Tuesday, March 6, 2012


What better way to celebrate turning 30 than visiting the fountain of youth: Disneyland!? Paul and Ryan collaborated to make my wildest dreams come true (I'm trying to see how many times I can type that phrase today) by getting us discount tickets to Disneyland. We got a hotel for two nights in Anaheim and, together with Ryan and Liz and Owen, we spent our Saturday at Disneyland. Well, most of our Saturday. We were lucky enough to be there the same day as a "geocaching incident" which kept us out of the park until noon. But I'm sure the bomb squad enjoyed the park while we couldn't.

The boys went swimming at the hotel while we waited for the park to open. I signed up for a Twitter account just so I could find out exactly when the park opened. It worked! Thank you, Twitter. No, I will not actually start using it.

We had a blast. Everything was just what I hoped it would be. Except being incredibly tired (I got home from Portland late on Thursday and we left for Disneyland after work on Friday), and Liz being sick. And big crowds. And the bomb scare. But even with all that, we still had a great time. Seriously, so great.

Ryan, Paul and I took advantage of sleeping kids late that night and used all our saved-up fast passes to hit all the cool rides. I love the kid rides, but I'm not passing up a chance to go on Space Mountain.

I love this picture. Owen is so nice to my kids. And I love Ryan and Liz cuddling in the background.

Thanks, so much, to Ryan and Liz and Owen, for helping make my birthday weekend so super rad! And I can say "rad," because I'm almost 30. Happy my-birthday to all, and may all your wildest dreams come true!!!

Wheel of Fortune!

That's right, folks. I did it. I auditioned for Wheel of Fortune!!! As embarrassing as it may be, I have actually been dreaming of this audition for (at least) four years, when Paul got a chance to audition. I remember watching the show as a kid, and it's still around because it's just that good of a show. I'm all about family-friendly TV programming, so I am, and always have been, a Wheel fan. We don't actually get any TV channels right now (except ABC, but only sometimes), but last year when we would watch the show, Reece would call it "the Letter Show," and call out letters along with the contestants. And once I solved a puzzle without any letters being called (the Phrase category is always the easiest). So hopefully that dispels any myths that I am actually cool, and you can approach this description of my Wheel of Fortune audition with extremely low expectations.

Here's how it all went down (for those of you thinking of auditioning, or those of you going through the process...good luck to any and all of you!): I sent in my application online at least five times over the last four years. If you go to their website, you can also apply online. I know they have several Wheelmobile events, where they take their big truck around the country and have a raffle-type event where they call contestants on stage to solve puzzles. While that sounds fun, that was not my route for getting an audition. I simply applied online over and over again until I finally wore down their defenses and they gave me a chance. Actually, I just got lucky. I happened to be living in Portland last year when I applied, and they happened to be taping four weeks of shows in Portland this month. So I think they just pulled my name from their list of Portland applicants because they needed to fill some extra slots. Either way, I was happy to be included.

I received an email two weeks ago telling me that I was invited to audition in Portland. We currently live in San Diego, so it was a risky decision (replace "risky" with "foolhardy," "stupid," "expensive," or "awesome") to fly all the way to Portland just for a chance of getting on the show. But as I said, I've been trying to get on the show for years, so I wasn't about to pass up on this chance. Who knows if I'll ever get another? Plus, it's just fun.

So my awesome, amazing and incredibly supportive husband said "Of course!" to me traveling to Portland, and arrangements were made. I took my nine month old daughter with me and left her with babysitters in Portland, while my almost-three year old son stayed in SD with my husband. I got to stay with my incredible aunt Staci, and the whole trip just worked out beautifully (it's actually a super long, faith-promoting story, with canceled flights, extreme airport delays, lost drivers licenses, expensive taxis, MAX rides, miraculous heart-healings, and very little sleep...but I won't regale you with that information. That's for my journal).

So now to the audition. It was held in the Courtyard by Marriott ballroom in downtown Portland. There were about 60-75 people there (I'm terrible at estimating numbers of people in a room. Could have been anywhere from 50-1000), and we were seated in rows and they took our names for a seating chart. After watching a video meant to pump us up for the experience (and it did), we were told that we would be called at random to solve the puzzles. The puzzles were projected onto a large screen, and one of the producers spun a mini-Wheel to determine dollar amounts. The producers kept emphasizing certain strategies, and I'm sure they were watching to see who paid attention to their advice, and also who showed "genuine enthusiasm," "big smiles," and picked "smart letters" (all quotes from the producers). I knew you had to play the game their way (clap a lot, smile a lot, speak loudly and clearly...I even wore a cardigan because I noticed that most women my age on the show wore brightly-colored cardigans), but I didn't realize how structured they really wanted you to be. So when you get called on (in random order), be quick, be smart, be happy, and be LOUD. Pick obvious letters (like if there's an IN_, be sure to call out "G"). Buy multiple vowels. And, if you can, SOLVE THE PUZZLE. On my turn, I called an obvious letter (L), bought a vowel, and solved the puzzle (Before & After: The South Pole Vault).

This is the swag I got for solving a puzzle. I've never been more proud!

Once everybody gets a chance to call out letters, they ask a few people to stand up again. I don't think these are people they necessarily liked or not, just people who didn't get a chance to play very much the first round.

They then had us do a written test, consisting of about 16-20 word puzzles that were semi-completed, with five minutes on the clock. I got about 12-13 done. After the written test, the producers take a break to grade the tests, and afterward they dismiss about 2/3 of the group. I made it through to the second round, where it really got fun.

They kept about 20 of us for the second round, and we were asked to stand up in groups of five to solve more puzzles. They keep the rounds moving pretty fast, but this time they also had us pretend to spin the wheel. That was pretty funny to watch, but we were all willing to dance, jump, sing, or spin. Whatever we had to do to get on the show, right? I was about to solve the puzzle TWICE but the producer landed me on Lose a Turn. I'm not sure what that means, but I do know they want to keep the rounds moving, so sometimes she'd purposely land it on Lose a Turn just to give the other players a chance. Or maybe I just wasn't as good as I thought I was.

After we got a few chances to solve, they had us give a brief bio of ourselves. Try to be enthusiastic, brief, and interesting. I think my mistake was mentioning that I currently live in San Diego. They were looking for Portland contestants, and I am no longer a Portland resident. So when I don't get invited to be on the show, I'm blaming it on that.

Everybody got a chance to solve a few more puzzles and introduce themselves, then they dismissed us. If we get on the Portland show we'll be called "within the week." It's been six days, so I'm saying I didn't get on those shows. I'm holding out for the other option, which is getting a letter "within two weeks"of the audition saying I'm invited to a taping of the show in Culver City. That would be better for me, anyway. So I'm crossing my fingers, wishing on a star, throwing salt over my shoulder, hanging a horseshoe over my door, and searching for four-leaf clovers. Anything I'm missing?

So that's it. I'll keep you updated as to whether I get dismissed or my wildest dreams come true (yes, my wildest dream is making it on Wheel of Fortune. What? I never said I was creative).

Sometimes you need a break from paradise

I'm WAY behind on this whole blog thing. Probably why nobody ever checks it. Well, we went to Arizona in February for Eva's baptism. It was awesome. Eva is just a beautiful, smart, talented, witty little firecracker, and we've adored her for eight years now. We remember visiting their house five and a half years ago for Thanksgiving and getting a taste of Eva's personality as she bossed us around the house and won us over with her big blue eyes and loving personality. Now we love her even more because she is probably the only person who can get Reece to eat his dinner, AND she loves playing with our kids. In short, we love Eva (we love all our nieces and nephews, but she's the most recently baptized).

I was even more impressed with Eva's wisdom and spirituality. The morning before her baptism I tried to get her to sin. Nothing serious, but I said, "Hey Eva, this is the last time you can sin for free. Once you get baptized you'll have to work harder to repent. Come on. Do it. Go yell at your brother or something." She told me, "No, I don't want to do that." "Why not?" I asked, somewhat embarrassed that my little joke was so handily refused. "Because that's not the right thing to do." Okay, Eva. You win this round. And probably every other round to come. Who taught her how to make good decisions? It certainly wasn't me.

Anyway, we really have loved being in San Diego because we have family so (relatively) close. We loved spending the weekend with Dave and Teresa's family as well as Ryan and Liz and Owen. Family is the best. Especially mine.