August Fun Miscellany

This week has been SO hot. And only a month ago it actually rained for a day. I can't wait for this much ballyhooed El NiƱo to kick in. Harper is going to need new rainboots



Willoughby likes to play outside in the rain, but not always.


Mostly, it's just hot and a little pool time is needed.



Movies are a good place to cool off. Harper and I went to a couple this summer. Minions was first (or "Funny guys" as she likes to call them). Mostly she found it loud and covered her ears 2/3 of the way through.


Next we went to see Shaun The Sheep. But first - movie snacks!


Again, a bit loud to start, but she put her hands down about 1/2 way through Shaun.


Afterward - cool treat!


When it's hot - cooking is really a pain! Always nice to go out somewhere else and eat. Especially when there is pasta.

Much concentration.




Going To The Beach

This morning I started a blog post about going to the beach in LA vs. going to the beach in Hawai'i. About one paragraph in I realized that it's not that different because I was remembering going to the beach as a kid.

As a grown up with a three-year-old in tow, going to the beach means bags of towels and dry clothes, snacks, drinks, hats, sunscreen, buckets, shovels, etc etc etc. It also means finding parking in expensive lots or parking spots, some times far from where the sand actually starts. Then schlepping all that stuff across the W I D E expanse of beach that lines the Santa Monica Bay to sit near the water.



Compared to my three favorite beaches in Hawai'i:





and Anaeho'omalu:


And Beach 69, but I think I've made my point. The beaches in Hawaii are small.

(Bonus points to whoever can tell me why it's called Beach 69!) (Dor, you are disqualified from competing.)

My main point is this. As a kid, going to the beach was a snap: put on your suit, grab a towel (and maybe a t-shirt) put on your slippahs and HELE ON! Easy! But of course the more I thought about it earlier this morning, I realized that whoever drove me to the beach had also packed a cooler, bags of snacks and all the other stuff. (Minus buckets and shovels - we dug WITH OUR HANDS!) So, in fact, it wasn't that different than today in terms of schlepping all that stuff. But at least once you got to the beach, the distance was much smaller.

So my original rant of a blog post fizzled out by the dawn's early light.

Then I got to thinking about going to the beach in high school. That, in my memory was also a snap. Bathing suit, shorts/t-shirt, sunglasses, slippahs, bag with towel and suntan lotion (not actually sunscreen...). Oh and someone might have had a small boombox. On the way we would stop and get manapua and/or arare and/or li hing mui (oooh my mouth waters just typing that) and sodas.

Steinlager-new-zealand-beer-lagerAfter a long hot day at the beach, catchin' rays, brah, all relaxed and sun-kissed, we would head home but usually with a stop at a store along the way for a quart of ice cold Steinlager. (A quart each, mind you.) And maybe more manapua if there was any left.

Okay, if I'm honest, sometimes it was Lowenbrau.

Going to the beach as a kid and later as a teenager was the best. I like taking Harper to the beach. I am just looking forward to when she is old enough to carry more of her own stuff and old enough that I don't have to hold her hand as we splash in the water. Sometimes it's nice to just sit at the beach and chill. With a cold Steinlager.





Misty Watercolor Memories...Then Pele Burned Them To The Ground!

This bad boy is parked in our neighborhood and it instantly brings me back to fun summer times on the Big Island.


My parents were divorced so in the summers I would visit my dad, stepmom and two older sisters. One summer we rented one of these Tioga RVs (not sure what the actual model was, but this seems close) and toured Volcano.

In my small kid memory we spent a week, but in reality it must have have been about 3 nights or so? Someone older than me is going to have to help me fill in the blanks! Also, I can't remember, did we do this one time or multiple times? I remember Jen being there but then I remember her not being there. (She didn't always come in the summers - long story on how my nuclear family breaks down.)

Anyway! The point is - happy memories. Kilauea caldera, Kilauea Iki, Chain of Craters road, Queen's Bath (Rest in Peace!), Kalapana black sand beach, bird park and of course Thurston Lava Tube. Night times were filled with eating at pic-nic tables and singing John Denver songs to Dor's guitar.

My dad had hearing loss/damage from work he did in WWII (This is my understanding, of course I could be mistaken). He used hearing aids, but still had issues with hearing. Most times I think he had issues with paying attention, but that's another theory... Dad's lack of hearing was just another aspect of him, like he wore glasses and was a good swimmer. But I never really got what his hearing loss was like until one day on this trip we went to Kipuka Puaulu (Bird Park) to walk the mile loop trail. Dad, in his tour guide way, announced that on this trail we would hear a lot of birds singing and that many were endangered native birds of Hawai'i. At some point on our walk Dad said something like "Wow, there really aren't many birds in here at all." I remember someone saying "There are tons of birds singing" I was thinking the same thing. And it dawned on me that Dad couldn't hear them at all and that made me sad for him.

Black Sand Beach was a great local stop for us to get out of the RV and go body surfing and swimming. Queens Bath was the same, but more magical as it really felt like a place Pele built especially. Sadly, both are gone. Queen's Bath in 1987 and Kalapana Black Sand beach in 1990. Pele clearly needed to start over.


Look how enchanted this spot was. I'm so sad I can't take Harper there.


But the best memory of all was having Lucy along for all the fun. She walked the trails with us and body surfed at Black Sand Beach (She really did!) and swam in Queen's Bath. Mostly though, she hogged the front seat of the Tioga. I miss that Lucy, she was one in a million.


I think fondly of the RV trip (trips?) and actually fantasize about doing our own some day. But oooh, it will be so much easier with just the three of us!

Toddler Fashions

Harper can now dress herself fully - pulling a shirt over her head in the correct direction was the last hurdle - and prefers to choose her own clothes. I say AWESOME! Sometimes the results are striking. Here are some samples with my best Project Runway critique.

This ensemble is quite nice, though at first I thought pink and orange might be a bit much. But the pink of the leggings plays off the pink in the t-shirt. The shoes seem a bit formal for the look, but still within the color scheme.


There is a lot going on here. Spiderman AND Hello Kitty together? Not sure about that. But Nina might say it's a very editorial look. Heidi might say it's very Japanese street fashion.


Now this outfit is my favorite simply for the sock position alone. She puts them that high and if you try to soften them down a bit, she gets peeved and pulls them back up. Hard. (The facial expression and pose slay me as well.)


The next one is a dress I got Harper in Hawaii last year. It finally fits so I put it on her and she liked it. For five minutes. Then she went about restyling it to make it her own.

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I Love Getting Stuff Delivered!

Have I mentioned I'm a bit obsessed with subscription boxes? I LOVE them! Okay, I don't have a lot of experience. I subscribe to three currently, two of which are new new new:

StichFix - A personal stylist! The box comes when I want one and I've bought three great dresses, two cute blouses and a jacket. While the styles don't always mesh (though they fall within the parameters I laid out) 98% of it has fit great. Always a great thing!

Try The World - a food box delivery with each box coming from a different country. We get one every other month and so far we received on from Argentina. We scarfed down all but one item so far. YUM! Can't wait for this month's box to come, apparently it will be from Japan.

IMG_2272PopSugar - a new one I saw and ordered because I'm a mom with a 3 1/2 year old and I want to feel young and cute and hip again, so I have to have "young" and "cute" and "hip" delivered. Also, I want something that is just mine. Mine alone! Which is why I'm not opening the FIRST box of my subscription today until after the said child is asleep tonight!

Also today I received my long awaited MemoBottle that I had supported on Kickstarter. I thought it was a genius idea all around - a book size water bottle that slips easily in your bag or briefcase.

Hooray for deliveries!!




Father's Day Weekend

We had a lovely chilled out Papa's Day on Sunday. Kurt had to work on Saturday so Harper and I spent Saturday morning at Ikea buying critical things for the home - candles, small wine glasses, a stuffed pig, etc. Plus we then had to have meatballs. And ice cream.



















(My new genius mom thing to do is to always order kids sized things - FOR ME! Never occurred to me before, but at places like Ikea or Disneyland, it's so nice to have much smaller food. But I digress.)

We got home from Big Blue Meatball Land and I said it was time to wrap Papa's present. Harper had picked out wacky emoji wrapping paper from Ikea and determined we needed pink ribbon. Done. Then she made a card and I asked her to write H for Harper (which she loves to do) and then she realized she could make a tic-tac-toe game as well, so we stopped in the middle of making Kurt's card to play a quick game.

Me: Harper, who taught you how to play tic-tac-toe?

Harper: Grace.

That's right! Thanks Grace!

So we had the gift all wrapped and ready and I said we should hide it until tomorrow. Harper decided her blanket drawer would be the best place. Done.

Kurt comes home hours later and as I'm on the phone with my mom I turn around and see that Harper has brought out the gift and is about to start "helping" Kurt to unwrap it. Gah! So I gently say "Harper!!! We don't give that to Papa until tomorrow!" She looks bummed, but then I say, "We have to hide it!" and she's off to hide it in the blanket drawer.

Next morning I remind her about the gift and she RUNS to get it and take it to Kurt who is lounging in bed. She helps him open it. Success!

Then we all get dressed and mosey down to our favorite bagel place for Dad Day bagels and juice. (Kurt is wearing the gift in question.)



We had friends from Macedonia over for a nice dinner outdoors and that was all there was to it. A fun relaxing Dad's Day weekend!

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...