Monday, June 23, 2008


Big Ben.
The British Museum.  Oh my was amazing!
Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Our hotel is on Kensington High Street, by Kensington Gardens.  So great.
St. Mary Abbott's Church.

We've been having a BLAST so far!  We've wandered around Westminster Abbey, found Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, had a gelato sundae at Harrod's, saw the Elgin Marbles and Parthenon friezes and metopes at the British Museum (unbelievable), went to Trafalgar Square and to the National Gallery (the highlight for me was the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait), had lunch in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Field's Church, and saw the Cabinet War Rooms.  And, Tina, you'll be happy to know we had dinner at Wagamama's last night and it was delicious!

Get this--internet is not free at our hotel, so this is my one shot at updating you.  

See you on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hip Hop Hooray!

Lauren and I saw High School Musical the tour last night. She made me break my “no jeans at the theater rule” but, shockingly, we weren’t underdressed. The average age of the audience was, maybe, ten. And that might have bothered me had I not had SO much fun!

First of all, I would just like to say that I have seen dozens of musicals and actually have pretty high standards for them, lest you be thinking I’m a twit for liking HSM so much. My favorites are Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Jersey Boys, and Wicked. I really want to see Spring Awakening. I just saw My Fair Lady a few weeks ago, and as much as I love the story, the music, and the movie, it was a three-hour snoozefest.

That being said, this production was great. It’s exactly what I hoped for. I love the songs. I loved Sharpay and Ryan. They definitely stole the show. The cast was super talented and with great dancing, singing, sparkly and fun costumes, and all that bubblegum pep, how could I not have enjoyed this slick Disney production? The guy who played Troy was adorable, they shot streamers out during the finale (boy, the kids loved those! They went nuts!), and the kids in the audience were singing along--they were adorable. It was a really fun night!

And don't worry--I promise I won't blog about High School Musical for a while.

Next on my list—The Sound of Music, in London next week!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Simple Blessings

Mark Twain once said he could live for two months on a good compliment. I know the feeling.

As I was working away on Friday, a friend of mine came into the office and brought me a gorgeous red rose for no particular reason. It’s still on my desk looking prettier than ever.

It’s such a simple gift, probably cost him nothing, took little time, but it was such a meaningful gesture and totally brightened my day, and continues to brighten my week.

Those little compliments, those little acts of service, those little gifts, encouraging e-mails, and notes…they’re so meaningful. As I look at this pretty rose, I am reminded to be intentional with paying it forward and blessing people in my life this week with random acts of kindness as well.

“I will bless you…and you will be a blessing to others.” Genesis 12:2

The closest I'll ever get to Zac Efron...

Lauren and I took our moms to dinner and Prince Caspian a couple weeks ago at the Big Newport theater, and what did we find there? Only a life-size display promo for High School Musical 3, in theaters October 24th. Needless to say, we took a few pics! I'm really excited about the movie! (But you knew that, right?)

A while ago, my friend and I were talking about "guilty pleasures" and I said I don't believe in them. What's to feel guilty about? I like what I like...even Disney Channel TV movies :)

Tonight I am seeing High School Musical, the musical, at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Pics and a review to on it :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Day Late...

Me and my dad (and my cow, Clarence) at Rialto Beach, Washington, circa 1992.

In honor of Father's Day, which I know was yesterday, here are a few facts about my dad.

1. His name is Ulrich Hans but he's just called Rick, or Dad. He was born in Ulm, Germany; incidentally, Ulm is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein.

2. He loves fishing and always has better luck when I'm with him. Maybe it's just because you're bound to catch more fish when you have more poles. Whatever.

3. He makes a dang fine breakfast burrito and is our resident chef on Sunday mornings for family breakfast.

4. He loves reading and prefers nonfiction adventure books.

5. He totally loves trying out hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurants. (I definitely did not inherit his sense of culinary adventure. My palate is as sophisticated as a ten-year-old's.)


I love you, Dad!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It Never Gets Old...

I just spent the last day and a half at Disneyland...and I am beat! But I had so much fun...

On Monday night, Riley and I went to a special sneak peek of the new ride at California Adventure, called Toy Story Mania! (It pays to be an annual passholder!) The ride opens next Tuesday. It's a 4D ride where you have to shoot targets as you play different carnival-style games, and it's SUPER fun...I like it so much better than the Astro Blasters. There's no other ride like it!
Gotta get a goofy glasses pic...

Guess who player 1 was?! OH YEAH...that'd be ME!

Woody and Riley are twins! Seriously, look at those smiles...they're identical!
We thought we would end our visit with Splash the front seats. Not the smartest move we've ever made, but so fun.

Then yesterday, Tina, Sonja, and I took the two oldest Coates girls to Disneyland. We had a blast hanging out with Ella, 5, and Karis, 4. I think the highlights for them were cotton candy, ice cream, and the Parade of Dreams and Play Parade. The highlight for me was that Prince Caspian opened the Parade of Dreams!

Minnie Mouse met Ella!

These princesses are so stinkin cute!!

I really love Disneyland. When we saw the Disney princesses yesterday I actually got teary-eyed, and I think I was more excited than the girls to meet Mickey Mouse! I do realize how dorky that might be, but I honestly hope I never lose that childlike excitement. I still am always in awe watching the parades, meeting characters, and seeing fireworks. Disneyland really is a magical place!

Monday, June 2, 2008

What's in a Name??

I must confess…I love thinking of baby names. NOT that I’m planning on having a child any time soon…I just love thinking of names. One of my friends thinks I should just sign my future children up for therapy right now because my taste is a little out of the ordinary. I don’t think they’re that bad, though. Here are some of my ideas:

Ireland Poe
Scout Emerson
Harper Finn
Liesel Rain
Kirsten Jo
Charlotte Grace
Lucy Belle

Wyatt Huck
Eli Drew
Dorian Wesley
Nolan Bennet
Ronan Cody
Ian Wesley
Liam Luke

I don’t think these names are too weird, do you? To keep strangeness to a minimum, there are a few rules that I do like to follow when thinking of names:

1. Make sure names are obvious to pronounce; they should sound the way they’re spelled. Phonetic ambiguity is not good. (The only examples I could think of were people I actually know, so I will not give any, but this is self-explanatory.)

2. Do not spell names in a ridiculous manner. There is no need to complicate simply spelled names for the sake of creativity or cutesyness; find a less permanent outlet for that. Examples: Chymberlee/Kimberly, Leighsa/Lisa, Tiphanie/Tiffany, Rhyon/Ryan, Jaxon/Jackson, etc.

3. Frivolous punctuation such as hyphens and apostrophes should be avoided. Omit needlessness. Examples of how to NOT rock punctuation in names: Sha’awn, Ky’Lee, Jaz’Myne.

Name ideas that I think are cool, but need to be moderately followed:

1. Place names. Dakota, Winona, Montana, London, Phoenix, Brighton, Indiana, etc.

2. Presidential names. Madison, Reagan, Monroe, Kennedy, etc. (I think many of these work better as middle names.)

3. Names that reflect one’s heritage (only when above rules apply). I love strong German names like Kurt, Heidi, Gretel, and Han.

4. Alliterative names. Lisa Leslie, Jack Johnson, Peter Parker, Amy Adams, etc.

Once I marry and possibly become a more sensible person, my taste in names might change. Until then, it’s pretty fun thinking about them!