Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LA Woman Weekend, Part 2: Belle Day!
How we ended up having two activities in LA in the same weekend, I do not know. It was bad planning on my part. But we certainly weren't going to let a little bad planning ruin our weekend. G loved her Belle dress and especially loved her little purse and gloves.
Our day started with breakfast with Belle. She was a very sweet Belle and G really liked her.
They spent some time discussing their accessories...

Then it was time to eat! As usual G went with the Mickey waffle

After breakfast we had some time to kill so we looked around in the gift shops and made our way to the giant Shrek in front of the wax museum. G always asks to have her picture taken here.

Then it was storytime with Belle. I had my doubts about how much G would like it but shouldn't have. It was super cute. The basement area was decorated to look like a library. Very well done actually. They had snacks and some coloring activities. Of course G was thrilled by both! Then Belle came out and told "her" story. She was very engaging with the kids and G was very into it. Fun!

Finally, after a very full morning of Belle stuff, it was time for the movie. Beauty has always been my favorite of the Disney movies. Belle is tough and smart, a great combo imo. Putting it into 3d just made it better. Plus, before the movie they did a Tangled short that was hilarious!

G loved the movie. She did get a bit tired in the middle --it had been a long day and a long weekend -- but rallied toward the end. Even though it was a very tiring weekend it was worth it.

LA Woman Weekend, Part 1: Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
I'd been wanting to go to the Chinese New Year parade in downtown LA for a few years. It always seemed like a lot of trouble. Each year I'd make tentative plans to do it. Then, each year, I'd chicken out at the last minute. But this year I had someone prodding me. My friend Paula was determined to go. That did it! I was convinced! I was still somewhat put off by the idea of the traffic and closed roads (including some freeway exits) so we decided to take the train. Yeah! More adventure.

Now I realize for many people taking a train is no biggie. But I live in socal where we love our cars and avoid mass transit at all cost. For us, taking a train is big! :-) It worked out pretty well. G loves trains so she was happy as can be. It was nice for Bobby to avoid the drive and not to deal with traffic. But, it was inconvenient having to depend on a train schedule and, truthfully, some of the people on the train were a bit, let's say, sketchy. Yeah, I know, sounds kind of snobby but when people are swearing very loudly a few feet from you and there are no empty seats to move to... kind of affects the experience.

Anyway, G loved the train! I brought her a little craft kit and she was set for the 1.25 hr trip.
As soon as we got there we met up with Paula and her family. After we scoped out a good spot to lay our blankets, we left Bobby to stand guard and did a bit of shopping. My little one loves to shop and immediately found this little fan that she HAD to have. Luckily, it was very inexpensive $1.99!
G and Sophie waiting for the parade to begin.

We brought our swing drum with us!

In true LA style the grand marshalls of the parade were none other than Mulan and Mushu :-)

Author Lisa See was also there. I really enjoy her books so that was kind of neat. I'm not usually a big fan of parades but this one was really fun. There were lots of lion dancers and several very long and impressive dragons. We bought some poppers for G and she had a good time tossing them down and hearing their crack! It didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was a stereotypical January day in California: sunny and low 70s.

Being with friends added to the fun!

Georgie loves the lions

After the parade we got a bite to eat. We came across this very cool angel statue. I wish I could read the characters written on the wings.

If I didn't know I was in downtown LA, all I had to do was look at the guy ahead of me...

We were going to check out some of the other stuff they had going on but it was really crowded so we decided to call it a day. Back at Union Station we realized that we missed our train by about 10 mins (oops!) so we walked over to Olvera Street. Bobby had never been there and it seemed like a handy spot to get some dinner. G found a little purple guitar she couldn't live without and spent the majority of dinner alternately playing it and being serenaded by Daddy.

We finally caught our train and made it home pretty late. It was an exhausting but fun day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Wicked" Good Time
Theatre season is off and running! This time it was Wicked at the Pantages. I saw Wicked about 10 yrs ago. Truthfully I was kind of "eh" about it at the time. I thought it was ok but couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. So when it came up on our series I was actually really looking forward to seeing it again. I wondered if perhaps I just hadn't been in the right mood last time or something. I was interested in giving it another try.

We had a very nice pre-show dinner at Delphines in the W Hotel. I'd been wanting to try it for awhile mostly because it is right across the street from the theater. Doesn't get much more convenient than that! They were having Dine LA week so we gave the prix fixe menu a try. Wow! what a great surprise. The food was really good and the restaurant was kinda W Hotel trendy.

After a 1 minute walk across the street we found our seats and got ready for the show. OK, I'm just going to say it.... I don't know what the heck was going on with me 10 yrs ago but the show was AWESOME!!!! Seriously AWESOME!!!! The set, the music, everything. It was fantastic. I don't think I could clap my hands together any harder. Silly me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Surf's Up!!!
We needed to go to Anaheim on an errand so totally last minute, as in while we were on the 40 minute drive, I called to see if we could make a ressie for a character meal. G loves characters!!! We'd never been to the one at Paradise Pier Hotel so we figured what the heck!!! We got there a little after 10am and the place was practically empty. Its a beach theme and they do these little dance sessions every half hour or so where all the kids go up and dance with the characters. As more evidence that G is gaining confidence she actually went up and did the dance. She had so much fun and really got into it.

The funny thing is that even though she's never seen the Lilo and Stitch movie she really took a liking to Stitch. I mean she LOVED him even though I think the only time she's ever seen him was inside of the Its a Small World ride. It was so cute and because the place was so empty she was able to spend a lot of time dancing with him, playing patty cake, and just goofing around. What a great experience! I guess you never know when a last minute thing will turn out to be such fun.

Hanging with Stitch, playing patty cake

So many hugs!

Dancing up a storm

Surfing with Stitch

A few dance moves with Mickey but she'd drop him like a hot potato a few seconds later when Stitch came back around :-)

Stitch pretended he was going to go home with us but he had to stop at the doorway

Group photo hanging ten

After lunch we hit the World of Disney store. G could spend her life in that store. In her defense it is an incredibly large store. We were able to drag her out eventually. Amazingly our day was only half over at that point... we still had a birthday party to go to! Fun, exhausting day with G.

Friday, January 20, 2012

CNY Preschool Style
G's school did their CNY celebration today, a few days early, because they have another big event planned for next week. Let's just say WOW! I was pretty impressed. The day started out with the pledge done by some of the kids in their traditional chinese dress. Georgie was very happy to be wearing her dress which she loves! Then they showed a very boring --to a 4 yr old but not so much to me --but thankfully very short video about CNY. After that we moved on to some songs and a nice CNY story read by the director.
After that we moved to G's classroom. Her teacher had some activities and then they had snack. It was a special day so they had donuts and chocolate milk. G passed on the milk though. I think I've done a pretty good job of convincing her that its bad :-) She requested plain instead.
Her teacher had a cute water painting activity. It was fortune cookie (at least that's what it was supposed to be) that she had written the kids' names on in wax crayon so when they painted it was revealed. G was quite tickled by such a simple thing.

"Look Mama!!! Its my name!!!"

Finally it was lunch time! Of course there was enough chinese cuisine to feed a small army. Let's just say "yummy!"

And then finally, the lion dancers arrived!!! Georgie loves them, just loves them! I was standing there and thinking about how good they were when all of a sudden I looked over at the drum guy and thought, hey! I know him. It was the same troupe who had been at the Huntington Library last weekend. So funny! Yeah ummm, no wonder they were good!

They did some lion dancing, a bit of martial arts and then they let the kids come up and be involved in the lion dance. I was excited because my timid little girl actually raised her hand when they asked for volunteers to do this. This may seem small to others but for G, who as always been so hesitant, it was HUGE! Her confidence level is growing and growing.

It was such a fun day! I can't believe how much CNY stuff we've done so far and the lunar new year has not even officially begun. More fun is on the horizon!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Huntington Library
was having a pre CNY celebration. Sort of a kick off to CNY almost being here ;-) Sounded like fun! We went a bit early and enjoyed their tea room. G loves to go to tea. I think it makes her feel grown up to drink her pink lemonade from a tea cup.
G mimicking the scary lion face!
and then came "the pose"

the pink blossoms were so pretty! they provided pretty much the only color in the garden as everything else is dormant. I think they're cherry blossoms but I'm not sure.

They had these awesome stilt walkers. So cool!

Once G heard there was going to be a lion/dragon dance she couldn't stop talking about it. The demos and activities were scattered throughout the gardens, which are absolutely HUGE, and it was sometimes a bit confusing to us where we needed to be and when. After walking around in some very large circles for awhile we finally found ourselves where we needed to be. While we waited G burned some energy RUNNING through the grass, searching for sticks and then creating quite a large pile in the stroller. She was really pleased with her collection and not just a bit miffed when I told her we needed to leave the stick collection there. lol!

I have no idea why she's making this face but its funny!

Check out that make up. They didn't speak and were very, very serious. No smiling.

Finally the lion dance began! They had 5 or 6 lions and they all danced around for about 15 mins. Talk about good exercise. I was exhausted just watching them.

Before the dance began the speaker explained that touching one of the lions is supposed to be good luck. G really wanted to touch one and kept a close eye waiting for them to come near so she could reach. Some kids were afraid of the lions but not G. She LOVES them!

Finally G got to touch them. Looks like the Year of the Dragon is guaranteed to be a big success! I didn't take any chances and made sure to touch the lion too.

Beautiful, beautiful G

We were lucky to be joined by friends Paula, Frank and their little girl Sophie. G and Sophie spent most of the day holding hands, running and squealing. Cute!

The "little family"

The Chinese garden at the Huntington is relatively new and really beautiful. The buildings, ponds and walkways are just like many we saw while in China. There are also a few of these giant volcanic rock formations that were shipped here from Jiangsu the province where Sophie was born. We looked at a lot of these when we were in China. I must admit that when I first started looking at them I thought "whatever". Strangely enough I'm starting to develop an appreciation for them.

The event was partially supported by the PRC and they had demonstrations of various Chinese art forms being presented by people who I think were visiting from Jiangsu. They had a candy/sugar artist, brush painter, paper cutter, and someone doing reverse paintings in snuff bottles and beads. I ended up buying a beautiful paper cutting (olive green rather than the traditional red) and getting G a bracelet with her name painted inside a bead featuring a pig. G was born in the year of the fire pig!

The sugar artist had some relatively simple creations. He may have been able to do much more complicated things but these did not compare to the ones we saw being made in the People's Park in Nanchang.

G getting her bracelet!

G's so funny. She loves, and I do mean loves, to have me take her picture. She saw Sophie getting her picture taken here and immediately wanted to do it too. Good thing I love to take her picture as much as she likes having it taken. The poses she comes up with are great.

The blossoms were so pretty!

They had these lanterns hung about in the trees and G really liked them. This was the only low one we encountered so G "needed" to have her picture taken near it :-)

In the conservatory we came across this giant heart shaped leaf plant. There are some interesting displays there. Unfortunately, G seems to be bothered by the warmth of the building --it's like being in a giant terrarium so it is a bit humid-- so we couldn't really check it out as much as I wanted. Oh well, maybe next time.

Finally!! we made it to the Children's Garden. Georgie was so excited. It is a super cute area and the weather was nice for walking around and looking but it was really too cold to be splashing in the water. G started with fingers, moved to hands and eventually splashed up to her elbows when I finally had to tell her stop. When it warms up we'll have to go back and bring bathing suits.

I was able to snap a pic of G on the walkway on our way out. The lanterns in the trees were so nice!

What a great day! We're planning on going back in a few weeks for their official CNY festivities so we ended up buying a membership. They were having a GREAT deal which made it free after only 2 visits. There's so much to do there. I think G could spend the whole day in the children's garden. As it was we were there for about 6 hours and never walked into a single gallery. Should be fun!