Monday, March 30, 2009

Japan comes to L.A.

Sometimes I forget just how amazing the Getty is. Located on a hilltop above the 405, where you have a 360-degree view of Los Angeles, this museum is the perfect respite from the noise of the big city.

When CC and I went on Saturday, they were hosting a daylong interactive family festival centered on the exhibit Tales in Sprinkled Gold: Japanese Lacquer for European Collectors (on view until May 24). What was especially fun was that they made everything so kid-friendly. CC got to watch traditional Japanese dance, listen to storytelling and even make her own frame out of origami paper. And the best part -- no tantrums!

First, the dancing. Performers from Azuma Kotobuki Kai took the stage in the museum courtyard. CC watched as the women brought out parasols and fans, and wove them into their routines. It was a blazingly sunny day, and I mostly wondered about their costumes and makeup. It was gorgeous, but they must have been warm. CC clapped and clapped after the women performed. She loved it.

Next, we headed to the lecture hall to take in some storytelling. The Jim Jam theater company explained to a room full of excited children about taiko drums by having the kids pretend to play with their own drumsticks. CC really got into this part, banging on her imaginary drum with the best of them. Unfortunately, we had to duck out while one of the storytellers was describing the origin of the Hawaiian islands. CC got a little restless and apparently wanted to get back to the drumming.

After wandering around the gardens, and watching as my child tried to take home some of the flowers for herself (glad no one saw that one), we made our way over to the outer museum courtyard for some origami projects. There was also painting, but picturing black paint all over her new dress stressed me out enough, so I respectfully declined.

The frame was an easy choice. The volunteers had small shapes of colorful origami paper in little baskets, easily accessible to little hands. Throw in the glue sticks, and with Mommy's help, voila, we had an instant frame, complete with a stamp showing it was "Made at the Getty."

All that and a choo-choo to boot. CC was completely enthralled by the tram that takes visitors to and from the parking garage. Glad we were able to exit without her insisting we go another round just for kicks.

It was a great day, a nice getaway within the city, and another opportunity for CC to explore different cultures in a fun atmosphere. Let's just hope taiko drums aren't on her Christmas wish list this year.

The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-7300
www.getty.edu

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My daughter, the next Stella McCartney?


CC and I visited Fashionology LA in Beverly Hills this weekend, and, wow, did we step into a tweenage fantasy land.

If you haven't checked out this store, it's a fun place to go to scratch that designer itch. Call it "Project Runway" for girls, without the catty competition or the judgmental glares. It's a place where tweens and teens (actually, we even saw a woman in her 30s there designing a bag) can go to be creative in their own space, on their own time.

Now, yes, I brought my 2-year-old, which was a little ... um ... ambitious. CC is clearly not their target demo (you really need to be able to sit down and focus on creating your T-shirt or skirt), but she had fun nonetheless. And I have to high-five the utterly patient women who were helping us out. Honestly, I'm just happy they didn't ban us for life.

Here's how Fashionology works:
  • First you visit one of their touch-screen computers and pick out what garment you want to design.
  • Then you pick a "mood," such as "Malibu" if you're feeling beachy, or "Rock" if you're feeling a little more hardcore (we're talking Miley Cyrus or "Twilight" hardcore, as opposed to the Metallica variety).
  • Next you add accessories such as charms, necklaces or even "bling," which are little rhinestones that girls can attach at workstations (see top photo) after a "fashionologist" has heat-stamped a logo of your choice onto the garment.
  • Finally, the Fashionology folks have added a little celeb-style into the process. After you're done designing, you can actually model your fashions for the camera and have your image appear on the store's big screen TV. CC decided to sit, rather than show off her vampy poses. That's a 2-year-old for you.
Like I said, this is really a shop for tween girls and up. They suggest ages 8-14. There was even a birthday party going on while we were there, and the tween girls were totally into it. They didn't even seem to notice the toddler weaving between them.

Although CC seemed more entranced by the decor and the childlike mannequins sporting Fashionology duds, she really liked seeing her "Malibu" T-shirt hot off the press and watching as we attached to it a mermaid necklace and a small charm. My friend Kirstin brought her 3-year-old daughter, who seemed to engage the process a little more fully. (Read: She didn't run around the store like a mini Tasmanian devil, like, ahem, mine.)

Luckily, for those not in the L.A. area, Fashionology has opened an online store at Fashionology.com. Take a look. If you're interested in creating a design, enter the code coolmoms25 to receive 25% off your purchase.

Fashionology LA
342 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-550-7997
www.fashionology.com

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let's let Dora explore her new look

There has been an amazing amount of mom backlash ever since Mattel and Nickelodeon announced that a tween Dora the Explorer would make her debut this fall.

In addition to the announcement, the companies didn't help themselves when they released a silhouette image of the middle-school Dora that looked a little ... uh, how shall I say this ... suggestive. There was what looked to be a tiny, tiny skirt barely covering long girly legs. It was just a black shadow, so no one could make out what she would actually look like.

Moms were beyond incensed, calling her everything from "trampy" to the next Lindsay or Britney. I even read one story that morphed poor little Dora into a preggo preteen.

This made me step back and wonder if some moms had gone a little overboard. I mean, the companies said they wanted to create an older version of the doll for girls who had outgrown pint-sized Dora. Seems like an understandable, though potentially fraught, brand extension.

After all of the outrage, Nickelodeon and Mattel released the real image of what tween Dora will look like. I wrote about this in greater length at L.A. Moms Blog. Hope you'll check it out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Snood! The Sequel



Not sure if you remember the pic of CC in the snood. The photo instantly reminded me of "Grey Gardens" and poor Little Edie Beale.

Well I'm revisiting the topic now that HBO has released its trailer for the movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. It will premiere on the pay channel April 18. The performances, from what I can see, look jarringly like the 1975 documentary. Looking forward to watching.

But this will be the last of the CC comparisons, for snood's sake. As I said before, let's hope the similarities end at the choice of head gear.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flip-flops mark rite of passage

Yesterday CC discovered the pair of flip-flops I had hidden away for her to wear this summer.

Old Navy had a sale last month, and in preparation for the warmer months, I thought these would be perfect. Flip-flops are practically the only shoe you see around town after spring finally settles in -- and you can't beat four bucks.

What was funny about yesterday was actually putting them on her little feet. CC's never worn flip-flops before, and the concept was a little confusing. It never occurred to me that I'd have to physically pry her big toe from the other tiny toes in my effort to get the things on her feet.

I pontificated, er, explained to her that the philosophy behind flip-flops involved a small piece of material, in this case pink, separating one toe from the others.

Yeah, she didn't care.

Instead she scrunched her toes together as tightly as she could while still, paradoxically, wanting to wear the shoes. It was a serious tug of war. And you don't want to pull on toes that tiny.

Finally, after minutes of back and forth and unballing her little digits, we finally got them on. And I got to witness the latest rite of passage for my California girl.

Let's hope she can hold out on surfing for a few more years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Wishing everyone the best of luck today!


Photo credit: © XYZproject - Fotolia.com

Monday, March 16, 2009

Birthday-palooza almost killed me

I love birthday parties for kids. They're usually adorable and incredibly fun. Lots of games, tykes running around and playing, and selfishly ... well, there's usually cake.

This weekend was a birthday bonanza. CC had three -- count 'em -- three parties in one day, and we were determined to take her to all of them. We left the house about 9:30 in the morning and got home about 7 that evening -- with about 100 extra miles on the car.

Now, I love kids' parties. I only say that because by the end of this post you might think I'm the Grinchiest parent who ever set foot into a Chuck E. Cheese.

Speaking of which, that was our first stop of the day, the place "where a kid can be a kid" -- and an adult can, well, chase them around while they're doing it.

Honestly, when the big mouse came out to lead a conga line of kids around the restaurant before breaking into his Chuck E. dance, I expected tears. But CC was into it. She even got up close and personal with Chuck and busted out her own baby moves. Moves I'd never seen! That made me happy, because you never know when a child is going to be terrified by an oversized rodent in parachute pants.

Our next stop was an Elmo-themed carnival extravaganza, complete with bouncy castle, snow cones, cotton candy and live fish as prizes. CC, of course, headed straight for the item in which she could literally bounce off the walls.

CC loved the games, the storytelling, the candy (you know, the healthy, fruit-flavored kind), and she especially loved an item that wasn't officially part of the party -- a motorized miniature monster truck that only seemed to go forward ... right into other small children. Had to break her of that one quickly.

We got to stay a while, but unfortunately we missed out on Elmo himself and even a train ride, since we had to hit the road to make it to our last party of the day.

And, of course, we got lost.

Luckily we made it before sundown and, more importantly, before they cut the cake.

CC got to dive into her second bouncy castle of the day and even got to try her hand at a pinata. And although we had a minor infraction regarding the bouncy castle (Excuse me while I rant for a sec: Big kids and little kids should not mix in one of these things), we all survived, a little more sugary for our efforts.

At the end of the day, maybe I can think of it as a test of my sanity. Maybe I can think of it as endurance training. Or maybe I can think of it as a future ace in the hole. When she's 13 and asks me something insane like, "Mom, will you drive my friends and me to the Viper Room so we can see (insert completely inappropriate to the point of terrifying band name here)?" ...

I can say, "Remember when you were 2, and we drove 100 miles in one day ..."

Yeah, you only thought I was kidding about the Grinchy part.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No socks! No toes!

video

CC learned to say "No" a long time ago. That was the end of an era.

Now she's grooving on putting different words after the "No."

As you can see above, she's not too crazy about covering her feet or having her mother tickle them at all.

Where did my compliant little darling go? Or was that just an epidural-enhanced dream that still has yet to wear off?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dude! My daughter said "Dude!"

video

We were driving around town this weekend, when a teenage boy felt the need to start skateboarding in my lane -- toward me.

(Kids today! she says in her best old fogey voice.)

Anyway, annoyed, I exclaimed "Dude!" A couple seconds later, in a voice a couple octaves higher, I heard "Duuuuude" from the backseat.

Thank God I only said "Dude."

So, after we were safely parked and out of traffic, I turned the camera on CC to record it for posterity. Dude, was it cute.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We lived to tell the Whale tale

video

Before I even start talking about our trip down to Rancho Palos Verdes for the once-a-year Whale of a Day event, I'd just like to say: Ian is completely and totally responsible for CC's outfit. Yes, Daddy dressed Toddler in the blue/green dress with pink sweatpants and Elton John shades, and I'm not taking any responsibility.

Now, where were we? Right. Whales.

Whale of a Day is an annual event that takes place at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center and celebrates the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale from the Bering and Chuchki Seas in Alaska to Baja California.

On the grounds of the Center, which are sprawling and sit directly above the Pacific and adjacent to the gorgeous Point Vicente Lighthouse, the festival features all sorts of children's activities such as face-painting, storytelling and games. There was even one spot where kids could make their own whale hat. CC fell for that, hook, line and sinker.

But not as hard as she fell for fishing for pirate's booty out of a small, plastic kiddie pool. Without hesitation she grabbed one of the kid-size nets and started rooting around for baby gold. Truthfully, I don't even think she noticed the plastic coins and brightly colored rings at the bottom of the shallow pool. She just wanted to swing something around and splash it in the water.

It was when other children who had been waiting got their chance at the treasure that CC took exception. I honestly think she could have fished all day -- which I guess would've been appropriate for the event, but decidedly inappropriate for healthy socialization. Thank God for whale hats and drums (see above video), is all I have to say.

And thank God for Kirstin. My friend Kirstin from work gets the award for finding the most fun, kid-friendly adventures around the city that cost -- wait for it -- nothing. Yes, the Whale of a Day event was especially cost-friendly in these stressful economic times. Kirstin, our wallets are a little less tremulous thanks to you.

Oh, and if you're wondering if we saw any actual whales, the answer to that is a definite maybe. Ian saw a blast of water blow straight up out of the ocean, which triggered one of the watchers to ring a bell. We were a little busy chasing our own little 3-foot baby whale around the festival to spend much time gazing out at sea, so I'd say it was a success -- a little high-five from the big guys in the ocean.

Point Vicente Interpretive Center
31501 Palos Verdes Drive West
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
310-377-5370
Museum hours: Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mars is on toddler's radar


The other night when I brought CC home from daycare, she looked up at the dark sky, pointed and said, "Stars!" Actually it sounded more like "Shtars!" (Must be the German in her.)

She looked at me and smiled, looked back at the sky and said, "Mooooooon!"

"Moon," I said. "Right."

Then she looked up for a third time, pointed southeast very definitively and said, "Mars!"

Wow, I thought. Look at my Baby Einstein. Yes, I know what you're thinking. I'm sure she just conflated the two words: Stars/shtars + moon = Mars. But I'd like to think she's now busy trying to translate e=mc2 to her mother in layman's terms.

Or maybe just thinking about her first full sentence: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos. (Sorry, Pluto. Apparently "dwarf planets" don't count anymore.)

Photo credit: © Florent DIE - Fotolia.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My worst nightmare

Designer babies: That's so L.A.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that terrified me. It detailed a Los Angeles fertility clinic's quest to give parents the choice regarding gender, eye color, hair color, etc., of their babies.

I posted about this in greater length on LA Moms Blog. Check it out if you're interested.

The comments are pretty interesting too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My little papoose is a member of the tribe


This weekend, CC received her tribal citizenship card from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is officially on the rolls as being 1/8 Creek.

While my mom was here over Christmas, we dug out our own citizenship cards as well as my mom's parents' cards: My grandma was a full-blood Creek and my grandfather 7/8 Cherokee. After writing down dates of birth, roll numbers and even signing an affidavit swearing that, yes, I did give birth to my child, I was able to finally and officially have my daughter's heritage recognized.

She should soon be receiving her Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card, which will take into account her Cherokee heritage as well. (You can only declare citizenship in one tribe.)

Sometimes I feel very far away from my family in Oklahoma, and it's moments like this that connect me to my roots, which also belong to my child (California girl that she is).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kids pull up a pillow for free theater

On Saturday, Ian, CC and I headed downtown to take in Pillow Theatre's production of Jemima Puddle-duck at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

This free event, which had two morning performances in the Pavilion's Grand Hall followed by activities on the outdoor plaza, was adorable and completely kid-friendly.

We arrived about 20 minutes before the second performance, and the plaza was already filled with children running around the vast outdoor space and jumping in and around the fountains -- which always do a little jumping themselves. Actually, that's what CC made a beeline for, and we had to downright beg her to wait in line for tickets.

The standby line, that is.

There were hundreds of kids and parents who'd already snagged tickets and were getting their seats as we stood there, hoping to see Miss Puddle-duck. I was desperately hoping we wouldn't have to shamefacedly press our noses to the window, sad clown-style. But, after a little wait, we weren't turned away.

Just as the show was about to start, we bolted up the gorgeous stairwell to find a sea of colorful pillows and accompanying tots ready for action. Despite being staged in a place frequented by serious opera-goers, the vibe was laid-back and friendly. Children wandered around the pillow area as Beatrix Potter's tale of an absent-minded duck unfolded onstage via the Hudson Vagabond Puppets.

CC was right there with them. Parents weren't allowed in the pillow area, so she would wander back and forth, making sure Mommy and Daddy hadn't abandoned her to a forgetful duck. It was also nice to see her just sit and watch. (In the above photo, she's wearing a red top and a ponytail).

I was mildly terrified CC would rush the stage and insist on playing her own guest role, but luckily we avoided that potential awkwardness.

There was one behavioral hiccup that I missed when I ducked out (no pun intended) to feed the meter. But they didn't kick us out, which, when you're dealing with a screaming child in a theater setting, is really considered a miracle.

Pillow Theatre's next production is "ZunZun, The Musical Rainforest (La Selva Canta)" on April 25.

Pillow Theatre
135 N. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-250-ARTS
213-972-4308
pillowtheatre@musiccenter.org
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