Thursday, May 21, 2015

Toy Review: VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset

Will races Ryan the Rhino on the VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset.
Will had the chance to check out the VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset for to see how it would hold up to a 2-year-old's hands and imagination.
If you haven't seen the playset, it has kids building a colorful, winding track on which they can place different battery-powered plastic animals (in our case, Ryan the Rhino). The animals slide down hills or ride up a kid-powered elevator while lighting up and talking when they slide over SmartPoint locations on the track.
In addition to keeping my toddler entertained for longer than you can say "swipe and click" -- yes, he loves his screen time! -- the Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset also had him spending quality time with CC, who's 8 but wanted to join in the fun, too — which was basically like parenting gold.

Features I Love
Designed for kids ages 1-5, the Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset was just the right balance of fun and challenge for my 2-year-old. While the set comes with many parts in several plastic bags (which can often be a nightmare for parents and kids), the pieces themselves were large enough to safely fit in toddler hands, and the puzzle-like construction was easy for him to master.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Celeb Moms Rachel Zoe and Molly Sims Host Ovarian Cancer Fundraiser at Barker Hangar

Molly Sims and Rachel Zoe hosted the second annual Super Saturday LA to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
Model/actress Molly Sims and fashion stylist Rachel Zoe hosted an amazingly fun and stylish event on Saturday at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica that benefited the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

The second annual Super Saturday LA featured luxury designers offering clothing and accessories at big discounts, as well as tasty treats from Sprinkles (yay!), Otis Spunkmeyer and Fiji Water.

Not only was the shopping-heavy event kid-friendly -- CC and Will had a blast at the Hasbro, Books & Cookies, and Just Dance booths -- Super Saturday LA was also pet-friendly. We almost took home a corgi mix puppy from Wags and Walks!

All proceeds from sales went to support ovarian cancer research. What a great way to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon!

Check out more photos from the event on my Instagram feed, and read my full story over at

A photo posted by Laura Clark / L.A. Story (@laura_clark) on

A photo posted by Laura Clark / L.A. Story (@laura_clark) on

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'Octonauts,' 'Dino Dan' DVDs Get Kids Excited About Science *Giveaway*

Yikes! So sorry that I'm late with this one. But congrats to Carolsue, who won the NCircle Entertainment DVDs! Please email me at with your shipping address. Thanks to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for more giveaways.

When it comes to school, CC has gotten really excited about science. In fact, just yesterday we were mixing sugar in water and black pepper in water to see which substance dissolved. (As you might have guessed, sugar won that round. The pepper, as CC said, got all "chunky.")

Needless to say, mixing anything in water was pretty awesome for my 8-year-old, and that it was actually homework kind of blew her mind, too.

So I've been more than happy to increase science time whenever I can, and NCircle Entertainment has debuted four DVDs that put the spotlight on just that.

Whether it's exploring underwater sea animals with "Dino Dan" and the "Octonauts" or learning with "Sid the Science Kid" how water turns into steam, kids will have fun while also learning fun facts.

In "Octonauts: Crocodiles & Crabs" (SRP: $9.99), the Octonaut crew must rescue a gigantic saltwater crocodile. Kids can also learn about hermit crabs and their shells and follow the crew as they explore a sunken pirate ship with slime eels.

"Dino Dan: Swimming With Dinosaurs" (SRP: $9.99) has Dan's little brother Trek teaching a baby Plesiosaur how to swim while on his way to the swimming pool himself. He then heads to Marineland, where he imagines a fantastic show made up of giant prehistoric marine reptiles. And on a fishing trip with Grandma, Trek discovers what's stealing his fish. Turns out it's a baby Spinosaurus.

In "Sid the Science Kid: Encyclopedia of Discovery" (SRP: $9.99), kids have the opportunity to check out 26 different topics, including the difference between primary and secondary colors; how to measure time; and how water turns into steam. Teacher Susie will be there to help out Sid and his friends.

"Discover & Investigate With the Cat in the Hat" (SRP: $14.99) has 6-year-old best friends Sally and Nick finding out how penguins move from one place to another since they can't fly, how to read a map, and discovering why rainbows appear, and more.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away all 4 of the above NCircle Entertainment DVDs for a fun family prize pack!

To enter, please:

Visit NCircle Entertainment and leave a comment below with your favorite DVD or franchise.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page and share the giveaway.

Just be sure to leave extra comments telling me you did so. 

Good luck, and I will announce the winner on Thursday, May 21!

Monday, May 11, 2015

CC, Will Cheer This Year's REDCAT International Children's Film Festival

"BZz" from Denmark played at the REDCAT International Children's Film Festival
Acceptance and love were the big themes in the "Party Animals" section at this year's REDCAT International Children's Film Festival.

CC, Will and I headed downtown to CalArts REDCAT last weekend to check out its latest film festival, and it was just as adorable and (small) kid-friendly as always. Even 2-year-olds like mine, who were eager to get a closer look at the screen, were welcome in the festival theater.

While the annual festival offers up several sections for kids of different ages, our first visit was to see "Party Animals," for kids ages 2+. The short films were colorful and easy to follow, and while they come from countries all over the world, including Denmark, Germany and Sweden, kids don't have to know the film's language to understand. ("Party Animals" will also screen on May 16 at 12 p.m.)

Parents are also encouraged to read any subtitles or answer any questions. (And you won't get shushed for doing so, which is great!)

CC and Will at REDCAT.
Some of the section favorites included "BZz," about two flies who fall in love as they outwit a spider. "Lambs" was also a clever entry, as two sheep are surprised to learn that their little one says "moo" instead of "baa." In "Zebra," the title animal is shocked when its stripes turn into different shapes.

What stood out the most was how much each of these films applauded animals that were unconventional -- the mooing sheep and the zebra with surprising patterns, for example. It was a gentle message for kids to accept those who are different and to see how they can shine in a way that, perhaps, hadn't been considered.

The festival runs for one more weekend. We're looking forward to visiting again before it wraps up its 2015 run.

REDCAT International Children's Film Festival
May 2-17 (Weekends)
631 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $5

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms out there!

Ian's mom has been in town, so we packed up the kiddos and headed to Republique for brunch today. It was so good! I've heard so many great things about the restaurant on La Brea, and this was the perfect time to check it out.

There was a line -- it was Mother's Day, after all, and they don't take reservations for brunch -- but it moved fairly quickly, and we got a nice table with a highchair.

So if you get the chance, head over and try the Brioche French Toast. A-mazing!

Waiting in line at Republique on La Brea

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coming Attraction: REDCAT International Children's Film Festival 2015

"The Gallant Captain" (Australia) will be playing at the 10th annual REDCAT International Children's Film Festival. 

Our favorite children's film festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! REDCAT International Children's Film Festival is once again bringing films from all over the world -- including Germany, Brazil, Sweden and France -- to families in the Los Angeles area, beginning this weekend.

The festival kicks off on May 2 and runs Saturdays and Sundays through May 17.

Every year gets a little more exciting for CC -- and this will be our sixth! -- because she's able to see a new section of age-appropriate kid films. I can't tell you what a thrill it was for her to know she could see the "Ages 8 and up" section this year. (Especially since Will is only in the "Ages 2 and up" stage now.)

"Anatole's Little Saucepan" (France)

This year promises to bring the same mix of charm, wonder and adventure from the eyes of filmmakers around the world. We can't wait!

And tickets are still only $5 each. Check out the sections, and links to their descriptions, below:
Saturday, May 2
12:00 pm   Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
1:30 pm     Abracadabra (Ages 4 and up, 55 min.)
3:00 pm     Be Different (Ages 7 and up, 72 min.)
Sunday, May 3
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Free Your Mind (Ages 6 and up, 76 min.)
3:00 pm     Wave of Wonder (Ages 8 and up, 71 min.)
Saturday, May 9
12:00 pm   Fantastic Journeys (Ages 4 and up, 70 min.)
1:30 pm     High Tech Hijinks (Ages 5 and up, 63 min.)
Sunday, May 10
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
3:00 pm     Family Matters (Ages 7 and up, 70 min.)
Saturday, May 1612:00 pm   Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
1:30 pm     High Tech Hijinks (Ages 5 and up, 63 min.)
3:00 pm     Finding My Way (Ages 9 and up. 63 min.)
Sunday, May 17
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Abracadabra (Ages 4 and up, 55 min.)
3:00 pm     Fantastic Journeys (Ages 4 and up, 70 min.)
REDCAT International Children's Film Festival
May 2-17 (Weekends)
631 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $5

Monday, April 27, 2015

'Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic' DVD Gets Kids Excited About Ocean Life

The Kratt brothers are back, and this time they're exploring underwater creatures, including the great white shark.

And CC and Will couldn't get enough of it!

We had the chance to check out PBS Kids' "Wild Kratts: Shark-tastic!" on DVD (SRP: $12.99), which was released earlier this month, and the kids (and I) were happy to learn about sea life such as the Pacific octopus, sea turtles and the great white shark.

There's even a creature quiz on the DVD itself: "How many teeth can a great white shark lose in its lifetime?" (Read on to find out!)

The 60-minute DVD includes four episodes, with each focusing on a different animal -- and different creature powers.

In "Octopus Wildkratticus," Martin accidentally knocks the creature power suits into a deep Arctic trench, so Aviva then takes the brothers deep-sea diving in her new octopod submarine to find the suits. In the meantime, they meet up with an octopus and have to employ its same survival techniques -- ink defense, jet propulsion -- to make sure they survive, too.

"Tortuga Tune Up" has the gang learning more about sea turtles, as Aviva builds a vehicle with a tortuga turtle design. But something's not quite right.

In "Speaking Dolphinese," the Kratt brothers and their team are ready to decode the secret language of dolphins, but a great white shark might have other plans for their dolphin friends.

Finally, in "Stuck on Sharks," Martin and Chris use Aviva's remora rocket sub to "stick with" a female great white shark only to learn that the predator has her own challenges to contend with. Not only that, but the great white might even help the Kratts discover what it's like to witness the birth of great white shark pups.

The kids always enjoy the Kratt brothers, especially the fun adventures and equally fun facts about animals. The brothers also seamlessly weave in real-life animal exploration with animated fun, making each episode a real learning experience.

And speaking of learning experiences, to answer the quiz question above (thanks to the back of the DVD box), a great white shark may "use and lose more than a thousand teeth in its lifetime."



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