The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Spain with Kids – Madrid Part 1 Free the People Immigration March (Los Angeles) Week 1 – South Street & Smith Memorial Park Found Sticks Christmas Tree Leaving Oz Homebody Mostly NOT Potato Salad Shaka Shack Lemon Curd

We just spent a month in Spain and I want to write down as much as I can before I forget it. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve travelled...

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My friend and I attended this event on February 18th. We missed the march and joined the rally at City Hall in downtown LA. It was a much smaller crowd...

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We started out at my sister’s house. My niece had a day off of work so we grabbed her and headed to South Street. The last time I’d been there...

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This is so cute. There are many variations on Pinterest. I think the original idea came from the Free People blog which is worth looking at. I had these animals...

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Last fall when I heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge I claimed to have felt bullied into donating since I didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself on Facebook....

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After 20 years in the Castro, my dad decided to leave for a flatter, easier life. St. Allison met me in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago to help...

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We braced ourselves for the start of kinder this year. After all, we knew how pre-school had gone two years prior. She only cried every day for 1.5 years of...

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It’s getting HOT and making pasta every night is killing me. I’ve been trying to branch out to more salads now that it’s summer. This is a really tasty dish...

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This cute little burger place opened up in Sunset Park last year. It’s diagonally across from Bob’s Market. One day Maddie and I rode over there on my bike after...

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It’s been exciting having this huge yield of lemons from my next door neighbor’s tree. I’ve been getting “Southern Living Magazine” this year thanks to my niece’s magazine drive and...

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Spain with Kids – Madrid Part 1

We just spent a month in Spain and I want to write down as much as I can before I forget it.

It’s been over 10 years since I’ve travelled internationally and I was rusty. I’ll share the biggies I learned re: traveling with kids (though some will be relevant for those traveling without!) We planned to move around a lot so we decided to pack light.

PLANNING

Bags

  • G and I got smallish roller bags that can convert to backpacks. I got an Eagle Creek one. He got a more expensive Osprey that has a detachable day pack and is carry-on size for airplane travel.
  • The girls used their Pottery Barn roller bags that they use for school.
  • We each packed a week’s worth of clothes.

Eagle Creek Lync System 26" Travel Pack

 

Osprey Meridian Wheeled Convertible Luggage 22"

 

Pottery Barn wheeled backpack

Clothes

  • 5 short sleeved shirts
  • 5 pairs shorts/skirts
  • (I packed 3 pairs shorts and 5 dresses/shifts for hot weather)
  • 7 underwear
  • Swimsuits (2 for G and me, kids packed 2-4 each)
  • 2 bras (me only ha ha)
  • hat (for sun protection)
  • 5 socks
  • 1 long sleeved shirt
  • 1 long pants
  • packable rain jackets (they come in own pouch) – did NOT use!
  • Flip flops
  • sneakers
  • (I also took Birkenstocks which I wore almost every day)
  • Ibuprofen (including Advil PM to overcome jet lag)
Sundries
  • Bug repellent wipes
  • headlamps
Things to pack/do (that we didn’t and learned the hard way.)
  • 3-4 power adaptors (we had 2 cellphones, 2 iPads & G’s laptop and a mantra: ABC (Always Be Charging)
  • Extra USB/charging cables
  • Take photos of your passports and credit cards – store photos on iCloud in case of loss/theft.
  • BYOWC (Bring your own washcloth if you use washcloths)
Organization
In the past we have been “over packers.” We used to take a huge duffle bag with all of our clothes thrown in for 10 days at my mother in law’s beach condo. You can imagine the time spent searching through for complete outfits. Last summer I traveled for 2 weeks with the kids in the northeast United States. We then spent another week camping at Grand Tetons National Park. Time and space did not permit this kind of excess. Our dear friend Trish met us with her family and shared her packing method of rolling outfits together for her two boys which I incorporated for this trip.
  • Roll complete outfits together. Rolling clothes in general is a more efficient use of space in packing than folded clothes. It also tends to create fewer wrinkles. I rolled a shirt and shorts/skirt together and placed in roller bags. Kids could easily pick out an outfit on their own.
  • Socks and underpants went into a large Zip-Loc. (You can also purchase “cubes” at REI or a travel store but they are not cheap!)
  • PJs went into another large Zip-Loc.
  • Swimsuits went into a 3rd large Zip-Loc.

Shirt & shorts (1 outfit)

Roll that sucker up

 

Outfit burrito

 

Place in rollerbag for easy grabbing by a kid!

 

Zip-Loc 'O swimsuits – messy!

 

Roll those babies up too!

 

Shoes/Flip Flops in a Zip-Loc too – you don't want the bottoms of dirty shoes touching your clothes. (Or DO you?)

Two days after school got out we flew a red-eye to Madrid. Our kids are ages 8 and 6 so no strollers/diapers/sippy cups etc. We took two CamelBak water bottles for them one of which was lost within the first 24 hours upon landing somewhere in the airport in Madrid. The second was lost a week or so later.

The owner of the AirB&B apartment we rented had a taxi driver waiting for us. He took us straightaway to our apartment in the center of Madrid near the Prado Museum. The climate was similar to southern California’s: dry & hot. It was in the high 90′s when we arrived. We had been traveling since 3PM our time and it was now late afternoon and we were out of all fruit etc. that we had taken on the plane. Around 8 or 9PM I walked outside with the kids to find a store. It was still incredibly hot outside and we walked past several theaters and restaurants. The vibe was relaxed – people sat at tables smoking or drinking a beer or glass of wine and kids played at a nearby playground. I compared it to the Promenade in Santa Monica which is rigidly structured in comparison – if alcohol is served in restaurants in SM there has to be a metal fence around the seating area. There are no playgrounds in the immediate area either.

I bought some overpriced spaghetti, sauce, toothpaste, a coke and 2 beers for George. We were in no shape to go out as we hadn’t slept yet.

The next day we set out to explore a bit. We planned to stay 2 nights before heading to Barcelona. We’d give ourselves more time in Madrid at the tail end of the trip but for now we wanted to get out of the hot city. Before leaving the apartment I asked G where the passports were. He had all 4 of them. He planned to keep them in his daypack. I asked for mine as I didn’t think we should keep them all together. First stop was a restaurant the apt. owner recommended at the end of our street. It was called Taberna el Sur.

First outing in Madrid

Tiny sip of sangria

I saw other tourists in there so wondered if all the AirB&B owners sent them there? Anyway, it was really cute, friendly and had nice sangria. Maddie ordered a caesar salad and had her first lesson in ordering food in Spain. Try to order Spanish specialities instead of ordering familiar dishes as they will NOT be prepared the same way. We ordered croquettes (with jamon), camarones (calamari), a sort of caprese salad and I have no idea what Bea got or ate. That lunch was our introduction to a month of camarones y jamon (ham – usually Iberian).

We had to switch SIM cards first so we went to Vodaphone or maybe two Vodaphone stores until we switched them. The second Vodaphone store was inside a Cortes Ingles which is a department store. There was a pretty nice grocery store in the basement so we grabbed some sundries. The tap water is excellent in Madrid so there was no need to buy bottled water. G and I had managed not to lose our CamelBak bottles yet.

After getting our new SIM cards and Spanish phone numbers, we stopped in a plaza for a drink. It was around 9PM but still light out. In the plaza we just sat down at one of many tables and a waiter approached asking what we’d like. We had no menus so I asked him what kinds of wine he had. He said, “Blanco y tinto.” Simple! I ordered a copa de vino blanco – seco (DRY!) The wine was excellent.

From time to time people approached to sell us jewelry, carved animals, wooden trivets etc. One man tried to sell us fidget spinners. We answered “No gracias.” countless times. It was pretty obvious they could spot the tourists and beelined towards them. At first the kids betrayed me by yelling, “PLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEAze????” re: the fidget spinners. After the man left I told them that they were falling into his sales trap and that next time they had better act disinterested.

We ordered  a second drink because it was so nice out and there were so many people out and about. The kids started playing in the plaza.

Kids were playing in front of "Despicable Gru" poster.

 

Around 9:30 or 10PM. So nice out!

A little boy joined the girls in the plaza. Instantly I romanticized them thinking, “The children are already befriending a native Spaniard!” but then his parents called to him in English. We struck up a conversation – turns out they were from the Bay area. So much for social immersion. As we talked with them the fidget spinner salesman approached again. We said no much more quickly this time and he seemed not to mind as he departed quickly. The CA family left and we paid our bill. Thrilled to see each glass of wine was 2.20 euros and the beers were 1.50 euros!

However, thrill turned to despair as we got up to leave and found no evidence of G’s daypack. We suspected the fidget spinner salesman had grabbed it from the ground by G’s foot. Inside were his and the girls’ passports as well as his copy of Lonely Planet Spain and his prescription reading glasses. We were supposed to leave for Barcelona the following day.

**To be continued…**

 

Free the People Immigration March (Los Angeles)

Signs obviously not paid for by George Soros.

My friend and I attended this event on February 18th. We missed the march and joined the rally at City Hall in downtown LA. It was a much smaller crowd that the Women’s March.

Although I am not (yet) directly affected by the new Republican president’s immigration “policy” I decided to go after reading several observations of the Women’s March by some people of color (POC).

  1. White women (in general) at the Women’s March were more concerned about the misogynistic and women’s rights comments and concerns than for dangers facing POC. White women expected all vulnerable populations to turn out to the Women’s March yet very few turned out for Black Lives Matters and to protest police brutality in the past and very few showed concern for immigrants rights.
  2. Many articles gushed over how peaceful and safe the Women’s Marches were. Some POC described this as a direct indication of systemic racism: how white women are viewed as unthreatening even when conducting themselves the same way POC do during protest.

I originally decided to go JUST to be a warm body there in support of the undocumented immigrants in my city. I thought, “I just need to turn up and stand there to show support.” However, I learned a lot there. What I took away needs to be shared specifically amongst people like me: white, privileged, not in any imminent danger.

I hope my observations can be taken in and considered with open minds and hearts. Some of it was hard to hear but totally necessary if we want to form bonds and become allies against our new reality. I have procrastinated writing this out of fear of not doing it “correctly” so I will just go for it. Please realize my intentions are for love, understanding & progress. I still have so much to learn.

1. White people who are alarmed and want to help vulnerable populations, please work to educate YOURSELVES versus asking affected people to educate you on their reality. This takes work and initiative. Affected people are exhausted and struggling.

2. Attorneys cannot get people released from detention. Only COMMUNITIES can do this through peaceful protest. Show up for rallies and protests on behalf of the affected people. Make the calls to your elected officials. Educate your friends and families.

3. Work for progressive immigration reform.

4. Instead of advocating and speaking for affected people, provide a platform for them to speak for themselves. Example: at the Women’s March speakers did not seem to include undocumented immigrants and/or LGBT folks. In contrast, the speakers at the Immigration March included Black Lives Matters, and members of the LGBT community. Most were undocumented.

5. When the new Republican administration talks about detention centers, they mean prisons. In California, here are the ICE detention centers operating today:

http://www.immigrationdetention.org/facilities/california/

The one closest to me is called “Santa Ana City Jail” if that tells you anything.

6. Elected officials need to be pressured to protect immigrants.

Los Angeles Residents: this is for you!
Local example (in Los Angeles): Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garcetti is running for re-election on March 7th. Here is his stance on immigration:

The mayor maintained the federal government cannot withhold funding if Los Angeles refuses to cooperate with immigration policy “with a gun to the head.”

Garcetti said it violates the 10th Amendment.

He again stated Los Angeles was not a sanctuary city, explaining police would turn over arrested felons to federal authorities who have a warrant.

He discussed the positive economic impact of immigrants, citing a new study finding foreign-born residents contributed $233 billion to Los Angeles County in 2014.    - http://abc7.com/politics/garcetti-details-las-stance-on-immigration-refugees-march-election/1752753/

Garcetti has been extremely “careful” about how he responds to the new administration’s failed executive order banning immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. Unlike other leaders he has refused to describe Los Angeles as a sanctuary city.

Here is his statement on the executive order:

FEBRUARY 10, 2017
“Today I spoke to the Deputy Director of ICE’s Los Angeles Field Office and made it very clear that I want greater transparency about ongoing operations and the status of all Los Angeles residents who may have been arrested or detained. I told the Deputy Director that I will do everything in my power — working alongside our City Attorney, the LAPD, immigrants’ rights advocates, congressional delegation and outside lawyers — to make sure that the legal rights of all Angelenos are respected and upheld at every stage of the enforcement process.

Angelenos should not have to fear raids that are disruptive to their peace of mind and bring unnecessary anxiety to our homes, schools, and workplaces. The Administration should take a just, humane, and sensible approach that does not cause pain for people who only want to live their lives and raise their families in the communities they call home.

— Mayor Eric Garcetti

Seems a bit weak to me. Instead of “more transparency” how about “a list by end of day Friday.”

Please contact him if you think Los Angeles should be a sanctuary city protecting undocumented people with no criminal history from ICE.

Mayor Eric Garcetti
200 N Spring Street
LA, CA 90012
(213)978-0600
mayor.garcetti@lacity.org

Or email directly from here:



Link to the form email on his website. (Might have less chance of ending up in Junk?)

    Helpful Organizations

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles

Immigration Youth Coalition

Undocumented & Unafraid Movement
(a movement that started organically via the hashtag #undocumentedandunafraid)

LA Justice Fund Garcetti set this up – it’s up but not yet running – keep your eye on it or make a donation if possible.

***
At one point a member of BLM LA spoke about Mayor Garcetti. She described him as, “That white liberal lady you know who wears yoga pants, has one black friend at dinner and speaks Spanish…kind of.” I looked left and right – was she talking about ME?? She nailed it. I felt embarrassed but realized that for once I needed to do two things: 1. Listen. and 2. Serve.

My dear friend Erika told me the other day that at last white people understand how people of color have been feeling their whole lives.

This SNL skit illustrates it nicely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHG0ezLiVGc&feature=youtu.be

 

Week 1 – South Street & Smith Memorial Park

We started out at my sister’s house. My niece had a day off of work so we grabbed her and headed to South Street. The last time I’d been there was probably 20+ years ago and it wasn’t the same but we had fun.

We happened upon the Magic Gardens:

Outside The Magic Gardens

M was pretty grumpy as we’d just flown in the night before and it was pretty hot. Ok forget the excuses – that’s her default mood.

We had lunch at this largely empty pub. Free air hockey and a local cider, what more could you ask for?

Rachel and me at a pub

After lunch we headed to Smith Memorial Playground. Acres of playground


When I was a kid we at times sprayed furniture polish on the wooden floor, put socks on and slid back & forth. Some genius translated this to a slide!

You grab a gunny sack, run around the walkway and WHEEEEEEEEEEEEeeee down you go!

This little fellow helped us up at the bottom.

Texting & sliding.

No texts were harmed in the filming of this slide.

Not a bad “Intro to Summer Vacation.”

 

Summer 2016 on the road

G and I had the idea to take the van on a road trip in a circle around the country. So we bought a map and started planning the drive. Holy Toledo (NOT one of our destinations) we’d never have time to actually get OUT of the van if we did this. Not only that but our plan had us passing through the deep south in late July. You can FORGET THAT!

We decided I’d fly east with the kids and see everyone we could while we were there. We’d meet G later on.

Christina: Thank god for Jet Blue and its TVs! Keep these kids off my BACK.

M knows "Real Housewives of Orange County" is not appropriate for a 7 year old.

Plenty of bribes made the flight go smoothly.

Part 2 Vacation



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