Raising Wilshire

A blog about parenting and car-lite living in Los Angeles

Category: Parenting (Page 1 of 2)

Oh The Places You’ll (Need To) Go

This is a part of an on-going series on How We’re Making Car-Lite Work in Santa Monica

On our way back from the dry cleaner; I draped our nearly cleaned clothes over Wilshire’s stroller.

When I first reflected on how we have gotten by as a one-car family for so long, I originally thought I would be writing about Wilshire’s bike seat, or the wagon we bought off  Amazon to haul around boxes and groceries. Or, perhaps, I’d talk about how found high-quality childcare close by.

But I think it’s important to start with something very, very basic:

We live in close proximity to the goods and services which we cannot substitute through online shopping.

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Jazz on the Lawn is the perfect way for SaMo families to end weekends in August

THIS is the way to do the concert: Blanket, wagon, folding side table, wicker suitcase for all your outdoor picnicking needs. 

Every Sunday evening in August, the City of Santa Monica holds a free jazz concert in Gandara Park. It’s free, it’s chill, and it works exceptionally well for multi-generational families.

Lets’ start with the obvious: I am a major fan of Jazz on the Lawn, this concert series organized by the City of Santa Monica  each Sunday in the month of August. The concert series started 13 years ago at the behest of a councilmember who was looking to activate Stewart Street Park, a park that used to be a dump. I started going four years ago, when I moved within walking distance of Stewart Street Park (now Gandara Park). I now plan my August weekends around these, and schedule my out-of-neighborhood excursions so I will be home in time for the concert.

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Why I took Will to the ER on a bike, and not by car

This is the second in a series about How We’re Making Car-Lite Work

Juan and I both had on our light up vests coincidentally.

Yesterday, I had to take Wilshire to the emergency room for stitches. The kid tripped and hit his eyebrow on a door at his daycare while racing to get to the potty. (We’d trained him the weekend before, so he was still a novice.) Wilshire’s battle scar was a superficial cut about a half-inch long right over his eyebrow that necessitated four stitches.

As many readers know, we only own one car. This means that we have all sorts of unwritten contingency plans on how we’d cope when we need to get somewhere quickly without a car. The situation gets thornier when there is a sick child, an unplanned doctor’s visit, and the parent who has to retrieve the child “green commuted” to work. It has been much easier to remain a one-car family in our area thanks to Lyft, Uber, bikeshare, and (most recently) dockless scooter-share. But as I’d covered in a prior blog post, those three options do not work when you have to transport another human or a lot of stuff.

In this particular situation, I wound up deciding to use my bicycle to transport my son to the ER. Here’s why:

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Bird Scooters allow me to get my child on time from daycare

This is part 1 of my multi-part series on how we’re making Car-Lite work in Santa Monica

On the go with Wilshire to work one morning

Shortly before we left for our East Coast Adventure, the Santa Monica City Council approved a shared mobility pilot that rejected staff’s recommendation for a hard cap of just 2,500 scooters. There are already 2,500 Bird scooters alone on the streets of Santa Monica. Instead, the City will be setting up a “dynamic cap” based on utilization rates. 

And with that, I took a great sigh of relief. Here’s why:

Over the past five months, I have been relying on Bird scooters to get from work to Wilshire’s daycare on time several times a week.

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6 Excellent Tips for a Great Plane and Road Trip With a Toddler

Hello again!

We’re back from our East Coast Adventure, where we traveled 1,200 miles in 12 days and visited six states plus Canada. Our adventure started in Toronto, Canada and ended in the DC area for a family reunion, with stops along the way in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse; the Berkshires; and Amish Country. I promise to blog about the trip itself. Before I forget, I wanted to share the lessons we learned about going on a long road tripp with young Wilshire, who is presently two and not yet potty-trained.

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Buying Children’s Books in Santa Monica

This is a part of the “SaMo Parenting Guide”, an ongoing series where I talk about where I buy stuff for Wilshire.

I know that we lost our Barnes & Noble earlier this year.

But don’t fret. There are still several bookstores in within Santa Monica city limits that you can visit to pick out books for the young children in your lives. I have several favorites.

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The 4 Best Non-Obvious Places For Children’s Toys in Santa Monica

Wilshire Matute plays with his BBB toy on his 1st birthday party.

This is part of an ongoing series where I talk about where I buy stuff for Wilshire in Santa Monica.

They say that play is the work of children – and my child takes his play just as seriously as anyone else. I want to facilitate that play through tools (toys) that allow my son to stretch his creativity, develop his cognitive skills and vocabulary, and bring him joy and laughter. We have gotten Wilshire some of his toys online (namely his train set), but I have had some good times searching for things that might resonate with him in Santa Monica, especially in some not-so-obvious places. They include:

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These shoes are for walking (Santa Monica edition)

This is part of an ongoing series of resources tailored for parents of young children in Santa Monica.

So your kid has just started walking! It’s time to get shoes for your kid that are truly meant for walking.

I tried purchasing shoes for Wilshire online. In my experience, it has not been worth the additional hassle of returning shoes that do not fit or work out. It has been more efficient for me to take Wilshire shoe shopping in person.

Bonus: I have traveled to these places without driving.

Brooks Shoes for Kids. This is a full-service children’s shoe store located on Wilshire Blvd. and 17th Street. The staff is is highly knowledgeable about their inventory, which includes quality brands like Stride Rite, Nike, See Kai Run, Pediped, and Saucony. They also know how to coax cooperation out of young toddlers. To that end, do not do what I did, which was buy off the clearance rack; all shoes from there are final sale. If you purchase the shoes at full price (and most shoes are sold at MSRP), then you have a small return window.

1703 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-315-9898.
Accessible from Big Blue Bus 2, 41, and 42; Metro 720 (exit the bus on 14th St.)

Nordstrom (Santa Monica Place)
Comparable prices and brands to Brooks, but with the customer service you’d expect of Nordstrom including a more accommodating return policy. Also, Nordstrom will give your kid a helium balloon. Not a joke. Our kid walked out with a pair of shoes he loves and wears every single day.

220 Broadway, Santa Monica, 310-7552-2701.
Accessible by over 10 Big Blue Bus routes, Metro Expo Line, and 3 Metro Bus lines.

Gymboree
Gymboree has a small selection of inexpensive shoes.

395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica. 310-451-2751
Accessible by over 10 Big Blue Bus routes, Metro Expo Line, and 3 Metro Bus lines.

RIP to…

  • Lorin Shoes. They also carried a similar selection of brands as Brooks and Nordstrom and had the benefit of being right on the Promenade.

Wilshire’s Big Kid Bed from IKEA

Wilshire has achieved another milestone: He now sleeps in a toddler bed.

Up until the middle of last week, Will slept in a portable mini crib. This past weekend, we wound up picking out an IKEA extendable toddler bed for him.

There are a number of options we also considered and/or tried:

  • Putting Will’s crib mattress on the floor. We did this for a few days. At some point, Will wound up sleeping on his arm and he woke up with a very swollen hand. I thought he’d broken out in hives.
  • Buying a used convertible crib from Craigslist and using it as a toddler bed. No one responded to my inquiries.
  • Buying a traditional twin bed. 

Juan was intrigued by IKEA’s extendable toddler beds.

An extendable toddler bed from IKEA has three lengths: 4 feet (toddler), 5 feet, and 6.5 feet (conventional twin). The idea is that the bed will grow with the child. 

To use this type of bed frame, you have to purchase IKEA’s mattress and sheets. As of this writing, IKEA sells 5 different types of extendable mattresses ranging in price between $49.99 and $149.99. We selected the Nattsmyg, which is a foam mattress that cost $119. It was comfortable, and we expect that our son will be able to sleep on this for the next eight years.

Saving Some Money

We found three areas of savings:

  1. We succeeded in buying a used IKEA extendable frame from Craigslist for $50. Saved $100+ there.
  2. My husband had considered getting an IKEA futon (the Lycksele, $199) or sofa (Klippan, introduced by IKEA in the early 1980s and still decent looking)  Instead, he found this sofa for just $30 at the Goodwill across the street from us in Santa Monica. Savings: $1753. Finally I had wanted a bookcase for Will’s book. There was one from IKEA, the Kallax, for sale also at Goodwill. While it was only $10 less than full-retail, it was fully-assembled and across the street.

Here’s the end result.

New toddler bed!

Total Outlay: About $260.
Mattress (new): $119
IKEA Leksvik Extendable Bed Frame: $50 (used)
Loveseat (used): $29.99
IKEA Kallax 2 x 2 (used): $24.99
IKEA Bedding: $30 (two sets)

Special thanks to my mother, who showed up at IKEA when requested and was crucial in managing Will while we shopped.

Until next time,
Sirinya

Free Range Kids: A Juan Percent kind of Thing?

Originally published to The Juan Percent in April 2015. I found this again recently, and found it still resonated with me. 

Earlier this month, Danielle Meitiv’s two elementary school aged kids were yet again picked up by Child Protective Services. This time, they were about 5 minutes from home. And this time around, they were held away from their parents for hours, and denied food and restroom access. The kids are 6 and 10. Apparently, a ‘neighbor’ called the cops, who then called CPS. And then this went viral yet again.

Today, the Washington Post published a response from Montgomery County offering clarity on the legality of allowing children to be unescorted in public. In sum, the police do not need to send children to CPS if they do not suspect neglect, and the kids should be taken home.. That was clear from the opening of the story. But then the rest of the story talks about the ambiguities the 6-page memo introduced yet again. At the very least, it offered no clarity on whether a neighbor’s call to report unescorted kids would immediately trigger an investigation of neglect.

This situation has struck a chord with me. I don’t have kids, but I like kids. I minored in Education, spent 10 years working with and teaching kids at summer camps, and I started my working life as an education policy analyst studying the No Child Left Behind Act.

I’ve also made some very deliberate life decisions in order to raise what may be called “Free Range” kids: Juan 6 and I purposefully settled in a city with after-school and summer camp programs that are way more robust than what our parents were able to find for us as kids. We also bought about a quarter mile from our local elementary school, which I’m excited about because it’s the only school that is still majority minority. Assuming our kids are capable of the responsibility of caring for themselves, we expect to let them walk to and from school on their own or out to extra curricular activities, also on their own.

As their (future) parents, we are committed livable streets and community activists because we want infrastructure in place that allows our kids to be independent. This means safe sidewalks and safe, highly visible crossings. This means buffered bike paths. This means street trees, and walking buses, and more kids walking, and walking in groups. This means changing the road geometry in front of our street in order to cut the 85% percentile speed to under 15 miles an hour (so I can lobby the max limit down to 20.) This means robust, affordable, and engaging after-school programming that my kids can access without my having to take them there myself (because I will be working to support them, and to be a productive member of society).

That said, our kids will be mixed race. We don’t really know what they will look like, but given what J6 and I look like, it’s highly unlikely they will elicit the kind of suspicion that brings worry and fear to the minds and hearts of mothers of black (and brown) sons in the U.S.  We also live in an urban place that is, comparatively speaking, quite sterile. We don’t have the same kind of gang turf battles and active street-level drug dealing in Santa Monica that they do elsewhere.

But absent in this discussion about the Meitivs’ situation and the free range kid movement is what does it mean to be a child of color in a neighborhood more like the one I grew up in (just north of Koreatown), and less like an affluent section of suburban Maryland? If the Meitivs’ kids were black, would the police and neighbors have been as concerned in the same way? Would they have called the cops out of concern for the child? Or out of “concern” for their own safety?

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