In memory of Tyler Kirkland

The unthinkable happened. On the night of Tuesday, September 2, 2014… Tyler Kirkland texted his parents & friends, then took his own life. He left this world way too soon. A 10th grader at Irvine High School. Son to Dean and Kristi. Big brother to Ashley. Friend to many at his school. He played baseball, made films, played video games, did all the things most boys his age do. He had the biggest and sweetest smile. I never had the opportunity to meet Tyler. We are friends with Dean and our daughter Marissa is friends with his sister Ashely. I just recently became friends with his mom, Kristi. This tragic event has hit our community very hard. It doesn’t even seem real. You don’t think this sort of thing could happen to you or anyone you know. I learned more from his mom, that it was a combination of things he was going through. Tyler internalized his feelings and was having a hard time for years. But the bullying didn’t help. I can’t even imagine what he must have been feeling inside. And the heartbreak that his parents are feeling during this difficult time. I am so sorry for their loss. I pray for them. We aren’t supposed to outlive our children. We are supposed to go first. Not the children. They should never feel such a pain that they don’t want to live any longer. Bullying. It’s just a thing we read about, we tell our children if this happens to them, tell someone. It’s not easy to tell someone. The fear of making things worse by telling. All those fears. This bullying has got. To. Stop. Hug your children tight. Tell them they are beautiful. Tell them it’s okay.

The Memorial Service for Tyler is on Saturday in Lake Forest at Saddleback Church at 10am.
If anyone is interested in attending, the event details are on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1512341185670465/

Here are some photos that I came across, shared by Dean and Kristi:

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I thought about Marissa’s Talent Show performance when she was 10. She dedicated this song to anyone who has been a victim of bullying. Rest in peace, Tyler Kirkland. xoxo

Never Forget. 9/11

Today is a somber day. As we reflect on this sad anniversary of 9/11/2001, I pulled some clips from our NYC trip that we took 4 months ago to share our visit to the Freedom Tower. It’s now called One World Trade Center. This magnificent structure soars into the clouds, standing at 1,776 feet tall.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Here’s the video:

What have we been up to lately?

As you can see, I haven’t been on PurpleWays lately. It has been a crazy past few months. What have we been up to lately?

Why This Ride – my other website where I get to have fun with my friend James reviewing cars. We have articles and videos and all kinds of fun stuff in the works. You can check us out there.

2014 Dodge Charger SRT burnout

2014 Dodge Charger SRT burnout

Reviewing cars with James and Roxy

Reviewing cars with James and Roxy

I know, I'm not handsfree. I was only using my phone to hit record on my GoPro app.

I know, I’m not handsfree. I was only using my phone to hit record on my GoPro app. At a stoplight! (2014 Cadillac ELR)

Our family has a new addition! My sister Adrianne and brother in law Adam just had their 2nd child, Maya in July. She’s beautiful! Their first child, Gunnar is in the 2nd grade now. Our big crazy family just got bigger.

Baby Maya at 2 months old.

Baby Maya at 2 months old.

OCSA – Marissa’s in the 7th grade at OCSA for Integrated Arts! So exciting. Thanks to our 6-family carpool and 8-seater SUV, I don’t have morning drives to OCSA. I pick up Marissa and her schoolmates in the afternoon. She is loving school, always keeping up with her homework and thinking of creative approaches to her assignments. In addition to her academic classes, her conservatory includes Acting and Creative Writing classes. For P.E. she takes Jazz Dance. Outside of school, she still takes vocals and guitar classes. Busy girl!

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Marissa at registration day at OCSA

Marissa's OCSA ID!

Marissa’s OCSA ID!

Jessie is in the 1st grade now! How time flies. Our little Jessie is now a first grader and is loving school. She has good friends that she sees on the playground at recess and in our neighborhood.  Jessie’s first karate tournament is coming up 9/14. Wish her luck! Jessie also wants to learn how to play golf. We may be signing her up for lessons soon.

Crazy princesses! Jessie and her friend Tessa.

Crazy princesses! Jessie and her friend Tessa.

Jessie's an orange belt! Her and her Sensei at Tajik Karate.

Jessie’s an orange belt! Her and her Sensei at Tajik Karate.

Jim’s sister (in Colorado) is a published author! Laurie just launched her first children’s book, called “The Crabsderbill & The Pot of Gold.” We were so surprised to see the character’s names in the book, Marissa and Jessie! Thanks, Laurie for including the kids in there! The book is available on Amazon.

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The Crabsderbill & The Pot of Gold by L.A. Bisel

Marissa’s latest recordings – Marissa was in the recording studio this summer at 17th Street Recording in Costa Mesa with the legendary musical genius Lewis Richards. She recorded a cover song called “Trouble Sleeping” by Corinne Bailey Rae. It was her first time to sing with a live band. She was so at home in the studio. We’re very proud of her. The musicians are from Lew’s band called The Outriders. They are amazing! Her track is available on iTunes, GooglePlay and CD Baby. She also shot a music video during the recording. It’s on YouTube.  She also worked at another studio doing background vocals for Sesame Street Live. :)

"Trouble Sleeping" cover by Corinne Bailey Rae

“Trouble Sleeping” cover by Corinne Bailey Rae

 

Marissa’s first paid gig as a filmmaker – Marissa also makes movies. Jim’s company gave Marissa a small budget to hire actors and produce a video for the company to pitch their products. She took on the task like a pro. Wrote, directed and edited the whole thing, complete with green screen effects and music with custom lyrics. What a story teller, this kid. I hope one day I’ll be allowed to share her final project publicly, but for now it’s still in stealth mode. (I can share offline… if you are interested in seeing an unlisted link let me know!) All I can say is the video was shown to the potential customer and it was one of the pieces of the presentation that helped land the business! Wow! So cool.

Marissa and her actors.

Marissa and her actors.

Marissa’s commercial – Her Milk Life commercial hasn’t aired on Hispanic cable in a while. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they will make an English version of it. They keep sending Marissa holding fees, so that must mean something good right? Meanwhile she still has auditions in Los Angeles every so often. It’s a drive, but worth the opportunities!

Milk Life commercial in Spanish

Milk Life commercial in Spanish

Me – I volunteer in Jessie’s classroom twice a week and I’m also the PTA’s Financial Secretary. We recently had our Ice Cream Social and it was a lot of fun! Our PTA President Phoebe is awesome.

With PTA moms, President Phoebe and Parlimentarian Jennifer

With PTA moms, President Phoebe and Parlimentarian Jennifer

Jim – He’s been working hard at the same company, doing Internet marketing, E-commerce, social media and SEO. He works hard. His friend Dana just came for a visit from Texas and they enjoyed a day on the golf course with their friend Ed. Jim also enjoys cooking and photography. He just shot some big wave photos in the recent swell that hit Orange County.

Jim, Ed and Dana

Jim, Ed and Dana

Big waves at the Wedge in Newport 9/8/14

Big waves at the Wedge in Newport 9/8/14

 

Jim and I are very proud of both our children. We are here to support them and help them go after their dreams. If you work hard and stick to your goals, anything can happen.

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If anyone is interested in more information about auditioning to OCSA next year, how to find an agent and go out for commercial auditions, etc. Anything at all, I would love to share any experiences with you! Just sent me a message in the contact form. Or just drop me a line and say hello!

Love, MaryAnne. xoxo

Knott’s Berry Bloom to bring in Spring!

Knotts-Berry-Bloom

Spring has arrived! Where can we bring the whole family and have all kinds of fun? Knott’s, of course!Enjoy Knott’s Berry Bloom is happening April 12 – April 27, with extended hours of 10am to 10pm! We’ll be there this Saturday to enjoy the Boysenberry Festival at the Ghost Town, dancing at the Bloomination Dance Party and Jessie can’t wait to join the kids (ages 3-11) at the Easter Beagle’s Enormous Egg Hunt! There will be food and wine tasting as well. Entertainment by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies at the Birdcage Theater will be awesome! Play giant board games at the new Boardwalk near Xcelerator or make a splash at our family favorite, the newly renovated Timber Mountain Log Ride. There really is something for everyone!

Would you like to take a virtual ride on the Timber Mountain Log Ride? Here it is!

Purchase your tickets or….  even better —> Season Passes to enjoy Knott’s all year round! Click here for info: https://www.knotts.com/tickets/

See you there!

Knott’s Berry Farm
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5200
Website: www.Knotts.com

The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.  

Five Reasons to purchase a Knott’s Season Pass

It’s no secret our family loves spending time at Knott’s! Conveniently located in the OC, we can get to Knott’s in less than 30 minutes and we’re ready for a good time! Over the years, we have collected so many fun memories that the kids will keep in their hearts forever. Every season, there’s something exciting to celebrate!

Having a Season Pass means instant fun, all the time… and with NO BLACKOUT DATES! All year long, you can visit the park and enjoy, without checking the calendar if your pass is valid that day. It’s the most affordable annual pass you’ll find of all the Southern California attractions. The entry level pass starts at only six payments of $14.00.

I just wanted to share our “Wendt Family Top 5 Moments at Knott’s” with you:

1. Halloween 2012 – Jessie and Marissa decorated the cutest pumpkin cookies for Halloween. Camp Snoopy is so much fun when it’s Camp Spooky! Non-spooky and perfect for the little ones!

Cookie decorating!

Cookie decorating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Grand opening of the Boardwalk Pier! June 2013 Knott’s opened a brand new area with family friendly rides! The kids loved the Coast Rider. With a minimum height requirement of 54″ it’s great for most school aged thrill-seeking children.

Opening of the Boardwalk Pier!

Opening of the Boardwalk Pier!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Our kids laugh so hard on the Timberline Twister at Knott’s. I will always remember their infectious giggle as they zoomed by!

Timberline Twister at Camp Snoopy

Timberline Twister at Camp Snoopy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Our 12-year old Marissa loves to sing and perform on stage. The best place to cool off and take a break from all the excitement is at the Calico Saloon. After the Calico Saloon Show, the singers came out to greet their audience. Marissa was all smiles as she met the stars!

Calico Saloon Show

Calico Saloon Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. We have so many holiday memories at Knott’s Merry Farm. The entire park is always decorated beautifully. I will always remember the hot cocoa, cookies and snuggles with the kids during a holiday event that we attended. Jessie even sang and danced on stage with the Peanuts Gang! So cute!

Snoopy and friends for the holidays!

Snoopy and friends for the holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many fun memories! That’s just five of them. Five of many reasons why you should purchase a Knott’s Season Pass!

Check out this screen shot:

Knott's Passes are so affordable!

Knott’s Passes are so affordable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more info click here: https://www.knotts.com/ticket-category/2014-Season-Passes

And guess what? Knott’s is having a Season Pass Giveaway on Facebook! Click here for a chance to win a family 4-pack of passes! —>   http://a.pgtb.me/wpwgZn

Good luck and see you at Knott’s!

 

Info:

Knott’s Berry Farm
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5200
Website: www.Knotts.com

Halloween Fun for Families in OC: Knott’s Camp Snoopy #CampSpooky

Camp Spooky logo

Looking forward to spending time at Knott’s Camp Snoopy for Halloween! During the month of October on weekends, Knott’s transforms Camp Snoopy into “Camp Spooky” with plenty of fun activities for the whole family. This daytime, non-scare celebration is best suited for kids ages 3-11.

Highlights include:

  • Snoopy’s Costume Party – kids can show off their costumes and hang out with friendly monsters and the PEANUTS Gang.
  • Charlie Brown’s Spooktacular Show – at Camp Spooky Theater, enjoy singing and dancing to fun Halloween music
  • Monster Factory – the whole family can explore a fun interactive maze
  • Trick-or-Treating location throughout Camp Spooky – 5 locations to pick up some sweet treats
  • Creepy Crawly Critter Cave – check out slimy, crawly critters here, if you DARE!
  • Scary Stories at the Lodge – creepy, silly tales read by a spooky story teller
  • Kooky Cookie Painting – yummy cookie decorating (small fee for this activity)

You can enjoy all of the above plus exciting kid-friendly rides at Camp Spooky!
Our 5 year old daughter, Jessie just loves all the rides.
{{ Check out her happy face on every ride in photos from my blog post last year. }}

What’s even better than enjoying Knott’s for the day with the family? Access to the park all year round! 2014 Season Passes offers unlimited access to Camp Spooky, exclusive event invites that happen year round and other cool perks. You can purchase Season Passes online at Knotts.com. Prices are so affordable, starting at $72.00 or take advantage of the installment payment program of just nine payments of $8.00!

See you at Knott’s Berry Farm!!

Here’s my footage from Camp Snoopy 2012.. Enjoy!! XOXO

 

INFO:

Camp Spooky runs weekends October 5-27 and is included with regular park admission.
Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park hours are 10:00am-5:30pm.
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5200
Website: www.Knotts.com

 

 

Happy 4th of July! Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats

 

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats!

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats!

Happy 4th of July! We are going to a pool party later today, so I looked up this simple Rice Crispy Treat recipe made with dry cake mix and sprinkles. It’s the perfect kids (and adults) treat and easy to eat at the pool! My friend Armi made some recently and it reminded me of the recipe I had saved on my “Baking” Board on Pinterest.

I copied the recipe from http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/cake-batter-rice-crispy-treats/

Cake Batter Rice Krispies Recipe
(Slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats, updated in June 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 (10 oz.) bag of mini-marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix (the dry cake mix, not prepared into a batter!)
  • 5 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 (1.75 oz.) container of sprinkles

Method:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add marshmallows. Stir until they begin to melt, then remove from heat. Whisk in the (dry) cake mix, then stir in cereal so it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and briefly stir. (Don’t stir too much or the sprinkles will bleed out their color.) Press the mixture into a baking dish (any size will do) and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting. I find spraying a knife with nonstick spray helps to cut them cleanly.

*Disclaimer: You consume dry cake mix at your own risk.*

 

Random: Keyboard Car

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What is that? It’s a car covered with computer keyboard keys! It even has colored keys and has designs on it. This project must have taken a very long time. Where does one purchase that many keyboards for this geeky project? I spotted this car at the Asian mini mall off Jamboree and Alton in Irvine. All I wanted was an Iced Sea Salt Coffee at 38C Bakery. This strange and unique sighting was an added bonus to my day.

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Fun Things to Do: Pageant of the Masters & Festival of Arts

Pageant of the Masters opens on July 7 and runs until August 31 in Laguna Beach. It’s one of Orange County’s most anticipated annual events. This year’s theme is “The Big Picture” – a tribute to the history of motion pictures and the ways in which art has moved the industry. You’ll be amazed by unique recreations of classic and contemporary works of art accompanied by an orchestra playing an original score. If you haven’t been to Pageant of the Masters, it’s truly a unique experience. Get tickets up close if you can. Otherwise, don’t forget your binoculars. It’s incredible to see these forms of “living” art as models hold their poses and are part of each piece. With the lighting and how still they are holding their poses, each piece looks almost flat and three dimensional at the same time, depending on how you look at it. It’s kind of hard to put into words. You just have to witness it for yourself. It’s spectacular!

Media Preview of Pageant of the Masters

Media Preview of Pageant of the Masters

I attended a media preview last month and was given a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes. The volunteer makeup artists, wardrobe and headpiece staff and models all worked together to complete each piece. There were even children as young as 11 years old siting still for long periods of time for makeup. I was very impressed mostly with the kids. Have you ever seen a kid still still for long periods of time, without an iPad or other gaming device in their hands? Wow!

Pageant of the Masters
July 7 – August 31, 2013
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
800-487-3378
http://www.foapom.com/pageant-of-the-masters/

Cost: Tickets prices start at $15.00

Here are photos from the media preview of Pageant of the Masters. It was great to see Debbie Miller, Lori Moreno, Ted Nguyen, Joel & Anne Tanner, Reggie Escalante, Jen Ho, Craig & Tanya Salcido, Darin & Lisa McClure, Oscar & Helen Gonzalez, HoDa and many others! Dinner at Tivoli Terrace afterwards was awesome!

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Festival of Arts just opened on June 30 and runs until August 31 and has been showcasing beautiful works of art for over 80 years. It’s one of the nation’s oldest and most highly acclaimed fine art shows. Here you’ll enjoy all kinds of art created by 140 artists, using a variety of media such as paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry, handcrafted wood art and furniture, ceramics, glass and more. What’s really fun is the atmosphere. Enjoy wine or beer, walk around, or get on the dance floor with your partner and dance the night away with the snazzy live band.

All kinds of daily activities will be available for the whole family to enjoy: Live music nightly, jazz concerts, wine and chocolate pairings, cooking demonstrations, guided art tours and art workshops. Sundays will feature a mix of music from Ethereal and Shill to Jazz/World/Classical fusion. From 2-4pm, Sunday in the Park will be the perfect atmosphere for a picnic on the green. Family Art Day is on Saturday, August 3. For a complete list of special events, visit the Festival of Arts website. There’s even a schedule of daily music.

Red carpet at Festival of Arts Opening

Red carpet at Festival of Arts Opening

Festival of the Arts
June 30 – August 31, 2013
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
http://www.foapom.com

Cost:

General Admission (Monday – Friday): $7
General Admission (Saturday & Sunday): $10
Students and Seniors (Monday – Friday): $4
Students and Seniors (Saturday & Sunday): $6
Children 12 or under, Military, & Laguna Beach Residents: FREE

Dining options: Tivoli Terrace Restaurant or Gina’s Alfresco.

Opening night was a blast, especially with Jim! We enjoyed hanging out with the #FestivalOfArts social media team. Lots of my favorite peeps were in attendance, tweeting and sharing photos & videos on Instagram & other platforms. It’s always great to see Calvin Lee, Justin Moore-Brown, Morgan & Erika Brown, Loren & Sondra Nason, Emily Crume, Ric & Pam Dizon, Bob Watson, Cindy Wang, Darin McClure, Eva Smith and many others. Thanks Ted Nguyen for organizing!

We even spotted TMZ‘s Max Hodges on the dance floor! That was awesome!

TMZ's Max Hodges supports the arts!

TMZ’s Max Hodges supports the arts!

Here are photos from opening night on June 30th:

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Of course, I’m drawn to any piece of art with use of PURLE!

These two were my favorites… the purple shirt was made with screws. So when I say screw art, I mean “art made with screws” not “screw art” as in – you get the picture. ;-)

Love this purple screw art by Andrew Myers

Love this purple screw art by Andrew Myers

"Virtuous Woman" by Hannah Harris

“Virtuous Woman” by Hannah Harris

Festival of Arts is the perfect summer activity for a date night or family time. I grew up in Orange County and both the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts were my first time to attend. How did I miss out on this all these years? Better late than never! I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to learn about these amazing events, right here in our “backyard.”

-MaryAnne

Fun Things To Do: Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm has a brand new area called the Boardwalk with three new family friendly rides. Construction is all done, just in time for Summer! I’ve been to Knott’s twice since their official Grand Opening Ceremony of the Boardwalk on May 30th. Pop culture guru and “Ambassador of America” Charles Phoenix was the MC for the event, serving up interesting facts about the Knott’s history and kicked off the ribbon cutting ceremony with a giant piece of taffy instead of ribbon! John Wayne’s son, Ethan Wayne was at the dedication and re-opening of the Timber Mountain Log ride with his nephew Duke! Ethan was at the actual opening with his dad when he was a young boy. It was incredible to see him up there, all grown up over four decades later. The log ride’s construction wasn’t quite ready for us to enjoy, so I waited until the blogger’s family event on June 15th.

While chatting with Sugar Jones near the log ride, she spotted Eric Lynxwiler, the ultimate Knott’s Guru. We were so excited to greet him. Turns out, he co-authored the book “Knott’s Preserved” with my Irvine High School classmate, Christopher Merritt! You can ask Eric anything about Knott’s and he’ll tell you everything there is to know. What a pleasure to meet him.

I met Eric Lynxwiler!

I met Eric Lynxwiler!

Here are a few photos from the opening ceremony of the Boardwalk & Dedication of Timber Mountain Log Ride:

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I couldn’t wait to show my family the Boardwalk!

The 3 new rides:

  • Coast Rider — Jim and Marissa (11) loved the Coast Rider. This kid friendly coaster has lots of fun twists and turns, perfect for kids 44″  or taller and adults who enjoy easy roller coasters.
  • Surfside Gliders — You become the pilot as you glide around in a two-person aircraft, taking in the view of the Boardwalk from up high in the sky.
  • Pacific Scrambler — A classic midway type ride full of circles and spins. Sure to create dizzy laughs.
The kids enjoyed the Boardwalk!

The kids enjoyed the Boardwalk!

Another ride that we found that I haven’t been on before is the Sky Cabin, located near Coast Rider. I remembered vaguely as a child, screaming down a parachute ride with my dad and sister once we got to the top. I must have been scarred slightly from that experience because I’m a bit sketchy with heights. The Sky Cabin was once that same parachute ride years ago. The view from up there is amazing. When you check out the Boardwalk, don’t forget about the Sky Cabin!

We really enjoyed the Timber Mountain Log Ride! They spruced it up and added realistic animated log workers everywhere. There’s a nice drop in the dark that you don’t expect and the big drop at the end is the best! I shot video with a GoPro of the full ride. Make sure you watch it in HD to see the details!

We took a break from the sun and enjoyed some drinks at the Calico Saloon, just in time for a show!

The show at Calico Saloon is so entertaining!

The show at Calico Saloon is so entertaining!

Marissa met the entertainers at the Calico Saloon show!

Marissa met the entertainers at the Calico Saloon show!

Jessie (5) loves Camp Snoopy. There are so many rides there that are perfect for her! I love seeing her smile and giggle on everything.

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Summer vacation just started for most of the kids here in Southern California. Knott’s is the perfect place for family fun all day long!

Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park CA 90620
www.Knotts.com

Cost:

Online prices start at $37.99!
Click here for Tickets Page