Friday, July 11, 2014

The Hobbit at the ACT - Opening Night!

Tonight is opening night for The Hobbit at the Actors Conservatory Theatre!

Nicholas auditioned for the part of Gollum (also known as Smeagol).  The auditions took place during a crazy time in our lives when we were living out of a hotel.  I remember feeling terrible that we had been so distracted with other things that we had not spent much time helping Nicholas prepare for his audition.  He did great but didn't get the part he hoped for.  Instead he got the part of Bifur, one of the 13 dwarves who go on a mystical adventure with Bilbo the Hobbit and Gandalf, the great wizard.  He loves his part.  He is on the stage for almost the entire play and has many lines and lots of songs, choreography, and even a battle scene.  What a blessing in disguise that he didn't get the part that he had hoped for!

The ACT starts each production with a family potluck.  It's always quite a spread and it is a fun way to get to know the other actors and their families.

We wimped out and brought pizza but some people got really creative and brought Hobbit-themed food.  Our favorite were the little meringue and chocolate mushrooms which apparently Hobbits really love. Yum!

Hobbit-themed food, meringue mushrooms

After the potluck, the director, Ms. Joe Ann, talked to us about the story of The Hobbit.  She also told us that she had actually corresponded with J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit, while he was still alive.  He was living in England and she wrote to him to ask his permission to write and produce a children's play based on The Hobbit.  Tolkien thought this was a wonderful idea.  He said that The Hobbit was read by students in England by age 8 and he was disappointed that children in America didn't read it until their high school years, if at all.  He was excited that she wanted to introduce the story to elementary students in a theatrical way.

As usual, Stuart and I have been very busy helping the production behind the scenes.  Stuart has spent many evenings and weekends building an amazing set with platform and sliding door that the dwarves and other characters will crawl across during the show.  I've been working on props.  They had an old copper tea kettle that they bought at a thrift shop that was dull with tarnish and I learned how to polish it to shine like new.  I've also worked on painting walking canes, weapons, making old maps, and more.  Here is one of my painting projects.  They had some old yellow plastic mugs that they wanted to look like small wooden barrels.  I love being able to help give these old random things new life on the stage.

We were even able to donate a big piece of light brown carpet that used to be in the playroom to make a big rock for the stage.  They placed it over a frame and added some paint accents to it and voila!  Instant rock!  This picture was taken early on.  They have even added more finishing touches to it to make it look even more like a rock.  So cool!

Stage rock made out of carpet

Nicholas has a simple costume as a dwarf.  He will have some simple makeup but I don't think he has a wig or facial hair.  He's happy about that!

Here is a little sneak peek video of one of the songs early in the play.  It's called Chip the Glasses, Break the Plates.  I took this video at the dress rehearsal last night.  Here the dwarves have just invaded little Bilbo's neat and perfect house and made themselves at home.  They are supposed to be cleaning up after they helped themselves to a meal.  They are singing about being careful with the dishes because Bilbo hates chipped glasses and cracked plates.

The Hobbit performances are from July 11 - July 20, Fridays at 7:00, Saturdays at 2:00 and 7:00, and Sunday at 2:00.  Tickets can be purchased online at  

Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A {Dress Like a Cow!}

Today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A!  Dress like a cow and get a FREE meal!  Did we dress like cows?  You bet!

2 kids dressed like cow for Chick Fil A cow appreciation day

We found some easy to cow costume pieces on the Chick-Fil-A website to help us make our costumes in a jiffy.  There are ears, noses, tails, spots, and of course the awesome "Eat Mor Chikin" sign for you to just print and tape on to yourself or a white shirt.  If you are in full cow costume you get your whole meal free.  If you are in a partial cow costume, you get just the entree for free.

Free lunch at Chick Fil A

Nicholas had been worried that we would be the only ones in the restaurant dressed like cows.  But we weren't.  I'd say that probably two thirds of the people there had at least some kind of cow costume on.  

We had a delicious hot meal and had fun looking at all the crazy ideas for cow costumes that came in the door.  Best of all, it was all FREE!

Free Chick Fil A for Cow Appreciation Day!

For more information and to find a location near you, check out the Cow Appreciation Day webpage.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

NEW Doritos Loaded {Review}

Have you tried Doritos Loaded yet?  Being Doritos lovers, we had to rush out and try them as soon as they were available.  Note, they are ONLY available at 7-Eleven stores.  They are hot and ready to eat and can be found in the warming trays at 7-Eleven.  They cost $1.99 for a box of 4.

Doritos Loaded is a radical new snack idea.  They have the classic Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor with just a hint of spiciness.  They have a coating of Doritos chip on the outside and nacho cheese on the inside.  I guess it is like inside-out nachos! 

I really liked the flavor although the kids thought they were a little spicy for them but my 10 year old son still asked for a second one. I found them a little addictive too.

The outer coating seems to be made of ground up chips and seasoning.  However, it is not crisp and crunchy like a Doritos chip.  It is more like a crispier fried cheese stick with a lot more flavor.   I kind of wish that the cheese had been a little warmer so that maybe it would have been softer like a nacho cheese dip or else strung out like regular fried cheese.

Doritos brand is bringing snacks to a new level with Doritos Loaded.  It is a unique and yummy snack that is hot and ready to go.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Octonauts Are At Sea Life Aquarium!

 Meet Captain Barnacles and Kwazii!

Dive into action with the Octonauts, the team of undersea adventure heroes from the hit animated TV show.  Young fans will embark on an exciting mission with special activities and fun-filled events, plus get the chance to meet Captain Barnacles and Kwazii.  The Octonauts adventure will be at SEA LIFE Aquarium Grapevine through Sunday, July 20
The underwater explorers of the Octopod entertain fans with their missions to save sea creatures in trouble and now young adventurers can meet two of their heroes in person.  Guests also have the chance to become an honorary Octonaut for a day, roaming the ocean environments inside SEA LIFE Aquarium to learn about marine life and the importance of conservation.
Daily Octonauts activities include:
·     Meet and Greet:  Captain Barnacles and Kwazii will be available for photo opportunities with guests in the Cinema. Plus, get an Octonauts sticker! (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
·     Scavenger Hunt: take a special undersea mission with an Octonauts fact-finding trail, available at admissions.

Kids get to scratch off their answers on the Fact Finding Trail and at the
end of the visit they can turn in their answer cards to get a prize!

·     Story Time: discover the latest Octonauts adventures as team members read one of the Octonauts books with fun Octonauts toys, available for purchase in the retail shop.  (11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.)
·       Videos: watch select Octonauts episodes in the Cinema.
·       Octonauts-themed coloring activities and other photo opportunities.

There are also several Octonaut informational signs throughout the aquarium.  Rachel enjoyed looking for them to help her learn more about the fascinating creatures we saw.

This is a free event included in the price of admission to SEA LIFE Aquarium.  Book early to secure your tickets.  

After having fun with the Octonauts, we stayed for a few more hours to explore the amazing creatures at SEA LIFE.

Every hour or so, there are talks given by the SEA LIFE caregivers where they tell us more about the sea creatures and let us ask questions.

Rachel was so cute with the sting rays.  She talks to them like a loving mom, as if they were one of her baby dolls.  She even pretended to tickle their bellies through the glass.  

We always love the views into the big aquarium.  It's an incredible experience to just stand there and watch so many beautiful creatures swim right past you.

And the 360 degree aquarium tunnel is just as much fun.  Creatures are swimming over your head and under your feet!

There are some great photo ops too - Oh no!  The kids must have fallen into an aquarium!

And now they're being eaten alive!

Of course, my kids' favorite activity at SEA LIFE has to be the touch tanks.  They love to touch the soft starfish and other fun critters in the tanks.

What a fun day we had at SEA LIFE!

About Sea Life Aquarium Grapevine:  SEA LIFE is located in Grapevine Mills Mall at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway in Grapevine. Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for kids 2 and under.  To purchase special discounted tickets visit  Hours are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - attraction remains open 90 minutes after last admission.   For more information, please call 877-819-7677 or visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium website.  You can also follow SEA LIFE Facebook and SEA LIFE Twitter.
About SEA LIFE Aquarium Grapevine:
SEA LIFE Aquarium Grapevine transports you into the amazing underwater world.  Prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays and powerful sharks.  With an amazing 360° ocean tunnel, 30 display tanks and more than 5,000 sea creatures the aquarium is the perfect stop for family fun!  To get any closer you would have to get wet!  Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for children ages 3 to 12.  For more information visit  Follow us on Facebook: @sealifegrapevine and Twitter: @sealifegrpevine and Instagram: @sealifegrapevine.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Fireworks!

For about 9 years or so, we have spent July 4th with our families and we always make our own fireworks show at my brother's house or at Stuart's parents' house.   But with all that is going on this year we weren't able to do that.  Instead we took the kids to our town's firework display.  

We decided to grab a late dinner at McDonald's and then find a spot along the road or in a parking lot to set up our camping chairs to watch the show.  While we were at McDonald's we ran into some friends of ours.  It was a little girl that Nicholas knew from public school that he called his "girlfriend" at one time.  It was great getting to catch up with old friends and we found a spot next to them to set up our chairs along a busy road.

Cute boy and girl

Once the fireworks started, we realized that this was the first time Rachel has seen a professional fireworks show.  She LOVED it!  She was yelling, "This is awesome!  Wow!  Look at that!"  Some of the people around us smiled and turned their heads to see the smallest person there making the most noise. She was so happy and full of joy!

Girl in pink chair

We happened to be in flat spot that at times lets us see the big city out in the distance.  Tonight as we sat in our spot, we were able to see TWO different firework shows at the same time.  One was out in the distance and to the right of us.  It started before our town's show but for several minutes, both of them were going at the same time.  It was so cool to watch!

Double fireworks show

Fireworks 1

Some of these pictures came out great except for the power line that ran right through the center of my viewing area!

Fireworks 2

More Fireworks

Fourth of July

This one made me smile because it had hints of purple and gold.

4th of July

This one looked like a flower to me.

Flower fireworks

Green Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July

Amazing fireworks

Purple flower fireworks

Happy Independence Day!