2023 - Happy New Year

Oh Hi. It's been a number of minutes.

I have been off the blog since last April, just didn't feel like I had much to say. Then I got a movie job in August and my time was hardly my own. But there is an end date to the job and that's always good.

I was inspired to blog this picture of my great grandmother's 120 year old samovar. I polished it up for a brunch we had in mid December. It's taken me a month to post this.


Here are a couple more holiday images. It was a quiet and lovely one at home due to my work schedule.

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It was 80 in LA on Christmas so of course we went to the beach and met friends there.
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New Years Eve was Fondue fun
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Then another walk on the beach on New Year's Day.
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Very grateful to be healthy and doing fine in 2023.

There are potentially big things to come this year.... I'll keep it mysterious like that since nothing is set in stone yet.

(You can always click the pictures to make them bigger.)


Earlier Summer Fun + Disneyland

Harper's preschool has "Crazy Fun Week" the last week before their short break in August. One of those days is about hair. We did a tame version of that.


There was swimming and ice cream.

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Mama got a new bike. I refer to bikes at Ponies because Kurt bought me a bike for Christmas years ago and had to take me outside to see it, as you would a pony. So I told Harper I got a new pony and what should I name it. She said, without missing a beat, "Twilight Sparkle". DONE.


The job I was working on for the last six months ended (YAY!) and the timing was perfect as the next day we got free tickets to Disneyland, thanks to our good friend Sarah (co-creator and co-owner of MomsLA. Also a dear friend since I was 9!) And also lucky for us, Grace has a year pass to Disneyland and the day off from work so she could join us. HOORAY!

Look at us, all fresh on the tram before the day starts! Surfing Goofy was a quick stop to pick up tickets.

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First ride of the day - Storybookland - a nice warm up. Followed up by TEACUPS! OMG Harper loved the teacups. We went twice.

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Then on to Dumbo - first the waiting, then the flying.

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Grace arrived with coffee (She's the best, our Grace!) while we took a break after buying the required ears. Harper put them on for a minute then took them off saying I'm not going to wear this today. Ummmm, today is the BEST day to wear them! Oh well.

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Off to Autopia and Harper helped me drive while we were being stalked by these people.














After some Dole Whip in the Tiki Room (the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room) - that is some OG Disney, btw - we traumatized Harper with a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. It's not a trip to the Magic Kingdom without scaring the crap out of your daughter. She recovered, we had some lunch then climbed the Swiss Family Robinson Tarzan Treehouse. Kurt took her once, then I took her through and she wanted to go back up and out the opposite way. That's a little awkward, but hey, I figured I owed her after the whole Pirate-Nightmares-For-The-Rest-of-Her-Life situation.

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We met up with Sarah, our Disney benefactor and rested to chit chat for a few minute outside Jungle Cruise (which was closed for a short while). Harper asked if she could get a spray fan, something she'd seen others carrying around, and we said yes. Oh did I mention it was about 92 degrees F? (That's 33 C to everyone else in the world). It was a welcome and practical purchase. The best part though, was I unwrapped the strap and Harper looked at it and said, "You WEAR it?"  Like that just blew her mind.


















The Matterhorn, of course.



















A churro of course.



















At this point we had crossed over into California Adventure and went on Harper's favorite ride The Clam Ride aka Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Then we rested, had a beer and a snack. Then off to the Ferris Wheel. Apparently we were too tired and too hot to take any more pictures other than one from the giant Ferris Wheel and one of me and Harper on Jumping Jellyfish. Funny thing - Harper doesn't like the Dark Pirates ride but heights? Not a problem.

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After that, a ride on the rockets with Papa and then we scooted out to avoid the parade. Dinner near the tram stop, then back on the tram.

We had bought one of these ridiculous balloons. Truly, they are a menace. But finally Kurt found the perfect use for it.



















A good-bye selfie.



















One selfie is enough Grace!

















Thanks to Sarah for making it happen! And to Grace for sacrificing fun grown-up rides for life with a 4 year old at Disneyland! Great day.



















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!

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!