Velocity Convention


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.”

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,


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.


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.

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:


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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.

On Our Way Back Home


Recap of our Mediterranean Cruise & Trip to Switzerland Day 13

This is the last post about our trip. I don’t have too much to say so I’m going to put a few days together and finish it up.

We left Interlaken and headed toward Lucerne. We would stay the night there so we were closer to the airport. Also Jeran wanted to visit the transportation museum. He’d been there before and was excited to share it with Colette. We went straight there and found that the museum is near a lot of fun family activities, mini golf, swimming, etc. This seemed like a really fun spot for kids.


The museum is great and you get to explore all kinds of transportation hands on. Different buildings focus on specific transportation and in the center is a play space for all the kids. If you have a kid obsessed with things that move, you need to go here. We explored everything and then headed to our last hotel for this trip. We stayed at the Renaissance Marriot. We stay at Marriot’s a lot and used some of our hotel points to book this stay. It’s been recently redone and very nice. We get to our room and I see we have a Nescafe single cup coffee maker. Since I couldn’t seem to get the one we had in Interlaken to work I was excited to see if I could use it here. I couldn’t. I don’t know what I was doing wrong but apparently I’m only allowed to use regular coffee makers. A fact about my husband is that he gets the best parking spots. I don’t know why he’s lucky in this way he just is. We happened to park right in front of the hotel and figured we’d move the car after check in. No, they give you a sign to put in your window that allows you to park in the temporary parking around the buildings. So, we never moved the car. We didn’t need to any way we walked this final portion of our trip and enjoyed Lucerne. We asked the lady at the front desk if she had any suggestions for gluten free dining in the area she gave us a map and some ideas and we were off. Our first stop of was to the model train shop. Jeran remembered going the last time he was there and he found it right away. It was a cute little shop with train things everywhere. Colette loved all the miniatures and wanted to buy Grandpa Roger everything for his train room. After that we were headed off to hit the shopping streets. They were packed! People were buying like crazy. We just tried to find some last minute gifts but it was a little overwhelming.

photo 2

Soon Colette sees McDonald’s and they have balloons. She wanted one so bad. We were thirsty anyway so we got a drink and a balloon. As we were leaving I noticed the had an actual McCafe store inside the McDonald’s. I’ve never seen this anywhere else, I wonder if other countries have McCafe’s too. We were ready for dinner and went in search of some of the places they suggested at the hotel. We ended up at Pfistern. Colette had schnitzel and Jeran and I shared fondue. They had gluten free bread and made sure everything was safe. It was a really nice relaxing meal and then we went back to the hotel. I couldn’t sleep well I don’t know if it was because we had to get on a plane the next day or I just wasn’t tired, but I stayed up really late watching So You Think You Can Dance in German and then some crazy Indonesian game show with kids. I could never figure out what was going on and had to make myself turn it off. Before I knew it we were headed to the airport and on our way home. We flew home on Swiss Air. It was not great. It was an older plane and the tvs didn’t work well, they kept shutting off, which really irritated Colette. It was cramped, there were lots of issues but we were headed home and getting there safe was all that mattered. We made it to LAX which was crazy. Customs was a mess and then we had to walk outside of the terminal to where the little plane would get us back to Fresno. I’m glad we had this experience on our way back, it might have started our trip off on the wrong foot otherwise. Because of this we’ve decided that if we have a choice we won’t use LAX and we love Lufthansa.

While on this trip I kept list of little things I though were interesting

1. There is a lot of smoking everywhere, living in California you forget what it used to be like.

2. When you look up what to wear in Europe it always says no shorts. But, in Switzerland I saw a lot of people, mostly men wearing shorts, yes this was usually around outdoor activities but you would see it other places too.

3. We brought travel clothes for our excursions but most people looked uncomfortable and about to get sun burnt. But, not in Switzerland, everyone looked like they shopped at REI. I was very happy we all had our hiking pants, shirts and hats, they kept us pale and healthy the whole trip.

4. If you use a toilet, it will probably not have a seat. This wasn’t the case in our hotel stays but everywhere else we went, no seats.

5. Interlaken is full of travelers from all over but mostly Asian, Lebanese and American.

6. There will be no washcloths in the hotel room.

7. Most people speak English.

8. The tunnels in Switzerland are REALLY long. If you have kids who freak out with tunnels, be prepared.

9. Brush up on Italian road signs before you drive there. We had no idea what they said and it would have been nice to have an idea. The GPS was necessary for us.

10. Women seemed to wear a lot more skirts than in America. I was really happy with my clothing choices because I always looked appropriate and was super comfortable.

11. We love Lufthansa, it’s great for families.

12. We saw the high schoolers and college age kids on the cruise ship all having fun. It was nice to know that all ages were having a great time and we could see us going on Disney Ships for a long time.

13. The Bubble Bum car seat is great!

“BOND”ing in the Alps

Riding the gondola up to Piz Gloria

Riding the gondola up to Piz Gloria

Recap of our Mediterranean Cruise & Trip to Switzerland Day 12

We were ready to make our trek up the mountain. We checked the view on our tv to see if it was a clear morning. One of the stations showed the mountain webcams so you could see if it was a good time to make the trip up. You don’t want to make it all the way up and not be able to see the amazing view. We had chosen to go to Piz Gloria, it’s not the tallest mountain, but that was one of the reasons we decided on this location. I wasn’t sure how Colette would do just looking at the scenery. I had a feeling she’d hate the gondola ride up and then be bored once we got to the top. So, Piz Gloria was perfect. At the top is a revolving restaurant. I thought we’d get up there and once she was bored we’d have a snack and still be able to enjoy our time there. You’ve probably seen this restaurant if you’ve ever watch James Bond. It’s the building on the very top of a mountain in “On Her Majesties Secret Service”. There’s also a Bond museum there too.

Colette shocked me, she loved the gondola ride. She enjoyed looking out and I enjoyed it more too because she was having such a good time, I really don’t like heights. I shouldn’t have been surprised, we learned on this trip that Colette loves flying, not the food though, she tells everyone that, so a gondola was  no big deal.

We made it to the top!

We made it to the top!

We took a bunch of pictures and enjoyed the cool air and then made our way to the Bond museum. Jeran and I had a good time, Colette was bored though, she’s never seen James Bond, she knows that daddy likes the series but that’s about it. She did enjoy all the things you got to play with but she was ready to go and check out the gift shop as soon as possible. So, we went up to the gift shop looked in at the restaurant, we weren’t hungry yet, and headed back to the gondola to ride down to Murren. Turns out the gondola was broken. I wasn’t too worried, which is sort of weird for me, but it stressed Jeran out a bit. He was worried how he was going to get us back down safely. We couldn’t make the hike down, some people did take that option though. All we could do was wait. At least we were stuck on the top of this mountain that has a restaurant, store, museum and bathrooms. I think that’s why I was ok with it. People work up there all the time and there must be safety measures, we would be ok. So, I convinced Jeran we needed a snack in the restaurant and we relaxed. But once the announcement came that the gondola was working again Jeran stuffed us into the gondola with all the other anxious passengers. I was smashed into that thing and my feet weren’t even flat on the ground,there was no personal space on this ride down. The gondola was maxed out but we made it to Murren.


Exploring a mountain town

Exploring a mountain town

We didn’t get to stay in Murren long but we did get Colette her first pocket knife. It is a beautiful little town. Before we knew it it was time to ride the gondola all the way back down. We made it safely and then took a ride around the lake to visit St. Beatus cave. Colette did great on the gondola trip, but not so good with a cave. Apparently the girl likes to be up high and not deep in a mountain.


On our walk up to the cave entrance

On our walk up to the cave entrance

We made our way up to the cave and took way too many pictures, it was gorgeous. It was pretty busy and we had to wait for a tour. They have German, French and English tours. The guy who sold us tickets said they translate all the tours into English so we could go on the next one. Well, that wasn’t true we ended up learning about the cave in German and French, we didn’t get much out of it but it was still nice to see. Actually this is how I expected most of the trip to go. I didn’t expect everyone to speak English everywhere. I was glad they did, but if we had had a harder time communicating our trip still would have been great. Actually once we got to Switzerland it was harder to communicate with most people, because they would speak in German first, when we didn’t answer right away they would cock their heads and try French, we’d then say we speak English and they’d stop for a moment and then switch to English. I guess we looked like we belonged. Colette hated the cave she complained the whole time, but once we were done she headed to the play area and had a great time. This was the only thing Colette really complained about the whole trip. So we won’t be doing any more caves for awhile.


Jeran was really happy with his meal

Jeran was really happy with his meal

We had way too much ice cream on this trip

We had way too much ice cream on this trip

I had done some research on a nice traditional Swiss restaurant the was gluten free sensitive. We found Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen. Jeran was in heaven. He loved everything and then we had to had the movenpick ice cream, because for some reason we couldn’t stop eating ice cream on this trip. The restaurant is great, but busy, we didn’t have reservations but lucked out. Reservations are definitely recommended. It was a great way to end our day of exploring.