Monday, November 30, 2009
It's not often you *and* your kids can attend a rockin' holiday party while also doing a lot of good for fellow moms.
Well, wake up from your egg nog haze, because this year you're invited to one.
My friend and fellow LA Moms Blog contributor Kim Tracy Prince has organized an amazing holiday playdate at the posh children's space The Treehouse Social Club on Dec. 13 to benefit Help A Mother Out, a California-based organization dedicated to providing diapers to families in need.
The price of admission is a mere pack of diapers, and you'll be able to hang with other L.A.-area moms while the kiddos explore the indoor playground and giant treehouse.
The Great Recession has hit a lot of families hard, and many of them are unable to purchase diapers for their children. The diapers donated at this party will go to PATH Achieve Glendale and Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica.
For more information, click here.
Hope to see you there!
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-317-5507
Dec. 13; 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
The Treehouse Social Club
426 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
For this giveaway, as is my usual M.O., I used Random.org because I know all of you deserve a little pampering. However, I love the idea of a haiku.
Thanks for the inspiration, Jen. That will definitely be how I run my next giveaway.
Have a great day, and thanks again for checking out L.A. Story.
photo courtesy: Dermalogica
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
It was CC's first encounter with the sport -- a word I use almost ironically when it comes to us. We were a little shaky in our skates, but she loved it.
In addition to the large ice rink at the corner of 5th and Arizona, ICE also sports an adjacent mini ice rink called Tot Spot, which is for tykes 48" and under -- perfect for my little munchkin.
Ian and I laced her up in the most adorable baby skates and dove -- well, glided -- right in. We each took turns taking CC onto the ice, and each time she tried to lose us. Seriously. The fact that it was her first time out made no difference to her; she wanted to go it alone, often refusing to take Ian's or my hand.
Don't think so, kiddo.
At one point, when she said she wanted to exit the Tot Spot, I thought she just wanted to sit down and take a break. Not even. She grabbed my hand and instead led me over to the "big rink" and said she wanted to go on that one.
That's my little daredevil. "Maybe next time," I told her, wondering if I was lying.
My dad was also in town for a short visit, but he decided to hang on the sidelines. He said watching CC brought back memories of when I took ice-skating lessons at the Williams Center in Tulsa when I was about her age. Ah, the '70s.
It was adorable watching her go. She was even wearing the big baby skates -- ICE also offers metal strap-on skates with two blades instead of one for first-timers.
Yes, it might be Southern California, but as our toddler learned -- you don't have to have seen snow to get up close and personal with ice.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The show will feature characters from such animated films as Disney/Pixar's "Cars," Disney's "Tinker Bell," "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid." Can't wait to see Pumbaa rock out on ice skates.
Not only that, but a Disney Princess Pre-show will greet families who arrive early. Kids and parents can take a look at various ball gowns and mementos from the Disney princess stories, and they'll even be able to mingle with a Disney Princess, as well. (No word on which one just yet.)
Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy will be at Staples Center Dec. 17-20 before heading to Orange County, the Inland Empire and Long Beach.
L.A. Story readers can receive a four-pack of tickets for $44 (Mon.-Fri. matinees) or $4 off single weekend tickets by entering the coupon code MOM on www.ticketmaster.com.
Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy
Thursday, Dec. 17 -- 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 18 -- 11 a.m.; 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 19 -- 12 p.m.; 3:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 20 -- 12 p.m.; 3:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.
As a woman who used to get her nails done every couple weeks -- and had a manicure when she gave birth -- I know what it's like to want to pamper yourself once in a while.
But that was before I had CC.
Now, if I even have polish on my nails it's miraculous.
So when I was invited to an event at Dermalogica on Montana Spa in Santa Monica a few weeks ago, I was more than bummed that I couldn't attend. After all, who couldn't use a little extra attention in the facial department?
Lucky for me -- and an L.A. Story reader -- they invited me back to see what the spa has to offer.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but the atmosphere was a down-to-earth, mod, Sporty Spice take on a traditional spa. And I liked it.
They offer several treatments, including touch therapies, back treatment as well as facials. But what they also offer are MicroZone services that treat specific areas in 20 minutes. Hello, lunch break!
Flash exfoliation, extractions, eye revitalization are available as pop-ins. And for only 25 bucks. Nice.
Skin therapists are on hand at the Skin Bar to evaluate your epidermis -- that's not to say, tell you how terrible you look -- and give you tips on how to manage those needs. That's about 10 minutes, it's free, and they offer Dermalogica skin care samples.
I had a really nice experience. No pressure, no Judgy Judgerson snark about how you've abused your face. Just straightforward guidance and, oh yeah, the pampering.
As motherhood and the upcoming holidays are no doubt wreaking havoc on your psyche, I'd like to offer a certificate for a MicroZone treatment at Dermalogica on Montana.
Believe me, it's a nice break.
Just leave a comment below. Good luck, and I'll announce the winner Monday, Nov. 30.
Dermalogica on Montana
1022 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Monday, November 23, 2009
Maggie is the lucky winner, courtesy of Random.org! Congrats, Maggie! Murray and Elmo definitely rock.
I appreciated all your comments. All of them really brought back memories!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
It was a fun outing and a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at a prominent game developer.
CC's still young -- almost 3 -- and hasn't wrapped her mind completely around games that come with accessories such as a dance pad and an external controller ... that is, unless it's a microphone. She definitely knows what that is.
Most of the games were too advanced for CC's age right now, but she really enjoyed a game called "Storybook Workshop" (below). I was a fan, too.
The game, which hits stores Dec. 1, tells stories such as "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Ugly Duckling" and "Be Kind to the Earth."
The great thing is that kids have a microphone and can read along with the story. The even greater thing? You can choose which voice you want. CC loved that one. She was a fan of saying her name into the mic in robot voice and gnome voice. It was pretty funny -- for everyone.
But parents can record stories in their own voices and play them back for children at a later date. Also, the words appear on screen, which fosters reading practice. There are also games associated with literacy and games just for fun.
I'm still exploring this video world for CC and getting an idea of what's out there for kids that can also be educational. So I'll keep an eye on "Storybook Workshop."
Anything that has my daughter learning to read while saying adorable things in a robot voice, for me, is definitely something to consider.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
On Saturday, CC joined what seemed like millions of kids at the Disney Store grand opening at Westfield Culver City Mall.
Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" was on hand with a big smile and a Southern drawl to welcome the kiddos. CC was a little shy, which is rare, but I think she was a tad overwhelmed. The turnout was pretty amazing.
I talked to one mother-daughter duo, who were the first ones in line and arrived at the store at 6:45 a.m. That's Disney dedication!
I also chatted with the Redondo Beach Disney Store manager Barbara Williams, who estimated the turnout to be anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000.
She also told me about the upcoming Pajama Party at Disney Stores nationwide on Friday, Nov. 20. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., kids can arrive at the store in their pajamas and join in games, goodies and story time.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
CC got to experience that firsthand last week, when Elmo (along with longtime "Sesame Street" performer Kevin Clash) called to sing "CC's World."
It was adorable and made my toddler's day. She was already a fan of the furry little red monster -- he's stiff competition to her parents -- but this sealed the muppet deal, and she's been talking about it ever since.
"Sesame Street" is celebrating 40 years on the air this season and has not only updated the program with format tweaks and CGI elements, but the show is also offering a DVD that highlights the past 40 years.
I received a copy of "Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days," and it's pretty amazing ... and pretty poignant.
I love seeing the shaggy hair and bell bottoms from the early years, and I got a little choked up during the episode when the Street friends have to explain to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper isn't coming back.
The extras are great, too. Lots of behind-the-scenes action showing how puppets are designed and how the episodes are filmed. Seeing performers like Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Caroll Spinney in action is truly fascinating.
The most compelling part to me is how "Sesame Street" has stayed relevant and interesting all these years.
"We're a mirror image of what's going on in the world," said Kevin Clash. He added that the research department works hard to replicate what kids are learning, particularly in the sciences.
As I said before, to share a part of my childhood with my daughter -- granted, a hipper "Mad Men"-infused version of it -- is magical.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
A few other fellow mom bloggers and I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Ronald McDonald House Charities Thursday over dinner and Friday to learn more about McHappy Day, a series of days really -- Nov. 10-20 -- during which participating McDonald's restaurants offer "Give a Hand" cards for $1.
These donations go toward raising funds for local Ronald McDonald House chapters, as well as Mickey D-related programs around the world. Not only are there the houses themselves, which provide room and board to families that need to be close to a hospitalized child, but there are also camps, health-care mobiles and scholarships for children.
On Friday after our tour, we joined Access Hollywood's Billy Bush and former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres at a local McDonald's, where CC was able to contribute $1 for her own "Give a Hand."
I chatted with both Billy and Dayanara (left) about their experience with the Charity.
"I'm very guilty. I'm a very guilty person, and I feel like it's shameful that I have what I have," Billy said. "I'm a blessed, blessed guy. I've got healthy kids, and if something, God forbid, happened to one of my children, I'd be able to at least pay for the best possible chance at surviving and beating it, and without Ronald McDonald a lot of families wouldn't."
"I'm a mom," said Dayanara.
Monday, November 16, 2009
(How packed was it, you ask gamely?)
Well, it was so packed I almost resorted to bribing the hostess so she would squeeze us in for the Hello Kitty tea. Otherwise, the wait was a mere two hours. I also was secretly hoping for big CC tears, but no such luck.
In case you haven't heard the news, Hello Kitty is celebrating 35 years, and art gallery/cafe Royal/T hosted parties, a gallery exhibit and a shopping area all dedicated to the Japanese icon.
Although we didn't get to experience brunch or tea service, Ian, CC and I walked around the exhibit and even climbed into a colorful Hello Kitty balloon. On our way out, a friendly employee handed CC an HK puzzle key chain and an adorable pink notebook.
Here are more pics from the exhibit:
Friday, November 13, 2009
Yes, I'm a sucker for a monkey, especially one that responds to "gimme five!"
This week, I had the opportunity to meet Crystal the monkey, one of the stars of "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," on the Fox Studios lot in Century City.
She and her trainer, Anthony Suffredini, joined the film's director, Shawn Levy, to tout the upcoming DVD, which hits stores Dec. 1.
And in crafting that DVD, said Levy, "we have lots of bonus features."
He also said that while the movie offered "escapist entertainment," he also wanted to pair that with an "educational feel."
That's where Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams), Abraham Lincoln (Hank Azaria) and Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) come in.
Those actors, whom Levy noted offered lots of improv hilarity, give wacky life to historical figures on screen.
But don't forget about the marble naked babies -- aka the cherubs, played by The Jonas Brothers.
All of those characters appear on the DVD in various features, including "Phinding Pharaoh With Hank Azaria," "Curators of Comedy: Behind the Scenes With Ben Stiller" and "Cherub Bootcamp" -- the "grueling training" Levy said he put the Jo Bros through to become the cherub trio.
There's also a downloadable feature called FoxPop, right, which allows viewers to sync up the movie with the computer/iPhone application and see facts and trivia pop up on the computer or iPhone screen.
But, as Levy said, "For most viewers under 10, it's all about the monkeys."
A second DVD, "Monkey Mischief," is also available and includes deleted scenes and a gag reel.
And no, the above video -- graciously filmed by Linda Perry of Peachhead fame -- is not included.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The event was in connection with After-School All-Stars, an enrichment program founded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2002 to provide educational activities to tweens and teens as an alternative to riskier options.
I could see the games really appealing to young girls. It brought me back to my sleepover days, when I'd invite friends over and play with mom's blue eye shadow and crazy necklaces.
"Style Lab: Jewelry Design" allows players to create their own pendants, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They can then order their designs online from Artbeads.com.
What's also great for parents is that Ubisoft offers a Parent's Corner, where moms and dads can get a better feel for the games their kids are playing. There are frequently asked questions, forums and basic info that describes the games and the ratings.
Parents can even check out a version of the games online -- you know, if you're dying to see what you might look like with blue highlights.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Princess Tiana of the upcoming Disney animated film "The Princess and the Frog" will be on hand Saturday, Nov. 14, to celebrate the opening of the newest Disney Store, at Westfield Culver City Mall.
The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the first 100 kids through the door can pick up a complementary pair of Mickey Mouse ears.
From 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the mall's center court, kids are invited to meet Princess Tiana. Radio Disney's Road Crew will also be there for music and games.
"The Princess and the Frog," a twist on the classic frog-kissing tale, is set in New Orleans and the bayous of Louisiana. The film opens in Los Angeles and New York Nov. 25, and nationwide on Dec. 11.
Westfield Culver City Mall
6000 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Last week, Ian, CC and I headed over to Electronic Arts' HQ in Playa Vista to visit their Winter Wonderland of new game demos.
If I were still a teen or even a tween, I might never have left. (Let's just say there are many hours of my life I can't get back after being sucked into "Super Mario Bros." and "The Legend of Zelda.") Luckily, at almost 3, CC has more will power.
Don't get me wrong. She had her two faves -- "Littlest Pet Shop Friends," which allows players to create adorable, wide-eyed pets and play games with them; and, somewhat surprisingly, "Boom Blox Bash Party," developed in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. Yeah, that one.
While tween boys took turns destroying blocks with their Wii controllers, CC stood by, rapt with attention. Could her inner toddler destroyer relate closely to "Boom Blox"?
It was cute to watch her hangin' with the big boys. But it was even cuter watching her play near the waterfall of the EA plaza as the sun set over the nearby ocean.
Even though there was a party inside, she was doing what toddlers do best -- running around outside, in the brisk November air, oblivious to her natural baby charm.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I love watching my child rock out.
CC loved it. She loved running up and down the aisles -- as you can see in the above video -- without being told to sit down. She loved singing along to "We Got a Band" and "Pirates." And she loved just hangin' with the other shorties in the audience.
It was fun being the parent hanger-on (and getting to see Ana from SpanglishBaby.com!), but I also got to chat with the band's lead singer, Lisa Mathews.
Lisa told me a little bit about how she and band member Mikel Gehl started Milkshake in 2002 after they'd performed together in grown-up band Love Riot. After they both had kids -- she a daughter, and he a son -- they had a new focus and a new well from which to draw ideas for songs.
But Milkshake was also an experiment, she said. "It could be reflective of how our children are growing." So they decided to create CDs every few years to reflect the subject matter that most interested their kids.
"We weren't going to dumb down the music or lyrics," Lisa said. "We just made it simpler -- focusing on the simple joys."
Within their rock and pop sounds are tyke-friendly sentiments about "going to my happy place, where everything's okay"; and "I'm a superhero, tryin' to do good; Makin' things a little better, like everybody should."
In fact, Mikel got the idea for "Statue of Me" after going for a walk with his son and niece. She hopped on a boulder and wondered aloud how it would be "if they made a statue of me."
As Lisa said, "Kids don't care about cool -- at least the young ones don't. They want you to play with them and dance with them."
It's so true. And with their music, CC gets up and dances every time. Every. Time. Somersaults are a bonus.
I'm a fan just for that. But their music does rock -- I say that even as an adult.
So, in other words, this Milkshake brings my toddler to the yard ... and I'm OK with that.
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. A245
Los Angeles, CA 90015
These are great stories. Sounds like Norms has made an impression on a lot of SoCal restaurant-goers out there.
The winner, courtesy of Random.org, is dolls123, who likes the hot fudge brownie a la mode (me too!). There's also a runner-up for those who posted on the Moms Like Me site. Congrats to omMama!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
This was the first year that she really knew what was going on -- No more "What the heck are you dressing me in?" looks this season. No more resigned stares at her parents' obnoxious cameras while she's being stuffed into a costume unfit for a walking human being.
No, this year CC pulled on her Ariel princess costume before I had cut off the tags and raced around the living room ready to take on the trick-or-treating world.
But before we hit up the neighbors for M&Ms and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, we hit Boo at the L.A. Zoo.
CC strolled through a pumpkin patch, got up close and personal with a genetically altered albino snake (right; ick), scored a little devil girl arm tattoo and even nabbed a juice box or two from zoo volunteers.
We thought we might visit Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch, too, but we had over-pumpkin'd.
After a much-needed nap, it was showtime again as CC pulled on her costume and waited for her parents to escort her from one candy-laden door to the next.
At first she was a little shy about saying "Trick-or-Treat," or she'd say it before the person even answered the door. But after a few tries, she was ready to get her next Halloween fix.
Pretty soon, she was practically banging down doors.
It was a nice night, and it made me so happy to see her so proud of herself and having so much fun.
I'll have to remind her of Halloween '09 when she's a teenager: Yes, my darling, you can have fun with just your parents.