This dinner was 20+ years in the making so it was only fitting that we went to a fancy schmancy restaurant. Oh, yes. Only the finest for my dear Jane.
Here are some pictures of our food.
The spreads are tasty, but the bread got cold too quickly.
This is a picture of Jane’s filet.
Jane’s baked potato.
My chicken, which was surprisingly very good. But for the price, it better have been. LOL. I think I could feed 4 people at Applebee’s for the price of that piece of chicken.
This is the most delicious sautéed spinach I have ever tasted. I don’t know what Jane thought of her dinner, but I was very, very happy with the food that I ordered. My food was so good that the price didn’t even bother me and you all know how much of a cheapskate I am. LOL.
The dessert was great too. In the middle of our meal, our server asked if we wanted dessert because they had one particular dessert that takes 20 minutes to make. When she gave us our options, that was the exact one that we wanted. I told her the 20 minutes didn’t bother us because we’ve waited 20+ years to see each other. Twenty measly minutes is nothing.
The last time I saw Jane was March 1993. That’s when my family moved from Las Piñas (a city located in the island of Luzon in the Philippines) to Colorado. Jane moved to the US in 2000 but we never had the opportunity to see each other until now. It’s funny because our mutual friend Sheryll only lived in the US for three years or so and yet I saw her four times. Jane has been in the US for 14 years and this is the first time we’d gotten together.
I initially planned to take her to dinner at Yard House because their food is familiar to me. There’s one at Legends that I’ve dined at a few times and I really like it. The prices are pretty reasonable. I planned to buy dinner so that was a factor.
My friends who attended the Zumba Conference with me wanted to go to dinner before the theme party on Saturday night. We initially thought we would go to Fleming’s but then nixed the idea after seeing the prices. Everything is a la carte so the cost of dinner would add up really quickly. After considering our other options, we ended up at Yard House where I had originally planned to take my friend Jane. Anyway, it worked out for the best because, out of all our restaurant options at LA Live and Nokia Plaza, Yard House seemed to have the best vegetarian selections. One of the women I traveled to the conference with is a vegetarian.
That meant no Yard House on Sunday night. Jane wanted steak so that really only left one place: Fleming’s. Oh, irony! LOL. I was trying to be cheap on Saturday night and managed to avoid Fleming’s only to end up there the next night when I was actually footing the bill. The universe is funny that way.
Of course, the food was really good and I hadn’t seen Jane in over 20 years so it was totally worth it. Don’t ask how much it was, though. It actually cost more per person than our dinner at Duck City. At least there we got appetizers and soups (the best soup ever) and I think Lance even had a glass of wine. I don’t think Brian and I have even come close. Well, maybe once. LOL.
I hope Jane knows how truly special she is to me. She managed to get her cheapskate friend to buy a really expensive dinner and spring for an extra night at the JW Marriott at LA (also not cheap) just to make dinner happen. And, what a delightful dinner it was. I had a great time catching up. Hopefully, it won’t take another 20 years for us to get together again.
Here are some pictures from our dinner at Yard House.
I love Yard House because the food is reasonably priced and reasonably good and they have great reasonably priced drinks. Reasonable for LA anyway. LOL.
I think it’s going to be tough for you guys to figure out which plate is mine because I didn’t order my usual mac and cheese. Even though I deviated from my usual, I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed my dinner so much that I actually want to drive out to Legends in Kansas City and take Brian to dinner at the Yard House there.
Have you figured out what I had for dinner yet?
Sixteen lucky women in my Aqua Zumba training got free Aqua Zumba sandals from Speedo. I was jealous but happy for them at the same time also. Check out the two designs that they are testing right now.
Day 3 consisted Aqua Zumba training. Yes! I am finally licensed to teach Aqua Zumba. Finally! I really wanted to get my Aqua Zumba at the 2013 Zumba Instructor Convention but the training sessions were full by the time I registered. I’m so glad I was able to get in the training this time around.
Here’s a photo of me with out instructor Caroline Parsons. She is the new lead Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) for the Aqua Zumba training program.
As they say, things happen for a reason. I never did catch Beto at the convention last year but this time he actually got in the pool and took the Aqua Zumba master class with us. What at treat!
Not only did I get a photo with Beto, I got photo with Beto with his shirt off!
I caught a glimpse of the Zumba Step demo during our lunch break. I was too late to participate in it, though. I think I’m going to ask for the Zumba Incridible Results DVD set this year for either my birthday or Christmas because I doubt that any of the gyms here in town will pick it up. It’s just too much like other existing group exercise formats. At least, I don’t think the YMCA will offer it.
Oh, and guess who I ran into while I was watching the Zumba Step demo. None other than the handsome David Velez, of course. You might recall him from my post about day 2 because he helped Steve Boedt with our Pro Skills training.
Besides photos with Caroline, David, and Beto, I also got a photo with Richard and Jill from the Aqua Zumba team.
Actually, practically the whole Aqua Zumba training team was there on Sunday afternoon. I wish that I could have gotten a photo with all of them.
I missed mentioning the Burlesque and Fierce Funk workshops that I took on day 1 of the conference because I didn’t have any photos. My phone ran out of battery.
Burlesque was awesome. Gina Grant taught it along with Betsy Dopico and Melissa Chiz. They showed us five Burlesque routines. I wish there were choreo notes because I can’t remember any of them to save my life. They were super fun, though.
So those two workshops happened between the kick off session and the Augie’s Quest fitness concert. The fitness concert was great but it wasn’t half as good as the one in Orlando. It was still a lot of fun, though.
Day 2 consisted of Zumba Pro Skills with Steve Boedt. He is beyond amazing. Seriously. What a treat too because Gina Grant, Donna Giffen, and David Velez all helped with the training. How many people can say they took Pro Skills with four of the best Zumba Education Specialists? LOL.
And the best part? I was third in line so I was front and center during the training. In other words, I was in the splash zone. Literally. Steve sweats a lot. I actually got some of his DNA on me and I almost didn’t want to shower at the end of the day.
Here are some of the photos I took during training.
This is where he showed us how the A/V team used condoms to keep the mic receivers from getting gross. I guess condoms were the best way they could think of to keep sweat and dirt off the technology. Interesting.
This is my favorite photo of the day. For obvious reasons.
Here’s a picture of the theme party. This one wasn’t as cool or as fun as the one in Orlando. There were entertainers working the crowd. No photo booth. No face painting. The conference hall decorations were sparse. Actually, other than the lighting, I’m not sure there were any. No big name performers. Not even an impersonator. LOL.
The party was fun but pales in comparison to the theme party at the 2013 Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando. If you guys get a chance, I highly recommend attending the conference first before attending the convention that way you’re building up. After attending the convention, you have such high expectations that it’s hard not be disappointed.
The event itself was fantastic and the trainings and workshops were high quality but the fitness concert and the theme party were not as elaborate as Orlando. That’s all.
Here’s a photo of my travel mates — Lisa, Pat, and Stephanie — at breakfast.
The three of them traveled together because they flew through United. I used Brian’s frequent flier miles (thus, my airfare only cost me the $10 handling charge roundtrip) so I had to use American Airlines. I arrived only an hour behind them so it wasn’t too bad. Although, they had a nonstop from Los Angeles to Wichita on the way home so that was nice. I, on the other hand, had another layover in Dallas.
I can’t complain, though. Even though my choices were limited, using the frequent flier miles saved me almost $500.
I’m glad that I saved money on airfare because our hotel was not cheap. We stayed at the JW Marriott at LA Live which is right across from the Staples Center and just a short walk from the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC). That convenience came at a price. It’s worth every penny, though.
Check out the view of our hotel from the LACC.
The one nice thing about the Los Angeles Zumba Instructor Conference compared to the Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando is that there were no lines at registration. Probably because the conference is a much smaller event consisting of only about 5,000 or so Zumba instructors.
We got badges and goodie bags in no time. We didn’t get free conference shirts this time. However, we did get free Zumba sweat towels in our goodie bags.
The goodie bags are just like the backpacks they gave us at the convention except they’re in the conference theme colors. Lisa is modeling hers below. She must have a sixth sense or something because her day 1 outfit perfectly matched the conference colors. Even her Asics and cellphone case matched!
Here’s a photo of Stephanie, Pat, and Lisa, on our way to the kick off session.
And then here they are at the kick off session.
It was insane! I think there was enough energy packed in the conference hall to power a small village for a month. LOL. Zumba instructors are so energetic!
There was an LA Lakers game that same night at the Staples Center but we had a date with the Augie’s Quest Fitness Concert. A basketball game would be something fun for Brian to do if he does go with me next time so I made a mental note of it.
Here are some pictures from the fitness concert…
If you think this is a lot of people, wait until you see the size of the crowd at the fitness concert at the Orlando convention. This is nothing compared to that.
That was pretty much all of day 1 in a nutshell. I’m amazed that I lasted the entire fitness concert considering I was running on 3 hours of sleep that day and I was up for almost 24 hours the night before. I must have absorbed some energy from my fellow Zumba instructors. What an amazing experience!
As you all know, I didn’t get a break last weekend because I attended the 2014 Zumba Instructor Conference in Los Angeles. What a crazy, busy weekend!
It all started with me being up almost 24 hours on Thursday. I didn’t want to miss more than two days of work so I decided to work the full day on Thursday and only take vacation on Friday and Monday. Well, Brian and I both go to work at 7 AM so I was up from 5 AM until almost 5 AM again the next day. Why?
I headed straight for the airport after I got off work at 4 PM. My flight didn’t actually leave until 6:30 PM or so but Brian and I are really OCD about being early for stuff. After a layover that lasted almost 3 hours in Dallas, I was aboard my connecting flight and arrived in LA at midnight.
I was originally just going to get a cab, because I wanted to save money, but Brian insisted on getting me an Execucar. It was expensive, but my flight only cost $10 so I was still way ahead. LOL.
I’m really glad that Brian talked me into reserving an Execucar because Abraham (car #25) was waiting for me as I descended the escalator, before I even got to baggage claim. I’m so glad I didn’t have to track a cab down because I was completely exhausted. Mind you, 12 AM in LA is 2 AM in Wichita so I’d already been up for almost 24 hours at this point.
Abraham was nice enough to stop at a gas station with a convenience store so I could get a case of water, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and some plastic utensils. Yes, I’m a Zumba convention pro. I know to pack things like protein bars and buy snack stuff that need no refrigeration. But not unhealthy things like candy bars or potato chips. I got stuff that’s actually good for you. Had there been fruit at the gas station, I would have gotten some too.
Abraham was very nice. He didn’t seem as friendly at first but he quickly warmed when he learned that I spoke Spanish. He even offered to drive me back to the airport at the end of my stay.
I was like, “Are you sure? I’m leaving here at 4 AM.” He assured me that is when he usually starts his day also. He said, “Just ask for Abraham, car #25.” Worked for me. I’d rather have someone familiar drive me than get a new driver.
There are rumors that there will not be a conference in LA next year but if I’m back for the 2015 Zumba Instructor Conference, I’m totally requesting Abraham again. He was professional and prompt and very nice. If you’re ever in the area and in need of a driver, I highly recommend him.
Many years ago before I met my wonderful wife, back when I didn’t know any better. I professed that I would never own a suit. Back then I never thought I would ever need one. I had not needed one in the past and I never saw myself in a career path that would require me to wear a suit every day.
Fast forward to a few years after we get married. I find myself in a position that I need a suit. My wife, a firm supporter of the “Dress for the job you want” philosophy in life, persuaded me to finally “Man Up” and get a suit, and I did. I now own three suits: a dark gray one, classic black, and a pin-striped one. And, I can tell you with the upmost certainty, I look fantastic in my suits!
Now fast forward to present day. My wife has again persuaded me to do something that I told myself I would never want, need, or desire ever in my life… buy a tuxedo. Today I get to go and get fitted for a tux for an upcoming black tie event. I spent a good deal of time last night trying to convince her that I do not need a tux, that I can just wear my black suit and get a black tie (get it, black tie event, lol) but after a few moments and several web page searches that defined black tie attire, she made the decision that we would buy me a tux.
This morning I told her that when I’m 50 will probably be the next time I wear the tux and I will be one of those old guys that suck in his gut and are proud of the fact that they can still fit (though barely) into their old tux.
I guess I need to embrace change instead of fighting it. So in order to embrace this change, I’m going to take a series of James Bond inspired pictures when I get my tux. Stay tuned!
Saturday was a pretty busy day for us. We were up late watching Goldfinger, James Bond movie #3 in our project of watching every Bond movie ever made. After the painting party we dropped Misty off at her sister’s house in Andover so we didn’t get home until almost ten. Therefore, we didn’t start our movie until late.
I had originally planned to attend Melissa’s Zumba class at Zeal at 8 AM on Saturday morning, but since I was up so late I ended up nixing that idea. I couldn’t stay in bed all day though because I had my own Zumba class to teach at Andover YMCA at 11 AM. Not that I would have. I rarely ever sleep in, even when I’m up all night.
After my Zumba class we went shooting at Bullseye with Cory and April. Then after that we had a couple of events: Cutter J the Absurdist at the Donut Whole and then The Fabulous Fleshtones at Walkers Bar & Venue.
Before going out for the evening, Brian made us some roast beef and cheese eggrolls. We made some the other day and we loved them but there was something missing. Brian decided we needed some Arby’s sauce. We ended up going by Arby’s on the way home from shooting and picking up some curly fries and Arby’s sauce for our eggrolls. What a brilliant idea! The sauce was exactly what the dish needed.
For dessert Brian fried up leftover lumpia wrappers and sprinkled cinnamon sugar over them. Those turned out really great also.
We had a little bit of time to chill at home before our first event. We arrived at the Donut Whole just in time to watch our friend Aaron aka Cutter J the Absurdist perform. This guy is amazing! Here are some videos I took of his performance.
Not only does he masterfully mix music and visuals throughout his performance, he also sings, plays with spoons, and tap dances. I’ve never watched anything like it. He’s not just talented, his creativity is out of this world.
After his performance we were off to Walkers Bar & Venue for the Fabulous Fleshtones. We’d never been to Walkers. It’s pretty new. Our friends’ gig was the perfect excuse to check it out. Apparently, Walkers is the new hangout in town. The place was packed.
The Fabulous Fleshtones were great as always. Their music is so different from the music we were listening to at the Donut Whole just moments before, though. I’m always amazed at our eclectic taste in music. LOL.
Anyway, that’s our weekend in a nutshell. How was yours?
It’s a painting and shooting kind of weekend. I had a lot of fun painting with my coworkers last night. Click the right arrow on the picture above to see more photos from our painting party at Paint the Towne.
Huge thanks to Tammie for organizing the event and to Misty for taking a bunch of photos. Thanks also go out to my awesome husband for making mini tacos for me to bring to the party and for driving Misty and me to and from the event. I really appreciated not having drive after a few glasses of wine, which flowed quite freely because everyone brought one or two bottles and then some. There were plenty of yummy eats too so none of us were drinking on empty stomachs. Safety first!
Since I got to do what I wanted to do last night, Brian got to do what he wanted to do this afternoon. Cory and April went shooting with us also, which was awesome because they shared their targets and I got to shoot Cory’s new toy — a 22 calibre Ruger rifle.
Here are a couple more photos from the shooting range.
If you’re trying to score some points with your partner, taking him to the gun range is a sure fire way to do it (pun intended – LOL). Plus, couples who play together stay together. Just sayin’…