Mousing Around

My mom was down visiting and we decided to go visit…where else? Disneyland.

My mom bought the boys bubble guns. Aram wouldn’t put his down the entire day. Samuel preferred to be in the center of the bubbles, rather than be the bubble-maker.


"Big Thunder Mountain"-I told Samuel to pretend he was scared in line

Aram says he's never scared. I'm betting his future career will entail deadly animals and firearms.

Secrets of the Mouse

I have a few friends recently who have told me that they don’t want to brave Disneyland with their kids because it is a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t blame them. After being there twice this week I saw bigger meltdowns than Fukushima and Chernobyl, combined.

I doesn’t have to be that way!

I’m spilling some of my secrets.

  1. Pick your day wisely! If you can go on a weekday and avoid summer months (too hot anyway) that is the perfect time to go. A weekday in September is practically empty.
  2. Parking: The main parking garage is not fun if you get stuck in a spot a mile away from the elevator (and Disney directs you to the spot). Most weekdays the parking for over-sized vehicles and handicapped is open to the public. When you get to the parking attendant ask if you can have a yellow strip and if you can park on the ground. They won’t let you do it unless you ask!
  3.  Coffee: Now you’re in and you want some coffee. Buy a cup of coffee anywhere in Disneyland and have fun walking around. If you’re needing another caffeine boost just give your cup to another vendor in the park that sells coffee. You get free refills the entire day!
  4. Disney’s California Adventure: This is a hidden gem. People hated it because I don’t think they understood how to use the park properly (hence the huge revamp)- If we come here during the afternoon I’ll bring the kids to the bar at Ariel’s Grotto (where there are constantly scuba divers getting ready for WOC) get a mojito and bbq chicken pizza. The boys love it, the food isn’t bad, and it’s cheap. (FYI: the bar makes their own tortilla chips! They are good)
  5. Is it hot? California Adventure has Grizzly River Run. You have to be 42 inches to go on it. If you’re with small children, or just want to relax and let the kids get wet -You can walk past the fastpass distrubution for WOC, down a ramp (you won’t find it unless you know it is there), where they have an observation area right where the rafts come down from the ride. There is shade (for you) and a “wet zone” for the kids. My boys love waiting for the rafts and guessing how wet they’ll get from each other.
  6. You want to buy your child a balloon, but you’re afraid it will fly away or pop? No problem. If that happens, just tell a cast member selling the balloons, and they will give you another one for free!
  7. Dinner: Napa Rose is a 5 star restaurant in The Grand California Hotel (connected to California Adventure). Some of the best food I’ve ever had (try the mushroom cappuccino bisque). At just a regular trip to Disney I don’t want to spend $200-300 on dinner. BUT…relax and eat in their lounge and ask for a kid’s meal. They are good portions and the food is the same caliber as their 5-star menu. The servers are great, just ask if you can order off the kids menu and they will always say yes (one of my favorite servers there was the one who taught me to do this and told me this is what she eats regularly). The price of each entree is between $8-$14 and you won’t get those prices or that quality in the park!
  8. Disneyland Fireworks:Don’t sweat parking out in front of the castle on the ground for hours (yuck)…Go to the Plaza Inn at Disneyland (Get there 15-30 minutes early to find a good seat). You don’t have to buy food to sit there, but you can if you want to!

And here is my list of in-park food that isn’t horrible:

Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland

Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square (Clam Chowder and Gumbo, only)

Sit-down: Cafe Orleans

And that concludes my list!

Dinosaur Train Movie!

Samuel and Aram meet Buddy!

 

A few days ago we received an invite to a special screening of the PBS Dinosaur Train Movie!

Dinosaur Train is such a fun show for kids, and also touches on adoption and transracial adoption. Buddy (the main character) is a different kind of dinosaur than the rest of his family:

Anyway, it was really fun! We received free concessions and refreshments (everything from popcorn to apple chips) before  during the movie.

After the movie we went to the backyard that was set up with stations and games for the kids with the fun look of a garden party.

“Buddy” came out for a meet and greet before and after the movie.

On the way out we received goodie bags with free tickets to the Discovery Science center!

It was a really fun day!

 

Brian watching the movie and REALLY enjoying the comfy couch.

They set up the movie theatre Dinosaur Train themed!

This would have been a good picture if I brought my real camera.

Buddy is back!

Samuel (orange) was really into the projects.

Dinosaurs! Natural History Museum

Yesterday we took the boys to the Natural History Museum to see their new Dinosaur exhibit!

it was so much fun and they set up brilliantly. They were able to captivate my 3 and 4 year old children for an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My shirt was falling apart at this point. Holding Samuel and a ruffly belted shirt don't work well together...

 

 

 

 

 

30 before 30

Brian and I were discussing bucket lists a few months ago, and came to two conclusions:
They are slightly morbid and depressing.
They give you no real time-frame and make people less likely to complete them.

That is when we figured a bucket list with an actual stopping point (besides death) sounded like a great idea.

We decided a Pre-30 list. Brian is turning 30 in November, so we had to up his to 35 😉 – I have exactly 1726 days to accomplish my list!

I went on a friend’s blog and found out that we are not the only ones with this great Idea. They decided on a “Pre-Baby Bucket List.”

So without further ado, here is our list:

  1.  Go to Disney World and Harry Potter Land (you may think this is for the kids, but it is totally for the adults in the family)
  2. Visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave (why? I have no idea, but I’ve always wanted to)
  3.  Attend a finale show of American Idol
  4.  Host a charity event for our favorite foundation
  5. Go on an extensive African adventure with the kiddos (this will be towards the end of the five years)
  6. See the Northern Lights
  7. Take a fancy cooking class as a couple
  8. Get professional family photos taken
  9. See Adele in concert  completed 8/9/2011 here
  10. Meet Dolly Parton (okay this is more for me than Brian, but I love her and I think it should be on my list…)
  11.  Go to a taping of “Dancing With the Stars” with Grammy
  12.  Learn how to cook Doro Wat
  13.  Learn how to cook Monta  completed August 2011  here
  14.  Both surprise each other at some point with something unexpected and extremely fun.
  15.  Go on a hot air balloon ride
  16.  Do something fun and silly that you would be ashamed to do because of what other people will think (Like dress up for Comic-Con)
  17. Fly first class overseas
  18.  Find meaningful volunteer opportunities locally, that we can also bring our children to
  19. Get featured on TV/radio/print/newspapers for something we have done
  20. Surprise a friend with something unexpected and fun
  21. Surprise a stranger by doing something kind
  22. Go horseback riding
  23. Learn Conversational Amharic
  24. Visit NY and see a Yankee’s game
  25. Visit the Chocolate Bar!
  26. Go on a family vacation with my parents and my sister and her crew (not an easy task)
  27. Frolick around at the Concours d’Elegance completed 8/2011 here
  28. Get a tattoo
  29. Go on a honeymoon
  30. Talk my building into putting a garden on the roof

Beverly Hills Mom

Today, I was invited by another blogging mommy, Alexandra (AKA the Beverly Hills Mom), to a presentation for Style 2020 at the Montage in Beverly Hills.

I keep hearing about the Montage and now I understand why people wanted me to go there. It is beautiful! It had the same kind of feel as Bernardus Lodge, in Carmel Valley.

The staff was very friendly and I met the nicest people attending and presenting. I was as happy as a clam because they fed me. We had a wonderful brunch, and were given gift bags filled with freshly baked cookies from their award winning pastry chef.

The longer I live in this area the more I wonder why Beverly Hills gets such a bad reputation. I’m assuming the people who criticize it, and say it is filled with fake and pretentious people, have never lived here. This is one of the few places where I’ve felt completely welcome and at home.

Thanks again to Alexandra for a really fun morning!

Los Angeles Zoo

Hm… I’ve decided that is not my favorite place.

This may sound weird coming from me, but I think that it is mean how the animals are treated there. Hold your calls to PETA, I still eat meat and Obi was still my favorite pet.

Also, feel free to pack some heat. There are no metal detectors.

Maybe the San Diego zoo is better.

 

It Looks Like Hell Froze Over

Yesterday, Brian and I took the kids to an indoor play room.

That is a big deal for me. About a year ago I finally started getting comfortable taking Aram to the park.

I still will not just take them to any old indoor place. This one is said to be special, and I have to say, I was not disgusted.

The Tree House Social Club Is a small eco-conscious play room that does not have an overbearing amount of children.

There is a giant treehouse you can play in, a room to color, a room to play on computers, and a room to just throw balls around in.

The parents can sit at tables or on couches throughout the space. Ordering lunch was my favorite part. The adult menu is delicious ( I ordered the turkey and brie sandwich with apricot jam, and a mixed green salad) and their kids menu won an award:

Winner Los Angeles Magazine’s
2008 Best of LA “Best Kids Menu.” 

The city’s most family-friendly place to eat that satisfies
discriminating palettes of all ages.

eat

Aram playing while we drink iced tea on their comfy couches

The boys took a break from grocery shopping to check out the real Nemo in the fish tank.

What keeps the kids out is the fact that it is not cheap for entry.

It was $60 for lunch and $14 just for entry of the two boys. There are monthly and yearly passes you can buy, but it is as much as a yearly pass to Disneyland (and not the cheap one)….

The Tree House

Weekends and Fridays are closed for private parties, which is something we are definitely going to do in the future.

The only problem with that is if you only have weekends off, this place is not for you.

Samuel, the mathematician

the ball room

watch out, the ball room is crazy

Ethiopian and Armenian Easter!!!

I’m back tracking a little, but we had a GREAT Easter!

On Saturday night we attended an Ethiopian Easter service in Oakland, California.

My grandma and cousin decided to join us.

Trying to be as multicultural as possible, we decided to go with Chinese food for dinner before the service:

Grammy feeding Samuel

Lori enjoying a random drink we decided to order

When we got to the church everyone was dressed in their white clothes (including Samuel, Lori, Grammy, and me) It was so much fun. Everyone was unsurprisingly kind.

We took off our shoes and entered a beautiful church with amazing wood ceilings.  It was packed, but the church is very hospitable to obvious guests and even though some people were standing outside the sanctuary, they demanded they we come inside- and they made room for us. Due to the limited space Grammy happily was separated from us with Samuel. She has a way of completely immersing herself in her surrounds. The Ethiopian people sitting next to her kept looking over in adoration of her and Samuel and her spirit.

Grammy and Samuel

The ceremony started with women dressed in white singing hymns and walking down the isle. I kind woman next to me was translating the meaning of the songs.

Then the men came out and the drumming started! The music picked up and the women made these fun noises (sounds like “lalalalala”. I always wondered why they did that and someone told my grandma, but she forgot what they said! Here is a video and the women make that same noise. The drum is also in it…..(it took me forever to find it, so I hope you watch!)

….. Good luck clapping to the beat- it doesn’t work like that to these songs. The clapping still confuses me- it is totally beyond me when to do it.

Samuel was clapping and singing along in Amharic. The only one in our group that could!

They brought out their prayer canes and began dancing with them.

Unfortunately by this point it was 9PM and we needed to get the boys back to bed. So we had to go outside and put our shoes back on 🙂


Samuel kept fixing my shawl like that and telling me how pretty I was

our odd group leaving

Next year we will probably leave the kids home and stay until 3AM like the rest of the people there.

Easter morning was so much fun, but I already posted about that.

After we went to church my aunt, uncle, sister, her husband, and their kids all came to my parents’ house.

aunt Sharon, my sister, and her new baby

Uncle Bob and Brian

The kids played in the sandbox and we had a great time outside, followed by a very satisfying dinner.

my niece, Jessie, my boys, my sister's boys, and me

my mom and my nephew, Bobby

my sister, Ali, and Brian

my dad and the boys

the twins

On Monday morning we went over to Grammy’s house for bishi! That is an Armenian breakfast treat. It is a little like a sopapilla (only better), with no cinnamon or sugar….and we serve it with honey.

My cousin Bryan and his kids were there, and so was my cousin Lori- we brought my niece, Jessie with us.

The master bishi-maker at work

Bryan and Lori

BISHI!

And that was my Ethiopian-Armenian Easter……