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March 2015

'Let It Go' Is This Middle-Aged Good-Girl's Anthem

FrozenposterFrozen came out in November of 2013 and girls ate it up. It's a movie about two powerful women, Anna, who is funny and resourceful and brave and Elsa, the queen, who has scary but amazing powers and who sings a kick-ass song. 2014 iced over with all things Frozen, the costumes, the toys, the music. Then there was the inevitable backlash -  "If I have to hear that song one more time...!!" regarding "Let it go."

I was at a distance to the movie as Harper was only two when it came out. We watched it via our screener in 2013 and enjoyed it, but never watched it again until a few months ago when Harper wanted to watch "Anna and Elsa" (as she calls it). I really love the movie and never get tired of seeing it.* Now she wants to hear the music on its own in the car and I'm happy to oblige as we drive to preschool.

But here's what I didn't expect - that I would listen to Let It Go on repeat all the way home by myself. I theorize that for every one person who says "I never want to hear that song again!" there are another fifty who secretly listen to it alone in their cars or showers, belting it out as they drive or shampoo.

Most of us women of a certain age have been brought up to be good girls, to follow the rules, to not make waves, to do what you're told and as Elsa says, "conceal, don't feel." And as wives and moms, we are expected to be perfect, understanding caregivers to the kids, ever smiling and generous partners to our spouses. As women in the work force, we are expected to work harder, then wait longer for the reward for all that work. It's ingrained in us good girls not to complain, not to get mad, not to reveal the true powers at our very cores.

And we are powerful! And that power can be scary at times, but it can move mountains -- heck, it can create mountains. When used wisely, it can make miracles. And listening to Elsa discovering her tremendous powers and throwing off that symbolic cape, I'll be honest-- it brings tears to my eyes.

Every time I hear the song, a different line will speak to me. It's like each day I get a new idea to meditate on. Lately this speaks to me: "It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through." My own inner barriers are coming down, sometimes I smash through the stone walls, sometimes I can only chip away with tweezers, but I'm always working on breaking out of my fear and finding my true strengths.

Elsa-frozen-25377-1280x800If you've watched the movie, you know that Elsa does go overboard (She freezes Arendelle over in the middle of summer). I rarely like to criticize my homegirls when they break out, lean in, stand up, but there are a few limits in the real world. Elsa says, "It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through" which is great, but then follows up with, "No right, no wrong, no rules for me!" Well, as much as this good girl does like to break a few rules now and then, I still know that I can't break them all. I can't actually live in an ice palace, alone, at the top of a mountain. (Though I think I could rock that dress.)

But sometimes the pendulum does need to swing too far to really break down the walls. Let's not forget that awesome phrase by the amazing Rear Admiral Grace Hopper: "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." Let's go get what we want, test our power, break through our (mostly imagined) limits. I know from experience that it's a lot less scary once you get to there and then you have the courage to keep racing forward.

As Elsa says, "I'm never going back, the past is in the past! Let it go, let it go, and I'll rise like the break of dawn, that perfect girl is gone."

In her place is a powerful, courageous, graceful, beautiful woman. That is all of us!



 Watch the the Idina Menzel version of Let It Go here.


*I'm lucky because Harper never stays fixated on one movie too long. Frozen is usually in rotation with Cars or Kung Fu Panda or Curious George.

At this moment my favorite scene is "big summer blowout!"

I Want To Call Saul

We are huge Breaking Bad fans. When we heard there would be a spin-off about Saul, we were excited and now that it is on, we love it. I love it. Any time we sit down to watch something, it's usually a choice between Justified (which I also adore) and Better Call Saul. I always pick Saul. Kurt said last night, "You like Saul." But I don't. I'm more like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona:


Another Harper First: Disney's California Adventure Part 4 of 4 - Snow and A Parade

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here.

After we met Olaf, the snow was ready to play in. I should say "play" because while it was snow (very icy snow) and this was Disney, you couldn't do much more than touch it and make a small snowman. There was a strict "NO THROWING SNOWBALLS" rule. Harper seemed fascinated enough.

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CalAdventure28Then it was time to head out and find a snack. There was a parade starting in ten minutes so we went over to the parade route and found a spot right in front of a snack stand. There were chips and nuts and fruit and drinks. Harper chose a giant chunk of pineapple! Awesome.











The parade started and Harper got a cozy spot to watch from.




Parade was over and we were walking out behind the parade (Behind Mater) and Harper kept wanting to get ahead, but I had to hold her back so as not to actually join the parade. She was getting annoyed and the parade attendant next to us looked over and said, "Hold my hand!" So Harper got to walk with her a ways and she was happy.


I forgot how actually VERY NICE 99% of the Disney Cast Members are. Every time we needed help they provided that help and so much more. Quite refreshing.

That was it, that was our day. We left the parade and made our way back to the front, back to the tram, back to the car, back to real life. But not before we took a few more potential Christmas card pictures!




Another Harper First: Disney's California Adventure Part 3 of 4 - The Celebrities

Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.

What California Adventure is complete without celebrities? We bumped into our share and Harper seemed to enjoy them, though she preferred to have at least me by her side while posing.

As previously mentioned, we ran into Lightning McQueen first thing. (And I finally got our official picture - click to see it bigger.)


I'm pretty sure there is someone in the car who drives it and I can't decide if that is better or worse than being in a sweaty costume.

Later, just walking along Paradise Pier, we bumped into Buzz Lightyear OMG! Harper was pretty stoked to see him and waited patiently.


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After the lunch and nap and second traumatizing ride, we decided to head to Hollywood Land to see Olaf and the snow room. And we didn't have to wait long thanks to the guy running the pager line.

Okay, so the deal was, you wait in line outside to get a pager (like in restaurant) so that you can walk around and shop or whatever and when it is your turn to see Olaf, your beeper goes off and you just go in.

So we got in line (behind about six people) and the Cast Member, Brandon, said, "Oh just come in, I'm not doing beepers, it's not that crowded." Um, okay! Always nice to go to the park when it's not crowded.

Inside the building was Olaf's Snow Fest with a space full of actual snow that we watched them make and groom. There was an Oompah band, snack and gift stands. And Olaf of course.

We waited patiently and finally we were next when the Olaf attendant said that Olaf needed to go on a quick break "to have some hot cocoa" and he would be right back. I looked at her and said, "Do you mean bourbon?" She looked at me and laughed a little, but said, "oh no, of course not! Just cocoa!" Sure thing lady.

The Olaf person was very sweet and nice. I love Harper's little hand in his.


After Olaf we played in the snow for a bit, then went out side where a parade was going to start in 10 minutes. Perfect. We got seats on the curb, a quick snack and waited. Then Harper got to see one of her all time favorites - Mater.


These were some prime time celebrity sightings, I'll tell you! Alas, no Anna or Elsa as they were hard to come by (without the extra time, patience and scheduling). Gotta save something for next time!

I Love Scarves. I Live In The Wrong Place.

Okay, I actually live in the right place for many things. The main thing is the movies. I always wanted to work in the movies, so here I am working the movies. But the weather never suited me. I always wanted to live in a place where I could wear a scarf like this all the time:


That's Claire from Outlander, in case you didn't recognize her. I just started watching the show and it's a perfect escape after busy days. (I don't binge, I savor.) But it's one of the first times I've watched a show and through the whole episode I just stared at her scarf. I believe my exact thoughts were: WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT.

Problem is I don't knit. Then I googled "Outlander Scarf" and dang if there weren't a ton of these for sale on Etsy. Problem solved.

But I live in LA and it's spring (and going to be 90 today) so what on earth am I thinking?

Maybe I'll just google "Highland Cottage Rentals" and fantasize a little more before Harper wakes up. Oh and pin the esty pics to my pinterest account for later.


Another Harper First: Disney's California Adventure Part 2 of 4 - More Rides

(See Part 1 here.)

ParadisePier_680x300After departing Cars Land, we meandered over to Paradise Pier. (Seen here from borrowed image.) Along the way we stopped at Ariel's Undersea Adventure which is a nice relaxing "sit in the giant clamshell and watch stuff go by" kind of ride. When we got off, Harper wanted to go again and as the line was 2 minutes long, great!

Then we walked to the giant ferris wheel and lined up for a non-swinging car. Kurt and I experienced the swinging car ride years ago in Coney Island. I was working on a movie in early 2001 and Kurt came out to visit and one day we went to eat hot dogs, ride the Cyclone and try the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. (We named the whole place the Hell-Hole of Fun.) We figured a nice steady ride would be better for the previously traumatized Harper. I didn't think heights would be a problem and it wasn't, thank goodness.

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From the Ferris wheel Harper could see the rocket ship ride - The Golden Zephyr - and she wanted to go on that one next. It look pretty darn tame so we went.


CalAdventure18She liked it! Then it was time for another snack, some bathroom time and a nap. The nap was for Harper but I would have loved to have a lie down for half an hour! It took a bit of convincing but she finally lay down in her almost-too-small stroller with her Special Bear. She kept saying "I want to go home and rest in my bed." I feel you, woman! It was like being on flights home from Maui with her, she'd be all amped up and wouldn't sleep and I would hold her in a laying down position until she fell asleep (which wouldn't take long as she was so exhausted.) In the stroller it was less holding, more gentle persuasion.

Here she is, eyes aaaaalmost closed.

Once she was asleep I took the opportunity to ride on the Silly Symphony Swings. It was a throwback to my Maui County Fair days when the swings were my favorite ride. It was a blast to have two minutes of that kind of fun all for myself.

Harper slept for a good 45 minutes and would have slept for another 45 if the obnoxious little boy didn't scream in her ear while chasing his sister. He stood right next to the covered stroller and screamed. More than once. The parents were nearby and practically ignored him. I get it, you are all tired, but NOTICE a covered stroller! You have two nap age children, YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!


We moved to get away from them, but it was too late, Harper was awake and not going back to sleep. Okay fine. So up we got, packed the stroller and moved over to the Jumpin' Jellyfish as Harper kept wanting to "ride the parachutes!" So she and Kurt went for it.

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Then she repeated what she'd been saying since the Ferris Wheel. "I want to go on that one!" and she was pointing to the aforementioned Silly Symphony Swings. We had been putting her off as it looked pretty scary for her, even though she's tall enough and they have a tandem swing for the small kids with extra big seat belts. But she insisted even after we asked her ten times if it looked scary. So off we went, me sitting next to her, holding her hand.

She didn't cry, but when the right finished, "I'm scared, Mama."


More trauma!

But we held her and told her it was okay to be scared but that she was brave and we were all right here, etc. Oy!

We made a better parenting decision and headed off to Hollywoodland (Which, when you live in LA and work in the movies, is kind of funny.) to see Olaf and the snow.

Stay tuned...

Another Harper First: Disney's California Adventure Part 1 of 4 - Cars Land

Disney_California_Adventure_logoWe decided it was time for a trip to Anaheim to visit the Happiest Place on Earth. Well, we actually visited the place next door to the Happiest Place on Earth. ("Happy Adjacent"?) Harper is fully potty trained, still fits into her stroller (barely) and loves Cars and Frozen so it was a good time to hit the theme park for the first time.

First of all, big ups and many many thanks to our friends who work at Disney who got us free tickets into the park. This is a huge deal, saving us hundreds of $$. So much less pressure to HAVE FUN when you haven't paid the entrance fee. Very grateful for that.

Second, we chose California Adventure over Disneyland proper because Harper doesn't know the old school Disney stuff. She knows who Mickey and Minnie are, and knows some of the princesses, but her real love (at the moment) is Cars. (She likes Frozen as well, but not quite as much.) So off to Cal Adventure and Radiator Springs we went!

We got dressed and ready to go and Harper accessorized with the hat. That's my hipster girl. She also stuck close to Kurt who was doing a last minute bathroom stop before hitting the road.

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LightningMcQueenUpon arrival we raced over to Cars Land and found Lightning McQueen! Okay sorry, no picture here of him with Harper, we didn't take our own photo and are waiting for the official one to arrive... but here is "LaQueen" (as Harper calls him) so you know what he looks like.

I think Haprer was a bit confused, overwhelmed by this giant theme park that looks like the movie she loves. Or we were doing too much "Oooh look Harper! It's Radiator Springs! Lightning McQueen! Mater!" etc. Either way she was a little fussy at first. Then we got in line to ride the Radiator Springs racers and she settled down during the 40 minute wait.

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There is much to look at and lovely views while in line. The bottle walls were cool. I looked at each little crevice and wondered how much gum and trash got jammed into those things. Then I wondered whose job it was to clean those tiny openings every day (every few hours?). Glad it's not me.

While in line I was worried she'd have to go potty right as we got to the loading platform. Luckily she didn't. (Wouldn't it be genius if parks had bathrooms in the ride line? If you have to wait over an hour in line, a bathroom might be handy...just sayin'.)

So then we got on the ride and traumatized our child. Parenting win! Okay okay, Harper was big enough for the ride (just barely) and it's mostly a little car ride through Radiator Springs and Ornament Valley. Here's a picture I ganked from the web of the ride:


Well, it's called "Racers" for a reason as you "race" the car next to you. And you go fast! And you go up and down a lot and whip around tight corners! Oh boy. Luckily the seats were three across so Harper was between us. She didn't cry but when it was over and we were arriving at the unloading spot I asked her if she was okay and she kept saying, "I'm scared, Mama." Knife to my heart! So when we got out, I held her and we told her how brave she was. She seemed to recover quickly though and we bought her a hat and a t-shirt. Shopping makes everything better!

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Harper wore her hat for about five minutes so I made it my own.


By then it was time for a snack and what better place to get one than Flo's V8 Cafe. (There's a great christmas card picture if I ever saw one! Thank you kind strangers who took the pic!)


Harper loved the Cozy Cone and kept wanting to go into them, but they are just little snack shops with windows. So we took a selfie instead.


We almost went on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree ride, but when it was our turn, Harper said no. No problem! Enough trauma for one day. Or so we thought...but that's for another post.

We departed Cars Land and headed for the Pier. Stay tuned for another installment of our California Adventure!










Back To The Farm

Last year we discovered Underwood Farms in Moorpark (and their smaller sister farm in Somis). They close from December to March and recently reopened so we drove out and picked some lovely veggies and strawberries. Then Harper had fun in the bouncy house and feeding the goats.


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Aside from the super delicious strawberries, we picked carrots, sugar snap peas and radishes. Harper had mostly carrots (with ranch dip) for dinner. She tried the radishes and seemed okay about them. But then just had more carrots. Awesome.



PS you know a place is uber kid friendly when all their porta-potties have these in them.