Celebrations!

I love celebrations and vacations. I love the dreaming, planning, list making (and checking things off), packing and prepping. It’s wonderful to have something to look forward to. Recently we’ve had two celebrations, my nephews first trip to Disneyland and an Ordination Service at our church.

Headed off to find the littlest cousin and share Disneyland with him

Since my family is Disney crazy we all jumped at the chance to go on Nathaniel’s first trip. You never know how a 1 year old is going to react to the characters, noise and all the people, but he seemed to love every minute of it. The cousins loved showing him all their favorite rides and treats. Planning a first time trip is really exciting and planning a big family group can be a little much if you’ve never done it before. Here are just a few of my thoughts.

  1. Wear matching shirts or have a theme. For our first day we had a pirate theme. Themes are great for the big group picture and if you’ve lost track of your group you know what to look for in a crowd.
  2. Have a printed schedule so everyone knows what the important things are and when to show up, hand this out in advance so people aren’t surprised day of. Don’t schedule your whole day just the important parts that you want everyone to be a part of. This way everyone still has some freedom but knows what’s expected too.
  3. Make at least 1 restaurant reservation per day. It’s good to know you’ll all get to sit down at one point in the day and have a decent meal. The rest of the day can be churros and dole whips, or whatever your favorite Disney treat is. Arguing over what to eat is taken away too because you made the decision on where to eat before your trip. If you have any food allergies/sensitivities like our group does, the sit down restaurants are the best option and they make sure you can have a safe dining experience.
  4. Disneyland will be a crazy mess. Too many people go expecting it to be perfect and magical. I’ve found that when I go expecting it to be really busy and I don’t hope for any extra Disney magic, I find the magic anyway. You can’t make your kids have a magical time, even if the cast members constantly tell you “Have a magical day!” Enjoy the crazy and the magical, it’s all part of the experience.

After we got back from our last trip to Disneyland my dad and I had to start planning an Ordination Service for one of the women who grew up in the church. She completed her seminary training and Ordination Council. It takes a long time to become and American Baptist pastor and it seems even harder for women, even though our denomination welcomes women as pastors and leaders. It was time to celebrate the hard work and devotion it took to get to this place in her life, and the exciting new plans God has for her. Pastoral Relations got things rolling and I ended up figuring out decor. I couldn’t find much help online with ideas for a reception after the service so I wanted to make sure what we came up with was online for anyone trying to come up with ideas for a similar event. Since we are a Chinese Baptist Church and the new Reverend will be a missionary to Japan soon, we went with a modern Asian feel. It all came together beautifully and it was a wonderful day to celebrate all the hard work it took to get to this point and support her as she travels the path God has for her and her family.

 

Took a picture during set up to make sure the photo op looked good.

All set just ready for the food

I don’t have any big celebrations to start planning right now. But I should probably start making my lists for Christmas soon. Then my 40th won’t be far away. Time to start dreaming up some more ideas, I can’t wait to see what they will be.

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Why Beautycounter

These are just a few ingredients you won’t find in our products

 

I’ve been signed up as a Beautycounter consultant for a couple months now and I’ve been a little hesitant, ok a lot, to tell you. Another person you know is selling something. But, I’ve decided I’m going to make myself do this. Why did I end up with Beautycounter? My husband is celiac and has hypothyroidism, he’s been gluten free since before it was cool. Because of that I’ve spent a lot of time researching his conditions and looking for recipes. The last few years I kept seeing Beautycounter at different blog sites, but since I was there for the recipes I ignored it. But recently I’ve gotten really fed up with my acne, seriously I’m almost 40. I’ve had it since I was my daughters age and I’ve tried everything from prescriptions to kitchen concoctions and I don’t want Colette to have to go through this too. I don’t want her covering herself in dangerous chemicals and wasting time on things that don’t work. I don’t mind a little experimenting on myself but I don’t want her exposed to anything that could be harmful. So in my never ending search for healthy recipes and clear skin I started paying attention to the Beautycounter stuff. I finally took the plunge and got the charcoal bar and mask. It seems like everyone is talking about charcoal and the Beautycounter products had great reviews so I went for it and was hooked. Now I’m slowly adding more products as I run out of things and switching to safer options.

Beautycounter wants to change the beauty industry and get safer products into the hands of everyone. Did you know the European Union has banned over 1,400 chemicals and the US only 30. Beautycounter has a Never List of more then 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that will never go into the products. If you’d like to learn a little more this short video is a great place to start.

I hope you’re interested and will take a look at what Beautycounter offers. We have products for everyone from kids to those looking for anti aging. You can visit my link here or ask me about it sometime. I also have a Facebook page where I’ll be posting about offers and other information, but of course you’ll hear about somethings here too.
So anyway, I’m trying this out, I hope you’ll try it too.
Liz

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.

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?

miss fresno

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.”

What Did We Get in the Veggie Box?

I’ve been away from the blog for awhile. I wanted to post about our fun summer trips but they came and went and I never got around to it. So, I’m moving on and telling you about something we’re doing right now that has been more fun than I expected. Recently we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group and get veggies once a week. My parents have been using the CSA for awhile. When my daughter was in preschool she loved it when Grandpa would go pick up the veggie box. She couldn’t wait to see what was inside. We eat pretty clean at our house, eating out is a different story, and buying all the veggies was getting expensive. So, we switched to the CSA, we pay about $16 a week and get what we get, so far, not too many fits. Colette seems to like the excitement of the veggie box, more than the veggies, but she tries them.

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Our first CSA box

I thought the food planning would be more stressful than it is but really it’s been fun. I get the list of what vegetables are expected to be in the box a week ahead, then I look around for ways to use them up. We’ve even tried some things we’ve never had before like ratatouille. My husband doesn’t like eggplant, but I thought I could get everyone to eat it, because it used up a lot of the fall veggies. Colette’s seen the Disney movie, so maybe she’d go for it. It was not a hit with my daughter, she pretty much just ate the pasta we had with it. Jeran did like it though, it’s always good to try new things. I’ve even tried my hand at changing a recipe. I usually stick to a recipe and don’t change it at all, I’m just not comfortable enough in the kitchen, but I got it in my head that I could convert a regular pumpkin persimmon bread into one made out of coconut flour and it worked! I used the pumpkin puree my mom made from Jeran’s Halloween pumpkin that broke in half before he could carve it. It was sad, but it made 5 cups of puree. My experiment worked and it made a really yummy breakfast bread that was gluten free. The other day we got way more zucchini than expected so we made zucchini bread, gluten free of course, but with a regular gluten free flour mix this time.

Besides being fun trying things out it’s saved me a lot of time grocery shopping. Now all I have to get is protein, any staples and possibly other side items, but we’re pretty low carb at our house since Jeran’s gluten free and the rice and gluten free pastas are only a couple times a week. If you’re interested in trying out a CSA, go for it! You can check out our local one here. And see my Fall CSA pinterest board for what I’ve been making so far.

Countdown to Our Disney Cruise

 Pinterest Project Success

A while ago I pinned this cute Disney countdown chain. Like most people I pin a lot of stuff on Pinterest, but know most will never be tried by me. But, this is super easy and I love countdown chains. The picture is my completed chain, but you can go here to see the original and get printables. They have 2 versions, Mickey and Minnie. I happened to have all the colors for Minnie, so went with that version. You can also change the top to say Disneyland. It’s so cute and we’ve already enjoyed cutting a few rings off. Do you like to make count down chains for your Disney vacations? Or do you have other fun ways to get excited about an upcoming trip? Let me know in the comments.