Sunday, August 22, 2010

California and The Price is Not Right

Jerret and I just returned from a much-needed vacation to California.  We didn't have any real agenda for going out there, just to see LA really.  Since our trip occurred over my birthday, I insisted that we attend a taping of "The Price Is Right" and try our hand at spinning the big wheel.  The day before we left I crafted our show attire - yellow t-shirts that read "Ohio Birthday Girl" (me) and "Need Gift STAT!" (for him).

That whole process was a serious pain in the butt.   We were told to get to the CBS studio early (3 or 4 am), but our flight was delayed and we didn't even get to LA until 2 am, so we waited a bit.  We arrived at the studio at 5:00 am with tickets in hand (tickets I had printed from the CBS website weeks before), only to be told those aren't actually "tickets" per se, but just - well, they are nothing really.  Some people didn't even have them and still got in.  So - in line at 5, finally make it to the front of the line at 7,  and then we were told to pick which taping we wanted to see - the 12:00 or 4:00.  My "tickets" were for the 12:00 show, but Alex, the super-nice intern wearing a coveted red CBS blazer, was kind enough to let me know that he would take my nicely-folded piece of paper that meant nothing and was giving out new "tickets" (numbered from 1-300) and had already given out 250 tickets for the 12:00 and 'wink wink, nod nod', there are alot of "groups" attending the 12:00 who are not required to go through the grueling process of waiting in line, so our best bet is to choose the later show.  We took the tickets for 4:00 and went back to our hotel to eat breakfast and nap before we would have to return.
Back at the hotel we realized that we hadn't asked when we should return for "processing" before the 4:00 show.  I checked online and learned that we would need to be back at CBS studios by noon.  We ate, napped, and got in the car at 11:00 to head back to the studio - totally forgetting about LA traffic.  We still managed to make the short trip in about 30 minutes, so we felt good about being there on time.  That is, until we saw another LONG line.  We paid $24 to park the car at The Grove and RAN to get in line.
When we arrived at the studio another uber-sweet intern in a red blazer was calling out numbers into a megaphone - "We are now seating numbers 60 through 75.  60 through 75."  I glanced down at my ticket - CRAP! We were numbers 51 and 52!!  I found Alex the intern and told him of our dilemma.  He, being the accommodating, helpful person that he is, told us to have a seat, and all was good.  We were in!!!
From here we sat on long benches and filled out note cards with our names, addresses, SS# (gotta get those taxes!), and our "story."  This is also where we were given our TPIR name tags!  After an hour and a half we were shuffled to another long row of benches where we waited another 90 minutes.  During this time, Brian, another red-blazer-wearing intern began calling groups of 15 to be interviewed by the producer.  This was it.  Our time to shine.  The impression made here is what will determine if we are called to "Come on Down!"

Jerret and I were at the very end of our group.  The producer started with the first guy in line and asked questions such as "Where are you from?" or "What do you do?"  One by one he asked each person, and those he thought were interesting enough were asked follow-up questions.  We had some very interesting people in our group - a piano player from New Orleans, a girl who just finished law school, a tour director from Hawaii....I couldn't stand it!! I was trying so hard to stay calm...The producer then turned his attention to Jerret - "Hey Jerre!  Is it Jerry or Jerr-A, or?"  Oh, double CRAP - the chick filling out name tags forgot the "T" at the end of Jerret's name!   No big deal, we roll with it.  He asks Jerret what he does, Jerret says he is a glass engineer, to which the producer seemed genuinely interested in.  Jerret explains his job, they exchange banter, and - AH!  It's my turn!!!  So Lori, what do you do?  "I uh... I'm a federal proposal writer...a proposal writer for the government....a federal government proposal writer."  Total flop. 
Dunzo. And I knew it.
But Jerret did really well in his interview, so I still had hope for him.

So we go back to our benches, wait another half hour and are then told to file into the studio where the show will be taped.  It was so cool to actually be there, to walk in with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta blaring from the overhead speakers - "you better shape up, do do, cuz I need a man..." I digress...

The stage is much smaller in person than anyone would think!  We sat in our seats and danced to the overhead music until the producer came out to give us our instructions - go crazy, be nuts, celebrate, have fun, yada yada.

The theme music played, Drew stepped out, and the show was underway!  It was so crazy loud in there that you literally can't even here if you are told to "Come on Down!" so there are two stagehands with posters that have the name of each contestant written on them ahead of time.  We had all kinds of fun, but were disappointed to learn that we would not be called up on stage.  The guy sitting right next to Jerret did get called though, so you will definitely see us on TV.   October 8.

The remainder of our trip was great.  Very relaxing (oh- except that J and I had bad lobster bisque after TPIR taping and were totally sick until the next day at about noon).  We drove to Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Laguna.  It was fantastic.  We visited three places that we found watching the Food Network - Pink's (Throwdown w/Bobby Flay), Baby Blue's BBQ (Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives), and Father's Office(The Best Thing I Ever Ate).  Father's Office is known for the Office Burger, and let me tell you folks, if you ever make it to LA - try this.  If you are a picky eater, this burger is not for you.  There are no substitutions allowed and no ketchup either!  Not even for the fries.  But it is some good stuff.  Seriously.

We also took a trip to Pasadena to check out the Rose Bowl, went to the USC stadium, and shopped on Robertson Blvd. where I bought JJ and Lynde some overpriced gear from Kitson Kids, but I didn't mind, I loved it.  Laguna Beach was by far my favorite part of the trip.  It is such a little tourist town, but everyone lives in million dollar homes, and according to Wikipedia the median household income is about $100K.  Doesn't seem right.  Bedroom communities like this fascinate me though.  The people living there have such a different pace of life than the hustle and bustle most of us are used to.  So laid back.  I talked to a 15-yr-old boy at the beach who was surfing and he said he surfs every day (and has been for 7 years)!  Every Day!  Can you imagine?   Now THAT's the life! 
No real celebrity sightings unless you count Jessica Smith from Laguna Beach (at the beach), Drew at TPIR, and Javid Best of the Detroit Lions (on our plane home).  
Guy's Signature at Baby Blues
mmmm...Sprinkles cupcakes.  So good.
Pulled Pork and Mac&Cheese at Baby Blues - good stuff!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Children Who Are Still Waiting....

For those of you who are not of the Krygyz adoption community - take a look at this.

JJ was one of only 152 children adopted from Kyrgyzstan in a 3-year time period.  Foreign adoptions have since ceased all together in Kyrgyzstan, but not without some significant collateral damage.  At present, 65 children are caught in the political nightmare that has unfolded in Kyrgyzstan - stuck between US bureaucrats trying to follow the rules and foreign officials unwilling to be the person responsible for removing the red tape.  These 65 children were in the process of being adopted, and had even been matched with their forever families.  US families who already love them are here, waiting patiently for their children to come home, trying to ignore the proven facts that are associated with children who grow up in an institution - or at least push it out of their minds as best as they can because it is so hard to deal with when you know the statistics. 

Have you ever heard that when a smoker decides to quit (for good) that they instantly become healthier?  The minute a smoker decides to give up cigarettes, their whole life changes.  It is the same for institutionalized children.  The minute they are placed into the care of their forever families - dynamic changes begin to occur. We witnessed this first-hand when our JJ was brought home with a condition called rickets (lack of Vitamin D) that caused his legs to bow.  By simply exposing him to outdoor sunlight, one hour a WEEK, and providing him with proper nutrition, he has been cured of this ailment.  It's that simple folks.  One-on-one love and attention, and that of an entire family, will give these children lives that may not have otherwise been possible. And 65 families wait, with papers in hand, to bring their babies home.

JJ's Sissy...

This girl is just getting too big.  19 months already and she acts like shes 3.  Here she is doing her
"I dream of Jeannie" impersonation...