Descanso Gardens Again!

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Remember last year when Payam and I went to Descanso Gardens Enchanted Forest of Light? We went again this year and took the girls! I loved it so much last year I couldn’t wait to take them but it only lasts until the first week of January so I had to wait another year for it to come around again.

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They loved it! Of course. How could they not?!

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Of course it helped that both girls got phones this year for Christmas (big year!!) and documenting the forest of light was an explosion of wonderments to share on social media with their friends.

I know. I know. We all have mixed feelings about kids using phones but I am the queen of guiltiness when it comes to sharing on instagram so I was happy to have two new co-conspirators as Payam stands by, rolling his eyes and asking if we are “having a moment.”  (Watch the link. It’s hilarious. We are not that bad—yet.)

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It was so fun! You like Joon’s new sweatshirt? Yeah. Black is a thing when you are almost eleven apparently.

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Anyway, we had a blast tromping through the forest from exhibit to exhibit. It really is done so magically. I have day dreams of owning land someday and making my own enchanted forest in my backyard. Probably won’t happen but it’s fun to dream.

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These spinning crocheted lights captivated me. I immediately took a mental note that I have to recreate this someday for an alphamom craft. The shadows spinning on the ground were dizzyingly fun. I did find a couple small metal lanterns in the gift shop that are similar but nothing of this scale.

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Of course the misty lake is always magical. They have joysticks on the side of the lake mounted on little stumps that you can interact with and make the lights shine this way and that. Then of course everything shifts in color to moody music and you feel like you’ve landed in Neverland.

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The drinks though? Absolute crap. Last time we made that mistake too. Payam and I got mixed adult beverages and promptly threw them away because they tasted more like water with a splash of alcohol and maybe some lemon and lime thrown in for looks. This year we got the girls hot chocolate and it was the same mess. Hot water with a splash of something powdery which may have been chocolate. Poor Bug carried her’s around for ten minutes because she didn’t want to waste Payam’s money but when I tasted it I completely agreed. Good thing the lights are so amazing because nobody’s going to go there for the drinks!

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Look at those colors? This is just me shooting my camera on sport mode with no flash. I’m sure a real photographer could get a tri-pod and some less wiggly models and really go crazy shooting here. I wonder if they’ve ever done any fashion shoots here.

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We tried. But it was a little too dark.

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Not too dark for fun though. These meandering paths that light up when you step on them felt like a life size game of Shoots and Ladders. I wish there had been some slides, that would have clinched it. Can you imagine?!!

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The girls loved it. We could have stayed all night and thrown a party here.

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I’m sure if you follow them on Instagram you saw more than you even wanted to of this adventure. I think they live-storied the entire trip. Just kidding. I didn’t let them do that.

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Then we ended our adventure with the tea garden and a quick trip through the gift shop, like I mentioned earlier. They said we could go back through again with some funky light-reflecting glasses but we were pretty hungry by then so we opted to go get dinner instead. Next year we’ll try the funky glasses.

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Pretty much this my new favorite winter tradition.

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A Kid-centric New Year’s Party!

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It took me a while to get back here. That’s the difference between personal blogging and professional blogging. When I get paid to blog I have to do things way ahead of time. This is often weird for my family because by the time the real holiday rolls around we are already over it. Christmas cookies in August, Thanksgiving crafts at Halloween..that’s the drill. But when it comes to my poor stepchild blog, I blog about things WAY after they’ve long happened if at all. My poor old neglected blog.

In the spirit of not neglecting, I can’t move onto anything new without documenting our 2nd Annual New Year’s Bash.  It was a blast! (of course it was, do I ever blog anything that wasn’t?)

This year, unlike last year, we had kids so we made it a Kid’s New Year’s Party and contrary to popular adult belief, it was totally fun for everyone. Who knew!

The secret? Lots of planned activities and (pause and wait for it) COFFEE.

Parents need coffee.

I’ve read so many Miss Manner’s type articles on how to throw a perfect shindig and they always says something like, “Greet your guests at the door with a smile and a refreshing drink.” Hah. I greeted my guests at the door, offered them some sparkling wine and they passed and asked if I had coffee. That’s a parent for you.

Of course I did have coffee brewing away in the kitchen because I am a parent and a morning person and I mainline the stuff.

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The other secret was a packed schedule of fun. When I was planning everything Payam rolled his eyes. I definitely come across as a nut when I am in planning mode but you know what? I BRING THE FUN. It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it!

A glow bracelet fashion show (A tried-and-true favorite of mine)? Flossing contest? Marshmallow-structure building contest and hot chocolate hour? How about a piñata for kids AND adults (think mini-bar bottles and the good chocolate). It was LIT. Just kidding. It was sorta lit as in a slow warm burn like a comforting fire in the fireplace while you are watching back-to-back episodes of Manhunt on Netflix.

The older teenagers that came to the party sat firmly on the couch and judged me for my silliness but my point is they weren’t in any hurry to go anywhere else. It obviously was the funnest place for them to be or else they would have bailed already, right? OR maybe they were just there as a favor to their parents. I’m not going to think about it too hard. I’m gonna say it was fun and they enjoyed themselves.

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And of course food. Staying up until midnight takes forever, plan accordingly.

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Some out-of-town guests showed up and I am adding them to my invite-again A-list because they were a hoot. That’s my friend from second grade up there on the left and her crazy shoes on the top. She channels Lady Gaga and teaches mathematics. I’m not even kidding.

The unicorn piñata was the kid piñata and we had a festive gold diamond one for the adults. They both failed fantastically by flying right off their cords without even breaking and landing with a thud on the ground. In the end we just shook the diamond one while the grown-ups scrambled like little kids for tiny bottles of Jack Daniels. They left a lot of chocolate out there in my yard because it was dark and cold. My dogs found it the next day but don’t worry, I didn’t let them ingest any.

I think from now on I’m going to stick to homemade piñatas. They are far superior. The unicorn piñata we were able to strap back together and get some good swinging in on but it was mostly just a box with a head on it. Kinda sad.

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No one could resist the marshmallow structure building contest. It was really fun to see how every kids mind works differently. Some where piling it on pell-mell without any sense of order and most of the marshmallows going in their mouth while others were meticulous and created huge complicated exacting structures. I think we might know a few future architects.

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And then Joon suggested her own game called “Chubby Bunny.” I had never even heard of it before but it was pretty funny and very entertaining. I’m not sure of all the rules but it involved stuffing marshmallows in your mouth and saying the words “chubby bunny.” I think the winner stuffed 22 marshmallows in his mouth. And if that is not a sure sign of a “LIT” party then I don’t know what is.

We toasted the new year, kissed each other and howled at the moon and everyone went home happy that 2017 was officially over with a bang.

Now to start planning our 3rd Annual New Year’s bash… Heee!