Candytopia and the Great Instagrammable Adventure

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I wrote this whole post about my conflicted reasoning for letting my kids use instagram before they are thirteen and it was pathetic. It was definitely a trying-too-hard-to-justify-my actions sort of post. So I’m deleting it and I’m just going to talk about the fun of hanging out with your kids in this crazy whacky place called Candytopia. Thankfully this blog is not really on anybody’s radar anymore so I’ll probably squeak by without anyone noticing! Phew!SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-2

Candytopia is a fun little pop-up museum dedicated to all things candy. They had some trouble getting it off the ground in the beginning. Some compliance issues with the city etc.. so they moved locations and things are a little worn around the edges because of that but it’s still well worth a trip if you are in the neighborhood.  It’s located in the Santa Monica mall, sort of like one of those seasonal Halloween costume shops but a whole lot more interesting and pretty big. I’d say there are just enough rooms and things to look at to justify the twenty-six dollar ticket price. Just barely.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-3

We mugged and we posed. We acted like instagram fools. Payam rolled his eyes and held our stuff so we could “have a moment” and then another moment and then fifty more moments just like that one to make sure we smiled just right.

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I’m probably the first one to roll my eyes when I see another picture of someone rolling around in a pool full of sprinkles on Instagram but you know what? It IS fun! You should go and you will have fun too! Candytopia is a blast. It’s a super fun museum of rooms to take whacky pictures in. Nobody shames you because the rooms were built for that sole purpose. The staff even encourages you to take photos and will even help you get a better shot.

Photography is such a wonderful medium to express yourself. Like any medium, it will be different from person to person. You can all take pictures in the same exact rooms of the same exact weird candy sculpture but nobody’s picture will be exactly the same.

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I say embrace it. Stop worrying about being a lemming. Sometimes things become weirdly popular because they really are fun.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-6

If your kids are into it, then maybe this is something you can do together. You could hike to Zion and stand in line to see the Narrows behind three troops of boy scouts. That’s the sad thing about social media these days, you find something cool, you share it and then everyone mobs it until it’s not fun anymore.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-7

The nice thing about Candytopia is that it wasn’t too mobbed. I think the millennials have already been there, done that and discarded it. Which makes it perfect for me. Still cool. Still super fun and hey, something fun to do with your kids.

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Don’t we all need new interesting avatar shots? Yes, yes we do.

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We had a blast.  I just spent several hours with my kids laughing and nobody was whining or complaining or checking out. They were very much checked in. We all were! I mean, Free candy! Whacky things to walk around and interact with! What’s not to love?

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We grabbed the ribbon wands and stood in front of the wind machine like real models surfing on rainbow covered surfboards. It was all those photo shoots I’ve wondered about within easy access.SAJ-goes-to-Candytopia-11

The piece de resistance was the marshmallow pit!!! I would pay thirty bucks just to do that again easily. It was hilarious!! I don’t think I remember the last time I fell into a ball pit and worked my core muscles so much. It was so hard! Then add not wanting to lose your phone or jewelry to the bottom of the pit and that made it even more challenging. We laughed, we jumped, we swam, we filmed instagram stories…. It was amazing.

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You might be wondering if they are real marshmallows. They are not. Thankfully, because that would be a bit of a sticky situation. The marshmallows were actually a stiff but squishy foam and I totally wanted to steal some. I didn’t. But I have been thinking on it and wondering if I could come up with some kind of similar material because how fun would that be for a craft? I’ll be perking on that idea for a while.

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After Candytopia we hit Third Street Promenade. We had lunch at the best taco place ever (BP Tacos which totally stands for Brenda Ponnay, wink wink) and then walked down the pier.

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It was a cold, windy day but still beautiful. The skies were so blue. I’ve been to Santa Monica many times but never taken my kids there. We didn’t ride any rides but we walked and walked and thoroughly enjoyed our day out. It definitely made the hour-and-a-half drive more worth it.

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What else can I say? I’ll leave the kids and instagram debate for another time. I think we had a great time and that’s enough reason to post these pictures.

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Fun activities together are never a bad idea. Fun activities with phones…I’ll just plead guilty.

Bug’s Amazing Galaxy Birthday Party!

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We did it again! We threw a crazy over-the-top birthday party for Bug and I pretty much went insane during it, vowed I’d never do it again and then ended up feeling all soft-and-fuzzy afterwards with plans to totally do it all over again. This is the definition of insanity, right? Crazy party-planner mom strikes again!

But seriously, it worked. It was my first twilight birthday party and we really pulled it off. Everything was so pretty and glowing! Of course photographing a nighttime party is a whole other story but I did my best. Just imagine all these pictures ten times prettier and about 100% less blurry. Though sometimes blur is a good thing.

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First up I have to show you these really cool nebula amulets we made. These almost didn’t happen.

I had been asking Bug all week what kind of galaxy craft she’d like to have at her party because parties always have to have some kind of activity, and we’re kinda famous for our crafts. Of course Bug answered me the way she usually answers me by not answering me at all. She evaded me and finally when pressed to the extreme, told me that she wanted all eleven of her guests to hang out in her super-crowded ten-by-thirteen foot bedroom. They were going to play “Pusheen School” which is a game they play everyday at school where they take their Pusheen stuffed animals and act out characters going to school. They’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now. All the girls have different Pusheen characters with distinct accents, personalities and nick names. It’s a thing.

I tucked away my disappointment and planned a party without a craft. I figured it was probably better anyway because I always go over the top and regret it later.

Fast forward to the day before the party when Bethany showed up (Yes, she totally flew in just for this party to help me with the cake and to visit her other eleventy California friends) and guess what she asked as soon as she walked in the door? “So what craft are we doing for this party?”

(!!!!!)

If Bethany is asking what craft I’m doing and I don’t have an answer for her then maybe I should override the no-fun birthday girl and plan an eleventh hour craft!! Because nothing gets my motor running like a last minute craft idea and someone who will appreciate it. Bring it on!

Bug was not amused. In fact, she was pretty much a sullen teenager the entire day of her birthday. Another trip to Michaels was barely tolerated so we could get little amulet bottles and squeeze bottles for colored water. Then when her friends showed up and I showed them how to stuff cotton into the bottles to create the little nebulas she spent most of the time in a huff in her room. I’m such a horrible mom.

However, her friends loved the craft! The little bottles turned out awesome! And eventually Miss SullenPants came back to the party and made one herself and admitted that it wasn’t totally lame after all.

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Next up is the cake. THE CAKE. This cake was such a pain in the butt I had to have Bethany fly in to help me make it. We made this cake. It looks amazing but involves corn syrup and gelatin and a ton of food coloring. All naturalist homeopathic types avert your eyes.

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It was an amazing process. Lots of goopy blue and purple dripping glaze all over a purple velvet (chocolate) cake, per Bug’s request. It’s too bad all the glory of this cake didn’t really get captured in the dark of the party but it was a blast to watch Bethany make it. If you follow my instagram feed you probably saw the raw, very-unedited footage (sorry for the nice close-up of our trashcan) of it.

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Everything turned out really pretty and very, very sickeningly sweet. The hot chocolate was a super hit as were the marshmallows and the three sources of heat: our good old fashioned Weber barbecue, the cool chiminea thing we found discarded in someone’s driveway a long time ago and the outdoor heater I rented.

Can I just say how cool it is that Payam enables me and tells me to go ahead and rent tables and chairs and a heater for a party that I have no idea what the weather will be like for? The weather has been raining for about four weeks straight and I’d been watching the weather forecast like a hawk on crack. Everyday, I would announce the likelihood of rain on Bug’s party to everyone around me like it was my own stock market ticker. Predictions went from 100% precipitation to 25% precipitation to finally settling on 45% precipitation and AMAZINGLY it did NOT rain during Bug’s party. It was cold but our heat sources worked out perfectly and the fact that I warned everyone to dress for weather in the invitation helped. Who has a birthday party outdoors in January?! Crazy Californians, that’s who.

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It all worked out. Everything glowed magically. I stretched battery operated bulb lights along the middle of the table, scattereds some glow-in-the-dark plastic stars on our galaxy printed tapestry and then set a vase full of glow-stick necklaces in the middle.

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Bug actually did have a really good time at her party. It was hard getting there though. She fell on her wrist while rollerblading earlier in the day and was in some pain which didn’t help her mood when her mom stole her friends to do a stupid craft. Thankfully, her bad mood wasn’t anything some secretly applied cat-eye make up in the bathroom couldn’t bribe out of her.  She’s getting to the age where we have started bonding over our mutual anxiety-related quirks. She understands my freak-outs over guests arriving and the house not being tidy and I understand her fear of crying in front of her friends. It wasn’t an easy thing for her but she muscled through it

And as she was cheers-ing crazily, with toasts to Toaster (her Pusheen stuffed animal) in grown-up glasses of sparkling apple cider leftover from our New Year’s shindig, she caught my eye and gave me a smile that said it all. She really did appreciate this party even though it was a pain in the butt to make happen. So yeah. I’ll probably keep on keeping on until I’m too old to keep on.

Or maybe next year we’ll just take a road trip!