To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Hamilton Experiment

Everyone knows about Hamilton and if you don’t, how do you not?? But here’s what I don’t know... why is it such a mess of insanity and a total frenzy? I’ve seen some of it on TV and online. I’ve listened to it on XM Radio. I have eyes and ears so I am fully aware of the eye and ear candy of Lin Manuel Miranda. And I haven’t yet figured out WHY??? 

I didn’t renew my season tickets for Broadway this year since I now have my adorable little toddler to tend do. One of the add-on this season is Hamilton. Today the tickets went on sale at 10am.

I had no intentions of trying to see Hamilton. I trust it is a great show, but it’s not Jimmy Buffett. It’s not Starlight Express. It’s not Miss Saigon. It’s not one I feel I HAVE to see.

So today I decided to conduct an experiment! I was curious to see CAN you even get tickets? Are they as expensive as they say? Is the ticket buying hype really what they say it is?

About 10 minutes until 10am I clicked the link in my email to go buy tickets. When the new window opened this is what I saw:

I have bought many tickets in my day and this truly was a first! Usually I just have the window open and then hit refresh once the magic time hits and I immediately get my tickets. This is how I got front row for Jo Koy yesterday, front row for Howie Mandel and front of my section for Jimmy Buffett. I’ve got it down. So this was already a whole new experience!

At 10am my screen switched and I was officially in line.

I continued working, seeing my little person in the green bar walking slowly while I waited. By 10:25am a message popped up that one of the shows was officially sold out. Oh boy. Yeah this is seriously fascinating! It was around this time that our IT guy called, wanting to remote in to my computer to add a program. I said sternly,  "NO!! Not yet. I'll tell you why when I call you back soon!" 

As my little dude got closer to the end I had to wonder, would I buy tickets if I even could? I ended up getting out my wallet just in case.

At 10:39am I was in! It was my turn to pick out my tickets. I immediately had my mom on one line to see if she wanted a ticket if I could even get them. Simultaneously I had Shawn on another phone telling me his work schedule so I could try to get a day when he would be home with our daughter.

I clicked a Saturday matinee. Best available. Fail. I started clicking every type. Fail. No two tickets at that price. Is there one ticket? No.

I kept clicking on every day. Every price. Every ticket range. Best available. Nothing. I saw this screen so many times.

I tried one ticket as best available. I could get a $500 ticket. But only one. At one point I DID get an $80 ticket. But just one. I should have bought it. I could have gone or sold it. Because wait until you see what’s coming up!

I finally called it. At 11:07am I laughed at how I really could not get tickets. Twitter was on fire! I saw videos of the line going all the way around the building. Nobody was having luck online. The phone number didn’t work either.

By the time I got home Shawn had found at least 400 tickets for Portland’s Hamilton on Craig’s List.

Tonight as I was during this Shawn looked again. He found this.


So we got creative. For $417 I could fly to Chicago for a 4 day weekend, visit Mike and Clark, and see Hamilton. But I can’t drive 3 hours north to see this show.Shawn read from someone who works at Keller Auditorium that they were sold out by 10:29 am -- when I was still in the queue!

It really is mind boggling. And I am so happy that I really didn’t even care and it was all an experiment. I mean, hello??!! I just saw Jimmy Buffett twice in less than a month and I got freaking awesome seats for Jo Koy - two tickets for what one would cost at the cheapest Hamilton seats before they made it to Craig’s List. Clearly I have nothing to complain about!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Aloha: Lovely Cruise

Every blog was titled after a Jimmy Buffett line, so I end this blog with one to summarize our trip... It’s been a lovely cruise!

Drink it up
This ones for you
It's been a lovely cruise
I'm sorry it's ended
It's sad but it's true
Honey it's been a lovely cruise

These moments were left with
May you always remember
These moments are shared by few
There's wind in our hair
And there's water in our shoes
Honey, it's been a lovely cruise

These moments we're left with
May you always remember
These moments are shared by few
And those harbor lights
Aw they're coming into view
We bid our farewell much too soon
So drink it up
This one's for you
Honey, it's been a lovely cruise
Yea baby, it's been a lovely cruise
Oh darlin' it's been a lovely cruise

One last round of shopping!
On this, our last day, I had to set an alarm so I could be sure to be up and ready to go to the gift shop at 7 when the PhotoPass station opened. I had a disc of photos to order! It was pretty quick to get all of our photos put on the DVD. While I was waiting I watched a woman scrolling through her sunset beach photos. They looked so nice! But instead she stood there complaining about how horrible they all were and she was so disappointed and she wanted a discount.  Seriously - this is what I hated when working at Disney ... when guests would pull tricks to try to take advantage of our Guest Service Recovery. I hope she didn't get anything special because her photos were beautiful. The photographer did a great job!  Anyway!

Shawn ran down to the Ulu Cafe so he could bring breakfast to the room. We figured we could all eat in the room while I packed up our massive haul of luggage. I did sneak down right after 8 so I could get my daily pool bracelet for the collection!

The early morning line for pool bracelets. Normally we never waited!
Just after 9 we were saying good bye to Aulani and discussing our return visit. It is truly a beautiful place. I can’t wait to go back! I've read people saying how they were so sad to leave that they cried. Listen, I totally get it! I was surprised at how emotional I felt. Aulani has something that Walt Disney World and Disneyland lack. I am still processing what it is, but there is definitely something about it. It has that certain je ne sais quoi.

Good bye to our 9th floor elevator area. I'll miss you.
We found a Costco easily on the way to the airport so we could fill the rental car tank. We only used 10 gallons on this entire trip.... nice to be on a small island! Plus we never even used the car for a few days since we had so much we could do at our resorts.

Finding the rental car place was not as easily. We ended up having to loop around and just figure it out ourselves because the annoying lady in my phone was a moron and just kept taking us to the arrival gate at the airport. Not helpful!

The airport was uneventful. We sent our bags through the agriculture check and easily got through security. They had their dog our smelling all of us, which meant less we had to do at the X-ray screening part. We grabbed some food and wandered a short while before we boarded our Hawaiian Airlines plane. I seriously love that airline!

She stole my seat.
And now the incident. We were all in our seats, thankfully belted in. Katura was in my lap, nearly asleep for her nap. It was our turn, we were all lined up on the runway and starting to speed up. You could feel we were quickly going to lift off the ground and then BAM! Screeching. The brakes were slamming. The entire plane (and this is a very big one!) was fish tailing. Katura started crying. I almost did. What the hell happened? Everyone sat stunned once we were sitting upright again.

The Captain came on, apologizing. There was an indicator there was a problem with an air speed something or other. We had to go back to our gate and have maintenance check it all out. Then the brakes were too hot so we had to wait that out. Over an hour and a half later we were finally airborne.

And then the epic “I need a nap” meltdown happened. Now I was in tears. Katura was having a major tantrum. It was mortifying. When you’re in a plane with “that baby” and “those parents” try not to judge. You might be mad that a baby is crying, but it’s way worse for the parents. Trust me! Nothing makes you feel more like a parenting failure than the huge tantrum in public while trapped in an airplane. This was her 8th flight and the first time anything at all has ever happened.

She did fall asleep soon enough, thank goodness. I kept her asleep until we had just over an hour to go! The people in the middle section next to us were very understanding, which I appreciated! We landed around 10pm, as opposed to 8:25pm as scheduled. So now I’m here at baggage claim with our luggage while Shawn gets our car and the car seat installed again. I’m ready to be home!

...Although I could have happily stayed in Hawai‘i even longer!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Aloha: A Pirate Looks at *almost* Forty

Happy birthday to me!

I figured why not start out year 39 with some
sunshine on my balcony? I wasn't naked!!

Last year I celebrated my birthday in Hawai‘i, and here I am yet again! *Full disclosure, I’m writing this on an airplane after an incident you’ll read about tomorrow. So if it is scatterbrained, that is why!

I had us all up extra early because we had a date... a breakfast date with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy! Makahiki, down on the ground level, is where we went to celebrate another circle around the sun. After I checked us in we went outside by the koi pond to meet Mickey. Katura was so giddy she could hardly contain herself. Okay, she didn’t contain herself. She was over the moon! We had her go see him all by herself before our whole family had a photo together. While waiting for our table Mickey was outside alone waiting for more families. This was perfect! He welcomed Katura to come back and play. They had so much time together just the two of them, with her dad standing by. It was one of those moments you see in commercials, except it really happened!

Eventually we were taken to a seat outside, also by the koi pond. I loaded up on kid food at the buffet for us girls to share, but lucky for me Katura didn’t want any and I got the Mickey Mouse waffle to myself. It was so good!!

Minnie and Goofy took turns visiting our table, which was a real treat, but Katura was surprisingly shy compared to her Disneyland encounters. I had a nice surprise when our server brought me a complimentary dessert and sang Happy Birthday to me! Katura ate the frosting for me, her dad had the chocolate. They approved of the taste!

After breakfast we changed our tentative plans so we could do a couple laps through the lazy river and play in the big pool one last time. Totally worth it. We didn’t bring the camera with us, so it was just the three of us laughing together and being silly in our new favorite place!

Oh! I forgot! After breakfast we went to get our daily pool wrist bands and found a PhotoPass photographer by a cool Stitch statue. We took advantage and got some fun photos! If you do a Disney Park or Aulani, I highly recommend using PhotoPass!

Okay so we did our swimming then went back to our room to change and get on the road back to Waikiki. Our destination was the Honolulu Zoo. Overrated. I don’t even feel like writing about it. No shade. No animals. The best part of the zoo was our lunch, namely the fries and the free drink refills for Katura’s souvenir cup. And dammit, Siamang Gibbons are NOT monkeys!! Every damn primate you see isn’t a freaking monkey! The photo below... NOT MONKEYS!

THIS is how you do the Honolulu Zoo!
Why the zoo, when we have Wildlife Safari memberships that actually allow us to see animals versus empty exhibits? The answer goes back to June 21. Oh funny, we had actually been at the Wildlife Safari and on the way home I randomly looked up Jimmy Buffett’s tour schedule. I seriously freaked out when I saw he was going to be in Waikiki ON MY BIRTHDAY!! And I was going to be in Hawai‘i at the same time. This was a dream come true!

I did my homework, and I’m a Parrothead, so I know parking in Waikiki could be an issue. The zoo is by the Waikiki Shell, so the plan was to visit the zoo during the day, thus claiming a parking spot and not worrying about traffic. We ended up in line probably an hour before the gates opened, which ended up being 5:30pm. It was rather toasty waiting in line, which is why we didn't get there any sooner. We took turns wandering around with Katura so she could burn up some of her energy. Shawn was definitely better at this than I was. Fortunately it was time to move forward in line and go in. Before entering all bags were checked. They have a pretty strict admission policy, which is good i think. We did ask before getting in line if we could bring in her stroller and collapse it, and they gave us the OK. Thank goodness! What I didn't know was that we couldn't bring in cameras - and they checked all bags... all bags except my actual purse holding my real camera! HA!

Katura had to have a paid ticket to go in, so I got us general admission lawn seats to save some money - and since it was my 5th time seeing Jimmy, I wasn't worried about having the best view. This may have been a mistake. We were close to the front of the line, so we had our pick of the lawn and viewing spots. Shawn got our towel and blanket ("blanket" meaning his pirate costume that I gave him permission to not wear since it was so hot) situated white I checked our merchandise (yikes that’s expensive!!) and got us some water and nachos. Shawn took off to use the potty and get some water - and came back with the shirt I had been eye-balling. It was kind of a farewell to the tour shirt, and not available in Eugene, which is why it caught my eye.

For most of the wait it was really pleasant. We had nice people by us that we chatted with. Spaces filled in as 7pm neared, and the sky got dark - with a gorgeous moonrise coming between palm trees and behind Diamond Head. Everyone had their phones out to get photos of the moon. None of mine came out great, but I will remember it anyway. It was lovely!

The opening act, introduced by Jimmy, was two local ukulele players that were very impressive! Katura enjoyed them and danced around, so that made this mommy happy! It was around 7:30 when Jimmy took the stage! I’ll break this down into two sections. The good and the bad. Calm down, no way do I have a single thing negative to say about Jimmy! I hold him on a pedestal that can't be toppled.

Good: Jimmy and the Coral Reefer Band and the Reeferettes! I loved the music choices, hearing songs we don’t typically get at his shows. I forgot to mention this was an acoustic show, so each song felt stripped down and had its own feel, yet still the classic sound. The setting was ideal. Below Diamond Head, right by the beach, outside under the stars. I had a perfect birthday moment prior to the show while laying in the grass, looking at the stars, with my baby laying on my chest. Can’t beat that! And it was his final show of the tour. That right there made it feel extra special. And seeing him on my birthday? Priceless!!

Bad: the sound was not good. We could hear the music, but when Jimmy was talking it was too quiet in our area. This was partly due to the sound system and partly due to the next issue. The crowd. This clearly was not an area filled with Parrotheads like myself. This was obviously local people, most not native, that wanted a place to go get trashed and high. You could tell they only knew the big songs, like Margaritaville and It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere, which is fine, but they clearly didn't appreciate or know most of the other songsAs the night went on the drunkenness grew. That’s fine. We know I'm a girl that loves her rum, so I totally get it! It was the pot. More and more people were smoking it, and I did confirm on our way out that it is NOT legal in Hawai‘i. I actually saw one total buffoon fall on a child ahead of us, due to his marijuana and alcohol consumption. It was getting crazy -with or without a child I would have felt this way. Katura had fallen asleep, and my concern was her safety from being stepped on or having to breathe the smoke. I got in major mom bear mode watching over my cub a couple of times - but she was safely nestled up against her daddy, but still. I couldn't help it. 

Also good: as “normal” folks like us started leaving early, a group of Air Force guys ended up by us. They promised of anything happened near Katura they would take care of it! Even asleep our girl was winning people over!

I cannot believe it happened, but during the last song, we left. I could hear the concert was we left, but the smoke was so intense that we just didn’t feel it was smart to be there anymore, not with a baby. I was sad, and just really disappointed that I had to dip out early. It was so rad to be at his last show of the tour, and at least I got to take my little girl to see him and see her dance along with his songs.

The drive back to Aulani wasn’t bad after we got out of Honolulu. At Aulani once valet took our car, we hung out in the lobby area talking to a fellow OSU grad... we met so many at Aulani!!

Finally I was cuddling in bed with my little girl who slept all night in her pirate gear. She made her mama proud! I can declare this was a pretty rad birthday!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aloha: Chanson Pour Les Petits Enfants

This day was absolutely fun-tastic!!! For the second day in a row, we never even considered leaving Aulani. This place is so beautiful and full of things to do that we had a full day of new things, and some of our favorites from the prior days! Sadly, it was our final full day spent at Aulani, so we were going out in style!

As per usual I was up early, this time waking with the sunrise since I left our curtains open on purpose. At 8am Katura was the very first child inside Aunty’s Beach House to experience another Open House. It was hard to distract her from the outside structures, but eventually she was finding her groove inside. At 8:30 was the Disney Junior Aloha dance party. All three of us danced with everyone in Aunty’s living room, but gave up early and finally went outside to climb and hula hoop. After watching multiple kids, Katura finally decided she could do the slide. Once that was done we packed up and went to get breakfast. Her parents were too hungry (and so was she) to stay for the full hour and a half.

Breakfast was yummy again, so far my favorite meal at Aulani. Eating was pretty quick, because we were ready to swim!

Finally got to try a malasada!

We actually ended up hanging out in our room for a while since the Turtle was sleepy. Plans changed, however, after calling the character hotline. A new mission was on the horizon... meeting some of our favorite characters, including one very special girl that Katura absolutely loves.

The character greetings were by the pool, so we went down prepared to swim after our photo ops. We developed a plan. Shawn would go get in line while I maneuvered the stroller and caught up to him. When we would finish the first character he’d immediately find the next location so we could be prepared and avoid a long line. This plan turned out to be brilliant!

At Manawa Island we stood anxiously in the shade. Katura has no idea what (or who) was about to happen. I can tell you when it happened I had the sappy mom tears. I couldn’t help it. All the little girls got excited when they saw her, but none of them topped our girl’s reaction! She was squealing and so giddy, and once it was her turn I let go of her and she was off.... straight into the arms of MOANA!! Moana hugged Katura for so long, it was incredible to watch. We had been watching Moana in the room right before this meeting, so we told Moana how we were discussing silly Hei Hei. She liked that and talked about him to us. So completely awesome!

 While we waited for the next character we completed a Hawai‘i must-do and got a strawberry/pineapple shave ice. Not shaved. Shave. It was quite tasty, cooled us off and helped kill time. Also we took a look inside Rainbow Reef at all of the fish, pretty cool! We were second in line next to the entrance to the lazy river, and there he came.... Goofy! I was surprised and how shy Katura was with him. In Disneyland she was fearless, but today she wanted her Mommy to come with her. So I did. He was fun to play around with, as always!

Last was a meeting by the koi pond. We skipped the long Mickey and Minnie line since we will see them tomorrow. This time it was none other than a Hawaiian local... Stitch! Katura kept showing Stitch all the koi fish and he suggested maybe they go fishing together!! She likes him a lot and was all giggles!

Fishing for koi!
Characters were done and Katura had one thing on her mind.... swimming! She got her lifejacket on and we immediately got in the lazy river. We ducked out early so we could get to the big pool in time for the Shake a Shaka pool party. And what a good idea it was!

We staked out our area and had a blast playing around while waiting. Katura was obsessed with Umpy Dumpy. She’s getting so good and pushing herself into the water all by herself! But what we didn’t expect was that she would soon be swimming around in her lifejacket and twirling in circles all without us even touching her. She is officially a big kid swimmer now!

The loudspeakers made everyone excited when they started playing Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride from Lilo and Stitch. We all sang and danced in the pool, happily waiting for the officially party to start.

Our same host from the morning dance party was the host for this one. He had all of us in the water dancing and shaking our shakas! What we didn’t expect was to see Mickey Mouse come out to the pool deck! The sound of Katura when she saw him was priceless! She pointed at him, her face lit up, and she squealed MIMIIIIIII as loud as she could! He even came over to her during his time on stage!

Minnie Mouse came out next, which got another excited reaction! Katura was always too shy to go join the activities that would have let her be close to the characters, instead just staying with us in the water. That was fine, she still had fun.

Last to join the party was Goofy. He came up to her multiple times, saying Hi and trying to have her come join the kids up on the pool deck area. She always chose us. Smart move. It was insanity. Heck once the party started people were pushing us from every direction. Big culture differences were happening in that pool.

Yeah, That happened.
The big finale was great. All the characters were dancing, but by now most of the kids were off to the side, leaving Katura a prime viewing spot for the dancing and her favorite characters! It was seriously such a fun time, and fun to watch her clapping and splashing along with all of the games.

Once it ended we went up to our room to change for lunch. She was asleep before we were even dressed. We could have stayed in the room for her nap, but we didn’t. Instead we went to the Poolside Bar for chicken strips and fries (for Shawn) and loaded nachos (for me). I also had a Yummy Ami to drink. It tasted like Hawai‘i if you could actually drink up the islands.

Shawn noticed some PhotoPass photographers heading to the beach, which gave me our next idea. We went back up for yet another wardrobe change. Katura was already in a pretty dress, so I put mine on and Shawn switched shirts.... so we could get professional sunset photos in the beach. *Note: I bought this dress while pregnant. I should have looked in a mirror first. It is clearly too big and I totally look pregnant in most of our sunset photos!

Skye was our photographer and he was so great. He worked really hard to capture shots of Katura and did 3 different sessions with us as the sky changed. It was a lovely sunset and a perfect setting! Did I mention this is all free?? You CAN book private sessions for crazy $$$, or you can just go down and have it done for free. You do pay for the photos you want - which basically you can spent $100 and get every single photo taken during your entire stay, which is what I did. Trust me, this is a great deal!

This following string of mass photos are all from Skye.

Skye - our new bestie!
The evening ended with Katura and I back in the pool for a nighttime swim together. She didn’t want her lifejacket, which meant I got pool time snuggles while we swam. Can’t complain!

Finally it was time to quiet down. While Katura and her daddy played on a bed together and had snacks, I started pre-packing for our return home. So sad. We still have a full day left, but it’s a full day. Plus this jackass that lives in the White House flew in today, and disrupted traffic everywhere. He’s supposed to be staying overnight, which means possibly our drive to Waikiki could be difficult tomorrow. Ugh. Seriously.

It’s now only 9:15pm. We have been going nonstop today. I’m ready to sleep! And as I go to bed, I say good by to 38. When I wake up I start my final year of being a 30 something!