How to Talk to Your Children About Diversity and Representation

littlegraythread barbie

With @barbie, you can be 💖ANYTHING💖 I chose this Barbie to recreate a costume because it reminded me of so many if my kids’ aunties who have pastel hair. It was a quick reusable DIY using removable vinyl and a fun wig I found on Amazon.

barbie fashionistas

Mattel sent us these toys for free to review.  Barbie has come a long way from the 1950s. The #Barbie #Fashionistas line is now the most diverse doll line on the market. It was not lost on me that they launched 6 new Babie Fashionistas (including a beautiful new Black Barbie with vitiligo) in time for Black History Month.

Why does that man have long hair?  Is he a girl?

long hair barbie

The following is an actual conversation that I had on the fly with my 4 year old daughter.

Her:  “Mom, look at his hair!  Wait, is this doll girl?”

Me:  “What do you think?” (ask this to gauge where their mindset is)

Her:  “No!  He’s not a girl.”

Me:  “He just has long hair.” (make observations)  

Her:  “Boys and girls can have long hair.”

Me:  “I guess we can’t ask his pronouns, since he’s a doll.” (in retrospect, I should have used the non-binary term they, but I was thinking in the moment).  “You can play however you want.  Do you want this doll to be a boy or a girl?”

I strive to raise my kids to not shy away from non-binary, LGBTQ+, or gender norms.  Especially since we are in an age where we celebrate diversity, it’s important to teach our kids how to live in a world of gray areas.  It is completely normal for kids to be curious and to ask questions.  Don’t be weird about it, answer to the best of your ability, and if you are not sure, find out together.  It is better to have these conversations in a safe space than to raise kids who shut down in situations like these.

What if my kids don’t want a Black Barbie?

vitiligo barbie

I get it.  It is human nature to gravitate towards things that are familiar or that remind you of yourself.  It sounds funny, but how you treat these dolls is a direct representation of how you treat people of the same color.  To be honest, my daughters were not immediately drawn to the Barbie with vitiligo.  I picked her up and told my daughters that I thought this one was the prettiest because she had the most unique skin.  The following aren’t specific questions and reactions that my kids had, but they are scenarios that I’d imagine would come up.  

“But Mom, that one looks weird.  Her skin is splotchy.”  No, Honey, that’s from a condition called “vitiligo”.  It means she gets to have many colors of skin and that’s something that makes her special.  SHE’S THE RAREST ONE.  (Kid’s like things that are rare, amirite?)

“I don’t like that one because it doesn’t look like me.”  Look, kid, we can’t have eleventy billion Asian dolls, okay?  And look at our friends.  Not all of them are half-Asian right?  If we only have one type of doll, or one type of friends, we’re missing out on getting to know a lot of different people’s stories.

“I do like her fanny pack.”  Yeah, me too.  She has exquisite taste in fashion.

new barbie fashionistas

If you deny your children having diverse toys, you are telling them that they don’t matter to you.  When I had the opportunity to visit @mattel headquarters, I was able to meet with some toy designers, many of them who were Asian. I told them how refreshing it was to see so many women of color on the creative team, but also asked them why we aren’t seeing as much representation in the dolls. To be frank, they simply explained that they have to produce things that the market will buy.  One simple way to teach your kids the importance of diversity is by buying these dolls.  

💖HERE’S THE THING.💖 Let your wallet speak for where your convictions lie. I was talking to Carly @lipglossandcrayons about this the other day, and she was saying how it can be difficult teaching her blonde hair blue eyed child the importance of diversity. We realized that these beautifully different Barbies are less than $8 in store. You can spend $8 showing companies like @mattel that representation is important to you. Even more so, you’re showing your kids that people of color deserve a spot in your home.

barbie fashionistas february 2020

Thank you @mattel and @barbie for starting a conversation and allowing everyone a spot at the table.  For more about me and my family, find us on instagram @littlegraythread

Everything You Need to Know about Knott’s Peanuts Celebration

knotts peanuts celebration

Peanuts Celebration at Knotts Berry Farm is one of our FAVORITE seasons because of all the character interaction!  There are so many ways that your kids can become part of the celebration with these unique kid participation activities.  These activities only take place on Knott’s Peanuts Celebration days (weekends through March 1 with extra days on February 10, 14, and 17).

Welcome Spike to Knott’s Berry Farm!

knotts peanuts celenration spike

Did you know that Snoopy has brothers and sisters from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm?Spike is Snoopy’s brother, and he has come all the way from Needles to meet guests for Knott’s Peanuts Celebration!  You can find Spike in Calico Square in between the Cowboy Jamboree Games and in the evening for the Discoteca Silencio in Fiesta Village.

Sketch School

knotts peanuts celebration sketch school noel

Located in the Bird Cage Theater in Ghost Town (right by the school house), Animator Noel teaches you how to draw different Peanuts characters throughout the day.  Upon entering, everyone gets their own clipboard, paper and pencil to draw along.  Kids are also invited to sit on the stage with Noel during the demonstration.  Noel is a wealth of knowledge about the Peanuts comic strip and he is a joy to talk to after the show.  He might even let you sit in the Animator’s chair for a photo!  Since this is an indoor activity, this is perfect for when the weather is too hot, too cold, or too wet.

“Space Beagle” Camp Snoopy Show

Our favorite Camp Snoopy Theater celebrating NASA has returned!  This fun show features Lucy, Charlie Brown, two NASA astronauts, and everyone’s favorite Space Beagle, Snoopy!  There are a couple interactive parts of the show where the kids are invited to take a moonwalk with the characters and help keep an eye out for Woodstock martians.  The Camp Snoopy Theater is located in the heart of Camp Snoopy, right by the airplane ride.  You can find Camp Snoopy if you turn right immediately after entering the main gates.  Space Beagle plays every day, not just on Knott’s Peanuts Celebration days.

NEW! “Happiness Is…” Daytime Character Show

knotts peanuts celebration happiness is characters

On the Calico Main Stage just past the train tracks is the NEW daytime show “Happiness Is…”  This is a high energy song and dance show featuring Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Peppermint Patty.  This show celebrates how people are unique and different and how that is a beautiful thing.  Keep an eye out for some cool trampoline stunts, too!

Pig Pen with a real Pigs in a Pen

knotts peanuts celebration pigpen

Pig Pen made his Knotts Berry Farm debut last year, and we are so happy he is back with his pig friends in the stables!  Along with the horses and Brutus the mule, you can meet a handful a little real piglets in true Pig Pen fashion.  Pig Pen is only available for meet and greets during weekends for Knott’s Peanuts Celebration.

Cowboy Jamboree with Franklin and Linus

Kids can participate in mini games with Franklin and Linus in their horse vests in Calico Square right outside of the saloon.  Activities are different all throughout the day, so you’ll want to keep checking back!  When we visited, they participate in an egg race and had their try at roping cattle.  Franklin and Linus are available for photos after the games.

Spike’s Discoteca de Silencio

After the sun sets at 5:00, head over to Fiesta Village for a Silent Disco!  Each person on the dance floor gets a personal set of headphones that pipes in music.  Dance with your friends to the same song, or choose a genre just for yourself!  To the outside person, it’ll look like everyone is dancing to the beat of their own drum.  Spike also makes an appearance!

“Woodstock’s Music Festival” with Jelly of the Month Club Nighttime Show

knotts peanuts celebration jelly of the month

The Calico Mine Stage transforms for Woodstock’s Music Festival with shows at 5:30 and 7:00.  Join roadies Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus as they go through a musical journey of all hound related songs.  My favorite part was seeing all of Woodstock and Snoopy’s costume changes!

Peanuts Characters Surprise Pop-ups

Keep your eyes and ears open, because Schroeder, Lucy, Sally and Peppermint Patty are popping up all over the park!  These special interaction times and locations are not announced on any schedule, but I will say you should hang around the fountain by the train tracks for mini parade and wishing session.  If you hear music coming from the fountain, definitely check it out!

Charlie Brown Day

Charlie Brown Day usually falls on Super Bowl Sunday, and it is a holiday dedicated to the one and only Charlie Brown!  Guests are encouraged to dress in their Charlie Browniest classic yellow shirt with black zig zags.  Commemorative free buttons are handed out upon entry and a group picture is taken on the Calico Mine Stage at 11:00.  It was a great turnout this year!

Seasonal Knott’s Peanuts Celebration Food

knotts peanuts celebration food

This is almost a complete list of all of the food offerings for Knott’s Peanuts Celebration.  There is also a Boar Sausage that is available at Fireman’s BBQ, “Peppi Fries” fries with mozzarella, marina sauce, and pepperoni from La Papa Loca, and “The Juicy Lucy” cheese stuffed burger with BBQ sauce and onion rings at Coasters.  Here is a list of the Meal-Plan Eligible foods:

  • Peppi Fries (Papa Loca)

knotts peanuts celebration peppi fries

  • Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese (Wagon Wheel Pizza):  ask for an extra plate to make eating way easier!
  • Sweet Chili Thai Pizza (Wagon Wheel Pizza and Sutters Pizza) and Thai Herb and Peanut Pie (Beachy Keens)

knotts peanuts celebration pizza

  • Junkyard Dog (Wilderness Broiler)

knotts peanuts celebration junkyard dog

  • Sloppy Joe Burger (Boardwalk BBQ)

knotts peanuts celebration sloppy joe

  • The Juicy Lucy Burger (Coasters)

knotts peanuts celebration juicy lucy

  • Fiesta Dogs has been rethemed to Snoopy’s Dog House featuring 8 new hot dogs, served with a bag of chips
    • Beagle Scout Dog: an all beef dog topped with roasted poblano Mac and Cheese
    • Snoopy Dog:  bacon wrapped dog
    • Andy Dog:  Smoked Bacon wrapped dog, chipotle aioli, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese carmelized onions
    • The Spike:  an all beef dog with cole slaw, bbq ranch and crumbled doritos
    • The Joe Cool:  Chili, cheddar and onions
    • The Belle Dog:  vegetarian Dog with Corn relish, guacamole and crispy jalapeno bites
    • The Olaf:  foot long topped witih chili, bacon, cheddar, and onions

knotts peanuts celeration happiness is

For more of our Knott’s Berry Farm adventures, find us on Instagram @littlegraythread!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Stage Door at Hollywood Pantages Theater

Hollywood Pantages Theater Side

I love the Hollywood Pantages Theater because it is so rich in history.  Located on Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood and Vine), it is a classic tourist spot for anyone who is visiting Los Angeles.  The theater was designed by  B. Marcus Priteca in 1930 and it is known for the iconic Art Deco design.  It is now home to several Broadway National Tours that come through Los Angeles.

What is “Stage Door”

inside Pantages Theater

The Stage Door is where the cast enter and exit.  Like all Broadway shows, you have the opportunity to meet some of the cast after the show at the Stage Door.  The public is invited to wait after the show for a chance to say hi, get autographs, and snap a quick picture.  I highly recommend doing this especially with kids because it turns a Broadway show into a personal experience.  This process is free and open to anyone.

Where is the Stage Door?

At the Hollywood Pantages Theater, the Stage Door is located on the side of the theater on Argyle Avenue.  If you’re exiting the theater, make a left, then another left before the intersection.  The Stage Door is right before the small parking lot.  You should see a Pantages employee, some portable barrier gates, and a sign painted on the wall that says “Stage Door” with an arrow pointing down.

Hollywood Pantages Stage Door

If you want to meet the cast, stay on the left side of the barrier gates.  The cast will come out of the doors about 15-20 minutes after the curtain call, so you need to get there quickly.  People will start filing in, and the closer you are to the wall, the closer you are to the front of the to meet the cast.  It is customary to be respectful of people’s space and honor the first come first serve rule.  I always like to give kids priority and give them a chance to stand in the front.  If there is no more room along the barrier, you can congregate on the sidewalk.

When the cast comes out, they will go down the line and sign playbills and take pictures.  As a tradition, I always buy the souvenir program book and my kids have them sign that.  I try to remember to bring sharpies with me, but the cast usually carries them with them, too.  This is a great opportunity for kids to ask questions about tour life, what it’s like to be on Broadway, or anything in between.

Broadway in Hollywood

Hollywood Boulevard Pantages

Did you know there are two locations that host Broadway tours?  Since Hamilton will be taking a long term residence at the Pantages Theater, there are going to be some Broadway shows that will be playing at the Dolby Theater.  The Dolby Theater is located about a mile down Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood and Highland Boulevard.  It is across the street from the El Capitan movie theater.  Here are the shows that will be playing at the Dolby for the 2019-2020 season:

  • Escape to Margaritaville (February 18-March 8)
  • Spongebob the Musical (March 24-April 12)
  • Mean Girls (April 28-June 7)
  • My Fair Lady (June 12-July 5)
  • The Band’s Visit (July 7 – 26)

The 2019-2020 has already begun, but here is the complete lineup for the Pantages Theater:

  • Anasasia
  • Summer:  The Donna Summer Musical
  • Disney’s Frozen (December 4-February 2)
  • Hamilton (March 12-September 20)

How to get there and Where to Park

Both the Pantages Theater and the Dolby Theater are located on Hollywood Boulevard accessible off the 101 freeway.  I wrote an article about How to Discover Hollywood with kids which is where you would park for the Dolby Theater.  The Dolby Theater is actually connected to a large outdoor mall called Hollywood and Highland and offers very reasonable public parking prices.  This is also the same lot you would park in if you’re going to El Capitan Theater.  Other attractions around the Dolby are the TLC Chinese Theater (where you’ll find the famous and and footprints), Ghirardelli ice cream and soda shop, and El Capitan Movie theater.

When I go to the Pantages theater, I always park at the public parking lot next to Shake Shack.  Parking is typically a flat rate of $20 that is paid by cash or card upon entry.  If we get there in time for dinner, we love grabbing a burger and a shake at Shake Shack.  The Afters is another popular place to grab ice cream before or after a show.  Also nearby is the new Funko shop where you can take pictures with interactive larger than life Funko figures.  Entry is free and they also have really nice clean bathrooms if you forget to use the facilities in the theater.

For more of our Broadway stories, find us on instagram @littlegraythread.

How to Save Money at the NEW Build a Bear at Knott’s Berry Farm

Build a Bear Knotts Berry Farm

Bear fans rejoice!  Build a Bear has opened its doors in the Knott’s Berry Farm California Marketplace!  The store is located outside of the theme park gates so you do not need park admission to shop.  It is conveniently located in between Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant and Virginia’s Gift Shop right outside the theme park exit gates.

Knotts Build a Bear Options

There’s no exclusive Knott’s Berry Farm merchandise yet, but they are expecting new items next month.  We saw a variety of furry friends available to stuff from the basic $12 Lil’ pudding cub to licensed characters from How to Train your Dragon and Pokemon.  The cowboy themed outfits were perfect for the western theme of Knott’s Berry Farm, although my daughter gravitated to the pink and sparkly items to dress up her beloved Charlie Brown stuffy (this was purchased in the park a few years ago, as it can be tell that it has been well loved during the years!).

Helpful Tips Before You Go

Knotts Western Bears Build a Bear

Hours of Operation:  Build a Bear is open one hour before and one hour after Knott’s Berry Farm’s operational hours.  So if the park is open from 10am to 6pm, Build a Bear is open from 9am to 7pm.  If the park is open until 10pm for peak hours, Build a Bear will remain open until 11pm.  Reservations are not required.

Annual Pass Discounts and Giftcards:  Passholders and employees can enjoy 10% off regardless of the level of the Annual Pass.  Build a Bear coupons and promotions are accepted at this location.

Knotts Western Build a Bear

Parking:  If you are not spending all day inside Knott’s Berry Farm, you can park at the nearby Marketplace Parking.  Parking is FREE for the first hour, and you can get an additional 2 free hours with a $20 purchase at any California Marketplace restaurant or shop.  Here is a list of my favorite California Marketplace shopping and dining locations:

  • Build a Bear (naturally you’ll be wanting to spend money here!)
  • Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant–the classic sit down restaurant.  You can make reservations here through Open Table
  • Virginia’s Gift Shop–Knott’s merchandise, jams, novelty toys and collectibles
  • Farm Bakery–freshly baked pies, pastries, cookies, and custom special order full cakes
  • Chicken-to-go–Don’t have the time to sit down for a full meal?  Order the same Mrs. Knott’s Chicken and sides to take home.
  • Starbucks
  • Cable Car Kitchen–my favorite hidden gem because this is where you can find ALL the FUNNELCAKES!  You can find all the seasonal funnelcakes in one place in addition to other specialty desserts and hand scooped ice cream.  Hours vary during the week.
  • T.G.I. Fridays–located on the other side of the crosswalk, but still qualifies for validated parking!
  • Peanut’s Headquarters–also located on the other side of the crosswalk, but here you will find all things Snoopy!  You’ll also find the iconic Charlie Brown Striped wall here.

Birthday Parties (they’re not as pricey as you think!)

Knotts Build a Bear Birthday Party

I’m a big fan of Build a Bear parties–we’ve done several of them throughout the years!  There are party packages advertised on the Build a Bear Website, but here are my tips on how to cut costs:

  • Stick to the $12 basic bear.  When we had our parties, our party host pulled only the $12 bears to help us stick to our budget.  We gave our guests the option to upgrade their bears if they wanted to pay for the difference in price.
  • Make clothes and accessories.  One year, I made simple skirts and bow ties for our guests to put in their party favor bags.  The kids loved dressing up the bears and the parents didn’t feel as pressured to buy additional items the day of.
  • Order Chicken-to-go for a fun meal.  There are several tables and outside sitting areas, or pack some blankets to have a fun picnic.
  • Pre-order a specialty cake from Farm Bakery.  Cakes run around $30 before Annual Pass Discount.  Another option is to take all the guests to Farm Bakery and have each friend pick out a special treat.
  • For something that is uniquely Knott’s, celebrate with a birthday funnel cake from Cable Car Kitchen!  Ice cream is also available.

The Build a Bear Guarantee

Build a Bear Doctor

Did you know that once you create a Build a Bear, you have a Lifetime Guarantee?  This means that you can bring back your furry friend whenever you want for a spa day to get refluffed, restuffed and pampered FOR FREE.  One of our bears got a hole after some extended hugs and cuddles, so we brought it back to the Build a Bear Doctors (you can go to any location).

The kids were able to go through the entire process again from the fluffing station, heart ceremony, to post stuffing fluff completely free of charge.  This is also a wonderful option if you adopt a Build a Bear from someone else.  You can bring it in to any Build a Bear to get destuffed so you can properly give your new friend a sanitized bath at home.  Please note that the rules are a little tighter with the licensed characters like Pokemon, so always leave the destuffing to the professionals at the Build a Bear stores.

Shop Online

Build a Bear Sound Station

Don’t see what you’re looking for in store?  Anything that is purchased online can be brought to life in store.  The wonderful Bear Associates can even order something for you from the store itself.  They have some really amazing sales from time to time on the website in addition to some online exclusive merchandise.  There’s even Snoopy friends and accessories that are online only.

Giftcards and Promotions

Knotts Build a Bear inside

When I booked my parties, I paid my deposit using giftcards purchased at Costco.  If you have a Costco membership, you can purchase $100 giftcards for $80.  I sweetened the deal because I hopped on a Black Friday sale where I paid $70 for $100 in gift cards.  Additionally, I was able to take advantage of the in store gift card promotion.  With every $25 purchase, I was able to purchase a $10 giftcard for only $5.  My deposit for the party was only about $100, so I was able to get $40 in giftcards for only $20!  Here’s how the pricing went down for when I planned our parties:

  • I estimated the cost of the party to be around $15 a guest since I was sticking to the $12 bears.  We had 10 participants so the total cost would be around $150.
  • I paid the $100 deposit using my Costco Black Friday giftcards (so $70 out of pocket)
  • I was able to buy $40 extra giftcards for $20.  At this point, I can put down $140 with only spending $70 + $20 = $90 out of pocket.
  • That leaves only about $10 more, which makes the entire party only $100 for 10 guests, saving me $50 out of pocket.

See!  Super affordable!  I feel like the going rate for birthday parties is upwards of $20 a guest, so this makes Build a Bear a really great deal.  We are BEARY excited that Build a Bear is now at Knott’s Berry Farm!  Can’t wait to see that parks exclusive merch!

Knotts Berry Farm Build a Bear

For more of our Knott’s Berry Farm Stories, find us on instagram @littlegraythread.

Learning How to Say No: Why we turned down a chance at a National Broadway Tour

LIttleGrayThread Keila Segerstrom

It all started when I took my kids to see Miss Saigon at Segerstrom Center.  I know its an unconventional choice to take a 4 and 7 year old to see such a “mature” show, but I had good reasons for wanting my children to see this production.  In this day and age where Asians are largely unrepresented, I couldn’t pass up the change to show my daughters a stage full of talented Asian artists living their dreams.  Also, our friend Keila Halili @cupofkeila was in the cast and I COULD NOT miss that!

After the show, we met Keila at the stage door and she was able to take us on the Miss Saigon stage.  We also got to meet a lot of her cast mates, a couple of them who were casting people for the show.  They sort of eyed LittleSage since she matched the age and description of Tam, who is the child in the show.  I half joked that if they ever needed someone to go in as Tam, I have the perfect half-asian 4 to 6 year old child who loves the stage.  Not too much came after that, but I did submit my info to them on a whim.

Miss Saigon Kim Pose

Fast forward to present day (months and months later), I got an email from Miss Saigon confirming my daughter’s name and if we are able to make it to the National Broadway Tour audition for Tam.  I stopped breathing for a good portion of a minute until I read that the audition was in New York.  In eight days.  I laughed it off and immediately texted a few of my close friends.  Surprisingly, EVERYONE was in support of us going to New York.  Even my best friend Jo, who is usually my voice of reason, said, “This could be her big break.  Of course you need to go.”  I texted all of my close friends with touring and musical theater experience and everyone encouraged us to at least audition.

Miss Saigon Step and Repeat

When I texted my husband, he calmly replied, “Let’s talk about this tonight.”  My brain shut off and I was unable to do anything the entire day.  I talked to Keila about it and she  let me know a little bit more about the role.  After talking to the casting people, I found out that they were looking for a quick replacement and that the contract would start within a month.  Since it is with the National Broadway Tour, we would be traveling with the company through the remainder of the tour.

We talked about the different options together as a family.  LittleSage was so excited about the idea of going on tour.  She said she wanted to be on stage and have her name in the program.  I asked her what she thought being on stage would be like, and she said “I run out on stage, and when the loud gun goes off, I fall down!” so she did have some loose recollection of the story.

LittleGrayThread Segerstrom Stage

But then realistically, this was a logistical nightmare.  First off, we would have had to pay our own way to get to New York for the audition, and the role wasn’t even an guarantee (and last minute trips to New York are very expensive).  We thought of different options for big sister LittleGray.  Her initial reaction is that she would rather stay home with Dad then go on tour with LittleSage and me.  (I also want to add that there was not a silver of jealousy here.  She was excited for her sister and 100% understood that she was too old/tall for the role and it wasn’t even an issue).  After talking to our parents, my dad agreed that he could come and stay with her long term if this entire thing ended up happening.  But even so, it would be super difficult for my husband to basically be a single father while working a full time job and potentially flying out to see us every weekend.

We asked LittleSage if this is something she really wanted to do, and what she wanted to be when she grows up.  She was torn too, because while she really wanted to go on tour, she said she would miss her family, her dog, and her teachers and friends at school.  I asked her if she would want to do this forever, and she quickly said, “No, no, not forever.”  I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said, “A doctor.”  Since this isn’t her passion in life, we ultimately decided not to go through with the audition. 

emily bautista

This really got me thinking about passion and dreams.  Why do I work so hard to expose my children to the arts and live theater?  I am always drawn to Asian performers in particular because I know how hard it is to break away from the stereotypical mold.  While at Miss Saigon, we met Emily Bautista @em_bautista who is a powerhouse Kim at only 21 years old.  We met Jessica Fry @jesicafry_ who left Stanford University to tour with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  At Frozen, we met Marina Kondo @marinakondo who is helping break down sterotypes by playing Queen Iduna in a colorblind cast.  These stories are so fascinating to me.  I want my daughters to see Asian people in all walks of life so they can see that they are limitless.  

I have no idea why LittleSage wants to be a doctor.  LittleGray said she wants to be an Instagrammer like me, but that’s an entirely different story for a whole other post.  Maybe Asians are more drawn to fields like medicine?  Probably because both of my sisters are doctors?  I don’t know.  At any rate, I just know that I have to work extra hard to show them that they can be something outside of what is expected.

Little GrayThread

Now let’s go back to why we had to say no to this once in a lifetime opportunity.  It wasn’t the right choice for our family at this time.  We should not pursue it unless 100% of the family was on board, and this was not the case.  While we were all supportive, deep down we knew it was not the right thing for our family.  Luckily, I found a local children’s theater within our budget (way less than what it would have cost to get us to New York) where both of the kids can perform together.  Have you ever had to say no to something that you really wanted to say yes to?

It’s an interesting thing having to say no to something you really wanted.  Even though I knew what the right decision was, I still had to grieve the opportunity that once was.  I was really sad for a couple of days.  It was the crippling type of sadness that made me want to crawl inside my skin, and for that I felt even worse because I knew that the alternative was the best choice for my family.  I felt bad for feeling sad.  But again, my best friend Jo talked me through my feelings and told me that my feelings were valid and that I’m allowed to grieve.  After about a day, I felt better and I was able to talk about this experience openly without breaking down. Now, I want to write about it so my daughters can look back at this and see what was going through my head and how we came to these decisions. 

little gray thread segerstrom

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to expose them to live theater and support Asian and minority performers.  By having them meet people who are living their dreams, we learn their stories and add to ours.  I hope that someday the kids will look back on their childhood and realize that their stories started at home.  No matter where the end up, I hope they end up living their passions, happy, full, and content.

My Asian Story: Why I Spoke Up about Lunar New Year

Disneyland Umbrella Dancers

Something happened earlier this week.  I spoke up.

Disneyland posted this picture on their Instagram account to advertise their upcoming Lunar New Year Spirit Jerseys.  I had actually just woken up when my friend Christine @dorkdujour messaged me about it.  My initial reaction was:  “White people modeling Asian merchandise.  Lazy PR.  Typical.”

Disneyland Year of the Dog

 

I was annoyed.  I couldn’t eyeroll hard enough.  This wasn’t the first time that Asian people have been overlooked for campaigns that are literally written for them.  My friend Shawny @shawnybobawny messaged me for clarification.  She didn’t understand how an oversight like this could happen:  surely there were Asian people in that office.

I told her, probably not.  Unlike Hawaii (where she is from), there are just not as many Asian people in this field.  Ultimately what ends up happening is that people gravitate towards people who are like them.  That is human nature.  But it takes a good person who is good at their job who is willing to work harder to make sure that they are representing all ethnicities.

Lunar New Year Disneyland 2019

 

I wanted to say something, but I was scared.  Asian people are also raised to keep silent, keep your head down, eye roll, but dust it under the rug.  Ultimately, I was worried about offending Mickey and ruining any future opportunities that might come my way.  But the I remembered my conversation with Shawny and I realized that the vast majority of the population might not even pick up on this type of misrepresentation.

Baby Mushu

So I said something.  I took a risk and posted a bunch of slides of my face on my stories telling my story.  I talked about how this wasn’t a personal attack on Asian people, but rather lazy PR.  I gave options of how Disneyland could have picked other Asian people to help promote a Lunar New Year Product.  And lastly, I made it known that I am unashamedly Chinese.

Asian voices are naturally quieter.  That means we have to band together to be heard.

LittleGrayThread Lunar new Year

Then something interesting happened.  I started getting DMs from people in support of what I was saying.  People who wouldn’t usually speak up felt like they could in a safe space.  Conversations started happening and we began to feel less alone.

I learned something that day.  I learned that Filipino people don’t even celebrate Lunar New Year.  While I thought it was “good enough” just to have an Asian face represent “us”, I realized that this is further encouraging the mentality that “all Asians are the same”.  Lizzi @whatuplizzard brought it to my attention that Disneyland has been making tiny changes that waters down the Lunar New Year Celebration.  During the first year, the food booths clearly showed what cultures were being represented (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean).  Now, they are random “Asian Inspired” foods that come from any ol’ Asian (fruishi is an offshoot of sushi, which is Japanese, who do not even celebrate Lunar New Year).

 

On the other hand, baby steps.  I’m grateful that Disneyland/Disney California Adventure even has a Lunar New Year Celebration.  My children’s traditions largely have to do with celebrating at themeparks so I am extremely thankful for this.  This is a really great opportunity for Disney to tell Asian stories.

JenielleChaneyFamilyLittleGrayThread

Traditions are a funny thing, aren’t they? Keshia @keshiasih invited me to share my #AsianStory as a special Lunar New Year edition of #yourtruemagic (check out her blog if you haven’t already!)

I shared about how my mom (#GrandmaPopo) kept our Chinese New Year traditions alive by going to our school every year to share our stories. She taught about the legend of the zodiac animals (did you know that the cat was there too?) and cooked yummy snacks like teem gok and shrimp chips. She taught my friends the Chinese names for foods and explained why they were traditional for the new year (shrimp 🍤 is “Ha” and sounds like laughter).

Mulan Mushu Disneyland

Now that I have my own kids, I’m realizing the importance of storytelling. It’s my job now to teach them our traditions in addition to making our own. I realized that their #AsianStories will probably be full of spending time at theme parks and adopting every Asian person as their auntie or uncle. We support Asians in entertainment because I know how much harder it is for them to go against the stereotype of being a doctor or accountant. We support Asian businesses because Asian voices are usually quieter because we’re taught not to speak up. I teach them what things are Chinese and how to differentiate between Asian cultures in attempts to #deBlanketAsian.
It will be interesting to see what traditions they remember as they get older. During this season of Lunar New Year (that will officially start on 1/25), I encourage you to share your #AsianStory. If we don’t tell our stories, they will never get heard and will be forgotten ❤️

Also, our amazing matching family outfits were designed by us and printed by @picturethisclothing. They are an amazing company that celebrates diversity. If you’d like to make your own unique creation, you can use code “LITTLEGRAY10” to save 10% .

Escape to Margaritaville Coming to Orange County February 4-9

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Where my Jimmy Buffett fans at?!  “Escape to Margaritaville” is coming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from February 4-9.  This North American tour is the inaugural tour for this show! 

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Jimmy Buffett was very involved in the creation of this tour.  “This talented cast has been hand-selected to share and celebrate the story, music and lifestyle of this show on its first national tour,” says Jimmy Buffett. “I am thrilled that this group of performers will transform theaters into Margaritaville each evening. Margaritaville started out as an idea, but now you can actually spend an evening there, and get your mind on island time.”

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“Escape to Margaritaville” features Jimmy Buffet classic songs like “Fins”, “Volcano” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  The tour will feature Shelly Lynn Walsh @shellylynnwalsh as Tammy, Peter Michael Jordan @latifahpeter as Brick, Chris Clark @chrisclark55 as Tully, Sarah Hinrichsen @sare_hin as Rachel.

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My daughters and I attended opening night of Margaritaville at Segerstrom Center (our tickets were comped for this review).  Even though my kids were not familiar with Jimmy Buffett before the show (aside from Cheeseburger in Paradise), they loved the songs and are now singing them on repeat in the car.  Here is what we learned from Escape to Margaritaville:

  • It’s a heartwarming love story between two people who have to balance hard work, timing, and personal goals.
  • Never settle for someone who wants to change who you are.
  • If it’s not “right now”, it doesn’t mean “never”
  • Jimmy Buffett fans will LOVE how the intricacies of his songs are weaved into the storyline of this show.  “Where’s my saltshaker?!”

As always, we went to the Stage Door after the show.  This tour does not have an official souvenir program book, but almost the entire cast signed their Segerstrom program!  There are even photos from the show in the magazine. We even got to meet a few of the musicians after the show!  In this show, the musicians play on the stage instead of in the pit.  The entire cast is SUPER talented and I dare say that I preferred their performance to the original Broadway recording.

Ticket Information

February 4 – 9, 2020
Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1:00 and 6:30 p.m.
The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, February 8 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation.
Tickets – Start at $26
In Person – The Box Office
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Online – SCFTA.org
Phone – (714) 556-2787

Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Group Sales – (714) 755-0236

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

Official show site: www.EscapeToMargaritavilleMusical.com
Facebook: BuffettMusical
Twitter: @BuffettMusical
Instagram: @BuffettMusical

All photos courtesy of Segerstrom Center of the Arts and used with permission.

Celebrating 100 Years at Knott’s Berry Farm

Jenielle Berry Blogger

I couldn’t have asked for a better 2019.  It was my first year as an official Knott’s Berry Farm Berry Blogger.  Knott’s Berry Farm has been an integral part of my children’s childhood and I was honored to be able to share in the storytelling of the fun an exciting things happening at the farm!  Looking forward to 2020, this will be a legendary year for Knott’s Berry Farm as we will be celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary!  Here is what you can expect for the Centennial Celebration:

Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair

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A new 4-D interactive dark ride that will take guests on an exciting journey through reimagined show scenes that are reminiscent of the original dark ride, including the Boysenberry Pie Factory, Frog Forest, Fortune Teller Camp, Thunder Cave, and Weird Woods,  culminating in a celebration at the County Fair. The story takes place 34 years after the original adventure and will follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair to earn the blue ribbon prize for their famous boysenberry pies, but Crafty Coyote is back along with his mischievous pups intent on stealing all the pies for themselves. Guests will climb aboard ride vehicles equipped with jelly blasters to try and recover the stolen boysenberry pies as they travel through whimsical and beautiful environments while competing for the highest score.  “Knott’s Bear-Y Tales: Return to the Fair” will be taking the place of “Iron Reef”.  The last day to experience “Iron Reef” is January 5, 2020.

PEANUTS Celebration:  weekends January 25-March 1

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The fan favorites return starting with Knott’s PEANUTS Celebration, a unique event dedicated to the beloved PEANUTS characters, taking place weekends from January 25 – March 1, 2020.  Here is a recap of PEANUTS Celebration from 2019.

Boysenberry Festival:  March 20-April 19

Boysenberry Festival LittleGray Thread

In spring, the much-anticipated Knott’s Boysenberry Festival returns with an array of one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired food and drink items created by the Knott’s culinary team. The Knott’s Boysenberry Festival will offer a month of deliciousness from March 20 – April 19, 2020.  Here is a recap of Boysenberry Festival from 2019.

A Knott’s Family Reunion:  May 15-August 30

Knott’s will be celebrating its 100th milestone anniversary by immersing guests in new and nostalgic experiences throughout the park, delighting guests of all ages.  Ghost Town Alive! will return with a new interactive storyline for guests to explore and unravel alongside the characters of Calico. And the summer fun will continue long after the sun goes down when a special 100th Anniversary edition of the popular nighttime party, Knott’s Summer Nights returns with new live music, unique summer food offerings, Instagram-able photo opportunities, interactive experiences, and family-friendly games. Both Ghost Town Alive! and Knott’s Summer Nights will be offered on select days starting May 15 – August 30, 2020.  Here is a recap of Summer Nights at Knotts and how to experience Ghost Town Alive.

Knott’s Spooky Farm:  September 26-October 31

For fall, the spooktacular family-friendly daytime Halloween event, Knott’s Spooky Farm, will invite families with little ghouls ages 3-11 to celebrate the spooky season exclusively on weekends starting September 26 – October 31, 2020.  Here is a recap of Spooky Farm from 2019.

Knott’s Merry Farm:  November 20-January 3

As winter rolls in, the feeling of Christmas will be discovered at Knott’s Merry Farm, where joy will be in season from November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021.  Here are my favorite foods from Merry Farm from 2019.

2020 Season Pass Information

Knotts purple Pass

The best way to enjoy all of the fun offered during the 100th-anniversary celebration at Knott’s along with all of the other exciting Seasons of Fun events is with a 2020 Season Pass. (I wrote an article breaking down the different season passes here.)

  • A Regular Season Pass (purple) includes unlimited admission in 2020 to Knott’s Berry Farm with no blackout dates.
  • A Gold Season Pass includes unlimited admission in 2020 to both Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Soak City Waterpark with no blackout dates.
  • A Platinum Season Pass includes unlimted admission in 2020 to all Ceder Fair Parks across the country (there is Great America in Northern California) AND parking is INCLUDED.

Knott’s Season passes are now available at the lowest price of the year. Regular Passes are $99 or nine easy payments of $9.50 after an initial payment, and Gold Passes are $120 or nine easy payments of just $11.50 after an initial payment. These offers end on January 5, 2020. Applicable taxes and fees apply. Payment plans are only available at knotts.com.

Giveaway! (closed)

Boysenberry Festival LittleGrayThread Family

To celebrate the upcoming 100th celebration, I am giving away a Family Four (4) pack of 2020 Knott’s Berry Farm Season Passes ($99 value each)!  You’ll will also get a surprise box of Merry Farm goodies (I’ll be revealing these on my instastories at @littlegraythread on instagram).  Here’s how to enter:

  • Make sure you are following me on instagram @littlegraythread
  • Like! our facebook page Little Gray Thread
  • Leave a comment below telling me your favorite Knott’s Berry Farm memory or what season you’re looking forward to the most in 2020 (please leave instagram @ handle in the comments so I can notify the winner through instagram).
  • Check back on Instagram and Facebook for additional ways to enter

That’s it!  Giveaway will end on December 26, 2019 at 11:59pm PST.  Winner will be announced through instagram on December 27, 2019.

For more information about next year’s milestone celebration, the new Knott’s Bear-y Tales attraction and Knott’s Season Passes, please visit knotts.com. Join the conversation about the newly announced event at Knott’s this year by using #Knotts100 or #AKnottsFamilyReunion.

 

 

Easy No-Sew Cindy Lou Who DIY for Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood

littlegraytrhead cindy lou who

The Snowflake has landed in Universal Studios Hollywood and has brought back our friends from Who-ville, new and old!  “Grinchmas” is included with park admission and runs daily from November 28 through Sunday December 29.  To prepare, I made this super easy Cindy Lou Who headband.

Supplies:

  • Headband
  • Red and White pom poms
  • pipe cleaner for ribbons
  • White fleece or felt cut into 4 ovals
  • stuffing like cotton balls or fiberfill
  • glue gun

cindy lou who supplies

Measure a couple centimeters above the ear and mark with a pen.  Glue gun the circles together and stuff with stuffing.  Glue ovals to headband letting the bottom hang over the ears.  Glue the pom poms onto the headband.

Add as many ribbon details as you like!  I chose pipe cleaner so the bow will stand up.

cindy lou who headband

I pieced together the Cindy Lou Who costume with a red gingham dress and a red half circle cape.  You can even use a red tree skirt and attach ribbons to the collar!

 

The Martha May Santa costume was purchased from Target.  It’s super sparkly and over the top, just like Martha May Whovier!

littlegraythread cindy lou who martha

What’s New at Grinchmas Universal Studios Hollywood

New this year is the all-new, state-of-the-art, topsy-turvy “Grinchmas” tree that twists and turns over 55 feet in height. The custom-made tree is adorned with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of sparkling LED lights and choreographed to music to brighten the merry “Grinchmas” Who-lebration.

Dazzling “Grinchmas” tree lighting ceremonies that take place every evening, accompanied by a snowfall flurry, bring this annual favorite to life, creating a festival of fun fit for The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Who-ville Whos (Pro tip:  Line up at the main Whoville entry gate a half hour before the tree lighting to enter.  First tree lighting happens at 5:30 and occurs every half hour).  There are some new Whos visiting Hollywood for the first time!

grinchmas djs

Tips on Meeting Characters

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Of course, meeting the Grinch himself is a must-do if you visit Whoville.  Lines can be extremely long, especially during peak season, but there are several things to do with minimal lines or no lines at all!

  • Meet Max the Dog–he’s a real animal actor!

grinchmas max

  • Many Whos roam around and do not have lines.  Be prepared to play!  We also met Cindy Lou Who who was roaming around and did not have a line.
  • Check out the cute Grinch decor like this Grinch snowman

grinch snowman

  • Write ways how your heart grew 3 sizes

heart growing writing

  • Eat all the Who Foods!  This Grinch Donut was available in the Whoville area and was a steal at only $7.99.  The Whoville Who Hash (tator tots, corned beef, cream of mushroom soup, onions and peppers) was found at the quick service restaurant “Hollwood and Dime” for around $10 and came with the take home can.

 

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will also transform for the Holiday season.

Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  • Seasonal decor to each storefront and a light projection spectacular to bring the the iconic Hogwarts™ castle to life.
  • As night falls on Hogsmeade village, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts™ Castle” illuminates Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with colorful imagery and impressive dimensional animations that dance across Hogwarts castle in tandem to a musical arrangement from the Harry Potter movies.
  • Holiday themed songs from the a cappella Frog Choir
  • A wide selection of custom-made Christmas ornaments created especially for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will be available. Collectibles include a decorative Hogwarts castle snow globe, Hogwarts crest and mascot ornaments representing each of the four houses, wizard card ornaments, unique tree topper and house pennant garland.
  • Holiday-themed fare and hot Butterbeer further complement the overall experience.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the California Neighbor Pass makes the perfect holiday gift, providing guests with the opportunity to experience 175 days of fun for $149 when purchased online. Visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more details. Blackout dates and restrictions apply.

littlegraythread grinchmas

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

Admission to Universal CityWalk is free. More information available at www.CityWalkHollywood.com.

Blue Man Group is Coming to Orange County Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Kids can go for FREE on Select Days

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BLUE MAN GROUP is making it’s way to Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Orange County January 7 – 12, 2020!  This would make an excellent Holiday gift especially for families who are focusing more on experience based gifts instead of physical gifts.

Kids Night on Broadway–Kids ticket for FREE!

A special Kids Night on Broadway discount will be offered for two performances January 7 and 8. With the purchase of one full-price ticket, parents can receive a second ticket FREE for children. Ticket prices start at $26. Use code BLUEKID when purchasing. Children and families are also encouraged to arrive early and enjoy pre-show activities in the Segerstrom Hall lobby beginning at 6:00 p.m., including coloring stations, crafts, activities, photo opportunities and more!

Blue Man Group

More than 35 million people around the world have experienced the smash hit phenomenon that is BLUE MAN GROUP, and the world renowned bald and blue trio are back on the road in a new North American tour. Under the helm of visionary director Jenny Koons, in her first-time collaboration with BLUE MAN GROUP, the tour features everything audiences know and love about BLUE MAN GROUP—signature drumming, colorful moments of creativity and quirky comedy—the men are still blue, but the rest is all new! Including pulsing, original music, custom-made instruments, surprise audience interaction and hilarious absurdity, audiences join the Blue Men in a joyful experience that unites audiences of all ages.

Tickets to BLUE MAN GROUP start at $26 and can be purchased at SCFTA.org, by calling (714) 556-2787 and at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. To take advantage of the Kids Night opportunity, use promo code BLUEKID. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, please call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, January 11 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation. The Center offers many services for patrons with disabilities including removable wheelchair locations, binoculars and assistive listening devices. To learn more visit SCFTA.org/accessibilityinformation.

Fans can keep up with the Blue Man Group Tour through:

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/bluemangroup
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/bluemangroup
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/bluemangroup/
YouTube:     https://www.youtube.com/bluemangroup