Fun Things To Do in Las Vegas with Kids – Part III

EAT

1. Island Sushi

I cannot describe how good the food is at this place.  Sushi is fresh, the prices can’t be beat, the poke is all from Poke Express – the best you can find on the mainland, and I don’t know how they do it, but they managed to re-create better malasadas than from Hawaii.  I ate all the special rolls before I could take a picture (I have a bad habit doing that, don’t I?) that we ordered but I managed to take a picture of my friend Leanne and her giant plate of uni sushi.  You’re allowed one order (2 pieces) per person so she ordered slimy sea urchin for everyone on the table and almost single-handedly ate them all.  G tried one and said it tastes like the ocean.  It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure, but if you like it, this is the place to go!

Another thing that is one order per person is the ama-ebi (sweet raw shrimp) so we got a plate full of these, too.  Also, the poke and the hamachikama, which is just unbelievable. 

2. Casa Don Juan

 Best Mexican food on the planet.  It’s in downtown Las Vegas on Main Street, I think?  Not located in the best neighborhood but it’s a small thing to overlook for the best margaritas and chimichangas.  Bill Clinton ate here when he visited so you know, it’s THAT good.  With live music, too!

3. Market Street Cafe – California Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas after 11 pm

The line builds around 10:20 pm for the 11 pm rush when they start serving oxtail soup and banana fritters and other special items on their late-night menu.  I don’t know what else they offer because that’s all we go for.   All. The. Time.

Next time, I promise to take pictures of the malasadas and all the other yummy stuff I find.

Fun Things To Do in Las Vegas with Kids – Part II

 The Silverton Casino Mermaid Aquarium

1. Aquarium Tank with Mermaid – The mermaid wasn’t there that day but I’ve been here before where she came out before.  She swims around this giant cylindrical tank and waves to all the kids.  The kids absolutely love it.   There used to be sharks and rays in here but I didn’t see any this time around.  Not sure if they plan to bring them back, but it was a sight to see.   If you eat in the mermaid bar next to the giant tank, there are giant jellyfish tanks  above the bar that you can watch while you eat.  Wait, that’s a giant tank w/ jellyfish in it, not a tank with giant jellyfish – just wanted to clarify.   

2. Buffet – I only have pictures of the aquarium because I was too busy shopping to take pictures of the giant Bass Pro Shops store and too busy eating at the amazing buffet (and it wasn’t even a seafood one).  But I will say this, their buffet has a fire volcano that spews fire up to the ceiling every so often in the dining room that is way cool.  And the food is really good for the price.  There is a pasta bar where you can pick your own toppings, pick your pasta and sauces and they’ll cook it for you while you wait.  In 2 minutes, you have a hot plate of pasta your way.   I had them make me an Alfredo sauce and they made it from scratch!  Towards the dessert end, they will make crepes for you, and even bananas flambe.  They have prime rib, fish, Chinese food, fresh fruits, and an ice cream bar as well.  Can’t go wrong here, I tell ya.

3. Giant Bass Pro Shops store with fishing pond inside – This place is just fun to walk around in.  I haven’t seen it, but there is supposed to be an archery range and shooting range in here.  I know there is a giant fresh water tank stocked with huge bass and catfish where people actually fish out of.  Not sure if it’s just to sample the equipment or just for presentation purposes, but still, how many stores have you been to where they have that? 

They also sponsor a really fun easter egg hunt each year inside the store with fishing for kids, activities, etc.  And their prices are great, too.  We walked into campsite displays to check out their family-sized tents. 

4. Waterfall- There is giant waterfall in between the store and the casino/aquarium area that is big and beautiful.  You can’t miss it.  It’s pretty spectacular with giant happy koi in the pond below.

Fun Things To Do in Las Vegas with Kids – Part I

Circus Circus

1. You can win one of these giant pillow pets.  It’s exactly like the ones you see on tv, just mutant-sized.  Tutu won it for us by tossing a tiny little red ring over an old fashioned coke bottleneck:

2. You can hit the jackpot (for tickets, that is).  This is what almost 3,000 tickets looks like… still going!

3.  You can watch circus acts for free every hour!  They have trapeze artists, jugglers, dancers, contortionists, these guys (kinda Cirque du Soleil-ish), clowns, and they’re all really good!

There are a ton of carnival games for kids and the grabber games are a little easier to win than at most places.  The arcade is pretty up-to-date and as you noticed, we like the jackpot games.  G is always pretty determined to hit the jackpots of the ones where you drop the quarter to the winning spot.  I forgot to take a picture as we were so involved in playing, sorry.  If nothing else, G’s engineering background is good for getting the timing down for these particular games.  They have the traditional dinky prizes but they also have a really good selection here.  We’ve gotten Sony earbuds here, before, electronics, they have game systems, etc.  Gotta love it!

I should take a picture of all the giant stuffed animals we have in our house won from Circus Circus.  Purple nose is a giant purple teddy bear that Big Mochi won by that pachinko-like game where you have to catch 5 silver balls being dropped and bouncing through these pins that throw it off-course.  I’ll be sure to take a picture next time.  She must’ve been about 4 at the time.  She wins all the jackpots.  She once tossed ONE quarter onto 1 of 6 glass plates to win a giant sized My Melody (one of Hello Kitty’s pals).  Pretty amazing, this kid.  Apparently it runs in the family!

Allergy Testing is Not Fun

Big Mochi has allergies. She got tested just before she turned 3 and by now, she should’ve grown into all of her allergies so she got tested again today. They put 30 numbers on her back and scratched over each number with a tiny sharpened plastic nub dipped into each testing substance. She lay there unmoving for 20 minutes until all the reactions took place while watching Monsters, Inc. It wasn’t easy for her, but she’s such a trooper. She didn’t scratch and didn’t move other than mentioning it was really itchy. I could tell she was incredibly itchy and uncomfortable and I kept telling her what a great job she was doing while she gritted her teeth.

I took pictures to show her what it looked like so she’d know why it was so itchy. I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor tomorrow to discuss the results and the precautionary measures for her. Fun times, I tell ya. Here’s what it ended up looking like. #30 is her peanut allergy, the worst of the testing sites today. She wasn’t tested for shrimp this time, but no doubt it would’ve blown up just as big. The odd thing is that she had a noticeable reaction to soy, but eats tofu, edamame and miso soup. Her reaction was labeled as borderline so I’m hoping she borders on the safe side. She also tested negative for dogs, which tested positive when she was younger and I know for a fact that she is definitely allergic currently. She tested negatively both times for cats, but G and I are both allergic to cats on different levels. I never had her next to a cat to figure it out so we’ll just have to find out one day for sure.

Check out the reaction on #30.  That would be the peanut allergy.

She doesn’t mind the allergies so much as the asthma for some reason.

Bye Bye, Buddy. Hello, Lima.

Did you know that if you plant a lima bean in a styrofoam cup with just a little bit of soil, it’ll grow more lima beans in a less than a month?  Baby Mochi’s preppy-K class each planted one and brought it home at the end of the school year in mid-June and after watering it every 2-3 days, it grew and grew and one day I noticed a giant pod in the back.  Pretty darn cool.  I think Lima needs a slightly bigger apartment these days, so Baby Mochi and I discussed upgrading to bigger real estate.  The negotiations are still in progress.  Will update you when I get the final decision.

And on a sad note, our beloved beta fish, Buddy, died yesterday morning.  He was a little over 3 years old.  I bet he set a world record for the highest amount of times back and forth from LA to Las Vegas.  He came with us whenever we went, never complaining.    Perhaps we should plant Baby Mochi’s lima bean plant in memory of Buddy. 

Buddy, you will be missed.

…and the Ugly

The night before their actual birthday (Baby Mochi was born on G’s birthday), G got to pick the restaurant for dinner.  He picked a local favorite of ours, Mr. Lee’s.  It’s a very tiny all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant that is very very good.  We go pretty often and leave very full and smelling like meat.  On the way home, my mom and C&K stopped at Ralph’s to get a small birthday cake for G.  The bakery was closed but the deli guy was there so they asked him to please write on the cake.   He was hesitant and not confident about his cake decorating skills, but managed okay. 

A for effort, at least!  And it was delicious so extra brownie points to you, Mr. Ralph’s Deli Guy! 

P.S.  Please forgive my title.  It’s not ugly at all.  It was just the closest I could get to it.

2 days prior: The Good.   Yesterday’s post: The Bad

…the Bad…

A couple of weeks ago the mochis came home from summer camp with a note saying there’s been a head lice breakout. Since they go swimming daily, their heads are washed every single day, I didn’t think much of it. Do you see where this is going? They were dropped off this morning and I’m 1 exit away from work, 21 miles from home through morning 405S traffic into Orange County and my cell phone rings. I answer it (on speakerphone because I’m a cellularly responsible driver that way) and I’m told Baby Mochi has head lice. I’m yelling, “WHAT?!? NO SHE DOESN’T!!! EW!!!” “Yeah, she does. She was scratching and the teachers found some eggs behind her ear.”  Ack ack ack!!! Disgusting!!!  I call in to work saying I’ll be late, turn around and run to Target first to get the RID kit (holy cow, it’s expensive, but I got 2), call G (because I need the support) and then get her and Big Mochi because I’m going to make sure she doesn’t have it, either. Baby Mochi looks happy and pleased to see me and is chatting away about how there are bugs in her hair while I’m trying not to get too close to her or act too disgusted by my lice-infested child and the pleasant teachers are telling me how to handle this and how it happens all the time and their kids had it and sometimes it comes back – SOMETIMES IT COMES BACK?!!? – and it’s really no big deal and I’m all of a sudden feeling very itchy myself and just ew!

Then in the middle of the night, Baby Mochi comes and climbs into our bed.  I know we’ve all been treated, but I was so tempted to turn her away.  G left to “give us space” and slept in the livingroom but I’m guessing he had another option in mind.  I would’ve taken her back to her room but she was awake enough to fight and wake up the whole neighborhood so I just left her.  We had date night last night so we weren’t around when she went to bed and she only came to our bed to make sure we got home, I’m sure.  She rarely comes to our bed at night.

Anyway, the RID kit comes with everything you need: medicated shampoo to kill the live bugs, medicated combing gel to get rid of the eggs, a spray to clean the things you can’t wash like car seats, furniture, hats, etc., and the metal comb.  Hopefully I won’t have to repost in a few weeks that we’ve had a relapse!

Yesterday’s post: The Good, Tomorrow’s post: The Ugly

The Good…

Since I completed my 30-day blog challenge, I decided to celebrate by going to bed early for once and NOT BLOGGING!  But then I got a text late last night telling me that I had won the Nook from the pool of survivors last night at the SCV Internet Marketer’s meeting that I don’t attend.  Whoo hoo for me!   I’m so stoked!!!  My husband, G, who was indifferent to my struggles with this challenge actually showed some emotion and was happy for me.  So once again, Yay, me!  AND I also got the very cool pen up above that will be the new writing utensil of choice that stays in my purse from now on.  If my picture is unclear, it says, “I survived the SCV Blog Challenge and all I got was this pen.”  But don’t worry, this is just one small step to hopefully getting a little income eventually in the long run.

Now, since my awesome win yesterday, a few things happened that are worth mentioning:

The Good (another Good, I should say): Baby Mochi’s actual birthday was 2 nights ago on the last day of the challenge and though we had her Minnie Mouse party a couple weekends ago at BounceU, we let her choose dinner that night.  Guess where we ended up?  Chuck E Cheese!  Her first choice was Disneyland but it was a school/work night, plus Carsland just opened up at California Adventure in the middle of summer so there’s no way. 

We had pizza and chicken wings and drinks and the mochis ran around and made new friends and had a blast.  I still love that all the games are 25 cents.  I love that.  And I particularly love that machine that gives you penciled drawings of you.  And that basketball game where you can challenge someone?  I beat G 3 times!  haha!

Chuck  (Chuck E?) came out later and danced pretty unenthusiastically to If You’re Happy and You Know it, then threw out some free tickets for the kids to gather. 

Happy Birthday, Baby Mochi!!!

Tomorrow: The Bad…

SCV Internet Marketers 30-Day Blog Challenge

Today is the very last day of the 30-day blog challenge that was posted by the SCV* Internet Marketers group.  It’s a group of people who teach others how to make money using the internet and this challenge was a great motivator for a few of us who are determined to do something on the side.  I don’t live anywhere near Santa Clarita Valley, nor do I go to any of their group sessions, but I was encouraged to join this challenge for the opportunity to learn something by Chris, the host of this challenge, and a pretty successful internet marketer (in my opinion, anyway).  At the end, the survivors earn the opportunity to be entered into a drawing for a Barnes and Noble Nook.  I think there are 8 of us surviving and I’m cutting it super close as it’s currently 11:11 pm and the blogs have to be submitted by midnight each night.  It has been a very long month and I’ve been up late almost every night because I can’t get it together enough to blog earlier in the day or write enough to have stored entries to submit at a later date like of the other people who are way more organized and impressive than me.  It’s okay, though.  I made it – or will make it in a few minutes.  I have been blogging for about 4 years, very inconsistently.  I think I have maybe 2 or 3 entries for the entire 2011. 

This challenge made me start thinking about things I can post again.  And having Baby Mochi around, it’s like an endless stream of ideas.  Also at the end of this challenge, I will get assistance to see how I can refine my site so I’m not so random.  I’ll figure out which posts brought higher traffic and what people searched to bring them to my blog.  I just signed up for both a Google AdSense and an Amazon Affiliates account.  Ads will start populating my site and hopefully I’ll begin to start having a small stream of income each month.  The short-term goal is to earn enough to support my Starbucks addiction.  The long-term goal is a much better one, singularly utilitarian, and fat-free.  It’s a secret, though.  I have to wait til I generate a little income before I disclose it, but when I do, you’ll be the 1st to know.  Well, maybe second or third, but you’ll still be up there in the ranks.

And finally, since the rules state that I have to post a picture with every blog entry and I don’t really have one fitting this entry, I’m going to share this new cool item I just got.  It’s a set of colored pencils from Barnes and Noble that fit in a CD case.  It was under $5 and so portable, I couldn’t resist!

Papa Roxy and Squinkies boldly going where no man has gone before

Big Mochi’s summer journal came back from the first session of academic camp that ended this past week.  I have to share this because it was just too cute to pass up.  If you can’t read it, it says this:

If I was famous, I would probably quit being popular or famous.  I would quiet being popular because I like my own privacy.  Besides, nobody popular likes being watched by Papa Roxy.  And, other people just want your autograph or your picture.  Being popular doesn’t mean you life is good.  I don’t want to be Selena Gomez or someone in the Black [drawing of an eyeball] Peas or something.  I just want to be me.  And that’s why I don’t want to be famous.

I read a lot, but reading this journal was probably one of the best things I’ve read – ever.  I closed the little spiral bound notebook with tears in my eyes from pride and joy and laughing so hard – not at her expense, but at the cuteness of all the ideas that come out of her head.  Her optimism about her bright future is apparent and her perception of different areas of her life was eye-opening and so dramatic!  G and I decided that though we’re far from ideal parents, but we’re doing something right!

This next part has nothing to do with Big Mochi’s journal, but if she kept one, I’d hope that she’d write about this conversation that I had the other morning with her when she crawled into bed with me.  Normally, G’s out of bed and at work by 4 am but this morning, he was going in later so it was rare that he was still in bed with us at this time (around 6:00).  She crawled between us and stared at poor oblivious G snoring:

Baby Mochi whispers: Mommy, I want to put one of my new Squinkies* up Daddy’s nose. 

Me, laughing: Which one?

Baby Mochi: The princess with the brown hair, because she’s holding a flashlight.  It’s dark in there.  (It’s actually a wand but it could pass for a flashlight).

Me: I don’t think Daddy would like that.

Baby Mochi: Yeah.  Boys don’t like princesses.

Is it wrong that I considered letting her do it?  I wonder if Papa Roxy would follow? 

*A Squinkie is a tiny rubber figure that’s about the height of a nickel.  They come packed in tiny eggs similar to those that come out of those gumball machines they have in supermarkets.  At her birthday party a couple of weekends ago, she got a few sets of these.  And this photo isn’t the one she was considering putting up G’s unsuspecting nose.  I couldn’t find it but this one is very similar, just without the wand.

If you didn’t get it, Papa Roxy = paparazzi.

Times change, all right

This summer we enrolled the mochis to camp at the local state college campus.  There is a highly-rated academic program in the morning session before lunch, followed by a sports camp in the afternoons.  The first session ended yesterday and the second session begins on Monday.  We were given a chance to see what they’ve been doing all session and brought home a large envelope.  They wrote journals, learned how to use computers, were taught how to create Microsoft Powerpoint stories, learned how to round numbers to the nearest tenths and hundredths, etc.  In sports camp, they swam everyday, learned baseball, tennis, archery (yes, archery – where 5+year old little girls shoot at targets with bows and arrows), soccer, gymnastics, dance, etc.  When camp ends, they will spent the last 3 weeks of summer enrolled in the YMCA program doing similar activities.  So much different (and WAY more expensive) from how I spent my summers. 

When I was growing up as a kid in Hawaii, a few weeks of my summer was spent at Summer Fun, the local rec center program.  They had a ton of activities that lasted 3/4 of the day that included sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, etc.  It ended with a huge summer finale where all the kids performed by age group in a big show for the parents.  When Summer Fun ended, we were on organized sports teams until our parents came and got us after practice.  I would sometimes go to work with my mom, who was the secretary for my dad’s office.  They stuck me in the very back room of the office where the xerox machine was.  This was back in the 80’s so the copy machine took up half the room.  I remember they had an IBM word processor in the front of the office and it wasn’t loud like my mom’s electric typewriter.  It had a black screen and for some reason, I’ve remembering it had orange text.  It might have been green; I’m visualizing orange.  I remember 2 types of floppy storage disks.  One was a giant sized black square, a little smaller than a record album cover.  Then there were these long black rectangles about the size of mailing envelopes, and you were only allowed to hold it from one of the short edges because oils would smudge the film and ruin your data.  When no appointments were scheduled, sometimes they let me type out stories I had made up on the IBM and save them on an old floppy disk. 

I spent a lot of my time sitting on the floor in the back room drawing and writing and playing hours and hours of solitaire with a deck of cards.  If anyone needed copies, they let me do it.  Highlight of my day.  In between, people in the office taught me so many variations of solitaire, I must’ve known about 40 different games by the time I was in the 4th grade.  When I was able to stay home, I spent most of my time up in a mountain apple tree in the back yard with a girl who lived a few blocks away.  We ate the mountain apples and talked and played 20+ feet up in the highest limbs of the tree under no direct adult supervision.  We came down to eat or to climb up the flimsier guava trees to get the thinner limbs at the ends of the branches to make slingshots (guava tree branches were flexible and made the best slingshots).  While up in trees, we shot at fruit targets on far away limbs or other trees, and often hit them.  Sometimes we would trek down the middle of the valley to where the stream ran, collected water from all the waterfalls that surrounded the valley walls.  We caught fish and brought them home to fill our fishbowls.  I remember picking hard seeds from a Job’s Tears plant and when I brought them home, my grandma taught me how to sew beanbags to fill with them and then taught me how to juggle. 

It’s a vastly different world, all right.  They don’t know what they missed out on, just as I never knew what I missed out on.  Tonight just before Big Mochi went to bed, I asked her if she’s happy.  She replied, “It’s hard to imagine being happier,” so I guess in 30 years, they’ll be telecasting off of their holographic cell phone about how they spent their summers comparing it to their kids’ feeling as I do now.  I’d ask my mom how she spent her summers as a kid and how she’s feeling about all of the changes, but she can’t hear me.  She’s busy listening to her Kindle 2 on new earbuds.  It’s reading her latest book to her while she knits a sparkly red something.  New age grandma. 

Blast From the Past

This is kind of funny.  I posted this on April 13, 2008:

My phone doesn’t have a camera.  I don’t have texting capabilities, nor do I have Internet access of any kind.  They don’t sell the earphones that go with it because it’s obsolete.  It doesn’t even flip open.  What it DOES have, is the cool option that records whatever you want, and you can use that as your own personal ringtone.  Big Mochi’s hearty laugh as a 5-month old infant is forever immortalized on this phone I refuse to give up.  However, there are times where I do wish I had a camera phone with me, just for kicks.  

Now almost 4 1/2 years later and my current phone does have texting capabilities and a camera, though I hardly ever use either.  It might have Internet access of some limited capability but it is far from a smartphone.  On the rare occasion that I do text, it takes forever because my phone doesn’t have a keyboard.    “Okay” is 666552999.  If you text me to tell me something, that’s great!  If you text me and expect an answer, I’ll call you back and give it to you.  After all, if we’re having an exchange, it’s so much faster and more convenient to speak.  It’s a PHONE, after all!

I like when it rings with the infamous signature Nokia ringtone in a trendy restaurant or at a friend’s house.  G cringes, hoping I don’t pull it out, slide it up and answer it.  If I get a text, he sighs as I text back using the primitive number keys.  Something has been wrong with my voicemailbox forever.  If I try to access it by using the phone (611), it tells me to enter my mailbox number.  If I don’t have a mailbox number, I can find it on my online statement.  When I check my online statement, it tells me to call 611 and I can get it there.  Do you see how this is frustrating?  Forget it.  Who needs voicemail?  If it’s important, they can call me back or text me or call G or email me.  So far it’s been almost a year without voicemail and things are moving along just fine.   

Obviously since my phone is so old, I am eligible for an upgrade… maybe 6 times over.  I can get a decent smartphone for free, probably.  I don’t want to pay another $30/month for a data plan, nor do I want to have to charge my phone every single day.  I think I can get an entire weekend before this phone starts honking at me that the batteries are dangerously low.  Besides, I carry a small camera and I have a GPS and I don’t need to check my email right this second.  The mochis carry around Nintendo DSs if I want to play a game, and I sit in front of a computer all day at work (and now all night blogging) so I don’t need access.  Besides, I’m anti-touchscreen as I am partial to keyboards.  I never thought I’d be one of those people who resisted technology but it’s already starting.  I own and love my Kindle 2, without back lighting, without internet access, without color and without a touchscreen.  The new ones are smaller lighter, cheaper, can play videos, music, movies, entire tv show seasons… yet, I prefer mine.  A new phone might come in handy, but i like the size of mine and if I drop it, I don’t fret.  It’ll probably last me another 5 years without problems.  And besides, I kinda like the way G gets all rattled when I bust it out in public.   😉

Takeru Super Lunch Jar

I bought one of these today on my way home from work.  It’s actually an exact replacement for the one that I’ve used pretty consistently for about 3 years.  My original broke yesterday after one last perfect batch of rice.  I removed the cord from the cooker and the connector fell apart.  I don’t know how long appliances normally last, but this one was dependable friend that did its job extremely well.  It is a Super Lunch Jar made by Takeru, a compact rice cooker the size of a large thermos (a little over 6″ tall and almost 6″ in diameter) that cooks just under 2 cups of rice hot and fresh in about 20 minutes – perfect for one or two servings.  I’ve used it often to prepare my meals at work.  I bring leftover mochiko chicken, stir fry, or sometimes I open a spare can of prepared unagi (broiled eel) that I keep at work that my mom generously sends me in her care packages from Hawaii.  I put it in the little round container that it comes with and after the rice “pops” done, the container can be put over the rice to be warmed by the steam.  Open it up a couple of minutes later, dump it on my rice with some furikake and I have my own unagi-don.  Mmm.

The cooker comes with a removable power cord, a spoon to scoop out and serve your cooked rice, a pair of chopsticks in a case, the round food container that I mentioned above,  a measuring cup for your dry rice and a reusable bag to hold it all in. 

 

It all packs up nicely:

All you need is a few handfuls of rice, rinse it several times until the water runs clear, add water, and press the start button down.  Do you know how to measure the amount of water to put in any size rice cooker?  I’ll tell you the secret.  Shake the pot a little to settle the rice so it’s even across the top.  Stick your finger in the pot until it touches the bottom.  Mark where the surface of the rice is with your thumb and leave it there.  Lift up your finger so it’s on the surface of the rice.  The water should be filled until where your thumb mark is so the height of the water will be exactly double of the height of the rice.  You can use this formula for any rice cooker using Japanese sticky rice (calrose).

Fresh, hot rice for lunch.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Best Finds at the 99 cent Store

1 ) Popsicle mold:  Make 1 smoothie with a Magic Bullet blender, fill this guy up and Big Mochi is happy for a week.  I think this one has been used over 50 times and it still looks and acts brand new.

2 ) Car visor tissue holder and refills:  With Big Mochi’s allergies and all the colds Baby Mochi catches at school, this is a necessity in my car.  We can’t live without it.  The refill set comes in a 3-pack.

 

 

3 ) Long lighters or long matches:  G barbecues.  Dangerously.  Nuff said.

4 ) Red Vines:  Buying the giant tub is just excessive.  This size bag is just perfect.

5 ) 100 Grand bars:  The perfect mid-afternoon sweet tooth cure.  They actually ring up at $.60 and the bar is split in 2.  One for you, one to share.  Or you can stash the 2nd one for later and not tell anyone.  That’s what I’d do.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 ) Gift bags:  Big ones, small ones, tiny ones, they’ve got it all.  They’ve got multi-packs of tiny ones for gift cards or double-packs of medium sized ones, or single large ones, plain or decorated for all occasions.  (I already used them so I don’t have a photo.)

7 ) Extra large band aids:  The perfect size for skinned knees and an almost identical box sells for almost triple the cost at Target.

8 ) Hair rubberbands/clips:  I don’t know where they disappear to, but this is the best place for replacements. 

9 ) Nail clippers, tweezers, nail files, shower caps: Like the hair rubberbands gone astray (see below), these go missing about once a year and need to be replaced.  No doubt they’re having a party somewhere with single socks and those little plastic tabs that hold bread bags closed.  I swear, once I open a bag and remove 2 slices, they mysteriously disappear within seconds.

 

10 ) Bizu bracelets:  I saved the best for last.  I love this thing.  It’s a craft, it’s a fashion accessory, it’s a toy, there is no stray pieces to deal with, and you get 2 in a box!  It’s so simple for kids to assemble the beads onto the elastic band following a very easy-to-follow instructional diagram, give it a couple of twists and it’s either a bracelet or a little animal toy to play with.  And even though there are beads, there isn’t a mess because they’re all used up!  Genius!

10 Really Cool Websites You Might Not Know About

I’m all about being efficient.  I will spend hours setting up something once so that all future endeavors will take mere seconds.  I like things that are individually wrapped.  I like things that are personalized.  I like things that are compact and consolidated.  I like really intelligent websites that are designed to do things that combine any of these things.  I like the displays at the Lego store, but that really has nothing to do with anything I’m about to share.  It’s just a great picture, and yeah, the entire dragon, flame, rider and horse are all made of legos.

I’ve mentioned before that I love Real Simple’s 6 Items to Simplify Your Life.  I’d like to share 10 websites that I love and maybe you’ll find 1 or 2 that might come in handy for you or someone you know. 

  1. Costcophotocenter.com – There are a lot of sites out there that allows you to design your own cards and mugs and gifts, but this site is great because you can design personalized individual postcards online and have them mailed to you.  All you do is pop a postcard stamp (I think it’s up to 32 cents now) on it and mail it off.  If you take the time to set up the addresses in the site, it’ll save them for future use.  I’ve used personalized post cards for birthday invitations, holiday greetings, and most recently, thank you cards.  At birthday parties, I tried to take pictures of each friend/family with the birthday mochi and sent them that picture as a thank you.  It’s easy, it’s personalized, and it comes really fast.  And yes, you do need a Costco membership to order stuff.
  2. Picaboo.com – Again, there are a lot of digital scrapbook websites out there, but Picaboo has, in my opinion, the best recipe book format.  This is something I’ve started a long time ago and just add to it occasionally when I master a recipe.  I’d like to have it bound and printed and give it to a mochi as a wedding gift one day.  This is something I wish my mom did for me because she’s an amazing cook.  I have to follow her around the kitchen when she comes to visit and cooks her famous dishes and go, “Wait!  How much of that did you just put in?”  It’s taken me years, but I’ve been able to record a lot of her dishes.  Still working on those pork chops, though. 
  3. Sigalert.com – This site maps out the traffic in the major cities in 37 states so far.  Living in Southern California, it’s invaluable.
  4. Createforless.com – One of the best online sources for craft supplies out there. 
  5. beau-coup.com – By far the best source for party favors.  It might not be the cheapest, but this site is where you can find the best ideas for parties and weddings.
  6. Jango.com – It’s like Pandora but they throw in up-and-coming independents that you can vote for. 
  7. Paperbackswap.com – I’ve mentioned them before.  I am a huge reader and paperbackswap.com is the best place to get rid of your books and get more.
  8. County of Los Angeles Public Library online – You can order books to your local library, renew your books that you won’t return on time, download a huge selection of cds or audiobooks for free. 
  9. Etsy.com deserves a shoutout just because they have some of the most amazing homemade products.  Some are so inspiring, I’ve made them myself, but I’m sure you’ve already seen it or heard of it.  I just had to put it down just in case.  I mean, I’m sure it would be news to someone like G. 
  10. You’ve probably heard about thinkgeek.com, too, where they have the best sci-fi/computer/geek/nerdy products you’ll ever see, but did you know they have a monthly haiku contest where you can win thinkgeek money to spend on their site?  Just reading the winners’ entries will be the best 5 minutes of your day.

 

Money-saving tips in July

There was a time when I would be finished with my Christmas shopping by Halloween.  That way I could hit the Black Friday sales and shop for me.  I never stressed about the holidays.  I enjoyed the decorations, the sales, the seasonal treats.  I shopped without a list and had a blast while everyone else wore that wide-eyed panic look.  Now, I’m beyond that wide-eyed panic look and have moved on to the blank resigned gaze of hopelessness.  This is post marriage and mochis.  I live in the last-minute zone. 

Last year when I was drowning, I vowed to be proactive.  I started making a list of things I wanted to do to save money throughout the year.  I strongly believe that if you do 2 things and do them well, you can really save yourself some serious money in the long run:  

1) Plan Ahead – Make lists

  • Start Christmas shopping now.  Make a list of everyone you shop for and keep it with you.  Keep an eye out everywhere you go and pick up things here and there.  If you’re not sure about something, just jot it down and keep the idea on hand for later.  Shop online for deals, check out the clearance sections and see if anything might be nice for someone you know. 
  • Make a list of things your kids will need later and stock up.  School uniforms go on sale in mid- to late-July at Kohl’s.  Shop end of summer sales for bathing suits for next year (buy a size bigger, of course).  Always pick up socks and underwear whenever they go on super sale.  Murphy’s Law will guarantee it’ll never be on sale when you absolutely need it.  Buy jackets and pajamas in bigger sizes at the end-of-season sales.  I don’t recommend doing this for daily wear as bodies and styles change, but jackets and pajamas are pretty standard.
  • Make a list of things to do in the near future and keep an eye out for coupons.  Have an oil change coming up?  Look for Jiffy Lube ads.  Someone getting married?  Save those 20% coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Is someone pregnant?  Collect weekly coupons for Michael’s Craft Supply and get your 40-50% off coupon and buy your yarn one skein at a time to crochet your baby blanket. 
  • Do your kids take treats to school for the holidays?  Get treat bags 50% off after the holiday and hold onto it for next year.  Check online for Halloween costumes and pick it up now.  Do you sew your own costumes?  Now’s a great time to get started so you won’t have unfinished costumes or stay up til 3 am on October 30th.   
  • Get Christmas wrap for next year when it’s 50% off.  Do you have a bunch of birthday parties for little girls coming up?  Keep your eye out for coupons from Bath & Body Works or Ulta.  Justice stores frequently have 40% off their entire store sales.  Camisoles are good for any season and make great gifts.

2) Organize – Collecting things little by little takes storage space. 

  • Do NOT pile everything up in the closet and forget about it when the holidays come around.  You’ll end up settling and buying an expensive thoughtless gift when you already had the perfect gift picked out for your mom but just couldn’t find it.
  • If you buy holiday decorations, make sure they’re kept organized and you know what you have so you don’t overbuy.

Avoid trendy items or anything perishable for obvious reasons.  Don’t go crazy and buy 6 of one item just because it’s such a great deal.  When you purchase something, have someone in mind and cross them off your list.  If you’re unsure, don’t get it.  Something else will come up.  It always does.

Here, take a look at this.  These are Valentine’s Day bags from Wal Mart, Target and Michael’s Craft Supply.  The bags were $.15 each from Wal Mart, the striped ones were $.50 from Target and the Martha Stewart gift bags were on clearance from Michael’s (teacher’s gifts so I only need a few).  This photo combined cost me just about $5 (versus $21) and could potentially take care of the next 2 Valentine’s Days for each mochi and then some. 

My Shameless Birthday Bouncy House Plug

Baby Mochi’s birthday landed in the middle of summer so we passed out birthday party invitations on the 2nd to the last day of school to her entire preppy-K class of 20.  It’s too hot to rent a jumper for my back yard and our yard is a little too small to get one of those really cool jumper/slide combos with the pool at the bottom, so I wanted to have it at one of those jumper places.  G and I had an argument about it because he much prefers to have it at our house where he can barbecue or cater food, but for once, he gave in.  He knew this would be a lot easier for me (with the exception of my Minnie Mouse cake pops).  We’ve been to many birthday parties at these jumper places (like Pump It Up in Irvine and Anaheim Hills, Scooter’s Jungle in Placentia and Redondo Beach), and they were so much fun and so well-planned!  You arrive, the kids jump non-stop, they feed you and you go home with pooped out kids in 2 hours.  We don’t live near one, but BounceU in Huntington Beach was recommended by a friend and they had availability so I booked her party there.  I have to say, it was pretty amazing.  Even G, who was not enthusiastic about having a party here, was very impressed.  For less than the price of a catered party at home would’ve been, you can have up the whole place to yourself for 25 kids and their parents, jumping and sliding down 2 giant rooms of fun, followed by lunch, cake, ice cream and more games if time permits.  They supply the cake and ice cream (or you can opt for an extra pizza instead), the pizza and drinks, a balloon bouquet, goodie bags, and most importantly, they do all the work!  You and your friends show up and they designate 2 experienced staff-members to take care of you the entire time.  They direct all the kids into the rooms after a safety video, they are in there playing with your kids and keeping everyone safe, they will arrange for a group picture if you wish, they serve everyone’s pizza, drinks, cake, ice cream, lead the birthday song, party games, clean up after everyone, and they will even pile all the gifts onto a cart so you can load it into your car on your way out.  They were so accommodating, I almost booked them again for Big Mochi’s party 7 months in advance.  I could not have been happier.  You are in and out in a little over 2 hours and all the kids had a blast.  Most of the parents were mingling, but a few (G and I included), ran up the obstacle courses and slides.   Baby Mochi came home with a very cool BounceU t-shirt, too.  We’ve had a great time at the other jumper places mentioned – all are pretty similar, but BounceU’s staff is what makes all the difference.  They are truly customer oriented from the owners, who set up the party over the phone, to the receptionist, who greeted everyone as they came in, and the 2 designated staff that we had at our party.  I know it wasn’t just these 2, because we were there 2 weekends ago trying it out at an open-play session and the 3 staff members they had that day were just as amazing.

Here’s a shot of the giant obstacle-slide from the first jumper room (thanks, Aunty Karen, for taking this pic):

Oh, and I just wanted to mention that my Minnie and Mickey cake pops did turn out, along with my cupcakes and display-pieces that I mentioned earlier (thanks, Aunty Karen and G for the pictures). 

Magic Food Trucks

Over the weekend some guy came knocking at our door and shouted some magic words, “Hello. I have top quality meat and seafood in my truck right there [gesturing behind him]. I’d like to show you what I’ve got and see if you’d be interested in any.”  I glanced over at G and his eyes were all glowy and he said, “You had me at ‘Hello.'”  15 minutes later, we were reorganizing our freezer to accommodate 47 individually wrapped pieces of assorted prime steaks and steakburgers.  Well, 44, since we took 3 out to defrost for dinner right then and there.  We were shocked at the reasonable prices.  He said he had a 4th of July special so I wonder if that means it’ll be a lot more when he comes back.  The seafood prices looked pretty good, too.

Here’s a picture of G playing with the lighter fluid because he decided to go old school and not buy the Match Light briquettes.

It looks like a giant flame way too close to the house, but it’s further than it looks and really only lasted a split second.  I’m just awesome with a camera and got it at the flame’s pinnacle height (j/k).  I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the actual steaks and burgers, but I was too preoccupied sauteing mushrooms and wanting to eat. 

Anyway, G barbecued dinner and holy cow (haha, get it?), it was fabulous.  We tried 1/3 lb. steakburgers, a fillet and I think it was a t-bone steak.  Between bites and blissful sighs, we all sat there wondering how we’d gone 10+ years living in this same house without awareness of this wonderful man and his magical meat-filled truck.  Reading the brochure, they also have chicken and seafood!  Big Mochi wondered what other food-filled trucks might people be driving around that could show up at our door?  She said she’d like to see a Subway and a Robek’s truck.  Baby Mochi was reciting the McDonald’s menu complete with condiments, and a cupcake truck.  G?  Buffalo Wild Wings and imported beer. 

In my perfect world, our house would be on the truck routes belonging to Mrs. Field’s, Cinnabon, Yard House, and Mamma’s Sushi.  And Starbucks twice a day.  And someone who makes awesome burritos. 

…and a magic gasoline fairy that would leave my tank full every Monday morning.  Wow, I could go on and on.

It’s like being a rock star who can’t really sing

Did your spouse invite friends over for dinner and forget to tell you?  Or did he/she accept a dinner invitation at their house and fail to mention it until a couple of hours before it’s time to leave?  If you ever need to whip up something quick and impressive to take somewhere (no one likes to arrive empty-handed), or as a thank you gift to a neighbor for watering your plants and picking up your mail when you were on vacation, or just because someone means a lot to you and they deserve something for being so wonderful, I have the perfect thing.  It’s fast, it’s simple, it looks impressive, and most importantly, it’s magically delicious. 

When you saw this picture, couldn’t you smell it?  Didn’t your mouth start to water?  Or maybe my picture just wasn’t appetizing enough?   Here, try this one:

I could’ve taken a shot of one with a prettier caramel-filled center, but you get the idea.  The big secreat?  Ghirardelli Caramel Turtle Brownie mix!  It comes with everything you need except an egg, butter and a few pecan halves.  When these boxes go one sale, run to the store and stock up.  It’s well worth it! 

The cookie recipe is on the back.  It’s practically no-fail.  They don’t come out crunchy, but perfectly chewy.  And I usually make about 22 instead of 18.   That way you can give a good-sized container/plateful away, which is about 20, and keep a few for yourself, and no one would ever know.

It’s kinda funny, I don’t care much for brownies, but I’ve only met about 3 cookies that I didn’t particularly care for.  Even though these are brownie hybrids, they’re still one of my favorites.  The high selling point is that it’s so simple, Big Mochi did most of the work.  Cracking an egg is still a challenge for her, but she’s getting much better at it.  At this rate, she’ll be doing my holiday baking by the time she’s 9! 

Just don’t tell anyone our little secret.  Make them think you slaved over these just for them.  I won’t tell because halfway across town, I’m doing the same thing.  Shhhh!

Be warned, this mix already has the walnuts pre-mixed in, so if you or your buddies have nut allergies, you’ll have to pass on this one.  And that’s okay.  I have a ton of these little known secrets!

Overstuffed?!?

Like I promised yesterday, I wanted to share one of the best ideas out there.  I got this tip from Real Simple magazine.  They have the best information for practically everything.  I subscribe to their e-notifications, too, because you can customize it so you don’t get everything they talk about, just the stuff that interests you.  For instance, I get emails on 6 items to simplify your life (greatest finds), new uses for old things, thought of the day, 50 things under $50 (this comes out right before the holiday season), etc.  I don’t bother with the recipes because I don’t enjoy being in the kitchen so unless all the stars and planets align to enlighten my life for a particular event, I won’t ever make it.  I’m sure they’re all amazing, but I’d just rather not clutter up my emails with stuff I’ll never attempt.  I did bookmark their 50 Best Holiday Cookies but that’s because the stars and planets actually did align to follow me with cookies on the day I was born.  So anyway, back to their fabulous idea…

I don’t know any little girl who doesn’t have way too many stuffed animals.  Wait, was that confusing?  Let me rephrase: All little girls have too many “friends.”  We dumped them all out and it covered the entire bedroom floor (see Where’s Waldo, Mochi Style here).  Then they were each allowed to pick a number of favorites to keep, and we’d donate the rest.  The big ones are kept in a giant canvas bin in the corner of their room.  The rest are kept here:

Look closely, it’s a shoe organizer!  You can put in 12 pairs of shoes or 24 easily accessible friends!  I used to have pictures posted behind each one so they’d know where their “home” was, but favorites keep changing and it got too much to keep up with.  Isn’t that a great idea?!?!  I got it here using a 20% off coupon that they have all the time!  The row at the top is hard for them to get, so that’s where I purposely put the friends that are rare and/or collectible.  On the 2nd row, you might recognize an old friend.  Oh hey!  I just realized I never disclosed the story behind this guy.  Ooh, we’ll save that saga for another day… stay tuned!

Before and After

I’m sure you’ve seen in magazines or on internet articles those before and after home makeover pictures?  I’ve always wanted someone to come in and do that to my house.  All my closets, my cupboards, my bathroom, my bedroom, well, my entire house, actually.  But let’s start small.  One of my cupboards was overflowing.  It got to the point where things would tumble out when we opened it.  And if we wanted to put stuff in, we’d just toss it in and slam the door real quick before it released an avalanche.  Most people would just either a) not let it get to that point or b) organize it.  Me, I let it go on for oh, since about February when my mom was last visiting.  I just kept telling myself I’d get to it a little later, until summer camp started and I had to start packing lunches for the mochis every single day.  It got so frustrating trying to match the lids to corresponding bases, so I decided to figure out if what the experts say is true.  Experts will tell you to put all the lids in one area and nest the bases to conserve space.  They even sell containers to stand the lids up on the side.   We tried that system before, and for some unknown reason, I ended up with 8 lids that don’t have companions.  I would have put each lid on its base and stacked them up that way, but my cupboard space isn’t that big. 

In the end, I decided to put the nested bases on top of the lids for each pile.  The smaller stuff, I kept the lids attached and stacked them up.  The ones we use a lot, they’re up front.  It looks much better than it did before, but it still is difficult to grab the lesser-used items from the back.  If you know of a better system, I’m all ears.  Seriously, leave me a comment.  I need all the help I can get.

 

Now my house is not entirely this bad, but here’s another pile I tackled on a different day.  It’s like Where’s Waldo, Mochi style.  But sheesh, so unladylike.

 Anyway, I’ll get back to you on how to handle this problem another day.

Disney World Resort Recap Day 5 – Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon

On our last full day, we split up again.  Big Mochi went to Typhoon Lagoon with G.  They could cover more ground, ride scarier rides and most importantly, she knows how to swim.  They’d meet up with us at Magic Kingdom later in the afternoon when they were done with the water park.  It’s a smaller park than Blizzard Beach so we figured it wouldn’t take nearly as long.  Unfortunately, since I didn’t go with them and we still didn’t have a waterproof camera, I have no pictures and can’t tell you much about Typhoon Lagoon other than their wave pool rocked.

The easiest (only?) ways into the Magic Kingdom was by monorail or by ferryboat across the giant lagoon that protects it like an actual medieval castle.  The monorail from the parking lot goes through a couple of very cool hotels that I’d love to stay in next time purely for the convenience factor.  Like Disneyland in Anaheim, it centers around a grand castle and branches off to themed lands filled with rides.  Unlike Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the Magic Kingdom’s castle belongs to Cinderella.  It’s much more elaborate and is really remarkable to see at any time of day or night.

The layout was pretty similar to Disneyland and I could tell Baby Mochi was happy with the familiarity as she excitedly pointed out the differences.  Along with Minnie Mouse, she loves elephants, so we headed to the Dumbo ride first.  While standing in line, she and a newfound buddy noticed the ground was embedded with peanuts.  Disney definitely does well with the details, I tell ya. 

It’s a Small World World and the Teacups were next.  Both are shaded, which isn’t the case at Disneyland.  I was happy to see that since waiting in the hot sun can be pretty brutal.  We used fast passes for the Winnie the Pooh ride, hit the carousel, and then headed to Tomorrowland.  They still have the PeopleMover that Disneyland removed some time in the 90s.  That used to be my favorite because it had a Tron theme and gave you sneak peeks around the park and rides from a high track.  I guess you could say that this was Baby Mochi’s favorite ride, too, as she made me go on it 5 times!  And even though it was the 5th day of non-stop exhausting fun, I was surprised to hear not one complaint or whine the entire day when we were together.   There is definitely something to be said about one-on-one time. 

When we were on our 5th PeopleMover ride, G and Big Mochi arrived.  They went on Space Mountain and a few others while Baby Mochi and I went to save the world on the Toy Story 3 ride, another of our favorites.  All in all, I think this may not have been the best park, but it was definitely the most memorable simply because of Baby Mochi’s joy.   

Waiting in the shaded line for It’s A Small World:

The parade through Main Street:

The view of Cinderella’s castle from the PeopleMover – probably the 3rd time around. 

I think the only complaint I’d have about this place is getting out.  Once the night time shows are over, it’s a very long wait to get back on the monorail to your hotel or parking lot.  Other than that, we had an absolute blast.

Disney World Resort Recap Day 4 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This was probably the hottest day while we were there.  We’ve been packing our days pretty full and we’re all tired.  Today we decide to just hit Disney’s Hollywood Studios and come back to the hotel and go swimming in one of the many pools.  This park is full of behind-the-scenes stuff.  Very cool rides and shows.  I can’t name them all since there was just way too much to see, but we got do to a few really cool things.  We all took an illustration class where everyone had their own lightboard and was taught to draw a character by a professional Disney cartoonist.  We watched a real artist paint a lithograph.  We bought one of the classic hats with Baby Mochi’s name embroidered in the back.  G took Big Mochi on the rides that Baby Mochi was too small for.  That’s when Baby Mochi and I saw the Disney Jr. show and watched Jake and his crew, Handy Manny and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang help plan Minnie’s surprise birthday party.  We waited in line to take pictures with Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Minnie, her two favorites. 

This place is known for their giant wizard’s hat in the center courtyard of the park.  This is where Minnie Mouse came out so Baby Mochi could meet her in her pink polka dotted dress.  We were first in line when she returned from her break.  She made Baby Mochi’s day, I tell ya.  Here she comes!

The parade was incredible as expected.  We all sympathized with the smiling dancing characters for those few minutes in this heat.  Monster’s Inc., the Incredibles and Toy Story were featured.   

A lot of things at Disney’s California Adventure has the same rides and shows, including Turtle Talk with Crush, Tower of Terror, and more.  I think this park was very entertaining, but my mochis just weren’t that into it.

Back at the hotel, we swam in one of the many pools the hotel had to offer – the one with the margarita bar next to the jacuzzi.  There was also a little pool with a giant mushroom fountain.  We needed this day to recharge a bit for the last stretch of our vacation.

Disney World Resort Recap Day 3 – Blizzard Beach, Landry’s Seafood

Anyone who’s spent a day at the pool or beach will tell you that all the sun and water play will wipe you out.  Knowing this, we decided to spend only a few hours at Blizzard Beach, one of the 2 water parks at the Disney World Resort.  We started off the morning back at Animal Kingdom to finish up the last 2 areas that we didn’t have time for on the first day.  Big Mochi wanted to ride the Yeti Roller Coaster, which she claims was the best ride she’s ever been on, and Baby Mochi wanted desperately to take pictures with Minnie.  Sticking to our plan, we flew in and out in record time.  We had a quick early lunch at the Rainforest Cafe on site and the mochis entertained themselves with shouting out the name of the Hawaii state fish (humuhumunukunukuapua’a – say that 3 times real fast) each time it circled the cylindrical saltwater tank. 

After lunch, we headed out to Blizzard Beach, which is a water park designed to look like a snow-capped ski resort, complete with ski lift that loads people up to the top (or they could walk up) of the hill with multiple routes to get down.  We opted for a giant family raft that sped all of us down turns and minor dips to the bottom.  At the bottom, there were activities for all ages and all levels of risks.  There was a giant wave pool, a slow river that circled around the entire park on tubes (little ones with handles for Baby Mochi), various tube rides, a ton of water slides, way cool obstacle courses for bigger kids like walking on foam icebergs while holding on to rope ladders overhead, ziplines that end in a splash, etc.  There was a toddler area, a big kid aOn the way out, I desperately wanted a mini doughnut from a little cart that smelled heavenly, but by the time we changed and packed up, it was time to go.  If we ever go back to Disney World, that’s going to be a mission… but I digress.  It was a fun-filled day.  I wish I had pictures but since we were in bathing suits and I didn’t have any pockets or a waterproof camera, I have none.  :(  Just trust me in knowing that when we ever find ourselves back at Disney World, this is one place we will return.

We used the same car service for the majority of the time we were there.  We asked the driver to recommend a good restaurant for dinner and on the way, we passed Landry’s Seafood and we stopped there instead.  It had a playground out front while you wait.  Unfortunately for the mochis, the wait was short.  The service was excellent, the food was amazing, and come on, the 2 following pictures speak for itself.  Their signature bananas foster dish below… and I wish I could tell you what this chocolate cake was that G had, but I didn’t pay much attention to his after mine arrived.   

Disney World Resort Recap Day 2 – Epcot

On our second day, we set out early to hit Epcot soon after it opened, and stayed til the IllumiNations show closed the park down as it does every evening.  The International Flower and Garden Festival was going on so the park was filled with the most amazing topiary sculptures of all the major Disney cartoon characters.  That made for great photo opps until we realized there were so many of them, we had to pick and choose the characters we loved the most or else we’d be posing all day.

Epcot is split in 2 sections: Future World and the World Showcase.  Future World is in the front end of the park, and without getting too wordy, it features a selection of exhibit halls with shows and rides, all themed with technological explorations and innovations.  There are educational aspects to them, showing what types of things are being imagined for a better future, and goes so far as to show some of the current realities that are being explored.  One section called “The Land” was one of our favorites.  It’s a giant greenhouse exhibiting all sorts of very cool hybrids of fruits and vegetables that are farmed using atypical methods such as hydroponics, soil-less farming, or growing pumpkins and squash on raised vines so that they hang above ground, or tomatoes growing on actual trees.  Another favorite “ride” was inside the iconic geometric sphere.  It showed the history of communication and provided an emailable video of what your future could be like based on customizes preferences of what you deem important in your life.  Another exhibit hall was Innoventions, where kids could sign up to pick up a Kimpossible mission to be completed in one or all of the mini countries in the World Showcase.  Your kids can also create their own video game in which they star after recording their actions.  The best part is that this, too, is emailable and they can replay it again at home.  Or they can even send it on for their friends to play.

The World Showcase division of the park is split up to sections representing nearly a dozen countries.  Each features a city street of shops and restaurants of the country as if you were actually there.  This is probably the only place at the Disney World Resort where Disney characters and items aren’t sold.  Baby Mochi declared this to us when it was clear she was bored in these strange new lands, “There is nothing Disney in here!”  Meanwhile, Big Mochi was running around with her Kimpossible cell phone that doubled as her connection to a mission command center that sent her around each country performing little tasks to complete them.  I see it advertised on the Disney Channel that the Kimpossible theme has been updated to the more current Phineas and Ferb.  Like all things Disney, they took the fact that this area might not be as interesting to kids as it is to adults, so these missions were another stroke of genius.

I guess my only complaint for this park was that the sit-down restaurants are overcrowded and even if you have reservations, the waits are very long.  The countries do get boring for the kids, but G and I would’ve had a blast doing more exploring, eating and shopping if we hadn’t had to cater to the little ones.

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