It’s summer! Now what?(Plan B activities in Los Angeles)

We’ve just begun our summer break and I am already googling, “Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles.” This is a search I make anytime I’m with the kids for more than 24 hours. I told myself I wasn’t going to overschedule them. I told myself I don’t need a bunch of overpriced summer camps to entertain my kids; they can figure it out themselves. But after several full days of online gaming and wine thirty starting earlier and earlier, I realize I may have a problem on my hands. So I’ve got to have a Plan B.

Lucky for you, my problem is your gain! Take a look at some of the Plan B’s. This is a list of the not so obvious things you can do around Los Angeles. Some I have done, some my friends have done, and some need to be done by someone soon. Feel free to add your own suggestions or reviews in the comments!

  • The Skyspace and Sky Slide in DTLA. This just opened! It’s got killer views of the city and a glass slide that takes you from the 70th to the 69th floor on the outside of the building! 1000 feet in the air! You read that right. Tips: Splurge for the VIP Sky Slide combo ticket so you bypass lines! Check it out!
  • LACMA Friday jazz nights! It’s free! Grab a blanket, a cooler, and let the kids run free. The museum is free after 5 for Los Angeles residents on this nights. Here’s the lineup. Fridays from April to November.
  • Surf lessons! Yes you can go to the beach and not surf, but why not shake it up a bit and hang ten with some rad instructors. (That is surf lingo.)  Most recently we went with Go Surf. 2 instructors for 3 kids. Other friends have suggested LA Surf and Swim,  MalibuMakos, and Santa Monica Surf School.

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  • IFly! Ever wanted to skydive but that whole falling out of an airplane thing scared you off? IFly has you covered. Skydiving experience without the worry of falling to your death. It’s located in Universal City Walk which is an event all on it’s own.
  • Museum of Death. I don’t like museums. And truth be told I’m a big scaredy cat, so this might not be good for me, but finding things to entertain the older kids can be difficult. If you think they can handle it, why not go check out death up close and personal? Museum of Death.
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology. Speaking of museums, this is not one. It is, but it isn’t. I was told that it was actually something for a movie, but then someone else said it was an art installation, but then someone else said ….you get the picture. It’s intriguing and there’s a Russian tea room. Something to think about….or is it? Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  • Grand Central Market food booths. In Downtown LA there is a national caliber eating experience. With booths like EggSlut, Sticky Rice, and Horse Thief BBQ there is something for everyone!  It’s an adventure in eating!Market
  • Chinatown Summer Nights. Every 3rd Sunday of the summer months, Chinatown opens up to bring you food trucks, food and cultural demonstrations, and hands on activities. Some have been known to leave with a turtle or two. Click here to get the 411.
  • Watts Towers. Take a tour of the artwork and get a bit of history and cultural in South Central. Definitely take the guided tour.
  • Santa Monica Trapeze School. Everyone goes to the pier for the amusement park and beach. Why not do something different? Fly through the air with the greatest of ease.  I took my 16 year old nephew and even he had blast. I honestly recommend this for the whole family. It’s a blast. Make reservations, the classes fill up! catch me
  • Horseback Riding. One day a few summers ago, I asked my kids what they would like to do for the day….for some reason, horseback riding was the answer.  I took them to Griffith Park. There are two options for you. For little kids there are pony rides. It’s an enclosed pen and the horses will walk or trot. My kids loved it when they were little. Pony Rides.  For older riders you can take a guided trail ride with Griffith Park Horse Rentals. INFO AND RESERVATIONS:(818) 840-8401 Another option for horseback riding is Sunset Ranch.
  • Movie nights at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I didn’t realize that there were kid friendly movie options here, but it seems they do offer some. You can bring a picnic and beer/wine. A DJ spins music before and after the movie!  Check out the lineup here.
  • Greystone Mansion. This is a place to come and “stroll.” You can pretend it’s your lavish estate and you are walking the grounds, sitting on benches and admiring the gardens and fountains. Kids have lots of space to run off their summer energy. If the walls of the mansion could talk, you’d hear a tale of wealth and murder, but for now, you can only peek in the windows. The mansion itself is closed unless you are attending a special event. Here is the current calendar of eventsGuided tours are suspended for now, but are supposed to resume in December 2016.  Yay!
  • Escape Rooms! A great family bonding activity. You get locked in a room and have a limited amount of time to solve the clues, get the key and escape the room! A group of us did Trapped in a Room with a Zombie which was super fun, but not really best for kids. A few options for the younger crowd: 6 escape rooms for kids.

LOS ANGELES ADJACENT 😉

Here are a few options within 45-60 minutes outside of LA.

  • Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. You guys, they have free game day on Saturdays 10-3. This place rents and repairs old school video games and pinball machines. PacMan, Frogger, Donkey Kong! If it’s working and on the floor, it’s free! You do have to drive to Chatsworth, but who cares!? Check it out! 
  • Adventure Playground! This is in Huntington Beach, but man is it cool! Forget swing sets and slides, this place has do it yourself treehouses, wooden rafts, and a mudslide. A real outdoor play area for kids. Bring a change of clothes and shoes because your kids will get muddy! $3 entry fee for kids 16 and younger. adventure

 

  • Malibu Wine Safari. Yes a safari with wine! I want to do this with my girlfriends, but since we are talking about kid stuff, they have a Family Tour during the week that still involves wine but serves lemonade to the kids. Wine pairings and wild animals! what could go wrong! Here’s the info!
  • Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. This is a fun place to go have lunch in Malibu and then hang by the beach. They rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and have tasty cocktails! If you really want to do it up, you can rent a beach terrace for the day! Paradise Cove.

WANT MORE IDEAS?

Check out these websites for current events and activities around Los Angeles.

We Like LA

Red Tricycle

 

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Ladies Who Lunch.

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The first rule of Ladies Who Lunch is you don’t talk about Ladies Who Lunch.

And if by chance you forget this rule, then don’t forget Rule Number Two:

If you fess up to lunching, always include a long list of all the errands you ran, tasks you completed, laundry you folded, etc. etc. before said lunch. It lessens the guilt.

Well guess what? Forget the rules. We don’t need them! I’m going to take away any guilt you may have for lunching, brunching, or cocktailing. It’s not lunch, ladies. It’s a business meeting. It’s a strategy session. A support group. It’s freaking therapy!

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Think about it.

We are a company of women. We come together as moms, wives, friends and colleagues. Our business is family and these lunches are crucial to our work development. If you aren’t lunching(or brunching or cocktailing,) then you aren’t reaching your full potential!

These powwows empower us. They reboot our focus, inspire and energize us. The discussions we have at these lunches develop work and leadership skills. They are morale boosting. We solve problems, strategize and advise our colleagues. Damn! What are we waiting for?

Gather up those friends! Make a reservation! Plan a lunch in the park or drinks on the veranda (if you have a veranda, can I come?)  You owe it to your family! You owe it to yourself!

Let’s start lunching, ladies!

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The predictable New Year’s Eve post!

I hate being predictable.

But inevitably, the last day of the year makes people want to share things.  They want to tell the world what they will carry into this new and untainted 2016.  They want to give uplifting advice on how to start the new year right.

It also makes people want to party.

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Dreams of ringing in the new year while having the time of your life! But it usually falls short. As Jennifer Lawrence so eloquently put it, every New Year’s Eve I just end up “drunk and disappointed.”

I had party plans, but then my party people bailed.

I’m fine with it.

This year, I won’t be fooled by the New Year’s Eve promises.

Now my plan is to ring in the new year with my husband and kids! Game night, pizza, and a ceremonious bonfire made up of our broken dreams and disappointments.What happened in 2015, stays in 2015.

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Pizza and fire!  There’s no way this won’t be amazing!

This will become a new tradition! Ain’t no party like a family party!

This night will bond us together. A perfect example for my children that starting the new year as a harmonious family is always the better choice! We will ring in the new year with love and laughter and a renewed sense of life’s endless possibilities!

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Or I end up drunk and disappointed.

I’ll keep you posted. 😉

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Smells like Tween spirit

I am the parent of a tween girl. I had heard the term tween before, but I didn’t truly understand the term until now. I thought it was just referring to the age. Nope.

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It’s mental.

It’s emotional.

It’s crazy.

One minute she is asking for lip gloss and rolling her eyes, the next she wants to snuggle with me and watch cartoons. (Don’t tell her I told you that.)

She holes up in her room most of the day, “doing Instagram.” but when her brothers get all geared up to play Clash of the Clans, she’s the Queen fighting for her kingdom! (Don’t tell her I told you that!)  She wants a purse AND more stuffed animals!

4th of the July at the lake, it was all about the sun bathing and the hair, but in the blink of an eye, she was jumping off the boat doing flips and having water fights. I want to do flips off the dock! But I don’t want to get my hair wet. Do you know how long it takes me to dry this mane straight? And it’s dangerous! What if I crack my head open? People can get paralyzed you know. Stupid adult rationale.  I want to tell her to be young. Maturity isn’t all its cracked up to be.

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It sure is a confusing time….for me. Yes me. That’s my baby and she wants to be a grown up. But then she doesn’t.  I know the feeling, honey. I don’t think anyone ever wants to be a true grown up.  That’s why I sometimes wear a Turkey Suit!

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My hair stays dry, and although somewhat dangerous,

 no one’s head is getting cracked.

So just like with every stage in my kids’ lives, I am trying to figure out how to help her.  How to guide her through the tween spirit. It’s a balancing act. Encouraging childlike qualities but expecting adult like behavior.

Actually the more I think about it, we are all tweens. Right? I am still trying to hang on to that childlike carefree attitude. I like hugs. I like lipgloss. Life is hard as an adult. You can get too serious. You forget how to play. You walk on the sidewalk instead of tightrope walking the curb.

I know how I’m going to handle it. This tween spirit.

I’m going to embrace it.

Whatever side my daughter is on. Lip gloss – check!  Crying for no reason- I’m there, girl. More stuffed animals- ummm. I may try to guide her in a different direction.

It’s actually not a balancing act. It’s about having both feet completely in that one moment.   Yep. That’s what I will do.

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Ain’t nobody got time for these crazy ass Birthday parties!

So I have 3 kids. And their birthdays are fairly close to each other and to Christmas. To say I’m tired of planning parties by January is an understatement. Sadly my 3rd kid is the January birthday. So not only does he have to deal with the 3rd kid syndrome, he also has to deal with the 3rd birthday syndrome. Sucks for him.

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Anyhoo, do you remember how birthday parties used to be? You’d invite kids from the neighborhood to your party at your house. The kids walked there, in a nice party dress, ate cake and ice cream, you opened your presents, and the party ended.  You were lucky to get pin the tail on the donkey or a clown. Oh have things have changed.

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The Venue: Forget having it at your house. First of all- it’s not big enough. Unless you are one of the reality show housewives. My kids’ school tries to enforce an all inclusive birthday party. Which I totally understand on some level. No one should have their feelings hurt. But at some point, we need to prepare these kids for real life. Not everyone is invited to everything. I’m not saying rub their noses in it or exclude one child and invite all the others, but a party for 10 is a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a party for 20-30.  Even if you only have 10, you need a venue. If you even think about having it at your house, you better make damn sure the entertainment makes it worth it. Hire a petting zoo or go carts or both!

The Food: You still serve cake but you also must have at least 4 other food options. Make sure they are free of preservatives, gluten, and taste great! These kids may have just eaten but they expect food. Cake is not enough. Even though they just had lunch. Even though the party only lasts 2 hours. We bring snacks to games that only last an hour. What do you expect?

Remember when cakes used to be baked by your mom at home? Just a cake with candles. No writing, no $10 plastic character on top. Just the cake. With icing. And candles. And because it was homemade it usually looked somewhat inappropriate. Or maybe that’s just me.

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The Presents:Opening gifts in front of guests is a huge no no now. It would be insensitive to open presents because no one else is getting presents. WTH? It’s my kid’s BIRTH day! That person should get presents! Every kid should experience the joy of opening presents in front of a group of people who aren’t getting any. And every kid should also experience the anxiety of having the gift you brought judged by all the other kids. 😉 Besides, it eats up at least 30 minutes if not more of the party. Then you don’t need a magician! Score!

The Goody Bags: Food and entertainment isn’t enough. They need to leave with a goody bag!   Because if the birthday boy is getting a gift, by God, every other kid should get one too! “Goody bag” is somewhat of a misnomer, isn’t it? By the time I start thinking about goody bags, I’m done. A quick trip to the 99 cent store or the $1 bins at Target and viola! Throw in some left over Halloween candy if you are feeling extra generous.  Let’s face it, everything in the goody bag gets thrown away as soon as the kid gets home…or lost. Why are we doing it????

I guess this has become kind of a “back in my day” post, but seriously! Back in my day, we didn’t need fancy theme parties! We were happy to have all our friends together for some cake and presents!  Let’s take back the birthday party! Stand up to the peer pressure of making it “the event of the season!”

Whose with me?

“Your breath smells like diarrhea!” and other helpful information.

“Your breath smells like diarrhea, Mom.”

I was taken aback because I had actually just brushed my teeth.

“Does it smell like diarrhea or like coffee?”

“Like diarrhea flavored coffee.”coffee-wink

I don’t think I’ve ever written the word diarrhea this many times.  I still don’t spell it correctly on the first try. Ok then.

“Thanks for telling me, buddy. I will try to correct the situation.”

(I also used it as a teachable moment because I’m a great parent!)

“You know, sometimes, if you only brush your teeth and not your tongue, your breath can still smell.

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*Blank stare.

Sometimes, my words of wisdom take awhile to sink in. I’m sure he will thank me for this later.

Kids.

They say the darndest things. Like:

“Mom, you aren’t 25 anymore.”

and

“Mom, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?

Because that dress says you are.”

But I have to say, this is also one reason why I was excited to have some. How many times have I tried to smell my own breath, or desperately wanted to check my nose or teeth for indiscretions, but was unable to get to a mirror? (One time is too many.)

I could ask my spouse, but then that last bit of mystery is gone. I’ve been married 20 years this summer, and I can proudly say he has never seen me sitting on the toilet. I hate even writing that word. We say potty. Anyway, that’s another post.

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I may or may not be sitting on the potty in this photo. 😉

Kids are another story! I can ask my kids (or more often, be told by them without even asking!) and there is no judgement. They tell it like it is and still think I’m pretty. 😉  Except when I wear that one “pregnant dress”…which is now in the trash!

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So if you have children, and they aren’t as forthcoming as mine….now you know they can come in handy in certain situations! Start utilizing them! (And always brush your tongue.)

Let’s talk about sex, baby…

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And by baby I am referring to my actual baby. She is 11.  I think she read somewhere that she is supposed to ask sexual questions every night at bedtime.  Mother daughter bonding or something.

So it starts with ..”Mom,  will you sit with me for a minute?” I’m not gonna lie…most of the time I really want to say no. I mean it’s 9:30pm and I’m ready for some deep conversations with my wine glass. 😉 But I sit down anyway and take a deep breath.

“Mom, where else do people have sex besides the bed?”

“Mom, do you have sex in the shower?”

“Mom, do you have a baby every time you have sex?”

“Mom, are your boobs part of your body or will they fall off when you bend over?”

What? That last one I feel like was just a stall tactic to keep me in her room longer.  But I answer every question. She’s 11 and these are things she wants to know.  And those questions seemed pretty tame. I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me….even if I don’t feel comfortable talking with them. lol

I do have boundaries though. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it bothers me to see so much sexual content out and about in public places.  This isn’t about putting parental controls on my tv or internet. These are things we see in our neighborhood. I wish advertisers considered themselves part of that village that it takes to raise a child.

If I had a dollar for every time I saw sex written or overly insinuated on billboards etc while driving my kids to school…I’d have at least $10. (That didn’t have the impact I had hoped for, but 10 times on a 10 minute drive, that’s ridiculous.)

When my 9 year old said he knew the movie Sex Tape was about having sex, I asked him how he even knew about sex..his response, “Mom, when you have been around as long as I have, you start to know things.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

He didn’t need to know about sex just yet. And he certainly didn’t need to know that people video tape it. That’s for later, when he is married and trying to “keep the fire alive.”  Luckily, he did not ask a question so I did not go further with that particular  conversation. 

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Kids see sex without even trying. What happened to the good old days where you had to see sexy things by sneaking into your friend’s parents room and look under the bed to find a Playboy or convince a babysitter that you were allowed to watch Blue Lagoon on HBO while your parents were out.  (yes dated references, but you knew them, didn’t you?)

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Some parents like to get started early. I know people who lay it all out there when their children are 6 and 7.  I wonder if that works. Some of it is still a bit confusing at 43, so how is a child processing that?

Recently the term 69 was brought up with a few 5th graders. Some parents are of the philosophy that when a question is asked, you answer it completely, no holds barred.

I am of the philosophy that you pretend that someone is calling you and you have to go.

No, not really.  My philosophy is that you give an answer that best fits the age group.  There are some images a kid brain does not need to have. It’s a sex thing and leave it at that.  When I was 10, 69 was just another odd number. Besides, I don’t care what you say about keeping it in the family.  That kid has some interesting information and she wants to share it. And share it she did. 

I don’t want to have lots of graphic sex conversations with my elementary school aged children. (Truth be told, any age children.) “Hey kids, forget the movie night, mommy is going to pop some popcorn and we can all settle in for a night of explicit discussions regarding sexual positions and why people video them.”

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And for the record, I am by no means a prude. As a matter of fact, within my circle of friends, I’m the girl that makes everything seem like a sexual innuendo. It’s my thing and I’m good with it. (That’s what he said!)

I don’t mind answering questions, but I am more prepared for PG than R. I just feel like some of the questions that come up now aren’t because their brains are ready for it, but because they were exposed to it accidently.  In those situations, less is more.  Anywho, I was just sitting here thinking about all this and thought I’d share.

Feel free to do the same. xo