Tuesday, November 21, 2017

fun overnight date with the bean

considering the bean's cheer competition was in anaheim at the convention center, i'd kind of just assumed it'd be no biggie to just get ready at home and meet up with the team that morning.  after all, we're not really that far from there and we all know how familiar i am with the anaheim area...especially as the convention center is pretty much across the street from disneyland.  not to mention, this was one of the bigger competitions and i just assumed at the hotel would either be booked solid or that the rates would be at a premium.

but then i started thinking about how much of a pain in the ass it is to find parking that isn't a country mile away.  and the fact that we needed to be there at 9AM sharp, hair and makeup in place, full uniform on and ready to go.  so i decided that it wouldn't hurt to browse the hilton website, just to see what i might find...you know, just for shits and giggles.  and whaddaya know...lots of rooms were still available, and at a really decent price to boot.  so i shot the hub a text to make sure he didn't mind us staying down there for the night and i booked it.

as soon as practice was over on friday evening we hopped into the car and made our way down through traffic to anaheim.  it'd been a long day and we were both pretty tired and hungry, but i remembered that the hilton had a food court on the lobby level.  the check-in process was quick and easy and we were in our 6th-floor room in no time.

but then as we perused the guest services book i noticed something:  the food court closed at 7.  and it was 7:45.  boo.  so to the bean's utter delight, we ordered room service.  they gave us a 30-minute delivery window, and while the bean was enjoying a relaxing hot shower after her long practice the food arrived.

mac & three cheeses for her:

pepperoni pizza for me:

she was super amused by the mini baguette in the bread basket.

and we pocketed the tiny tabasco bottles to take home to her sister:

we'd thrown in a molten chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert:

which she enjoyed immensely.

we even had some little chocolates for later, which neither of us ended up eating.

we headed up to the coach's room to grab a couple of things, hung out for a little while, and then went back to our room to get to bed.  with an early morning ahead of us, i knew we'd both need as much sleep as possible.

next up, JAMZ!

Friday, November 17, 2017

i'm such a room parent fail

it's hard to believe that thanksgiving is next week.  i know i say this every year, but seriously...where does the time go?  2017 has literally flown right by and it feels like a big ass blur when i try to think back on what we've done this year.

i got to join the bean and her class a couple of days ago for their thanksgiving party, where we'd decided to keep it nice and simple.  we put together a sandwich bar - hawaiian rolls, turkey, cheese, mayo, mustard, pickles.  and i learned quite a lesson as they started digging in - 9- and 10-year-olds like to eat.  a lot.  especially when hawaiian rolls are involved.  holy crap.  we definitely ran out of food a lot faster than i'd anticipated.  oops.

and then as we started dishing out the soup, we found that the crock pot had somehow failed us.  it was super hot to the touch - like hot enough that i burned a finger just testing to see if it was warm - but the soup inside was stone cold, like straight out of the fridge cold.  i ended up having to dish out bowls and warming them two at at time in the microwave.  that was fun.

still, the kids were somewhat satisfied and happily ran outside for recess once they'd gotten their fill.  once they got back, they separated into their two classrooms to work on a fun thanksgiving-themed craft together before coming together again in the presentation room next door.  there they got to spread out and sit at tables that we'd set up with the makings of another craft - this time, a fun edible one.  they had plain sugar cookies on a plate with tubs of frosting, candy corn and other adornments all ready to go, and they were super excited to get started.

it was fun watching them work on their cookies, which magically turned into turkeys as they added all of the toppings in the order they were given.

and the bean said that the cookies were delicious, even though she doesn't typically like frosting (i know, so weird).

she let me get a quick selfie in before they settled down to watch "a charlie brown thanksgiving."

and now we have all of next week off to relax and unwind a little.  it'll be nice to take a break, and we have some fun local stuff planned as a family.

but first...cheer competition tomorrow!  wish us luck!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

competition season has begun!

the bean and i were up bright and early the next morning to get her ready for competition.  we'd been to a workshop led by the cheer coach to show us how their hair and make-up was to be done, and after years of dance recitals and things, i was feeling pretty confident in my skillz to get it right.  turns out that the hairpiece i'd bought wasn't going to work after all...they wanted the ponytails to be teased high and straight with some beachy, loose curls at the bottom.  yarg.  at least she'll have some pretty cute cheer portraits this year, i guess.

along with the uniform, the coaches provided each girl with a cute little personalized makeup bag and all of the makeup in the right shades that they wanted them to wear for competitions.  i really like that - and this way they make sure that everyone has everything they need without having to shop for stuff and risk the possibility of not matching.

with the help of the old lady's beachwaver curling iron, multiple hair products, two different teasing combs and some extra-strength hair ties i managed to get her hair properly teased and high-ponytailed.

next we tackled her least favorite part - the make-up.  we'd seen at the workshop that it was pretty simple, so i was hopeful that we could get through it quickly without tears or fighting.  there was glitter for the eyelid, black gel liner for a winged eye look, and a really pretty shade of red for the lips that we saved for the very last minute.  i think i did a fairly decent job of duplicating the desired look:

once all that was done, it was time to put that uniform on.  still, we decided to wait on putting the lip color on so she could have something to eat in the car on the way.

we got down to yorba linda pretty quickly, and the rest of her team was easy to find as we pulled up.  i knew this was a fairly small competition - just the right size for a first competition as a brand new team.  and as we stood in line to enter the gym, the girls headed off with their coaches to do a little warm-up and practice.  i could see that our team had a pretty big turnout, with practically every other person in the line wearing some sort of one dream paraphernalia.

my friend had saved us some seats with a pretty good view of the mats, right behind the special chairs that were set up for coaches to sit in during their teams' performances.

the girls got to come in and sit with us while the other teams went out and performed for the judges.

and when it was their turn to go back and warm up, the coaches texted us this picture.

the hub arrived and i was happy to see that he'd put on the "cheer dad" shirt i'd bought for him, heh.

i was so convinced that i would cry when the bean took the mat with her team and performed the routine they'd been working on for so many weeks.  she was nervous and i just reminded her that she had to trust in her skills, the hard work they'd put in and her teammates to pull it all together.  she seemed okay after that, and i stood with the other parents down on the floor to watch them get to work.

they nailed the routine, hitting all the stunts and smiling through the whole thing.  we were all so proud of them, and our humongous support squad roared with approval with every stunt.

the competition was somewhat unorganized and ran about an hour behind schedule, so everyone was relieved when all the performances were done and it was finally time for awards.  i managed to catch the bean's eye with a smile as she sat down with her team to see how they'd fared.

the coaches had done their research and realized that none of our teams had any other squads competing against them.  this meant that they'd basically be performing for the judges to receive their critique and evaluation, and so while everyone was excited when they received their trophy and banner we all knew it was pretty much a win by default.

we have another competition this weekend, and this one is much bigger and more important.  it's a qualifying competition that will give them a bid for the national competition in las vegas in january, so the girls have been practicing nonstop all week.  like, they had showcase on saturday, competition sunday and then they've had at least an hour and a half of practice every night since then.  they won't get a break from cheer until this sunday.

phew.  it's a good thing the bean enjoys all of this...although i guess we wouldn't be here if she didn't, right?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

all about that one dream lyfe

this weekend was the bean's first foray into the world of competitive cheer.  yeah, she was on her school cheer team for the last five years, but this time she's on a team whose sole existence is based on competitions - no games, no pep rallies.  it's all very different and pretty intense.

saturday was picture day.  because of the super teased hairstyles that are required of cheerleaders, i'd bought a couple of faux headpieces to use in an effort to make things easier and to avoid having to do so much backcombing on the bean's actual hair.  i hate doing it, it makes such a mess and trying to brush it out and wash out all the product is such a pain in the butt.  check this thing out:

these things are created especially for cheerleaders who wear their hair in high ponytails and teased up like crazy.  the video tutorial with instructions on how to attach this thing seemed simple enough though - just throw her natural hair up into a high bun and then use the attached combs and drawstring cords to hold it in place.  before:

and after, with the equally ginormous cheer bow in place:

i went through the process a couple of times to make sure i had it down, and with that done i sent the bean to go get dressed in her uniform.  besides the fitting this was the first time she was going to spend any time wearing it, and we were both excited.  when she emerged from her room i made her pose for me in the usual spot:

i die.  she looks about sixteen with all that hair (which she decided she wanted to wear for her pictures).

we hopped into the car and drove the short distance to where the girls were meeting up, and i got her to take a quick selfie with me:

it was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and this fountain served as the perfect backdrop for their portraits.

she did a "buddy" picture with a couple of her friends too:

and then all three teams within the one dream squad got together to take one giant group photo.  the younger, new-to-cheer girls are called "hope," the intermediate girls like the bean are on the "believe" team, and the oldest and most experienced group is "inspire."  there's about 60 of them altogether.

after going home to grab some lunch and get changed out of those uniforms, the girls gathered again at the gym to get one last practice in before the next day's competition.  a showcase was scheduled that evening too, where the three teams would get to show off the routine they'd been working so hard for the last five months to perfect.  friends and family were invited to the showcase, and it was a great chance to see the girls in action if you couldn't get to any of the competitions.  the bean was super stoked that one of her BFFs and her family were there, and she beamed as she saw them in the audience with me and the hub.

they'd brought her a beautiful bouquet of pink roses, which she happily accepted once the showcase was over.

after that it was time to head home, grab some dinner and rest up for the next day.  the first competition jitters were setting in, and along with the excitement of picture day and showcase it wasn't hard to get her to go to bed at a decent time.

ah, the life of a competitive cheerleader.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

embracing the holiday season

i can't believe it's already time for the holidays again.  seriously, where did 2017 go?  it seems like we just did this not too long ago.  but i do love the holiday season, and as much as i'm all about "respect the turkey!" i also know that the season goes by incredibly fast.  usually by the time i'm finally embracing it, it's almost over.  and so when the old lady announced so excitedly that one of our local radio stations was going to start playing the christmas music last friday, i decided that i wasn't gonna fight it like i typically do.  it only lasts for so long, so screw it!  bring it on!

disneyland kicked off their holiday season on the very same day.  the bean had the day off in celebration of veterans' day, and so as soon as her sister got home from work we hopped into the car and headed down to anaheim.  twitter told us that the parks were pretty busy, with all parking lots reporting in as completely full, so we were a little nervous as to what we'd find once we got there.  but as luck would have it, the structure was indeed open and we managed to find a spot pretty quickly.  those tweets must've scared people away, because we didn't have any trouble getting through security, onto a tram and into the gates of california adventure.

oh, and we even had time to stop at starbucks on the way down and take advantage of BOGO holiday coffee drinks.  here's my first caramel brûlée latte of the year:

i'd finally made myself a fun top using some leftover fabric from my birthday dress and a fun vinyl transfer i cut out on my trusty silhouette.  i wore it with my first pair of jogger-style pants that i sewed up out of some french terry i'd been hoarding, and although i kind of felt like i was wearing sweatpants out in public, i was warm and comfy and it was already dark outside so nobody would really notice anyway.

look at california adventure's giant christmas tree, right at the end of buena vista street:

our favorite part of disneyland holidays is the food & wine festival that highlights california-style cuisine as well as dishes from all around the world.

we picked up an annual passholder-exclusive "sip & savor pass," which gives us 8 tickets to use at the various food kiosks sprinkled throughout the park.  it's a pretty good deal, if you choose your dishes wisely.

of course, it doesn't work on alcohol.  the old lady was pretty excited to try the special michelada at the spicy celebrations kiosk:

and we hung out peoplewatching next to this guy as she sipped it happily.

because of veterans' day and the first day of the holiday decorations and festival and stuff, it was crazy busy and none of us really had the patience or desire to fight through the crowds to pick up the small plates at the kiosks.  and so instead we headed over to the pier and grabbed fresh sourdough bread bowls full of warm, creamy soup.  while we waited in line we were serenaded with live holiday music.

santa hangs out at the redwood creek trail instead of inside one of the shops on buena vista street now, and so that was our next stop.  but not before signing our names on the "nice" list:

we snagged a selfie in front of the big tree before crossing the esplanade into the disneyland side.

there's another giant tree right inside the main gates.

and it was even more crowded on that side than at california adventure, if you can believe that.

selfie time again!  never too many selfies when there are so many awesome photo ops to take advantage of.  too bad it was super dark and the picture didn't turn out that great.

the bean spent a little time in this shop, one of her favorites in the park.

and then i sent them into the candy shop to grab a treat while i saved us some spots on the street for the fireworks show.  i'd had a really delicious housemade peppermint patty last week and wanted another one, but for some reason they didn't have them.  i got to enjoy this festive rice krispy treat instead:

we didn't really have too long of a wait before the show started, but it was just long enough for SOME of us to get bored.  and the little white chocolate santa hat on my treat made for a funny photo prop.

the lights went down and the show started promptly at 9:30.  the castle was so pretty:

the fireworks were fantastic as always, and just as the grand finale wrapped up we looked up and the "snow" started falling.  so much fun!

when it was all over we fought our way through the crowds trying to make their way to the exit towards big thunder mountain to get at least one ride in.  too bad for us, it broke down right as we got there.  boo.  but we knew it was a terrible time to try to get out of there and onto a tram back to the parking structure, so we waited it out for a little while and timed our exit just before the "fantasmic" show started.  

one last look at the castle before we left:

and because they'd wised up and opened up all three of the tram loading areas, we were seated and on our way back to the car in no time, thank goodness.  it's always the worst part of a disneyland visit, waiting for the tram to arrive.  

we may not have been able to do much, but we managed to grab dinner, have a treat, watch fireworks and soak in some of that disney holiday magic in the span of just a few hours.  and now we can put together a game plan for our next visit.  and this time, we'll definitely use up those tickets on that "sip & savor" pass!
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