Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I'm Loving!

I'm not gonna lie- the last month I just wasn't motivated to do a What I'm Loving Wednesday post. There was so much negative stuff going on in my life that I just didn't feel up to it. I have to say that the past two weeks have made up for those negative times. I have just felt so happy. And this is a real happy. Not my "I'm going to put on a happy face for the world because it's expected of me." (Yes I do that more than you know). I ended up having a WONDERFUL birthday month (yes, I celebrate it all month long). It's now called the month of "Maychel". I've spent time with friends, I've seen some of my family, and I GOT TO MEET MY FAVORITE ACTOR OF ALL TIME (yes I will be talking about it on and off for the rest of my life. Lol.)

I'm Loving...
My friends. Man, they know how to help a girl celebrate the last year of her 30s in style. 

I had a birthday dinner two weeks ago at Norma's Cafe (BIG SHOUT OUT to Bill and Roger at Norma's for making this possible). They went ABOVE AND BEYOND. If you live in Dallas and haven't gone to Norma's yet- go check them out. I had a great number of friends show up to help me celebrate ME. :) Great food, wonderful friends- a fun time was had by all! :)

Does your favorite restaurant buy you special balloons for your birthday? Didn't think so. :)

My friends are awesome!
Presents and a slightly inappropriate birthday card (I actually got that same card from two different friends). My dinner was so wild they called the Dallas Police Department (okay, not really, but they were nice enough to pose for a photo with me). :)
My friend Nicole got me flowers for my birthday. It made me feel special, I rarely gets flowers at work. They made my desk a little more cheery after the rough day we had at the office a few weeks ago.

On my actual birthday my friend Katie and I went to the New Kids on the Block concert. When I was 11 years old, all I wanted for my birthday was for them to sing to me ON my birthday. 28 years later, it happened. I will not confirm or deny that I was somewhat giddy about that. Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul opened for them- it was a flashback to my childhood. I loved it!

I promise that is Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul. I was taking pictures on my phone- I keep forgetting I have a nice camera now to take pictures with and I forgot to bring it. Fail. Lol
When they sang their song Happy Birthday, I am 97.4% sure it was just for me (forget anyone else there celebrating a birthday). Lol
I had a birthday lunch with my friend Becky. We see each other at work all the time and say "hey, we need to have lunch." We FINALLY went! Lol. So much fun! 

I know I went on and on (and on and on) about meeting Dick Van Dyke last weekend, but I also got a chance to meet actor Anthony Michael Hall. He was so nice. He talked a good while with everyone who met him at his booth.

I saw Circus 1903 with my friend Mel at Dallas Summer Musicals (okay, this wasn't technically FOR my birthday, but it helped wrap up my birthday week). It was a great show, I highly recommend it!

We were excited to have floor seats for the show, normally we have "sitting next to Jesus" seats in the balcony. :)
I got to hang out with some of my favorite baseball peeps at a Rangers game on Monday night (that was actually for my friend Eric's birthday). But it wrapped up my two weeks of celebrating with friends. Monday was OU cap night at the Ballpark. Three guesses who is not an OU fan. Lol. I also got to see my friend Felicia (we got our yearly baseball picture together). AND, after like eight years of signing up for it, I WON the Designated Driver of the Game prize. I ended up with an authentic Rangers jersey. Oh, and the Rangers WON!! (It's been a rough season, we haven't been able to say it too much). What a great ending to my birthday celebrations. :)

Traditional birthday kiss from my friend Beks. Lol.
I'm Loving...
My church. I know I've said this before, but having this church family has helped me through some rough times the past few years. I'm super sad my pastor is retiring, but I look forward to our new pastor and all the great things my church will do in the future. 

I love Pastor Sam and his wife Belinda!
I'm Loving...
That I was able to make it to my niece Ashlyn's high school graduation. I had to work that day and her graduation was a two hour drive from Dallas. Despite traffic, I still made it and was able to see her walk across the stage. I'm so proud of her! And she's going to attend college at my alma mater! :)

I'm Loving...
That I was able to see my friend Richard (even if it was only for like 15 minutes) for the first time in 12 years. He picked me up at the airport in Phoenix on Saturday (he just happened to be in town). It was great to see him, next time we will definitely hang out longer!

I'm Loving...
That Dick Van Dyke's wife commented on my blog post. I posted the link on Instagram and tagged her and she responded. It made my day!!

What are YOU loving today??


Monday, May 29, 2017

It's A Jolly Holiday With Rachel

This is going to be a super long post. My feelings won't be hurt (too much) if you just skim it, but I wanted to record EVERYTHING that happened so I could remember every detail years down the road from now (like I will ever forget it though. Lol.) 

I'm sure it's no secret to anyone reading this post that I'm a HUGE FAN of actor and national treasure, Dick Van Dyke. He has been my favorite actor since I was four years old and I first saw Mary Poppins

The number one item on my LIFE bucket list has been to meet him (yes, it's also the number one item on my 40 by 40 list). In 2011 I got to see Mr. Van Dyke and his brother Jerry perform on stage in The Sunshine Boys. There was actually supposed to have been a meet and greet after the show, but it got canceled for some reason. I was super bummed but still enjoyed being on the second row for the performance (read my recap here). In 2012 I saw a musical performance with Mr. Van Dyke and the group The Vantastix. Again, there was no meet and greet afterward, but I was still happy I got to see him sing in person. Last summer I made a trip to Danville, Illinois, the hometown of Mr. Van Dyke, mainly just to say I had been to his hometown (I love that town by the way). I think deep down, I never dreamed I would actually get a chance to meet him in person (as much as I wanted to). Well, this all changed last Saturday.

A few weeks ago I saw on Facebook that Dick Van Dyke was going to make his first ever comic con Phoenix. I don't live in Phoenix. I don't even live close to Phoenix. As much as I wanted to go, it just wasn't going to be a possibility since I had just spent money on two trips I'm taking in June. A friend of mine saw this same Facebook post and told me that he wanted to give me that trip for my birthday. Plane ticket, photo op, the whole thing. I thought he was kidding. I told him not to joke like that. Believe it or not, it took him three days to convince me that he really wanted to do this for me, especially since this had been a dream of mine basically my whole life. So yeah, before I knew it, the photo op and plane ticket were bought- THIS WAS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN.

I had to fly out early Saturday morning (my flight left at 7am, so they started boarding at 6:30am). Fun side note, the night before I had driven to and from Waco for my niece's high school graduation (that's about two hours each way, for those not familiar with Texas geography). I was afraid I would oversleep and miss my flight, so I didn't sleep the night before. So yeah, I went on NO SLEEP on this trip. My emotions were all over the place, so adrenaline kept me going. My flight landed about 8am Phoenix time and I went straight to the convention center. I had read online some horror stories from Phoenix Comic Con goers from the previous day saying that the convention was so unorganized and it took them five hours just to get inside. I started to get nervous I would get delayed and wouldn't make it inside in time for Dick Van Dyke's panel or my photo op (YES I WAS FRETTING). 

When I got to the convention center, I went to one entrance (that had no line) and asked where I needed to go to pick up my day pass badge that I had ordered online. The nice security guard told me the registration door was around the corner, but I could go through the door he was standing by and walk down a hallway inside to registration. When I got to the registration line, I could see it was going outside the convention center door and well around the outside of the building. I told another security guard I was told to come in that way and asked if I needed to go back outside. He was so nice and said he would find a spot for me to jump in the line (that way I didn't have to go back OUTSIDE to stand in line). I probably cut in front of about 1000 people, but you know what, I didn't care. Lol. I will not confirm or deny that I blew kisses to this security guard when he let me in the line.

Registration went smoothly. Once the doors opened at 9am, it took maybe twenty minutes for me to get through the line. I had a "front of house" ticket to Dick Van Dyke's panel, which was at 12:15. It was only 9:30 when I finally got my badge, so I walked around for a while. I did see some awesome cosplay costumes, these two were my favorite.

I was told when I picked up my ticket for the panel that I could sit in any seat on rows two through five. They opened the doors an hour before the panel started, so I went inside and got a seat on the second row. 

I will not confirm or deny that I teared up when he came out on stage. He got a standing ovation when he came out on stage and when he left. His panel was fantastic. He answered a lot of fan questions and said he wanted to stay all day and talk (he only got about 40 minutes). He said he was enjoying his first comic con (maybe he will come to the Dallas Comic Con in October?). He even sang a little and as he was leaving the stage, did a little dance move. Be. Still. My. Fan. Heart. 

I totally stole the following pictures from the Phoenix Comic Con Facebook page, so I wanted to make sure I gave them photo credit. The only part of it that is mine is the collage, I designed that. Lol.

Okay, so the next part is where I was convinced everything was going to fall apart. My photo op was right after the panel (at 1pm). It took about 15 minutes to get through the crowds, so I got there about 1:15. It was pure chaos. No one knew where to go. The volunteers and staff weren't sure what to tell people. I found one volunteer who told me to go over to what was basically a "corale" type area and that they would lead us to the photo line once the first group of people got through. I stood in line about 20 minutes not moving at all. I am not over exaggerating when I say at least 600 people were in front of me. I will say that people started getting testy and upset (because no one would give us a straight answer). We found out that the convention oversold the photo ops (this was all the fault of the comic con, not Dick Van Dyke). I finally found a volunteer and told her I knew everyone was frustrated and that they were doing the best that they could, but that I had to leave at 5pm to catch a flight. She was kinda rude when she said, "we are going to do our best to get through everyone but I can't guarantee you will get in." I'm sure she probably didn't believe me, I can't say I blame her, everyone had their own sob story, but still, no need to be THAT RUDE. I started to have an internal meltdown (outside I'm sure I looked fine but inside I was dying and convinced I was gonna lose it). 

My friend had traveled with me to the convention (just to make sure I didn't pass out or have a break down or something. Lol). He was walking around the convention looking at booths so I texted him that I was being told they couldn't guarantee me a photo. He said he would take care of it. There was a second photo op at 3pm. I told the person next to me if the con could guarantee me a photo then, I would gladly wait in line for two hours for a picture and go to that one. A lot of people were tired of standing and some people had small children who did not like having to wait so long. I can't blame them. It was no fun, but I wasn't going to not wait for my photo.

My friend talked to seven different convention staff members explaining that I had flown in specifically for that picture and I had to catch a flight back to Dallas that evening. He asked if there was anything they could do to make sure I got a photo before I had to leave. One volunteer took pity on me and told him I could go on through for my picture. Like, right then. I honestly just wanted a guarantee, I didn't expect to be moved up in the line. They actually bumped me to the "fast pass" line so I only had to wait maybe another minute for my photo op. I was so close. I could see him around the corner taking photos with other fans. I was nervous and excited all at the same time.

I've been to other comic cons, so I knew it was going to be a quick picture and that I wouldn't have time to just chat with him (although I think Mr. Van Dyke would have wanted more time with each fan- he's so nice). It was almost my turn and Mr. Van Dyke's assistant saw the look on my face and told me to take a breath and let it out. He's like, don't pass out. Lol. I nervously asked him if I could ask Mr. Van Dyke for a hug. He said yes I could ask (I think he was laughing at me for wanting a hug so badly). When it was finally my turn, Mr. Van Dyke shook my hand and I introduced myself. I then asked for a hug. He smiled and enthusiastically said "sure!" As I was hugging him I told him he has meant so much to me my whole life. He squeezed me a little when I said that. We then took the picture, I said thank you so much, he said you're welcome, and that was that. My 20 seconds with Dick Van Dyke, but y'all- IT WAS WORTH IT AND EVERYTHING I WANTED IT TO BE.

They printed the pictures on site, so less than a minute after my photo op, I had my picture. I possibly had to sit down for a while in a corner because I was shaking a little and on the verge of sobbing. I don't care if y'all think I'm crazy for that. Lol. This was a dream come true.

We left the con to get something to eat and then headed to the airport. 10 hours after landing in Phoenix, I was heading back home to Dallas. The trip was physically and emotionally exhausting, but worth every minute. Best day of my life. 

I read online that some people left without getting a photo because the wait just got to be too long, BUT that Dick Van Dyke stayed until everyone who was still there got a photo. THE MAN IS A SAINT. It wasn't his fault that the con oversold but he made sure no fan still there left disappointed. 

For those asking where I got my shirt, I ordered it on Etsy at this shop- they were SUPER HELPFUL when I placed my order. I highly recommend them!


Monday, May 22, 2017

40 By 40

As much as I don't want to admit it (and I will probably deny it many times over the next 365 days,) I will be turning 40 in May of 2018. So in honor of that, I've decided to make a list of 40 things I want to accomplish before then. I've created a tab at the top of my blog so you can check my progress. You can find that page hereSo, in no particular order, here is my list..

1. Meet Dick Van Dyke (the man deserves to meet me, of course I'm making this number one)
2. See a game at four different ballparks on my MLB Ballparks To Visit list
3. Visit three presidential libraries on my Presidential Libraries To Visit list
4. Visit three states on my States To Visit list
5. Read 40 books (starting May 23, 2017-the 12 I've already read in 2017 won't count for this one)
6. Go to Las Vegas
7. Visit Cooperstown
8. Finish my short story/novel
9. Visit the Alamo with my BFF Mandy (because WHY HASN'T THIS HAPPENED ALREADY!)
10. Go snorkeling
11. Dress up fancy and go out with friends
12. Clean out my storage unit so that there are only eight boxes (not including Christmas storage boxes). My goal is to declutter my life.
13. Travel outside of the United States (not including Mexico or the Caribbean)
14. Complete at least 3 vacation scrapbooks, I'm several (okay, 7) years behind on them
15. Learn to crochet
16. Run a 5K (just kidding, I meant walk a 5K)
17. Visit someplace haunted
18. Try sushi (the non seafood kind- I hear not all sushi has raw fish- I'm not eating raw fish.)
19. Pay off all of my credit cards
20. Visit Jared Padalecki's bar in Austin
21. Have a Supernatural marathon (IN PERSON) with my BFF Mandy (we sometimes talk on the phone while watching episodes, but we never get a chance to watch it together in person)
22. Go to a symphony orchestra performance
23. Take a tour of the Governor's Mansion in Austin (I went as a kid, I've never been as an adult)
24. Visit Washington D.C.
25. Visit five national parks
26. Learn to cook one new recipe a month
27. Take dancing lessons (any kind of dancing)
28. Volunteer at a soup kitchen/women's shelter/homeless shelter
29. Go whitewater rafting
30. Splurge and fly first class at least once
31. Go glamping
32. Watch a classic film in a movie theater
33. Meet Steve Avery (HE NEEDS TO MEET AVERYFAN!!)
34. Take a sign language class
35. Visit Niagara Falls
36. Read at least five books published before 1940 (as part of my 40 book challenge)
37. Attend a murder mystery dinner (a professional one, not one held by a friend)
38. Perfect playing Fur Elise on the piano (I haven't played piano in 21 years)
39. Attend a baseball game (minor league or major league) with my BFF Mandy. After 29 years of friendship, I feel we need to see a baseball game together- even though she's not a fan. Lol.
40. Write a blog post that gets at least 3,500 views (so far the most I've received is 3,003 on this post)

I hope to actually accomplish the majority of this list. If you don't see me post updates on it throughout the next year, call me out. I need some accountability!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful Thursday

It's been a rough week for several reasons, I felt I needed this post as a reminder to always try and find a reason to be thankful.

I'm thankful...
For the opportunity to say goodbye. On Monday I had to say goodbye to a woman who was my "adopted grandmother" for over 25 years. I just happened to be in Austin when I got the news she didn't have much time left (she lived in Austin). I was able to go by and let her know how much I loved her. Although she couldn't talk, she did open her eyes when I started talking to her. She passed away just a few hours after I took this picture. Love you Meem. I'm glad you are no longer in pain. I promise to take care of the family for you. 

I'm thankful...
That my Pop (my "adopted grandpa") is so strong. Before I left their house on Monday, I asked for a picture with him. He said only if I smiled. Despite the fact we were going through a lot of sadness, I love this picture. He looks so happy.

I'm thankful...
For my job. It's been a rough week at my office-we saw a lot of changes in my department, but I'm glad to have a job and for my coworkers. And I enjoy the time we get to have away from the office.

I'm thankful...
For my BFF Mandy. I was dealing with some upsetting news while I was in Austin and she was there for support and to give hugs. It was just what I needed.

I'm thankful...
That I got to see some other dear friends while I was in Austin. I traveled to Austin on Sunday to see a concert with my bestie Zach. I was able to see a few other people in the short time I was in town. Austin friends: next time I visit I promise to be there longer so I can see more of y'all.

Thank you Zach for the ticket to see Brian Wilson. I had so much fun!
I'm thankful...
That I got to spend a few days with this cutie last week. My neighbor (who hasn't moved yet- YAY) was out of town so I got to Holly-sit. 

I'm thankful...
For those of you out there who read my blog (whether I know you or not). Thank you. Thank you for taking time to read whatever I post, whether it's something silly, serious, or just random. So much love to y'all.