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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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.

Little Getaways with a Mission

Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose

The last couple years we’ve been going on little trips to visit the California missions. Our hope is that we’ll visit all 21 before Colette studies them in 4th grade. We’re getting there, we’ve been to 11. This last weekend we went up to the Bay Area to visit the San Jose and Santa Clara missions. Most kids probably don’t enjoy visiting the missions too much. It probably seems like a lot of the same information, but my girl loves them! She didn’t at first, we took her to the San Diego area when she was 5 and she was a little tired of visiting churches, but we kept on. Last summer when she was 6 she loved it. We had only planned on visiting 2 churches near the Pismo area. She didn’t want to stop so we went to a couple more. Colette loves taking pictures of the plants and looking in the sanctuaries. It’s also been really nice to go to the towns these churches are in. It gives us a reason to check out other parts of our state.

Mission Santa Clara

Mission Santa Clara

Visiting the San Jose mission was no problem, Santa Clara was another story. It’s right in the middle of Santa Clara University. We drove around and around trying to find a parking spot. It probably didn’t help that there was a wedding set to start soon,  a huge festival at the church behind the campus and a fraternity party around the block. We snuck in before the wedding and checked it out. Then we wandered all over the campus taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful campus. After our educational excursion we headed to our hotel and then off to Dave & Busters for some fun. It was a nice little trip and a great excuse to get out of town. Once we’ve visited all 21 missions we’ll need to come up with another reason to get out of town. Maybe visit all the state parks or go on a search for the perfect ice cream parlor, my husband loves ice cream. I’m not sure what our mission will be then, but it’ll be a fun reason to go see something new.