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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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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Forget Stranger Danger- I’m scared of the Good Samaritans!

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The situation is out of control. Did you read the story about the mom who was arrested because her daughter was at the park alone? Cliff notes:

Mom works at McDonald’s. 9 year old kid sits at Mcdonald’s while mom works. Kid begs mom to go to the park nearby. Mom gives kid a cell phone. Kid goes to park. “Good Samaritan” sees kid alone and calls the cops. Mom gets arrested.  Kid goes into foster care. And they all live happily…wait, nope that’s not right.

Or what about the parents who were investigated for allowing their daughter to walk to the post office? These are just two examples out of many.

Are we so far removed from the days when kids left on their bikes in the morning and didn’t come home til the streetlamps came on that we call the cops on parents before knowing the full story?  Most of these stories are not about neglected children. The kids are well taken care of, given a cell phone and allowed to head to a neighborhood park for an hour or two.

Listen, I don’t know if I would trust my 9 yr old to go to the park alone, but not because of stranger danger. I would worry about the other people at the park….and the park itself. My 9 yr old is a bit mischievous.

kid on big wheel edit

I don’t know the kids in these stories. I don’t know the parents. I also don’t know the area in which they were “left.” All of those things are factors in how I would handle the situation. What I do know is that kids from the 70’s and 80’s were left to their own devices ALL DAY and we not only survived; we thrived.  We had street smarts. We gained self confidence and independence. We knew how to entertain ourselves.  And yes, we also all have a story or two about the “strange man down the street.”

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I worry that the kids today, my kids, are too supervised, too protected, and don’t get the opportunity to explore and use their instincts.  I’m trying to find a balance.  I don’t want fear to raise my kids. And now while I’m attempting to find that balance, I have to worry about police showing up at my door.

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 Is it more dangerous today than when I was growing up?  It seems all the 24/7 “bad news” is having quite an impact on us but is the threat real? I don’t think so. I think now we are so afraid of the 10% chance that we forget to focus on the 90% chance that it won’t happen.

Like I said, I’m working on a balance. I’m going to squash that lump in my throat when I say yes, you can walk to the neighbor’s house without me watching you. I’m not going to sit out front when I agree to let the kids play in their own front yard. Hell, I may even get crazy and let them ride their bike around the block by themselves! Try not to judge me too harshly.

And if you happen to see my kid, alone but happy, please don’t call the cops. (Unless that cop comes to my house with his own boombox.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the tip!

Let’s play a game. 😉 Why are you looking at me like that? Have you heard of it? Well, let me tell you how it works.

I will give you a tip and then you give me a tip. It will be fun! But it’s not a game you can play alone. So are you in? Come on…it’s just a tip. I will only love you more.

I’ll start and give you a few I’ve heard lately.

tips

1. Keep flossers in your car. Then when you are driving kids around town, you can pass them out and make them floss! (It also comes in handy when you had spinach for lunch!)

flosser

2. Kid always rolling out of bed? Line up a pool noodle with the edge of the bed and under the fitted sheet!

pool noodle

3. Want apples for your kid’s lunch, but hate the browning? Cut the apple and then put it back together with a rubberband!

apple

4. Crazy coughing at night? Put Vick’s Vapor Rub on their feet, cover with socks…. a little more on the chest and they are off to Dreamland… uninterrupted!

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5. Easily peel your banana! Find the end of the banana opposite from the stem. Pinch and twist. Then you can peel your banana and uh take a bite!

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Ok! It’s your turn! Leave a tip! Don’t be scared.

It’s just a tip.

Riding the break!

 

That’s not a typo. I’m not talking about car brakes. I’m talking about a break from parenthood. A break from responsibility. A break from that 24/7 unpaid job we all agreed to do. A break that every mom deserves. Yes, you do. Don’t argue with me, I said you do!

Hey, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

No laundry. No carpool. No lunches to make.  Just me myself and I…and a few friends. Sleeping in. Movies. Room Service. Dinners out. A photo shoot. Champagne blow outs. lol Did I throw you with that? Hey if you are going to make the time to take a break…you need to make it count!

Here are a few tips when taking a break.

1.Take enough time.

mommy-timeout

SO many times, I try to plan a weekend getaway but I want to make sure that the kids are fed, and the laundry is done and the meals are pre-planned, and loveys are folded neatly on the beds…FORGET IT! By the time you get everything ready to go, you’ve given up half a day or more! To make sure we had enough time on our trip to NYC, we took a red eye flight. Granted we did not sleep well but we also had the great idea of going straight to the spa when we arrived. Pampering began immediately and that red eye was a distant memory.  If you only have a weekend or even a night, stay some what local or within a 2-3 hour radius and GET AWAY EARLY AND SPEND THE NIGHT! A glorious night of uninterrupted sleep is worth more than any pampering session!

2. Send in reinforcements.

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I always try to have my inlaws come in to stay if I am going away for more than a few days without my husband. My mother in law loves to take care of her baby (my husband) as well as the grandkids. If you don’t have that option, use other family members or friends to farm out your kids or run carpool for you. If you have the cash, hire a babysitter to help out your spouse. You want it to be an enjoyable experience for him too so he is open to another girls’ getaway. 😉

3. Be flexible.

flexible

I’m gonna kick my heels up regardless!

We had all kinds of plans when we hit New York, but the weather and a bout of food poisoning had us scrapping lots of ideas and regrouping. Aside from our friend who was ill most of the day, it wasn’t bad hanging out in the room watching movies and talking. It’s good to have a plan but be ready to just go with the flow.

4. Pamper yourself!

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We planned this trip far in advance so I made sure there was money in the budget to do some really fun things. But pampering can be something as inexpensive as a $20 foot massage or $30 blow dry with free champagne!

5. Do something different!

For this trip, we booked an awesome new company called Flytographer.  You get your very own photographer in the city you are visiting. You can have professional photographs taken of you and your friends having fun in the city! They have photographers all over the world!They can be candid or more posed. It’s lots of fun and you have great mementos of the trip!

http://www.flytographer.com

   PicMonkey Collage nyc

So let’s recap:

A break. You need it. Take it. Fun and flexible….like Olivia Newton John.

I don’t wear an Apron…but when I do, it’s Blue.

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Anyone that knows me, knows that dinner and I have been arch enemies since the kids stopped drinking formula. (you heard me.) You will never hear me say- I just threw this together. Even with the recipe, my food tends to come out boring.  I spend a lot of time worrying about what’s for dinner.

Ok, let me rephrase.

I spend the hour before dinner worrying about what’s for dinner. I hate cooking. I also hate feeding my kids processed food. You can see my dilemma here. I have tried to find healthy recipes online but my kids don’t seem to go for it. They turn out bland.

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whiner, whiner, chicken dinner…

Dinner was kicking my ass and I was tired of it.

That’s when Blue Apron swooped in to save the day.

Blue Apron is my hero. They deliver healthy delicious recipes every week to me with all the ingredients. No more substituting oregano for parsley…no more winging it when I don’t have an onion.

(However, you can still accidently add 2 TBL of oil insead of 2 tsp. Not that I have or anything. I’m just saying.)

 Every Tuesday my ingredients for my three meals are delivered to me in nice neat little packages.

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All I have to do is chop it up, mix it, bake it, and serve it. Now that is actually very time consuming. I have minced garlic and smashed into a paste too many times to count over the past month, but it’s worth it.

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“paste making” the non professional way

I am used to dialing for dinner or microwaving. A red onion was considered an exotic food in my household. But now, I’m cooking with dried hops flowers, mint, lemongrass, kumquats!

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Prepackaged = post fabulous!

And the most miraculous thing is happening. My kids are eating it!

I AM NOW THE GREATEST MOM THAT EVER LIVED!

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If only Blue Apron did dessert.

 

I didn’t need a red cape to feel like a superhero…I just needed the Blue Apron. ( Of course, the black boots are still a no brainer.)

http://www.blueparon.com

 

 

 

mom guilt

I yelled at my kids right before dropping them at school. I forgot to send them with jackets. I bought lunchables instead of making nutritious all organic lunches. I said “because I said so” instead of taking the time to explain my reasoning for saying no to yet another sleep over. I didn’t stay long enough at the skate park. I didn’t take them to the skate park. I said the skate park was closed.

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Mom guilt.

It starts early.  You let your baby cry in her bed while you finally take a shower after a 10 day hiatus. You called him a fat ass when he wouldn’t stop crying in the middle of the night. (Only to your husband who didn’t even hear it because he slept through the crying, but you still feel awful.)  You fed her store bought baby food instead of mashing up organic avocados and bananas. Mom guilt!

It sucks.

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Every mom I know suffers from some sort of mom guilt. We have been conditioned to think that every single thing we do or don’t do can impact our child’s very soul.  I stressed because I didn’t carve pumpkins this year, and I definitely didn’t roast any damn pumpkin seeds. I don’t bake or cook really. I don’t enjoy the park. I hate reading with my kids.

Shit. My kids are screwed. (and while I’m confessing…I didn’t breastfeed. Oh shit. Double D screwed!!)

Except that I do other things. Maybe it’s not the traditional way of bonding, but dance parties, and super awesome indoor tents are something, right?  You have to know who you are and be that person. I don’t use the oven much but I’m not stingy when it comes to hugs and kisses and praise.  I can create an impromptu musical with my kids about homework. “Every day this week, we try to geeeeet our work done. Geeeet our work done….” Chorus line…Anyone?Anyone?

I heard a great Ted talk the other day from Brene Brown and she said:

” Our job as parents is to make our children feel worthy of love and belonging.”

Did you read that? It did not say our job as parents is to sit on the floor playing hours of barbies/legos/petshop.  It did not say it is our job as parents to take them to all three Chipmunk movies the day they open. Good parenting doesn’t mean baking from scratch! And Lunchables were never mentioned!

I actually googled Brene Brown after watching this. Apparently she is a big wig in the self help community. I’m surprised I didn’t know her sooner since that’s where you will find me in any bookstore. She has a great book: The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting. I haven’t read it but I did read the synopsis. Hey, that counts. Plus, did you read the title? Hello!brene brown bookBasically she says we have to embrace our imperfections. It shows our kids that it’s ok. We need to be who we really are. For me that means, I’m not a baker, a butcher or a candlestick maker.  It’s exhausting to keep up the charade anyway. I am pretty sure I’m not fooling anyone. It’s ok that I don’t bake cookies from scratch! It’s ok if I give a little processed meat.  It’s ok if I don’t want to hear my daughter sing “Rolling in the Deep” for the one millionth time.

We all have our own ways of making our children feel worthy of love and belonging. It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. And it will never be perfect. Stop feeling guilty. In the words of Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb: You’ve got nothing to be guilty of….”

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