Count those holiday blessings

by Angela on December 31, 2012 · 6 comments

Forgive us, friends. We’ve been so quiet on 3 For The Road.

Actually, I know I must forgive me. I’m hard on myself; the hyper-critical, perfectionist part of me rues the day we thought to start a travel/theater/parenting blog while moving every month with a toddler and a cat, while being full-time parents. While simultaneously trying to launch our own small business. As Mike works in The Lion King and writes his own musical.  And I have also been interviewing for television hosting gigs, coming inches away from a job with the Brooklyn Nets. It has been rewarding, and it has been exhausting.

Needless to say, we are behind in posting. When would I have the time to tweeze my eyebrows, let alone take and upload photos and write? We thought we’d be able to update the blog oh-so-much during the 11 weeks we’ve been in San Francisco, but we’ve all been battling varying stages and types of colds. For weeks. Yuck. Added to the winter Bay Area weather (read: gray, dreary rain), my neck pain from two herniated cervical discs, there are days I don’t get out of my pajamas unless I’m going to physical therapy. And now that our time here is almost up, what do we have to show for it? This entry. It’s an avalanche of a post.

We aren’t by definition very “religious,” but we do feel enormous blessings that have been amplified this holiday season. In the wake of the tragic Newtown, CT shootings (I wept for two nights, holding Max before sleeping, and I’m not a crier), I had written on my personal Facebook page:

Tonight, I gaze at my son as he joyfully plays with his trains and cars, making himself giggle … and my heart aches at his innocence and his unconditional trust in me that I will keep him safe. I hold him tight and cover him with kisses and spend extra time to play and let him stay up longer than usual, just so I can steal extra minutes living up to that responsibility.

You never know when all of this joy can be taken from you, so senselessly. I’m so sorry for those families in CT and for those who have had their children leave them too soon.

We’ve been so damn lucky. Mike has a wonderful job that allows encourages our adventurous souls to keep adventuring, despite emboldened by a child in tow. Max has gotten to see more in one year than most adults have in their lifetimes. Truly. We’ve got an amazing support system of family and friends coast-to-coast who I know would do anything for our boy. Through a mix of diligence, fortitude and good fortune, we’ve been able to experience so many of these enormous blessings. We appreciate them and count them continuously. Here are some of the top blessings (in no particular order) of our last two months.

Blessing #1: Preschool for Max. We found Max a terrific place called Little Tree, about 8 blocks away from our Mission apartment, which he (thankfully) really loves. In fact, the first day we dropped him off, we braced ourselves for the same tears that had sprung up in Wichita and Albuquerque’s daycares, but he barely looked back at us and started playing.

The owner Gigi and the other teachers Tiffany, Will, Kylie and Kate, are exceptional with Max. He tells us almost daily when he comes home that he misses them. My stomach turns when I think about his impending last day; then, the tears will come — at least for me. Not only has it been a blessing to have most mornings free for us to do work, but Max has really been able to acclimate to a group setting with kids his own age — something we feared he wouldn’t have with any regularity on tour.

Mike was a guest storyteller one afternoon, but while the other kids sat enraptured, Max was actually angry that he had to share his dad. He kept interrupting Mike as he cried, “I wanna go home!” so I had to take him to the opposite end of the room to read to him one-on-one while Mike finished up. This from our typically sweet-natured son who just dissolves into his dad’s storytime. Just when we thought we had our kid figured out, he throws us a curve. Who knew?

Blessing #2: Mike has performed as both Scar and Pumbaa quite a bit. As a standby throughout this past year, Mike’s gotten to go onstage pretty sporadically. As his biggest champion, I do worry about his amazing acting chops just laying waste (I swear I’m like Regina King’s character in Jerry Maguire sometimes. “Show Mike the money!” … I need to be an agent). But due to a higher number of absences than normal this holiday season, he’s gotten to be the villain and the pig numerous times. Here he is with his dressers backstage at the Orpheum Theater, helping him suit up as Scar.

Photo courtesy of Mark Kaplan

He loves goofing off in the dressing rooms with his scene partners, especially with Mark Kaplan (Zazu), Savion Hill (Young Simba) and Kailah McFadden (Young Nala).

Blessing #3: We’ve made some headway in our small business vision. Without giving too much away, in the past year and a half, Mike and I have designed and developed a maternity product that doesn’t exist on the market right now, and we know there’s a need since we wished we had it when Max was a newborn! We have a patent pending on the design and the prototypes are made. It’s been a long learning process, as we’ve never worked in fashion prior to this. In December, I spent a few days in New York City with a team of stellar friends who helped me with our first photoshoot for the product.

My beloved childhood neighbors the Barrys have been instrumental in, well, just about everything with the shoot. Photographer Danny (who specializes in photojournalism and now shoots video for the local CBS news affiliate in New York) worked some magic and through his personal connections, found a new studio in Brooklyn that allowed us to be its inaugural shoot for a ridiculously low price. They included everything, from lighting to a medium-format camera to the backdrops and a cool instant-viewing setup on an iPad. Amazing.

Danny’s sister Alli Barry, who had styled me previously for a show I hosted for MSG Varsity a few years ago, took the reins on procuring the right outfits for our model Gwyn. Alli, as always, hit it out of the park and was an invaluable set of eyes for me during the shoot. And I grabbed the talented hair/makeup artist Brenda O’Brien from The Lion King on Broadway. We knew her back in Vegas when she and Mike worked together on the show, and I was so glad to get her on board — she transformed Gwyn into the perfect, natural mama.

Gwyn Larsen has so much natural, breezy beauty that she didn’t need much direction at all with the shoot. She performed with Mike for years around in the world in De La Guarda and Fuerzabruta (seriously the best shows I will ever experience in my lifetime) and right now is creating her own aerial show called Breaking Surface — when she’s not holding a fake baby (“faby”) and looking fierce and maternal for us.

Photo by Daniel Barry

The last Barry of the family, Jennifer, runs her own PR and marketing company out of Los Angeles, and she’s already provided us with plenty of support and feedback throughout our development process. We cannot wait to get her officially on board once our product is ready for market.

Two of my best friends took on the role of production assistants — and they helped enormously, from loading in and out and setting up the food table, to steaming clothes and making the model laugh and relax. Nikaury will joke and say she was the “fluffer” on set, but really, she did lighten the mood on that very early Saturday morning. I surely couldn’t have done it (or really anything in my life) without Anita and Nikaury.

Photo by Daniel Barry

(Also, an honorable mention to my best friend Mitra Kalita for pampering me in Jackson Heights, Queens, in the days following the shoot. I ate loads of yummy Asian food, received a spa facial, got to see her daughter Naya in a dance recital and snuggle with her other 1-year-old daughter Riya. And her husband Nitin made a pasta dish with literally 2 bulbs of garlic that made me very popular on the plane flight back to SF the next morning.)

Blessing #4: Family. Not only has Max had a go-to babysitter this city in my sister Eileen (“Ah-yi” which is Chinese for “Aunt”), but he’s also been able to spend quality time with his cousins Danny and Maya, his Uncle Frank Siebenlist as well as my other sister Diane who was back in town from Maui for Thanksgiving, and her fiancé Frank D’Amato. He just adores them all, which again makes my stomach churn to think about our departure in a couple of weeks. Below, Frank D’Amato hangs with a sick Max.


My beautiful niece Maya, who is now 12 and a competitive swimmer, helps Max with a meal. It’s quite an endeavor.

My nephew Danny is three-sport athlete and a senior in high school this year. Below, he’s icing a leg injury, and snuggling up with Max and his iPad.


Blessing #5: Max got to meet his larger-than-life obsessions. Mike helped Pixar employee (and YouTube sensation) Nick Pitera by making an appearance as Scar in one of his viral videos. In thanks, Nick gave us a tour of the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, where we got to hang with Cars Guido and Luigi. Max kept trying to open their doors, as if he could ride inside them!

Thomas the Tank Engine also made a holiday appearance down at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, so I schlepped Max down one morning, along with my college roommate Crystal (a physician at Stanford) and her son Eliot, who is just 2 weeks older than Max.

As Max stood gaping at Thomas, I wondered how freaked out I would be if those eyes started darting back and forth.

While riding inside a Thomas-pulled train car, the boys got a personal visit from Old St. Nick. Max didn’t freak out, but also didn’t muster up the confidence to talk to him, either — which is a shame, because he sure had a long list of toy requests!

Blessing #6: The great outdoors. There are not many places on this earth that we find more beautiful than Northern California. I guess many people agree with us, since the cost of real estate is ridiculous. We’d love to enjoy the Santa Cruz sunsets over the ocean everyday, as below — but the amount we’d ideally like to spend for a house would get us a mobile home or shack here. Seriously.

We are continually overwhelmed by the majesty of the redwoods. Below, Max and I take a walk through Henry Cowell State Park in Santa Cruz.

The sun peeks at us through the old soldiers.

We brought our dear friends Nick and Amy Cordileone, and they most likely left with neck strain. Where do the treetops end? Can’t see them…

We also stopped in gorgeous Half Moon Bay to cut down our own Christmas tree at a tree farm.

I can’t get enough of these tender father-son moments.

Our chosen tree came with a hitchhiker, who we spotted only when we got home.

Blessing #7: Holiday food. You know we couldn’t go far on this list without mentioning our favorite thing to do — stuff our faces. Mike collaborated with Eileen for our Thanksgiving’s feast… and Eileen turned it out for a Christmas Clambake. Both holidays were spent down in Los Gatos. It’s best that I just show you the photos, as they speak for themselves.

Blessing #8: Our SON, our moon, our stars. It’s fascinating to see the little person that Max has become, at 2.5 years old. He can be loud and chatty, ending all of his sentences with an unfailing lilt. He’s so thoughtful, passionate and direct about what he wants. He communicates. He’s also extremely sensitive to others’ moods; even a cartoon showing a baby crying will throw him in a tailspin. He will melt your heart by telling you he loves you, whether you’re his mom, his teacher at school, or a hyena in The Lion King. Alternately, he’s inscrutable during moments you’d think would excite him. He’s constantly calling himself “silly” (pronounced “sil-dee”) and cackling. A few minutes later, I’ll catch him looking sadly at his fingers. He’s complex. He’s ours.

Blessing #9: You.  Happy New Year to all of our subscribers, Facebook fans, family and friends who keep us company on the road by reading our little blog. You never allow us to feel alone, and for that we are truly blessed.

Friends, this past year (let alone these past 2 months) has been monumental for the Hollicks. And 2013 is already shaping up to be a doozy — just you wait!


Some Honorable Mentions this holidays season:

We got a special Thanksgiving visit from our LA friends Stephanie and David, with their funny 9-month-old twins Orlando and Sophia. They are so snuggly. And Max loves using his index fingers to pull his eyebrows upwards, chanting, “I’m Orlando!”

– I got to take a few long-form improv classes with some Lion King folks here in San Francisco, set up by Syndee Winters (Nala) and taught by Jill Eickmann at Leela. It felt good to be flexing those muscles again — it’s been years since my last long-form class at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. I am the consummate over-thinker, and doing improv makes me stop thinking. It’s so freeing. And fun 🙂


You might also like:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan G December 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Hi, happy new ear to you, good post! I am looking forward to hearing more about your maternity product, it looks nice!


Janeen December 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Love the Pixar and Thomas photos! My son woulda loved that. Max is a lucky kid to have a mom like you! Happy New Year Hollicks!


steve January 1, 2013 at 9:33 am

lovely post. it’s nice to get a long update for the holidays and yes, you are too hard on yourself. have a wonderful new years and good start to 2013.


ANGELIQUE January 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

HAPPY 2013 HOLLICKS!!!!!!!


Ian January 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Love the picture of Max with Santa. And when did Danny get so big??? Last time I saw him he was about 5!


Jana January 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

What a great entry, Angela! Happy 2013 to all of you. I can’t wait to hear more about this product you mentioned in #3 (I’m in that age group where eveeerrrryyyoonnnee is having babies)! Hope you get to eat crab a few more times before leaving the coast.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: