Monday, May 31, 2010

Final Day---Chcoclicious

What memories for the children this trip has been. They made Friends (in fact, the sound man's little daughter, famed for her shyness, took to Olivia and Amelia from the first day. Victor Jr., like James, makes friends very easily and he befriended a number of boys his age all weekend long.) Our boss, Trisha Edwards, gave the kids some VIP ride tickets so they got to go on a whole bunch of rides in between shows. On top of that, the soundman's wife also got some tickets and took their daughter and my daughters on even more rides.
Then there was the food! The vendors and staff out here have been so kind and generous to us. James was given a daily dose of chocolate dipped cheese cake on a stick and various other treats throughout the event. The deep fried cheese and veggie folks (Mr and Mrs Shmidt and their helper, Mr Schrink kept us in deep fried happiness as well as fresh cheese and some of the fattest hot dog corn dogs I have ever eaten. ) There was also a lot of chocolate. (duh)
The shows today went very well. Jim did his wheelbarrow-lay down in both shows and nailed it both times...the audience wnet nuts!
We added diabolo (Chinese Yo-yos) to our sales and Jim gave kids who bought them private lessons. They were very popular. We may have given birth to a new trend for the youths of this town.
The folks out here have been extremely kind. The audiences were awesome...not one bad audience. Cynthia's singing and the Foy routine went over very well. Both have become full time regulars in the show's rotations.
Tomorrow we wake early and drop the big three at the airport. then the three small ones and I start our drive back to Cali. Cynthia graduates in a few days then we are back on the road.
I will be posting a very nice video blog when we get bak into town.
Cheers and God Bless.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

WI Day 3 ChocoFest

No still photos today. Sorry. But lots of video coming soon.
The weather in Burlington was much cooler today when clouds moved in and softened the sun's rays. But that meant a bit more humidity. But no biggy. That's what you get during the late spring and summer anywhere east of Nebraska.
Saturday is usually the big audience day but today seemed to have bigger crowds. We re-worked our new summer show plan (we rotate three shows) to get a good balance in each act. The New Foy routine and Cynthia singing has added more diversity to the show but it also added new elements that we aren't accustomed to performing in our style variety show. The sound man, Jason, has been so helpful with our new diversity mics.
James did something really cool tonight at the last show. While balancing the wheel-barrow on his chin by one handle he lowered himself to his knees, then rolled himself to his bottom, straighten his legs then slowly rolled further onto his back until he was laying flat on his back with the wheel barrow still on is was fantastic.
As a general report allow me to say that everyone is doing really well. Olivia had a funny moment this morning. I asked Amelia if she wanted a drink with her french toast, I said, "They have whisky and beer." (Joking, of course.) Olivia said, "I like beer". The room was quiet at the time and filled with people silently eating....well, up to that point it was quiet. Olivia was loud enough to be heard by everyone and cause several people to laugh out loud. (She meant root beer...but why should I explain it to everyone....but I think they knew that!)

a few more pix

Cynthia as Freckle Face the Clown

Where is Alf?

3/4" Ant...he and three of his frineds were trying to carry an ice-cream truck away.

In the "Kid Kanopy" with Jim

Olivia close-up.......

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Burlington WI Choco Fest Day 2

First let me explain that last night I had one heck of a wasn't until this morning that I realized I was dehydrated and sunburn...I peed dust. So today I slathered the sunscreen and drank liquids all day. As a result I also made the kids do the same.
We had an early start today and a late end. With a lot of empty space between shows. I would've preferred to do two or three more shows than to just wait. But the stage was booked with community dance and cheerleader acts.
We had good sized and good humored audiences. Cynthia sang "Down to the River" at the last show and the response was off the charts. The Foy routine is really developing for the fair show. most of our performances of the Foy show so far have been inside buildings, theaters, churches, etc.
Below are so pictures:

Olivia found a cool spot under the show. The sun has been keeping things warrm...very warm.
This woman runs the Fudgery and gave us some free samples for the family.It was awesome. The can be found on the web (dad and Mami if you go to that site and tell me what flavor you want I will bring you home some....give me a couple of choices.)

Mr Schmidt of the Wisconsin Deep Fried Cheese..he has given us fried cheese, veggies and a bag full of wonderful Cheddar cheese today.

Juggler, Wade Henry, looking cool between strolls. He's the one who recomended us to the festival.

Jason our sound man and Jim posing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocolate Festival Day 1

What a wonderful day. Our contact (aka Boss) is really nice and has a fabulous sense of humor. Our sound guys are friendly and very helpful. Our stage is top notch but it is cluttered with sound equipment boxes, and the hypnotists 30 chairs stacked in the back...tomorrow our banner goes up to block the clutter.
Wade Henry the juggler and our old friend (who recommended us to the festival) was their today. He such a nice guy. He's from Florida and has a great show. He even has a 10-12 foot unicycle. His facial expressions are priceless.
No still photos today but I took a ton of video.
This morning the three older kids arrived at the airport and it was funny because James was video taping me as I taped them. Can't wait to see the video once I get it all on the computer. The computer I'm on is a notebook and very slow for video edit so the video blog entries will come next week.
There is a great deep fried cheese stand next to the stage and the Kind owner, Mr Schmidt, his wife and employee are great folks. They always have nice things to say and are easy to talk to. They even gave us a nice potpourri of deep fried cheeses, veggies, etc.
I am sure there is some much more to write about, like the giant air conditioned tent with the chocolate vendors and the Iron Chef like show going on, and so much more. But tomorrows schedule is a crazy one and I have been fighting a headache all day so I will bid you a good night...if there are typos, bad grammar, etc...I am too tired to edit and check it.
Until tomorrow...cheers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wisconsin ----Maracas--Cupcakes--Teapots--Cakes

In the middle of Nebraska the sign reads "You are Nowhere"



Wisconsin Swim

We made it to Wisconsin...the drive only took 8 more hours....Iowa-Illinois-Wisconsin. We had the honor to pay over $8.00 to drive on the cracked, broken, lousy highways of Illinois. Seems where the roads are free the roads are nice. But that was Illinois, the state that gave us even handed politics, friendly gangsters, and the most intelligent president in American History...

All that aside, the drive was beautiful. No clouds except for the occasional wisp or vapor trail of a high flying jet. No humidity. Just the lightest of wind...more of a soft zephyr. Kind people along the way too.

First thing we did after checking in we went to the Subway nearby and grabbed a bite. Then it was pool time. Though I personally not care for swimming I went in so the little ones could have fun and not be afraid. I had fun to my surprise. Victor accidental dunked Amy when she was trying to swim to him. He meant to grab her by the shoulders and pull her to him but didn't realize that would push her under. Though she didn't take in any water it did scare her.
The hotel man made things better with some free cookies. that and the hot tea made a nice end to the swim.

Bug on the wall!...First bug of the season...he isn't as big as a regular pond skimmer put bigger than a mosquito.
We stayed at a very cheap hotel last night in Iowa. The water seemed to smell a little bit fishy. Turned out the smell was in the air because the area was near biblical proportion in beetles. Little brown ones that when smooshed smelled like fish. I would've photographed one but all the ones I found were dead.
I should mention the hotel was cheap but it was clean.
The hotel we are in right now is very nice. On the scale of a Hampton Inn or similar.
When I pay for the room I go cheap (unless I am there for an extended period). When the client pays we have a set standard...the time we didn't we got fleas or scabies. So I had to the standards.
Maracas, Cupcakes, robots and teapots are the nicknames the kids have given the water towers that set along the roadways and in the fields of various towns along the way. The kids chose those names because they look like maracas, cupcakes (on stilts), robots, or teapots. I have more on this on the upcoming video.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We are giving Iowa a try!

Wow. What a beautiful country we live in. From snow capped mountains that look like powder sugar topped chocolate cakes of the Sierra to the purple mountains and rolling plains and hills of the desert. The strange and majestic rock formations and salt beds, the corn fields (freshly planted) all of it is awesome.
I am so proud how the three little ones are so well behaved and don't even need to be told to do their studies. They were complimented twice today by store clerks (once in NE and once in IA) for how polite they are. Oh, yeah once in WY at b-fast this morning. Praise God and thank you Mami for raising them well.
Too tired to upload pictures so I will try tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

14 and a half hours Wyoming

Today came early but it was a glorious day in all respects. We actually left by our planned time of 6am and stayed very close to schedule all the way to Wyoming. We will try for Iowa tomorrow.
The sky was beautiful and the air crisp all day. The kids did their homework, ate, played, sang and had a jolly time the entire trip. Most of my yelling at them was for getting too laud having fun.
Since the spring has been so mild the landscape was green through the desserts of Nevada and Utah. The traffic has been light.
It was nice to get behind the wheel again. It feels good.
I will post pictures tomorrow.

Hardest part of taking three kids under 8 alone is I have to take them everywhere I leaving them in the car...and the poor girls sometimes have to tolerate a men's truck stop rest room.

A quick not e since dawn and drive comes early tomorrow....the showers at the hotel here are interesting. The cold knob turns the wrong way so while I thought it was off it was on full diluting the hot making me think it was a less than luke warm shower...I showered then I noticed my mistake...retook the shower...full HOT...much better.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Preparing for a 4 month tour: What's involved

As we come closer to the departure date for the 3-4 month show tour of 14 states and Canada the amount of things to "get done" are increasing like a fully loaded freight train with no brakes on a very steep down hill grade .
The tasks must be down to assure safety as well as professionalism.
The goal is to have everything down a few days before the departure date to prevent that crazy last minute rush that all of us have experienced and hate. But who is fooling who? The truth is when you have seven kids, animals and a show there is no stopping that last minute rush. With my history of forgetfulness the chances of such a situation is almost guaranteed!
So the first rule of hand is prioritize.
In our case we set the purchase of the RV as the first priority. Anyone who has searched for a car, boat or RV knows what it takes. You visit dealerships, the internet, Craigslist, E-bay, private owners, car ad papers, etc. That is usually just for the research to determine what you want and need. After that has been determined you have to go through the hoops again to actually narrow down the purchase. And perhaps again to finally decide and make the purchase.
I jumped through the hoops again and again then when I think I found THE one I asked the private owner to bring in 4 hours from his home to mine (my bank wanted to get a gander at it). Turned out the kind man selling the RV didn't mention the lichen growing on the bumpers and the rubber roof. He also didn't notice the warped outer wall and soft inner wall, evidence of water damage. The soft spots on the roof was further proof. Then there were a few things like the world's noisiest generator, missing knobs on appliances, etc. that sealed the deal wasn't going to happen. As an act of kindness I gave him $200 and sent him home. I should mention my mechanic pointed out a bent part of the underframe from a tire-blowout and a burnt smell in the transmission fluid.
Pre-approved our search continued. Fortunately the day before the bad RV experience my wife and I stopped by a dealership on the way home from a doctor visit for our son in SF. They had one that was perfect for our needs. But at the time we had no idea this would be the one we would buy. It was $3000 more than my pre-approved loan and I explained that to the sales guy when we came back the day after the bad RV. He was fine with it and we bought it for $3000 less than the other one would have cost after taxes and such.
So it was back home to the bank with the papers and then back to the dealership with the banks papers. (Did I mention the dealership was 2 hours form our home?)
On this trip out we brought the young ones with us and since we were close to the Jelly Belly factory we turned the business trip of buying an RV into a family outing at the same time. The kids were stoked to play in the RV....being able to go to the Jelly Belly factory was just icing on the cake.

Two weeks later the RV is home with us and I am on the roof re-rubberizing it. I had no idea what that meant until I bought an RV. Gotta keep the rubber roof supple or you get water damage...and lichen! Being a used RV there were a lot of little things to do to make it our own and modernized. Like a new radio that plays CDs, MP3s, allows interface with ipods and other devices, and a ton of other things my kids will figure out and teach me. it even came with a remote.

That done it was time to get the chase vehicle, our Ford 15 passenger van, serviced. $575 dollars later it is good to go. Next the RV will go in and get a once over to assure the engine, transmission and suspension is in top notch order. That's next week.

In the mean time, banners and pipe for hanging have been ordered, text books and home school supplies ordered, new sound equipment for the new routines (especially the singing parts) have been ordered , sales supplies have been ordered. Everyday two or more packages arrive via the USPS, UPS, and Fed-Ex.

The costumes have been made but the parts that wear out like socks, shoes, ribbons, belts, etc have all got to be replaced or stocked up on. That includes make up, body sprays, and the stuff that makes us look and smell good on stage.

The travel cages, and containers that will be home to the cockatoo, doves, rabbits, snakes, and children......all need to be prepared, purchased or repaired.

Since we video blog everything new batteries, tapes, lights, lenses, clamps, etc have been bought and tested or stored, as in the tapes and batteries.

Cynthia is off to college so her stuff will travel with us until she separates from the show in August. She's all ready! that makes one of us.

Supplies for cooking and travel in the RV still need to be taken care of. Which also means new sleeping back for some of the cast and crew.

Contracts, publicity, marketing, press releases, hotel and RV park arrangements, and all the paperwork that makes things happen also need to be done. That includes tax and travel paperwork for Canada. the birds and the dog get their own passports in the form of travel papers from the vet. The snakes and bunnies don't....odd!

If you are still reading this you are a gluten for punishment. Because i am tired just thinking about all the needs of this trip.

Having a disabled son there are a few hundred needs of his that will need to be met. Like tie downs for his wheel chair installed. His bath chair and special equipment will need to be somehow loaded into the RV or Van. And since he wears special order diapers he will need those stored somewhere as well.

Did I mention the larger box trailer also has to go down and have it brakes inspected, it's bearings greased, and all it's other electrical and mechanical parts checked? The little box trailer had that down to it a couple of weeks back when I noticed once wheel was smoking and impossibly hot when we got back for a SoCal trip. The bearings burned out and took the hub with it and the axle. When they lifted it up the tire slid off with out loosing a nut. Some angel must of held it on that last 100 miles home.

To make sure I don't forget to pay a bill and loose my good credit score, my home, or my van I have made a list of when every bill is due. Also I have arranged as many bills to be paid on line as I can.

Today we secured a fine Christian lady and her daughter to house sit our home and keep the lawn, dog, cockatiel and bunnies alive. That was going to be a major worry but praise God things fell into place nicely.

The point is that setting up a tour is costly, time consuming, hectic and stressful. But it is worth it. We get to visit every corner of the Country, try new foods, meet new people, hear cool accents, visit historic places, and the list goes on. There is no way of telling if there will be any profit from a financial perspective but from and educational and on a personal level these tours are the greatest things on earth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Woodstock Pizza Chico 2nd Time-----some unrelated updates

Thursday was the KFMC 2nd Family Night performance at Woodstock.
This time Miles would do magic and Cynthia would be back doing balloons.Like I said in the video blog last's more than pizza.

Miles and the Woodstock Dragon. Not sure the connection between dragons and pizza. I was thinking maybe since Woodstock is named just like the town in NY where the music festival in the 60s took place (though technically it was a town over). And many people at Woodstock puffed the magic dragon. And Puff the Magic Dragon, which was a veiled euphemism for MJ, is a dragon in the song. Then a dragon makes sense. HOWEVER, more than likely when they looked at the Mascot costume catalog and they liked this costume best and my ramblings are just that....ramblings.

Miles performs magic for a family.

Miles amazes a little girl and her mom.
Miles was a little nervous because he hasn't done close-up magic for and audience in a few months (if you don't count friends and family). He has done many many close-up magic/strolling gigs many many times. But the slow season kept him from doing it more often.

Even a guy just waiting for his pizza becomes an unwitting volunteer. He was impressed!

Freckle Face...aka Princess Cynthia made balloon flowers, swords and animals for the kiddies.

Even hats....

This family has come out every week to see us (see you guys next week!)

A waitress allowed me to take a snap shot of her unique tattoos.

A pin Freckle Face wears.
As Uncle Bill (who came out this past Thursday and had a little pizza and magic and balloon. Cynthia makes an interesting clown. She doesn't do high pitch or strange voices. She doesn't do over the top gags and actions. Her philosophy is that she doesn't want to scare the kids so she is gentle and quiet and smiles sweetly.

Freckle Face, Uncle Bill (black shirt), Dave Keeny (green shirt), Uncle JC (red shirt) and Miles.
Lots of laughs, magic and fun. That big pizza is part of the kids' pay....yeah they get paid.

Jim was nearby Woodstocks at a park performing with the Gospel Choir from Champion Christian High school. Since I couldn't find him here are his friends.

Cynthia was hungry but values her costume so off it came and in went the pizza...before we were out of the parking lot.

Desert pizza....see it's not just pizza at Woodstocks. This was magnificent...or so the customer eating it said.

Jeff Ambrose, the owner of all 8 Woodstock Pizzas (from San Diego to Chico) with Freckle Face. very nice guy.
He even got a balloon lady bug.
Some folks have asked about Uncle Eddie. he is doing well. His walk with Christ is going excellently. We use Skype to talk quiet often. I snapped a pix. He is sporting a new style beard and moustache.

May 28-31 Wisconsin Chocolate Fest (WI)
(June 1-11 sold out)June 12 Gold Sox Baseball Game (Marysville, CA)
June 30-July3 Swift Current Frontier Days (SK, Canada) (((then 2000 mile drive to))July 6-July 10 Laurel County Fair (London, KY)July 12-25 Beech bend Amusement Park (Bowling Green, KY)
July 26-31 Clermont County fair (oh)August 2-15 Quassy Amusement Park (Middlebury, CT)August 17-21 Delaware County Fair (NY)August 24-28 Union Fair (ME)
Sept 1 New Life Neighborhood Church (Asheville, NC)Sept 3-6 "3 County Fair" (MA)
Sept 16-19 National Cattle Congress (Waterloo, IA)
Sept 26 Orland First Baptist (CA)
Sept 29-October 3 Southern NM State Fair (NM)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Video Blog 1.4 Woodstocks Pizza Jim & Cynthia

Princess Cynthia donned her clown costume and became Freckle Face as Jim climbed into his stilts and took to Woodstock's Pizza in Chico, Ca last Thursday. We will be doing more with Woodstock this Thursday and next Thursday as well.
Calico Spring Festival video blog (1.5) will be coming soon in two parts: Part one: "The Show" Part two: "The Town"


At this writing I am back at home base. We performed three shows throughout the crazy windy Mother's Day. The crowds were nice but smaller than when we perform on the Halloween Ghost Haunt. With only three shows and three hours between show one and two we had the opportunity to goof off and shoot a lot of video for the forth-coming video blog.

The wind took it's toll causing Jim's cart to roll off stage, Miles' walking globe to follow and the fire-eating equipment to do the same. The wind whipped up the sand, dust and gravel of Calico and deposit it everywhere. Most often it pelted the people in our audience and us when we stepped out from the relative protection of our stage. I say relative protection because the wind still whipped around and made some stunts difficult. Jim couldn't balance the wheel barrow on his chin while on the ladder because the large heavy metal barrow became a sail and would try and fly away. His Diabolo (Chinese YoYo was kept low and the giant toss into the air was 86ed because it ended up sailing across the sky and nearly hit someone in the audience once so we stopped doing that. Fire eating was hell too. I say it like that because if you experienced from my position you would have had a taste of what hell will be like. The wind whipped around our stage like I have never experienced (and I've been doing Calico for 14 years). I had more flashbacks, that's when the flame is pushed by the wind back to my face, more than ever before. My mutton chops are a little closer to my face thanks to "fire-shaving".

This was Belle's first time back to Calico since we got her from Janet, the Pottery Shop Owner, a few months back. She remembered Janet and her black toy poodle, Big Boy. Belles has learned how to rough house with Victor Jr and Big Boy was surprised when Belle swatted him when he barked at her. His top dog position was challenged. he was also a little jealous when Janet held Belle. Big Boy is a cool dog and you should go to Calico just to meet him. Should have taken a picture of them playing.

Between shows.

During the show....note snake.


Notice the flashback as I try to light my tongue.

While Jim Juggles I get refreshed.