About a week ago, mother of five Melanie Kattouf marveled at the thought of riding in a limousine on a Thursday.
Sitting in the back of the Freedom Excursion vehicle, Melanie, and her daughter, Amanda, made their way down Pleasant Valley Boulevard, headed to the first of many appointments as part of the Altoona Mirror's Mother's Day Makeover contest.
Melanie was selected out of 36 entries for the makeover that the Mirror has held for area moms for more than a decade.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Melanie Kattouf of Altoona, a mom of five, models her new outfit after a full day Mother’s Day Makeover.
Melanie, 57, of Altoona is mom to Melissa, 31; Nicki, 29; Amanda, 27; Vanessa, 23; and Anthony, 22. She and her husband, Tom, 60, have been married 35 years.
"I think my mom should be selected to get a makeover because for as long as I have known, she is always more concerned with the well-being of her children, family and friends than of herself," wrote Amanda, who nominated her. "This woman is remarkable. She loves her job. I don't ever recall her missing a day. She never is too busy to talk to one of her children if they need her help ... I think a makeover will give her a day where she's not worrying about someone else and let her finally focus on herself, letting her truly enjoy the miraculous transformation she has made."
And transform she has - inside and out.
Total cost of makeover
Razor's Edge, 1531 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd.: $144
Caribbean Sun Tan & Spa, 1548 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd.: $147
Say It With Sweets, 1309 Pleasant Valley Blvd.: $66
Olive Garden, 3315 Pleasant Valley Blvd.: Lunch and an $85 gift card
Glow Salon, 5715 W. Sixth Ave.: $235
Kranich's, Logan Valley Mall: $595
J.C. Penney Co., Logan Valley Mall: $250
Altoona Jazzercise Fitness Center, 5410 Sixth Ave., Suite 6: $130
With her youngest child still a toddler, Melanie, originally a teacher, decided to go back to school at age 37.
While doing marketing work for the Children's Miracle Network at Geisinger, Melanie discovered a passion for the medical profession, she said.
She told her husband if she ever came back in another life, she wanted to work in the medical field, she said. He advised her that she might not get a second chance.
She had some reservations about making a career change later in life, but Tom said she would still turn 41 in four years regardless, she said.
Four years later, she graduated magna cum laude from St. Francis University, Loretto. She is now a physician's assistant with Altoona Regional Health System.
With stress and life in general getting her down, Melanie took off on another life-changing journey last year.
Following the Lose It iPhone app to help guide weight loss, she shed 50 pounds, she said. With the weight loss, she gained energy and felt better about herself, she said. She learned how to put herself first so she could better support others.
Amanda said her mom leads by example with her accomplishments.
Before her first appointment at Razor's Edge, Melanie admitted to something she has not gone out and done in awhile - change her hairstyle.
Inside the salon, where Melanie, coincidentally, has gone for the last 25 years, owner Michael DeGennaro colored her hair a warm brown with red tones.
As for the cut, he took away some length and heaviness to create a textured, layered bob.
Melanie, who also left with a product gift bag, was thrilled with her new look.
Next it was on to Caribbean Sun Tan & Spa where manager Ashley Mighells gave Melanie a tour of the areas she would get to enjoy another day with the gift of a spa package containing a one-hour massage, a hydration station session and a tanning session.
The hydration station, which looks like a capsule-shaped futuristic bathtub with a lid, conditions the skin and helps prep it for tanning, the spa's website said.
During her visit, Melanie also got to pick out a pair of Lindsay Phillips shoes, which allow for customization with interchangeable snap charms, and an extra charm.
Next, Melanie collected treats at Say it With Sweets from owner Sharon Ebersole, who had a basket of cookies waiting for her, and asked her to pick out four cupcakes, which Melanie graciously shared.
Olive Garden was next on the agenda. Melanie enjoyed a Pomegranate Citrus Acqua Fresca, some appetizers and a salmon dish. And service manager Derek Clauss gave Melanie a gift card to come back for another round.
After lunch, Glow Salon owner Sarina Yingling did Melanie's makeup.
First, esthetician Cindy Sinisi prepped Melanie's skin for the makeup, and showed her the Satin SmoothSculpt treatment the salon gifted her for another visit.
The treatment is done on a machine with a wand attached by a tube. The machine creates pressure pulsing and suction movements over the skin, according to the Satin Smooth website.
Information from the salon said the SmoothSculpt helps to give a brighter, clear complexion and tighter, firmer skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
For makeup, Melanie received an upgrade from her standard minimal routine. Yingling used Makeup Forever products and others to achieve the look Melanie said she liked because you could tell it was there, but it didn't overpower.
With hair and makeup set, all that was left was a bit of shopping.
At Kranich's Jewelers, manager Ben Nelson presented Melanie with a pair of cultured pearl and diamond earrings.
Later in the day, a devastated Melanie realized she lost one of the earrings, but Kranich's kindly came through again, offering to turn the remaining earring into a pendant and give her a pair of pearl post earrings.
At J.C. Penney, manager Bill Crouse presented Melanie with a gift card to do some shopping. With the help of fashion expert Danii Kaufman, she picked out her cover look, plus another dress and pair of shoes, two pairs of pants, a sleeveless blouse, a blazer and a tote.
The day came to an end with a final ride in the limo back to the Mirror parking lot.
Sharing the day with Amanda was special, Melanie said earlier in the day.
When she found out she had won, she said she felt like a contestant on the TV game show, "Queen for a Day," which she watched when she was a girl.
"And to think that Amanda took the time to write such a beautiful, heartfelt letter just meant so much to me," she added.
"I don't think I have ever been more shocked and surprised about anything," she said. "And like I said, I feel blessed that I've had the opportunity to have five children and that I had the opportunity to pursue my new dream career and [to] have this happen is just really like icing on the cake, icing on the cupcake."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030