a lovely vacation… Legoland California

Thanksgiving is a great holiday, don’t get me wrong, but it is also exhausting. Because I am a compulsive planner, I start working on my menu weeks in advance so by the time the week comes around I have a timeline organized for the week that includes everything from shopping list for different stores (five this year) to what time to put the sweet potatoes in the oven.  After three straight days of shopping and cooking, our family needed a break!

We headed south to Legoland, California for two days of fun.

We decided to stay at the Legoland hotel which is right at the entrance to the park.  This was a good call. The hotel is set up for kids to have fun so their parents can relax.  If you’re a design snob, this may not be the place for you but I felt that there was a little something for the parents and a little something for the kids in each area of the hotel so it made it all really enjoyable. For example…

Your bed looks like a pirate ship (or castle or something else tacky depending on what floor you’re on), but the kids sleeping area is totally separate (and even has a TV, egads!)

There may be terrible polyester carpeting with lego bricks all over the hotel … but there are also lovely lego “flower arrangements.”

The food at the breakfast buffet may be mostly terrible, but it’s included in your room charge so you can leave quickly without paying a check when your kid starts melting down.

The main feature of the lobby is a giant pirate ship play structure… and it happens to have a bar right next to it.

Got it? Good.

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The park itself was fun. Not overly crowded and the rides were great for a 4 year old… though Leo could have benefited from 1-4 more inches of height for a few of the rides.  He was rejected from the Lego version of the teacups, which was oddly the one thing that didn’t send him into a full-blow tantrum over our two day park visit.

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He loved the rides he was able to go on…including one roller coaster that totally freaked me out!

They also have a ton of areas for little ones to play in each section of the park which was great for little Lucy.

lucy legolandMy favorite part of the hotel and the park were all of the cool lego creations- from life-size Chewbaccas to the entire Las Vegas strip.  No photos of those so you will have to go check them out for yourself.

Now if you’ll excuse me… Hanukkah starts in four nights.

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another day in LA, a wet trip to LACMA…

Has everyone heard about the Rain Room by now? I have never experienced such a hyped art installation.  Conceived by a group called Random International, the Rain Room is a sensory art installation that just landed in Los Angeles with a lot of word of mouth and media buzz.  To sum up the rain room, you walk into a room and it’s pouring rain; as you walk through the room the rain continues all around you but you don’t get wet (in theory).

Rain is exciting to us Southern Californians, we don’t see it a lot. Leo is fascinated by rain.  He gets excited by the “rivers” that flow down our street when it’s raining and has already asked for new rain boots for the holidays. Rain is a big deal!  I figured that he would love the Rain Room and purchased tickets the instant they went on sale.

The Rain room is completely black and illuminated by one very strong light that makes the rain look really stunning and your photos Instagram ready.  Leo had a great time because this was his first chance to run around in the rain and I thought it was pretty cool too. I am glad we checked it out but I wish I had a little more info before we went. So to everyone who is planning a trip: here’s what you need to know if you are going to take a little ones to the RAIN ROOM.

  1. Kids under two have to be carried, if you have a feisty one year old (like my little Lucy) they should probably stay home.
  2. You will be in the room with at group of about 12-15 other people.
  3. Per the guard, the installation only “recognizes” 8 people… so if you are bad at counting like I am and you’re the 9th person to walk in, you’re wet.
  4. There is no running around in the rain room, or fast walking, or even really average pace walking or you will get wet.
  5. Just in case your child doesn’t understand walking slowly or counting to eight… bring extra clothes, shoes and socks and a plastic bag for soaked clothing (but leave them in your car because you can’t bring large bags in the rain room)
  6. If you plan on seeing other attractions at the museum, check them out before you hit the rain room just in case any of the above happen to you.

Here are a few snaps form our visit, starting with the initial excitement…

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…ending with total wetness.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

xoxo, Lisa

another day in LA… a trip to farm sanctuary

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Prepare yourself for a pretty heavy blog post.

As I mentioned earlier this month, Leo has decided that he wants to be a vegetarian because he doesn’t want to eat animals and Lenny, Lucy and I have joined him in this journey.  Cooking and eating vegetarian at home has been easy. Lenny and I haven’t had a problem eating at any restaurants yet.  Leo however, has had some struggles.

The other afternoon I took him to a local taco stand where he had been before and he wanted chicken tacos.  I told him there weren’t vegetarian but if he wanted to order them that was his choice.  After a slight tantrum, I conceded and ordered him the chicken tacos.  Lucy and I had avocado tacos and as we sat their eating Leo kept announcing loudly to everyone in ear shot “I’m a vegetarian” as he sat their munching on chicken.  Oy.

Pretty much everyone eating at the taco stand was tuned into what what happening at our table, due to the volume of my toddler, as I tried to reason with Leo about his tacos. “Leo, those tacos are not vegetarian.  They are made from a chicken.”

“No, they are not.  Where are the eyes?”

How does one explain this to a 4 year old?

We decided to take a trip to Farm Sanctuary and introduce Leo to some farm animals friends and hopefully teach him a little bit about the animals that he loves so dearly.

Farm Sanctuary’s mission is to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living. Their two farms in California and one in New York shelter hundreds of animals that were rescued from the commercial farming industry.

The tour started with a brief overview of the organization and and a video that included some footage of animals in factory farms, this definitely made Leo (and myself) uncomfortable. So if you visit with the kiddos, be aware of this.  The rest of the one hour tour was spent meeting the animals- which we all loved.

We met a sleepy pig named Macy, two ENORMOUS and very friendly cows, a beautiful black turkey named Turkey Lurkey, chickens, goats and sheep. Our tour guide was great and gave us wonderful introductions to each of the animals that we met, as well as some information about factory farming.  I am not sure how much of this Leo absorbed or understood but he loved meeting all of the animals.  He said he favorite were the cows and the pigs. I loved watching the cow try to lick him and the loving belly rub that he gave to a giant pig.

The farm itself is beautiful, the animals have lots of room to roam, the pigs have a pond to swim in and the chickens even have air conditioning!

After our tour we had a lunch at one of the picnic tables in their courtyard, peanut butter sandwiches, bananas and popcorn. FYI- If you pack a picnic for the Farm Sanctuary, they ask that all of the food be vegan.

Farm Sanc CI am finding that it is a very fine line between giving your child information about how food (specifically meat and dairy) gets on their plate, and scarring them for life.  I know that Leo loved meeting and cuddling all of the animals but I think back to his chicken taco dilemma and I am not sure that this trip brought him any closer to the answer. How did we get this place of treating animals so poorly, I don’t even want my four year old to know about it because it is so brutal and hateful? There is so much to process and so much to learn that I am finding it incredibly overwhelming. This is definitely going to be a struggle with Leo but I love that he is making compassionate choices at such a young age.

another day in LA….a day on the farm…

It was pretty boring around here last week.  Lenny was out of town for business so I was home alone for FIVE WHOLE DAYS with two small children.  Needless to say, there were not a lot of fun outings.  Leo went to school every morning and we had friends over to play a few times in the afternoon but we were pretty much confined to his playroom from 1pm until bedtime.

Though his playroom is pretty awesome (more on that later), I think he was starting to go a little stir crazy.  I think even I was starting to go a little stir crazy.  Since my parents were in town this weekend (I had some back-up), I decided to attempt apple picking.  Apple picking in one of those fun Fall activities that you see your friends back East doing in Facebook photos, it looks lovely on the internet but the reality was something entirely different for us.

We made the almost 90 mile drive to Oak Glen, CA to pick apples at Riley’s Los Rios Rancho. The kids were surprisingly good in the car.  Leo was excited and Lucy only screamed her head off for the last 10 miles or so.   Riley’s is a lovely place, with gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys and acres upon acres of apple orchards… and not a cloud in the sky. By the time we arrived in Oak Glen, it was nearly 90 degrees.

We took a quick “hike” up a pathway to one of the many apple orchards and picked red delicious apples.  It was pretty obvious that a few thousand other tourist had been apple picking here before us. As, you can see from the below photo of grandpa trying to hoist Leo up to about 8 feet to grab an apple.  There were a ton of different orchards with many different varieties of apples but due to the extreme heat and Leo’s general lack of interest in farm work we only made it to one.

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After about 10 minutes, Leo was like “what next?”  Determined to spend more time at Riley’s than we did driving there, we checked out the petting zoo and the wagon ride.  Leo was into the wagon ride as it was pulled by massive horses… our driver gave us some interesting history on the ranch and fun facts about apple trees along the way. You can’t tell from the below photo but poor Lucy was wailing and came home with a little heat rash (mother of the year).

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We wanted to grab some BBQ lunch at the farm (aka gift shop) but the line was insanely long.  They did have a stand that sold roasted sweet corn on the cob, so we grabbed one for Leo before heading out along with some fresh pressed apple cider that was pretty delicious.  Overall, I don’t think I would make another trip out to Riley’s until the weather was cooler and the kids were a little older.

Leo checking out some vintage farm equipment…

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Excuse me, now I have to go make apple sauce with the 4 pounds of apple that Leo “picked” because he has decided that he only eats apples in sauce form.

Leo’s shirt by prefresh

Leo’s pants by tucker + tate 

another day in LA, Grand Park…

 

 

I have to say one of the best things about raising kids in LA is that there is always something new and awesome to do.   This summer we have been all about downtown LA’s Grand Park! Grand Park is billed as “The Park for Everyone.”   Luckily for us, not everyone knows about it yet and there is always a ton of room to run around in the grass and plenty of shady spots for an afternoon picnic.  I know what you’re thinking… public park, downtown LA, sounds sketchy… it’s not! I promise the place is as clean as a whistle (is that an expression?), even the public restrooms are clean.  I forgot to snap a pic of anything but the fountain but there are great lawns to sit on with awesome hot pink outdoor furniture as well.

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It has been HOT this summer and Grand Park has been the perfect place to cool off.  There is a GIANT splash pad that keeps Leo entertained for at least an hour.  And a Starbucks right next to the splash pad in case mommy needs caffeine.

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(written while Leo watches Finding Nemo. Hey- stop judging- nobody is perfect!)

 

another day in LA, the annenberg commmunity beach house…

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The idea of a public beach house is so California and pretty awesome.  We spent the day yesterday at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica and it did not disappoint. The property was formerly the beach front estate of actress Marion Davies, then a private beach club and now it’s a public “beach house” operated by the city of Santa Monica.  You can make reservations on-line for parking, the pool and even beach cabanas (which are just pop up tents but they provide great shade).

Even though we live in LA we barely go to the beach. It’s such a hassle to drive there, pack a lunch and cooler, bring swim diapers and clothes and regular clothes and then when you get there you have to find parking… you get it.  But the Annenberg Beach House made it really easy for us. Great facilities, clean bathrooms, lots of room for kids to run around, a yummy beach cafe… yeah, I had to shlep towels and 4 changes of clothes for Leo but it was worth it.

IMG_0077When we arrived it was a little chilly- only 73 degrees!  Poor Leo’s teeth were chattering, he’s such a California boy. But it started to warm up pretty quickly and the boys took a dip the the gorgeous pool with an art deco marble mosiac surround. Then Leo hit the splash park which could have been a good hour of entertainment if his lips weren’t turning blue from the cold (though the water was surprisingly warm).

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Next we headed down to the beach for some sand castle building…

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Followed by a yummy lunch from the beach cafe…

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And finally, a walk down to the water.  It was a great day for the whole family.  And well worth the 66 bucks we paid for parking, pool passes and the cabana rental.  Leo was so tuckered out after his beach day that he took a three hour nap! And I was so tuckered out that I joined him.

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It was a great way to spend the day…

garbage trucks!!!

We had a great weekend.  It was HOT in LA. So much for June gloom… The highlight of the weekend for Leo was definitely the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Open House.  Yes, it has come this… we are spending our weekends hanging out at the dump.  Well not really, it was actually pretty cool. If you have a little boy, you probably understand that the allure of the trash truck can be contagious at times.  On trash day Leo likes to stand at the window waiting for one to arrive then scream “YEAH!!!” as they lift the bins. Saturday was his heaven.

 

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They had all sorts of recycling trucks out for the kids to check out.  Leo even got to sit in a few of them.  They even let him honk the horn. You have no idea how sad he was to get out.

 

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In this photo I am pretty sure that Leo thinks he is actually driving the truck, he was not happy with my requests to smile for a photo while he was hard at work. They had free food, free fruit trees, a DJ, and educational booths to teach kids about things like compost and recycling.  Leo even “won” a little trash can.

 

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Leo and his buddy are in hog heaven. I was sweating and ready to go home… but we continued the sweat fest when we got home with some gardening projects.  We planted our new avocado tree!!! Thanks LA Department of Sanitation!  And threw in some tomato plants for good measure.  I will post photos if either one every fruits…