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Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Matt! I won a cow!"

When we first moved here and asked people what there is to do in the area, the first thing we were told is that the Antelope Valley Fair is a can't-miss. Well, we missed it last summer since we were in Alabama at the time so we put it on our calendars nice and early this year. And sure enough, the rumors are true--the AV Fair is a major hit!
Military members get in free (military discounts rock, my friends) and we went on a $1 game night. We normally wouldn't spend the money to play all of the carnival-type games but for $1 we were totally in! At each game, they give you the option to play for $1 and the chance to win a little prize or pay the regular price for a regular prize. We, of course, chose the cheaper option and then I ended up feeling bad when Matt rang the bell on the classic hammer game and only won a stuffed dollar bill instead of the giant stuffed animal. But what would we have done with a giant snake anyway? And really, the facts remain the same: my man is strong!
I, on the other hand, am not. The picture on the left is before, and the one on the right is after I scored a 75--exactly half of what Matt achieved.
Matt and I had a great time wandering around the fair, trying out lots of games and admiring the local booths.
Oh, and lets not forget visiting all of the baby animals! Once upon a time, I raised a lamb named Shadow (that's a story for another day) and therefore have a soft spot for my fluffy little friends and all their smelly goodness.
We also made a short pit stop at the free Demolition Derby, where the stands were packed with overly enthused fans. It entertained me for approximately eight minutes.
The highlight of my night came at Skee Ball, a childhood favorite of mine. With my last ball in hand, I was 70,000 points short of a stuffed animal. Since the possible points are 10K, 20K, 30K, 40K, 50K, and 100K, it was one of those go big or go home scenarios. So I went for the 100,000 and got it! Matt couldn't see it from his point of view, so we have a video clip of me jumping up and down saying, "Matt! I won a cow!" while Matt is saying "Well, better luck next time." It's fantastic. Since it was my first time winning a fair game, I was super excited and basically love my cow.
To celebrate, we gave in and went to one of the million funnel cake stands. After all, what's a fair without something fried and fatty and utterly delicious? It definitely hit the spot.
Thanks for the fun times, AV. See you next year!

Monday, September 27, 2010


September is a party month in our house with the start of college football, a 4-day holiday weekend and both of our birthdays. All of those events, along with the fact that I like to turn birthdays into days-long celebrations, ensured that there was hardly a dull moment in our lives last month. Matt's 27th birthday last week was an excellent continuation of the fun. Since he had to work on his big day (lame, right?), we kicked off the party the prior Saturday. It started with an intense four hours at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Falcons almost upset Oklahoma in Norman and was followed by a relaxing visit to this place:
Crescent Bay, our favorite beach. Since it was the last Saturday of Summer and therefore our last swimsuit-style beach visit of the year (my sister Heidi is stoked about this since I've been posting about beaches so much), we figured it was only appropriate to return to this gem for some quality playtime.
It's still so hot outside that I still forget it's already the end of September. The Pacific didn't forget, though, and adjusted its temperature accordingly. Shortly after our arrival, I deemed it officially too cold to dip more than my feet into for the next three seasons and left the rest to Matt. (Cold and I do not get along. Thank goodness I live in California!) The waves were huge that day and it was his first time ever boogie boarding. He did great and had so much fun! Enough fun, in fact, that he kept going back into that freezing ocean again and again and again for hours. Meanwhile, I had fun soaking up the sun on the nice, warm sand and watching him catch the icy waves.
Once the sun started dipping lower into the horizon, Matt packed up his board and joined me for a nice, long walk on the beach. You can't help but love those with a man as handsome as mine!
Meanwhile, leading up to Matt's actual birthday, I fully enjoyed my opportunity to tease him for reaching such an "old" age. See, while 26 still seems close enough to 25, 27 is basically 30. Which, in turn, is basically 40. I obviously don't really think that way, but Matt is nearly 4 years older than me so it opens the door for some good-natured fun. So for a good while leading up to his birthday, whenever we'd discuss plans I'd get all excited for the celebrations and then tease, "Matt! You're 27-almost-40!" All in one breath, of course, so as to not lose any effect. To which my little brother later responded, "Matt, I say you're 27-almost-39." That little kiss up. Anyway.

On Matt's actual birthday, I left the jokes behind and morphed into a mini-Martha for a few solid hours. Like a nice little wife, I baked six dozen mini cupcakes that morning for Matt to take to work. If he can't be partying with me all day, he might as well be partying somewhere, right? Then I got to work baking his all-time favorite Feathery Fudge cake from scratch and whipped up his favorite dinner. Matt was able to leave work early and the second he walked through the door, I whisked him off to the golf course where he shot an impressive 2-over-par. Happy birthday, indeed.
That night, we enjoyed cake and ice cream and lots of phone time with friends and family. Turns out that turning 27 isn't so bad after all!
And although I typically try to stay away from professions of love on this blog, a birthday seems like an appropriate time to break the mold just a little bit. So in case you forget while you're in Texas this week, Matt, I love you more than you could ever know! Thanks for being so wonderful in every way. If only every girl could be as lucky as me to have a man as practically perfect as you :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daughtry and Dancing (and us)

Late last week, I received a gem of an e-mail. It read:

"Dear Ashley,
"Dancing with the Stars... blah, blah, blah... Would you like to dress up fancy and see Daughtry perform for free?"

And I thought, Why yes, yes I would.

Okay, maybe that's not exactly what the e-mail said, but you get the idea. I had the choice to either A) endure many painful hours of watching rhythm-less stars try to dance at the premier on Monday night or B) enjoy to a mini-concert with Daughtry, Santana and the professional dancers at the results show. It was a pretty easy decision. Next thing I knew, it was Tuesday and Matt and I were on our way to Hollywood to see the Dancing with the Stars Results Show live. (PS- Many thanks to Christian for all of the screen shots of the show!)

When we arrived, Matt was convinced he was the only man standing in the check-in line so I quickly started pointing out all of the men I could find, but they were all twice his age. I commended him for being such a great sport about attending an old ladies' show, and then reminded him that we weren't there to see Dancing with the Stars. We were there to dress up fancy and hear Daughtry live in a small venue. Plus, I already got to see how live television works when I went to American Idol this Spring and thought it would be cool for Matt to see it, too. It's fascinating to see how small the sets really are (those wide-angle lenses are so deceiving) and all of the little things that go into a live national broadcast.
Since we didn't want to use a day of leave for our little excursion, we got there much later than the hard-core grandmas and were numbers 148 and 149 in line. We figured that nixed our chances of getting a good seat, but boy, were we wrong! As we walked onto the set, a producer directed me and Matt to the gold chiavari chairs next to the dance floor--front and center--for Daughtry's performance of "September." Since there wouldn't have been enough time to set up and take down his band's gear on the stage during the live show, they filmed that one song beforehand and spliced it into the live broadcast. And oh my goodness, it was AMAZING! We were a whopping 15-yards away from the band and it was like Daughtry was in our living room.

Oh, and let me just say right now that the dancing was phenomenal that night. I mean, I expected it to be good since it was only professional dancers performing, but they really blew me away. Kherington, from So You Think You Can Dance, danced to "September" and was absolutely beautiful. She had the most perfect legs I've ever seen and I was more than a little jealous. But then I came home and ate Matt's leftover birthday cake and decided that life is better with chocolate anyway.
For that first Daughtry song, we and about 75 other people were sitting in the VIP chairs that are reserved for the stars' friends and family during the actual show. (We were in Kurt Warner's family's seats in case you were wondering.) We knew we'd have to change seats right after the performance and sure enough, once the cameras stopped rolling on Daughtry they started moving everyone up to the balconies. Which would have been fine, of course, but once again a producer came over and pulled the two of us out of the pack. She asked us to follow her and then seated us right next to the band. We couldn't believe our luck. Well, actually, I could. I told Matt on our drive down that his good looks would probably get us good seats and they sure did.

We fully enjoyed the remainder of the show from our new seats, and it was kind of crazy being so close to the celebrities. Daughtry smiled "hello" to the two of us and was so close that we could have touched him but, thankfully, we're not creepy like that. (Or like the girl in the blue sequin dress who we watched run down from her seats and try unsuccessfully to hug all of the stars after the show.) In fact, it's not Daughtry's celebrity that we like; it's his music. And let me tell you, his music is amazing. He was really so impressive live! And Santana? Man, can that guy play a guitar! It pretty much rocked getting to see Santana's fingers move and hear Daughtry sing up close and personal.
However, there are disadvantages to being so close to the stars. I learned this afterward when I got a phone call from my little brother, who announced: "Guess what? After the last song everyone was standing up clapping and they were doing a close-up of Daughtry, and you and Matt were the background. But then you moved your hair and sat down and made a weird face and the camera was still on you so it was kind of awkward." Great. Don't you just love little brothers? We saw the clip and found that Christian was telling the truth and it was indeed slightly awkward.
I am sure the producers were just cringing but oh well. At least we have indisputable proof that I was there, right? Right... Anyway, back to the show. After the Photograph performance, there was a bunch of that Dancing with the Stars blah, blah, blah business that eventually led to The Hoff getting kicked off and the creepy sequined girl getting ushered off the dance floor after trying to give him a hug. Good times, no? We then walked to The Grove and celebrated checking the live studio audience thing off our must-do-while-we-live-in-Southern-California list with dinner and window shopping. It was a great way to end such a fun day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dipped in a rainbow and all lit up

As magical as Disneyland is during the day, it becomes even more so when the sun goes down. The whole park lights up, bulbs twinkle in the trees, and the castle glows against the dark night sky. And the shows! It's hard to beat Disney's nighttime spectaculars, especially now that they've added World of Color to the mix.
Matt and I spent our evenings strolling along Main Street, going on plenty of rides, and eating plenty of food. We grabbed my birthday dinner in New Orleans Square (which we still like better than the real Big Easy, in case you were wondering) and made sure to enjoy some classic Disney treats--churros and a marshmallow dipped in caramel and covered in chocolate. Yum!
California Adventure provides quite the party at night as well! We caught some birthday fireworks from across the way, hit up all the big rides, and hung out around Paradise Pier.
Of course, the highlight was seeing World of Color. That show is phenomenal! It is seriously so amazing--like the Bellagio fountains but ten times bigger, dipped into a rainbow, and sprinkled with lots of Disney magic. We loved it!
Matt and I can't wait to go back! And luckily for us, we don't have to wait very long--it's already on the calendar for October. Anyone care to join us?
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