Wednesday, November 21, 2018

keeping up photo traditions

with the bean off for thanksgiving week, we decided to brave disneyland on monday with the old lady.  we'd seen someone post about some fabulous-sounding beignets that were served only at cafe orleans, and i was able to score a reservation for lunchtime.  perfect.

we didn't leave early enough for rope drop because stevie had a grooming appointment and couldn't be dropped off earlier than 7:30, but we still managed to pull into the parking structure at 8:30...just half an hour after the parks opened.  the line to get in was pretty long, and even with all of the lanes open it took us a good 15 minutes to finally get through and park the car.

it was totally okay though, because we weren't in any rush to get anything in particular done and were anticipating pretty big crowds anyway.  and so we sashayed through security, found seats on the tram to the entrance and decided to stop for a photo op in front of the giant christmas tree inside california adventure.  the old lady hates the cheesy poses, but she put on her game face and threw out her thumbs-up with a smile.

we're modeling some fun christmas-themed ears that i've been working on...more on that later.

when we were done, we slid around to the other side to take a quick shot of the bean that recreates another picture we've taken of her before.  and then when i looked at my photo archives, it turned out that it wasn't actually an annual shot...looks like we were only remembering to do it every other year. heh.

we love to look in the shops to check out all of the holiday merchandise, and as we walked past one of the quick-service restaurants this caught our eye:

we are definitely going back at some point to order those.  yum.

the fastpasses we'd secured for our two favorite rides in this park opened up pretty quickly, and they ended up being the only rides we did that day.

it was really crowded on the disneyland side.  it usually is, because it's nostalgic for most folks and the kids love fantasyland and the princesses and the castle.  the bean pointed out that the holiday garlands were strewn across main street this time...we'd noticed that they weren't up the last time we were here.

we hadn't had a chance to catch the sneak peek of the new "wreck it ralph" movie, and so that's where we went first.  we've got tickets to see it later on today, so it was really fun to see an extended preview and get excited to see the whole movie.

and by the time we got out of there, it was time for our lunch reservation.  we headed on over to new orleans square, and after a bit of a wait we were finally seated.  the menu was pretty much the same as before, but there was also a seasonal menu to pore over.

we were surprised when the server arrived with a tray containing two entrees, since we hadn't gotten the appetizer we'd ordered yet.  when i asked him what he was about to put on the table, he said "it's the holiday special."  i looked at it and couldn't really make out what it was, so i asked him again what it was.

"it's the holiday special."
"but what exactly is it?"
"it's the holiday special."

this went on for another couple of rounds before i finally gave up and motioned for him to place the food on the table.  it turned out to be the braised beef and grits that the old lady had of that holiday menu.  but it was really frustrating, and the table behind us had stopped what they were doing to listen to the annoying exchange.  to his credit, the server remained calm with a smile on his face...but honestly, disneyland - this is not the first time in the last few weeks that we've had servers not have any idea what they're serving and couldn't answer simple questions about the food.  ugh.

so's not often that we turn down a good charcuterie board...and this was not one of those times.  even though it arrived at the same time as our entrees.  oh well.

the bean and i shared a monte cristo sandwich, which is a family favorite but is always such a big serving that i knew we'd be better off just splitting the plate.  not to mention that it's not the healthiest thing ever.  heh.

the "lumps of coal" that was the whole reason we'd come here for lunch didn't turn out to be what we'd read they were.  the article we saw said that they were chocolate beignets filled with a hazelnut cream and dusted with peppermint mocha sugar.  what we got instead were chocolate beignets stuffed with peppermint mocha and topped with peppermint ice cream.  still super delicious, just not what we were expecting.

the service had been excruciatingly slow, and by the time we finished our meal the park was so crowded you couldn't tell the difference between the people walking through and those who were in line for rides.  we were kind of over it by then, and didn't want to spend our whole day elbowing through crowds, and so we called it a day.

it figures that we'd come on a day when we didn't have to rush home for music lessons or cheer practice or anything like that and were free to stay as long as we wanted, and yet we were in the car and home before 3:00.  haha!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

i am becoming

when michelle obama announced that she was going to do a stop on her book tour here in l.a., dailygluttony and lilcee and i immediately put our heads together and decided to scoop up tickets as soon as they became available.  one of my mom friends from school also came to mind right away, and as soon as i invited her to join us she happily accepted.

it seemed like months away, and then all of a sudden it was the week of the event.  the book was released on tuesday, and i scooped up a copy and hoped i could get through at least some of it before showtime.  on wednesday during cheer practice, i sat in the parking lot, cracked it open and started reading.

i got about a quarter of the way through that night, but i was so busy with projects the next day and didn't get to read a single page more.  boo.  but that's okay - i was excited for the evening, as was my friend.  we rode out to the fabulous forum together, and pulled into a parking spot about 25 minutes before the show was scheduled to begin.

there were long lines for photo ops, and food, and drinks, and merchandise.  we decided to go ahead and find our seats, and this was our view of the stage:

her playlist was upbeat and fun to listen to - there were songs by michael jackson, demi lovato, kendrick lamar, ariana grande, to name a few.  it kept the crowd pumped up and excited for what was to come, along with all of the photos, videos and quotes from the book that played on the giant screens.

 of course, a list of sponsors:

and then, the lights went down and we heard her voice welcoming us all.

tracee ellis ross was our hostess for the evening, and she was funny and enthusiastic and just as much of a fangirl as the rest of us.

and then finally, michelle came out to greet us.  she was just as i'd expected - warm and engaging and just like someone you'd want to hang out with and just chat with for hours.

it was an awesome, inspiring, uplifting hour and a half of listening to her tell stories and answer tracee's questions and explain parts of the book in further detail.  she talked of how she and barack met and fell in love, and discussed things we could all relate to.  we hung onto every word as she talked about her childhood, things she learned throughout her time in the white house, being a mother and a first lady and trying to keep her family as normal as possible.  just straight talk, with little bits of advice here and there about life, love and parenthood, and it was all fascinating to listen to.

and then all too soon, she and tracee stood up, said their goodbyes, and waved as they disappeared backstage.

we stopped at the merchandise tent on our way back to the car, where i picked up a fun mug and at-shirt that i wore the very next day.

for her stop in D.C., barack made a surprise appearance at the end.  that would have been so cool.  and when she gets to colorado the event is hosted by reese witherspoon.  so much fun!

i'm still trying to carve out some time to read the rest of the book.  there's so much going on right now though, so i may not even get a chance until after christmas.  eek.

Monday, November 19, 2018

getting our jamz on

cheer competition season has officially begun!

it started last week, with the team's showcase extravaganza that started off with picture day.  the girls had just received their brand new uniforms and were all excited to put them on and see how they felt as they performed the routines they've been practicing for months.  hair and makeup for the pictures were optional, so the bean went with the natural look.

they were really excited to perform for the crowd - it was a packed audience, with all 300 tickets completely sold out.

the jitters were definitely in full force, because the five teams struggled a little with their routines.  we were all still super proud of them though, and the girls looked relieved to have it over with.  i took this of the bean and the hub and we all cracked up when we saw the old lady and her special friend wrestling in the background.  best photo ever.

i managed to get one with her too, but this shot is much less funny,

and then they spent all of the next week practicing for their first competition.  they practiced almost every day that week, and then on friday night the two of us drove down to newport beach and checked into the marriott just outside the UC irvine campus.

the next morning, i worked on her makeup and got her hairpiece all pinned into place before i threw my "cheer mom" tee on for the day.  the girls were all wearing this tee over their uniform, with this year's tagline printed on it:

our first jamz cheer competition was at the bren events center on the UCI campus.

we got all checked in, secured our section of the venue, and settled in to wait for the girls' turn to warm up.  i could tell she was super nervous as they headed outside.

i'd worn my sparkly chucks again, just as i had all last season.  they seemed to bring us luck, because they placed every time i wore them.  i really hoped that luck would hold out for this new season.

this is team "believe."  they took this just before they hit the mat:

i have to admit, i loved last year's routine way more than this year's.  but i know they've worked really hard on improving their skills and taking their performance to the next level, and while they seemed to be struggling during practices and showcase, they seemed to pull it together pretty well once it was showtime.  what i didn't realize was that two of the girls had collided as they did their tumbling runs, which ended up really hurting their score.

did i mention that the bean is actually cross competing this year?  instead of performing with just one team, she's also a backspot for a second group of girls.  this means double practices, but that also means that we get to watch her perform twice during competitions.  about an hour after her first performance, she headed outside to warm up again with her second team, "trust."

this team is quite a bit smaller than her other team, and she seems to like this routine better than the one with her first team.  and it was fun to see her take a spot in the front during a jump sequence.  i'm so glad she can jump higher than her mother.

unfortunately, they suffered a couple of missteps during their routine as well, and when the awards ceremony started we got to see the results of their performances.  believe ended up taking third place, and the score sheets told them that that tumbling run collision cost them two points and first place.  trust ended up taking second, partly due to the failed stunt but mostly because the team that took first was bigger and better, with every single girl able to hit back walkovers and back handsprings.  that always earns more points.

still, it was a great effort with some pretty good scores that earned them spots in the national championships in las vegas come january.  we picked up some food after we left the auditorium, and almost as soon as she'd finished the last bite of her in-n-out burger i looked over and saw her like this:

she only has practice with one of her teams this week, but with their next competition in two weeks, i'm sure they'll ramp up the sessions again once thanksgiving week is over.  rest up, kid.  it's gonna be a rough, bumpy ride to bakersfield.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

showering baby boy wan

so while brother wan was at home in oklahoma enjoying a visit from his best friend, sister wan flew out with MIL for a wedding, a visit with friends and family and a shower for the baby they're expecting in february.  talk about packing a lot of fun into one short week.

the shower was out in yucaipa at her sister's new house.  it took us a while to get there, and when we arrived most of the guests were already inside, mingling and chatting.  i got to wear this:

and then we got to slice ourselves a nice serving of these giant burritos.

the decorations were super cute, and the dessert table looked really good:

like, look at how cute this cake is!  since the bean's party i've been kind of obsessed with the notion of sharpening my own decorating skills, but it's hard to practice doing big ass cakes when no one at home is a huge cake fan.  so i just settle for admiring other people's work whenever i get the chance, like this:

we played a couple of games, and they were good ones - none of that lame ass "measure the mom's belly" or "guess what's in the diaper."  these were simple, but lots of fun.  each guest received these items:

and our mission was to create a baby out of that play-doh in about five minutes' time.  the bean was already thrilled to be included in the shower, so i knew she was going to be extra excited to participate in a game that she was going to excel at.  in fact, she OWNED that game.  she said "i bet it would be easiest to have the baby wrapped upon a blanket," which was genius and i kicked myself for not thinking of it first.  heh.  that only child syndrome never goes away, even when you're playing a game with your kid.  anyway, look at how cute her entry was:

mine was...much less so.  but hey - it was good enough that it was the one chosen by one of the kids to take home as a party favor.  "that little girl took your baby," my SIL said.  "kidnapper!" mumbled the old lady.

and she was super stoked when her creation was selected by the mommy-to-be as the winner.

the second game was a simple one - you had to guess the nursery rhyme from the string of emojis on each line.  it'd been a long time since i thought about nursery rhymes, so i didn't do too well, but it was fun anyway.

while the guest of honor opened presents, the bean continued to sculpt things with the leftover play-doh.  she created this and presented it to me proudly:

we hit up that dessert bar before the party broke up.  look at this cute cupcake:

and it was stuffed.  with cookie dough.  the old lady loved it.

i was happy to munch on a dipped s'mores marshmallow and a toffee-crusted pretzel rod.

after we said our goodbyes, we drove about ten minutes away to oak glen, where there are apple orchards currently open for business with all kinds of goodies.  we decided to stop at snow-line orchards, because yelp told me they offered fresh hot apple cider donuts.  sold!

it was a fun little side trip to cap off our day, and now we wait until february for little wyatt steven to be born.  the timing is perfect, because cheer season ends right around that time, and so hopefully we'll get to fly out for a quick visit on a long weekend.
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