Joon’s Racing Unicorns Birthday Party at that amusement park that I hate.

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This latest birthday party for Joon is probably the first party since Bug’s 2nd Birthday  that I have not gone all out. I know! It’s possible. Who knew?!!  Let me just say that it was difficult for me. I had to sit on my hands.

When Joon said she wanted to have her birthday party at the local mini-golf/bumper cars/video arcade amusement park I was legitimately sad. I HATE the local mini-golf/bumper car/video arcade amusement park like the DMV. It is NOT my idea of fun at all. It’s pretty much my worst favorite way to spend the day, right next to bowling or going to the dentist/obgyn.

And that is why Payam and I get along so great. We are opposites and basically Joon is a mini Payam. She likes just about everything I don’t like and vise versa. This goes for food, amusement, songs, clothes…  just about everything. But you know what? I love this kid.

So I put aside my overbearing party planning hat and let her do her thing.

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We started the day off right by making garbage pancakes while wearing unicorn pajamas, like you do. We played dance music and Queen (her favorite band) on Alexa very loud and Bug and Joon chair-danced while they ate.

A side note: Joon is very musical kid. She makes videos on Musically all day long. She’s great at editing, singing, lip syncing, flossing and hair flipping. She knows every lyric to every hit song by heart and she can sing it on key even if another song is playing in the background. Her favorite thing to do is to sing an ear-worm infecting song at the top of her lungs and watch everyone else start humming it against their will. It always works. She’s also a pretty good dancer. What can I say. She’s a walking party.

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So naturally, a loud obnoxious place like Boomer’s (the local mini-golf/bumper-car/arcade) is just her speed. Lights blinking, bells ringing, loud music, kids running everywhere hyped up on sugar without parental supervision..it’s like home sweet home for Joon.

My contribution to this crazy train? Nada. Well except maybe some packaging for slime party favors. I didn’t even make the slime.

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I mean, what else could I do? It’s not like I could Martha-Stewart decorate the underground prison room that they call a “party room.” It was so depressing. Fluorescent light, painted cement walls, plastic table cloths. It could drive a person like me to drink except the wine and beer they sell there was the cheap stuff that I can’t stomach. I just disengaged. There was no Brenda-party-planning-extraordinarre fixing this.

BUT JOON LOVED IT! Because she was with her friends and when you are eleven that is all you really care about. Party favors schmarty favors. Just give us some candy and show us to the laser tag line!

Which by the way, I need to point out that Joon made her own slime party favors  You know me and slime. I hate it. Joon loves it. I just made sure she and Bug were making it at the table on some cookie sheets to collect the mess and walked away. I couldn’t even be in the same room. I had to cover my ears when I heard the sounds of that stuff popping and slurping. All I could think about was how much trouble it would be to get out of the rug. Thankfully, Joon knows how much I hate the stuff and she was very careful and no rugs were harmed.

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But back to the party. Joon was in her element. Her friends seemed to have a really good time too. They didn’t even seem to notice the squad of eighteen-year-old boy hoodlums walking around with face tattoos. Shudder.

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They rode the kiddie rides again and again.

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They raced the go carts. They were magical birthday racing unicorns. I should have made them all unicorn horns but the go carts people have really strict rules about hats and hair and anything that could get in the way of a safe drive.

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Then we had cake in the prison room. Something funny I have to give Boomer’s credit for are these candles that are strung together by a ribbon of paper. You light one and then they all magically light up at once. It was quite impressive! I really have to research a DIY on that.

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We sang, we hugged, we took pictures in the crappy fluorescent light. We ate crappy pizza and bonded over how bad it tasted. Cardboard with cheese, yay!

I hung out with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend all day and I have to say that I really like them! How can you not like a guy who plays Dance Dance Revolution with their kid? It’s pretty cool when the ex’s can all get along and celebrate how much they love their whacky kid.

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We celebrated Joon. She really is a sparkly unicorn of a girl. She is so optimistic and full of life. She wants to have all the fun all the time.

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I love that she and Bug are such good friends. They have their own language of inside jokes. Of course they have their moments when they bicker over what’s fair until my eyeballs are bleeding from rolling so far back into my head BUT they get along most of the time. Joon helps with Bug’s anxiety. She forces Bug to do things she would never do otherwise just by showing up and being competition. She forces me to do things I wouldn’t do otherwise. Joon definitely brings an appreciation of unabashed fun to this family.

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Love you Joon! Shine on sparkle unicorn.

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.