was a little far out there, but it's fiction, we'll just roll with it. I have no doubt that animals can express emotions and the fact that they can actually vocalize (by signing) their feelings would create a unique bond between the bonobos and their caretakers.

2. Isabel said early in the book that the apes know they're apes and know that the humans are humans, but they don't see any superiority with either... What do you think the major difference is between the two? I think that she meant that the apes don't think that being human is better than being ape. They are living a pretty sweet life, getting taken care of in a controlled environment with humans that genuinely love and care for them more than just a science project. I don't think that they are envious of the people around them for BEING human. This could maybe be similar to boys know they are boys and that girls are girls, but one is not better than the other.

3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out? I was guessing from the beginning, based on how John described his day with Isabel, that he was into it more than just platonically. And then we found out he has a wife. A wife that he cares for. But he can't get Isabel off his mind. I think that they will have a romantic relationship, I would be surprised if they didn't at least slip up and share a kiss.

4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken? I think she will track them down and try to rescue them from their new owners. It was heartbreaking that the University would just sell them off at the first sign of trouble, especially after having put so much time, money, effort, and personnel into the project.

5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center? No, I think it would be too obvious if she is. Although, it would only be one step deeper to show alternative motives. I like Isabel a lot, I think that if she believes that Celia is innocent, she may be right. I will be sad if she turns out to be involved.

6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda? I think John is having a rough go of it right now. At a time where his wife seems to be in a depression, he meets this new girl, Isabel. By the time he gets home, Amanda has a turn of events that may be her key to getting her life back on track. Now that he's already let his thoughts and emotions consider Isablel, he's torn between getting his wife back and the new girl. I hope he sticks with his wife, supports her, and they turn out OK. 

What are your initial impressions of the book? Love it? Hate it? Think it's ridiculous and over the top? I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A new month, new goals

So starting in February I'm trying a new tactic at achieving some of my annual goals. I decided to make a visual reminder, paper chain links to be torn down as steps are made to making the certain goal.

I've made four chains. Three for monetary goals and one for my weight loss goal. I'm hoping to have a HUGE dent in these chains by the end of the year, with at least two of them GONE.

I took some pics of me with the chains so you can see what I'll be chipping away at all year. I really got dressed up for ya'll. Wet hair, PJs, just for you guys.

Since one of these is a weight loss goal, lets consider these before pics, cause I look TERRIBLE.

Up first, the weight I want to lose. Each link represents 3 pounds. My starting weight will be what I weighed in on January 1. I've already gotten to take down two links, almost three. Well on my way!!!!

This one is our credit card debt. I plan to reduce this one by at LEAST 3 links per month. I figured if I could take links off for smaller amounts, I could see the progress quicker and stay motivated. This one will be GONE by the end of the year.

Up next, our down payment fund. This just represents the difference between what we have and what we'd LIKE to have to put a much more sizeable amount down. Again, hopefully we can knock a couple out a month. Who knows.....

And here is the final chain. It's taller than I am! This one represents the difference between what we own and what we can sell the condo for without bringing any money to the table. This will be the toughest one to get down, but again, wanted to make the links in small enough increments that we'll see results.

Here are where the links will live. On the bedroom closet door. I'll see them several times a day and be reminded of what we're working towards. As I see the chains disappearing, I'll get more and more motivated to keep it up. When they are all gone, that's when we can get back on track to buy a house.

Here's the kicker. I also made some black links. These will be ADDED to the chains if we start going the wrong direction. If I gain the weight back, if credit card balances go up instead of down.

I'll take some pics as the year goes on to see what progress is being made.

How do you track your goals and stay motivated throughout the year?