Summer’s Over

I’ve been away from my little blog for awhile, ok a long time, but I’m ready to start telling you what’s going on with my family again. We’ve been super busy and enjoying summer so I thought I’d recap what we did.

We’d been at the theater for awhile.

Colette finished 4th grade with great grades, lots of awards and a wonderful job at recital. She had a really good year.

Really good hamburgers in San Juan Bautista

The Monarch Cove Inn is really nice

We love Shadowbrook and even took their vintage taxi there

We went to Capitola for vacation and had a really nice relaxing trip. Usually our trips are pretty structured but we just relaxed and Colette slept a lot, we all did. Colette also found a love for Pizza My Heart and they have gluten free pizza now so we could all enjoy it. She would have eaten there every day.

Colette found filters on my Instagram

We found a great place that has gluten free cones

Colette loves seafood & Jeran loves the portrait option on his iphone

After a few days in Capitola we went over to Monterey and relaxed some more. We went to the aquarium and ate more ice cream, we ate way too much ice cream on this trip. But it was nice to take it slow and just spend time together.

Kool-Aid died hair

We’ve celebrate a bunch of family birthdays and did crazy things like dye my daughters hair red. She’s been wanting to do this for a couple years and I finally gave in since she really needed a hair cut anyway.

Rockets at VBS

Even on vacation Jeran worked on his dissertation

We had VBS and dance intensive the same week, and then more dance the next week too. But the week of VBS was crazy. Jeran was at Google for a mapping training and then he came home for a day and then headed to LA to defend his dissertation. We survived though and Jeran was almost done with his paper.

My crock pot died so I upgraded

One day my crock pot just decided to not turn on, it was dead. So, during Prime Day I got an Instant Pot. I’ve only made 1 thing so far but it was pretty good and I’m sure with this busy school year coming it’ll get a lot of use.

Waiting for Superior Dairy to open

We made a family trip to Hanford to eat ice cream. Last year when we tried to go it was so busy we gave up. This year we went super early and the kids played outside while we waited.

17th Anniversary

My little wizard at Universal

My parents wanted to take Colette to Universal since she likes the Harry Potter series now. They had a great time and spoiled her a lot. This girl is so lucky she got chose by the Dragon Heart and got to pick her wand out at Olivander’s. I think I’ll ask Colette if she’d write a post about the trip. While they were in LA we went up to Napa to celebrate our anniversary. We had a great time and really enjoyed our tour at Schramsberg winery.

1st day of 5th grade

School started today and I’m sad to get back to the schedule. I like the lazy summer days with nowhere to rush. But I know this will be an exciting year. Jeran’s almost done with his dissertation, it needs to get published, and then he’ll be Dr. Ott. Colette has a lot of dance and we’ll be off to celebrate my nephews first trip to Disneyland soon. We’re having some Disney withdrawls, last year we had a pass and went 22 days. It was a little crazy and we stayed away for the summer but I have a feeling it’ll be a Disney year again, we just can’t stay way too long. I don’t think we’ll go that many times again. So that’s what we did this summer. I hope you had a great one too.

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What Have We Been Up To?

It seems we’ve had something going on every week since my daughter’s birthday. So, I thought I’d just recap what we’ve been up to.

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We went to Disneyland for Colette’s 9th. The whole family came, aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, from both sides and of course the cousins. She loved having everyone at Disneyland with her. Colette loves Tsum Tsums so I decorated our room with a tsum banner and made he a little birthday surprise bag full of tsum tsum treats. We also made favor bags for everyone that came and delivered them the night we got into town, of course they had a tsum tsum theme too.

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Jeran and I tried out the Old Town Clovis Wine Walk. It was fun, a little warm though. If you every do a wine walk wear flats and bring a tote bag. I saw a lot of women with really sore feet at the end of the night. The bag would be nice to carry the papers around that get punched at each location, plus you might want to pick up some info on a winery and you need somewhere to put all that stuff.

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Colette gave her first presentation at school. They had to do a report on a family member, that as recent as possible, immigrated to America. They did Google slides about the country they are from (Colette did Portugal) and had a show and tell about their family. It was a lot of work for a 3rd grader but she loved setting up her slides and she presented so well, I was really proud of her.

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We threw my sister a baby shower. It was a Neverland theme. So we had Pirate, Indian and Mermaid tables. It came out really cute and I got to make the dream catcher for my centerpiece. We weren’t sure if she’d be able to attend since she’s on bed rest. So, we set up a hammock and Sarah got to recline through the event. It was a nice chance for her to get out of the house, besides doctors appointments.

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We took off to Morro Bay for a 1 day trip just to get out of town for a little while. We went to the aquarium, had lunch then ice cream and headed back home. We hit horrible traffic, because of that we actually stopped at Jack’s Cafe. We always talk about stopping there. It’s just an old roadside restaurant (the James Dean memorial is there too) but it was a perfect stop for us, we needed to get out, and the food wasn’t bad.

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Last weekend Colette auditioned for her studios mini competition team. She’s been part of the Jumpstart teams that stay local and anyone can join, but they’re starting some mini groups that travel and her teacher wanted her to try out. We’ll soon see if she made the team.

So we’ve been a little busy, but it’s been fun too.

Velocity Convention

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A little while ago a few of the younger dance teams at our studio were invited to come along with the big girls to a dance convention. Usually the younger girls stay local for competitions, but this was different. The Elite teams were going to compete but the younger girls were just going along for the experience and the convention. This would be 2 days of dancing. Colette was lucky, she would be in an age bracket that only danced half day. It was a good introduction to the experience, but still 4 straight hours of dancing is a lot, I wanted to make sure she really wanted to do this.  Needless to say she was ecstatic to be invited and insisted we go. We booked our room at the Anaheim Hilton and started researching dance conventions. I found there isn’t a lot of information out there about dance conventions so here’s what I learned this first time around.

  1. Book your room at the convention site. We did this just because we weren’t sure what to expect but this really is the best.  You can get to the early call times easy and also get your tired dancer back to the room fast when the day is done. Our team didn’t compete but for the ones that did it’s a really long day with classes in the morning and competition in the evening. It’s just easier to be close to your room, and dance supplies.
  2. Dress for success. I got Colette a couple new outfits, she needed them anyway since she’s grown since the beginning of the school year. I let her pick out something that made her feel confident. And she rocked her black and hot pink outfits all weekend.
  3. Be consistent. Everything I did find online about conventions mentioned keeping a similar look the whole time. This way the teachers remember you. So Colette had a color scheme and a hairdo that was always the same. She had double dutch braids that kept her hair out of her face but also was different. Most girls didn’t wear braids so she stood out a little more.
  4. Be comfortable. Wear something you can sit on the floor in. Since Colette was in the mini sessions, most moms stick around and watch, and there are not enough chairs in the room. Just camp out on the floor, you’ll probably get a better spot this way too.
  5. Bring snacks. Your dancer will be hungry and only get minutes between sessions. So, bring drinks and easy things to munch.
  6. Pack a picnic. Another thing I learned before hand was lunch at conventions are a nightmare. They don’t get a lot of time and the options are not the best. We could have done without this since Colette’s classes only went to noon the first day at 1 pm the second but I think the picnic was the best idea I had. My husband is gluten intolerant and Colette should stay away from dairy so I packed 2 picnics. The first day we had a Mediterranean chicken picnic with a rotisserie chicken, hummus, olives, tomatoes and pita chips or gluten free matzo. The second day we did a charcuterie platter with cured meats, olives, pickles and gluten free baguettes. It was really simple and it didn’t require much refrigeration, we did have a fridge at the hotel otherwise this would have been hard to do. It was also nice to know what we were going to eat. All we had to do was find a space for our lunch. No arguing over where to eat and no waiting,which was great because Colette was starving.
  7. Have Fun! Since Colette had half days we got to spend some time across the street at Disney and got Annual Passes since we’ll be in Anaheim a few times this year. You’ll probably see a lot more Disney posts because of the AP. We also hung out at Downtown Disney with Colette’s best dance friend, eating junk food and buying tsum tsums.

It was an adventure and we all enjoyed it so I’m sure we’ll be doing it again next year.

Miss America 2028?

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Waiting for Miss Fresno County to start

 

My daughter loves everything sparkly and fancy. When she was little she wore a dress and tiara every day. We had glitter everywhere and a huge collection of tiaras. We had to get a display shelf for them. The tiara collection has shrunk some, only the favorites are still on the shelf, but now we’re starting to add more.

Dancing at Miss Clovis

A few years ago we watched the Miss California pageant, we saw little girls escorting the contestants on stage. They dressed up and had crowns too. Colette asked how did they get to do that, I should be there. I looked into it, the Miss America organization has a little sister program to the Miss America Outstanding Teen program. It’s non competitive and all the girls get to be a princess. Colette had just started dance team at that time and all the dates for the Princess Program and dance competition were the same. It took a couple years but finally dates worked out and Colette got the chance to be a princess. She had a great time getting to know some current title holders, having princess lessons and participating in their own crowning. The girls also learned a dance that they would perform at the Miss Clovis and Miss Fresno County pageants. I wasn’t sure how this experience would go but Colette loved everything. It gave her another chance to perform and to speak on stage. In school they are working on public speaking by reciting poems every month but the pageants gave her a chance to talk about herself in an on stage introduction, under bright lights, in front of a lot of people she didn’t know and be confident about it. This is what I want for her, to be confident in herself no matter what situation she’s in and comfortable speaking to anyone from an individual to a crowded theater. So, if working to add more tiaras to her collection will increase her confidence then I’m all for it. She’s already told me “I’m a Central Valley Princess, but someday I want to be Miss America.”

How Not to Feel Old on Your Birthday

Every year when my birthday comes around my Grandma asks, “Do you feel older?” I usually say not really, but this year I can say I feel younger.

Early birthday dinner at the School House in Sanger

Early birthday dinner at the School House in Sanger

The Monday before my birthday my daughter and husband didn’t have school/work and Jeran decided we should go skiing. We haven’t been since before Colette was born, probably 9 to 10 years ago. I wasn’t very good then so I was pretty worried I’d be awful now. But Jeran was excited, he’s a great skier even though he doesn’t think so. We left Superbowl Sunday to head up to China Peak. This is a great day to travel if you don’t mind missing the commercials, I mean the game. No one was on the road and the resort wasn’t full of people. I’ve only ever been there on Saturdays before when everyone else is trying to fit it in too. We checked into our room and were surprised to find out we got an economy room, that meant we had to share a bathroom like it was camp. Colette was really confused by this but eventually thought it was fun. The only problem was she got up in the middle of the night and I had to take her across the hall. If we had had a bathroom I could have slept all night. That night we had dinner at the lodge. It was nice and everyone who was at the resort was either eating dinner too or at the bar watching the game. After dinner we got some s’mores kits at reception and headed outside for our treats. I think Colette ate more marshmallows than ever before.

 

Monday we got up early and headed to the day lodge for breakfast. We would soon find out that the Monday after the Superbowl is the day to go skiing. Just families with little kids seemed to be there, even in the hotel. The ski classes were packed in the morning. Colette took a 2 hour beginners class and did great. We watched her as I went up and down the longer beginners hill. I was starting to have fun and thought I didn’t forget too much. Soon it was lunch and then Colette was back for another 1 hour class. This time the classes were much smaller and almost everyone who showed up for one had a private lesson. We took this chance to get on a lift and actually try to ski. Well I stink at it. I was worried the whole time and certain parts were really icy. It took me forever to get back down. I wish I was better, Jeran has so much fun, I think I just need more practice 8+ years is too long. We finally made it back and we picked up a tired Colette ready to call it a day. We sent Jeran up to actually ski a little while we packed up our stuff and got out of the sun. We were tired and ready to come home.

Ready to hit the bunny hill

Ready to hit the bunny hill

The next day we all woke up tired and sore. Colette of course bounced back right away, she complained he legs were a little sore, but she was proud of how well she had done and the aches weren’t much. Jeran and I on the other hand took a few days to get back to normal, but, when my birthday came I felt great! So, I’ve learned how to not feel old on my birthday. Go skiing, or some other exhausting sport, 3 days before your birthday. Have fun, play hard then go home and feel like a really old woman. But, right before your birthday the aches and pains will go away, you’ll just remember that you can still (insert crazy activity here) and you’ll feel younger than ever, or at least younger than you felt a couple days ago.

 

Cautiously Courageously Yours,

Liz

Red Carpet Birthday Bash

My daughter just turned 8 and I think this year she was more excited than ever for her party. She’s finally got some good friends and couldn’t wait to have them over. When I asked her a few months ago what theme she wanted she said red carpet without hesitation. I don’t know where she got this idea, we don’t watch a lot of awards shows, but she knew what she wanted. So, I got to work checking out Pinterest and the party sites. I was really happy with how the decorations all came together. Here’s what we did:

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We got this backdrop from Party City and taped it to the outside of the window. It looked great and the light shown through a little bit and made it glow. It looked so much better than I expected. I went pretty traditional with the theme and kept everything black and gold with pops of red. The girls loved the fun martini glasses from Oriental Trading. They all wanted to take them home.

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Originally I was just going to do a popcorn bar as the favors but decided against it and just used it as a snack. I don’t like all the junk most kids get sent home with after a party. The girls loved the popcorn bar and they mixed everything in. We had chocolate, sprinkles, corn nuts (they were a favorite) and 3 kinds of popcorn. It was also good because even though I said it would just be cake and punch some girls still hadn’t had lunch and were hungry. We had to have a swag bag for our VIPs, but since I don’t like the normal loot bag junk, the girls got pens in the shape of lipsticks and a fancy note pad so they can sign their autographs for all their adoring fans. To really set the mood I found this great video on youtube that I played when everyone arrived. Full of great Hollywood music it really made it feel like an awards show and had a great backdrop for the tv.

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My sister made these amazing stanchions out of pipe and insulation. They look so real, it really made the theme. The red carpet looked like a good idea but it was thin and the girls shoes ripped it up. If I ever do this theme again I’ll look for a real carpet to rent.

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I wanted the girls to have a VIP backdrop to have their pictures taken in front of when they arrived. I found some great ones online but they were expensive. I then saw this idea for a picture backdrop made from dollar store tablecloths. I changed it up a little and put it on the garage door. It looked great and worked out well even though it rained all morning. No ruined paper backdrop. My sister also made the marquee letters. I could have never done this, they light up and everything. I think it really set the tone for the party.

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I always stress out about the cake. I want it to look great but most of the time it has problems. This time it worked, and stayed that way. No cake catastrophes. I found the award mold and made 8 to go around the cake, sprinkled them in luster dust, which you can’t really see in the picture, and added some edible stars for fun too. The girls were all excited to get a little chocolate man. I’ve only ever been really proud of 2 cakes I’ve made, and this is one of them.

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The stage was set and we were ready to party. The girls showed up, took pictures and then headed inside to learn how to walk the red carpet. We hired a modeling coach to teach the girls how to walk the runway and pose. They took awhile to warm up but I think they had fun, especially when we all turned into paparazzi and they heard all the cameras clicking. They all got chance to shine, and eat their popcorn while they watched. Then it was time for presents and cake. This year I took pictures of the presents being held by Colette and the friend that brought them. That way I didn’t have to write it all down and we got more pictures. Even though the party was short we still had some down time so the girls did karaoke and danced. I should have had another project planned, originally I did but thought it would be too stressful to get everything done, so I skipped it, but now I wish I hadn’t. Still the girls had a good time and we headed back out for more pictures where they really loosened up and were silly. It was nice to do a different party since everyone does the same thing all the time, and Colette was happy. That’s all this mom wanted.

Check out my Pinterest site to see where I got all our ideas.