Sunday, April 26, 2009

Angels v. Dodgers

Before anyone gets defensive, I am a Dodgers fan. True Blue. And in order to quell any one's suspense, I still am. Ryan has been trying to get me to an Angels game for years. Nope, no way, never. Then three years ago we started the tradition of attending a baseball game for my birthday. This year, the Dodgers were playing an away game. That left the Angels. Nope, no way, never. But, they will have fireworks. Nope. You can see Ken Griffey Jr. play. Really? Do you promise the Angels will lose? Yes. Okay. I still don't feel right about it, but okay. The tickets were purchased. Remorse set in. We went anyway.

Parking: got to give it to the Angel Stadium. Neat little rows that made sense. Flat. No endless driving up and down hills. No driving in circles. No hills to cross as we make our way into the stadium. Cheaper, better, faster.

Stadium: Dodgers win easily. The stadium felt very small to me. Angels hold 45, 050 people. Dodgers hold 56,000. Okay, only a difference of 11,000. However, most games at Dodger stadium are fairly full. At the Angels, the attendance was weak. I felt like I was at a minor league game. The seats were a little roomier and cleaner at Angels. But where was the history? It looked like no one had ever bled or thrown up or been conceived on those seats. I mean how can you enjoy sitting on something without the history. The stories. Angels had good drink holders in a good location.

Food: Dodgers win again. Yes, they had the equivalent yummy food, but Angel Dogs cannot hold a candle to a Dodger Dog. I mean seriously. What a joke. And the vendors? No personality. Angel vendors were just selling stuff. It was probably a side job. Half of them did not smile and appeared to not even care about the outcome of the game. When you wanted something, you paid first and then they handed it to you! I was aghast. At the Dodgers, the vendors are the biggest fans. Some of them might have other jobs, but this is their REAL job. I know one guy who worked as an attorney by day. When you asked him what he did, he replied he sold concessions at Dodger Stadium, and the rest of the time he worked as a lawyer. I have seen one cry when a grand slam opportunity was missed. If you signal that you want popcorn, they throw it to you and then they come by for the money. The throwing accuracy is legendary. It is part of the fun and experience.

Fans: Dodgers, not even close. The Angel "fans" were so apathetic. There were only about half the people dressed in Angel colors. I mean half? At Dodger Stadium, you wear the colors. Most looked like they were there to eat bon-bons and get a pedicure. There were fans of the Mariners there and they were louder and more obnoxious then the Angels "fans" - notice I cannot even give them enough respect to drop the quote marks. Dodger Fans would have thrown nachos cheese sauce at the back of their head and eventually someone would have been escorted out the the stadium for an attempted crime against them. Angel "fans" could not get one wave going. Several small groups tried, but could not ever get beyond a section. It was almost funny. You had to feel for them. I almost felt like explaining that maybe they should become Dodger fans. Yes, Dodger fans can get out of control. But if you are not willing to commit a crime to show your support, how can you consider yourself devoted enough to be called a fan? The security at Dodgers Stadium are present and look like they could take you down. The security at Angels Stadium looked like they could have taken Monterey out, but not Maya.

Music: Dodgers, again, not even close. The Dodgers happen to have an organ and a live organ player: Nancy Bea. Yes, they use some canned music. But that live music is so interactive and gets the crowd going. It is constantly going. That is half the secret to the game. The Angels had a few notes of canned organ music, but it was not used to get the crowd going. In fact, some stanza's were so short that it became irritating. Now, not everyone can have a Nancy Bea. Very few parks even use live music anymore. The poor girl who sung the National Anthem would not have gotten one vote from the first round of American Idol. Someone need to explain that vibrato on every single note is such an irritant, I thought I was going to produce a pearl. Anaheim is not that far away from LA. They should be able to find someone with talent to sing. Then again, everyone with talent is at the Dodger game. But what really killed me: she also "lead" the crowd in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Since when does a group of fans need someone to lead the song. More vibrato. More gagging. Only one time through. So disappointing. For this aspect alone, I don't think I will ever return.

Bathrooms: Angels. There was not a big difference in the upkeep and cleanliness. However the Angels had a divine smelling coconut scented handsoap.

Bad language: Angels win. The worst words we heard were: suck, screw, and one really bad word. At the Dodger game. admittingly, it gets much worse. I must admit that it is a little uncomfortable to expose my little cherubs to such coarse language. But, there is a passion factor. At least Dodger fans care enough to use the very worst.

The fireworks were fun. Our seats were great. The Angels lost. Thank goodness.

Ryan likes both teams and stadiums. Madison is True Blue. But McKayla, Maya, and Monterey like the Angels better. Ryan has divided the family. We now have to deal with rivalries within our family. This is not going to be pretty. I have another year to work on these kids. They are young still. I need to teach them correct principles and then let them govern themselves. Then if they still don't agree with me, they will be punished.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Birthday 2009

As out tradition the last three years, we went to Newport for my birthday. Each and everything we do it becoming tradition, so this may seem like a repeat of last year's post.

We checked into our "associate rate" room at the Newport Coast Villas. If Ryan ever leaves Marriott, it will be a major letdown ... as in we will probably never travel like this again. That was a birthday present enough for me.

We always start out with a major league baseball game. This year it was Angels instead of the Dodgers and it was so traumatic that I had to give it it's own post. That was a birthday present enough for me.

The next morning we swam and shopped and enjoyed cupcakes and gelato at our favorite shopping center. We shopped at Sur le Table for a few kitchen items that we absolutely cannot live without. (We finally got a meat thermometer and when we BBQ'd we had meat done just the way we wanted. It truly changed our lives. No more guessing. I like my meat bloody and it is always overcooked. This time, I had it just right and everyone else had it the way they liked it. Whoo Hoo.) That was a birthday present enough for me.

We went back and enjoyed a nap with all the windows and doors open to enjoy the views and the cool ocean breezes. That was a birthday present enough for me.

That night, we went to go see our dear friend Kirsti perform in the lead role as the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This is one of our favorites (it IS Ryan's favorite) and we felt that the two smallest girls would enjoy it, being their first live, Broadway show. They are familiar with the musical (thanks to the Donny Osmond DVD) and it is considerably shorter than most musicals. Kirsti is awesome and even got us tickets in the second row. She was awesome, as always. I could seriously listen to her sing all day, everyday. Her two daughters were in the children's chorus and also danced. That was a birthday present enough for me.

The next morning we went to our traditional Beachcomber breakfast. Yummy food and the quaintest setting on the beach. A beautiful brisk walk down the hill. Star Beignets for sharing. A little frolicking on the beach afterwards. A nice shuttle ride back up the hill listening to music from the 40's. That was a birthday present enough for me.

More swimming and then coming back home, back to reality. Back to laundry. Back to dishes. Holding on to the memories, the laughter, the smiles, my perfect birthday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Magic Mountain

For five years we lived next door to Magic Mountain. The older girls were a little too old for the kiddie rides and too short for the coasters. We went a couple of times (literally twice) and one of those times was Hurricane Harbor, the water park.) Both times was because my brother came into town with his family.

Whenever we visit my mom, we drive by and see all the coasters and McK and Mad keep their faces pressed to the car window longing for the day ...

At Christmas time, it was all they could take. "Mom, when are we going to go to Magic Mountain?" "Someday, honey, someday." I knew it was only a matter of time.

Spring Break: what to do? what to do? My nieces just got jobs at Magic Mountain. So with the prospect of discounts and time, we went for our Magic Mountain trip. Everyone loved it.

The older girls went mostly on the coasters. I am very proud of them for having the courage. It is one thing to see those giants from a distance. It is another thing when you are standing just under them. They went on the fastest, tallest, and scariest. They want to go back every time we visit Grandma Dixie.

The little girls went mostly on the kiddie rides. They loved it! No lines and tons of fun. Some of the rides they went on over and over and over - like six times straight on the kiddie coaster. They want to go back every time we visit Grandma Dixie.

We went on two rides together: the Buccaneer - Maya was not happy; and the Log Jammer - Maya was not happy. Apparently the Buccaneer was a little scarier than I had communicated to her. She did not like getting wet ... and we got really wet. I tried to explain that in the summer, getting wet is the best part. She explained she only likes to get wet when she has her bathing suit on.

The best part was being able to go with family: Grandma Dixie, Aunt Karen, Aunt Nancy, Cousins Robyn, Kathleen, Layne, and Mercer. The girls also got to meet the Looney Tunes characters (although I am not sure they knew who they were.)

It looks like we are going to have to go EVERY time we visit Grandma Dixie. Now the girls want to visit Grandma Dixie EVERY weekend. (Of course they did before anyway, but now it is like constantly "when are going to go again??????")

By the way, for some reason that I do not recall ... I missed my funnel cake. I think I need to go back pretty soon again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Skirball

The Skirball Musuem is off the 405, just north of the Getty.

Hailed by The New York Times as "a lesson on how to connect the eye to heart and mind," the Skirball Cultural Center has established itself as one of the world's most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions, and among the most prominent cultural venues in the United States. Its mission is to explore the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It seeks to welcome and inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity in American life.

We first went to the Comic Book exhibition.

Through never-before exhibited art and objects culled from private and institutional collections, ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950 explores the genesis of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman. In the midst of the economic and political turmoil of the 1930s and 1940s, comic books offered America champions who shaped the values of an entire generation. ZAP! POW! BAM! examines the creative processes and influences that drove young Jewish artists to express their talents through the storylines and art of comic books. The exhibition features rare vintage artwork and books, 1940s Hollywood movie serials, and colorful interactive displays including a drawing studio, a newsstand, a vintage Batmobile ride, and stations that allow children to dress up as Superheroes or transform themselves via a quick costume change in a telephone booth. Guest curator Jerry Robinson brings a long history as a comic book industry insider to the exhibition. Working with Batman co-creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Robinson named Robin, Batman's young protégé. Robinson also co-created The Joker, Batman's nemesis and one of the first Super-Villains.

"A mind-blowing collection."LA Weekly

Then we went to the Noah's Ark exhibit:


Imagine yourself immersed in a favorite childhood tale. Five years in the making and occupying an 8,000-square-foot gallery, Noah's Ark at the Skirball welcomes children and families to take this journey together. Inspired by the ancient flood story, which has parallels in diverse cultures around the world, this one-of-a-kind new destination invites visitors of all generations to have fun—and to connect with one another, learn the value of community, and help build a better world.

Inside a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark, filled to the rafters with whimsical animals, you and your family will play, build, climb, explore, collaborate, and more. Conduct a storm, help construct the ark, and bask in the glow of a beautiful rainbow. Mingle with hundreds of fanciful animals—from cuddly companions to life–sized puppets—all crafted from recycled materials and everyday objects, including bottle caps, bicycle parts, baseball mitts, croquet balls, mop heads, and rear-view mirrors.

Unique to the Noah's Ark experience are impromptu "happenings," surprise interactions, and drop-in activities. While visiting the galleries, meet a puppet, create a take-home art project, or hear a story. Complete your visit by experiencing the outdoor rainbow mist in the arroyo park just outside the galleries.












Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Break '09

We headed out of town and made our first official stop: Bob's Big Boy. The combo ... the photo op. Now on to Grandma Dixie's house.

We arrived to the adulation of relatives and promptly left for The Olive Garden. It was one of my proudest moments: the waitress asked Maya what she would like. She orders the chicken from the kids menu. "Would you like fries or steamed broccoli?" "Steamed Broccoli, please" I beamed. The waitress gave me a look that she was honestly impressed. No prompting whatsoever. No threats. No direction. No pre-meal talk. No help. She ordered what she wanted. How glorious! I mean all of us, before we have kids plan to only expose them to healthy foods and dream of kids who prefer vegetables to junk food, but then reality sits in and we find ourselves stopping at the drive thru on the way home from soccer practice and after a days worth of whining, we have been beaten down from hours of whining and traffic lights and the happy meal is the coping method. So my point is ... it was a great moment.

The next day, we did our LA day. First, we went to the Skirball Musuem (a separate post.)

Next was the Santa Monica Pier. Since we had just seen The Hannah Montana Movie, the girls were excited to see it since the opening scene of Lily's B-day party was filmed there. The funny thing is, they have been there before, but now ... all of the sudden it was sooo cool because it was in THE movie. We played, we ate, we went on rides, we ate, we took pictures, we ate, oh and did I mention we ate?

The pier was beautiful. The weather was cool, maybe a little too breezy, but I loved it. We enjoyed Bubba Gumps, not the best food in the world, but fun. Then on to the hot chocolate and funnel cakes and Dippin' Dots. We rode on some rides. The best was the Ferris Wheel with the views of the beach and the pier and the shoreline. It was a little windy, but where else can you get that view?

Next, we went to Farmer's Market/The Grove. We ate the "best donut in LA." It is seriously the best. even if you are not a donut lover, this one is great. We all went around and got our favorites from pizza to mac n' cheese to really yummy corned beef to BBQ. We had smoothies and Pinkberry and wandered and shopped.

Next stop was The Grove. Luckily the best food is next to the best shopping. We went to The American Girl Store, Sur Le Table, Mac store, and many others. We rode on the trolley and watched the musical fountains.

Home. It was an exhausting fun filled day with aunts and cousins and Grandma. So much fun.

The next day was Magic Mountain Day ... also has it's own post.

We headed home, to our real home after that. But not before we had to stop for McKayla's true love ... Cupid's Hot Dog. Here is the love affair.