Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Park Day: Chavez Ravine Arboretum, Elysian Park

View of the Chavez Ravine Arboretum in Elysian Park.
I don't know how I've spent almost my entire life in Los Angeles without visiting Elysian Park (or even really realizing that it is, in fact, a park) but that whole zone of the city has always largely been defined in my head as HORRIBLE DODGER STADIUM GRIDLOCK and so I've all but completely avoided it! 

But then a visit to Big Orange Landmarks revealed the existence of a lovely seeming arboretum on the grounds of the park, and Elysian Park immediately got a great slot on the Park Day calendar. 

I almost couldn't even find the Arboretum, because Elysian Park is quite large and spread out, and has a nest of absolutely awful, rutted, shredded roads that lead in circles. But finally I found it, and...it's nice. It's fine. It's a bunch of trees, and based on the birds and plant life I observed, a very diverse and mature ecology. But mostly, to the lay observer, it's a bunch of very nice indistinguishable trees. 

Meanwhile, I had made the mistake of reading Yelp's reviews of the park before I left, and those people scared me, and suddenly I saw riff-raff at every turn. The two other toddlers and their moms in the arboretum playground were among the nicest and best behaved toddlers we have ever played with, but as we walked through the park on a Tuesday morning, it became obvious it's still a hangout for homeless people, street gamblers, possible sex creeps and just...riff-raff. And I am not someone to use the term riff-raff lightly. Furthermore, this park makes me weep for Los Angeles. It's historic and filled with interesting nooks and crannies of the detritus from 120 years of development, but even though the grass is mowed and the trash isn't too thick on the ground, it basically just seems crummy and dirty and in dire need of another layer of paint and new asphalt. But that's all fodder for a sternly worded fax to the Parks & Rec department. Let's move on to the baby's day at the park:

Pretty trees. Nice playground. We saw a robin. Jackson got to play with a Thomas train and a stick and we had a very nice walk through the trees. 

After the park we went to Boyle Heights to get a DVD at the branch library there and we stopped at a fabulous old mariscos restaurant on Whittier Blvd.

Look, embalmed desiccated sharks and 1960s chandeliers!

This library is one of the oldest branch libraries in Los Angeles. It has a fireplace and I think a hitching post!
Then we got the kiddo a proper haircut (photos to come) and he was an absolute angel. He didn't mind one bit and now he looks like a BIG BOY. xoxo, J's mom :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Park Day: Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach

Love this park! Apparently Manhattan Beach's Polliwog Park is well-known for being awesome, so another mom told me it can get quite crowded, but when we were there it was just an ideal space for little boys to explore and climb around. It's huge, and there are three (yes, three) huge play structures, swings, barbecue and picnic stuff, a pond full of ducks, a concrete frog, a concrete boat, exercise equipment, a "disc golf" setup (?), the MB historical society building, a botanic garden with California native plants and tons of bird feeders and a waterfall, lots of ball fields of various flavors and somewhere in the back, a swimming pool. My impression is that it was originally (and remains to some degree) a "flood abatement zone" that got rehabbed (thus the pond, among other elements) but they did a great job and with the exception of an excess of duck and seagull poo near the pond, an awesome place to spend a couple of hours with a kid. Really great park with lots of very nice moms, and we'll definitely be back here.

Jackson enjoying the "upper playground."

View of the pond, amiphitheater and the two lower playgrounds (off to the left behind the trees).
At the lower playgrounds (which has two play structures), Jackson stands at the stern of in the concrete and likely unseaworthy USS Polliwog; behind that you can see a concrete frog (a frog is the symbol of the park), plus a mysterious "lighthouse" and weird cool mist thing that I suspect is a well-camouflaged part of the flood management system underlying the park.

Jackson reaches out to touch a California bumblebee that was enjoying the blooming poppies in the botanical garden on the edge of the park.

Jackson tests out the stepping stones at the botanical garden; just beyond the watering fountain in the background there's a sweet picnic area and a waterfall.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Los Angeles Events Calendars

If you're looking for interesting things to do with your kid in Los Angeles, get the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Annual Festivals Guide, which is available online as a PDF or can be picked up at certain official city offices. It lists cultural festivals, free concerts in the parks, street fairs and so forth. I found something on pretty much every page that I'd like to do.

Another good resource, and one of that's actually online and updated regularly, is ExperienceLA.com, which is a local events calendar cosponsored by the Community Redevelopment Agency of L.A., the L.A. County Arts Commission, Metro, the L.A. Convention and Visitors' Bureau, USC, the DWP and the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Monica. It's searchable, and it covers an even wider variety of activities than does the festivals guide.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Wh-Questions!! (Or should that be wh-questions?!)

Jackson has graduated to the wh-questions, which I've been waiting for with great anticipation. I feel like being able to formulate questions is a hugely important part of cognitive development and he's on his way.

This morning he asked me, "Where stepstool go?" He's generally at the three-word sentence phase right now, although sometimes he dips a pinkie-toe in four-word phrases. He can do four-syllable words too, which is pretty entertaining.

On a slightly related note, we were at the airport yesterday and I told him I would let him out of his stroller soon so he could wreak havoc, and he proceeded to holler "Wreak havoc! Wreak havoc! Wreak havoc!" over and over again at the top of his lungs. He's a good little mimic. Thankfully, there were other moms present who thought it was funny and made me feel better.