Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Finds: Epic! Online Library for Kids


Whether you're worried about summer brain drain or ready to get your kids prepped for their next year of school, there's a cool app and website that makes reading extra fun for the smartphone set.

Epic! is an online library that offers more than 15,000 children's e-books for kids ages 12 and under. It's pretty, well, epic!

CC talked about Epic! a lot last year during 3rd grade. Her teacher used it in school, and one of her friends read books from it all the time. So when I had the opportunity to check it out, I jumped at the chance.



The service, which costs $4.99 per month for unlimited access, is bright, user-friendly and organizes the books into different categories and age groups. There are topics such as Fantasy & Magic, Animals (which CC loves) and Historical Fiction. Not only that, but kids who are pre-readers can also get in on the action with favorites such as "Goodnight Moon" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" at their fingertips. (That's good news for Will!)

Epic! also has a large selection of award winners, too.


While we've used it mostly on my phone, you can get Epic! on all iOS and Android devices, as well as on laptops and desktops, too, via the Web.

What I love as a parent is that I get weekly updates that chart what CC is reading -- book titles, how many pages and minutes she's read. It gives me such a great idea of what she likes and how she can further challenge herself.

What she loves are the variety of books, the easy-to-read graphics, the fun characters that accompany badges and rewards for all of the books she's read. I even got a reading certificate emailed to me to print and give to her.

Epic! offers kids lots of incentives to keep on reading -- which is exactly what I want to keep her motivated for 4th grade and to hit the ground running on her first day of school!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting Eco-Educated at Discovery Cube Los Angeles's Inspector Training Course

Enjoying some summertime fun at Discovery Cube Los Angeles
While summertime might mean lazy days at the pool or lounging on the couch with a great read, another fun option is to head over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles for a little science- and eco-friendly fun.

We made a special trip to check out the science museum's Inspector Training Course, an exhibit that features a replica house and a hands-on game that has kids and grown-ups alike learning how to conserve energy and resources at home.

The eco-friendly California Craftsman inside Discovery Cube LA.
Will and CC loved being in charge of their own touch pads -- aka inspector belts -- that they picked up just outside the house. The trivia-based scavenger-hunt game is super kid-friendly and even offers different options, depending on the age of the child. (Will was in the under-5 category.)

CC sizes up the available games.
Once the kids got their pads and selected their age group and games, they were off and running. First, Will had to find the rain barrel that collects rain water to be used for watering plants or grass. That way, we don't waste water (especially in a drought!).

Will discovers the rain barrel.
The game has kids exploring different spaces in the house, sending them searching for items in places like the kitchen, garage, bathroom and back yard. After that, they answer trivia questions about everything from low-pressure shower heads and low-flow toilets to how much energy different light bulbs use. It's really a cool game and makes everyone reconsider just how much energy they use.

Will loved pushing the button that made the shower splash (recycled) water.
The realism and hands-on aspect of the game makes it extra-fun for kids while also giving them a real-world example of how things like shower heads work. (Part of me also kind of wanted to live in this house, mainly because there was no clutter!)

We find out which bulb uses the most energy to light up.
While I spent most of my time walking around with Will and reading out the questions for him (he is only 3 after all), CC was able to be independent and search out her own clues. And they were both thrilled to become Super Inspectors after the game. I love that Discovery Cube celebrates kids' successes by placing their digital pictures on the wall. Great thinking!

We were also able to connect what we learned at the Inspector Training Course with what we're doing at home to be eco-friendly:

* We have a recycling bin right next to the trash can, and the kids have learned what's trash and what can be re-used.

* We donate clothes and books every month, so that other kids can re-use what CC and Will have outgrown.

* We have an adorable air plant that CC has named Prince. He requires literally a spray of water per week.

* We turn off the water while we're brushing our teeth.

* And we buy energy-efficient light bulbs, have low-flow toilets and low-pressure shower heads.

What a great experience for the family!

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $12.95 for adults and kids through Labor Day. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July 2016!


Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July! We'll be heading down to the beach to celebrate, but if you're looking for places to see fireworks, the L.A. Times has a few suggestions.

Enjoy!

Image via Wikipedia

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pair of Thieves Hosts Adorable Father's Day Party at Au Fudge

Surrounded by Pair of Thieves partners Alan Stuart (l) and Cash Warren.
Father's Day is almost here, and what better way to celebrate early than with Ian, the kiddos and fun-loving dad + kid sock brand Pair of Thieves?

So Ian and Will got adorably matchy-matchy last Sunday, and the fam headed over to Au Fudge in West Hollywood to enjoy the festivities and meet founder and dad Cash Warren, as well as his business partner Alan Stuart and wife, actress & Honest Co. boss Jessica Alba.

Ian and Will wear matching Pair of Thieves socks.
While the kiddos enjoyed decorating cookies and making little bouquets from The Bouqs — not to mention hanging with this awesome bear! — I was able to chat with Cash and Alan, and show them just how much we loved their cool socks!

Will really wants to hang with that bear.
Love that Pair of Thieves has taken sock design to the next level. Guys in Los Angeles definitely love to make a statement with their socks — even if they're wearing something, shall we say, less than awesome everywhere else. But what I love most is that kids — boys and girls — can match with their dad. It's pretty cute.

Pair of Thieves socks are available online and at Target.
Speaking of kids, Cash's daughters were at the party, too, along with their mom, Jessica Alba.

Cash Warren, Jessica Alba and daughters Haven (l) and Honor.
Had the chance to speak with Jessica for a few minutes, and she was so sweet — a real champion of her husband.

Mom bonding with Jessica Alba.
So if you're still on the hunt for Father's Day gifts, check out Pair of Thieves. In addition to fun socks, they've also launched a high-performance men's underwear line. And what does high performance mean? According to the site, it's form-fitting but breathable, or in guy speak: "the best present you can buy your junk." Ha!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dora, Diego & Fast Cars Speed Over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles

CC and Will go exploring with Dora at Discovery Cube LA.
There are two new interactive exhibits for kiddos at Discovery Cube Los Angeles, and we got to check them out last weekend!

Dora and Diego: Let's Explore!, which runs through September 18, brings kids face to face with Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego, who loves rescuing animals. Kids can explore exhibits including Tico's Tree, where kids can help gather nuts. (Will loved this one!) They can also take an imaginary spin in his yellow car.

Will gathers acorns that get pulled up through a pneumatic tube. So cool!
There's also Isa's Flowery Garden, where kids can pick soft fabric flowers and even put on a pair of butterfly wings.

Will gets his gardening on.
The activities don't stop there! Kids can even burn some calories on the rock climbing wall in Diego's Rainforest Maze. (Both Will and CC loved this one. It's very toddler-friendly and wasn't as tall as the rock wall in the main part of the museum.)

There was also the Purple Planet slide and the Rocket Ship, where kids can push buttons and play games, all while feeling as if they've boarded a ship to the stars.

Will did not want to get out of this race car.
Next up was Speed: Science in Motion, which runs through September 11. You can imagine how much CC and Will loved getting into race cars and pretending they were going a bazillion miles per hour (that was very scientific, I know. :) while watching a simulated screen of their driving.

In this exhibit, kids can check out the science behind Formula One cars and even pretend they're at a virtual race where they need to quickly change a tire.

Now, if my toddler could do this in real life ...
Kids also get a sense of the parts of the engine on these types of cars and get to explore the laws of motion by pushing a ball down two different tracks.

And, of course, there are hands-on demos that invite kids to come up and test out the laws of physics for themselves, as well as ask and answer questions.

CC jumps in for a live demonstration on force.
We had a great time, and as we were walking to the car Will asked, "Can we come back tomorrow?"

Always a good sign!

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $17.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Coming Attraction: LA Film Festival Hosts Free Screenings


The LA Film Festival is back, kicking off this year's festivities today. Screenings will be held at ArcLight Cinemas in both Hollywood and Culver City.

While most of the screenings require passes or tickets, there will be a selection of free screenings throughout the festival.

"Ghostbusters" (Photo credit: LA Film Festival)
First up, the original Ivan Reitman-directed "Ghostbusters," a nice option to show the kiddos before the reboot hits theaters later this summer.

The movie will screen June 3 at 8 p.m. at FIGat7th.

From the LA Film Fest site: After a team of underdog scientists lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they set out on their own and become “ghostbusters,” waging a high-tech battle with supernatural spirits taking up residency in NYC.  

This event is free to the public, no ticket or pass required, on a space available basis.  
 

FIGat7th

735 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017 
There are 500 parking spaces conveniently located at the 945 8th Street parking structure adjacent to the FIGat7th Retail Center. 
Entrances to the parking structure are located on both 7th and 8th Streets.  The charge is $5 after 4:00 pm weekdays and all day Saturday. Also accessible via Metro & Dash.

"Shrek" (Photo credit: LA Film Festival)
Next up is that family favorite "Shrek," which will screen June 4 at 11 a.m. at the ArcLight Culver City.

From the site: Mike Myers is the voice of Shrek, a cynical, no-nonsense ogre whose precious solitude is shattered when his swamp is overrun by annoying fairytale creatures who have been banished by the evil Lord Farquaad. Determined to save their home—not to mention his own—Shrek cuts a deal with Farquaad and sets out to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona to be Farquaad’s bride. Rescuing the Princess from a fire-breathing dragon may prove the least of their problems when the deep, dark secret she has been keeping is revealed. The film also stars the voices of Eddie Murphy as Shrek’s Donkey sidekick, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona and John Lithgow as the evil Lord Farquaad.

"Independence Day" (Photo credit: LA Film Festival)
Another family fave (for families with older kids) is "Independence Day," starring a young Will Smith. This will definitely get the fam fired up before the 4th of July!

The film screens June 4 at 8 p.m. at FIGat7th.

From the site: When massive spaceships appear in Earth’s skies and blast destructive beams of fire down on cities all over the planet, a determined band of survivors must unite for one last strike against the invaders before it’s the end of mankind.

Enjoy!

For more information about the festival, go to the LA Film Festival homepage.

Monday, May 30, 2016

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