by Cheryl on November 14th, 2013 | Posted in Blog Events, Sponsored Post
I kissed Snoopy.
I can’t help it. I love him. With his floppy ears. Big black nose.
And his Santa hat.
That’s right. Each year at the holidays, Knott’s Berry Farm transforms into Knott’s Merry Farm, and everyone gets into the spirit. My kids always look forward to it. Well, maybe not the part about their mother kissing a large dog in a Santa hat, but all the rest of it.
One of their favorites is It’s Christmas Snoopy! ice show. My daughter loves to ice skate, and watching the performers left her transfixed.
Other highlights this season include:
Santa’s Christmas Cabin, where you can take photos with Santa, get a sundae, or taste wine and craft beer.
Lucy’s Wish List at Camp Snoopy Theater.
A Christmas Carol or Gift of the Magi at Bird Cage Theater
Snoopy’s Magical Night of Lights at Camp Snoopy.
As you enjoy your time at the park, you might see strolling carolers, and don’t miss the giant Christmas Tree at Calico Square.
It is also the perfect time to get your 2014 passes for unlimited visits to Knott’s. They can be purchased online for $78 or with six installments of $13, for a limited time.
In the meantime, keep a lookout for that cute white-and-black fellow.
GigaSavvy sponsored this post. The whole kissing thing was entirely my doing.
by Cheryl on November 6th, 2013 | Posted in Uncategorized
Two-and-a-half years ago, I took part in something that still, when I think about it, gives me happy shivers.
I put myself out there.
My words. My self.
One of my proudest moments came in May of 2011, when I read a personal essay in front of a LA audience for Listen to Your Mother, a national show about, well, motherhood.
Talk about empowering. I was among an incredible, talented cast whose stories about being a mother, or having a mother made all in attendance laugh, nod their heads, and more than a few times, grab Kleenex for tears.
Southern California has been without a show the past two years. So my friend Ciaran Blumenfeld and I started talking about bring one here. Could we do it? Could we pull it off?
And we ended up with the same thought: how could we NOT do it? So along with a very talented writer, Katherine Kotkin, we applied.
When I got the congratulations email from National Director Ann Imig, I might have peed my pants. Then again, after three kids, shifting in my chair could have the same results. But this was from jumping up and down and shrieking.
SO excited. SO FREAKING EXCITED! Listen to Your Mother will be here in The OC in 2014!
Those of you who have been lucky enough to participate in a show or simply go to one understand why. The power, the emotion, the truth of what voices of motherhood bring is something you will never forget.
We have six months. The show will be right around Mother’s Day. You won’t want to miss it. Bring your girlfriends. Bring your mother.
We will have information in the coming months about how YOU can audition for the show. That’s right. You. Just like I did, I’m going to ask you to step out of your comfort zone. Imagine how you’ll feel after (here’s my thoughts).
But today is for celebration. Something important – something lifechanging – is going to happen right here in The OC.
I can’t wait.
by Cheryl on May 22nd, 2013 | Posted in Blog Events
My arms drooped.
Watching Monday night’s DVRed Top 10 show of The Voice Tuesday morning, my limbs went full-out spaghetti – just thinking about how much the audience has to applaud during the show.
See, last week, as a guest of Kia, I got to attend alive taping of The Voice results show. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to actually be there?
They tell you how to clap: with your arms up over your head. On and off for at least an hour. Ouch.
But that was only part of the experience. Which was ah. maz. ing.
Here is what I learned about attending a live taping:
You wait. Our call time was 4 p.m., but since we drove to Los Angeles from The OC, we gave ourselves plenty of time. And arrived an hour early. We spent that time sitting under a large tent, helping ourselves to bottles of water and waiting to be taken to the studio. We sat among guests of the coaches and contestants, and other VIP types. We used the posh port-o-lets. Then drank more water. We were told to wear dark colors, no artwork or logos, and if you watch the show, you’ll notice most people comply with that.
You have to give them your right arm. Did you hear that? YOUR RIGHT ARM! Okay, by right arm I clearly mean cell phone. We were told ABSOLUTELY NO CELL PHONES. Seriously. All caps. Imagine our surprise when we saw just how many people (everyone) went right through the metal detector and kept their phones. I got all twitchy. What was I going to do for hours without my phone? ACTUALLY TALK TO PEOPLE??? So while those around us in the tent were taking selfies, we curled under our chairs in the fetal position.
The studio is heated the temperature of artic igloo. With a strong breeze. The night before, the air conditioning broke and the studio went up to 105 degrees. Eager to overcompensate, it was fuh-reezing. This poor woman in the row in front of us had her hair blowing around all night as she hunched over. By the way, we were all informed that if anyone took a picture with their phone, they’d be thrown out. Hmph.
We got to see the Starbucks stand where the coaches get their drinks, and four directors chairs with a coach’s name on each one on the way to our seats. We were on the left of the stage, on a section called Blake, since we were closest to him.
There’s a guy (The Guy) who tells you what to do. When to stand, how to applaud, how loudly to applaud, when to be quiet, what’s going to happen next. We were like a bunch of trained monkeys. But in the best possible way.
Even live shows are filmed out of order. The coaches were introduced and came out on stage, with Blake flipping Adam the bird. Usher did a little dance. Shakira? Tiny. TINY!! She’s like a little miniature person. (Incidentally, the judges spent most of the commercial breaks texting on their phones while makeup and hair people fussed over them or dashing backstage.) Then Lady Antebellum recorded their performance 30 minutes before the start of the live show. The Guy told us there was a chance they’d have to do the performance twice, but they got it in one take. During the show, if you watched at home, Robin Thicke performed. But we watched it on the monitors: it was recorded some other night.
Adam. Yeah. What you think he’s like on TV? Just as that in person.
The singers don’t sound amazing because of the magic of television. They are amazing. And incredibly talented. I was truly blown away by their voices.
We were told by The Guy not to yell out who we hoped America kept during Carson Daly’s announcements. Then we were told that we should yell. It was all very confusing. Luckily my faves were safe. Have I mentioned I’m a huge fan of the show?
The Guy said there would be a special surprise after the show. A post-show taping. And it would be … Bruno Mars. Now, I’m not a huge Bruno Mars fan. Well, I wasn’t. Until…
Meanwhile, because we had to wait awhile after the end of the live taping and Bruno Mars (usually during this time the coaches tape their thoughts about the eliminations, but for some reason they didn’t do that), ushers brought around food. Not Usher. Though that would’ve been awesome. In fact, the judges and contestants were gone. Some people got boxes from Subway. We got pizza – we were handed the box and told to take a slice and pass the box. We also got Gatorade, fruit, candy and chips. Some people actually complained about the selection. I just thought it was nice of them to feed us. Tough to kvetch about free food.
The setup for Bruno Mars included ginormous disco balls suspended above the stage. The Guy came back out to tell us the taping would start soon. As he spoke, Bruno Mars and his band – all wearing red suits – walked onto the stage. Speaking of tiny, Bruno Mars and Shakira would make a perfect matched pocket set. Carson Daly reappeared and introduced Bruno Mars – and holy. shnikeys. He sang Treasure and totally rocked it. The audience went nuts. Bruno Mars has a ton of energy and put on an amazing show. And then. He had to do it again. Apparently there was a technical glitch of some sort. This time, The Guy told everyone to dance. Which we already were but whatevs. So Bruno Mars sang Treasure again. Nailed it again. Tremendous performance.
That was it. Almost. On the way out, my friend’s 16 year-old daughter touched Adam Levine’s empty directors chair. And sobbed for the next 20 minutes.
Such a great experience, and so fun to get the inside scoop on what goes on during a live taping – and how the idea that Adam Levine’s butt touched a chair can reduce a teenager to hysterics.
Thank you to Kia for providing me with a super-fun Kia Soul to drive for the week and passes to the live taping. All observations (and possible shrieking at Adam Levine) are my own.
by Cheryl on March 10th, 2013 | Posted in Parenting
Even before Xander was born, I started doing the math. It is, I suppose, a byproduct of having a child at 40.
When he was a newborn, I thought how I’d be 80 when he was the age I was then.
Every birthday is a mile marker for us both.
Today Xander is four.
He told me the other day he wants to stay little. I want him to stay little too, small enough so that I can still hold him when he wraps his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist and clings to me. Small enough so that I’m not aging, too, counting down one less year I’ll have to spend with him.
But this post is supposed to be about Xander. Not me.
So let’s discuss Year of Three. We potty trained (yippee!), including a memorable pee in the portable potty – on the bleachers during Sawyer’s baseball practice. Team was confused when all the moms sitting there started cheering.
Xander started preschool. I was excited to have two days of 2 1/2 hours of freedom per week. Xander was less excited to be away from home. I’d like to say his crying tantrums before we leave most mornings (still!) are because he misses me too much, but I really think he misses my iPad.
The boy is an introvert. I KNOW! I don’t know how this is possible. He is extremely shy around adults, even ones he’s met before, clinging to my leg and hiding his face. At school this past week the teacher mentioned that he was the most interactive he’s ever been. Apparently his warm-up period is, oh, about six months. He has made one friend at school and fortunately they’ll be in the same pre-k class next year.
Third child syndrome is alive and well. Sage started reading when she wasn’t much older than Xander, while he can’t recognize letters. Apparently I actually have to work with him or something. I figured he’d learn it through Older Sibling Osmosis (OSO), just like he’s learned the words “fart” and “stupid idiot” and, of course, how to play minecraft. (See fail, parent).
Xander gets to play soccer in the fall. He’s excited, he said, because he gets to “kick people in the face.”
Remember when your first born started kindergarten and came home with all kinds of fun words and phrases? And you sniffed and said it’s because his friend little Johnny has older siblings and learns all that bad stuff that is now polluting your precious child? Yeah. Xander is totally little Johnny. I apologize in advance, future kindergarten classmates of his.
Bye-bye crib - forever!
He’s funny, though. He really is. I wish I could come up with some good examples but they’re location jokes: you have to be there. Let’s just say it’s tough to find a picture in which he’s not winking or doing this scrunchy face.
The truth is, I cannot predict how he’s going to be in a few years, like I could with Sawyer and Sage. And I’m okay with that. He’s been an unbelievably amazing surprise since I took that pregnancy test almost five years ago.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Happy birthday, sweet boy. Nobody loves you like Mommy.
by Cheryl on March 1st, 2013 | Posted in Just me, Parenting
I miss snow.
I know. Easy for me to say, considering I haven’t had to step in a snow drift that went up, over and into my boots since 1996.
But. I love it. And I’m sad my kids will never have a snow day, as long as we live in Southern California.
So, if the snow won’t come to us, I decided that this winter, we were going to the snow. And not the kind we can see an hour from our house. I wanted REAL snow. Mountains full of it as far as the eye could see.
Utah. Park City. Canyons Resort.
The trip would also give me the chance to cross something off the kids’ bucket lists. Well, the lists I have for THEM. See, there are certain things I believe kids should know how to do by the time they’re teenagers, or college for sure. Stuff that, when their friends invite them along, they can at least participate. Like throwing a ball correctly. Riding a bike. Swimming. Shooting a basketball. Rollerblading and/or ice skating.
That last one is tough. I’ve only skied twice in my life, both times in my 20s. There is nothing quite as, er, exhilarating as learning to ski when you’re 5-foot-8 and have a healthy fear of hurtling downhill. I wanted my kids to get on skis while they’re young, relatively fearless and have a low center of gravity.
They needed ski school.
I needed ski school.
We headed to Canyons Resort, which is minutes from downtown Park City. We’d heard nothing but great things about the ski school there. And as someone who hadn’t skied in 20 years, I enrolled in the First-time Skiers package. Sawyer and Sage were placed together for their school, Canyons Carvers, with a guaranteed 5:1 ratio for kids to instructor, and then Xander was in a separate program called Canyons Cats, which had a 3:1 ratio. The kids’ schools were full day and included lunch. Lots of attention for my brand-new skiers.
I went into the main equipment rental place to get my rentals. The only bad part was trying on boots. The guys who were helping disregarded complaints from myself and other women trying them on. But we were all persistent. If the boot hurt when we hadn’t even gotten our skis yet, imagine how it’d feel by the end of the day. After rejecting the first pair, I got a pair that fit.
Once I had collected my skis, I tromped back outside in my boots to meet my instructor, Steve, and my classmates, Kathy and Truss. Both women were older than me, but like me, were also apprehensive/paralyzed with fear about what was about to happen. But Steve was awesome. He was incredibly patient and helpful and worked with each of us to our level. We got into a Red Pine gondola and rode up to the lodge area, where all the beginner ski and snowboard schools were located. That’s where I stepped into my skis.
There was no turning back. Fortunately, you cannot see the look of abject terror on my face.
How good was my instructor? Before long, I was going down the bunny hill. And not on my butt.
That’s right. I was skiing. I was just as shocked as you all are. Not that I wasn’t a complete spaz going down the hill, but I remained upright all the way down. Mostly.
I was grateful for the ice skating lessons I took last year, which helped me with balance. I progressed enough that after lunch, Steve moved me to a different group. It was time to get on a chair lift and go down a REAL bunny hill. The only memory I have of riding a chair was back in the early 90s in Sugarbush, Vermont, when the instructor had to tackle me as I flew off the lift and zipped out into the middle of the hill. I was hoping to be a little more in control this time. And despite almost taking down my new instructor, I dismounted relatively okay.
We went down as a group, pausing to watch Juan demonstrate snowplow turns. One of my new classmates and I eventually ended up getting ahead as Juan waited for some slower classmates. We decided we were brave enough to ride the lift and go down on our own. It was awesome. There were other instructors on the hill, and one even called out a tip to me – to stand up straighter – that really helped make my turns a little easier. He also mentioned that shrieking while trying to snowplow would not, in fact, help me stop.
He was very wise.
Everyone, from the workers in the lodge to the chair lift and gondola operators, were friendly and anxious to help.
My instructor Steve and my fave girls
I skiied (!!) over to say thank you to Steve and wish my two classmates luck, then boarded the gondola to ride back down to the rental area to meet David and the kids. I couldn’t wait to hear how they did.
Sawyer was ambivalent. He liked how positive the teacher was and enjoyed the class, but still wasn’t entirely confident. Sage was ski stoked. Tired, but stoked. Xander cried. I think he didn’t like being in a class without his brother and sister. At not quite 4, he might just not have been ready. But David said he saw Xander skiing a little and it looked like he was having fun. We will definitely try again with him.
Without sounding too much like an infomercial, let me just say how beautiful Canyons was. Truly. David is a much better (and much more fearless/more willing to make spectacular crashes) skier than me. He went on more challenging courses and had a blast. There are 182 trails for skiers and snowboarders so there’s something for every ability level. We also had perfect weather. Blue skies and temps in the mid-30s made our visit that much better.
The next day, Sage wanted to ski again. So back she and I went. She rode the lift for the first time. And got knocked down by three grown women who didn’t know how to get off the lift correctly. Sage was scared during her first run – and who could blame her – but after that? She divebombed down the hill and waited for me at the bottom, where she wanted to go up again. So we did. For four hours. She gave me a 20 minute break for lunch. Bless her little skier’s heart.
Spending time with her was amazing. The weather was gorgeous, the snow was perfect, and watching my daredevil daughter flying down the hill with absolutely no fear made me proud. A bit envious, too.
“Mommy? Skiing is my favorite sport!” she announced.
“But what about soccer?”
She’d fallen in love.
Photo courtesy of Steve Pastorino, Canyons Resort
During our time at Canyons Resort, it was tough not to.
My family and I received complimentary ski school and lift tickets from Canyons Resort. The opinions – and my shrieks of fear – are my own. I really cannot say enough what an amazing place Canyons is. We will definitely be back!
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