los angeles

The End of Our Staycation. Exploring Free Activities in Los Angeles

What happens when your summer vacation is suddenly scrapped? Now you have a summer to fill and two very active toddlers to entertain. Solution: Plan a staycation. We spent the end of our summer exploring our hometown of Los Angele’s. And the best part? All of our activities were free, which is always a parenting win.

My goal was to expose the boys to things new, interesting and exciting. So with the school year fast approaching, this is how we spent the last few weeks of our summer staycation.

California Science Center

Los Angeles has incredible museums the entire family can enjoy. The California Science Center is an amazing museum that lets kids physically interact with exhibits. Which is fantastic for tactile children like mine. The biggest draw is Endeavour which is at the Science Center. It is a once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with a space shuttle. And just as cool are the Discovery Room, learning about the Ecosystems and the space simulators. It is a museum you can spend all day in and still feel like you want to go back soon to see more. Best of all, admission is free!

Endeavour California Science Center

LACMA

We love taking our kids to all types of museums. LACMA being one of our favorites. While there are not a ton of exhibits geared towards kids, exposing children to art at an early age has proven incredibly important to a child’s developing mind. LACMA encourages art appreciation through the NextGen program. With NextGen, kids get a free membership until they are 18 and can get a guest in for free. When you head to LACMA pack a picnic, there is a great outdoor space to sit and eat. Walk over to the Tar Pits and make sure you check out Metropolis II, a must see for all, especially hot wheels fans.

Los Angeles Philharmonic

The LA Phil offers free admission to watch their rehearsals at the Hollywood Bowl and it’s pretty incredible. We went when Gustavo Dudamel was conducting and while the boys have no clue who he is, I am thrilled they will be able to say they have seen him perform. Again, pack snacks, lunch and sit and enjoy. There were a ton of families there, which is always a relief. During intermission, the kids could get up close to the stage and see all the instruments. Again free!

Downtown LA

Stop 1 – The Last Bookstore

I have been wanting to visit The Last Bookstore for a long time. We decided to make a day of it downtown and this was our first stop. It did not disappoint. The boys had a blast exploring the store. From the vaulted rooms to the archway of books to the cool shops from local artisans inside the store, it was like an Alice in Wonderland of books stores. One of my guys is obsessed with old-fashioned things so this place was heaven for him. The vintage decor and lighting, the old books and signage. He could have spent the day here.

last bookstorethe last bookstore

Stop 2 – Grand Central Market

Lunch at Grand Central Market is always a fun experience. Apparently is has been in existence since the early 1900’s, which I did not know until recently. There are so many food options, including the insanely popular Egg Slut. The boys aren’t known for their culinary prowess, so they got pizza. But the rest of us each hit different vendors.

Staycation Grand Central MArket

Stop 3 – Grand Park

I love Grand Park. It will always hold a dear place in my heart. We lived downtown when the babies were born. It wasn’t always easy getting out alone with them. But Grand Park was one of the places I first ventured out alone with the boys and would consistently walk to when we all needed some sunshine and fresh air. There are events happening, outdoor concerts, food trucks, or just some grass to lie on and watch your babies crawl. This day we went back to the splash pad, a favorite of the boys. For me, watching and listening to all the children play in the splash pad, with the theaters in the background, in the midst of the bustling city, is simply perfection.

 staycation grand park

Even though summer is coming to its end and the school year has begun. I want to keep exploring our city. Trying new places, even going back to places I have been, it is all still new when you see it through the eyes of a child. I love re-experiencing places with them, because it’s different when it’s a child’s perspective. And I love going to new places we can all experience for the first time together.

It is important to take advantage when you live in a city that offers so much in terms of experience, opportunity, and diversity. So my goal for the rest of this year, and into next it to hit an old and a new place each month. It will be the staycation that never ends.

Check out the first part of our staycation here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding Myself Accountable

I was on vacation when I received the news about Alton Sterling’s and Philando Castile’s deaths.  I had put the boys to bed and was trying to quickly skim through the news on my phone before I went to bed when I read that both men were killed.

At first I was confused, thinking I was just mixing up names within one story.  I thought I was just tired and not reading my AP News Feed correctly. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that within two days, two different black men were gunned down by police. And yet I could.

Along with anger, sadness, frustration, I have also felt a sense of fault. And that feeling of fault, fully resonated after seeing a particular image that has not left my thoughts. A woman, a mother, being arrested while protesting in Baton Rouge.

blacklivesmatter

Ieshia Evans left her home and child, to travel to Baton Rouge to protest and fight for her son’s rights. I look at this image and see two men in riot gear, seeming off-balance, as they prepare to arrest her. I see a woman with incredible strength and power.  I see two feet planted firmly on the ground and a spine standing straight, not giving up.  I see a mother. And all the mothers that came before her fighting for the rights and lives of their children.

This image has been hard to look at, because it has caused me to truly look inside myself and wonder what have I been doing to support my fellow citizens. Reading other people’s articles and re-posting other people’s thoughts and experiences isn’t actively participating in the movement. I have had to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I have more often felt, “how can I effect change when the problem seems so big?”

I talk about needing to raise my children in a city because there is more diversity here and yet I live in a mostly white neighborhood and don’t actively seek out ways of participating in the different cultural experiences that live within our city.

It is a hard realization when, I have always thought of myself as someone who fought against racial injustice but really, I have been a bystander, while so many Black Americans fight for their lives.

I see Ieshia Evans, a woman, a mother and I must no longer simply express my anger at where we are as a nation in terms of equality and racism. I need to be a true ally and stand, spine straight with Ieshia and the countless other mothers, and fight for their children, as well as my own. Because it is crucial that my children carry the torch in protecting equality, otherwise how can they be a mindful, participant in their own communities and country? How can they be wholly human?

I watch the way my dear friend’s son, a year older than my boys, is always so kind and sweet to my guys. He has helped push Atlas up the slide when he couldn’t get up on his own, or given encouraging words when one has struggled with something. His kindness is innate. I am always so grateful for the way he treats the boys, being the “bigger” kid. I know that a few years from now, when they are no longer toddlers, the way they react to society and the way society reacts to them will be different. I need to stand by Ieshia’s side so my children will stand by his.

And for my friend, who has never wavered in working to have honest, thoughtful conversations about race and share her experiences, even when the responses have sometimes been unkind.  I am in awe of her and believe she must be exhausted. But she doesn’t stop. I need to stand by her side, as a true ally, friend and fellow mother. To continue to educate myself, my children and add my voice to the rising tide of voices calling for change. #Blacklivesmatter

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