The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Kid-friendly’ category

Spitfire Grill & Topanga State Park

I am writing in my pjs, a hoody & some Smartwool socks. But only a few weeks ago it was hot here. Like really hot. We decided to take a hike in Topanga Canyon. Packed up the kids, the water bottles, sunscreen, Chariot, snacks, dog, leash and ourselves, got in the car & drove up to the trail. We learned the hard way to bring some form of jogging stroller for tired little people so that we don’t end up carrying anyone. By the time we got there it was even hotter.

I am too hot to remove this hat.

Who decided to put Bea in black yoga pants?

(Btw: I just realized when adding the link to the park that the dogs are NOT allowed on the trail. D’OH! If you are looking for a dog-friendly hike where dogs can be off leash – try Westridge. It’s a fun hike but there is NO shade!)

As we started the ascent, the front wheel fell off of the stroller. The pin that holds it in was stripped so there was no quick fix. From there we pushed it on 2 wheels. The only one having fun was the dog and with a black coat, even he was burning up.

After about 20 minutes with the broken wheel we gave up. Between the tantrums, the heat & the wheel we admitted our defeat & headed back to the car.

On the way home we decided to stop over at Spitfire Grill for lunch. It’s a little spot by the Santa Monica Airport that happens to be across the street from a nice dog park & playground.

I had eaten lunch there a few lifetimes ago when I worked at SimEx in the Santa Monica Business Park. The meal wasn’t memorable. But we weren’t going there for the food.

When we got there we sat on the patio. There were other dogs out there, lazing in the shade. Bea was asleep so we put her back in the front wheel-less Chariot and ordered a couple of $3 mimosas.

Not my typical post-hike beverage but since we didn’t really hike, what the hay?

The kid’s menu is pretty standard:

Maddie is the only kid I know who prefers a salad to fries. Or adult for that matter.

So relaxing with Bea asleep.

Agghh!! Bea woke up.

Post-nap daze

As you can see from the menu, the vegetarian options are few but perfectly fine. I got “The Glider” (“Roasted red peppers, baby spinach, avocado, tomato & daichon sprouts on a grilled herb focaccia with pesto and melted jack cheese”) Tasty!

G actually got a hot pile of ribs. It was like 90 degrees out and there he was tearing hot meat off bones. [No photo, luckily.]

We took a look at the Happy Hour menu.

I don’t find the appetizers compelling. The well drinks are good deals. Anyway, I’m not doing a Happy Hour recommendation on this post as I wasn’t there for it!

In a nutshell: here’s one way to handle Spitfire Grill: eat there during the day on the patio. Perfectly kid-friendly lunch/early dinner spot. Take your dog and you can run over to the dog park to play before or after. If you don’t have a dog, take your kids to the park across the street to burn off some steam. If you don’t have kids or a dog, you’re SMART!

Feel free to share any comments about the Happy Hour or any other park of the SM Airport campus.

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Baby Daze Boutique – Local love

You can’t tell from this post but I’ve been distracted/obsessed with the storm that has devastated (and continues devastating) the east coast. Not only do I have loved ones there (my sis & niece as well as dear friends & extended family) but I worry for the future of my children. We are starting to have 100 year storms every 2 years now?? Can we do anything to lessen the intensity? Or do we just build stronger infrastructure and carry on as usual?

Regardless, I’m posting this as I wrote most of it last week and want to support this special local business that has a ton of heart!


It’s so easy to order gifts for people online with Amazon. But all the packaging that comes with it drives me nuts. I am such a cluttery person that I think it’s best for me to make the effort to actually go out & buy presents in person. Not only does it make me buy less, but I also save on all the wrapping & shipping.

The other nice thing about shopping locally is that you are supporting a person instead of a huge corporation. I definitely like seeing tiny unique shops in my neighborhood and the only way they’ll stay is if we actually SHOP there.

So I’ve started getting cute gifts here at Baby Daze lately.

Baby Daze is a resale shop for childrens’ clothing but they also carry brand new toys & books. A lot of the toys are Melissa & Doug (just to give you an idea of what’s there) but there are loads of other things like fancy bassinets

bouncy seats, barely used Bjorns, strollers (jogging strollers, Snap N Go’s and Graco travel systems).

Besides toys/gifts I’ve gotten some excellent deals at Baby Daze since it opened including a ski suit for my daughter for $17.99. It looks brand new. You know how ski suits go in Southern California – you use them 1-2x and the season’s over. That must be the story with this one.

Next year, Bea!

Also found a really cute pair of Tea Collection pants for her

and a Gap jumper.

Angela, the owner, also had (and I’m SORRY to post AFTER-Halloween!! Aggh – sorry Angela!!) Halloween costumes for $7.99.

She has hand-knitted caps right by the door as well as new baby gifts made locally. She also has loads of leg warmers (NEW) which make great baby gifts. If you have had a baby in the past few years you probably used them – great way to keep baby legs warm while making diaper changing easier! I was not able to get pix of everything as M was trying on shoes with abandon as well as packing a Melissa & Doug shopping cart with every baby toy she could find and strolling around and I got busy nagging her to put everything back.

Angela also does special events. On Nov. 17th at Baby Daze someone will be there making these adorable handprint ornaments.
[Photo from Baby Daze Facebook page.]
$19 each OR Free with $50 purchase! Call now to reserve your space! (310)692-9650 or visit the Facebook page:

[Besides Baby Daze, there is a special little jewelry store just a few doors down - called "Artful Things." Most of the jewelry is made by local artists and is just beautiful but there are other special gifts as well. Also, Twist is around the corner on 17th and has an eclectic mix of gifts including baby Havaianas, Christmas onesies, adult costume jewelry & trendy clothes/shoes, lip balms, jewelry boxes etc. Finally Bob's Market, one of the last small town grocery stores, is on the corner with a coin-operated horsey outside. I'll be writing about more local businesses in the near future & linking to this post.]

Have a big box of old baby/kid clothing? At Baby Daze you can “exchange” clothes for store credit:

[From her website:]

It’s Not Consignment It’s Better!
No need to wait and wonder when you will see the money.

I give Credit of 30% of my retail price per item. Cash will only be given with 3T-6T on request. Also at this time, I ask that you only use half your credit that day and return to use the other half another day.

My credit is good on anything in the store and never expires : )

We accept gently used clothes. No holes, stains, broken zippers or missing buttons. Freshly laundered. No cat hair etc.

Please bring clothes in a bag or box labeled with your name and number. I hope to get through them within a week and call you with your credit amount and leftovers for you to pick up.

Baby Daze Boutique
1706 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA

If you need a last minute gift or have a load of outgrown children’s clothing I highly recommend you stop by!

Noah’s Ark @ The Skirball Center

People who know me know I hate driving. The more you don’t drive, the less you want to drive. Also, I think my eyesight is going and I’m dreading that puff-of-air-on-the-eyeball test at the optometrist. Regardless of my first world (non)issues, I heard about the Noah’s Ark Exhibit at the Skirball Center from loads of people and decided that, since M might be in school full time next year, I’d better get her over there while I still could.

You need to make a reservation ahead of time. This can be done online and is great as it keeps it from being too crowded.

Here’s the link to the ticket info ($5 for kids over 2, $10 for adults).

Thursdays are free but since Thursday didn’t work out for us that week, we went on Friday after M’s Spanish class.

I was worried about braving the 405 only to find a crowded, hot & sweaty indoor playground covered with whatever the kids had for lunch. I also dreaded the parking situation which is a rational fear when you live in LA. All my fears were for naught!

It was a Friday afternoon around 12:45PM. When we pulled up, ours was the only car. There were plenty of parking spots. Parking is FREE!!! Parking is easy. You won’t lose your car here!

We shared a quick sandwich on the patio.

M is wearing her Aunt Charlotte’s vintage dress. How cute is that?

What is Noah’s Ark, you ask? Just what it sounds like – a massive wooden ark in the basement of the Skirball Center. It’s amazing!

Kids can rotate, slide, turn, pull levers, gears, wheels and stuffed animals (though not necessarily in that order!)

There’s a mini ark inside the big ark!

Comfy walrus chairs to rest on.

On the other side of the ark, children can make crafts. Today they were weaving.

Sometimes the animals …ahem…poop.

They have little brooms & dustpans to clean it up.

You can climb the ladder to the second floor.

And head back down on the walkway.

The tickets are for 2 hours. Which is perfect.

Noah’s Ark Exhibit
Skirball Cultural Center
$10 General
$7 Seniors
$5 Children 2-12
Free to all visitors on Thursdays

(Be sure to read the website for more info – for example: tickets much be purchased ahead of time online for Thursdays and other days.)

There’s a cafe and sandwich/salad cart. Parking is free!!

Nerd alert!

My brother came to town last month. We took him to the park. The only reason we call him a nerd is that he’s an avian ecologist. Bird nerd.

We’re just jealous.

Allison had to stay behind with Stella. Rats!! But she (Stella, that is) doesn’t fly coach.

Went out to eat at Miyako’s.

M likes the cooked shrimp sushi. My own struggles with organization make me admire her precise shrimp stacking.

Biking home from Miyako's.

One morning we took Andrew to Clover Park.

Beer love!

I think Bea is looking forward to playing soccer with the big kids.

The girls suckered A into the TOWER. I’d like to know who installed this urine-soaked deathtrap in a children’s playground? Who?? Why??

Gratuitous tub shot.

We grilled out at home Saturday night. So nice not to have to clean up & rush off somewhere all the while trying to beat the nighttime rush.

Next morning we went for a hike at Sullivan Canyon. It was already pretty hot but the Canyon is shaded.

Bea in her hiking dress.

Someone put up a fun rope swing in there!


Mountain lion bait.

We were really hot & tired so we got us some Jamba juice & headed home.

Pup seatbelt

During Bea’s nap, Andrew & M read the books he brought them: “A Light in the Attic” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

On the way to LAX we took Andrew to one of his favorite restaurants – Killer Shrimp. It used to be a really small/alternative place on Washington Blvd. There was one in Studio City too. It only had one dish: Cajun style shrimp. You could get it unpeeled (best!), or peeled over white rice (hypo-glycemic nightmare), or over angel hair pasta (ditto). It’s served in a spicy broth with a colander of doughy white bread, perfect for soaking up the broth. Anyway, that’s how it WAS. It closed for a few years but it’s back! Now it’s more of a large family-friendly place with a full menu. It’s not vegetarian friendly in any way though. Still, I enjoyed the grilled caesar salad (which I make better at home) and a glass of chardonnay. Nice!

Whew – I didn’t mean to do a mini restaurant review there. But since I’ve gone this far: Killer Shrimp is family friendly with a bar, an aquarium of exotic fish, indoor & outdoor seating on the marina, and TV screens to watch sports (Great!) (Not.) The kid’s meals need some tweaking. They have a mac N cheese for kids but it’s HUGE and has real cheese in it v. American cheese. My kids really didn’t like it and it also tasted like they used a lot of flour. They also have sliders though and those worked out fine. They need to work on the portion sizes and offer something besides fries for the kids though.

At first the kids were well-behaved. And by kids, I include M’s doll.

But Bea started getting restless.

Time to go!

We miss Andrew & Allison!! We can’t wait to see them again & meet their new pup, Stella.


Malibu…with kids

A few months ago a friend of mine suggested my kids & I join her one Friday morning at Malibu Country Mart. If I’d been drinking coffee it would’ve come out of my nose I laffed so hard. Not only do I hate driving & try to do as much as possible without getting into my car but I also don’t own any Lululemon yoga wear. I totally blew that off thinking, “Malibu? That’s like me going to the Valley!”

Anyway, a few weeks ago I found myself driving G’s truck to Malibu Feed Bin for some haystacks. We were having a little barnyard animal themed joint birthday party for the girls and I thought they would make up for what we lack in patio furniture, plus they’re cute!

Malibu Feed Bin
Photo from:

This place is easy to find – right on the side of the PCH. I pulled in ready to get in & out in no time but it’s way too much fun so we ended up looking around! Inside (I couldn’t take pix as I was trying to keep Bea from gettingherfingersbittenoffbyaratbreakingglassesswipingdogtoysandpocketingtinyplasticfarmanimals.), they have cages of bunnies, rats, chinchillas, hamsters & I *think* a cockatiel? WOW! The girls were fascinated!

After admiring the caged animals we paid for our hay. Incidentally, I keep calling it “hay” but it was actually “straw” – a distinction that matters to people who allergic to one but not both of those! We got 4 strawstacks for $10 each. They are about 3′x1.5′ and about 1′ high if my memory serves me. Anyway, it was lots of fun for the kids to see the animals – then I drove around back to pick up the stacks.

After that I decided to finally check out Malibu Country Mart and let the girls burn off some steam. I didn’t know exactly WHERE the park was so I just found the shadiest parking spot I could and decided to explore. Next time I’ll explore with a stroller instead of a sweaty kid who gets out of a Teva sandal quicker than I can say “heat rash.”

When you drive in off of the PCH, park in a lot on the NORTH side. That’s where the playground/main food area is.

It’s basically a playground surrounded by shops (expensive shops) & restaurants. Lucky for us there are a couple of casual places to eat. And a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

There are some cheaper counter service places too. And plenty of tables under umbrellas.

After eating, we headed to the playground.

It was HOT.

My only complaint: I only found 1 single bathroom. THere was a line for it, of course. There probably is a bigger bathroom somewhere but I didn’t have time to research that! I don’t believe there was a changing table in there either (not the end of the world if your child can stand on her/his own but if you have a newborn it might be challenging.)

After eating, we went to the baby swings since they were in the much-coveted shade.

The fancy people were eating behind the swings.

Sometimes when we’re out we’re having such a nice time that I keep on STAYING out past that sweet spot. Past the time of goodness. This was one of those times. M lost her s— on the swing & tried to kick me.

Time to go!

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