Tuesday, July 31, 2012

to the hip hip hop, a-you don't stop

wanna hear something awesome?

the bean added a new activity to her weekly line-up.  and it's the most fabulous class ever - hip-hop dance.  oh, yes.

now, i'd heard that there was a beginner's level class for 5-year-olds.  while talking to the receptionist at the dance studio about it, the owner happened to walk by and overheard our conversation.  when i told her that the bean's birthday is in october, she nodded her head and said "oh, yes.  she can start the class now if you're interested."  BOOM.

i hadn't really been all about committing to any saturday classes before, because i like to keep our weekends open, but i figured a measly 1-hour class would be no big deal.  not to mention...well, this was just going to be too good to miss.  and we didn't even need to buy any special gear for it - all we needed was comfy clothes that are easy to move in, and a pair of tennies earmarked just for this class.  easy enough.

she was a little confused as to why she wasn't decked out in tights and leotard for a dance class, and i was a bit concerned about how she'd react to a different teacher and a whole slew of new kids (all of which were older).  but i should've known better - she strolled right in, introduced herself to the instructor, and started filling her in on how she'd just spent four whole nights in a hotel on vacation.


i stood outside the door and watched through the window, giggling and beaming with pride as i watched my little dancer go.  they did a bunch of stretching exercises first.


she was a little lost as she watched and tried to follow along, but she did just fine.  and the kids in the class seemed really sweet as they smiled at her and tried to stay out of her way.


when she's disconcerted or just needs a little comforting, she tugs on her earlobes.


and here's one of many videos i took through the glass.  seriously, folks...i die.


she's been to three hip-hop classes now, and when we showed up this weekend we were both pleasantly surprised to see that two of her ballet classmates were there too.  i really like their moms too, and because we'd been out of town and missed regular wednesday classes it was great to see them and get a little caught up.

oh, boy - the next dance recital is going to be ah-may-zing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

solvang a problem

(no, there wasn't really a problem, i just wanted to use that post title. hardy har har)

our trip up the central coast was capped off with a stop in solvang.  like the hearst castle visit, it's just one of those things we have to do when we're in the area - even if it's just a quick pitstop for breakfast.  this time, we decided to hit up an area favorite:


we didn't have to wait too long before we were seated at a table on the patio.  and it only took a glance at the menu to decide what i wanted:



right next to us was one of solvang's many, many danish bakeries.  the ILs love these cookies, so MIL took the bean inside to pick up a bucket of 'em.




what is it with funhouse mirrors?  there was one here too.


and before we hit the road for the drive home, there was one more stop we had to make.  the hub and i took the teen here once before - on a crazy day trip we did when she was about 8 or so - and we all decided that it was the bean's turn to experience the fun.


we paid the admission, coughed up another buck for a bowl of ostrich grub, and then followed the signs to the viewing area.





this is super random, right?  i know.  but come on - with a 4-year-old in tow you sure wouldn't pass up the chance to check it out too.  and it was comical to watch her delighted expressions and hear her laugh in nervous excitement.




we ended up going back for another bowl of feed so we could do this:


while their neighbors looked on in disapproval.


i love my girls and all their silliness.


oh, and isn't it good to know that the folks who operate this ostrich and emu farm make good use of their valuable resources?


before you ask - no, i sure didn't buy any of that stuff.  i'm a sucker for a novelty, but i have my limits.

Friday, July 27, 2012

even morro sightseeing

i can't imagine a trip to cambria without a stop at the biggest tourist attraction in the area - hearst castle.  not that i'm particularly fascinated with the place or anything, but it's just what you do when you head up here.  so we made reservations online for a tour of the upstairs suites (there are several different choices, and this was the only one we hadn't been on) and headed up to check it out.




part of the tour includes a bus ride that takes you from the visitor center up the hill to the entrance.  it's a fairly sizable drive that takes about 10-15 minutes on the road that was traveled by hearst and his mistress, marion davies, as well as a bunch of old hollywood stars who visited the "ranch" in its heyday.  our tour guide was waiting for us at the top of the stairs, and our entrance to the mansion was here.  because ol' william apparently couldn't seem to complete the damn house, we could see where the exterior was left unfinished.


we trudged up the stairs to one of the guest rooms.  this one was meant for a married couple to share, and just like the rest of the joint, it was ornate as all hell.  i seriously couldn't even imagine staying one night here - it just doesn't look very comfy or homey.


if you were single, you got to share a room with a fellow unattached guest.  the teen and i dug the vintage clothing that they draped on the beds.  and they had a pretty nice view, too.


hearst himself had a room on the very top floor, of course.  and it was separate from the homewrecker's.  i guess they still felt like they had to keep up appearances, despite the fact that he was still married was common knowledge.  psh.


we also got to see the "gothic study" - his personal office where he spent hours upon hours slaving away, toiling into the wee hours to manage his massive holdings.


despite living the good life (i suppose, if you're cool with being known more for your illicit affair with a married man than the fairly successful acting career you've created), marion davies was apparently quite the lush.  her sugar daddy kept the liquor locked up in this safe, supposedly to keep guests from swiping bottles and boozin' it up in their rooms.  but rumor had it that it was really to monitor ol' marion's alcohol intake.


at the end of our tour, we were set free to roam the grounds for as long as we wanted.  this was different from other visits - in the past, the tour ended at the roman pool and then you boarded the bus to return to the visitor center.  here, the bean admired one of the many fountains just before she got chastised by a passing tour guide for daring to sit on the marble.


i get it, i really do.  they want to keep everything pristine and preserve it for the enjoyment of many generations to come, blah, blah, blah.  but man, the lady was all growly and stuff about it.  geez.  you can see what we thought of that.


so to soothe her hurt feeling box, we decided to go down to the fancy-schmancy neptune pool.  it's just as fabulous as i remembered, and there were even cushy lounge chairs to relax in.


but for a four-year-old who's in swimming lessons and always eager to get a little practice in, it pretty much makes zero sense that there's this awesome, ginormous pool that you can't jump into.  she wasn't very happy to hear this news.


and so to distract her, we sat down on the steps right at the edge of the pool and chatted about random stuff to change her mood.  then she decided she wanted to take a picture of me.


by then, everyone was over it.  we headed back down towards the indoor roman pool, where the bean ooh'ed and aah'ed over the 24-karat gold mosaic.



she was pretty pooped, which was to be expected considering we'd climbed 200-ish stairs throughout the tour we'd taken - plus walked her all over the grounds afterwards.  so on the ride down, she passed out cold in the hub's arms.  i was glad she was getting her nap in, but i was really sad that this meant she was going to miss the elephant seals.  they gather on the beach just a few miles north of hearst castle, and we stopped to see them (along with a bazillion other folks).




on the way back, we decided to drive through the tiny town of san simeon and stop at sebastian's general store.  this little shop has been in business since 1852, and is a state historical landmark.




our tour guide had mentioned that the store sat on a little chunk of land that was pretty much the last holdout against the mighty william randolph hearst.  he would go down and visit the store owner periodically, making small talk and catching up on local gossip before throwing out yet another offer to buy the land and complete his san simeon empire.  alas, he was never successful - although the owners did finally sell to the hearst family much later.

inside we found the town's post office, and then i was overly excited to find the perfect snack.


with the bean still sound asleep, we continued to make our way down the highway.  eventually we ended up in morro bay, driving right up to the giant rock that's been sitting there for something like 20 million years.


as we drove around town, i noticed a handful of salt water taffy shops.  just as i was lamenting the fact that none of them seemed to make their own taffy, we spotted this one:


well, duh.  obviously we had to stop.


the guys dropped us off and then headed off in search of i can't even remember what.  and after we'd made our salt water taffy purchase, we took a little stroll.  this sign made us giggle.


i was taking this picture when the boys showed up to pick us up to search for dinner.


after checking yelp, we ended up at a cute little restaurant on the water.


we were lucky to snag the very last table, because right after we were seated we overheard the hostess telling everyone walked in the door that if they didn't have a reservation, it'd be an hour-plus wait.  whew - our timing was impeccable.  the food and service were really good, and we walked out the door just in time to see the sunset.


yup, that is one big ass rock.
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