My Journey Into Veganism

A little background….I went vegetarian at the age of 15 – a young, passionate teenager vehemently sharing my views on animal rights and the plight of the voiceless from the day I read Peter Singer’s eye opening book “Animal Liberation”. Since then, I can’t honestly say I was 100% every single day – there were times, like during my two pregnancies, that I did revert back to my meat-eating ways.  Back then there was no facebook, no instagram, no YouTube, not much in the way of social media with which to share the horrific images and stories of what goes on behind those slaughterhouse walls.  I never did any research either, as to whether or not a vegetarian diet could sustain a healthy pregnancy.  I just thought I had no choice, that I had to eat animal flesh to get the protein I needed.  Boy was I wrong!

During the last omnivore stint, every time I would consume animal flesh I would get sick.  Terrible stomach aches and indigestion accompanied by intense gas pains (gross I know) and misery after eating.  Every…single…time.  That was it.  My body was telling me to stop and I had no problem quitting again cold turkey.  I never looked back.

Here it is 15 years later and I have a daughter who reminds me a lot of someone I used to know.  About 2 years ago, after eating a steak dinner, for some reason she decided to watch a video on YouTube “If the Slaughterhouse Had Glass Walls”.  On the way to drop her off at her friend’s house that night she said to me “I’m not eating meat anymore.  I watched this video and cried the entire time”.  I felt my heart leap in my chest and knew one day she would figure it out for herself. This was the day!

About a year into it, she told me she wanted to go Vegan.  My daughter does a lot of her own research and was horrified to learn of the methods used in the dairy and egg industry.  Although I was still eating these things, I supported her in her decision and did not try to sway her either way.  Veganism just seemed so difficult to me.  The thought of coffee without creamer in it, no cheese pizza and no tuna sandwiches or egg biscuits…how could I give that up?  I was buying “Organic” creamer and cheese, “cage free certified humane” eggs and “sustainable” fish.  Sounds okay right?  Cows have to be milked and hens have to lay eggs…that was my reasoning.  No, it’s not – it’s not okay and again, I was wrong.

Even though my 15 year old daughter had made a smooth transition and preached to me daily, it wasn’t until my visit to a local animal sanctuary opened my eyes to the necessity of living a totally Vegan lifestyle if I was truly wanting to do my part to end animal suffering.

California Adventure – VidCon 2014

20140625_200756

The last 3 days of our California vacation were spent taking the kiddos to VidCon. For those who don’t know, VidCon is the year’s largest convention for artists that publish videos and entertain on YouTube.  YouTube has become a modern day phenomenon.  My kids, for example, don’t hardly even watch regular TV anymore.  They watch YouTube!  Going to VidCon for them is like one of us going to the Academy Awards and mingling with the celebrities.

We really didn’t know what to expect on the first day so we just got up early and headed out. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot not too far into the convention center parking garage.  When we walked up to the doors, the crowd was ridiculous.  A line winded around the building and curved about 1 million times.  Doors had not even opened yet and there were at least 3000 people in front of us. I got on Facebook from my phone and read tons of angry comments from fed up parents who had spent lots of time and money just to sit in line and have their kids cry because the disorganization led to them missing a signing or picture with their favorite YouTuber.

We really didn’t have a plan in place so when they opened the doors to the arena, we ran inside to watch the opening celebration.

20140626_151915

It was actually pretty fun and really set the tone for the rest of the convention.  Inside the convention hall, it was pure madness.  Everyone trying to figure out how the process worked to line up for signings and autographs was pure hell.  I felt as if I was in a teenage mosh pit.

20140626_112513

20140626_134643

Since we did this over a year ago, my memory is a little spotty on what exactly we did our first day so here are some pictures to help me remember:

20140628_135306

Tyler Oakley

20140626_133635

20140626_165223

That guy from HGTV

20140627_152332

20140627_170952

20140627_161740

The mobbing of a guy who does videos on Vine

20140627_172300

20140627_172346

The only YouTubers that my husband and I watch are the ShayTards.  I’m amazed that one video of Shay Butler romping around like a dork in a unitard has turned his family into millionaires over the course of 5 years.  They have over a million subscribers and their company Maker Studios – was just bought out last year by Disney for over 500 million dollars.  Talk about success!  I was bummed I wasn’t able to go to their signing on the first day because of the crowds.  We did get to meet them but more on that later.

The next day my daughter wanted to meet one of her favorites, Joey Graceffa.  This kid is a beautiful boy, no wonder the line we waited in was 6 hours long.  Yes,  SIX HOURS. At least the end result was worth it:

20140627_135656

20140627_135653
20140627_135647

His was a traditional signing, so that meant no pictures.  Just a high five and a handshake.  We made up for that earlier this year when Joey came to our area to do a book signing.  My daughter finally got her picture!

While we were standing in that 6 hour line, my husband texts me this picture:

IMG_2465

Apparently Shay Butler was waking through the center and was nice enough to take a selfie with my husband.  Ugh, I was jealous!

My son went on his own little adventure and attended a few YouTuber panels.  During one, he was able to get a picture with Chris Hardwick aka. The Nerdist…aka…that guy who hosts the Talking Dead on AMC.  Yep, that’s me being jealous again!

IMG_5803

The last day we were there, I was able to get into the ShayTards family panel.  That was a ton of fun.  I was able to ask them a question over the mic – I think I asked Collette how she stays so calm, being the mother of 5 children and the wife of Shay!

20140628_100319

 20140628_102705

20140628_104237

While I was at the panel, my daughter got more pictures with a few of her faves:

IMG_3196

Alfie from Pointless Blog

IMG_9888

The hilarious Tobuscus

Finally on our last afternoon the ShayTards called a pop up signing for those who didn’t get to see them on the first day due to the crowds.  We waited about 1.5 hr and had a great meet.

20140628_161752

20140628_161738

20140628_161719

20140628_165556

Overall VidCon was certainly an experience.  It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and I know the kids enjoyed themselves.  I’m not sure that we would do it again, but maybe….

California Adventure Day Two

This day I had planned for us to go into the Hollywood area and do some sight seeing.  We got up early and after a nice (and free) breakfast in the hotel we headed out to Hollywood.  On the way there we drove through the ta-ta area of Beverly Hills:

 

Arriving into Hollywood, we parked right across from Hollywood High school:

20140622_093352

 

First on the agenda was the Hollywood Museum but they weren’t going to open for about an hour so we wandered down Sunset and came across the coolest store ever built:

20140622_101548

It was certainly the biggest candy store I had ever seen and there were a couple of really cool rooms that had different themes.  My favorite:

20140622_100240

Disclaimer: No humans were harmed in the making of this blog

Warning!

Warning!

 

Being the Walking Dead fan that I am, I had to check out the goods:

20140622_100307

I don’t even know how they were able to collect this and put it in a jar…

20140622_100253

Now we know, zombie brains are small

20140622_100235

Paying homage to the best show ever

20140622_100230

Might be a good disguise in the event of the zombie apocalypse…

The boys made a pit stop:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 036

The “gross” room

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 039

When you gotta go you gotta go

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 037

The best ideas are thought up while in this position….

There was even a gas station inside:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 043

 

And a Wonka section of course:

 

Holy Wonka!

Holy Wonka!

And this creepy baby thing:

No thanks!

No thanks!

By the time we were done navigating our way through the largest candy store ever, the Hollywood Museum opened up.

20140622_093540

 

Marilyn guards the front door

Marilyn guards the front door

 

Apparently this was the old Max Factor building where the stars like Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe would go to get made up before a shoot.  It is filled with years and years of movie memorabilia – which was a big hit for our move loving family.  It was three floors full of movie making goodness.  Here are some of my favorites:

20140622_103825

Costumes from Sweeny Todd

20140622_104648

We all know this guy

20140622_104847

Effie’s dress from the Hunger Games

20140622_105819

I’m dating myself here, but this is Pee-Wee’s bicycle from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

20140622_111006

Prop for the long distance shots of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”

20140622_103757

Dexter!!

We spent a good two hours in here at least, it was well worth every minute!  The museum is connected to Mel’s Diner so after we were done we got a jump on the lunch crowd and got a table.

20140622_093419 Food was good.  Expensive but good. By the time we left there were about 50 people waiting to get in.  Mel’s is kind of a Hollywood icon I guess.

Next on our “tour” was Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Which I think is now Egyptian or something because it says so.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 053

This is where they used to roll out the red carpet

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 050

See, I wasn’t kidding

Of course we had to take the obligatory tourist photos in front of the building:

20140622_094918

Note my USA jersey…it was game day vs. Portugal

20140622_094858

20140622_094603

20140622_094549

 

And of course checked out the footprints:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 020

I took a million of these pictures so here’s two

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 016

 

For those of you just itching to see about a hundred stars on the walk of fame –  I took this just for you:

 

Walking back down Sunset you can see the Hollywood Sign

20140622_102005

See, it’s waaaaay back there

After our Hollywood romp, my husband was growing restless because we had passed lunch and the USA game was approaching…yet we didn’t know where we would stop and watch it.  We decided to go down to Santa Monica and see if we could find a place.

Parking at the Santa Monica Pier was interesting.  After paying another gazillion dollars for a few hours access, we drove into this little parking garage, wedged our minivan into the smallest spot possible between another car and a brick wall – and handed our keys over to the valet who said “you pick up your car over there” and pointed across the street at yet another parking garage.

The pier was packed!  I’ve never seen so many people crammed into one space (well, I see that later in the trip but that’s another day).  Here’s our walk from the parking area down to the boardwalk:

The water was freezing so the hopes my kids had of swimming did not become reality (they are used to FL beaches).  We didn’t do the amusement park area but walked all the way down to the end.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 062

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 060

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 058

20140622_134057

20140622_134051

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

At some point my son’s flip flop had a blow out (no he didn’t step on a pop top thank goodness) and we had to buy a new pair.  One pair of $8 Santa Monica flip flops coming right up!  I’ve never seen a kid get so mad at shoes before.  I’m thankful that little shop was there!

By this time, I had another man in my life getting a bit grumpy.  Game was about to start and nowhere in sight to watch it.  We had surrendered to the fact we would have to load up the WatchESPN app on the iphone and listen to it on the drive back but then I saw a little restaurant across the way.  I said “what about there?” There was a sign out front that read “Watch World Cup Here!” It was about 10 minutes until kickoff and as we walked through the door the owner greeted us with “Are you here to watch the game or eat?” We responded in unison “Watch the game”.

He seated us right in front of the big screen TV!  To our surprise there was not many people in there yet.  A few at the bar, but there were 6 of us and the table was for…get this – exactly 6 people!  God really wanted us to be able to watch this game.  Over the course of those 2 hours, even though we had eaten lunch just a few hours before, we ate…and ate…and ate….and watched the USA tie Portugal. *sigh* By the end of the game the place was hoppin but we made our exit.  The food was excellent and the hosts gracious.  We can’t thank them enough for such a great time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Intense

With full bellies we waddled back to our car…which was again, across the street…and made our way out of town.  Somewhere along the way someone in the car  thought it would be a good idea to take Mulholland Dr up the mountain in a quest to reach the Hollywood sign.  I think it might have been the driver…my husband.  Before long we were literally hanging off the edge of the mountain (ok not literally but it felt like it) and I was holding back my stomach from spontaneously leaping out of my body completely on it’s own accord.  We have to be getting closer….we have to be…were the words we were repeating, as we could see the sign but couldn’t quite get there.  As we drove higher and higher….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nothing but a steep drop off to the side of the car!

Needless to say we never made it.  We followed every tour bus we saw until finally we asked this guy how to get to the base of the sign.  The directions went something like this “Take that street until it curves right, then left…take a right and then at the next curve take a left…take another left…then go a little ways and take a right…then another left and an immediate left…yada yada” My husband was just nodding his head.  I was thinking “Are you serious right now??” We decided to just make due with the overlook area and saw it from a distance:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was as close as we were gonna get

Making our way back down Mulholland (thank goodness) we ran into a traffic jam because something was going on at the Hollywood Bowl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure who it was that drew such a crowd

By the time we got back into Thousand Oaks, where our hotel was we were tired.  Because we stuffed ourselves silly while at Santa Monica…I can’t even remember if we had dinner that night!  I don’t think we did.  I think we all go back and crashed.  My kids are still giving me grief that we didn’t make it all the way to the sign!

Day three coming next….The Queen Mary and Malibu!

California Adventure Day One

On the agenda: Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and Anaheim.

We scored some tickets on Virgin America at a good price from DFW to LAX.  Our flight was leaving at around 145pm so after getting the animals all squared away at home and a lunch at the airport before the flight, we were up up and away!  Let me tell you, we loved Virgin America.  We are American Airlines flyers usually and there’s nothing special about AA.  But on Virgin, all the seats are a black leather type of material, there is 5 times more leg room than AA flights and every seat has it’s own TV/entertainment system where you can watch movies, listen to music, watch LIVE satellite TV and even order food and drinks from.  The cabin has what they call “mood lighting” with a purple hue.  The satellite TV came in handy because we wanted to keep up on the World Cup and was able to watch a game while flying.  My husband was in heaven!

World Cup at 30k feet!

World Cup at 30k feet!

The flight was good, minus some minor turbulence (I do not like flying) and after the mile long walk and a bus ride, we met my parents at the car rental center.  The drive to Thousand Oaks, where the hotel was, was uneventful and only took about an hour despite LA traffic.  This was probably the lightest traffic of the trip.

20140621_165525

 

Got settled into the Hampton Inn Thousand Oaks (which was really nice) and headed out for a bite to eat at Carl’s Jr.  We have a few of those here in DFW but my husband and kids made it seem like their burgers are made of rainbows and unicorns….add extra sunshine and diamonds for being a Carl’s Jr. in California! I’m a vegetarian so I just have to take their word for it.

It was an early night because everyone was pooped so we enjoyed the rest of the evening at the hotel.  Day two – Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a drive on the side of a mountain!

Anybody out there?

Happy Thursday to my followers!  It’s been a whirlwind here and we just returned last week from our 8 day vacation to beautiful Southern California!  I finally got all the videos uploaded and the pictures saved and will start my trip report tonight. I’m not sure if I want to post it all at once or day by day, I’d hate to bore anyone to death!

I was just posting to see who is still out there reading this craziness…if you are then thank you!  I’m the worst at maintaining my blog but I’m trying to get better.  My husband is even toying with the idea of vlogging at some point – you can say he was inspried during our VidCon experience.  Boy is that a story!  But that’s to follow soon…..

In the meantime here’s a little taste:

Stay tuned!

 

Is It Summer Yet?

Anyone as ready for summer as I am? I’m not just talking about the weather. Coming off of spring break for my kiddos…it’s so nice not having to worry about getting up earlier for school, checking grades online, asking about homework, making sure they both shower every day…. Also with summer comes VACATION. We will be doing the old fashioned road trip out west this year. Nothing like waking up before the sun, grabbing a coffee and hitting the highway.

What are you looking forward to this summer? Got any plans?

sun

Sometimes Spontaneous is Good

Last night both kids ended up staying at friends’ houses so at 1030pm the hubs and I looked at each other and said, “let’s go to the casino!” We drove an hour to OK and hit up WinStar.  I wasn’t having the best of luck but as usual my husband could make a $20 last  hours.  On the way out around 245am, I saw my favorite machine and lost my last $20.  I told my husband to take a shot at it and this is what happened:

I’ve been trying so hard to finally see a full screen of unicorns in person instead of watching others hit it on YouTube. It took 60 spins to get this so you can either lose your ass at these machines or make out pretty good.  It was nice to walk out with a $70 profit and a “free” tank of gas and also got us off the couch for once!