Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from us to you

I see that it's been awhile since I blogged. Life's just been very hectic and I'm still trying to adjust to working part time, etc. I will try to catch up on all that's happened since school started at some point but for now, here are a few pictures in front of our tree on Christmas Eve.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Happy Birthday to Emily who is 15 years old today! It definitely doesn't seem that long ago that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Here's what I wrote about Emily's birth 15 years ago.

Emily at birthBorn: 08/29/92 at 07:46am (almost 5 weeks early!)
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 6 lbs 3 ozs

In some ways it happened so fast and in others it seems to have taken forever. When I got up to get ready for work on Friday, August 28th at 5am, I noticed that the bed and my pajamas seemed damp. After I went to the bathroom I realized that I seemed to be leaking fluid. So, instead of going to work, I went back to bed and at 9am I called my doctor who said to go to the hospital. So, I packed a bag (just in case) and took it and my Lamaze bag and drove myself to the hospital ... Paul had gone to work. Because we hadn't gotten around to pre-registering, I did that and then went up to the maternity ward. I was put into a room and examined where it was determined that my water had, in fact, broken. During the exam, the nurse said I was 3 centimeters dialated and 60% effaced. So, I thought, this is it! I was then admitted to the hospital and moved to an LDR room.

Paul joined me around noon and we started waiting. Dr. Reyes wanted to wait and see if I would start to have contractions. Because the baby was still so high, I had to stay in bed the whole time. I was being monitored and after a while I had to lie on my left side. Apparently, the baby's heart rate was best this way. This got pretty boring as the hours dragged on . The worst thing was that I couldn't get out of bed for anything; I even had to use a bedpan. What a pain!!

About 1:00am on Saturday, August 29th, they began inducing labor. This didn't do much until about 6:00am when I first started having any kind of regular contractions. I still didn't really feel these even though the nurse said that most women would have been crawling the walls by then. When the contractions started, it became apparent that the baby's heart rate dropped with every contraction so, by 6:30am I was prepped and ready for a cesarean. There really wasn't time to even think about it.

Now, when I look back I wish I could have experienced the birth, but I'm glad that we didn't endanger the baby. At 7:00am, I was wheeled into an operating room and an epidural was administered. At 7:46am Emily was born. Paul was able to come in and got to watch the whole thing. I didn't get to see Emily until they took her over and started to clean her up and made sure that she was okay. Luckily, she was healthy but a little small (19 inches & 6 lbs 3 ozs). It was hard to believe how perfect she was; I couldn't help but start to cry. Before they took Emily to the nursery, the nurse brought her over to me so that I could see her up close. I wish I could have held her then, but they wanted to check her over some more. Paul was able to go with Emily to the nursery while I was taken to recovery. The whole experience was simply amazing!!

And now 15 years later Emily is 5'4" tall and a self-confident young woman. One thing that Emily really wanted to do this year was to darken her hair since it was no longer really blond but rather a dirty blond / light brown with some outgrown highlights. So, check out the before and after. The before shot was taken yesterday morning, August 28th - can't you tell that she's thrilled to be going back to school and she hated how her hair looked. The after shot was taken this morning, August 29th - a much happier look for sure. What do you think of Emily's new look?
Emily at 15Just before Emily was born a friend of mine was telling me that she was hoping that Emily had dark hair (like me) and blue eyes (like Paul) - well 15 years later Emily does!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Wow it's been a busy summer just with the girls' music & dance lessons, camps & celebrity events (not to mention their required reading for the new school year) but I did manage to take a few short trips myself this summer.

Original Idols Live!
In June, a friend and I went up to Pleasanton, CA to see The Original Idols Live! at the Alameda Country Fair. Why would I drive for hours to see this you ask? Well, one of the acts on the Original Idols bill is The Cowsills and I've wanted to see this show since they started doing it and this one just worked out.
Alameda County Fair Entertainment Lineup

Barry Williams is the MC for the show and introduces each act. He starts out the show doing a parody about The Real Greg Brady. It's very funny. During casino shows Barry also does Johnny Bravo stuff but there isn't time during the fair shows.
The Real Greg Brady

The first act on the bill is Bo Donaldson. Bo is very nice but just isn't the "rock star" type at all and he's just in the background on keyboards and doesn't sing at all. The Heywoods aren't any of the original Heywoods and they guy that sings lead is an okay singer but not super impressive. Really they're the "house band" for the other acts more than anything.
Bo Donaldson

The Cowsills are 2nd on the bill and they do a great job - we saw quite a few people giving them a standing ovation at the end and from the emails I've gotten there were some people there to see one of the other acts who now LOVE The Cowsills. The first show was short - it absolutely had to be an hour long and no more - so The Cowsills only did 3 songs: The Rain, The Park & Other Things, Indian Lake & Hair. The 2nd show had 4 Cowsill songs - the 3 from the first show plus We Can Fly.
Cowsills 6pm Show
Cowsills 8pm Show

In the first show after The Cowsills Barry Williams & Susan did a duet on a BeeGee's tune. I really like this and Susan sounded great - she is so cute and she loves to tease Barry! At the end of the number she says "OMG I'm singing with Greg Brady". lol In the 2nd show Barry did a solo number - very musical theater.
Susan Cowsill & Barry Williams

Next up was Leif Garrett. Leif did a decent job though seemed to somewhat lose his place during one song. He definitely had fans there. I really liked his original number and he invites fans up to dance during I Was Made For Dancing. The first show there were way too many people on stage so during the 2nd show they cut off the number of people they let on stage. Susan came out and danced with Leif in the 2nd show. I tried to get a picture but she was right behind a mic stand.
Leif Garrett
I Was Made For Dancing

The Bay City Rollers close the show and they definitely still have fans out there. They were fun and I especially like Saturday Night since The Cowsills come back out and join them. The Cowsills have a lot of fun on this number with Paul dancing across the stage and Bob playing cowbell.
Saturday Night

This was very fun and I'd love to see the casino version someday since it's a longer show. If you'd like to see more photos from this trip, you can see them at Original Idols Live!: Pleasanton, CA - June 22, 2007 6pm & Original Idols Live!: Pleasanton, CA - June 22, 2007 8pm

At the end of July, Paul & I took a weekend trip to Catalina. I had never been and Paul hadn't been to Avalon in more than 20 years. We spent the weekend sight-seeing (don't bother doing a night glass bottom boat tour) and hiking (okay I will admit that I only made it 1/2 way on one of our hikes - note to self get in shape!) and just hanging out in Avalon. It was a very relaxing weekend and we plan to go back sometime and do some things we just saw and didn't have time to do this time around. I didn't take any pictures until just before we got ready to head back to the mainland but here are a few of Avalon Harbor:
Welcome to Avalon
Avalon Casino
Avalon Harbor

Osmonds 50th Anniversary
I have been an Osmond fan since the early 1970s and have made some really good friends as a result. When The Osmonds announced that they were having an event to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in show business I knew I had to be there. Having seen The Cowsills lose two brothers, I realized that this could be the last opportunity to see all of The Osmonds on stage together plus I knew that I would get to spend some time with friends I hadn't seen in person in quite awhile. So, last Sunday, a friend and I headed over to Las Vegas and The Orleans hotel for this event.
Orleans Marquee

The action started on Monday with a Meet & Greet at 1pm. Okay I wouldn't have called this a meet & greet since there wasn't really any meeting & greeting happening. It was, as dubbed by some Osmond fans, more a Sit & Stare. All 9 Omsonds were on stage at the Orleans showroom doing a question & answer session, singing a few songs, doing a few promo bits, etc. My friends and I sat near the back because we refused to join the insanity in trying to get a good seat. The lines were ridiculous; people started lining up as early as 7am and even before the doors opened people were pushing. We sat on the stairs near the showroom and just watched and took a few pictures. The photo below does not do justice to the size of the crowd - there were lines going both directions and they were really long.
Meet & Greet line

Even though we were in the 2nd to last row and a little off to the side we could see fine since there are only 20 rows in the showroom. I did take photos during the Meet & Greet and here are a few. You can see all of my Meet & Greet photos at Osmonds 50th Anniversary: M&G.
Meet & Greet
Meet & Greet
Meet & Greet

On Monday night was the first of three concerts. It was amazing to see all of The Osmonds on stage together again. I really enjoyed the show but felt Marie's section could have been shortened or maybe just changed up a bit for each show. I was happy to see that Alan was playing the piano and even performing without his cane some of the time. Here's the set list from that show - thanks to an Osmond fan who wrote it down and posted it:
  • Down By The Lazy River
  • Havin' A Party
    (Andy Williams came out after this to wish the Osmonds his best)
  • The Proud One
  • At the Rainbow's End
  • I Can't Live a Dream
  • Rainin'
  • Rock & Roll Music (with a Jay drum solo)
  • I'm Still Gonna Need You
  • Going Home
  • Marie:
    • My Favorite Things
    • Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
    • Paper Roses
    • Medley of:
      • You're Still New To Me
      • Read My Lips
      • Meet Me In Montana
      • No Stopping Your Heart
    • King & I Medley
    • Sound of Music Medley
  • Donny
    • Soldier of Love
    • Breeze On By
    • Will It Go Round In Circles
    • Puppy Love
  • Donny & Marie Medley
    • Morning Side of the Mountain
    • Make The World Go Away
    • I'm Leaving It Up To You
    • Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
    • Deep Purple
    • It Takes Two
    • I'm a Little Bit Country/Rock and Roll
  • Through The Years (All 7 Osmonds with Alan on piano)
  • Medley
    • One Bad Apple
    • Double Lovin'
    • Yo-Yo
    • Let Me In
    • Love Me For A Reason
  • Crazy Horses
  • He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
  • Are You Up There/I Believe
After the show on Monday night was another free for all aka the after show party/reception. Other than Osmond kids the only Osmonds that came to this were Merrill, Jay & Jimmy and they were literally mobbed the minute they stepped into the room. I didn't even try to get close to them or to the area at the front where they were cutting the cake. The cake was good though.

Tuesday brought Jay's Film Fest or as it was dubbed by Jimmy Jay's Snooze Fest. We wandered up but really didn't watch much of this. It was hosted by Jay's wife, Kandilyn, and it was fun to see her since I hadn't seen her for years.

Tuesday night there were two shows but we only went to the last one. At the show on Monday night most everyone stayed in their seats - standing once in awhile to applaud, etc. but not rushing the stage or anything. We had heard that there was a stage rush during the first show on Tuesday night so it was no great surprise when it happened again at the show we went to. We were in the 5th row on the side and could still see as long as the people right in front of us didn't stand but I felt sorry for those who had gotten the front few rows of seats in the middle sections because they couldn't see unless they stood for the entire show. I had one friend who can't stand for that long and she ended up getting her money back since there was no way she could have seen anything. The good part of this for her was the Orleans people then found her another seat right in the midst of the Osmond families - so she got to see the rest of the show and she got to hang out with the Osmond family. The set list for the last show was similar to the first show with the following exceptions:
  • Marie's son, Stephen Craig, sang 100 Days/100 Nights with Merrill, Wayne, Jay & Jimmy
  • Donny didn't sing Puppy Love
  • Jimmy did a medley of some of his old songs
    • Knock On Your Door
    • Tweedle Dee
    • Long Haired Lover From Liverpool
  • The Osmond Brothers medley was mostly covers of 70s tunes rather than their own:
    • Yesterday
    • September
    • Take a Chance On Me
    • Crocodile Rock
    • That's The Way (I Like It)
    • Superstition
    • Too Much Heaven
    • Tragedy
    • ABC
    • I Want You Back
    • One Bad Apple
  • The finale did not include Are You Up There/I Believe
By the third show the Orleans staff was no longer attempting to keep people from taking pictures so I pulled my camera out during this show. Here are a few of the photos I got:
Jay, Merrill, Wayne and Jimmy Osmond
Jay, Merrill, Wayne & Jimmy Osmond
Stephen Craig
Marie's son, Stephen Craig
King and I Medley
Marie doing King & I Medley
Donny Osmond
Through The Years
Singing Through The Years
Show Finale
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

You can see all of my 3rd show photos at Osmonds 50th Anniversary: 3rd Show.

And, oh yeah, I did say how I spent my summer vacation - that's because not only are the girls going back to school soon so am I! I'm going to be teaching computers at Hannah's school this year.

DayJams 2007 - 3rd & Final Take!

The girls' last week at DayJams was unique in that rather than just being vocalists both Emily & Hannah wanted to try playing some kind of instrument.

Hannah decided before we signed up this year that she wanted to spend one week playing guitar. She had a great time and learned a few things and of course now wants to take guitar lessons. Hannah's band was named The Shock:
Hannah introducing the band

Playing during the show

Emily had been fooling around with Hannah's guitar at home and trying to figure out guitar parts on songs that she liked. She found that she couldn't really do that but she could pick out bass parts. So, she decided that she wanted to try playing bass. Now the only problem is we don't own a bass - luckily Emily's voice teacher was gracious enough to let her borrow his. In Emily's final week at DayJams she played bass and sang backup vocals in the Psychedelic Hors Dourves and was the vocalist in That's What She Said.
Emily on bass
Emily on bass

Emily on vocals

We didn't get any videos this week but a friend of ours has promised us a copy of their video.

And as promised here are a few photos from the first week at the San Fernando Valley campus.
Hannah in Ground Zero
Ground Zero

Hannah in Dogs of Rock
Dogs of Rock
Emily in Torch The City
Torch The City

If you're interested in seeing more DayJams photos send me an email.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

DayJams 2007 - Take 2

Both girls were at DayJams this week and both were vocalists. Hannah was the singer is two bands: Dogs of Rock & Ground Zero and Emily was the singer in one: Torch The City. Emily was very pleased this week when her logo design was used for her band. I took a bunch of pictures and will get those online at some point but for now you can watch the performances of all three bands!
Dogs of Rock - Today is Tomorrow
Ground Zero - Let's Get Crazy
Torch The City

Monday, July 30, 2007

DayJams 2007 - Take 1

Emily attended the Los Angeles DayJams campus this year for 2 weeks. Paul, Hannah & I went the first week and I took a bunch of pictures. Here's one of Emily with her band, The Alchemists.

Last week, Emily went to DayJams again but Paul & I weren't there for the concert on Friday because we went away to Catalina for the weekend. Since we weren't going to be there Hannah (who went with her grandmother & aunt) videoed Emily's performances for us.

First up is The Movement with their original song "Things Aren't What They Seem". Emily wrote the lyrics for this:

Since Emily will be attending DayJams for 4 weeks she was also in a band of DayJammers who attended or will attend for 3 or more weeks. This band covered Led Zepplin's "Rock and Roll":
DayJams Los Angeles: July 27, 2007 from V Sedgwick and Vimeo.

And speaking of DayJams, remember that I said Emily & Hannah participated in a segment filmed for yourLA? Well we didn't find out that it aired but you can see it right here:

Day Jams - Your LA TV!

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So much to do ... So little time

It seems like only yesterday that the girls were just starting the school year and now it's over and we have a sophomore in High School and a Middle Schooler! The end of the school year was extremely busy for all of us with: Dance Performances, Field Trips, Picnics, Parties, etc. not to mention finals and reports and picture taking and more picture taking.

The day before school got out for Hannah, the girls joined a bunch of other kids from Hannah's school at an audition for Oscar Mayer at Hollywood & Highland. Oscar Mayer sent a bus to the school to get the kids and supplied them all with T-shirts. Looking around the web we found a video from the audtions but neither of the girls is in it much. You can see Emily's arm at about 1:14 in the video and you can see Hannah with a group of kids at 1:41 but you have to look fast! All of the kids in the white T-shirts with the star on it are from Hannah's school. And here's the video ...

I have a ton of pictures still to review, crop, edit, etc. from 8th grade graduation at Hannah's school and the dance shows but I did edit a few photos I took of Emily and Hannah just before 8th grade graduation (no neither of the girls were part of the graduation but I'm the photographer for the school and Emily had friends graduating).
Hannah in her favorite headband
Emily in her current favorite headband
This one was processed to be somewhat edgy

Last week the girls filmed a segment about Day Jams for the show yourLA. This should air in the next couple of weeks and we'll let you know when it does!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tourists In Our Own Hometown

A couple of weeks ago the girls' cousin sent a flat version of herself to us for a school project. Our assignment was to take photos of this Flat Kid in 6-10 different places in our community showing important things about our town, our geography, our weather, our major landforms, etc. Now the actual city of our mailing address has not much of interest in any of these areas but since we live in the Los Angeles area there's plenty of places we decided to visit.

We began our adventures with Flat Skye by taking the bus and the subway to downtown Los Angeles. None of us had ever been on the newer bus line in our area and it was only the 2nd or 3rd time that we'd ever ridden on the subway! Once we got downtown, we started off on our adventures with some photos at Union Station.
Across the street from Union Station is Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historial Monument, which is the known as the birthplace of Los Angeles. Today it's a busy marketplace and home to 27 historic buildings including Avila Adobe which built around 1818 and is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. Neither Emily or Hannah had ever been to Olvera Street before.

After spending some time exploring and shopping on Olvera Street, we wandered across the street to Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles which was founded in September of 1781. The first Spanish governor of Las Californias recommended that this be developed into a small agricultural town so it never became one of the actual California Missions. However, a chapel on the grounds was the only Roman Catholic church in the Pueblo de Los Angeles for years.
A short walk away is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels which is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles today. The new cathedral opened in 2002 and was built as a replacement for the older cathedral which had been damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. We did take some photos of the cathedral with Flat Skye but I also had to snap a few of the girls as they played in the children's garden!
We had walked by the front of City Hall earlier but there didn't seem to be a good place to get a picture so we were delighted when we saw the view from near the Los Angeles Music Center. The City Hall was completed in 1928 and was the tallest building in Los Angeles until 1964. The concrete in the tower was made with sand from each of California's 58 counties and water from California's 21 historical missions.
Just down the street from where we took our photo of City Hall is the Los Angeles Music Center which includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall which opened in 2003. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and architecturally is a very interestig building. The girls wanted to go inside and I didn't realize until we got home that we probably could have since they give tours of the concert hall when there isn't a show going on.
There were lots of other sites we could have seen in the downtown area but we headed back to the subway and on to Hollywood for our next adventure with Flat Skye. Our first stop in Hollywood was the famous corner of Hollywood & Vine where we had to pose to get a picture of the Capitol Records building. This building was the world's first round office building and is home to a few recording studios. There's a blinking light on top of the tower that spells out "Hollywood" in Morse Code ever since the building opened in 1965.
You can't visit Hollywood Blvd. without looking at all the stars on the Walk of Fame and we had to take some time to do just that. We wanted to find the perfect star for Flat Skye to pose with. Since Hannah didn't recognize any of the names on the stars as we passed, Paul recommended that we pose her with Harry Carey, Jr. Now this isn't the famous Chicago baseball announcer, Harry Caray, but this was Harry Carey was an actor in western movies and TV shows. Hollywood Blvd was really crowded or Flat Skye might have posed with more "stars" like Mickey Mouse or The Beatles or Snow White or my favorites, The Osmonds. We really thought about The Osmonds because Emily, Hannah & I actually went to the ceremony when The Osmonds got their star!
One of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood is Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It's probably the most famous movie theatre in the world. In the 1930s and 1940s it was often the theatre where movies were premiered and even today there are still premieres held here. Also, in the 1940s Grauman's Chinese Theatre was where the Academy Awards were held and it's been in many movies or TV shows. Movie stars often left their hand and footprints in cement in front of the theatre. So, with all this history, Flat Skye just had to visit the Chinese Theatre and check out the building and the hand and footprints herself! We didn't get a super great picture of the front of the theatre because Hollywood Blvd. was packed and there was no way to do it.
After visiting the Chinese Theatre we headed over to Hollywood & Highland. This is one of the newer shopping areas on Hollywood Blvd. and is home to the Kodak Theatre which is where the Academy Awards are handed out and where the American Idol finals are held. We didn't do any shopping but we had heard that the Hollywood & Highland center was a good place to get a picture of the Hollywood sign and you can't take a trip to Hollywood without getting a picture of the sign! Since we were able to accomplish that, Flat Skye can truly say that she's been to Hollywood. The Hollywood sign was created in 1923 as an advertisement for a housing development in the Hollywood Hills and it originally said Hollywoodland and today it's one of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood. On a technical note, this was one of the hardest shots of the day to get because of the lighting. If the Hollywood sign was exposed properly Paul and the girls were in shadows and if they people were exposed correctly the Hollywood sign was unreadable.
Hollywood Blvd. is also home to many movie theatres including the El Capitan Theatre which opened in 1926 and was known as "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama". Today this theatre is an exclusive first run theatre for Walt Disney pictures and also hosts live stage shows and othe special events. And Hollywood Blvd. also is popular in television and is the home of the theatre where the Jimmy Kimmel Show is taped. On our way out of the Hollywood & Highland shopping center, we just had to take a photo of both the El Capitan Theatre and the theatre where the Jimmy Kimmel show is taped.

We then got back on the subway and headed up to Universal City. Universal City is home to Universal Studios, which is still a real working move and TV studio and also an amusement park and a concert venue, and it's home to Universal City Walk which is a fun and colorful shopping and dining area. Flat Skye got the chance to pose on a red carpet leading into Universal Studios and to get a little damp in front of the Universal globe.

After the photo ops at the studio, we headed to CityWalk to have some dinner and do a little shopping - who can resist the World's Greatest Sock Store? Not Emily & Hannah!

Day two of Flat Skye's adventures, found us heading to the Santa Monica pier because you can't visit the Los Angeles area without going to the beach! The Santa Monica pier is a fun place to hang out with the beach, restaurants, an aquarium and even an amusement park! Flat Skye had fun trying out a boogie board on the beach and checking out all the rides at Pacific Park even though it was overcast and somewhat drizzly most of the day.

After a full day of fun and rides, we headed back to the Valley via one of the canyon roads and stopped at Top of Topanga Overlook to show Flat Skye a view of the San Fernando Valley. This is an interesting little park and it's fun to look at the picture that they have there of the same view in 1937 when the San Fernando Valley was almost completely farm land. Amazingly we had never stopped here to check out the view.
Hannah's class took a field trip out to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this year and she wanted to show Flat Skye some of what she saw there. We got out there late so we didn't go inside but Hannah had fun showing Flat Skye the entrance to the library with a bronze statue of President Reagan, a piece of the Berlin Wall and the public memorial to President Reagan. Paul's company had a party at the Reagan Library and he was planning to take a picture of Flat Skye in front of Air Force One but his camera batteries died before he could do that.

In California, every 4th grade student learns about the missions of California and usually they have to do a report and build a model of a mission. When Hannah was in 4th grade, she did her report and model on the Santa Barbara Mission but since that's not in the Los Angeles area, we decided to show Flat Skye the Mission San Fernando Rey de España which is located in the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Mission was the 17th of 21 missions and was founded in 1797.

We certainly had fun showing Flat Skye some of the local sites and we saw some things we hadn't seen before or hadn't seen in years!