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  • Writer's picture Jana

The Ultimate Staycation Family, Makes the Best of a Cancelled Getaway for the Long Holiday Weekend.

Traveling is not easy when you have four kids and a dog. The logistics are complex; both the preparation and trip itself can be stressful; and let's not get into the costs. I have dreams of going many places, but more often than not, those dreams don't come to fruition. It's not for lack of enthusiasm, desire, or interest, god knows. With all that said, I think we are on an upward trend when it comes to traveling compared to a few years ago, when the three younger children were simply too little to even consider embarking on such a considerable undertaking.

Once upon a time, Garin and I were quite the jet setters, when it was just the two of us. I started traveling with him when he was just three months old. I will never forget how nervous I was to get on a plane with him, much less figure out his feeding, napping and sleeping schedule in a hotel in another city. But I did it and was well-rewarded with a sense of growing confidence with each trip we took. By the time he was six months old he had already experienced New York City. It was fabulous! Unfortunately, he doesn't remember a single one of those wonderful trips we took together, but there's always the photos, right?

Once the twins came along and then Miles, just two and a half years after they did, my goose was cooked. As organized, ambitious and undaunted as I am, I do like to think of myself as at least somewhat sane. I did not believe at the time, nor looking back now, that a single mom of four children, three of them under three (then, under four, then under five) could take on traveling. To start, there would be the issue of packing countless suitcases of diapers, toys and clothes. Then there were the four car seats, two strollers (one twin and the other regular). When done with all that, would I even have the energy or space left to pack anything for myself?

Then, once we arrived at our destination, how would we get around? What would I plan to entertain four very young children. How would I get them all to sleep in strange beds in a strange place? Not much daunts me, but all of that (and more) did. It was I who wanted four children, so I resigned myself to the fate of not being able to travel (indefinitely), and tried to focus on the positive side of having lots little children around me. At the moment I cannot recall what the positive side of having four little children around me was, but I am sure if I think hard enough, it will come to me. They certainly were cute, I'll give them that.

To add to my traveling woes, there was Miles. As many of you know and others may have surmised, he was, and still can be, a handful. So although I had fantasies of us traveling when he was two or possibly three, I soon figured out that was not going to happen. Finally, when Miles was four, I planned our first major trip, to Hawaii, which was quite ambitious. Being the mischievous sort that he is, I had my work cut out for me, flying for six hours and spending ten days on an island. Nonetheless, being the travel lover that I am, I simply couldn't hold out any longer. We had not travelled in a full five years. Also, Garin had been expressing such a strong desire to get out and see the world that I was starting to feel guilty for shutting us in at home, despite my legitimate reason for doing so. His years were passing by so quickly and the only trips he had taken were ones he had no absolutely no recollection of whatsoever.

Since that first trip with Miles in June 2019 to Hawaii , not only has he aged a year and a half and matured (a smidge), but I have become more courageous in my quest to travel with four kids. Last summer, we took two rather big trips and both were a success, for the most part. We didn't lose Miles anywhere (although we did lose Garin), he didn't attempt to jump off the Empire State Building and we all made it back alive. That's a success, in my book.

In comparison to the lofty trips of last summer, this past weekend was supposed to entail a simple trip up to Lake Arrowhead for two nights. When I say simple trip, it still requires packing for five people, preparing the house to leave, making sure Fitzy has a place to stay, etc.. As appealing as getting away sometimes sounds to me, as I am sitting on my computer researching far off (and not so far off destinations), when it comes down to it, sometimes it's just takes too much planning and energy for me to pack up the entire kitten caboodle.

This past weekend, Fitzy's airbnb, otherwise known as the Wisner's House, could not accommodate him. I'll admit that I was slightly disappointed, knowing that if he had no where to go, we could go no where. At the same time, I was a bit relieved that I didn't have to go through the massive undertaking of packing up this menagerie.

So we stayed home and made the best of it. We have grown quite adept at that as well, out of necessity. Being the natural wanderlust that I am, I am always in search of something new (or not new) to do, to keep us occupied, busy and entertained.

So here's how we spent our long weekend in town and not traveling.

On Friday night we had a relaxing night at home. It was sandwiches for dinner night, a novelty at our house. I made delicious club salad sandwich wraps with warm lavash bread. On the side I served macaroni salad, potato salad and BBQ kettle chips. If you're going to do sandwiches for dinner, you have to do it right. For dessert (not pictured) we had just out of the oven chocolate chip cookies with a bowl of ice cream on the side (three flavors to choose from).

On Saturday, we were off to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), bright and early in the morning, to spend the day. We had to postpone our visit from Winter Break, so we were so excited to be going. It was the perfect way to spend the day, since it rained for much of it.

We saw some absolutely incredible works of art from Picasso, Matisse, Rivera, Hokney, Warhol and so many more. Although we missed the recent portrait show that was there over the holidays, which included the portraits of the Obamas, we were able to see some wonderful works by the same artist Kehinde Wiley, which were equally stunning. The museum wasn't crowded, which was an added bonus.

We couldn't get enough of this Metropolis II exhibit by Chris Burden. Watch this video to see why:

We worked up quite an appetite gazing at art and marveling at future cities all morning. So for lunch, we dined at Ray's and Stark Bar on the premises of the museum. We shared three gourmet pizzas: margherita pizza with housemade tomato sauce, fi or di latte mozzarella, and basil; a tomato and feta pizza with mozzarella, feta cheese, cherry tomato, red onion, and chives; and a bianca pizza with fi or di latte mozzarella, goat cheese, honey, crispy sage. The pizzas were scrumptious and really hit the spot.

With a slight pause in the rain after lunch, we explored the outside of museum, before retuning indoors to finish the special exhibits. One of our favorite installations was the Circle of Animal/Zodiac Heads. Each of us posed with the sculpture representing our birth year. The twins and I share the Year of the Dragon - lucky us! Another favorite, for obvious reasons, was "Visa Dog” by Wang Guangyi, featuring an adorable Chinese Pug.

Even the elevators are an over-the-top adventure at LACMA.

Since the museum is just a skip and a hop away from the incomparable La Brea Tar Pits, we had to stop by to take a look and see how the excavating was going. It never ceases to amaze me how many fossils they continue to discover in a such a seemingly small area of tar. I suppose that's why I am not a paleontologist? The last time we visited the tar pits was before we moved to Hidden Hills, nearly five years ago. With no memory of that visit, so it all novel for the three smaller kids. Miles was enraptured, not to be confused with a Velociraptor.

Our final stop for the day was at my friend Barbara's house for what has become an annual New Year climb in the towering tree in her front yard. The last climb was in January of 2021. A lot has changed since then and a lot has not. She certainly noticed that the kids had grown bigger but were still wearing those all-important, but pesky face masks.

Sunday we spent the day at home. We had a big pancake breakfast, ran to Target to pick up some new bike helmets for Catherine and Miles, and then raked up a lot of Fall (now mid-January leaves). Everyone did their fair share with the exception of the usual suspect, Miles. Watch this video to see Garin's most unusual raking technique:

While we raked, and raked, and raked, Miles spent time relaxing in the treehouse and then posing for photos with Fitzy, on the massive piles of leaves we had painstakingly raked. Ever the hard worker.

Later in the day, the kids took a long bike ride in Hidden Hills. I supervised by driving behind them in my car. Miles only recently became proficient on his bike, so all of us were impressed with his ability take on such a long and difficult ride. Toward the end, he grew tired, understandably, so we put his bike in the car and he watched from the window of the car as the other kids made their way up the many steep hills, home. Watch Miles show off his new and impressive biking skills:

For dinner I made the hungry crew their favorite wedge salad and good old fashioned burgers and French fries.

On Monday, we had to make a quick change of plans, as the weather was not cooperating. Originally, we had reservations to return to the Huntington Gardens to pick up where we left off when we were last there over Winter Break and experienced that most unfortunate cactus needle incident. However, there was rain forecast for much of the day, so instead we decided to play it safe and see a movie. The only choice left was Sing 2, since we hadn't seen it at Christmas. Despite my often lack of enthusiasm for animated movies, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the music and storyline quite a bit.

Dinner that night was a delicious green salad with pickled beets, feta cheese and roasted slivered almonds. For the main course we dined on shrimp scampi served over pasta. For dessert (not pictured here), Graham made us scrumptious Rice Krispie treats, one of my all-time favorites.

You see, staying home can be quite an adventure. I highly recommend it!

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