Saturday, February 28, 2015

'The Wiggles,' 'Pocoyo,' 'Octonauts' and 'Wibbly Pig' DVD Giveaway

While Angelenos haven't felt the brunt of the six additional weeks of winter that Punxsutawney Phil predicted earlier this month -- it's actually been really warm here! #sorrynotsorry -- parents in other parts of the country have been wondering how to entertain the kiddos while the snow keeps falling.

Enter hilarious and fun DVDs from NCircle Entertainment!

The family-friendly company's latest DVD collection, which I'm giving away here (see below), is full of entertaining songs and adventures that my kiddos have loved, and I'm sure yours will, too.

Octonauts: Pirate Adventures (SRP: $9.99) has the crew diving deep down into the Amazon River in search of a lost city. Not only that, but Kwazii gets the chance to meet his long-lost pirate grandfather, Calico Jack. He then battles a trio of swordfish and finds the perfect sidekick for a watery pirate adventure -- a parrotfish! CC said she loved the Brazil rainforest adventure the best!

In "The Wiggles: Wiggle House" (SRP: $9.99), Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony fill the Wiggle House with lots of songs and other fun skits. There's "The Laughing Doctor," "Pappadum" and "Do the Hawk," with Lee Hawkins (from the Wall Street Journal, no less!).

Will's new favorite animated character is Pocoyo. In "Pocoyo Fiesta" (SRP: $9.99), your kids can groove to 13 songs from Pocoyo and the gang. And, as a bonus, there are also karaoke videos. How fun is that?! Yes, Pato, Elly and the little guy Pocoyo himself will be rocking to the Big Race and celebrating Elly's birthday. Enjoy!

"Wibbly Pig!: Playtime!" (SRP: $6.99) is based on the best-selling books by the cleverly named Mick Inkpen. The preschool show turns everyday activities like going to bed, wrapping a present or climbing a tree into an amazing adventure for kids that's also funny. Don't be surprised if you find your kids wanting to take a trip to the moon after watching Wibbly Pig.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

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

To enter, please:

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

2. "Like" the NCircle Entertainment Facebook page.

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 Friday, March 6!

Friday, February 27, 2015

'Enchanted Sisters' Arrives on Bookshelves

A new "Girl Power" series has hit bookshelves, and CC is its newest fan!

"Enchanted Sisters," written by Elise Allen and Halle Stanford and illustrated by Paige Pooler, is a spunky, spirited and sparkly series from The Jim Henson Company that focuses on four sisters, who each represent a season -- and a different personality to boot.

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are "nature's royalty," and each of them is responsible for the magical changing of the seasons. While they're all definitely close, the girls also have to navigate sisterhood -- and some wily boys called the Weeds.

"Enchanted Sisters" on bookshelves at Vroman's Bookstore
Will and I had the chance to catch a reading event at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. Both Elise and Halle were on hand to chat about the series, as well as Paige Pooler. Elise even read a selection from "Winter's Flurry Adventure" (SRP: $5.99 paperback).

Elise Allen reads from "Winter's Flurry Adventure."
While CC was bummed to have missed the event (she was running errands with Ian), we did receive a copy of "Spring's Sparkle Sleepover," which she's been reading each night before bed -- and loves, by the way.

In "Sleepover," Winter hosts a slumber party for all of her sisters, and the young Spring is finally old enough to go, but she's nervous. (This is a perfect topic for CC right now, as she's had some sleepover angst herself.) And things don't turn out so well when a storm scares Spring and makes her leave early. But when Bluster Tempest steals Mother Nature's scepter, it's Spring who must find the courage to lead her sisters on a quest to get it back.

While the story itself is entertaining and accessible to young readers, CC also loves the whimsical illustrations -- particularly the drawings of unicorns!

Will checks out the scenery at Vroman's.
I had the chance to chat with both Elise and Halle, who is also the executive vice president of children's entertainment at The Jim Henson Company.

Stay tuned for more next week! They talked to L.A. Story about how the concept of "Girl Power" was so important, as well as how they tackled common issues for girls in the books. They also reveal more about the writing process itself.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where Have We Been?!

Will and CC in Montecito
I knew February was going to be a crazy month! After all, it was the month I turned -- what I'm calling -- 4.0.

And I decided to make that milestone year count -- in a big way.

But you might have been wondering where the heck L.A. Story has been. Well, we've been here, and a few other places along the way. It's been so hectic -- and we've all been under the weather at some point this month, too -- but I apologize for not checking in. Especially because there's so much going on.

Besides my birthday, we took two fun trips. First, the whole family traveled about 2 1/2 hours' north of Los Angeles to Solvang, a cute Danish town that's a real must-see. (The picture above is when we stopped to eat dinner in Montecito. That's a gorgeous town as well.)

Then, CC and I spent a week in Germany! Yes, the one that's a 12+ hour plane ride away. We were in Hamburg this time, not Berlin, and I'll be sure to update you about our trip very soon.

So stay tuned for more posts! We're back, and have lots of stories to share.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

PBS Kids Makes Big Announcements

Cookie Monster gets a taste of a mini Cookie cupcake at TCA.
PBS Kids made a bunch of big, exciting announcements last week at TCA, aka the Television Critics Association Press Tour, in Pasadena.

And, in addition to checking out their upcoming programming schedule (which is really cool -- more on that later!), I also got to hang out for a bit with Cookie Monster. So adorable!

And speaking of Cookie Monster, PBS Kids and "Sesame Street" will air its first special centered on the furry blue cookie lover. In "The Cookie Thief," a one-hour episode airing on February 16, the Sesame Street residents are excited that a new cookie art museum has opened in the neighborhood. But when the art suddenly starts to disappear, guess who the main suspect is? Yes, Cookie Monster! Will the crew find the missing art in time, or will Cookie Monster be banished from the museum forever?

"The Cookie Thief" will touch on concepts of self-regulation and impulse control, but in a fun way. And let's just say that this parent could learn a little something about that, especially when it comes to donuts!

Actress/mom Rachel Dratch, of "Saturday Night Live" fame, will also star.

"The Cookie Thief"
You can check out the preview and other fun stuff on PBS Kids' new YouTube channel

Also, this fall, PBS Kids will premiere a new series called "Nature Cat," an animated show that will teach kids about, well, nature. Designed for children ages 3-8, the show follows a house cat named Fred, who dreams of exploring the great outdoors. The series will encourage kids to make connections with the natural world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails' Pulls Into Discovery Cube LA

Will and I meet Sir Topham Hatt at the "Thomas & Friends" exhibit at Discovery Cube Los Angeles.
Thomas & Friends are pulling into a new station, as the super kid-friendly exhibit makes its way to Discovery Cube Los Angeles from now through April 26.

Whether it's climbing into Thomas' cab, moving trains around various tracks, placing (rubber-foam) coal onto a conveyor belt, kids will have lots of fun interacting with this very hands-on part of the museum.

Will and I had the chance to check out "Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails" at the relatively new Discovery Cube LA, and my little boy was in train heaven! He made a beeline for the train tables, which were just his size.

Will plays with trains and pretends he's on the island of Sodor.
He also loved climbing onto Thomas, sorting luggage and climbing onto pint-sized train cars. Discovery Cube LA staff was even on hand to help with crafts such as coloring and gluing shapes onto paper so kids could make their own trains. There was also a place for kids to sit, relax and watch clips from the show, and for parents to learn a little bit more of Thomas' origins.

Will helps load coal for Percy's engine.
You might remember our trip down to Discovery Cube Orange County for that "Thomas & Friends" exhibit. This one is the same -- or very similar. It's just at a new location, which is great because it means Will has more opportunities to hang with his favorite tank engine.

Photo credit: Discovery Cube LA
Also, I'm eager to check out Discovery Cube LA. The museum opened in November 2014 in the Hansen Dam Recreational Area of the San Fernando Valley. It's huge, with more than 71,000 square feet of interactive, science-based exhibits. It promotes STEM proficiency and early learning.

About to head into the Discovery Cube LA.
In fact, I can't wait to take CC so she can see the museum for herself. She really enjoyed the OC version and has asked and asked ... and asked(!) ... to go back.

And right now, tickets are only $10 for adults and kids!

Discovery Cube Los Angeles
11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $10 for adults and kids through June 30. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Free Admission to LACMA Today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

"I Had a Dream" by Edward Biberman at LACMA (Photo credit: Instagram/lacma -- @danielleroberta)
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art -- aka LACMA -- is offering visitors free admission.

As part of its Free Holiday Monday program, sponsored by Target, the museum invites families to come by and check out its exhibits, particularly the newly opened exhibition "Faces of America: LACMA Collects," featuring the above painting of the late MLK Jr. by Edward Biberman.

Parents can even get timed tickets for their kiddos to visit the Boone Children's Gallery. The timed tickets are for 30 minutes and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

LACMA is open today from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Enjoy your holiday!

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Coming Attraction: 'Odd Squad' Saves the World + Twitter Party

It's time for Agents Otto and Olive to save the world, and kids are going to love it!

On Monday, January 19, be sure to tune in to "Odd Squad" on PBS Kids for a special event from the math-tastic show. "Odd Squad Saves the World" will feature an hour-long episode with four different stories. The special event also kicks off a week of new episodes.

Included in the special will be:

"Rise of the Hydraclops" -- In order to save the world, Agents Olive and Otto must find a treasure chest that Otto buried.

CC, Will and I were able to catch a sneak peek of the episode, and both of them squealed with delight when they saw the Hydraclops emerging from the ocean. Definitely a fun story line!

"Dance Like Nobody's Watching" -- When the alarm system at Headquarters is triggered, Olive, Otto, Ms. O and Oscar must avoid a series of booby traps so that they can turn it off.

"Recipe for Disaster" -- Otto and Olive explain to Ms. O how a case went wrong, each in their own way.

"O Is Not for Old" -- The "Odd Squad" agents throw a surprise party for Ms. O.

Included in our sneak peek package was a couple of Odd Squad T-shirts that are brilliantly designed to look like suits worn by agents. CC couldn't wait to put hers on -- and, of course, I had to tweet it out.

So cute!

And if you're free on Thursday, January 15 from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. PT, be sure to join the "Odd Squad Saves the World" Twitter party. The show's creators, Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman, plus series producer Paul Siefken of The Fred Rogers Company will tweet with you about "odd" tips and tricks to save the day for your fam.

Use #OddSquadPBS to join the conversation!



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