Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Celebrating It's a Small World style!

Obviously, we are a Disney family (mostly because of me), and even though my daughter Ella has recently all but abandoned Disney Junior in favor of Nick Junior, she still loves the Disney parks.  For her 3rd birthday, she chose to theme it after one of her park favorites- It's a Small World!  I had a lot of fun putting it together for her.

Themed parties have been my thing since I was a kid myself!  I came up with a lot of my own parties growing up and used to love to check out party planning books from the library.

If this had been a party for a slightly older child, I think I would have gone with stations representing different countries, but I wanted to come up with a simple activity for toddlers.  My mom reminded me of something she'd done for one of my sister's parties when we were little, so a day or two before, Ella and and I dyed a bunch of dried pasta a variety of different colors that could be spooled onto yarn. I know colorful necklaces don't have that much to do with the ride, but it worked.  To dye the pasta, we divided it into several Ziplock baggies and poured in several drops of food coloring and a dash of hand sanitizer. Ella loved getting to shake the bags.  Then we laid them flat to dry over night.

Ta da! Arts and crafts table!

I also rented a children's party table from a local bounce house company and bought a nice gold and white table cloth.

For the door decorations, I cut out geometric shapes from construction paper and used letter stickers and punch out shapes to write hello in different languages like the signs on the ride:

I also made a food table poster recreating the display at the entrance to the ride at Disneyland.  I cut out the flags and used letter stickers again.  I even found cut-outs of international children at Michael's.

I added my own It's a Small World doll and food labels using the clockface that I made myself on my computer.  For fun, I bought a bunch of international treats from World Market- an idea I came across online.  Yum!  Since Ella had mentioned wanting a tea party, we also served tea sandwiches made by my mother-in-law on a tiered tray, and pre-made tossed salad and quiche.  The kids got chocolate milk and could even decorate these paper tea cups I found on Amazon with Small World stickers I found on Etsy.

 Target had these awesome create your own banner flags that happened to be in the right color scheme, and I used glittery stick on letters to write, "Happy Birthday, Ella!" Then I topped it off with hot air balloon Japanese lanterns that I found on Amazon.  We left them up long after the party.  They've been falling down in the middle of the night one by one.  After 5 months, there are 3 left standing!  Well, hanging anyway.

Party favors were little pretend passports with stampers and colorful little maracas.  I tried to get a parade going with the kids, but it ended up being just me and Ella marching around the house.  My husband has set up the coolest sound system in our home- we can actually program different music to play throughout the house, and he set it up so that each room was at a different part of the music creating the effect of going through the ride.  It was so cool!  We even had the clock music and sound effects playing on the porch.

Oh- I forgot to tell you about the cake! We had a custom cake created for us by Suzie Cakes and they did a fabulous job with a complicated request:
All in all, I think everyone had a great time!  I can't wait to come up with more parties.  And I've done plenty of Disney parties in the past, so I can probably make this into a series.  Ella says next year she wants a PJ Masks party at a gym place, and even though her birthday isn't until December, my mind is already buzzing with ideas.  Seeya next time!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Muppet Babies!

Whoa...I've let 2 years slide between posts.  This has got to change.  My goal is to eventually morph this into a real, more professional blog.  But for now, I've got another fun topic for you...

The return of one of my childhood favorites- Muppet Babies!  There was a time when Muppets were a separate entity from Disney, but since Disney now owns them and Muppet Babies is on Disney Junior, they are fair game. This works out perfectly because Jim Henson is just as much of a hero of mine as Walt Disney.  I'm a huge Muppet fan!

Recently, a whole slew of comebacks from my youth have popped up- everything from Duck Tales to Full House has been rebooted, and frankly, I'm getting a huge kick out of it!  Having been born in 1981, I am firmly in what's known among the Muppet fandom as the Muppet Baby Generation.  It's true- the babies were my introduction to the Muppets, my gateway drug if you will.  In fact, I have memories of the first time I saw the adult Muppets in I believe it was 1986's Muppet Family Christmas. I remember thinking they had made adult characters based on the babies and was quite confused about the absence of Skeeter. It wasn't until later that I realized the babies were actually based on the adults and that Skeeter was created for the show as another female character to balance out Piggy.

Anyway, over 30 years after the premiere of the original cartoon, we now have a brand new version airing on Disney Junior.  I'm absolutely thrilled that young children will be introduced to these classic characters much the way Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gave them Mickey and the gang.  The show definitely has the spirit of the original, and the characters have all their signature traits- Fozzie desperately wants to be funny, Piggy is bossy with a sweet side, Kermit is the leader, Animal likes to go crazy, and Gonzo is weird.  I did notice that they down play Piggy's long time crush on Kermit and completely left out Gonzo's pursuit of Piggy for better or for worse.  Also gone is the gag of Fozzie getting repeatedly hit with tomatoes for telling bad jokes.

Missing from the original set are Rowlf, Scooter, and Skeeter who has been replaced by a new character- a purple penguin named Summer. Summer is girlie and feisty and is a fun addition to the gang.  That being said, I still really miss Skeeter.  She was the sporty tomboy character and a more interesting contrast to Piggy.  However, I have hope- Skeeter clearly does exist in this universe as there's a portrait of her and her brother on a seesaw on the wall in the background. Even more fun are the baby versions of characters never previously seen in baby form like the Electric Mayhem, Sweetums, and even Mahna Mahna and the Snowths!  I hope this is foreshadowing future guest appearances- we've already met Baby Rizzo and Baby Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker.

The new voices work just fine, but as a fan of the original, it's a bit jarring at first to not hear, for example, Russi Taylor as Baby Gonzo.  Yes, he shared a voice with Minnie Mouse! Kermit was famed character voice artist Frank Welker who probably voiced a character in nearly every cartoon you remember from that era- from Fred of Scooby-Doo fame to Abu from Aladdin and many more. But, the new voices still capture the nuances of the characters in a way we recognize.

One of the biggest differences between the old and new generations of Muppet Babies is the length of the stories.  The new show now features two 11 minute shorts rather than one full length narrative. While that might be better suited for their preschool audience, as an adult fan, I think they got to play around a lot more in the old stories. I have many memories of favorite episodes- the one when the nursery is being painted and all their toys are put away so they made up there own versions of classic books, the one where Scooter gets sick and they travel inside his body to make him better, the one in which they go on a search for Animal who goes missing, the one where they make their own version of Star Wars (my introduction to that series actually!), the one in which they create their own cartoons, and probably my favorite- the one in which they act out Snow White and Skeeter and Piggy fight over who gets the title role.

The new stories are short and sweet- Gonzo befriends a potato, Piggy makes too many rules until no one wants to play with her, Summer wants to be bigger but Bunsen accidentally makes her tiny, the babies go searching in a dark closet for Nanny's sweater (or Miss. Nanny as she's called here) and it's revealed that Kermit is scared of the dark, and a pirate adventure in which Kermit has to figure out that it's okay for a leader to ask for help.  I do love that they've kept the theme of using imagine, and just as in the original, they show both what is actually going on and what they are imagining.  In this version, though, the setting seems to be more of a preschool than a place where they all live together. They also come across as just a bit older, more preschooler than baby or toddler. In the original they slept in cribs and wore more babyish clothing.

So far, I don't think the humor in the new show is quite as clever as the original. A lot of this may be due to the onslaught of pop culture references and old film footage they used to use.  They've touched on it in the new show- a time travel adventure briefly has a great bit in which the babies come across the opening number of the Muppet Show and wonder who those guys are- but it's not quite up to speed overall. It may be harder to get the rights these days though.  I particularly remember an episode that hilariously riffed on a whole slew of sci-fi properties including Star Wars, Star Trek, Bill and Ted, and the Jetsons with the babies each taking on multiple roles.  It included such gags as Rowlf-as-Astro wondering why he has to put R sounds in front of every word and a futuristic car that won't stop singing a parody of the Jetson's theme song.  We are still early on in the new series, though, so I expect the laughs will get better.  They've definitely made me smile.

The animation in the new show is fantastic.  You can see all the fuzzy texture of each character much like their fleece and foam counterparts.  I've read they actually developed a program that allows them to flop around like puppets.  Everyone looks great, and the backyard play area where they hang out looks like such fun.  Heck, *I* want to play there! I appreciate how they often use different style animation for the backgrounds of the fantasy sequences, a callback to the original show, and I'm pleased they continued the Henson tradition of including some fun songs.

All in all, I am excited to see the Muppet Babies back on TV.  It may not be exactly the show I grew up on, but it's heart and spirit are in the right place.  I have been having a lot of fun watching it- I'm not just a Muppet fan, I'm a fan of children's programing in general.  There are several shows on Disney Junior that I follow even without my 3 year old. I'm tickled to be able share the Muppets with her. Thanks to YouTube, she has had the chance to check out the original too and seems to like both.  Now, someone needs to work on getting the old one released on dvd!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Disney Parks with a Baby

I've been trying to think of new posts for this blog, and I think I've come up with something.  Since I now have a little one of my own, I can share with you my experience going to Disney parks as a new mom.  I know there are lots of mom blogs out there with all sorts of advice on taking babies to the parks, so rather than repeat the same information that you can find all over the place if you search for it, I will just tell you about my own personal experience.  In fact, as crazy as it sounds, our little Ella has already experienced Disney parks on both coasts in her short life so far- more than many adults do in their lifetime!  That's what happens when you've spent time living in both states and have people to visit coast to coast.

Our first trip to Disneyland with little Ella was this past September when she was 9 months old.  At this point, she was a new crawler, ate solids mostly in the form of food pouches, and still nursed periodically throughout the day.  One thing that any advice blog on taking a baby to Disney will tell you is to seek out the baby care centers in the front of each park.  When we happened to be near one, they were fabulous- huge changing tables, a private nursing room, high chairs, microwaves, and baby products for purchase.  I only wish there were more of them! Depending on how far into the park you are, schlepping all the way back to the front isn't always convenient. We didn't take advantage of them as much as I thought we would, and a few times, I just plopped in the nearest secluded corner to nurse.

Another thing I discovered is that while there are places for toddlers to play, there aren't many places to put down a crawling baby!  I wish they had a few indoor play locations for that purpose. Once Ella became mobile, it became even harder to keep her content in the stroller, and it would have been nice to put her down more often, although we did put her down inside Goofy's house and inside the animation building.  A few months ago, we were back at Disneyland, and now Ella walks- it was so much more fun that way!  We could just put her down and watch her skitter all over Toontown.

I definitely recommend having both a carrier and a stroller- strollers cannot go into lines, and it's so much easier to wear a baby than to hold her.  On the downside, it gets too hot to comfortably do this for too long during the summer. The stroller was nice to be able to put stuff down and park somewhere in the vicinity of where we were hanging out- just remember that any valuables you leave in it are at your own risk.

A baby/ young toddler can definitely still have a lot of fun at a Disney park.  Ella's favorite from the get-go was the Enchanted Tiki Room.  In fact, she loved it so much that we bought a print for her room and now say goodnight to the Tiki Birds each night as part of her bedtime routine. She went on lots of dark rides and spent most of the time just staring intently at everything as if she was thinking, "What on earth is this?" but she did enjoy Small World as well as the Disney Junior show- before she could stand, she kept insisting on being held upright so she could see.

When it comes to the characters, ever child is different.  I've seen babies adore them and six year olds run in terror- you just never know.  When she was younger, she was indifferent, but during her first trip as a toddler, she adored Mickey and Minnie- both of whom she calls Minnie. She walked right up to them going, "Minnie! Minnie! Minnie!" My advice for a first meeting is to move slowly to test your child's reaction, and if he or she doesn't want to stand close and you absolutely must get a picture, stand with your child in your furthest arm from the characters or stand several feet in front of them. 

All the advice I've read on taking children recommends going back to the hotel mid-day for rest. We probably should have done that more than we did.  We can still occasionally get Ella to fall asleep on the go, but the older she gets, the harder it is to pull off.  We tend to push our luck because we don't like wasting time at the hotel if we can get away with it.  I'm very thankful we can afford an annual pass so we don't have to stress about getting our money's worth. On our most recent trip to Disneyland, she napped poorly the first day, so we gave her a break in the hotel during the afternoon on the 2nd, and she ended up sleeping for 3 hours! I took advantage of my husband staying in the room with her to go for a swim- she wouldn't fall asleep with me being right there anyway.  Having stayed in hotels with her several times at this point, I like it better when we have a suite and can put her down in a separate room.

Since we've had the chance to experience taking Ella to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World within a couple weeks of each other, I can tell you with reasonable authority that Disneyland is by far  easier to navigate with a baby than WDW and also allows for more freedom in planning your day.  At WDW, everything is quite spread out- there are buses and/or monorails to get to everything. Every time you board one of those buses, you must fold up your stroller.  This can be very frustrating if you have a napping baby or you are using your stroller to hold backpacks and such, and going back to your resort for a nap is a huge pain unless you are lucky enough to be staying in a particular hotel and going to it's adjacent park. At Disneyland, however, everything- even many off property hotels- is right there within walking distance.  The two theme parks are literally a courtyard away from each other, and Downtown Disney and the Disney resorts are just beyond that- no folding up strollers necessary.  I would add, however, that while strollers do not need to be folded for WDW's monorail, they do on Disneyland's equivalent which is quite a bit more compact.

The question people always ask is if it is worth it to take a baby to Disney.  I would say that the answer depends a lot on how you feel about Disney parks yourself.  I am a Disney geek.  If the only way I get to go to a Disney park any time soon is to take a baby, then by golly, I'm taking a baby!  If however, you aren't really into the parks yourself but want to do it for your child, you may have a better time if you wait a few years. When you go to Disney with your baby, you are really going because *you* want to go. However, if you are a big Disney fan like I am, rest assured that your baby can still have lots of fun!  Just take it easy and work with your baby's schedule with the understanding that you'll have to change your approach, that your visit will be different that your previous trips but with just as much magic as long as you remember to look for it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Islands of Personality

Hello again- sorry I've neglected this blog as of late.  Having a new baby is quite distracting!  However, this summer, I did manage to make it out to the theater for Disney-Pixar's exciting new movie Inside Out.  I'd been waiting for this movie since the D23 Expo back in 2013 when they debuted the characters and some rough footage.  I'm thrilled to see Pixar finally have a movie with several female characters- something sadly lacking in most of their earlier pictures.

In case you've been out of the loop, Inside Out is the story of a young girl named Riley and the emotions that control her mind- Anger, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear.  I love how they've visualized how the mind works, how memories are formed and how they are colored by emotion.  From what I've read, the production team did a lot of research on how the mind works in order to accurately portray it:  not that we all have little people living in our heads of course, but what they represent. If you've seen the movie, though, admit it- you now imagine your emotions as these brightly colored characters taking turns on a console, don't you?  I know I do! I've heard that many therapists have already started using these characters to help children understand their own emotions. I think that's fabulous!

In the film, Riley has what they refer to as Islands of Personality, islands created by core memories that form different aspects of her personality.  In Riley's case, they are Friendship, Family, Honesty, Goofball, and Hockey.  It's fun to try to imagine what your own might be and what core memories might be behind them.  I think that I would share all of Riley's except Hockey.  Of course, an adult (in theory) such as myself would have a vastly more complicated system than an 11 year old, but I can picture what some of the others might be for me. 

First of all, I would most certainly have a Disney island. Disney is such a huge part of who I am. (Obviously.) I can think of a couple potential core memories for that one.  It might be my first trip to Disneyland at age 7.  However, I think the moment that really closed the deal on my Disney geekiness was going to see The Little Mermaid in Hollywood when I was 8.  While we went to see all the classic Disney re-releases of the 80s, it was that movie and that particular experience that really struck a cord.  It was the first movie I remember highly anticipating and counting down the seconds, the first one that I ever owned on VHS, and the one whose soundtrack I wore out. I made references to "Under the Sea" on three different writing exercises in 3rd grade.

I would have to have an American Girl island.  I've been collecting the dolls and their things since my 9th birthday.  I can pinpoint exactly when that one started.  It was one fateful day at the library when I was searching for more children's lit historical fiction, something I developed a love for after my dad started using the "Little House" books as bedtime stories.  I even remember that the American Girl book I chose to check out that day was Changes for Kirsten.  I still have the book report I wrote on it on which the teacher had commented, "Do you like stories about long ago?" and I had penciled in, "yes." There was a postcard in the back of the book advertising the dolls, and my mom let me send away for the catalog.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Then, of course, there would be a Broadway island.  Coincidentally, this one also started when I was 8.  My core memory would probably be the very first time I watched a television airing of Mary Martin as Peter Pan from the 60s.  Until that time, it hadn't occurred to me that acting was something one could do for a living.  After that, I decided I was going to be Wendy on stage when I grew up.  I went on to major in theater in college.

I love when I go see a movie, and it inspires my imagination.  What do you think your Islands of Personality and Core Memories would be?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

RegalCon Day 3

It was the last day of RegalCon- since I already had my photos and autographs, we took it pretty easy in the morning. We vegged out and then went for some lunch at Red Robin.  We got back to the hotel in time for that day's celebrity panels.  Ella was kind enough to stay calm for the whole thing- huzzah! The first was Sean, Bex, and Emilie which was a lot of fun. Sean and Bex joked that Robin and Zelena's child would be Shrek - ha ha! Emilie talked about how she'd like to travel and see more than just the usual tourist stuff.  That's something we have in common.  I get the travel bug all the time!

The second panel was with Faustino, Gil, Beverley, and Michael. The highlight of that for me was the singing.  Beverley treated us to this great ditty she wrote about being mad at herself.  Gil sang a gorgeous rendition of "Part of Your World" with a few of the pronouns switched around to be from Prince Eric's point of view. I'll admit I was totally singing along! Gil and I had a nice conversation about our music theater backgrounds back at EnchantaCon. He also saw me with Ella before he went on stage and came over and cooed at her for a moment. :)

We poked in for the last 2 panels- the creativity panel and the Greetings from Storybrooke which were fun, but I was a bit distracted sitting off to the side with a baby.

Since they were having a big group viewing of the season finale in the ballroom, I had hired a hotel babysitter so that both Paula and I could watch.  I'm so glad we did this.  We were able to go out for dinner and then enjoy the show.  There were pros and cons to watching it in a big room like that.  On one hand, the reception wasn't the best- the focus kept going out, and a couple times the screen froze just long enough for us to miss an important line!  Everyone was screaming at the screen!  On the other hand, it is so much fun to be in a room full of fans of the show you are watching.  Everyone was reacting and excited, even I got into it- yelling "Henry!" in response to who should be the next author. Plus- Michael, Bex, and Faustino were actually in the room watching with us.  That must have been such a kick for them to get to watch all us Oncers go nuts.

Afterwards, we hung out and chatted with some of our new friends in the lobby. I wanted to hang out longer, but we were due to return to the room for the baby soon, so we said goodnight and that was the end of our RegalCon experience.

It was interesting to compare the 2 different OuaT cons I've been to now.  RegalCon felt more organized overall- questions for the actors were pre-selected, so no chaos trying to get the mic. RegalCon had several more actors since EnchantaCon lost many due to filming commitments. Because of that, Regal Con had more vendor tables and panels. However, also because of that, there were a lot more fans!  The positive side effect of all the EnchantaCon cancellations was a much more intimate experience.  Those of us who were there really bonded- an experience that just wasn't matched for me at RegalCon, admittedly some of that may be partially because I was distracted.  I hope I can go without a little one next time so I can relax more.   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Regal Con Day 2

Day 2
On Saturday, I decided to go for a little cosplay so I donned my white dress and wig that I wore as Snow White for Comic Con last year.  I put Ella in the wrap carrier to go with the look a bit better. The first photo ops were that morning, so we decided to go there and hang out for our photo with Emilie. After thinking about it, I realized I'd rather my pic with her have me with my real hair rather than my cheap wig, so I took it off.  Unfortunately, without it, no one could tell I was in a costume!  Oh well...I'll do more cosplay next time.

Most of the room was there for Lana Parrilla- I realized later we probably didn't need to be there so early, but we chatted with people and played on the floor with Ella.  I was amazed at how calm I was feeling despite being about to meet someone I've dreamed of meeting for at least two years. At EnchantaCon, I'd been physically shaking each time I had a cast encounter.

When they finally called for Emilie pics, we were led out of the room. There was some line confusion and some trouble on clarification on whether or not my sister needed her own ticket to be in my picture (they did end up allowing it without a ticket), but soon there we were- walking right up to Emilie de Ravin! As I had predicted, she went straight for the baby- so cute!  She commented that, oh, she must not like to smile at all, being sarcastic of course as Ella was flashing her usual big grins. We took the picture, I thanked her, and she cooed over Ella again. :)  The whole time I managed to not freak out. Both Lana and Bex were actually in the room while we were there- Lana passing through and Bex sitting off to the side.

The first panel was with Eion Bailey (August), Lee Arenberg (Grumpy), and David Anders (Doctor Whale).  I was nervous about how Ella would handle being there.  However, my seat was right up front and off to the side- perfect for bouncing back and forth or making a quick exit.  A volunteer dressed as a spot on Mary Margaret  helped us to our seats.  I swear, I kept staring at her because she looked so perfect! Again, we were given a bit of a run around trying to figure out if my sis with a GA pass could still sit with me- they eventually decided she could.

The panel was fun- I don't remember a lot of the details, but I'm sure there are plenty of recaps out there for you.  Ella started out pretty well.  In fact, at first her loud noises were happy sounds.  At one point, she let out a loud shriek in the pause after a question was asked, and one of the actors said, "Yes, I'm hungry too, sweetheart!" and everyone laughed. Well, that's one way to get remembered! Soon after that, she was just making too much noise for me to be comfortable keeping her in the room, so I bolted outside and nursed her.  I tried to listen outside the door, but I couldn't make anything out from the hallway. Oh well- I can read recaps later.

Lana's panel was that afternoon too, and to my relief, Ella stayed in good enough spirits for us to stay in the room for the entire thing as long as I distracted her with her bag of toys.  The crowd went nuts for Lana, of course.  She is old hat at these panels and delightful to listen to.  I love that she pulled a few Evil Queen cosplayers up front for everyone to admire. I've never done a Regina costume myself.  She is one of my favorite characters, but I just can't picture myself as her.  It would be SO against type!

The first autograph sessions were later that afternoon and went a bit smoother than the photos earlier. I bought stills to have each actor sign.  I had four tickets and chose Emilie, Sean Maguire (Robin Hood), Beverley Elliot (Granny), and Rebecca Mader (Zelena). Lana's photo ops and autograph were expensive and popular, so I decided not to for it, but now I'm wishing I had as I ended up not meeting her at all.  Oh well, next time.

Ella was fast asleep as I entered the autograph room and went up to each table where an actor sat.  They all adored Ella.  Emilie asked to address the autograph to both of us.  I had rehearsed in my head what I wanted to say to her- that anyone who played Belle was automatically my hero and I've met the voice actress from the film as well as the original Broadway actress.  Her reply was that she hadn't. Ha ha

To Rebecca, I told her that she was the first OuaT actress I had seen prior to the show- in the American Girl movie!  She told me that I was the first to tell her that and that it was a sweet movie.  She also loved Ella and said she had noticed her when we were having our picture with Emilie earlier.
Beverley and Sean both loved Ella too and I told them I am such a big fan of the show that I brought my baby because that was the only way I could come. I also told Beverley that I had dressed as Red at EnchantaCon.

I was very excited for that evening's events as the banquet was probably the one thing I was most eager for! Since I was a Regal package holder, I got to be among the first to choose my table and picked Emilie's- hurray!  Some delays due to Lana's popularity caused dinner to be an hour late.  I was so hungry. Lana wasn't going to be at dinner but did host the Queen's Reception.  I had debated going, but ultimately decided not to pay $50 for the chance that I might get to talk to Lana for 2 seconds. I did enjoy the time I had to socialize with other Oncers while we waited for dinner though- having the baby with me during the day made it harder to do so because I was distracted.

Finally, they let us in for dinner.  I wore my Storybrooke Belle blue dress. Each table was decorated differently.  Emilie's featured a rose and a book.  I also saw green apples, a model ship, and a lantern among others. It took a while for the actors to trail in, so eventually, I got too hungry to wait and grabbed my food- salad, tri-tip, chicken, and a really yummy ravioli (plus a divine selection of desserts which I grabbed later). While we waited for Emilie, Rebecca walked by me and said "Hello!" followed by "Where's the baby?  Under the table?"  Ha!  I explained to her that my sister was caring for her in the hotel room.  I got asked where she was about 3 times that evening!

I was excited when Emilie arrived and again surprised at my own calmness. I wonder if maybe it was because thanks to social media and all the interviews I've read and other panels I'd seen, I almost felt as if I already knew her.  She no longer seemed like such an enigma to me which was nice. I didn't pay for one of the seats immediately next to her because I figured I'd enjoy her company in any seat, but it was a little harder to hear the conversation from the others seats- oh well.

 I don't remember everything that was talked about, but there was a lot of laughs.  One of the girls commented that it was easy to miss the actors walking right by you because they blend in, and I added that actors look just like the rest of us out in the real world.  Emilie quipped that she was hiding her 3rd leg. *snicker* Ok, for the record, I do know that actors are human!  We talked about continuity errors (I mentioned this even happens in animation- such as the disappearing/ reappearing mess of food on the Beast's face in Beauty and the Beast), Disneyland (She still has never been! I wish I could remedy that! We all gave her a hard time about that.), and how she wears those crazy high heels.  Betsy had one of the seats next to her and talked to her quite a bit about Belle.

I showed her pics of my cats and told her how one of them liked to sit on the baby lounger.  She said it wasn't the baby's anymore.  Ha! I showed her a pic of the Belle dress I'd made for EnchantaCon out of my wedding dress. She replied that was a good idea.  I also took out one of my teacup earrings to show her. She started letting us take selfies with her, so I hastily tried to put the earring back in- took a few tries! Technically, the pic wasn't a selfie- Betsy took it for me- but yay for a pic with Emilie! Bex was also doing selfies, so I grabbed one with her too.

There was supposed to be an hour between dinner and the ball, but since dinner started late, there wasn't. However, I had bought a dress just for the ball, and gosh darn it, I was going to wear it, so I ran back up to my room to change.  It was a really pretty retro style dress of bright pink with an overlay of iridescent blue.  It reminded me of Aurora so I added a lavender shawl and a tiara- technically it was a Giselle from Enchanted tiara, but hey- whatever works, right?

The ball was very similar to EnchantaCon's ball- although it lacked the fun decorations from the latter and the actors weren't announced and escorted in as they were last time. The early music was fun, light stuff I like such as "Hey, Mickey" but it wasn't long before it got into the real head pounding base sort that I really don't care much for.  I tried to mingle a bit with the actors, but they were always surrounded by people, and it was too loud. I did get eye contact and smiles from David and Eion. I also saw Gil again, and he mentioned seeing me with a baby.  He asked how it was going and said he will probably be there in another year or so.

I always think I come across as a bit creepy at events like this because I'm shy.  I really want to talk to people, but I don't know what to say, so I sort of just look at them a lot and smile and hope they will talk to me. 

Like EnchantaCon, there was a costume contest.  Unlike EnchantaCon, pretty much everyone who went on stage got acknowledged instead of actually having winners.  There were some great Reginas, a spot on Marian, a kid in a perfect Blue Fairy replica, and a mascot character style Jiminy Cricket. I debated going up there myself, but I didn't feel confident enough that my look would read as a costume. In hindsight, I wish I had just gone up.  Both Michael and Faustino jokingly went up on stage as themselves. Goofballs!

I usually like to stay late at events like that because I like to wait for when everything calms down- that's usually when the great memories happen.  However, I was exhausted and my sis was waiting for me, so I only stayed for about an hour and a half or so including time outside in the hallway to soak in the quiet. I made a new friend- a cosplaying Evil Regal named Kelly. She had a great red velvety Evil Queen costume.

I was surprised to see that there was another family there with little ones- a woman dressed as Belle had a small child strapped to her back and a little princess holding her hand.  Just as they were leaving, she turned to me and told me her little girl had been repeatedly pointing out my bare feet after I'd taken off my shoes, saying "See? There is a princess with no shoes!"  Teehee!

After that, it was back to the room to sleep before my usually early morning baby wake up call.

RegalCon recap!

Well...looks as if I haven't done much with this blog in the past year.  I was little preoccupied with a new baby:  Ella born this past December. :)

My last post was about EnchantaCon- and now I have another OuaT convention to report on!  I just returned from Anaheim where me and the little one as well as my sister, Paula, spent 3 days in the company of Oncers and cast.

Day 1
This time around, I decided to spring for the big ticket package which included the cocktail party, the banquet, the ball, a photo op, and a selection of autographs.  My sister got general admission and so she took care of Ella for me in the evenings so I could attend the Regal package events.

I arrived on Thursday evening.  Paula wasn't going to be arriving until Friday, so I was on my own getting everything to the hotel room.  Thankfully, I've discovered that I usually get help when people see me struggling with a baby- sure enough, a kind woman helped me carry things.  That night, I grabbed some dinner at the hotel by myself- I didn't see anyone I knew yet.  I overheard some OuaT talk at the next booth over.  I tried to say hello, but I guess I was too timid- they didn't notice me.

Since registration didn't start until Friday afternoon, I decided to take the opportunity to go to Downtown Disney.  It was rough to be so close to Disneyland and not have plans to actually go into the park, but Ella is only 5 months, and I would also like to save her first Disney visit for when my husband is there to witness it too. I did take a selfie with Ella in front of the main entrance though, and when I posted the picture, I discovered one of my CM friends from Florida was there visiting too.  It was fun to get to catch up- I hadn't seen her since we moved.  I then bought a few baby clothes and an Ariel shirt for me that I couldn't resist and grabbed a shuttle back to the hotel.

There was a long line to check in- a bit awkward with a baby and all the baby things (stroller, etc) but we made it in eventually with only mild fussiness. I ran into a couple friends from EnchantaCon- Zach and Laurie- there weren't many of us there, but it was fun to see them.

I attended 2 panels on Friday- a Once Upon a Time fan podcast and a cosplay panel.  Ella did really well- she only cried once.  I was playing with her on the ground when she face planted.  (Don't worry, she was fine- just startled.) The panels were fun- we met some cosplayers with fantastic get ups.  I didn't do much cosplay on this trip because I had the baby with me and didn't want to deal with all that extra stuff, but I really missed it!  Since I'm shy, I love using costumes as an ice breaker.  I also love posing for pictures!  A few of the actors from the OuaT parody Once Upon a Anonymous were there- I kept wondering why they looked familiar until I heard who they were.  I've watched those videos before- they're funny! I also saw the hosts of the Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast whom I had first met nearly 2 years ago at the D23 Expo.

I had wanted to go to the welcome reception, but when I got there with baby Ella in her carrier, they were doing sound checks for the 45 Spacer concert that night.  A woman helping with security told us she couldn't allow us to go in there with a baby.  She must have thought I was nuts!  I didn't want the loud music...the concert wasn't supposed to be until later! Finally, the sound test was over, and we went in and walked to the back.  Unfortunately, once they started talking, a scary loud feedback sound came from the speakers, and I covered my baby's ears and bolted out of there almost in tears. I decided to listen from outside.

Paula was there at that point, and followed shortly after- also not interested in the concert and we still had to get her things to my room.  It was during this time that I met a Oncer in person whom I'd only known online before- Betsy.  Betsy and I have had an interesting relationship.  In fact, online, we have gotten into huge debates before and driven each other mad!  In person, however, I discovered she was actually pretty nice and helped us with Paula's things. And while we stood in the lobby area chatting, who should walk by but Beverley Elliot who stopped and cooed at Ella for a moment.

Paula and I grabbed a salad from the coffee shop downstairs since we didn't have time for a full meal before I headed off to the cocktail party. I decided to wear my new dress from Hot Topic which is covered in quote from Disney princesses as well as my handmade chipped cup earrings.  Paula took over Ella's bedtime routine while I headed down to the party.

The cocktail party had a small selection of food- trays of fruit, cheese, and crackers as well as wontons and such.  I should have eaten more at dinner- I was pretty hungry!  It was freeing to finally have some time without a baby. A lot of people came dressed in Storybrooke ensembles- I saw several variations on Mayor Regina, a few blue sundress Belles, and some red leather jackets.

The cocktail party was nice, if a bit loud and crowded for my taste- the space we were in felt too small for the number of people.  I felt a little overwhelmed and did my usual awkward bouncing from cluster to cluster, trying to chat with people. Every actor had a group of people around them, and assertiveness isn't my strongest suit, so I mostly just said hi.  I got a lot of compliments from other fans on my dress and earrings though.  Gil McKinny (Prince Eric) did indeed remember me from EnchantaCon, and Faustino di Bauda (Sleepy) remembered a conversation that I mentioned we had once had on Facebook about getting some memorabilia for my high school's theater department's annual auction and got on my case about being too shy to follow through on it!

I hung out for a while because my favorite time is when the music gets quieter and the crowd thins out.  I like when I can actually hear people.  I overheard some girls talking to Michael Coleman (Happy) about theme parks, and I thought ah ha, here's my in! Now that's a conversation I can join, so I was able to chat a bit with him.  His wife and little girl were there too.  Little Belle was darling!  I'm totally more at ease with kids than adults.  I wanted to play with her, but I didn't push it in case her parents thought me strange. I miss all the little girls I got to interact with at WDW.

I met my 2nd online friend here, Marguerite.  We've tweeted each other bunches of times in the past.  She's very sweet. And I totally didn't intend to write a poem- haha.

I returned to my room to the news that Ella had finished her bottle and was asleep- yay!