Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alphafest 2009!!

Alrighty... in true Mo Style, this is a LONG post with LOTS of pictures, so settle in. Radstitches, get your blueberry cereal and sit a spell! All you who said you had a little MoJoy with your morning coffee/routine, well, make a big pot! I am going to tell you all about Alphafest. ANd Miss Jane, I am sure the website was good, but THIS is going to tell you the MMPT side of the story.

Ok, so at our office, we sign up for shifts. This is the early morning shift. Karl is the expert in the balloon sculpting field, in our office, so he had to be there early to "show us the way". This is the crew under direction before the gazillion kids came. We usually prepare for about 5,000! Yes, seriously! Every year, there is a theme. This year was a 50's theme, and was basically a sock hop. This is the back side of our booth (or the "kitchen" to Mel's Diner).
Around 8:00 Friday night, I realized that we had this big ol' fabulous booth and not thing #1 with our name on it. Kinda defeats the purpose of any "marketing" attempts, doesnt' it?! So, by Saturday morning, we were all good. This is a table full of our cute brochures on the services we provide... from ADHD to Sensory Integration to Torticollis, to CAPD, to Dysgraphia.... and more. There were little testimonials from parents that were blown up for others to read... but I digress.... back to Alphafest.
I have to admit. I kinda make it my mission to have the biggest, most extragavant booth every year. Most are a table with a sign on the edge of it with a game to play and prizes to give. WEeeee bought an entire diner! It rocked!
We had to wall it off on three sides to keep a traffic flow that we could manage.
As you can see, there was a hole in the diner where we could call in the kids' orders and I loved to follow that up with "ORDER UP!"
How cute is this?! Cindy and crew made some of these themselves. We have done these Alphafests and other little fairs in town so long that we have an unbelieveable stash of "Themes". We just label them in big Rubbermaid boxes and stash em away. Now we have, "50's", luau, circus, cowboy/western, Mexican fiesta.... and on and on. It is fun to just whip that stuff out, though, when you need it.
Ok, so these are the little tables we used for our diners. They came in, sat down and ther records were their placemats. The checked thing in the middle was the menu. A waitress walked (or skated!!) up to their table and asked them to look at the menu and decide on "what they'd be having today". We didn't allow parents to come in (except for with the tiny or shy ones), as this was a KIDS' diner! I think the kids appreciated being treated like little miniature adults for a day.
Here is another peek into the kitchen where balloon tutoring is still going on. Buddy, by the end of the day, we could make dogs of ANY size or breed! Some of mine looked more like giraffes, but I would convince my kid that they got a "special" dog that no one else had, and they thought it was awesome. ANd I wasn't lying to them either!
Cindy's brother, John, is always our emcee! This year, he was the "JONZ". Aaaaaaaaaaayyyy.
And yes, as promised, I rocked my skates from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Mary Allison said, "You are going to need a pedi when I come over tomorrow." (My weekend sitter... you know, "Masson"!) I said, "Girl, I will need more than a pedi. I will need full body traction!" I suppose there IS a benefit to owning a therapy company! Especially if you are foolish enough to do this!
Oh, and thanks Skatetown of WM!

Down the way a bit, we find the bowling alley...and lo and behold, who is running that?! Staci and Veronicia. (sidenote... Ellie and Maddi are trying to say Veronicia, and it is coming out all kinds of weird! Ellie's most recent attempt is "Dadonkey". Ummm. That is a flattering name! We will keep working on it, Veronicia!)

They were all excited about these cute little bowling shirts... but did NOt anticipate this....Staci said they are requesting a different game next year! She said bowling is not NEARLY as fun without the little automatic pin setter! Think 5,000 kids, and every one of them gets to bowl until all the pins are knocked down. There was constantly a line at their booth too. She will also be needing a full body makeover today! They also sold some really cute leather Believe bracelets that I have been MEANING to put on this site to show you. But, then I had to be gone for a little vacation, and my long list of "got to do these posts" slipped by the wayside. On that list remains, "all about lapband" and "adoption scrapbook". See, I remember! There's a bird... back to Alphafest.
So, these are a few of my friends who supported Cindy and had booths at the carnival/fair/thing. This is Emily. She has Emily Snowden Photography, but I don't know if she has a website.
And these are my friends over at Distressed Designs. They help with the Shake 4 Jake silent auction every year, so they are my GOOOOOOOD friends! Check em out. CUTE stuff! Ok, so I suppose you get the idea of Cindy's book. They go from A-Z (thus AlphaKidZ!). Every book has a moral pertinent to kids. Such as bing a picky eater(Nanny Goat Netti... I DON't LIKE Spaghetti!), giving up the pacifier (Douglas Duck, I think My Pacifier is Stuck... but WHO needs that one?!), cleaning up your room(Patty Pig doesn't want to clean her digs!), responsibility for your own things(Elephant Emma Lou loses her tutu and almost misses her recital!), and the list goes on and on. SHe, to date, has released A-O. Kids LOVE them! They are bright and vivid and an easy, quick read for parents. Here is a little sampling. Oh, and did I mention that every book is chock full of names of her friends and family or things about her community? For instance, Don Duck, one of Douglas's classmates, wears a Believe necklace! And Johnny Jackalope, You gotta BELIEVE in Hope... is all about adoption. She gave Todd and I a shout out in the back of that one. Benny Bear Having a Baby Sister isn't Fair.... is all about when she and her three sister threw a FIT when they were little because their mom and dad surprised them with news of a new baby boy. Now known as the Johnz! and every name is someone she knows and every book is full of such names. And perhaps my favorite... Melanie Mouse. It is a very Sad Day at our House. This one was the inspiration for the whole series. It is about how she communicated to Robert Scott, her older son, about his losing his little brother. They would send balloons with everything from suckers to notes to an actual football jersey to heaven. In every book is also little balloons with an "s" string on it as a memory of Samuel, her son, who passed away when he was three. I highly recommend the books, and I am pretty sure you can order them via her website. Tell her I sent you and ask her to sign them for you. I am giving you the inside track. Get them all or just a few at a time and have a "prize" for all the upcoming holidays! Easter baskets need a Claude and Callie Cat, Austin Alligator, and an Ike Iguana for sho!
and speaking of Austin Alligator, there he is... kicking off the show. That is our buddy, Wes, inside. His mom was one of the tutorees at the early am shift of balloon sculpting. She has worked at MMPT for about 4 years. We have watched our little Wes grow up! He did a great job as Austin! It was funny to hear the kids as I skated through the crowd. I think they thought I was one of the characters too. Like meeting Minnie Mouse at Disney!! Hey, look at that one on skates! "coming through , coming through, just trying to stay on my feet and get back to the diner!"
The entire event is run by volunteers. Cindy serves desserts at all of the board meetings, so her board of directors are called "The Cheesecake Committee". Here are a few of them, running a bookstore in the back. The ones to the left are her in-laws. The one to the right is our resident accountant! ALways good to have one of those on the board!
More helpers.... Cathy, Angie and Polly. Those latter two are big helpers at the Shake too! I LOVE those who help in the community. Especially just helping out friends. Thanks, guys! Here is Ramsay, our first watiress of the morn. We affectionately call her "Ramdawg"! She is an occupational therapist assistant in our Ruston Office.
and two more of the Cheesecakers, right behind the morning registration table... Cathy to the left and Cindy' s mom, Ruth (Of Rabbit Ruthie, IJust Lost my Toothie fame).
I am gonna slide this one in, mysteriously.... her mom doesn't know she has this yet. So, I can't reveal the person! Hope they don't recognize the tennies! But yep.. a close friend now has THIS on her ankle! Can't tell!
Should I have divided this into two blog posts?! Tired of Alphafest yet?! Ok... take a break...

Break is OVER! You know the Fords we eat dinner with almost every Sunday night, and that we vacation with every year?! Welllll, and you know how I said they are the PREMIER dance instructors in the area?! Well, here is Linda Lou doing her thang. The way that girl can still shake and shimmy... hmmm... I dont' know if ol' Ellie Sue is going to be taking from her. I am going to see if the Baptist Church has a movement class or something like that!! Lord help!

with all the pelvic thrusting and shoulder shimmying.... owww. My eyes hurt! Miss Linda is in the foreground in the above picture. This is a behind the stage view. Check out Mel's Diner back there. Rock it, girls! Rock it.
Oh, we had a chalkboard set up that said, "Today's menu: Balloon hats. Balloon dogs. Balloon swords. and Guitar pick necklaces. Today's Special: Face Painting... in rear of Diner.

Well, THIS is in rear of diner. And these two were ROCKING some face painting. They (Heather and Jessi) were meticulous in their paint jobs, and both of them being artsy, it was WORTH the long wait in line!

Here are Robin and Christi. Robin and Heather were the ones who set up the whole diner. WOW> Good work girls! And Christi, bless her little heart... well, it was her birthday today, and she still came and worked the DIner. Thank you all so much ! You understand what it is to be a servant!
Speaking of servant... here is our company's mission statement...It works in our everyday work with kids we serve, parents we encounter, and of course, our adult patients who come to us with disability or in pain! But , I even think it is a very fitting statement for what we did today! Serving our community and the kids/families in it.

This is Crystal. SHe has been having pretty excruciating neck pain, but HERE SHE IS! Some of my staff didnt' sign up. I hope they are reading this and seeing who did. All of this is on a volunteer basis! Christi on her birthday, and Crystal in pain! I hope all of them sign up next year!
This is Keif. (Keith!!). All the kids love him because the boy never speaks plain English. It is some weird variety of his own language... How you doorin?! That's Mo betta. And such!
This is a little view of the afternoon. And it looked like this pretty much 10-3:30! Can you find Cindy? Bright blond hair. White shirt. Scarf in hair.
It is a little like "Where's Waldo?" Can you find her?
These are proud parents watching their little tykes dance on the stage for Miss Linda and Linda Lou.
And when we ran out of balloons and guitar picks, we moved right along with additional face painting booths. We had plenty of paint!
This is "inside" the diner. We would call out, "If you see an empty seat, please come on in and take a seat. A waitress will be right with you." It was hilarious.
And speaking of "Heelarious".... Ellie and Gabbi showed up toward the end of the day... THis is Karl's daughter, helping out with the Gabster. and by now, Masson should KNOW that I always have camera in tow, and she should ALWAYS have smile on! Miss Sue had to remain in stroller as much as possible. She would have been ALL over that place!
Here is Miss Curly, herself, sporting her guitar pick necklace. And my favorite picture on the day.... me and my girls...
and that concludes our trip down Alphafest Lane. (I know, breakfast is LONG over. Go have dinner!) Melanie, aka MO!


Lana said...

WOW! all I can sputter out is WOW! Mo you and your entourage ROCK! What a special friend Miss Cindy must be. Seeing all the pictures made me wish I'd been there.

Thank you for being patient enough with blogger to download all those. I can't even imagine how long it took??? WOW!

stephleighjenkins said...

Your community is amazing the support and friendship that ya'll have is so inspirational!

MLP said...

What an EVENT!!! LOVED it. Mel's Diner and everything else just looked fabulous. I am about to head on over to those books. They look WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!! What an inspiration Cindy and ALL of you and your staff and everyone involved in Alphafest is!!!

Christie said...

Wow that looked like soooo much fun. I can't believe you wore those skates all day. I would've just croaked

tricia said...

such a great read!!!!

^BJs^ mamaw forever said...

i can tell without a doubt a good time was had by all!!! I love those heels that Gabbi wears!!! How adorable...and how do you keep them on???

Beth E. said...

Shew...I'm worn OUT! And that's just from reading about your day! Looks like fun was had by all. I love how you jump into all of your projects full-force, with such great ideas. Mel's Diner looks like it was a big hit! Way to go, Mel! Take a break definitely deserve it. :o)

Anonymous said...

Wow what an event! Mel, I have to tell you...I admire how much you do, how much you love and give to everyone,everything around you. If I were closer I would sooo be there, volunteering, doing whatever you needed. You bring that out in everyone around you. LOVE LOVE the Diner. How long did it take you to make that??? I wish I had your creative jeans girl, so jealous.

The girls are precious as usual, esp the one of you the them together! Thanks for sharing that great event with us.
BTW I have a son that has Sensory Integration issues (has had them since he was about 1) and I wish we had the services here that you provide. It's been a struggle but we manage and I have learned a lot in reading books, research...

connie said...

i love all the pictures looked like yall had a great time sure wish i lived where you do i would come to all the events i could come too you all always have so much fun and i would love to have fun with you all. mo i love the pic of you on roller skates i used to skate a long time ago i had to give it up cause of my health. i cant wait to see more pics your girls are growing up so fast. they are so beautiful i hope to be able to meet you and your precious family one day. any just wanted to say hi and welcome back i missed you alot and iam so happy you are back to blogging

hugs and love ya

Our Journey said...

wow!!! that looks SO much more fun than the Spring Market!! I walked through the whole Spring Market in about 45 min--bummer!! I love the diner! It looks sooo cute!! Looks like yall had a HUGE turn out! Everywhere you went around town on Saturday people were constantly talking about "Alphakidz"!! Love all the pics too!! The one with you and the girls--priceless!!

Robin said...

I have to say this was SOO much fun! set up and working... well worth the blisters from tying balloons...and I never in a million years thought that I would ever be so great at making those balloon animals!! Thanks Mo for all you do for our community!

Veronicia said...

Glad to see you back! You've moved me to join and leave a comment! I just wanted to make sure that you can walk today after all that skating! I know after chasing an inflated bowling ball and pins I was sore...I'm taking it easy today resting my aching back and thighs!

polly said...

Thanks Mo!! Love the pic of me and Ang...And I told mom today so the word can be out! She wasn't totally against them so I guess that's good! I LOVE MY INK!! And it always reminds me of a very special time in my life with an AMAZING little boy and 2 of the most wonderful women in my life! Glad the blog is back!

Sandy said...

thanks for that post. looks like you guys had a lot of fun yesterday. I love Miss Gabbis shoes. both babies are precious.

Anonymous said...

For the first time ever, I actually thought Ellie and Gabbi looked alike. They look sassy in their matching outfits. Love it! I wish they were here with us playing in the sand and getting all kinds of popsicle dirty. Ellie and Maddi and Bowie (that's funny-say all their names.......) would be keeping it real. Loving the skatin Mel. It's like Sparkles in the early 80's. Looks like yall had a blast and the books, gotta have them!!!

BestFriend said...

Mel, just a word to thanks for the blog dedicated to Alpha-fest. What a day it was. As usual, your booth rocked! You and your staff ALWAYS go to such great lengths to make your presence at Alpha-fest EXTRAordinary! With Mel on skates, it was like having a "rock star" on site! Thanks for all you do for your friends and your community. MMPT rocks!

Unknown said...

Great to see you're back online!!! Had a blast Saturday!!!

Veronica said...

I made it back Mo! so glad to see you back and posting pics of your girls and you......whew now the Withdrawls will stop =)

Michele said...

I work for International Paper, and have had to travel to Bastop for business...staying in West Monroe (many years ago). Never at the time, did I think that I would want to live in West Monroe...but man...after reading all the things you do....all the good friends you have...I WISH I LIVED IN WEST MONROE!!! You and your circle of friends & family...are awesome!

Kathryn said...

How totally cool! What a wonderful, wonderful day with no green beans in sight!

dena said...

Dang girl, I wished I lived in your town.......what an absolute blast. You give so generously of your time and talent......what an awesome gift you gave to the kids of your town. I bet they loved it. So glad you are back blogging. It is amazing what an effect you have on so are loved:) And hey, I would like to ask you to pray for a young mom and her young son who is in the hospital fighting a heart Stellan is in need of prayer and his mom is exhausted and worried. I thought as strong christian woman who has been through the hospital ups and downs, you may be some encouragement. Jennifer is a wonderful witness for the love of Jesus so be may come away Thanks again for sharing your family with all of us........we pink puffy heart MoJoy:)

Renee said...

Wow! Alphafest seems awesome! I bet those kids had a blast!

Nana said...

YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!! This was much better! Next year, we will be there for Alpha Fest...can't have my Karlie never seeing it...And, I am behind on books..Will get them when I am there next. The Mel's Diner was awesome! What a great day! Melanie, you will never ever know all the lives that you have touched...and your encouragement of others to help is super..
I am missing Jinni..Where is she??
Thanks for the "mail" it!

nita womack said...

mo-mo-mo-you are such an inspiration - you work so hard- i dare not have an 'i don't feel like doing anything' day. thanx for getting me off my butt-and into the parade---what have i been missing??? you are such a love- luv, nene

Shannon said...

That looks like a blast!!!!
How big is your town anyways?
Of course I bet you could pull together a town of a million and have a good time!!

Unknown said...

I have been trying to post a comment for a few days and I havent gotten it to go through. Just wanted to say SO glad you are back, I missed seeing those two adorable girls. Those pumps Gabbi wears cracks me up! Welcome back you were missed :)

MyThreeSons said...

The boys had a ball yesterday!! They did not want to was their faces last night. I assured them we could get their faces painted again. All thought I am going to have to work on Cindy about the "fish" booth. You know, the fish that usually die the next day.... well one of ours is going on two years now and we now have another that is still swimming.

nanny of two said...

I'm sorry I missed it. I was going to go but got a late start. My granddaughter was one of the pink ballerinas. She was one of the two that exited the stage before the song was over. She was following a little girl and she went down the steps and Kaylee followed. Oh well, she'll be ready in time for recital. I showed her the pictures today and she said " Nanny I saw that lady on skates and she was awesome". She also got her faced painted LSU.
You do deserve a round of applause for everything you do for others. West Monroe wouldn't be the same without you. Maybe if Mayor Norris retires oneday you could run for mayor. Just kidding. I'm out of the city limits too.

jneman said...

Looks like fun!

Curious about Distressed Designs, but the link said that the blog was removed - any other websites for them?

Denise said...

Looks like loads of fun were had by all! It's wonderful to see kids having so much fun. My hat off to all of you hard working people who made it all possible for the young 'uns.
Praying & BELIEVING, Denise, xoxo
P.S. And I absolutely LOVE the tattoo!

Sharidrew said...

Hi Mo! I must say that I was completely surprised to see the wonderful banner (and posts) pop up this morning instead of you must be a member blah blah....well, I used to check every morning, noon and night wishing and hoping you were back. I guess this time off has taught me that I am obsessed!! LOL. But happy to admit it! It's great to have you back. It makes my day better to read about your exciting daily doing's and your girls are just adorable!

Once again, thanks for sharing!

Hugs from Missouri

Jeri said...

Glad you are back...I missed my daily "mo joy" fix... Your girls are beautiful and your joy is contagious. My day starts off in a positive note after reading your blog....thanks for coming back!!!

Stacy Gibson & Sarah Peavy said...

So glad to see that you are back.....Thanks so much for the PLUG on your blog. We had such an overwhelming response at Alphafest and now from your blog. We see the website address is removed so all of you that want to check us out it is us know the link to Mo Beads so we can post it on our site. Thanks so much! WE BELIEVE!!!

Big Pissy said...

What an amazing event!

Loved all the pictures, such colorful...

Fun! :)

SK said...

Please remind us where Gabbi's cute high heels were purchased. A friend is pregnant with her first little girl. That baby needs some high heels.