Friday, December 30, 2011

Blogging Again

So I've been away awhile.  I just took a break.  It was needed. With Polite Society Magazine, getting ready for a trip 5,350 miles (or something like that) away, and wrapping up the festivities of Christmas and a really important family event two days after Christmas, blogging fell WAY down on the priority list.

Once we got here, things were crazy.  I was anticipating a trip to Utah as well, but it was clear this year that it was better if we opted out of doing it this year. I think Brian was pretty disappointed because his parents and sister live there and Brian really loves it there as well. But because his parents were already traveling down to California for said-important-family-event-mentioned-above, we decided that it was just too expensive to make the trip.  We didn't have a car to travel in (which meant spending the money on a rental), as well as gas and other expenditures... the $1,500 would have been better not racking up in debt (cuz let's be honest, right now we're putting everything on credit cards and paying it off slowly through the months.  Our states trips end up costing about $8,000 total so that's not money we just have laying around).

I think Brian still really would have liked to have gone, but wasn't too bent out of shape.  Except the night before his parents were supposed to leave, he got this grand idea for us all to hop in his parents' van and fly back.  Well, after checking flight prices, it wasn't looking like a good idea until he asked if I would be offended if he just took Spencer to Utah and I stayed here. I just blank-stared.

Are you kidding me?!  

The girls would be gone at the same time and I'd have days away by myself.

Are you kidding me?!  

So, this morning he did it!  We packed up Spencer, packed up the girls and this morning at about 7:30 a.m. I stood waving to a van full of my family driving off for five days (which in a way I was a little nervous that my But I got over it quickly cuz I just knew they'd be alright).

I haven't known what to do with myself.  My initial thoughts were to start tackling my "to do list," but thanks to my friend Jessica, she reminded me that I needed to take some serious "me" time.  This is what she said:

Take yourself out to lunch. Go to Nordstrom and try on fancy shoes. Go for a walk. Find a bike. Take a bath. Go to a movie. Craft something. All by yourself.  Remember when we went to Cafe Harmonie recently? I'll never forget how you sat down, exhaled, looked around and said, "I need to do this more often. It feels good to just sit down."  And go to Sprinkles for me.

How awesome is she?  I had a few others suggest Pinkberry, sleeping, lunch with friends and going to movies.  The flood gates just opened and I had a slew of ideas, a bucket list, if you will, come pouring out so I set to work making a list (in true Christy-style) of all I wanted to accomplish.

Lots of fun things, and lots of "responsible" things were on my list.  I started stressing where and what to do first! I just sat there.  Then I realized that I didn't want to waste my time worried that I was wasting time.

I decided that today I would clean up and get ready for my fun days, but I did a few fun things too.   I went out to lunch with my mom to an amazing little place called Alicia's (and ran into an old friend as well), took a guilt-free two-hour nap, helped my mom clean her house and secure tilted pictures (that bug me when I walk into her rooms), had an extended conversation with my sister without being constantly interrupted, watched episodes of Modern Family, and was able to read blogs and leave comments (something I haven't done in a loooong time).

I'm currently trying to find new blog templates for Brian to change since Halloween is a bit outdated. :) But it overwhelmed me so I am stopping.

The night is young. Maybe a movie?

Oh, and did I mention the two hour nap? That was amazing!

Tomorrow?  Not sure.

But one thing on my list is to start posting on my blog.  I can't promise that they'll be in any semblance. I just want to get them done!

Crossing things off right?

This sounds like a good Sunday activity.

Do I even have readers anymore?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cousins trip to Hollywood

Rocky, Xoe, Eliza, Max, Xanthe & Ollie

So, if you remember from my previous post, all the older cousins were dying to see more of Hollywood when we went for the Muppets show.  I promised them I would take them the next week.  

I was actually excited!  I love my nieces and nephews and without Spencer, I can focus a lot on them.  And plus, Hollywood was like my old home so I was super comfortable there.  I LOVE the crossstreets of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. with it's new shopping center/Kodak Theatre and upscale hotel.  Melrose Ave. and Normandie Ave. are awesome too for shopping, but I spent more time on this corner than those other places (wait, that didn't come out right. :) ).  I took the girls touring a lot, saw shows at the venues, had networking meetings up in the hightop restaurants and went on a few dates (when I was single) down to that area. :)  It was a good time of my life so I was excited to share that with these kids too.

Beware, there are lots of pictures that might seem meaningless, but they are solely there for the kids who went. Their parents check this blog and I think it would be fun for Max, Ollie, Rocky and Eliza to see the pictures we took!  Some great memories.

Do also remember when the girls had to write a story about their trip for their Language Arts class? Well this is what Xanthe wrote on so I asked her permission to use this for my blog post.  She graciously said yes. :)  If I add my own commentary, I'll put it in parentheses and italics.  (And P.S. I didn't go back and edit this post.  I just couldn't. :) It's taking too long as it is so I'm sorry if there are bad errors)  Here goes:

Going to Hollywood
Guest Blogger: Xanthe Villa

While we were in California, my mom took our cousins to Hollywood. The cousins we took were Eliza, Ollie, Max and Rocky. One of the main reasons we went to Hollywood was because there was this place called Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

(Back-Max & Xanthe, Middle-Ollie, Eliza & Rocky, Front-Xoe)... P.S. Eliza is not asleep. 
(Okay so Xanthe threw away her rough draft because the details made her paper longer, but I'm going to add them back in.  Kids, do you all remember we loaded up into Grandpa's truck and I realized we didn't have enough seatbelts? I was super nervous about that so we got a hold of Grammy and had to drive all the way up to Azusa, a little bit out of the way, and she traded cars with us. You guys didn't care. You were switching around the iPad, reading the Ripley's book Max had brought and reading books.  It was a pretty fun car ride.  You also were all intrigued about my story about the clockmaker in Prague who had his eyes cut out so he wouldn't make another. :)

Eliza & Rocky
We had to unload everything out of Grammy's car and into Grandpa's car. You all had to go to the bathroom, but not disturb Grammy in her appointment, so you ran in but there was a bee or a wasp or a spider or something, right?  And too scared to go in the boys' bathroom, so you all went into the girls', which meant you must have really been scared.  And Max, you left your jacket there, remember? (Ruth, you may want to follow up on that. I just remembered.  Haha.)

This is us after parking and going into the big "Hollywood & Highland" Shopping Center (hereinafter referred to as "HHSC").  I was like their tour guide and they were super intrigued. It was really fun.

One fun thing that they loved about that place was that the Kodak Theatre is part of the HHSC, especially when I told them this is where American Idol films the last 10 or so big shows and where the Academy Awards take place.

In front of the Kodak Theatre.  Cirque du Soleil was being performed here.  Do you love how we ignored the "no camera" sign? We just figured that was for people ENTERING the theater.

Trying to get a glimpse. Unfortunately it was just the lobby area.

The theater is located at the top of a grand staircase that the front of is made of red mosaics, so when you are standing at the bottom, it looks like a red carpet (because of the Oscars/Academy Awards).  I've included an online picture below cuz I failed to get a picture on my own. You can also see on the right and left of the picture there are columns that have lighted squares on them.  You can't see very well in this picture but on them there are the names of the pictures from years' past and the year they won.  There are also blank spots going up to I think the year 2068, but don't quote me on that. I can't remember.  Ollie and Rocky had a good time finding their names for Oliver (Best picture in 1969) and Rocky (in 1976). I couldn't get a good picture.

The kids at the bottom looking up the staircase
We didn't look around too much more of HHSC, but I would have loved to have shown them Babylon Square, some of the fun restaurants and shops, seen a movie in the great theater, and found all the mosaics of "The Road to Hollywood", stories of famous stars and how they got there.  Again, the next two pictures are just online pictures so you could see what I was talking about.

  Xanthe: We walked down Hollywood Boulevard and went to the Kodak Theatre where they have American Idol and the Academy Awards.  (I'm cutting out the part about the Muppets, but so you know her paper wasn't as choppy as I'm making it seem right now.)  Then we went over to the Graumann's Chinese Theater and looked at the handprints and  walked down the sidewalks to look at Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

(Christy: So when we got out of HHSC, it was more crowded than I thought. They must have had a show going on soon because a couple of hours later it was sparse, which was usually opposite than normal. Usually it's more crowded at nighttime. I got a little stressed, just a little people, and made sure everyone had a buddy and stayed next to each other.  The kids were all amazed at the people dressed up in costume that is a common site every hour of the day. They started snapping pictures of them when I kindly and quietly schooled them that they will demand tips, especially those that you actually stand in the pictures with.  So, I told them they could but we had to be selective but everyone only had a certain amount of money with them.  Again, I'm sorry for the amount of pictures, I swear I deleted like 200 of their pictures, they were all taking them with their iphones/ipods, and these were the ones left that I thought the kids would have fun reminiscing about. )

This one's for you Scott (Max & Ollie's dad).


This one killed me.

This one was for Myles (Rocky's dad), I think.

This spiderman kept stalking us.   A little creepy but pretty harmless. He kept following us, I'm sure to get tips. I just had to do the "ignore and look away and hopefully he'll leave," which he eventually did, but it was pretty obnoxious. Check out Green Lantern.  Whaaaat?  Obviously, a professional, am I right? :)
Jimi Hendrix and....??? They gave us dirty looks for even staring.

This one was for me, my brothers and sisters and parents. :)  You know you all love 'em.

This was for X&X's dad.

Makin our way to the Chinese Theater.

In front of Mann's Chinese Theater. For those of you that don't know, this theater is where many movie premieres are held with a red carpet, limousines and the whole works. This is also where the stars put their handprints and footprints in the cement. It was odd though because we couldn't find the more recent stars.  I wasn't sure where they were and didn't want to go looking for them around the back.  When I asked, the guy said we had to take the tour to find out.  Sheesh.  What a ploy.  Whatever, the kids were fine with the ones we found.

In front of the museum... this was the main reason for coming. They were mesmerized last week with what was only in the lobby.  And it was so cheap that all the parents were totally on board with me taking them.

Xanthe: Ripley's Believe It or Not  is a crazy museum which is based off of the Ripley's Believe It or Not book (and the tv show and the man named Ripley's travels around the world). It has sort of wacky things a;nd htey take those things and put it into a museum. A couple of things I really liked were the Shadow Wall where you stand in front of a dark wall and a flash goes off and leaves your shadow on the wall, the tallest man (Robert Wadlow, 8'11" that had a life sized replica and had the statue stand up from a sitting position to show how tall he really was.), the crazy effect dancing room, and the Focus Picture.

Again, sorry for the obscene amount of pictures, but I really did weed out a lot.  This is mainly for the kids to see.

This was some sort of crawling contraption they had to get into. Not sure how it was part of an "unbelievable" item, but they had fun in it.

Games and interactive screens were all over.

There were lots of these types of things.  This was Brad Pitt carved out of pieces of paper.

Thumb tacks

Lots of these too. You can't see it well in the Marilyn Monroe picture, but these were artworks made out of weird things... like all dots (Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt) or all puzzle pieces or all thumb tacks (George Clooney) or all guitar picks (Jimi Hendrix).  I can't remember what this one was made of, but they had signs next to them saying "take a picture so you can see the image!" so we couldn't capture what it was made out of because the pictures would focus everytime we tried to capture it. I think the only one we captured was the one above out of puzzle pieces.  It was pretty cool.

Lots of weird animals. Two headed cow, horse with a twin growing out of it's back, etc.

Lots of artwork made out of the script.  What you can't see is the colors are made out of someone's handwritten words of part of the main script.
Lots of clothing items made out of random things... this was all starburst wrappers carefully folded that a mom made for her daughter for prom (not sure why???) but you can see the girl and her date who wore it. The shoes, bracelet, earrings, purse, etc. were all made out of the wrappers.

Wedding Dress out of toilet paper for some challenge on one of the "design" reality tv shows.

Purse made out of aluminum cans.

Shadow Wall

Interactive Room-Lots of "Figure It Out". They stayed in this room for quite awhile.

Smallest Man.

Lots of statues of real people (so we think? Believe it or not?)
Skinniest Man

Lizard Man-this guy was real, so we think. There was a video of him.  Check out in the next picture the implants he had in his head and he really had surgery on his tongue to split it in two.

Biggest man (everyone insisted it was a woman until I took them back to read the info plate).

Some fun galleries... this was the Marilyn Monroe gallery. They had a few... Betty Boop, one for Rock and Roll, and others I can't remember.

 Movie Theater that showed some real life people who were pretty abnormal.

Part of the Berlin Wall.  Pretty close to home for us.
Star Wars made from car parts.

Xanthe: The other interesting thing was the Dancing Room. The Dancing Room has this camera and projector.  The camera tapes you dancing and there are all these crazy effects added.  The last one was the focus picture. The Focus Picture is a bulletin board that has all these facts that are in a weird order and it is made that when you take a picture, it focuses and makes another cool picture. (They loved this room. I literally had to pull them out of there after about a half an hour.  I've put videos at the end.)

Then of course souvenir shopping.  I didn't get any other pictures, but a few of them got gag gifts (Max got a buzzing pen) and t-shirts.  A few saved their money for souvenir shopping at the same place we found the Oscar statues in my Muppets post.  We were spending a lot of time shopping that a few of them had meltdowns (including me because Xoe wouldn't make a decision).  I could tell everyone was hungry so we headed to the little pizza joint we saw when walking over (no one wanted McDonald's. :) ).

Right outside of Ripley's about to walk down for food.

Seeing Gabba merchandise on the streets.

This pizza was amazingly good for the cheap price.  Kids, remember when the cleanup guy totally threw away my uneaten salad?  Good thing the kitchen made me another one.  We were all pretty shocked he did that.  And yes, another memory was everyone getting frustrated about the buzzing pen because some didn't want to try it and the others were forcing them to.  It was made worse because everyone was hungry.  The minute they put food in their mouths it was best friends all over again.  haha. I don't know why that made me laugh but it's something I am always pushing even when traveling in Europe, you HAVE to get to a food place BEFORE everyone gets hungry.  All hell breaks loose when you've got grouchies walking around trying to find a food place everyone likes...  Oh, and another fun memory was when Rocky and Eliza realized he could sleep over again since her mom was going out to his house in the morning. It was like you had handed him a Golden Ticket to Oz.  He was on cloud 9.  Everyone was!  It was such a fun night and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.  I think everyone pretty much passed out in the car on the way home. haha.  Love you all and hope you all had a great time!