Saturday, December 29, 2012

Even Daddy Day Care Can Be Hard on a Mom


To be honest, it was hard leaving Baby Will at home -- even with my husband, who's an amazing dad -- when I had to go back to work.

When Ian sent me these photos of him on the beach with Baby Will, a mullet wig and fake cigarettes, it became that much harder. Funnier, but harder.

I wrote about it for mom.me, the website where I work. Let me know what you think. The comments are pretty hard-core.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

2 Months Old!

Baby Will at 2 months!
OK, so he's actually 10 weeks old, but we've had some serious camera card fails, which have put me behind on my baby-logging.

He's certainly plumped up since last month. That's mostly due to the fact that he's become a formula-only baby. That part was hard -- I breastfed CC for 7 months -- but he was so hungry! All the time! And my body just couldn't keep up.

I love his roly-poly cuddliness, though. And he's starting to smile so much lately. I just want to eat him up.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Get Creative With Holiday Decor + Giveaway *Sponsored*


UPDATE: Congrats to kolpin, who won the holiday decor package from Sam's Club! Please email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com with your name and address. Also, I apologize for the delay -- yesterday's news left me too stunned to write. Thank you to everyone who participated (and to Random.org for helping me choose).

I love Christmas. It's such an amazingly special time of year, when everyone seems eager and happy and excited about something completely unexpected. Maybe it's the presents ... or maybe it's anticipating the surprise on your husband or child's face when they unwrap the gifts you've been dying to give them.

It's also the time of year when our homes take on a completely different look for just a few weeks. Whether it's a huge Christmas tree or a home all decked out in ceramic villages and tons of garland, decorations really seem to take center stage. (See below for a holiday decor giveaway!)

This year, I wanted to add some creative Christmas-y touches around our apartment, and I got a little inspiration from lifestyle expert Brooke Peterson's blog, as well as a lot of help and supplies from Sam's Club.


First of all, I love lights -- and I love pairing them with ornaments. So I thought it would be fun, after taking a look at this post from Brooke, to add colorful ornaments and lights to glass vases. So I picked up a couple packages of 25 ornaments (each for less than $15 at Sam's), as well as a roll of warm-white LED lights (less than $20).

As you can see from the top pic, the effect is gorgeous. Warm, colorful, unexpected and -- most of all -- easy!

CC even got in on the act, too.


I loved that the project was so child-friendly -- and something you couldn't really mess up. And you could decorate the vases with an assortment of colors, any way you liked.

It just goes to show that Christmas decorating doesn't have to be a terrifying chore. In fact, it was such a cheerful family project.

And that's what cheer is ... spending time with family and getting creative with our home. Everyone is involved and, best of all, together.

*** GIVEAWAY ***


I'm giving away a holiday decorating gift basket, worth more than $50 and courtesy of Sam's Club, that includes decorative mesh ribbon, holiday ribbon, shatterproof ornaments and a Starbucks gift set.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me favorite ways you like to decorate your home.

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, December 14!

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, for which I have been compensated. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

'Ice Age: Continental Drift' DVD Review


Our toothy prehistoric heroes are back for a fourth installment in Ice Age: Continental Drift, and the Blu-ray/DVD ($39.99) is hitting store shelves on December 11.

CC and I had the chance to dive into the icy adventure on DVD, courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and this incarnation of the popular Blue Sky Studios film franchise has families breaking apart -- along with the ice -- and learning what it takes to adjust to a few growing pains.

Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) hit the high seas when the continent starts to break apart, but not before Manny gets a dose of teenage embarrassment and frustration, courtesy of his daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), who's trying to impress a cute boy, er, woolly mammoth (Drake).

The trio of friends encounter a rag-tag group of pirates, led by a ruthless gorilla (Peter Dinklage) with a toothy grin that could use a few Crest White Strips. Using their wits to outsmart these marauders, Manny, Diego and Sid must find a way to reunite the herd -- all while dealing with Sid's seemingly senile grandmother (Wanda Sykes).

CC enjoyed the icy adventure, and for me it's always fun to check out the voice cast. (I especially love John Leguizamo's Sid!) That, and Scrat. That poor prehistoric squirrel can't ever seem to get that acorn -- and the clever ways he always misses it is a fun trademark of the series.

The movie itself is light and a fun weekend distraction. Older kids should be able to empathize with the challenges of being a teenager and dealing with an especially protective parent. Younger kids will love the colorful animation and the silly crew of animals.


For those of you in Los Angeles, the Beverly Center is hosting an Ice Age Ice Palace display through the holidays. The 30-foot dome will offer footage from the movie, as well as falling snow and a light show.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, CC! You're 6!


Happy Birthday, my little bear! I can't believe it's been six years since I first laid eyes on you.

I want you to know that you are a true joy and a shining light in your daddy's and my eyes. You're growing up to be such a kind, thoughtful and brilliant little girl.

You've gone through so many changes this year, and you've handled them all with such grace -- as you have with other changes in your little life.

I'm proud of you and love you more than you will ever know.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Birthday Visit from Princess Leia

Princess Leia reads to CC and friends.
CC got a glimpse of a galaxy far, far away when she celebrated her 6th birthday at a party in the park with friends ... and Princess Leia.

We were so lucky to have mildly cloudy weather this weekend -- and pretty bold to have an outdoor party in an often-rainy December. But the rain took a break long enough for CC and her pals to chase each other with inflatable light sabers and take in some stories and crafts from a certain galactic princess.

I have to give a shout-out to Wishing Well Entertainment and Parties, which found an awesome Leia on relatively short notice. Not only did she look the part, but she also enthralled the little Jedis with books, songs, crafts, balloons and face painting. The kids loved her!

CC had a great time, which was the most important thing -- especially since she's had so many changes this year. First kindergarten at a new school, then a baby brother. She deserved a really special celebration.

Of course, I learned that maternity leave actually had drained a few of the ol' brain cells when I realized we had no forks for the awesome Star Wars cake that Ian ordered from Porto's. (eek.) The kids, of course, were OK with that deal. The adults, not so much.

Ah well. At least Princess Leia saved the day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UrbanSitter Connects Babysitters, Friends *Sponsored*

Looking for a new and better way to book babysitters? Try UrbanSitter! Founded by four busy parents, UrbanSitter is an online resource to find sitters recommended by people you know—so you feel secure in hiring someone you trust.

Everyone knows it's tough to find a babysitter. In fact, to tell you the truth, Ian and I don't really have one for CC, let alone Baby Will.

You might remember that we had our awesome nanny/sitter for CC when she was smaller -- Stephani, whom we trusted with all of our lives. But since then, we've relied mostly on visits from my mom. Which is kind of sad, because she doesn't come that often.

Part of it is that I want someone I can trust. Another part is that I'm kind of picky. One of CC's camp counselors gave me her card this summer, and on it she said she helped kids with tutoring. Only she spelled it "tudoring." Yikes. Maybe that's just the editor in me, but it was a total turnoff.

That's why I was excited to check out UrbanSitter, courtesy of a "speed-dating" event hosted by the online company and MomsLA. Not only did I get to check out an innovative way to find potential sitters, but I also got to meet a few candidates, too.

What's awesome is that the site syncs with your social networks, so you can see which of your Facebook friends have hired a particular sitter. Great for getting trusted info, because friends can also review the sitters they've chosen.

You can also search for sitters based on date and time, whether they have had a background check, hourly rates and experience. You can also pay by credit card right on the site. (That's a real convenience for a lot of families. No more digging in your purse at the end of the evening -- or quickly stopping by the ATM.)

Not only that but you can also get email reminders and check out your sitter's bookings.

And, did I mention the service is free?! Can't wait to book my first night!

Check out UrbanSitter's sweepstakes, where you could win 1 year of free babysitting!

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for MomsLA and UrbanSitter. However, all opinions expressed are my own.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!

CC burst into our bedroom this morning and asked us what we were thankful for. The picture above (CC is doing the chicken dance for Baby Will) is a good start.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Coming Attraction: Books and Cookies Hosts Family Foodie Event


It's all about kids and cooking tomorrow, Nov. 17, at Books and Cookies in Santa Monica.

Catherine McCord -- of Weelicious recipe blog fame -- will be on hand to talk about her new book, One Family, One Meal, and sign copies. The cookbook features more than 140 kid-friendly yet nutritious recipes.


 Not only that, but visitors will also be able to check out The FunPod, a crafty piece of furniture that allows children ages 12 months to 6 years to sit safely next to the kitchen counter top, so they can watch mom or dad make breakfast, lunch or dinner.


You can find the FunPod on the Luca & Company website, which spotlights functional and design-friendly children's items.

Sounds like fun for all those junior chefs out there!

Where:  Books and Cookies
2230 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405

When:  Saturday, November 17 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1 Month Old!

Baby Will at 1 month.
Can't believe Baby Will turned 1 month on Monday!

Honestly, it's been such a blur. Most of that time has been spent awake -- seriously -- even during the dark-of-night hours. I forgot how nursing = no sleep.

We're having fun getting to know our little guy, with CC calling him "my baby" and putting on toothbrush shows for him when he cries.

Can't wait to see what Month 2 brings -- hopefully, more zzz's.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Free Screening: 'Dino Time'


Just in case you missed catching a movie with the kiddos over the long weekend, here's your chance to snag a sneak peek of Dino Time, from Clarius Entertainment, for free!

While the animated kids' film doesn't hit theaters until Dec. 7, you can take the kiddos to an advanced screening tomorrow night in Burbank. (See info below.)

Featuring voice talent from Jane Lynch (she's everywhere these days!), Melanie Griffith, Rob Schneider and Stephen and William Baldwin, Dino Time is about three kids -- Ernie, Julia and Max -- who accidentally turn on a time machine in Max's dad's workshop and head back in time 65 million years. The kids are adopted by a friendly dinosaur family, which tries to protect them from the grumpier dinos, while the kids' parents try to find a way back for them.

Here's where and how you and the kids can see the film: Go to www.gofobo.com/rsvp to download free tickets with the code LAMOMS41RL

DINO TIME
Tuesday, November 13
6:30pm
AMC Burbank 16
125 East Palm Avenue
Burbank, CA 91502

Let me know what you think!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming Attraction: 'Littlest Pet Shop' Premieres on The Hub + 'My Little Pony'

'Littlest Pet Shop' on The Hub
The Hub has an exciting Saturday planned -- for those kids, including my own little girl, who are crazy about a certain group of ponies, as well as a new herd of colorful, talking creatures.

In addition to airing the season premiere of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic (Saturday at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT), The Hub will premiere a new series, Littlest Pet Shop (Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT).

CC and I caught a sneak peek of Littlest Pet Shop, and it looks like a clever and colorful Saturday morning addition. The show centers on Blythe Baxter, a little girl who has moved to the Manhattan-esque big city with her pilot dad (sans mom, but that goes unexplained). Blythe is precocious and very sure of herself -- a positive trait I love for my daughter to see.

In fact, when she bumps into a couple of "mean girls," she stands up for herself from the get-go. Talk about a great example for little girls.

Blythe and her father move into an apartment above the Littlest Pet Shop, which is in danger of closing. In the opening two episodes, this fashion-forward little girl discovers that she can talk to the little critters -- which include a monkey, dog, gecko, hedgehog (not a porcupine!) and a skunk -- and that they need her help.

But can Blythe help save the pet shop?

The show is gorgeously animated, with candy-colored animals, cityscapes and fashion. It definitely pops off the screen. What's also interesting is the pairing of Littlest Pet Shop alongside My Little Pony. Both shows seem to have the same smart-girl sensibilities. That is, they're headlined by clever girls who aren't afraid to show off their smarts -- or their (often dry) senses of humor. They're also confident enough to put friends in their place, should they go off track.

CC enjoyed the episodes -- and especially loved when Littlest Pet Shop dog Zoe burst out into song. Look forward to checking out more!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mattel's Toy Story Color Splash Boat & Buddies *Giveaway*

CC, before she rips open the Mattel Toy Story boxes.
UPDATE: Congrats to Barbara, who won the Mattel Toy Story Color Splash goodies!

Bath time -- or pool time, for that matter, here in sunny SoCal -- is way more fun when you have toys to create splashy stories with. In fact, CC loves to put on a show anytime she needs to put soap to water.

That's why it was extra fun for her to receive Mattel's Toy Story Color Splash Boat (SRP: $19.99) and two Toy Story Color Splash Buddies Two-Packs (SRP: $8.99 each), as part of Mattel's Disney Insider Program, to help create imaginative aquatic adventures come bath time. She was able to try out these fun, color-changing toys and introduce a mini Buzz Lightyear, Partysaurus Rex and a particularly grumpy-looking octopus to her brand of bath-time fun.



Kids can definitely get creative with these toys, as CC did, inventing rescue stories and dividing the figures up into separate teams.

While the figures change color depending on the temperature of the water, the boat itself features flashing LED lights (what kind of party doesn't have flashing lights?), a rescue dinghy that doubles as a water scoop, a trap door and a squirting rubber ducky -- not to mention a squiddy dreadlocked Partysaurus Rex himself. (Check out a sneak peek of the upcoming toon, coming this fall.)

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 1 Mattel Toy Story Color Splash Boat and 2 Color Splash Buddies packs, courtesy of Mattel.

To enter, please leave a comment describing your child's favorite bath-time adventure.

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, Nov. 9!

Late to the (Halloween) Party

CC dressed as an ice princess for Halloween.
I know I'm a few days late on this one, but I wanted to capture it nonetheless. CC was so excited to be an ice princess for Halloween, and I want to capture her in this adorable costume.

As you might have noticed, it's been a bit difficult to keep up daily -- or even more than once-a-week -- posting while I'm out on maternity leave. Newborn life is so all-consuming that it's difficult to focus on much else.

Stay tuned for more posts, though. They might be sporadic, but the posts will keep coming!

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween: Nailed It!

Image courtesy of mom.me
Don't fret if you haven't yet found your perfect Halloween costume. (I'm actually in that camp, although CC said she wanted me to go as Queen Amadala to her Princess Leia. That was before she decided to be an ice princess, though.)

If you don't have the duds for trick-or-treating, why not just dress up your your nails?

Check out these spooky, fun and sparkly Halloween-themed nail polish shades that I wrote about for mom.me. With names like Malice (Chanel) and New Flesh (Deborah Lippmann), they're sure to inject a little holiday fun into whatever you're doing tomorrow night, whether it's hitting that awesome Halloween party or digging into your child's candy when she's not looking.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to Mr. Bones -- with Baby, Too!

CC gets excited for Halloween at Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch

Despite getting very little sleep -- how could I possibly have forgotten this part of newborn life? -- Ian and I made a point of getting out to take CC and Baby Clark to one of our favorite Halloween hot spots, Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch in West Hollywood.

We haven't been to the trendy Halloween outpost in a few years, but it was important to me to introduce Baby C to some of our favorite L.A. haunts. He is, after all, part of my L.A. story -- and the sooner he learns that we're a family on the go, the better. (Actually it helps me to get back in the swing of things after being at home in a baby haze these past couple of weeks.)

While he slept for most of our visit, CC had a great time checking out the petting zoo and sliding down the skeleton bouncy water slide -- yes, it was a scorcher this weekend. (I nearly opted to slide down with her.)

Cooling off at Mr. Bones
We also kept up with tradition and took pics inside the big hollow pumpkin -- it's amazing to see how CC has changed over the years -- and woke Will from his own newborn haze to get a Bone-sy pic of him, too.

CC and Mama
Why does our son look as if he's throwing gang signs?
Not only that, but included in the price of admission ($4 for adults; $2 for kids), we also got to take home two little pumpkins, which CC had lots of fun decorating.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch
702 N. Doheny Dr.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Sister's Coming Around

CC helps out with the baby.
It turns out that the idea of being a big sister is a lot easier than having the role thrust upon you in real life.

CC has been so excited to have a little brother, but his actual arrival has been a little bumpier than expected -- at least when it comes to sibling love at first sight.

Of course she loves him -- and has said so -- but she's been understandably skeptical about how everything is supposed to work.

Ian and I expected that. And it's OK. She wants to feel loved, secure and that she hasn't been displaced by this tiny little guy. I get it, too. She was our one and only for almost six years.

But over the weekend, she started making her way closer to her brother -- watching me change his diapers, dancing in front of him while one of us held him, and looking him over as he lay in his bassinet.

Now she's gone a big step further. While he was lying down in his Nap Nanny, crying as newborns can, CC grabbed his paci to comfort him. She squatted down to his eye level, handed him the pacifier and talked to him, singing and cooing as his eyes focused on her face, mere inches from his own.

It was amazing to see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted' DVD Review


If you can get through Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted without singing Marty's now classic "Afro Circus" song -- or at least without it getting stuck in your head so much that you hear it even in the shower -- then you are a way stronger person than I.

The third installment of the DreamWorks Animation franchise, about four New York City Zoo animals who just want to get back home, is another fun take on the whole "fish out of water" -- or, in this case, lion out of Central Park -- theme.

After landing on Madagascar and then dropping down into Africa, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are desperate to leave and wind up making their way to Europe -- Monaco, no less -- as a pit stop on their journey back home. The opening scenes of the friends trying to cooly break into the Monte Carlo Casino is a fun, bumbling version of something out of Mission: Impossible.

Soon after, a crazed animal control officer (Frances McDormand) is hot on the gang's trail, and they need to blend in. Stat. Enter a traveling circus, and the Gotham gang are on their way. Not only that, but there's a scheduled stop in the Big Apple to boot. And while there are some intimidating characters on this circus train -- Hello, Bryan Cranston as the no-nonsense tiger Vitaly -- the zoo friends discover that they have a lot to offer this colorful troupe as well.

The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD pack (SRP: $30) is a fun combo that includes the movie, special features and the clever addition of Marty's rainbow wig. (The DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures teams know their audience -- in fact, Ian has already put it on.) In addition to catching the film itself, viewers can see interviews with the cast, directors Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon, as well as see some deleted scenes.

We're definitely a Madagascar-loving household. CC has seen the first two movies I don't know how many times. And while I had to suspend my disbelief quite a bit as the foursome popped up on the coast of Europe (guess that's an easier swim that to the East Coast of the U.S.), the movie is a clever and funny ride.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Health Insurers Are Getting It Right with Moms *Sponsored Post*


Having recently spent a few days in the hospital to give birth to L.A. Story's newest addition, Baby Clark 2.0 -- not to mention in light of the upcoming election -- health care and health insurance have been on my mind a lot lately

While we usually think of health insurers as some big, anonymous organization that covers the bulk of the medical bills (at best) and a monolith of red tape and restrictions (at worst), I was happy to hear that one group, WellPoint, the umbrella group of Anthem BlueCross BlueShield (which also happens to be my health insurer) is looking to be more active in their members' lives -- moms in particular.

Last week I participated in a conference call with WellPoint representatives to talk about what they have to offer in the way of mom support (pre- and postnatal), preventative care and fitness help(!).

"We want to bridge the gap between traditional care and a family's need for access and timely support," said Dr. Ellen Silver, medical director, clinical strategy and innovation at WellPoint. "The industry is recognizing that you need more from us, and insurers are taking a much more active role, giving you access to tools to make more informed decisions."

You might be surprised at what they have on their parent-friendly menu of inclusive services. I know I was.

24/7 NurseLine:  When you need quick, after-hours (or any hour, for that matter) medical advice, just call a toll-free number to speak with an experienced nurse. Has your child fallen and lost a tooth? Your daughter has shoved an eraser up her nose to see if it would fit (Guess what? It does!). Should you attempt to take it out yourself? How do you get rid or prevent those seemingly ubiquitous classroom bugs, lice? A registered nurse will be available to answer questions and direct you to the best course of action. Whew!

Future Moms: While the NurseLine is such a great idea and helps me rest at night knowing I can get someone on the phone if CC gets a little eraser-happy, the Future Moms program got my attention even more. This program gives expectant moms access to tools such as risk screening and educational support to help them maintain a healthy and informed pregnancy. There are also lifestyle tools for lactation and nutritional support. But what really grabbed me was the program's acknowledgment that moms need support even after baby is born. So they offer a post-delivery follow-up to see how things are going, and that includes a screening for depression, which we hear so much about. Very nice to know that support doesn't end at birth.

Personalize Your Health: Through a Web portal, you can access ways to achieve goals in fitness, nutrition, weight management and kicking butt (the cigarette kind, that is). Through tailored health programs and certified online coaching, moms (and dads!) can get motivated to change the way they eat and exercise.

Fitness to Fit Your Lifestyle: And speaking of exercise, this program gets personal when it comes to fitness. WellPoint and its affiliated plans have partnered with FitOrbit.com to offer affordable ways to track and maintain your exercise regimen, including access to trainers via phone and live chat, fitness plans that you can do even at the park and healthy menus for more nutritious meals. (Keep in mind that this is an extra service, but WellPoint is offering readers a discount to FitOrbit that can be accessed through this link.)

As a mom to a 5-year-old and now a newborn, I was more than happy to see that insurers are looking beyond doctor's appointments and hospital visits and recognizing the being healthy happens at home, too. While we might not always need the NurseLine, it's great to know that services like that are available as part of your insurance package. Not only that, but you can also feel like an active participant in your own health care routine -- and know that even your health insurer has your back.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, for which I was compensated, in partnership with The Motherhood and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield. The views expressed in this post, however, are my own.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

L.A. Story's Newest Addition


Welcome to the world, Baby Clark 2.0! Our newest addition was born on Friday morning, with Daddy, CC and Grandma nearby. He's such a joy and such a calm little baby.

CC loves being a big sister -- she's told everyone we meet! -- and we love having such a new, wonderful little person to adore.

Stay tuned! You'll definitely be seeing more of the little guy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Last Days as an Only Child


I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but somehow I just haven't found the right words. I guess I get overly nostalgic thinking about it, and like other things, I push it off for one more day.

With the new baby on the way, there's been so much excitement and joy from all three of us. Whether it's been Ian and I thinking about baby boy clothes and vacations for four or CC telling us that his name should be Tom, Jerry...or Target, this pregnancy has been a fun ride.

But as it's approaching, I keep thinking about our little girl who has been, up until now, our one and only. For 5+ years. And because I grew up as an only child, that just seemed to be the norm. While I've been over the moon with excitement to have another one -- and a little boy at that! -- I've been a little teary-eyed at the thought of something slipping away.

Maybe that's just because it's a change. Maybe I'm just over-thinking everything. Maybe I'm just hormonal.

So for the past few weekends, I've wanted to make it all about CC and me. I've wanted these last few weeks to be extra special. And we've had fun -- going here and there, watching movies, playing My Little Pony, drawing pictures. But I've also needed lots of naps, which has meant CC playing on her own. And she's been great.

A couple of weekends ago, I asked her what she'd like to do with Mommy before the baby comes. She had to think about it.

Before she answered, I said that I wanted to do something that she wanted to do because our family was expanding from three to four, and that I'd be spending a lot of time with her little brother once he arrived.

She looked at me for a second -- thoughtful but also a bit perplexed.

"Turn that frown upside-down," she said to me and smiled.

It really took all I had not to start crying. But I didn't want her to think that I was sad. Because it wasn't sadness exactly. I guess it was just change.

But she didn't see it that way. Kids in her class are getting new brothers and sisters, and this for her is just life -- what people do. While she might be a little off-center wondering how all of this will play out, her world is still moving along at a normal 5-year-old's pace. This is what happens in families.

And it is.

When she finally got around to telling me what she wanted to do, she said, "Crafts. I want to make crafts."

So I went to Target and bought a big bag of colorful pipe cleaners, fuzzy balls, googly eyes and glue, and we went to work. We made a lion, a turtle and other silly creatures.

And what's funny -- and what I should have known all along -- is that, no matter what, we will also do it again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting for My Baby

Disclaimer: This is not my preggo belly, but it could be. (Photo courtesy of A Dream Adoption)

There's this line in the movie Casablanca about people who are desperate to escape Nazi rule but instead get stuck in the film's eponymous, world-wearying Moroccan city. Instead of being the ones who can catch that plane to Portugal or Lisbon, they are the not-so-lucky ones. The others: "The others wait in Casablanca, and wait, and wait, and wait."

As I'm nearing the due date for my second child (it's Friday, Oct. 12), I more than ever can understand that feeling of waiting. Not that I'm in any way comparing my unborn son to say, Nazi rule, despite his seemingly complete tyranny over my once 35-pounds lighter body, but I do feel ready to move forward and get on with post-natal life ...but I can't just yet.

Honestly, I do feel a little stuck and out of the driver's seat. (Busted. Yes, I'm a total Type A.) Obviously, I want him to "cook" for as long as he needs to, but I also want to meet him, see him and get started with this whole multi-child life.

In an effort to make me feel better, yesterday Ian said something along the lines of, "If someone told me to arrive on the weekend, I wouldn't just show up on a Wednesday and say, 'Hey, I'm here.'"

But if my baby can hear my thoughts -- my typing -- in addition to my heartbeat and gurgling stomach noises, please know that it's OK to come early. I'm totally fine with that.

I guess I imagined everything would happen the same way as last time. I had stopped working on a Thursday and had CC the following Monday. Got. It. Done.

This time I stopped working last Friday. As Monday, even Tuesday, came and went, I realized that it's true. No two pregnancies are the same. (I guess that should prepare me for no two children being the same, as well.)

Of course, he could come on time. (Has any baby actually ever done that?) And that would be OK, too. I mean, it's almost Thursday now.

But, please, baby, don't come late. The thought of waiting around for another week and a half to be induced will definitely have me going as stir crazy as those desperate internationals in Casablanca -- and without the benefit of some awesome cocktail from Rick's Cafe Americain to liven up the waiting game.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Coming Attraction: L.A. Story on 'The Ricki Lake Show'



If you remember this article that I wrote for mom.me about circumcision -- and the one Ian wrote to counter my belief that our son should be circumcised -- well, let's just say that they both got some attention.

Ricki Lake attention.

Last month, Ian and I were invited to talk about our views on the new Ricki Lake Show. And it's now scheduled to air on Thursday, Oct. 11. (Check local listings.)

In addition to seeing us, you'll also be able to check out different doctors' points of view and see a man who got circumcised at 37!

It's a really informative and entertaining show, so tune in and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coming Attraction: Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival

"Fish Tank Fantasy" will screen at the Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival
CC and I love our film festivals, and this weekend marks yet another one just for kids, the 8th annual Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival.

Kicking off on Oct. 5, the kid-friendly fest, which features more than 100 live-action and animated films from around the world, will run through Oct. 7 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aka LACMA.

While there will be tons of free screenings for families, including the opening night film The Mighty Ducks, there will also be free drawing and animation workshops for the kiddos. And yes, I said everything is free. Just be sure to get there early -- it's all first-come, first-served. Click here for the schedule.

Happy Viewing!

Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival
Oct. 5-7, 2012
LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daily Dose with Jillian Michaels -- Toddler Tantrums



A friend of mine is working on a YouTube parenting series, Daily Dose with Jillian Michaels. The series is from health and wellness site Everyday Health, and it tackles common parenting issues such as toddler tantrums.

In this video, fitness expert Michaels talks to kid whisperer Dr. Harvey Karp about how to deal with little ones when their emotions get the better of them. If you subscribe, you'll get an installment daily (natch!) at noon EST.

(I totally could have used this video this morning, btw...and I don't even have a toddler!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dads Anthony Anderson & Charlie Grandy Talk 'Guys with Kids'

"Guys with Kids" on NBC


If you haven't yet seen Guys with Kids, the new parenting comedy series Wednesday nights on NBC, it's worth a look. It's pretty funny to see child-rearing from the dad's perspective, especially when marital (and non-marital) relationships are involved. Hello, awkward!

I had the chance a few weeks ago to chat with star Anthony Anderson and executive producer Charlie Grandy about parenthood -- both are dads -- and the show.

Here's a snippet of the convo:

L.A. Story: These days, guys are more involved in child-rearing than ever before. So how has your experience been, just being the more involved dad and not just, you know, the one we see on TV from the 50’s?

Anthony Anderson: You know, it’s crazy. There was a study on 60 Minutes or one of those news programs that I was watching before we even shot the pilot, and they were talking about how stay-at-home dads are on the increase.

There are more fathers in the Mommy and Me classes than ever before. There are more fathers who are making play dates than the mothers than ever before. And, you know, a lot of people look at them and say, how could you? How could you send your wife off to work while you sit at home with your kids?

Because it’s seldom looked upon negatively when you say “stay-at-home mom.” It’s only looked upon negatively when you say “stay-at-home dad.” Why can’t this husband and this father empower his wife and support his wife for going out and making a career, (while) staying at home to raise the children?

Charlie Grandy:  I agree. I think just in terms of fathering, the more time I spend with my kids, and the more I do, and even just hard stuff -- getting up in the middle of the night and the changing the diapers and staying with them when they’re sick, and, going to the hospital -- you just feel so much more connected them.

And just being with them, those little moments, can turn, not just like weeks or days around, but weeks or months around, just when you’re like, OK, well, I know I’m doing something right. 

Anthony Anderson: Since I’ve been working with the show, and working with these children on the show and kind of getting into this character of Gary, it’s actually made me want to be a better father.

It makes me want to have a better connection with my children at home, because all my children have known from me is dad is on location. They were born into my career. So that’s all they know. That’s all they see is, you know, me on a plane, them on a plane, going to exotic locations and working and having fun.

But now that I’m doing this show, I can look at my son, who’s 12, and look at my daughter, who’s 16, and I’ve already realized that I’ve missed out on a lot.

But doing the show makes me want to stay home. I no longer take the weekend golf trips or whatnot. It’s like, you know what, I want to stay at home this weekend and just hang out with my kids, even if we don’t do anything but sit by the pool.

L.A. Story: What have you guys learned from your wives about mother -- or fatherhood -- rather?

Charlie Grandy: It’s just the amount of strength that she has and the digging deep for those reserves of strength and not complaining. I mean, it’s really just as hard as it gets -- just putting a smile on your face and knowing that you get so much out of it.

And that’s what a family is, it’s just working and helping your kids and supporting each other. I guess if there’s one word, it would be patience. (That's) what I’ve truly learned from her.

Anthony Anderson:  Charlie said the exact same thing that I was going to say. I can’t add anything more to that. Strength and patience -- those are the two things.

L.A. Story: How do you both give your wives "me" time? 

Charlie Grandy: I’ll send her to a hotel. I mean, if she needs to get away, there are some times when she’s just burned out and I can see it on her face. And one of these is coming up very soon, because I’ve been at work a lot. It’s just like, go. Take a weekend, and you know, just go, and take a friend, don’t take a friend, whatever you want to do.

And you know, it’s funny, she’s incredible, because I’ll send her away for a weekend, and on the second day she’s like, 'Can I come home now? I’m bored. I don’t want to sit around here.'

So, it’s really that. Pay attention to those times, because she won’t take it herself. So you kind of have to kick her out the door and say, 'Get out of here, you need a break.'

Anthony Anderson: Right. I do the same thing, except, Charlie, my wife calls and asks if she can stay a week longer.

Charlie Grandy: Well, I don’t have teenagers yet, so, we’ll see.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy 4th Blog-iversary!

On this last day of September, I wanted to say just how amazed I am that this blog is now 4 years old. (With all of this preggo hoopla going on, I missed my actual blog-iversary date of Sept. 9.)

It's so hard to believe that it's been four years since I decided to start chronicling life with my little smurf. We've been on so many adventures, and I can't wait for more.

In fact, our biggest adventure is probably yet to come ... in about 12 days, if my doctor is correct. CC has been so wonderful about the prospect of getting a new little brother. First, she called him Tom (it was either that or Jerry), then Target (guess you know where we go all the time) and now William. We'll see if that one sticks.

She's such an amazing girl, and I know she'll be a wonderful big sister. Tom/Target/William will be lucky to have her.

And I'm lucky to have the great readership that has come with L.A. Story. I love reading the comments (here and on Facebook and Twitter), and I'm so thankful that people are interested in reading about our lives in L.A. Thank you!

Now, what to do about that logo ...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jumpstart Read for the Record *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to Marcela, who won the Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad book! Please email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com with your address. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You know I love reading -- and I especially love reading to CC. It's so important to both Ian and me that her world is filled with imaginative books that she can pick from every night before bed.

That's why I love programs that promote reading among children, and Jumpstart's Read for the Record is a great one. (You might remember earlier posts about the annual campaign here and here.)

This year, Jumpstart is hoping to break a record by having kids all over the country read the children's book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman and Jacky Davis on Oct. 4. (Last year, 2.2 million people participated.)

CC and I read it before bedtime tonight, and it's an imaginative story about Lulu, a girl who leads her friends on a fun bug-themed adventure outdoors. But she has her own friendship lesson to learn when she does something without asking first.

CC loved the costumes illustrated in the book, and I know we'll be reading it again -- especially on Oct. 4. You can, too, by either purchasing the book or reading it online for free. Also ...

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 1 copy of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, courtesy of Jumpstart.

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your child's favorite book.
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 Wednesday, Oct. 4!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Guys with Kids' *Giveaway*



UPDATE: Congrats to Ruth, who won the studio taping tickets! I'll send an email with further details. Thanks for playing! I laughed out loud at your comment.

It's true that dads today are way more involved with their kiddos than they ever have been before. If you could have seen Ian five years ago, you would have noticed a certain little accessory hanging from his shoulders almost constantly. (And I mean CC and not some sort of man-purse.)

That's why NBC's new comedy Guys with Kids, premiering tonight at 8:30 p.m./7:30 p.m CT, seems more relevant than ever. Created by funny man and executive producer Jimmy Fallon, the show focuses on a trio of married and divorced, working and stay-at-home dads who are balancing their 30-something years with Baby Bjorns. (Have you seen the commercial with them in the bar?! Very funny.)

The show stars Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger as the dads Gary, Chris and Nick, respectively, and Tempestt Bledsoe, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Erinn Hayes as the moms.

And, according to NBC, "no tantrum is too loud, no diaper is too dirty -- Nick, Chris and Gary are up to the challenge."

Stay tuned for my interview with Anthony Anderson and executive producer/creator Charlie Grandy!

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 tickets to see a live studio taping of Guys with Kids, courtesy of NBC.

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your best/funniest/favorite parenting moment.

*Keep in mind that you need to live in the L.A. area. Travel and/or other accommodations/prizes will not be included. The taping will be in October, with the exact date yet to be determined.*

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 Wednesday, Oct. 3!


"Guys with Kids" on NBC. (Photo courtesy of NBC)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Won't Back Down' Review


If you're looking for a rousing, mom-friendly movie this weekend, check out my mom.me review of Won't Back Down, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.

The film, from Walden Media and 20th Century Fox, is about two moms (one a teacher) who want to fix their children's crumbling public school.

It should definitely get you fired up -- if only to finish that volunteer project you promised your child's teacher would be done by Monday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guess Who's Losing Her Teeth?


This girl!

It all started this summer with her bottom teeth, but another one has just been sent to the Tooth Fairy.

Between this and kindergarten, I feel like my little CC is growing up so fast!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

NCircle Entertainment's Back-to-School DVD *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to kidstuff, who won the four DVDs from NCircle! Please email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com with your address, and I'll have it sent as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone who participated (and to Random.org for helping me decide)!

School is officially back in session, and kids are getting into the swing of rising early and adjusting to homework. I know CC has had to get used to both -- especially the homework part, which was a bit of a shock after the playful bygone days of preschool. Luckily, courtesy of NCircle Entertainment, I'm giving away a few back-to-school DVD treats that should make the weekends extra fun.

The Gruffalo's Child, the sequel to one of CC's favorite short animated films, The Gruffalo, is the sweet story of a little girl gruffalo who wants to explore the world beyond the snowy cave where she lives with her dad. Even though Daddy Gruffalo warns her not to visit the deep dark woods -- and tells her a scary tale of the Big Bad Mouse -- this only serves to pique her curiosity more. She bravely sets off on her own in search of this mysterious mouse.

CC has had a lot of fun with this DVD, and I think a craft day is in store very soon. Noodly Doodly Things to Make, a show you might have caught on Sprout, offers kids and parents fun and easy crafts to make, including butterflies, as well as bake-sale treats. What I love is that Sean and friends Noodle and Doodle also encourage kiddos to clean up. Nice!

I'm a big fan of WordWorld. Any show that turns everyday objects into actual words and makes that fun for kids gets an A+ in my book. In WordWorld: To the Rescue, Duck and Fly want to be firefighters like their friend Firefighter Frog. But the gang -- and the kids at home -- have lots to learn about what to look for before they see a fire (*cough* smoke *cough*).

CC has really gotten into dinosaurs over the past year, so Dino Dan is always great for inspiring lots of prehistoric-based questions. In case you haven't seen it, Dan's the kid who uses his imagination to bring dinosaurs into real life -- well, only he can see them. On Dino Dan: Where the Dinosaurs Are, there are lots of story lines, from Dan teaching a baby Triceratops to outwit a hungry Spinosaurus to a sleepover adventure at the Royal Ontario Museum.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away all 4 of the above NCircle Entertainment DVDs!

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your child's favorite part of school so far.

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, Sept. 28!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coming Attraction: ZamFest Kids Arts & Music Festival


When it comes to planning kids' festivals, some organizers draw inspiration from children's TV or even family-friendly events around the city.

Not Paul Kim, creator of the annual ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for kids. His inspiration? The uber-hip and decidedly un-kid-centric Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which draws thousands of hipsters young and old to the Coachella Valley every year.

"It was great how (the Coachella organizers) focused on the experience itself, and it wasn't a giant commercial event," Kim said.

And that's exactly what he wanted to bring to the Los Angeles area -- not only for little Angelenos ages 10 and under, but also for his daughter, Zoe, who's now 8.

ZamFest, now in its second year and taking place on Sunday, Sept. 23, is a kids festival that offers a variety of interactive games and activities geared toward the right side of the brain, Kim says. Kids, he adds, are being shorted by LAUSD, what with all of the cuts, especially to arts and music classes, and he wanted to offer something to families that was equally as important as 2+2=4.

Not only that, but he was also less than impressed with other kids' festivals around town.

"I would take my daughter to kids' festivals, and over and over again I'd be disappointed," he says. "The focus wasn't on the kids. There would be booths of people selling stuff and maybe a bouncy house. I was really inspired by Coachella and thought that someone needed to put together what they did -- where festivalgoers are engaged with the experience and not the bottom line."

So Kim replaced the vendors with creative-based businesses (songwriting, music, paper-plane making) that would engage kids on a creative level.

He decided to call it ZamFest, both for Generation Z (aka, our kids now) and for his daughter, Zoe. While last year's festival took place in Long Beach to attract visitors from both L.A. and Orange Counties, this year, the festival will be firmly situated in West L.A., at University High School.

And that's not the only change. This year, to accommodate kids who are completely wrapped up in activities, Kim has gotten rid of the stage for live music, instead opting for a street performer feel, a la Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. That way, kids can walk by and see the performers on their level instead of having to look up at a stage.

Sounds like an event that can inspire the kiddos -- especially his own.

"I've tried to include (Zoe) as much as possible," Kim says. "She helped design the T-shirt and logo."

And last year, he adds, "she was running around like she owned the place."

ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for Kids
University High School
11800 Ohio Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Sunday, Sept. 23 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Tickets: $5 (pre-sale); $8 (at the door); Free (kids 3 and younger)
Activity Tickets: $5 for 5 tickets; $7 for 12; $12 for 20; $25 for unlimited wristband

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coming Attraction: 10th Birthday Party at the Pasadena Museum of California Art


Happy 10th Birthday to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, which is celebrating the occasion this Saturday, Sept. 22, with a free, family-friendly party.

In addition to cool exhibitions of landscape artist Edgar Payne and sculptural artists Layer, the museum will also have live music on offer, as well as hands-on workshops for the kiddos, video art, DJs, food trucks and more.

CC and I haven't yet visited the museum, but this sounds like a fun outing for a California kid to learn more about his or her home.

Pasadena Museum of California Art
10th Birthday Party
Sat., Sept. 22 (12 p.m.-5 p.m.)
Admission: Free

490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA. 91101
www.pmcaonline.org
626-568-3665

Saturday, September 15, 2012

L.A. County Fair *Giveaway*

The Ferris Wheel at dusk (Photo courtesy of the L.A. County Fair)
UPDATE: Congrats to James Hames, who won the tickets and parking pass to the L.A. County Fair! Please email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com with your address, and I'll send them right away. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You know we love the L.A. County Fair. It was, of course, the place where CC milked her first (well, only) goat -- and where I get to indulge my crazy sweet tooth (hello, Texas-sized donut! Yes, I shared. :)

This year, while going to the fair has become such a great tradition with us, we're going to sit this one out. At eight months pregnant, I'm feeling the need to stay close to home and out of the sun. It's been so hot lately, and I think I would totally melt -- or pass out, another pastime of mine -- if I walked for more than five minutes in the scorching sun.

That said, I still wanted to give away tickets to the L.A. County Fair, which runs through Sept. 30 at the Fairplex in Pomona.

In addition to the always awesome FairView Farms (yay, pigs, and goat-filled petting zoo!), the rides and the signature food, this year the fair will feature A Living Library of Fun. Kids will be able to explore 8-foot tall books and see fictional characters make real-life appearances. Apparently, children don't even have to whisper. (A plus for kiddos like mine.) They'll also be able to spot favorite superheroes on Saturdays and Sundays and participate in arts and crafts.

Hope they have all of that next year, when we have another L.A. Story kiddo to introduce to donuts and, yes, goats!

L.A. County Fair
Through Sept. 30
Fairplex at Pomona
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
Tickets: $12, $17 (adults weekdays, weekends); $7, $12 (children ages 6-12 weekdays, weekends)
Parking: $12 (weekdays); $15 (weekends)

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 tickets and 1 parking pass to the L.A. County Fair.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite part of the fair.

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 Wednesday, Sept. 19!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coming Attraction: World City at The Music Center *Free*

Barynya, a group that performs Russian music and dance, will kick off the 10th anniversary season of World City at The Music Center.
World City at The Music Center, a program that offers free performances from international acts, will kick off its 10th anniversary season on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Hailing from countries such as Russia, Colombia and Sweden, performers from all over the world will introduce their music and culture to Los Angeles-area families on select Saturdays or Sundays through May 18.

Performances are free and will take place at the W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre at Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown.

First on the lineup is Barynya, a group that performs traditional Russian, Ukrainian, Siberian and Jewish dances, among others. Not only will families be able to enjoy the traditional music and dance, but they'll also be able to check out the colorful, handmade costumes and instruments such as the balalaika (a triangular-shaped guitar).

Other performances on the schedule include Scandinavian dancers, a zydeco group and puppet theater from Taiwan.

Extra fun for the kiddos are the free passports that will be given out at each performance!

World City at the Music Center
W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre
111 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Sept. 15-May 18 (select Saturdays or Sundays; 11 a.m. and 12: 30 p.m.)
Tickets: Free and are distributed at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Blue Ribbon Garden
Phone: (213) 972-4396

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