Archive for the ‘Blog Events’ Category
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
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.
Friday, December 7th, 2012
They started talking about it the moment they hopped into the car.
“Xander,” they said, “you’re going to love it.”
As soon as we arrived in Disneyland, Sawyer and Sage – each holding one of Xander’s hands – made a beeline for It’s a Small World.
They couldn’t wait to ride it with him. They know he’s scared of the faster rides and, after the two of them when on the ride the last time we were at Disneyland, they didn’t want their baby brother to miss out this time. They didn’t let go of him while waiting in line (and yes, he’s winking).
They were right. Xander adored it. The ride, like the rest Disneyland and California Adventure, are done up for the holidays. The kids couldn’t look around fast enough.
It truly is beautiful. The best part was it set the tone for the day. The kids really enjoyed each other. The holiday spirit, perhaps?
Right after lunch, we met up with other bloggers invited to spend the day at Disneyland. We took in the Haunted Mansion together, with its Nightmare Before Christmas Theme. Xander even went on it. He got scared and kept asking if the ride was almost over. Definitely not his favorite. We rode Pirates of the Caribbean, where 19 of us rode in a single boat, and the kids had a blast.
After watching a fun holiday parade – including an ice skating Mickey and Minnie Mouse – we spent most of the rest of our day with Kelly from Just Spotted OC and her family. Our kids love each other so much that last year, Xander was in their family’s portrait taken at Disneyland. As wonderful as Disneyland is, it’s even better when you’re sharing it with friends.
Well, those friends, too.
One ride I wanted to take my kids on was Space Mountain. When I went to Disneyworld as a kid, Space Mountain was the most awesome ride in the history of ever. My family only went to the park once, so believe me, I remember. I loved it so much I couldn’t wait to ride it again as an adult.
Let me just say, things happen when you’re older. And by things, I mean the contents of your stomach threatening to revisit your mouth. I *might* have spent the majority of the time with my eyes sealed shut.
That wicked amazing ride from my youth became my personal torture chamber. When the ride mercifully ended, Sage wobbled off saying she didn’t feel well.
But Sawyer? Best. Ride. Ever.
It’s good to be 8.
I told him next time his father could take him on it.
Our next stop?
Oh, how we love this place. The scene was truly something out of a movie, with lighted garlands and wreaths stretched across the streets, and it became more magical when we could see the fireworks spectacular from there.
We had been given Fast Passes to Radiator Springs Racers, which is my absolute favorite ride at the park. Sawyer and Sage love it, too – especially when we could avoid the almost two-hour wait. This is definitely a not-to-be-missed ride, no matter how long it takes you to get on. When we were done, David and Kelly’s husband wanted a turn. So while they went on the ride, Kelly and I took the kids to other rides we hadn’t yet tried. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree was a huge hit with Xander and Kelly’s middle son, as they giggled and shrieked with laughter the entire ride.
At 10 p.m., we still roamed the park. The kids didn’t want to leave, and convinced us to hop on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. How could we say no? No line at that hour and the kids simply didn’t want the night to end.
The grownups didn’t want the night to end, either. Watching our kids’ faces light up as bright as the Christmas tree on Main Street made the entire day that much more memorable. For all of us.
Disneyland Holidays runs through January 6th. It’s truly the perfect time of year to visit the parks.
Our family received one-day park hopper tickets and fast passes from the amazing folks at Disneyland. Opinions – and happy smiling kids – are my own. And Kelly’s kids, too.
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
What’s amazing is how quickly your kids can turn the Happiest Place on Earth to the Whiniest one:
Which then may or may not turn their mother into the Grumpiest Woman on Earth. Luckily, it wasn’t anything a few Mickey Mouse lollipops couldn’t cure.
And then, as expected, we had a fabulous day. It’s Halloween time at Disneyland. Which is a lot of fun, even if you’re not in costume.
Sawyer and Sage are old enough – and tall enough – to ride the fun rides. They dragged me onto the Matterhorn, I took them on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and then It’s A Small World (which they loved). By the time we finished the rides we were ready to sit and watch the parade. I loved watching the kids watching it, especially Xander, as he waved to Donald Duck and Minne Mouse and Goofy.
Next we made our way over to Cars Land. We hadn’t been to Disneyland since it opened. Lightning McQueen was driving down the street when we got there. Lightning McQueen! The kids’ eyes widened as they took in all the buildings they’d seen in the Cars movies.
They of course didn’t just want to hang around taking in the scenery. Not only are Sawyer and Sage old enough to go on the fun rides, they’re also old enough to want to wait in line. Long, long lines. David took Xander over to Bug’s Life rides and Sawyer, Sage and me waited for the Street Racer ride. For 45 minutes. They never wanted to get out of line or give up. I’m so glad they didn’t. It is so interesting, the difference between the older rides we went on compared to the brand-new one, with all its technology. We had a blast. I *might* have shrieked.
By the time we finished the race, it was time to go home. More whining. This time, it was because they didn’t want to leave.
Disneyland provided passes for my family and me to come to the park for the day. The whining, grumpiness and the “can we PLEASE come back again tomorrow” was all our own.
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
This was a good Christmas for my kids. For our family.
Not because they absolutely loved all their gifts, which was indeed a miracle.
More important, my children are all healthy.
They spent Christmas Eve sleeping in their own beds in their rooms. They woke us up at insane o’clock to let us know Santa had arrived, and then they climbed into our bed to wait for the toddler to wake up. They ran downstairs when it was finally time to open gifts. And then they got dressed, piled into the car, and off we went to Legoland.
There was no hospital. No staying in an unfamiliar place. No watching a sibling suffer.
Last week, I was invited to the Ronald McDonald House of Orange County. I went to Target the night before and piled a cart full of toys to bring. Because when a family has a critically ill child, they come and live at the house – including siblings. And maybe a new toy for Christmas would distract them for a little while from thinking about a premature or sick brother or sister, of not celebrating the holidays in their own home, of their exhausted parents.
The Ronald McDonald House of Orange County houses 20 families (when the need is more, they pay for families to stay at nearby hotels). Volunteers prepare dinner every night. There is a playroom with toys and a TV. There is a quiet sanctuary.
It is incredibly humbling to listen to mothers who have found solace and support at the house, located only a mile from CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County). One was staying there because her first child, a son, was born too soon. She cried as she told us how she hoped he’d be released in time to bring him home from Christmas, and how having the chance to come back to the house and take a shower and have a hot meal and the company of other parents going through the same thing was a huge blessing to her.
Another mother who talked about how the house allowed her to be with her son, who had brain trauma, at any time of the day or night, and then she could come back and rest and recharge. And, if necessary, she could return the hospital within minutes. Her son had a long road ahead of him, and for her family, the staff, the volunteers, the other families at the house serve as unwavering support.
Sawyer was with me when I listened to these women. He wasn’t paying attention to their words. But I put my hand on his head and was so very grateful he was there, with me, and not a short drive down the street. I couldn’t listen to these women and not have tears in my own eyes, thinking about what they’re experiencing, and as a mother, imagining the unimaginable.
The truth is, most of us truly can’t imagine a life that revolves around a hospital room. Maybe we know people who have gone through it – the No. 1 reason for stays at this Ronald McDonald House is families of babies who are born prematurely, followed by cancer, then heart surgeries – but unless we’ve been there, we really have no idea.
I watched my kids race around Legoland on Sunday, riding the same roller coaster four times in a row. Sawyer and Sage laughed with each other the way only siblings can when they’ve just shared a thrilling experience, jumping around and talking to each other like the best of friends. Without a care in the world.
It filled my heart. It filled my heart, because I know exactly how lucky we are. Now more than ever.
I wish there wasn’t a need for a place like the Ronald McDonald House. But since there is, I’m glad it has helped support countless families when they need it the most.
If you are local to Orange County, won’t you consider donating to the Ronald McDonald House? You can donate cash, or even fresh fruit and vegetables.
They also need household supplies:
Coffee paper cups
Plastic drinking cups
Paper plates and bowls
Air fresheners, refills, febreze
Vinyl shower curtain liner
Vinyl fitted mattress covers (queen and twin)
Lysol multi-surface cleaner/Lysol Spray
13 gallon trash bags
Hand sanitizer gel
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Individually wrapped snack/convenience food items
If you do not live in this area, please think about donating to your local Ronald McDonald House. You could really make a difference for a family who is going through a difficult time.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
There are times you go on an outing with your family and it’s nothing but stress. Parking, crowds, cranky kids, grumpy husband. You can’t wait to get home and you vow you’ll never go anywhere again with those kids until they’re 10.
This past weekend? Wasn’t one of those times. Not even close.
We were invited to Disneyland’s Holiday Wonderland and it was amazing. We’d only been to Disneyland one other time, for Halloween. This was a completely different feel. To say the least.
Christmas decorations were everywhere, including a 60-foot artificial tree in Town Square and garland strung all across Main Street.
Xander was disappointed on our first visit because he did not get to see Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck or Pluto. The first thing we did upon arrival was watch the parade. He was pretty excited while he waited.
And then he was all about waving. To Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto. And even Santa and Mrs. Claus.
We spent the rest of the day walking through the park and going on some of the rides – I made David take the older two on Tower of Terror, because I’m pretty much thinking nothing good can come from the combination of “tower” and “terror,” but they loved it.
We were there as guests of Disneyland and they planned an amazing event for mom bloggers on a back lot of California Adventure. And that is where Xander finally got some QT with Mickey. He really could not believe he was RIGHT NEXT TO MICKEY MOUSE. Oh Too-tles! Also, are’t Minnie’s eyelashes to die for?
There was great food for both kids and adults, and lots of fun activities for the kids, too, such as crafts and face painting. And dancing.
Because you simply cannot have a party with dancing.
Clearly, Xander gets his skeels from his Daddy. I cannot watch this video without crying. From the cuteness, obvs.
You also cannot have a party without fireworks. And no one does it quite like Disneyland. When they ended, it snowed on Main Street. Not quite like it does back home in Connecticut, but my kids are Cali kids. They don’t know the difference.
The true sign of what a great time we had can be summed up with this picture. This guy *might* take after his mom.
Disney provided our family with a one-day Park Hopper ticket. And then they fed us all kinds of yummy food. I am very thankful we were part of such a great day for our kids.