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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas, Shitter Was Full!

For some, the Griswold thing is just in the movies... for some of us, it oozes deeper into our lives! And this is a photo journey of SOME of that oozing!

If I wasn't feeling lazy, I'd show you a photo of my dad running to the gate of a closed theme park. There was NO way we'd pass up the opportunity. Our running was at King's Island, not Magic Mountain, but the sentiment was the same. Obviously we parked far away - gotta beat the crowds out at the end of the day! 

Instead this will focus on Christmas, Griswold style!

First we start with 2014. A simple text conversation led to the creation of a Christmas Vacation costume party! Don't let that photo by the pool fool you - this was in December... but did Cousin Eddie hesitate to put on his Speedo, grab a beer and hit the pool in December? Heck no, so why would we skip out on that??

I spent a lot of time preparing Griswold inspired food. First up, remember that poor cat that got fried by the Christmas tree? Well, we had that fried cat on a cake! For those that are curious, it was white cake that I turned into rainbow. And the fried pussy cat is made of melted chocolate.

My character for the party was Aunt Bethany, so there was no way I could show up without a Jello mold, complete with faux at food toppings and BBQ potato chips. Also for those that might be curious, it wasn't just lime (like Aunt Bethany's) but it was for adults ONLY! That is one giant Jello shot and it was all gone in no time at all!

Shall we check out some other costumes? How about another Cousin Eddie, complete with too tight of pants and a dickie! Hey - don't get dirty on me! And Clark in his house decorating attire!

Shawn did NOT last all night in that Speedo - which he did make himself!! And I didn't last all night in mine.... but I did switch to my hockey jersey since Clark and Rusty are often seen in hockey jerseys. *And that would be my prized Ovechkin jersey I got in Canada after seeing the Capitals play. Side trivia for you!

Here we have Cousin Eddy times TWO! Oh man, if only you could have seen this in person!!!

Here's my actual costume ... although I don't think Aunt Bethany could ever sit like that! And that would be Uncle Lewis under me.

Here, let's get a little closer - to check out the way Uncle Lewis seems to really care about his bangs?? And his earbuds... well, at least he was grumpy like Uncle Lewis!

Let's fast forward to 2017. I had no motivation to create an outfit, I had no desire to legit get dressed... but I had a strong desire to make Shawn and I wear Griswold shirts! 

Katura would have been decked out if people that make stuff realize that some of us parents aren't schmaltzy and boring and would love the chance to dress out child up in something fun!!

Not exactly the same pose - but sort of close when there wasn't any attempt at all to mimic this!
But now that I think of it, I think we DID recreate that in 2012!??!

And now I'll end this - with just SOME of the Griswold ornaments that decorate my tree! Note: so far my tree has NOT had any sap, isn't full at all, and doesn't house any squirrels.... YET!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Goonies Stand By Me in The 'Burbs

Sara, Ronda and my dad
Do you ever act on a whim and do something crazy - but at the time it seems totally practical? And maybe not at all stalkerish? And you are only in 9th grade and you don't tell any sort of adult figures what you're doing?

Uhh... yeah... 'cause Sara and I totally did that!

Maybe we should do a little introduction first for those of you not around since grade school! Sara and I are both only children. People have always thought we are sisters, if not twins. Her parents are like my second set of parents, and Katura's honorary grandparents. We were both band geeks together. We had our share of fights, but those are completely diminished by all the years of complete silliness and laughter we have had. Seriously, get us together and it won't take long and we will be crying from laughing so hard and we won't be able to speak. For a while we were pretty much attached at the hip! All of my funniest memories from life before college are with Sara! She is a poop that lives in Oklahoma now... but her parents and I will continue to hope some day she will be closer to us again!

Now let's get to today's junior high story filled with complete logic and sane, rational thinking.

* * * * * *

It was a beautiful sunny day. We were together at my house and clearly had too much time. Obviously we weren't busy with New Kids on the Block, Hangin' Tough, and arguing over who is the cute one (JOE!), and we weren't obsessing over Rocky Horror Picture Show... so what else would we do?

What would we do? We'd set off on a crazy adventure that I would freak out about if I was a mom and heard my daughter and her friend mimicked!

Sara - rocking a scrunchie on the ankle look
Sara had a boyfriend (whose name I am omitting). Cute, shy, slightly mysterious.. and Sara figured out where he lived. Since this was way before GPS and internet, we didn't exactly set off with maps or knowledge of how long this would be. I asked Shawn last night about how far he thought it was to the place Sara and I ended up at. He guestimated about 10 miles. And I was dying of laughter. Google confirmed that today. That was 10 miles ONE WAY!! Sara and I hopped on our good ol' mountain bikes (because that's what we called our bicycles back in the day) and decided to ride all the way to the middle of Melrose area to find her boyfriend's house.

For those of you not from here, Melrose is basically just land. Houses here and there. Farms. Hills. Trees. It isn't town at all. We didn't care. We were so jolly, laughing the whole way, virtually guessing which turns to take. I mean we couldn't even drive cars, and we didn't really know how to get where we were going. I guess we just used our woman's intuition! At one point we got to a T in the road. Do we go left? Do we go right?

I THINK we went right. I know in the end right was the right way to go, and eventually we were at his address. Two blond girls on their bikes, standing at a driveway, giggling, convincing themselves they could randomly appear at this farm land and not seem weird. I mean we were totally a surprise. As far as he knew, she didn't have any idea where he lived. I recall she found it on a card in the counselors office or something at Fremont. Oh no, we weren't stalkerish at all. Nope!

All this land. And no house. What? Yeah, but there was a small trailer. Not a mobile home. I mean in my head, 20+ years later anyway, it was like something you'd pull behind your truck to go camping with. Maybe it was bigger than that, but that's how I see it now. There were rabbits everywhere. And there he was. In his camper. With his parents. And it was soooo soooo awkward. I mean the amount of "o" I put in the double "so" there shows just how awkward it was.

He was uncomfortable. His parents were confused and awkward. We all just sat there almost in silence staring at each other. Remember in The 'Burbs how the new neighbors were totally strange and awkward? That was totally what this was! Sara and I were Tom Hanks and his buddies showing up uninvited and they were the creepy residents that clearly wanted us gone!

9th grade Ronda hanging out at Fremont
I have no idea how long we were there. It couldn't have been all that long. And I'm sure we peppy girls were trying really hard to seem normal and crack jokes, as hard as it was. But finally we were leaving. And laughing our asses off about how weird it all was. We did feel a little bad because he seemed maybe a little embarrassed. I don't think we judged at all - we just couldn't get over the strange vibe and the fact that we rode about 10 miles on our bikes to see him and told nobody what we were doing!

As we rode back toward town the sky started to get darker. I mean this was about to be a 20+ mile bike ride when you add in our return trip home. And we didn't bring water. We didn't have cell phones (because nobody did!). We had a very small amount of cash on us. And that went away when we got to the Melrose Store. We were so exhausted and it was getting dark. We ended up using a payphone to call my dad to come get us with his pickup truck. And with the rest of our money? We bought a box of old fashioned donuts and sat, eating them and laughing ... and we are STILL laughing about it!

Stand By Me. Goonies. Both Oregon movies. Maybe this isn't so strange? Maybe younger kids in Oregon always set off on their own adventures without telling anybody!?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stereotypical Band Tour Mayhem!

Sara and Ronda...
We wear short shorts
​I was in the 9th grade. In our day, 9th grade was still part of the Junior High, not high school. Sara and I were attached at the hip. Oh my gosh, the stories I could share of our hijinks in the band room! I'm laughing to myself just thinking of them right now. And that is sort of where this takes place ... although technically it wasn't the band room, but rather the band BUS!

The Fremont bands were on a grade school tour. Yeah, we're big league. Some musicians go on nationwide tours to big arenas - we did a tour of the local grade schools. The idea was to go have the different bands play (as I recall it was just Concert and Jazz bands) for the grade schools and let the kids see what they could do if they joined band. We played our most fun songs to seem like the band geek life is super cool and appealing. And come on - Sara and I had a freaking blast with band in junior high. It was probably the only positive thing, other than listening to Richard Burton read Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner in Mrs. Johnson's English class!

Amanda, Sara, Ronda, Lindsay
It seemed to be a full day tour we were on. We'd go set up in the gymnasiums with Concert Band playing first, then Jazz band. I was in both - so I pulled double duty and had to manage not one, but TWO cummerbunds all day! Red was for Concert band, while the black and white checkered one was for Jazz. For the sake of too much information, which actually DOES matter, I was the first chair flute player in Concert band (and there were only 3 of us anyway and we were freaking awesome. Shout out to Amanda and Lindsay!!) and the piano player in Jazz band. I was kind of a big deal. (Actually, I DID get the 3 year contribution award when we finished our time at Fremont band, so there!)

Midway through the day we stopped for a lunch break. This is when the accidental hijinks began. Our lunch, if I remember correctly, was over off of Stephens and Garden Valley - where Chubby's was - and McDonald's. During lunch, Andy got me a plastic ring from a little machine. Isn't that romantic!?! Ha! Somehow during this whole mid-day nonsense Sara acquired a Twix bar. These two things led to the big rebellious moment in my life that I swear was totally unintentional. I'm just really strong!

Before Phantom of the Opera
Practicing my Jazz band solo!

We were back on our bus - a full bus of band kids that just loaded up on fries and caffeine and candy. Yeah, every bus driver's dream, right?!? Sara and I were in the back third of the bus. And we had a third person in our seat. I think it was Lindsay but I'm not entirely sure. Anyway... quiet little Ted was up in the front of the bus, and this is the day Sara decided he was kind of cute and she wanted to talk to him. Being the brilliant one that I am, I crafted a plan. I grabbed part of her Twix bar and used the ring Andy gave me to carve "Ted, Sara says Hi" in the chocolate. Clearly we couldn't wait until we got to Rose school to give it to him. No! I thought I gently tossed it up toward him.

I was so wrong.

Smack!! The tiny, 1 inch long piece of Twix bar hit the front window of the bus. The bus driver was a little over dramatic and freaked out. It's not like somebody shot through the window. A scrawny armed little girl tossed a piece of chocolate just a little harder than she thought.

Now those of you familiar with Roseburg will know these locations I'm describing - the rest of you? I'm sorry - but know that it is only a couple of blocks from the time we got on the bus until this next section.

The driver immediately pulls over into the Indian Lanes bowling alley parking lot. (Oh my gosh I am already cracking up to myself again just picturing this!) Seriously, this is ME we are talking about. I'm not a rule breaker!!! "WHO THREW THAT??" she yelled as she got off of the seat and looked back at all of us. Before we could even answer, Mr. P was stepping into the bus. He was following in his truck with all of our larger instruments.

Rumor was if you got in trouble during the tour or kicked off the bus, you were immediately sent back to school. Remember how I joked I was "kind of a big deal"? Well .... are you really going to send 1/3 of your flute section home? Or your piano player for Jazz band? No, you're not!

Immediately Mr. P was looking at Mac like he was the trouble maker and said, "Hurry up, get off the bus." Mac was shocked and looked at him all confused. It was at this point that I was able to grab my flute, music and get unstuck from our threesome in the seat. "Hold on, Mr. P! I'm coming!" I said, and this is when Mr. P now looked confused.

I tried so hard not to laugh, but come on. This is funny. I mean I was getting kicked off of the freaking band bus for trying to be a match maker for my best friend! I got in Mr P's truck and we pulled away behind the school bus. It was silent for maybe less than a minute. We were both trying so hard not to laugh. He finally asked what the heck happened and I told him. He clearly saw the humor in it as well!

We arrived at Rose to do our last concert, and I think it ended up being the most fun because we had just had that silly incident happen. My fingers hurt so bad by the end of that. Imagine being the piano play for Great Balls of Fire, and playing it over and over all day long. It burned so good!

At the end of the year I had Mr P sign my yearbook ... and of course he wrote to not get kicked off the band bus again!

Aww, those were the days!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"I think you need to go to the bathroom."

Date:  January 21, 2016
Location: The Douglas County Fairgrounds
Occasion: First Citizen Banquet
Situation: I was ridiculously pregnant and about to pop!

Shawn and I were seated at the Roseburg Disposal table for the evening, where we would learn who the First Citizens of Roseburg were. We knew that one of them was at our table, and the whole reason we were there ... under the fake story of being "seat fillers." My mom was at another table on the other side of the building. Hers didn't win best decoration, by the way ... because our table did. Boom!

We arrived early, giving time to socialize with everybody there who wanted to be seen. Ugh, a few "pineapple" moments -- if you know me, you understand this!! I wasn't there to be seen. I was there waddling around, wondering if I was going to randomly go into labor before Bob was given the title of First Citizen!

There was a wall of framed photos, showing the former First Citizens from all the prior years. My mom and I were looking at it when Shawn came slinking up behind me.

"You might want to go to the bathroom," he said quietly and with a tone. 
"Huh???" I replied, completely confused. I mean clearly he wasn't thinking he'd get a quicky in a nasty bathroom stall, so what the heck was going on?
"I think you NEED to go to the bathroom. Your seat is wet, I think your water broke!"

WHAT??? He was standing behind me, allowing me to attempt to casually feel my dress and see if it was all wet. I felt nothing. What the heck was going on? I mean I didn't feel any water come out. I didn't feel any contractions happening. This can't be it!

Still confused, I went back to sit down at our table. The evening's festivities began, with each table going back to a buffet to get food (and dessert!!!) before they started the presentations. I can't even tell you what all they talked about, but I very vividly remember all of the stuff about Bob, which was why I was there anyway. 

They announced the female First Citizen. Incidentally, she was the nurse working when I was born - and now here I was about to give birth at the Fair??!!!?? When her name was announced everyone stood up to clap as she made her way to the stage. 

And Oh My Gosh.

Tip! When you are pregnant, you can easily
use your belly to prop up a camera
to photograph people without them
noticing it. This is Bob
listening to them describe the new
First Citizen and realizing it was Him!

I glanced down at my seat. It was all wet!! You could see the outline of my pregnant ass right there, plain as day! I immediately grabbed my cloth napkin and tossed it on the chair as casually as I could. I made sure my sweater was still covering my butt, just in case. As I went to sit back down I did the "tuck my dress under my butt" move so I could feel it -- dry. WHAT??

I left the napkin there when we stood for Bob. And we realized ... I was just a freaking sweaty ass pregnant lady leaving my sweat marks everywhere! So mortifying, yet absolutely hilarious. This was in early 2016. I didn't tell this story to anyone until December 2017. Not even Becky, who was sitting right next to me!

So there you go - add this to your list of things that they don't tell you about pregnancy and what your body does as it gets closer to the time. For the record, this was January 21, Katura came out on February 7th!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Festival of Lights... Up CLOSE!

In honor of the holiday season and all of the lights we decorate with, today I’m sharing a story from years ago. Some of you may know it, some of you may read this and think there is NO way it could even be true. I promise you, sadly, this is 100% real. I can hardly believe it myself!

I can’t even remember the year, but it was December 31, 20??. Tradition has it that we gather at my mom’s house for Grandpa’s favorite dinner to celebrate his birthday. Dinner always consists of flank steak, mushrooms, peas (for me!), bread, salad, some form of potatoes.... and beverages.

Grandpa stayed as long as he could. All the older guests went home. My step dad went to his bedroom. Sheila, my mom and I were left on our own to ring in the new year. This may not have been the best idea!

It was the final night of the Umpqua Valley Festival is Lights. We always seem to procrastinate and miss the lights. But not this year! No! We would drive through and see the lights!

My mom, Sheila, my dog and I loaded up into my mom’s sedan and set off on the short drive to see the Festival of Lights. We made it on time! We were actually the final car of the season! Lady and I were comfy in the back, and we had our Christmas music piping through the speakers. We were freaking so festive!

They actually let us work at it one year!
We began our trek through the park innocently enough. Lady was on my lap looking out the window with me. She was so darn sweet! Our first stretch through the long parking lot was at a momentary pause so we could get around the bathrooms. An arrow was lit up, pointing to the left, so that cars knew to drive Around the building and not Through it. Um, we never saw the lights on the other side of that building. And that is what this blog is all about.

My mom turned left all right. A hard, left... where she proceeded to go straight. Straight over the raised curb on the other side of the lot!

There we were. In her 4 door sedan. Teetering on the curb. We were high centered! What do we do? The car kept wobbling and my mom kept hitting the gas. Next thing you know we are going forward over the curb.... and into the grass! For those of you familiar with the area, we were now in the grass facing the big covered pavilion in the main park area.

Did she stop? Oh heck no! She turned right... right through the displays!

The windows were digging up. We had to roll them down. We were laughing so hard and loud that Sheila was shouting “turn the music down! Turn the music down!” Even my dog was laughing at this point. I don't know how we didn't pee our pants. There was a lot of snoring happening. All of us were in tears!

Our plan was to drive through the lights, but we literally were driving THROUGH THE LIGHTS! My mom went down the entire display of lights toward the boat ramp. On both sides of the car were the displays. We could have practically touched them. Somehow she turned us around.... and we went right back through them again! I don’t know how she didn’t hit any of any of the supports holding them in place.

We made it back to the pavilion area where she had to make another hard left to avoid a sign. The car ended up driving up with walking path back to the main road. Somehow we made it through with zero damage to us, the car or the lights!

On our way out we saw a vehicle driving through checking on everything. Had they seen what happened? Who knows! Did they hear the roaring laughter? How could they not??

To this day we cannot drive through the Festival of Lights without retelling this story to ourselves. Those of you that have enjoyed the lights since then... you are welcome. Because of us NOT destroying them you still get to pay $10 a car to go see ‘em!

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!