I am now part of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

{Before reading this post, do yourself a favor and grab a cup of coffee or tea. Might as well get a cookie, too, since this is quite a wordy post.}

I just realized that by meeting someone famous, I’ve now inserted myself into the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Never would have guessed that!

When I last left you I was going to interview Roma Downey. (Still sounds strange to me.) So here’s how it went down (you got that coffee and cookie, right? You won’t want to miss one detail of this story.

We were whisked away from the hotel Monday morning. There were 5 of us going to interview Roma Downey & Phil Lollar, the producer and writer (respectively) of Little Angles. The interviews were to take place at Roma Downey’s house in Malibu, CA. The drive to her house took about 15 minutes. The day was dreary, filled with clouds and a cool temperature but I was full of excitement. Everyone seemed to be going about their normal everyday business. That is, everyone except those of us in the van.

As we pulled into her driveway, we were all in awe. It wasn’t a mansion but it wasn’t your average Monopoly house, either. She, her husband Mark Burnett, and their three children live in a large, white house with a beautiful garden, complete with a waterfall. We were taken inside and, oh my. The entry way was just as beautiful as the outside. You could see into the 2nd floor loft area and it was full of bookshelves. All around the perimeter were books, books and more books. And art. Lots of art. Large orchids, full of blooms, greeted us at the door and the house smelled like an Anthropologie store. Candles were lit everywhere. The foyer included a Matisse painting and two Chagall paintings (yes, they were real, not reproductions). One of the guys that worked for the media company interrupted our gazing and asked if we wanted to see the view out back. I felt that it would have been just a tad unprofessional if I answered, “Well, DUH!” so instead, I quietly agreed that that would be a delightful idea. 

Her backyard is unbelievable. The view is unbelievable. The pool and outdoor furniture were unbelievable. The flowers and plants were unbelievable. It was all…unbelievable.

My senses were in high alert in her backyard. Her house sits high above the water but you could still hear the waves crashing down below. She had a simple, rectangular pool but the plants and trees around it made it appear simply grand. The rear of the house was just as beautiful as the front. The smells from all the plants were so luscious. The sounds of the crashing waves were almost sublime. It was all so beautiful. Of course, with permission, we snapped a few pictures but were told that they were not “for public consumption.” So, I’ll just have to do my best to describe everything to you.

As we headed back inside to the waiting area, we walked through the kitchen with pots hanging over the island, an eat in dining table with a huge china cabinet filled with dishes (I secretly imagined she brought these over from Ireland and they were family heirlooms. I have no idea if that story is true, but I like to think so). On our way we saw more art, family pictures, a christening gown sewn to a quilt and wedding pictures in front of the family pool. But my favorite thing about this house? On the doorway to the kitchen, she had marked where her children had grown. There were dozens of marks showing the growth of her children over the years. I found it endearing that she would note each milestone just like you or I would. Out of all the things in the house, this was my favorite.

Our waiting area was the movie room; a huge room with 4 large couches situated like movie theater rows and about a half dozen (comfy) bean bag chairs. When not watching a movie on the large screen, one could take in the view of the waterfall at the front of the house. This room was filled with more art, candles, orchids and more family photos. There was even one of everyone on camels! We used this time to get acquainted with one another. It seemed to me that some of the others had met before. There were eight of us there, including interviewers from The 700 ClubHomeschool Movie Club and Movie Guide. Everyone was kind and easy to talk to.

After a time of chatting and breakfast, the interviews started. We all interviewed the writer, Phil Lollar, first. Phil is best known for his work on Adventures in Odyssey. He was a few minutes late (one of the downsides of traveling through Los Angeles) but was quite the gentleman and apologetic. He’s the writer for this project and I found to be a very interesting interview (not that I have a lot to compare to). He said he used to watch Saturday morning cartoons (I’d like to interject here that I think it’s a shame that my kids don’t know the joy of waking up Saturday morning to see the cartoons.) and then try to mimic the voices that he heard. After a while he tried to make up his own characters and voices. As you can imagine, the road from there to writer/director isn’t a long one. I took great comfort in knowing that there’s hope for my son (who is always pretending – and I love that).

Once we were each through with our interviews, we waited until Roma was ready. She didn’t keep us waiting long. And in fact, just a few minutes before the first interview was to begin, she came in and greeted us! She was absolutely stunning. She’s a teeny, tiny thing. Did I mention that she’s stunning? She was so welcoming to us, asking if we had seen the backyard and told us that there was a walkway down to the beach that we were all welcome to use. I know that it’s in her best interest to be kind to those that will writing or talking about her project, but she seemed to be very sincere. She talked about her giant Irish Wolfhouds, Fin McCool and Maximus. And when I say giant, I mean it – I hardly had to bend down to pet them. She chatted about her garden and the flowers they planted to attract butterflies. Very down to earth and welcoming.

By the time I was up to interview her, all the “bad” nerves were gone. If you’ve ever performed on stage or in front of people, you know that there are good nerves and bad ones. You want to have a little bit of butterflies in your stomach but not so many that it’s crowded in there. She was very pleasant to talk to. You can tell she is passionate about this project. Part educational and part Biblical, Little Angels teaches preschoolers numbers, ABC’s as well as Biblical principles. In the series, twins Alex and Zoe have eight little angles painted on their ceiling that come to life when the children need them. Each episode teaches the basics of numbers and letters and also has a Bible story. I’ve seen David & Goliath and Joshua. Each DVD also includes a lesson from Roma to the parents. The lessons talk about different things that all parents have to tackle. For example, one lesson is on sharing. The series is very well written, visually pleasing (no mediocre animation here) and I really think it will appeal to preschoolers. I was not paid to write a review but I find that well done Christian things (especially in Hollywood) are hard to come by. We’re getting better but we’re not there yet and when I see something that’s worth noting, I like to tell everyone about it.  

The idea for the little angels in the story was from a prayer that Roma’s mother used to say to her. Roma has big dreams for the brand; music CDs, clothes, books, you name it. Little Angels has their own Facebook page, their own web site and even apps for your iPhone or iPad. Roma was so cute when she said she just started tweeting and joked that she called it “twittering”, evoking an eye roll from her daughter. I guess even Hollywood stars have to deal with teenagers rolling their eyes. 

The whole day was so much fun and I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to do something like this. I’d love it if the opportunity arose again, but who knows. Right now I’m content to stay on Cloud Nine and delight in all the details.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some photos of my trip (I think this is the only post I’ve ever done that didn’t include one single picture) and a cool story of a unique way that I connected with one of my favorite bloggers, Ocean Soul.

See you at the fence tomorrow!

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California happenings

I made it! I’m here in California! 

At the airport in Tampa, I wanted to stop everyone I saw and tell them that I was on my to California! But I restrained. I finally made it and the first thing I did was head to the beach.

It was windy, cloudy, cold and wonderful!

After I walked in the freezing cold water for a while, I went up to the Venice Beach Boardwalk. On the way to the boardwalk, there are some houses that sit right along the walkway (you know the walkway from the Three’s Company opening credits). Some of them are simply amazing.

 Lots and lots of people watching to do there!

This guy was playing an electric guitar while on roller blades. I tried to get a shot of him from the front but then he wanted me to buy his T-shirt. So I stuck with this shot:

After walking around Venice for a bit, I decided to check into the hotel. I’m staying at Shore Hotel. It’s gorgeous and minimalistic and delightful. My room wasn’t ready when I got here so they upgraded me to another room with a partial Ocean view! 

After some giggling at my room and the treatment that I’m getting, I decided to walk to the Santa Monica Pier. (Yep, I’m just that close & it if weren’t for 2 trees, I’d be able to see it from my room.)

Tomorrow is the big day! The interview with Roma Downey. I have all my questions typed out and my outfit laid out as well. Wish me luck (better yet, say a prayer for me!). Until tomorrow…

New school building and California dreaming

Remember me? My name is Amber and I used to write a blog called Freckles and Fences. I’ve been a little MIA these days. Eight days, to be exact. I’ve been quite busy but I’m sure you don’t want to hear my excuses so I’ll just get one with today’s post.

Yesterday, the boys’ school (and I attended as well) had a groundbreaking ceremony for their new building. The school has been around for just over 40 years and a new building is long overdue.

Jackson was so very excited. The other day he told me that he couldn’t wait for next week. When I asked him why, he said he was excited for the new building. For some reason, he thought the building would be completed in one week. I had to explain to him that it was going to take a tad bit longer than a week for construction to be completed. Cute, huh? Ethan had misconceptions as well. He thought they were actually going to be knocking down the old building yesterday. Yes, destroying the building that currently houses the elementary school. Yes, destroying the building while all the children were in the parking lot with only Halloween-type construction helmets on. Oh, to be young again.

Here’s a snapshot of some the kids watching the ceremony:

293/365:

In other news, this weekend I will be traveling to California! I have been giving the opportunity to interview Roma Downey (from Touched by an Angel) for a new children’s DVD series that she and her husband are producing. I’m thrilled at the opportunity and even more thrilled that it’s in California (the prettiest state, if you ask me). My flights and hotel (for one night) are paid for so I decided to stay a few extra days to enjoy all the photo ops – I even bought a new lens for the occasion. I’m sure you’ve heard me say more than once that I really hate the beach. Actually, it’s the Gulf Beaches that I hate. The Gulf of Mexico is nothing like the Pacific Ocean and I’m unable-to-sleep-excited at the thought going to my dad’s old stomping grounds. It’s been way too long since I’ve made it to the West Coast and I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face.

I’ll for sure be updating my blog while I’m there. Any great places in the Malibu/Santa Monica area that I have to see? Since I’m only there for a short time, I’d really love to be outside for most of the time, so unless there’s a mall that’s to die for, no need to suggest it.

Stepping out

There are two types of boys in this house. One never likes to be naked. Never likes to be without a shirt or even socks. The other one would be shirtless and bare footed 24/7 if he could. He’s the one that has no problem stepping out of his clothes on the way to the bathroom. And he has no problem parading around the house after he steps out of his clothes. I have to admit that his cute little backside makes me giggle.

286/365:

The problem is that unless he’s reminded all the time, the clothes would stay like this. Who am I kidding, both boys leave their clothes (and towels) all over the bathroom floor. Am I the only one that wonders if I never said anything, how many articles of clothing would pile up on the floor? Would they end up picking up after themselves because they couldn’t stand it any longer? Has anyone ever tried this tactic? I sounds like a fun experiment to me.

And the winner is…

Oh my, am I ever behind? This last week has been super crazy around here. Nothing major, just lots and lots of little things. We took a trip to Legoland on Friday (pictures to follow soon) as well as a trip to Ikea on Saturday (finally got the dining room set I’ve been dreaming about for a year).

I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to picking a winner for the giveaway. In between the announcement for the giveaway & the actual winner being chosen, it’s possible that the my friend, the mask maker, is now in talks with Martha Stewart’s company to be in an issue of her magazine. I cannot even believe it as I’m typing this. She was squealing at the possibility of being in Martha’s magazine. It’s like the Mother Ship was calling her home. I’ll be so happy for her if this goes through. Nothing is set in stone now but just the thought of it makes me over-the-moon excited for her. 

Now, onto the prize. Let me tell you, we had a very high-tech way of doing this. See for yourself.

We had the names of all our contestants:

A random name generator:

And finally a winner was chosen:
Congratulations, Raegan! I’ll be getting your masks to you in the next few days. This was super fun to do and I hope I have the opportunity to do it again sometime.

On the home-front, Ken has started his new job. Today was the first day and it seems like he’s really going to enjoy working for this company. I’m really glad this lay off didn’t last for months and months as it did last time. On one more home-front note, I will get the opportunity to go to California later this month. I’ll share more about that as the date nears but let me tell you this: I just may never come back home! A (almost) free trip to California? Heck, yes! I’m thrilled at the opportunity I’ve been given and can’t wait to share it with you once I have more info. 

My first giveaway!

OK, I promised a giveaway last week and it’s finally here! (My very first giveaway – squeeeeee!)

Let me tell you about my friend Alisha. She is co-owner of Mahalo. They’ve been getting quite a bit of sweet advertising these days. First of all, they were featured in a magazine. The August issue of Parenting magazine. Yes, Parenting magazine! And then that issue of the magazine was on The Office last Thursday. Then they were featured on Gilt.com (similar to Groupon.com). And just this week, I’ve seen them in two other online publications (here on page 53) and here. When I first started this blog, I told you that I had some pretty awesome friends. Remember this post? That post was about my friend Anna. Alisha is Anna’s mom. Cool/awesome/crafty/nifty/swell just runs in that family. 

I’m giving away both of these masks. I think they’d make a cute little Halloween costume, don’t you? All you have to do is leave a comment & tell me your favorite part of Halloween. Personally, I’m not a fan of the holiday. I think most of the decorations are gross and I’m so not good at coming up with costumes that my boys like AND want to wear. I can make a birthday card. But a costume? Not so much. So tell me what all the hoopla is that surrounds Halloween & maybe I’ll enjoy it more this year. It seems as if I’m the only one that’s a party pooper when October rolls around (except on my birthday).

Oh, and tell your friends and family about the giveaway. They don’t have to subscribe to my blog or sign their name in blood (although, that would be fitting for the holiday, no?). I want to get the word out about my awesome friend’s awesome etsy shop. And I don’t want to host a giveaway and have zero comments. So, go comment and go tell your friends, too.

Edit: Since choosing a winner is too much pressure, winner will be chosen randomly. Comments close on Friday.