Anyway, very perceptive readers may have noticed something amiss when reading our Disneyland report, especially if they knew the very important fact that Downtown Disney is not inside the park. So if Downtown Disney is not inside Disneyland, and, as I mentioned in the report, we were annoyed at having to take extra time out of our day to take care of annual passport renewal (the "extra" being more "extra" because of having been misinformed), why in the world would we leave the park to spend time in Downtown Disney? I mean, it's kind of a cool place, but when Disneyland is right there, why bother with the shopping district?
There's a very important reason for that which we chose not to disclose because if certain people happened to read that entry, it would have spoiled the surprise. You see, the day we got back from our trip also happened to be Mom's birthday. And this year, we wanted to get her something really nice. Our original plan was to get her a watch from the watch shop on Main Street. They have artists come in to draw special faces for them, which is pretty darn neat. And Mom likes watches, so we thought it was a good idea, especially since the Blue Fairy has recently been designated to her.
But the watches were both more expensive and less pretty (the latter being the most important) than we thought, and thus our plan was thwarted. So having to leave the park to take care of the passport stuff was even more annoying because not only did it take away from our ride/show enjoyment, but it took away from our now very needed shopping time. We looked around. I think we went through every shop in the park, except for a couple of places that specialize in hats. Mom's not really a hat person, as far as we know, but she's even less of a silly theme park hat person. There was some nice stuff, but nothing really eye-catching. We did think maybe we would make her a charm bracelet or an add-a-link bracelet with a charm/link of the Disney princesses representing each of her daughters, but again, that just didn't seem to fit. Plus they never had matching charms/links of all the princesses we needed.
So we were kind of at a loss when Athena suggested going to the Pearl Factory. I think I might have mentioned the Pearl Factory before, but the basic summary is that it's a kiosk in Downtown Disney that sells pearl jewelry. They also have something we've heard called "pearl diving," and to be honest, I think the decision was influenced by the lure of that. But Gaston had taken us to the Pearl Factory in an attempt to get us to do some pearl diving (he's addicted, but it's kind of expensive to do too much of), and they had some really pretty stuff. Plus we remembered her liking it when we got her a pearl a looooong long time ago from the Pearl Factory place at Sea World. But we're not sure if those were tears of joy or despair, since there was some overspending involved that was probably pretty traumatic when we think of all the details that weren't revealed to us as children. But anyway, we didn't remember the bad stuff until after we left Downtown Disney.
Right. Pearl diving. For a certain price, you get to pick out an oyster from one of the buckets of oysters they have stationed at the kiosk. Each one is guaranteed to have a pearl in it, hence the name "Pearl Factory." We've been told the oysters live long, luxurious (though a little irritated) lives at the factory before they die of natural causes, so we don't have to worry about being oyster murderers. After you choose the oyster, they have a welcoming ceremony for the pearl. The salesperson will tap the oyster three times, then you're supposed to shout "Aloha!" The lady who worked with us said the louder the shout, the prettier the pearl. So after I chose the oyster that had been staring at me the whole time we waited for the group ahead of us to finish, we had the ceremony and shouted "Aloha!" super loud because we wanted a nice pearl for Mom. Then the lady rang the bell, because that's what they do at the end of the ceremony.
She cut open the oyster and found a 7.5mm yellow pearl. It was kind of crazy--we'd never seen yellow pearls before. It almost looked like it had to be fake because the color was so unusual. The lady told us that yellow pearls represent prosperity. We told the lady that we were buying it for our mom's birthday, and she helped us choose a mounting for it accordingly. The mountings are where the Pearl Factory makes all their money. She asked us if we had a budget, and when we gave her one, she started pulling things out to show us. Yellow pearls, not surprisingly, go really well with yellow gold, which we later found out was very fortunate, because Celeste told us that Mom really likes gold jewelry. We looked at it with some white gold, too, because we know people who hate yellow gold, and because sometimes things look better with a contrast, but this one really did look best with yellow.
After showing us a few things (like the limited Anaheim-Pearl-Factory-Only Mickey Mouse Ears Hat pearl mounting, which was super cute), she said, "If you want to stick with the family thing, we have this..." and pulled out a small pendant designed in the shape of three dolphins, who would be swimming around the mounted pearl. She said that dolphins symbolize happiness, and the three dolphin design represents family, or the circle of life. When I clarified later, she stuck with circle of life, but the circle thing tends to represent eternity anywhere, and that goes really well with the LDS idea of family, so we're sticking with it. It was perfect!
So we got the pearl mounted, and of course the whole process left a lot of time to talk about other things, like how we came from Anime Expo, and how her cousin's a huge anime fan, and did we dress up, of course, why didn't we bring pictures, I actually have them on my camera still, see? here's the little baby dressed as Totoro, and here's us in our Risa & Riku costumes! We also discussed how Greek names are awesome, as we all have them. And, because she's a good salesperson, she also brought up the fact that, now that we've bought a mounting, we can get another oyster for free! Oh Pearl Factory and their evil genius marketing schemes.
Athena's always wanted a pearl, so we decided to get her one. And the pearl she got was a little smaller than the one we got Mom, but it was silver with a blue luster. And blue in pearls represents wisdom! How perfect is that for someone named Athena? But, since we'd already gone over budget with Mom's pendant (Celeste heard that part and said, "That's so like you."), we went with the least expensive mounting they had for Athena's. She wasn't going to get it mounted at all, she said, but when it turned out to be blue, she couldn't quite resist.
After we completed our purchase (including a discount for being annual passholders!), we went back to the monorail and back to Disneyland. The first ride we went on when we got back was the Matterhorn, and it was in line that we realized how much it would really, really suck if the pearls flew out of the nice little Pearl Factory bag while we were on the bobsleds. So I put them in my fanny pack, but we really liked the little gift bag and didn't want to throw it away or fold it up (plus we still had the pearl cleaner kit in it, and that wouldn't fit in the fanny pack), so I looped it around the fanny pack belt so as not to lose it and carried it at my hip.
On the bus ride back to the hotel, we remembered that Mom's favorite color was blue, so we were a little like, "Oh no! What if she doesn't like the yellow one!? What if we should give her the blue one instead!? But we don't want to give her the one on the cheap mounting! Aaaaaahhhh!!!" We calmed ourselves by reminding us that one)pearls can always be remounted (we had just been told) and two)we had a gift receipt. That was also when we remembered the bad stuff that went along with our previous pearl gift for Mom, but all we could do there was hope she had forgotten.
When we got back to Fresno, we were a little disappointed to learn that Mom didn't want to have a birthday dinner. She's dieting because she's going on a cruise at the end of the year, so we decided we had to come up with some kind of non-food event to get everyone together so we could give it to her. Our first thought was a movie--we could watch Song of the South! Our excuse would be that she's the only one who has it, so we have to go to her place to watch it. But then we remembered she only has it on VHS, and their big TV doesn't have a VCR. So we asked our Disneyland Associate Donald if he had it, since he's also a big Disney fan and has expressed a love for that movie, but alas, all he had was a computer video file that was too small to be any decent quality on a big HDTV. And thus our plans were thwarted again.
We eventually realized that with everyone trying to lose weight, the logical choice would be a DDR party! So I called Mom and she said okay we'll do it at the very end of the month. Boo. But then they had everyone over for dinner yesterday, and finally we were able to give her the pendant. She told us that she once saw a ring in a jewelry store of three dolphins swimming around your finger, and she always wanted it but hadn't been able to find it since, so the dolphin design turned out to be an extra special winner! Yay!
Today I'm thankful for the Pearl Factory, the Pearl Factory being close to the Downtown Disney monorail stop, getting a pretty pearl for Mom, finding just the right mounting, and getting a pretty pearl for Athena.