Free and (Relatively) Cheap Kid-Friendly Things to Do in L.A.

That was probably my longest title ever on here.

So, last week, I mentioned a small list of free and cheap things to do with your kid this summer. This week, I’m going to tailor it to be more L.A.-inclusive. While a lot of these items mentioned are only in L.A., check your local surroundings to see if there are equivalents in your area.

Ready? Let’s go!

First things first, let’s start with the FREE list:

Grand Park.

Talk about your local watering hole, this is it. Located in Downtown L.A. (DTLA), Grand Park has a watering hole for the kids to play in and also a small playground on the other side. And because this is so L.A., Grand Park also has a Starbucks located inside the park.

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Local Parks.

There are a ton of local parks in the area. My personal favorites are Sycamore Grove Park, Brookside Park, Garfield Park, and Central Park for their amazing playgrounds. Some parks you will have to pay for parking so bring some quarters or cards with you.

The California African-American Museum.

You don’t even have to be black to attend this. I know, crazy, right? Come get your culture on and learn about black history in a month that’s not February. They do ask for a small donation but it’s optional. More information is located here.

The California Science Center

Located in the same complex as the CAAM, this is also free (donations are optional). They have a ton of exhibitions and are super dope to experience. Plus, it’s a fun way to have your child learn about science. More information is located here.

Summer Reading Programs.

Every local library offers one and there are some pretty cool prizes at the end of it. It’s also good for the child to read and be prepared for the upcoming school year. Win-win for everyone.

Travel Town.

This is a small museum dedicated to everything trains. If you have a child who loves train (or better yet, you just want to get out of the house for an hour), go here. They have picinic areas to bring snacks. Plus, admission is FREE. If you want to ride on the train, it’ll cost you less than $5 per ride and that’s for two people. More information is located here.

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Now we saw the free, let’s go with the CHEAP:

Beaches.

While this might be considered as a ‘Well, duh’ for many, the actuality of it is that it’s cheap to go considering you might have to pay for parking. However, if you want to eat nearby, that will cost you some fundage.

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Farmer’s Markets.

L.A. offers a plethora of farmer’s markets and some are pretty dope. Check out the Farmer’s Market in South Pasadena every Thursday evening or the Original Farmer’s Market in my old stomping grounds, Highland Park.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

This is the premier flea market in seemingly all of Southern California. Over 2,000 vendors from all over attend this and they offer a variety of items like food, toys, and knick knacks. Tickets are $9. More information located here.

Kidspace Children’s Museum.

This is a cool indoor/outdoor museum located in the heart of Pasadena. You can bring your own lunch and snacks. Admission is relatively cheap and if you have a AAA card, it’s discounted by a couple of bucks. Your child can get their science on with a ton of fun activities. More information is located here.

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The L.A. Zoo.

I was actually surprised to see how cheap it was going to the zoo and had I known, I probably would’ve gone to it more often. It’s pretty big and you can easily spend the entire day here. I even got to feed a giraffe for my birthday! More information is located here.

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Indoor playgrounds.

We’re a big fan of indoor playgrounds because sometimes Mommy needs to rest and work while Bear has at it. I’ll break the list down my favorites:

Giggles N’ Hugs.

This is located inside the Glendale Galleria. Kids are free, but adults pay $15 admission. Now, I have to say, although I have never experienced this, it’s rumored you’re expected to buy something to eat or drink while you’re there. I’ve always had something to eat and drink, so I never had that issue. And their menu is pretty bomb-ass. More information is located here.

The Awesome Playground.

We’ve been coming here for years and it’s one of our favorites. During the summertime, they have a water slide for kids on certain Fridays. They also have a really good deal where you can purchase a bundle of visits for a small price. More information is located here.

Underwood Family Farms.

Located in Moorpark, this farm is a drive from anywhere in L.A. However, with admission being relatively inexpensive ($5 during the weekday, $8 during the weekend for all), it’s super fun to enjoy. Plus, you have the option to pick your own fruit and veggies (you pay what you pick). If you’re able to do that, they have a small farmer’s market set up where you can just pick up a few items. More information is located here.

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Mom’s Garage Podcast

Recently, all three of us (really, Maks and Bear) went to see our great friends, Ian and Josh, as they did their new podcast adventure, Mom’s Garage. The focus was on Maks as he spoke about his photography. He also touched on how he dealt with Ethan’s death, and how photography really helped me become a better man.

Bear clearly stole the show and he gets an interview as well! I also make a special guest appearance at the end.

A special shout-out to Ian (Chamo) and Josh, for being gracious hosts. Also, a shout-out to Ian’s mother, who was just so sweet and offered food. I honestly should’ve taken her up on that offer. Next time I will!

Underneath the interview are behind the scenes shots I took!

I hope you enjoy!

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Bear’s IKEA Bedroom Makeover

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I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA as I think a lot of people do. If you want cheap furniture and what-not, it’s your place. Sometimes that cheap furniture might really turn out to be a bust but that’s the risk you take.

We decided to furnish our entire home with mostly IKEA items. (No, this is not a sponsored post.) We decided on that for two reasons: Bear and Sushi.

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When you have a small child and a pet who thinks she rules the household, you have to adjust accordingly. Maks and I decided from early on, we weren’t going to get any expensive furniture and the furniture we did get, we had to be okay with it being torn.

Yes, these are things no one really talks about during the cutesy little baby showers.

We furnished Bear’s room when we moved in a year ago, yet over time, well, we just stopped caring:

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I mean, we really stopped caring:

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Even Sushi was like, ‘What the hell is this?’

I finally had more than enough and I’m sure me binge-watching Tiny Home Nation along with some sprinkles of Hoarders and Marie Kondo made me realize my baby needed a playroom and bedroom; not makeshift storage.

Bear wanted to go to IKEA recently and originally I had no reason to go. Then I realized, ‘Oh wait, your bedroom is a hot-ass mess so maybe we should go.’

I found a super good deal on a new toy chest:

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The frame was heavier than I thought it would be and I’m surprised I didn’t get a hernia carrying it to the car.

I picked up six containers and told Bear to choose which colors he wanted:

And we picked up a small stool for him:

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Now, it was time for the redecorating to begin.

Maks and I pretty much cleaned out Bear’s room. I sat with Bear and asked him what toys he wanted to keep and which ones he wanted to donate. We also did a trash pile for toys that were missing pieces or broken.

I feel it’s very important to have the children be hands-on in getting rid of their toys instead of the parents. While it’s painstaking and there’s a lot of back and forth, it’s ultimately the child’s decision to part with the toys, not the parent.

We decided to throw away the Paw Patrol toy chest because it was broken and torn. Plus, as Bear is getting older, he’s probably not going to be into certain things like he used to be. This kid was obsessed with everything Thomas the Train three years ago. Now it’s Minecraft and Roblox.

After we rid of the old toy chest, it was time to construct the new one. Maks did an amazing job constructing it while Bear and I cleared out his toys. Once Maks was done, it was time to move it to Bear’s room:

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Then, it was time to clear what was underneath Bear’s bed and transform it to something more suitable for a child and any playdates he’ll have:

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We have the frames in Bear’s room so he knows it’s his room. He chose both pictures and frames.

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Maks found a spare hook he had and added Bear’s lantern to give Bear some extra light.

Bear’s room is still in the process of being made over. We’re going to add a curtain to give him some separation from the  desk and the rest of the room. We’re also going to add another small mat for Bear to lay on.

So yeah, there you have it! I’ll do a full video about his makeover soon!

To purchase items shown:

IKEA bed

IKEA toy chest

IKEA table and chairs

IKEA containers – small.

IKEA containers – big.

IKEA stool

 

 

Family Trip to LAFC!

I recently scored tickets to LAFC as a Yelp Elite Perk. While we were there, a Verizon rep upgraded our tickets and we were able to get on-field access (I knowwwwwww…..crazy, right?)

After an experience of a lifetime and being this close to the players (we weren’t allowed to interact with them but that was fine by us), here are are some amazing photos from our weekend!

The black and white photos are courtesy of hubby, @caliwinter.

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Football stadium sign
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It was rather cold in the stadium. Fleece blanket, $30.

To purchase, click here.

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When we were allowed on-field access before and after the game, we enjoyed the seats. Bear, particularly, loved the popcorn.
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Pre- and post-game field access passes courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

 

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How one can tell they have a small boy? LOL
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After the game, we were allowed to do penalty kicks! Bear made his on the first shot!
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A winning smile after making his goal!
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And of course, the obligatory couple selfie pic. 🙂

I just love the excitement and energy a LAFC game brings! If you’re in the L.A. area, I highly recommend going to one!

A shout-out to Yelp Elite Perks and Verizon for their awesome customer service.

To purchase a LAFC game ticket, click here.

So yeah, we were totally robbed…

No, that is not a bait-click title. We were robbed.

Sometime when I went to Costco yesterday and was gone for a mere 3 hours, we were robbed. The crackheads (I’ll get to why we feel that way) stole two iPads (both Bear’s) and ten dollars in petty cash.

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Now, it’s story time:

I went to Costco and made a last dash at Toys R Us for early birthday/Christmas gifts for Bear. I was gone a bit longer than I wanted to be but made it back home at a good time: 1 PM.

I wasn’t feeling well so I went to the bathroom for a short while. Normally, this would be TMI but it does explain the lapse in when I arrived home and when I notified everyone. After I was done, I wanted to go for a nap in our bedroom. I entered the bedroom and noticed my bedroom window was kinda catawampus and the blinds were broken.

My first thought was Sushi must’ve been messing with the blinds. Then it occurred to me, no, that wasn’t Sushi. That was some asshole.

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My window screen was nice.

Now, the very first feeling was violation. If anyone has been robbed before, you know that feeling. Someone took something from you you worked hard for. Someone was in your home doing who knows what? Someone you don’t know, you wouldn’t interact with, was in your sanctuary.

At first, I thought the thieves stole the petty cash (we purposely don’t keep cash in the home). Upon talking with Maks later, we discovered they stole Bear’s iPads (and I have to explain this before people question why a 4 year old has two iPads. Bear has an old one from 2013 and a recent one from last year. The 2013 one no longer really works that well but we just kept it because he likes watching YouTube kids on it).

Here’s where the story gets interesting…

So, I called my neighbor since we shared a duplex, the duplex’s owners, Maks (obviously), and 911 to report a non-emergency. Now, because it was a 911 non-emergency, the police showed up ONE HOUR LATER.

So, after just chillin’ for an hour, the police finally came. I didn’t take pictures, but yeah, they were hot. And they made jokes to make me more at ease. (“Did you invite anyone to come here to steal your items?’) The police concluded because our window faces our neighbor’s backyard, the thieves thought they were breaking into two homes, when really it was just one.

Remember when I said we thought it was crackheads stealing the items? Here’s why – the left the credit cards, TVs, expensive jewelry (they bypassed my Tiffany’s jewelry) and only stole what they could see. They didn’t take any of Maks’s very expensive camera equipment. My laptop, which was in full view at the kitchen counter, was left untouched.

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Evidence of where they kicked open the door.

Pretty much 99% of our items are still here. We are blessed. 

The forensic detective came to take pictures and fingerprints but because he couldn’t find any or glove residue, the case is pretty much cold.

Not quite…

So, Maks calls me and asks if Bear’s iPads were at the home. I told him I wasn’t sure. He said he left both charging by his beside. I went to double-check and the iPads were gone. Maks then tells me he located one of them – the newer one – in our old neighborhood of Highland Park.

My husband then tells me, ‘I’m going to retrieve them!’

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Now, I do not…I repeat….I DO NOT recommend the following actions:

Maks was taking a Lyft back to our place when he convinced the driver to make a pitstop at Highland Park. He followed where the iPad was located and went up to the front door of the bungalow. My husband, I should mention, is over six feet tall and about 235. He’s a big, solid guy.

Maks promptly talks to the teens (he mentioned later one of them was probably 15, and more than likely gang members) and demanded the iPad. The teens acted like they had no idea what Maks was talking about and treated him like he was a solicitor. Maks promptly plays the ping to locate the iPad and the teens were shocked (kids, stay in school).

Maks then tells the teens, ‘Either you give me the iPad and I go about my merry way or I’ll call LAPD and we’ll all have a bad day.’

He retrieved Bear’s black iPad. 

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After we picked up Bear from school, we all went out to dinner. We stopped by a gun store so I can look at another gun for me (we have a shot gun but it’s not easily accessible). I briefly contemplated joining the NRA but then I remember how batshit crazy they are and I declined.

We went to Target and dropped money on getting a backdoor camera for our backyard, where the crackheads entered. We just purchased a few more home security items from Amazon. No, no gun yet. That’ll come once I figure out a good place where Bear can’t retrieve it.

Today, we’ll make the necessary phone calls to the home insurance and renter’s insurance companies. Over the next few days, our place will become Fort Knox. Despite us moving to another city and having a duplex and being crackhead robbed, it’s still a relatively safe place.

The important parts is that this happened when no one was home, the vast majority of our items are still inside the home, and everyone is safe.

But yeah, it might be a while until I do a home tour of our new place, LOL.

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