Who doesn’t remember how exciting it was to read their first Dr. Seuss story? In honor of that spirit, I am joining a crew of kindergarteners on Tuesday to celebrate the good doctor’s birthday with lots of cool activities from PBS Kids. You can have your own party at home while watching the new episodes of The Cat in the Hat knows a Lot About That! starting Monday morning!
A wonderful part of blogging is that one never knows where the road will lead, as with attending events – one is often not familiar with the host. I found this to be particularly true on Wednesday when I entered the Boardroom at the Peninsula to join a Royal Tea party to launch The Ring and The Crown, a new book from Melissa de la Cruz. I didn’t know anyone in the stylish group of about twenty, mostly women, who here and there were wearing the fabouche crowns of flowers you see above. You see, I attended the tea for two reasons. One: it was at the Peninsula, and it’s always fabulous there plus I live two blocks away. Two: I could not resist the flower crown on the cover of the invitation to the event. Seeing those girlfriends wearing flowers in their hair and the heartfelt greeting from the hostess made me feel right at home and very happy.
I introduced myself to Wendy Darling, the founder of The Midnight Garden, who was beautiful and kind enough to explain to me what exactly was happening. Turns out I was amongst some of the most successful writers of YA, also known as Young Adult fiction. At least five of the guests were New York Times bestsellers multiple times. I began to feel like I was at the Algonquin – extremely witty successful writers at the top of their game minus the sarcasm and the alcoholism plus goodwill and support. I traded hugs and cards with Wendy, Melissa, Leigh, and Alyson, and hope to be lucky enough to visit with them again. You must now read Wendy’s fabulous post about the event – she is also giving away a copy of the book!
I can’t ever get my act together in the New Year until I get through the PBS Winter Press Tour, which, for me is a biannual week of joining my fellow PBS Kids VIPs together with the Television Critics Association to review the new season’s offerings from PBS. Yesterday I hugged Abby Cadaby, Count von Count, Elmo, and Cookie Monster, heard about how we are all descended from fish, and enjoyed an amazing panel of TV nostalgia that is still making me smile from ear to ear, including George Takei, Jimmie Walker, Ray Romano, THE Bob Newhart (especially near and dear to my heart, since our chance encounter in the Bel Air Camera parking lot).
As always, the tour inspires me with the collection of what are truly treasures of talent – people who do what they were meant to do, and are the BEST at it. Which brings me to the final session of the day – the inimitable Kristin Chenoweth. I have always loved her in everything she does, but seeing her live is indescribable. It’s hard to believe that this 4′ 11″ beauty could emit the sound that this woman can – she literally blew us away with old standards and a few of her own favorites. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
I’m still basking in the sensory feast, and look forward to seeing all the great new shows – watch your local PBS affiliate listings, and – HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I am so impressed with these kids I had to share. This precious little girl is six year old Sienna and she has cut her ponytail to give to Locks of Love. I told her mom Athena how amazing I think she is for such a heartfelt gesture. Athena tells me “We’re going to the post office to mail it off – she’s thrilled to know she’ll be giving a little girl some joy with her donation of hair. Losing her grandpa to cancer, she has a depth about the seriousness and it blesses my heart that she wants to make a difference”. I just want to hug her to pieces – what a sweet little soul!
Also incredible is this video by my friends’ sons who experienced bullying at school at very young ages. Their mom Laura said that they have taken that bad experience and used the creation of this video as an outlet to share why bullying sucks and why it should be stopped. Be sure to give them a like on the youtube page!
I was so surprised and honored to find that CBS LA has named me as a mom to follow in order to navigate momhood in Los Angeles. Liz Peterson reports that I am in some seriously helpful company – I don’t know if I’m worthy! Thank you Liz, Thank you CBSLA!
I have been saving this fun video I took at the PBS Press Tour in August so I can share it in celebration of the newest season on Sesame Street – welcome number 44! The Critter, Cookie, and I talk about cookies, family, friends, neighbors, and…self control. Noting how quickly we can point to a good bakery, we need a little help in this area.
So y’all know how much fun we had with the HUB at Halloween. As a rule, I have a costume for each day of the week leading up to the big day, thus My Perfect Husband has declared an embargo of all Halloween stuff in the house before October 1st. Costume creators, wait not, though because the Hub is having a huge costume contest and the Queen of Creativity herself Martha Stewart is judging! I am so verklempt, how will I ever get ours ready in time? My pals at the HUB tell me that:
“The special will be hosted by Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), along with Halloween expert Martha Stewart who will lead a panel of celebrity judges, and includes music performances and a nationwide costume competition where 50 semi-finalists from each state will head to Los Angeles to be a part of the two-hour star-studded event.
One lucky winner will win $25,000 and a walk-on role on the Hub Network’s Daytime Emmy® Award-winning series, “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: The Series.”
The “Hub Network’s First Annual Halloween Bash” costume competition is open to all ages, including individuals or a maximum of five people per group submission.
Participants are encouraged to create eye-popping, hair-raising and spooky costumes within one of the following six categories:
• Howl-arious – Shows the lighter side of Halloween with a take on a fun, funny or otherwise hilarious costume.
• Spook-tacular – Get ready to frighten America by showcasing the most spine-chilling costume for all the ghosts and ghouls out there.
• Mad Genius – Unique, original, innovative and never seen before. A knight in armor fashioned from bottle caps, bat wings made from old umbrellas, or a cardboard-box jetpack, the possibilities are endless. Display a costume unlike any other — show your Mad Genius.
• Blast from the Past – Take a stroll down memory lane with a timeless costume. Memories, nostalgia and yesteryear brought to life. Show your take on great figures from before the 20th century or a retro 50’s sock hop get up, 60’s flower child or other “period” inspired costumes.
• Animal Kingdom – Transform into a living creature from the past or present. Be a roaring lion, a school of jellyfish, a firefly, or a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
• Everyday Stuff – We’re looking for the coolest refrigerator/freezer, remote control, mailbox, block of Swiss cheese, telephone and more. Be creative and transform the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.”
For more information on how to enter, as well as to check out the latest entries, please visit HUB TV. The deadline to enter is Sunday, September 29, 2013.
We had such a great time whale watching this year with Harbor Breeze Cruises and Aquarium of the Americas! It was an amazing day, weather-wise, and the Critter and I enjoyed the company of some of our favorite blogger pals and their kiddos as we cut across the ocean in the gorgeous new addition to their fleet -M/V Triumphant. You may remember last year we were able to see a mama whale and a calf, and this year we saw a blue whale, the largest animal on the planet in history. You can also see from the videos that we were escorted by some very friendly dolphins for much of our trip – I was blown away with how many circled the boat – it was like a fantasy – I half expected Ariel to pop up and say hi!
We finished the tour early enough so that we could visit the Aquarium and check on our penguin friends. We both get such a kick from them! I was really hoping that we could see the new penguin chicks while we were there that day, but they were still not ready for their public debut, which happens TOMORROW! You can see the chicks at opening of the Aquarium, AND if you really love them, you can name them! The public can help name one of the penguin chicks during a live auction at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s tenth annual Sea Fare fundraiser on Saturday, October 19, 2013, which benefits the Aquarium’s education, conservation, and animal care programs.
Thank you all for all your kindnesses, comforting comments and private messages with regard to my last post. Your support really has helped me to get back to the business of being me and taking care of my family. In loading these photos that might have been posted back in June, I realize how much we pack into a short time, and we have MANY more happy occasions to report on than sad.
I would say that the ultimate highlight of the season was the marriage of my beautiful friend Tammi Jones to the handsome Michael Tanaka of Atlanta. Tammi, being the elegant event planner that she is, hosted one of the most beautiful and FUN weddings I have attended in my life. Beyond the gorgeous setting at he foot of the Hollywood Hills was the kickass DJ, delectable dinner and adorable kids’ table – we danced the night away with some of my bffs and took home memories for a lifetime. Bittersweet is that Mrs. Tanaka has relocated to Atlanta, but we can always visit!
Other gracious invitations we were fortunate to accept were: PBS SoCal hosting us to see Sesame Street Live!, a sexy brunch hosted by Beats by Dre, shopping day at the Children’s Place, Natalee Thai’s hosting of twenty of my bloggy pals to try their summer menu, and an adorable Paris themed birthday party for the Critter’s pal Miss Strawberry.
Coming soon: PBS Press Tour, Steve Songs at the Levitt Pavillion, and whale watching this Thursday. Remember when we went last year? Getting to Long Beach by 8:30 am will be a practice run for what it will be like to have to rise early again in preparation for back to school next week. First grade may be the perfect time to give my Critter a new nickname. More on this later – thanks again for your support xoxo
Although I share quite a lot here and throughout my outlets, I usually don’t include bad days of my life. I have many things to write about that are happy and good news that I naturally don’t share the Real that is up there in the masthead. Something happened in my life and I really can’t move forward until I write about it, so today, after many days of living it I want you to know the Real.
The Critter’s last day of school was June 12th. On Thursday June 13th, my friend Robby (most people in LA call him ROBERT, but he’s my OG) and I went to see Cyndi Lauper at the Greek. It was a monumental evening – we were able to meet Cyndi and hang in the VIP room, and we were able to talk A LOT, which we never had enough time to do. It was the 30th anniversary of the release of “She’s So Unusual” – the album that made Cyndi famous and made unusual kids cool. We talked about lots of things, mainly that things were going well for both of us: happy in love, happy in work, happy in life, in general. We stayed as late as possible and then made our way home, promising to get together next week for lunch to talk some more, and the summer was officially kicked off.
On Saturday morning at about 5:00 AM my phone rang, and I just tapped “decline” – my name tends to be the first on many of my friends’ contact list (due to the AAB initials), and I get pocket dialed frequently. Then the phone rang again. I answered this time, seeing that it was Robby’s niece calling from the Coast – it must be important. That call shook the ground beneath me, as she told me that Robby had been in a terrible car accident, and could I please go see what has happened? I was dressed and left the house within minutes and was at LA County/USC Medical by 6:00. I waited there with two of Robby’s close friends Susan and Joe – Robby’s life partner Sean was away doing a show in Northern California and was desperately trying to get back to LA. After almost three hours of knowing nothing at all, a doctor emerged telling us that Robby was gravely injured – he had been in surgery since 2:30 and that he “might not make it”. This was not at all something one ever expects to hear about someone they care about, so we resolved to keep it positive for his family, and to pray really hard that the doctors were wrong.
This began a ten day vigil of being at the hospital, seeing my friend go through torturous surgeries attached to every life saving machine that the very kind and competent staff could use, holding hands with Sean, Robby’s parents and our friends, wondering what the future would hold. We went through enormous emotional highs and lows, one day thinking that encouraging news meant he could go home and live a somewhat impaired life, to wondering if he would require 24/7 care for the rest of his life. I sang him songs, read him a book that he gave me when I was a freshman in college, and talked to him, hoping that he didn’t really know how horrible this was. He was the type who would be mortified that we were so worried. We were given a respite of the fear on the 23rd, as it was finally determined that his spinal cord was not severed, only traumatized, and this allowed us all to sleep a little bit better that night.
As I was dressing to take the Critter on an outing ( I can’t even remember what it was) the next morning, I got a call from Robby’s mother Flo saying that things had taken a turn; Rob had developed an infection and he was not expected to live. My husband came home to be with the Critter and I went back to the hospital, in full denial that this was really happening to face that this was REAL. It was really happening. There were lots of tears and prayers and disbelief as we waited for what would come next. It was decided that the machines should be turned off after Robby’s brother got to LA and was able to say goodbye. After that happened, the family left – no parent should have to stay for something so awful. I had planned to leave when the Williamses did, but I felt compelled to stay in the event of a miracle. Sean and our friend Brandon stood next to his bedside, talking to him, telling him that we would all be okay if he was ready to go. After a few hours, while Sean was telling us how they met, Robby took his very last breath. At that moment, there was relief – that he wouldn’t be confined to a wheelchair and other indignities for the rest of his life – that so many people loved him, he lived a full life.
The next two weeks I did not sleep at all, as we set a date for a tribute to Robby and everything had to be planned. It was very hard to accomplish this, as everyone involved would have days that we just couldn’t cope with the reality – before I would have called him to help me with this sort of thing, and he would have. He was like that. We finally made it to that day, and I completely lost my voice. Normally I would have been able to talk without stopping about Rob for HOURS without having written anything down but some bullet points. Since there was no way to even to speak, I had to sit down and write what I would have said about him, and I would stand with my sweet husband as he read my tribute. There were also very touching speeches by Susan Lambert and Donna Jolly, and really amazing performances by Ayanna and her troupe, Trish Lamkin, Michael Collum , Susan Brindley, even Tony award winner Norbert Butz, who was a dear friend of Robby’s from his Master’s program at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Seeing as how this event was staged for a person who would appreciate it – there was, of course a finale. Sean read a poem that Robby had written to him, and a letter he had written to Robby, and then he picked up his guitar and jammed to Patti Smith’s “Southern Cross” along with Trish, Michael and his fellow bandmate Greg Carson. This was truly a magic moment; they all did what they do best and the music soothed us. We gave Robby a send off that embodied all his favorite things, and we felt his love from that big theatre in the sky. There will never be another like him, and we were all truly blessed to have had his friendship all these years. He really did dance through life…
* slide show courtesy of Rachael Maurer, Robby’s niece.