Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coming Attraction: REDCAT International Children's Film Festival 2015

"The Gallant Captain" (Australia) will be playing at the 10th annual REDCAT International Children's Film Festival. 

Our favorite children's film festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! REDCAT International Children's Film Festival is once again bringing films from all over the world -- including Germany, Brazil, Sweden and France -- to families in the Los Angeles area, beginning this weekend.

The festival kicks off on May 2 and runs Saturdays and Sundays through May 17.

Every year gets a little more exciting for CC -- and this will be our sixth! -- because she's able to see a new section of age-appropriate kid films. I can't tell you what a thrill it was for her to know she could see the "Ages 8 and up" section this year. (Especially since Will is only in the "Ages 2 and up" stage now.)

"Anatole's Little Saucepan" (France)

This year promises to bring the same mix of charm, wonder and adventure from the eyes of filmmakers around the world. We can't wait!

And tickets are still only $5 each. Check out the sections, and links to their descriptions, below:
Saturday, May 2
12:00 pm   Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
1:30 pm     Abracadabra (Ages 4 and up, 55 min.)
3:00 pm     Be Different (Ages 7 and up, 72 min.)
Sunday, May 3
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Free Your Mind (Ages 6 and up, 76 min.)
3:00 pm     Wave of Wonder (Ages 8 and up, 71 min.)
Saturday, May 9
12:00 pm   Fantastic Journeys (Ages 4 and up, 70 min.)
1:30 pm     High Tech Hijinks (Ages 5 and up, 63 min.)
Sunday, May 10
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
3:00 pm     Family Matters (Ages 7 and up, 70 min.)
Saturday, May 1612:00 pm   Party Animals (Ages 2 and up, 62 min.)
1:30 pm     High Tech Hijinks (Ages 5 and up, 63 min.)
3:00 pm     Finding My Way (Ages 9 and up. 63 min.)
Sunday, May 17
12:00 pm   Snuggle Time (Ages 2 and up, 57 min.)
1:30 pm     Abracadabra (Ages 4 and up, 55 min.)
3:00 pm     Fantastic Journeys (Ages 4 and up, 70 min.)
REDCAT International Children's Film Festival
May 2-17 (Weekends)
631 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $5

Monday, April 27, 2015

'Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic' DVD Gets Kids Excited About Ocean Life

The Kratt brothers are back, and this time they're exploring underwater creatures, including the great white shark.

And CC and Will couldn't get enough of it!

We had the chance to check out PBS Kids' "Wild Kratts: Shark-tastic!" on DVD (SRP: $12.99), which was released earlier this month, and the kids (and I) were happy to learn about sea life such as the Pacific octopus, sea turtles and the great white shark.

There's even a creature quiz on the DVD itself: "How many teeth can a great white shark lose in its lifetime?" (Read on to find out!)

The 60-minute DVD includes four episodes, with each focusing on a different animal -- and different creature powers.

In "Octopus Wildkratticus," Martin accidentally knocks the creature power suits into a deep Arctic trench, so Aviva then takes the brothers deep-sea diving in her new octopod submarine to find the suits. In the meantime, they meet up with an octopus and have to employ its same survival techniques -- ink defense, jet propulsion -- to make sure they survive, too.

"Tortuga Tune Up" has the gang learning more about sea turtles, as Aviva builds a vehicle with a tortuga turtle design. But something's not quite right.

In "Speaking Dolphinese," the Kratt brothers and their team are ready to decode the secret language of dolphins, but a great white shark might have other plans for their dolphin friends.

Finally, in "Stuck on Sharks," Martin and Chris use Aviva's remora rocket sub to "stick with" a female great white shark only to learn that the predator has her own challenges to contend with. Not only that, but the great white might even help the Kratts discover what it's like to witness the birth of great white shark pups.

The kids always enjoy the Kratt brothers, especially the fun adventures and equally fun facts about animals. The brothers also seamlessly weave in real-life animal exploration with animated fun, making each episode a real learning experience.

And speaking of learning experiences, to answer the quiz question above (thanks to the back of the DVD box), a great white shark may "use and lose more than a thousand teeth in its lifetime."


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'Paddington' Visits the Los Angeles Zoo

Will and I meet Paddington Bear at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Paddington Bear made a special appearance at the Los Angeles Zoo this weekend in honor of the digital, Blu-ray and DVD release of the film.

In addition to the marmalade-loving bear himself, there were bear-shaped sandwiches for the kids, as well as activities and a photo booth. Will even got to make his very own red hat.

While the movie, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey"), is already available for digital viewing as of April 17, the Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film (released by Anchor Bay Entertainment and TWC-Dimension) will arrive in stores on April 28.

Based on the books by Michael Bond -- which CC loves, by the way -- "Paddington" tells the story of a Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who arrives in London with a label around his neck that reads, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." In his search for a home, he befriends the Brown family, who give him a temporary place to stay. But it's when he comes into contact with a museum taxidermist (Kidman) that things take an even wilder turn.

Will was excited to meet Paddington in the, well, fur, and gave him high-fives and a couple of hugs, but he definitely wanted to experience the red-hatted bear from the safety of my arms. Will was definitely a fan, though. He kept calling for "Padd-ton."

Will folds red construction paper to make a Paddington hat.
Will also loved making the red hat out of construction paper and touring the LA Zoo to see the baby animals.

And speaking of baby animals, now is a great time to visit the zoo. The baby animals now in residence include a chimpanzee, a koala bear, a hippo and a kangaroo, which you can actually enter to name. Just be sure to use the hashtag #NameOurRoo.

My suggestion? Roo LA LA.

Will asked to ride the "fishie" on the LA Zoo carousel.
Click below to download "Paddington" activity sheets for the kiddos.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Finds: Hello Kids' Toothpaste

While there are lots of great toothpastes out there for kids, I just found out about hello and had to share.

The packaging, with its vibrant colors and clever designs, will draw you in, but it's what's on the inside that counts, right?

CC and Will tried out bubble gum and green apple, and I've gotten a thumbs up from both. (I think the fact that it's different from the usual mint variety is also a plus.) Not only that, but the ingredients are natural -- no dyes, artificial sweeteners or flavors.

But it's not without powerful ingredients like fluoride to help prevent cavities and strengthen enamel.

The best part for CC? The clever writing on the back of the tube.

"Hello there. You're awesome," one tube says, while the other offers up, "Hello there. You're cool."

"I love this, Mom," she said, "because I'm awesome and cool."

And a confidence-booster (or reassure-er :) to boot!

You can find hello at Target, starting at $2.99.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blake Lively Talks Family, Romance, 'Adaline'

Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman in "The Age of Adaline"
When it comes to family, Blake Lively makes sure that's a top priority.

The actress and mom of 4-month-old daughter James (with husband Ryan Reynolds) made that endearingly clear during a recent video interview, where I sat down with her and co-star Michiel Huisman to talk about their new film, "The Age of Adaline" from Lionsgate.

Lively talks about how close she is with her mom and gives a shout-out to a couple of special guests, who also happen to be relatives.

She also hints at possible future siblings for little James.

Check out the full article and video on

In the meantime, here's my Instagram post from the interview.
"The Age of Adaline" (PG-13) opens April 24.

Friday, April 10, 2015

'Frozen' Takes Brushing Kids' Teeth to the Next Level + *Giveaway*

Kristen Bell (aka Anna) shows off "Frozen" toothpaste and a toothbrush.

Congrats to Katrina, who won the "Frozen" Crest + Oral-B Pro Health Jr. prize pack! Thanks to everyone who participated and for the great toothbrushing tips!

We all know how hard it is to get our kids to brush their teeth.
CC brushes with Oral-B JR. and Crest.

While CC and Will are in the habit of brushing twice a day, they could still use some incentive to brush for the full two minutes.

Enter "Frozen," Crest + Oral-B Pro-Health JR. and a cool new Disney Magic Timer app that occupies kids while they brush -- so they're not just watching sand fall in a tiny hourglass.

Because that's not exactly, well, fun.

CC and Will had the chance to try out two Disney-themed electric toothbrushes from Oral-B Pro-Health JR. and the new minty "Frozen" toothpaste from Crest.

When Will discovered that he could have his own electric toothbrush, he went a little crazy for it. The toothbrush, shaped as a Cinderella figure, became a new favorite toy. (Look out, Thomas and Chuggington!)

Will and Cinderella
"I want Cinda-lella," he's been saying in the mornings and before bed.

CC had lots of fun with her Ariel-themed electric toothbrush, too. Those definitely help increase the time they spend on their teeth.

What I would definitely recommend is the app, which offers up a fun little video for kids to watch while they brush. Let's just say, Olaf's in it.

And if they're still not convinced, check out the video below, with Kristen Bell (aka the voice of Anna in "Frozen").

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away a "Frozen" Crest + Oral-B Pro-Health JR. toothbrush and toothpaste prize pack!

To enter, please leave a comment with your child's favorite "Frozen" character, or share a tip on how you get your kids to brush for #2MagicalMinutes.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway with the hashtag #2MagicalMinutes. 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, April 17!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mother's Day Gifts From The Bradford Exchange *Sponsored*

Mother's Day is right around the corner, and it's easy to get caught up in the madness of the holiday, especially with all the cool gifts out there. Does she want jewelry? Would she go for a cute handbag? How about a meaningful memento that celebrates family, young and old?

Luckily, all of those offerings are available on The Bradford Exchange Online. The site offers some of the best Mother's Day gifts for moms who love to keep family as close as they can -- and that can mean having family names engraved on stylish bracelets and rings.

Some of the items my own mom might like include two bracelets that celebrate family -- would love to engrave CC and Will's name on one! -- and a gorgeous emerald and diamond ring. Did I mention that the prices are really reasonable? (You can also splurge, too!)

The Forever in a Mother's Heart personalized bracelet (top) is $129, the Family Blessings engraved bracelet (above left) is $119, and the emerald and diamond white gold ring is $348 (a definite splurge).

If your mom isn't into jewelry or prefers handbags or other mementos, those are available, too!

Check out the site's Mother's Day offerings here.

(Sponsored Post)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

'Chuggington: Fire Patrol Rescue' DVD Pack Review

Meet Will's new favorite train friends!

The "Chuggington: Fire Patrol Rescue" DVD pack ($9.99), complete with bonus train, from Anchor Bay Entertainment had Will (and even CC!) enthralled with kid-friendly, action-packed adventure. And as a parent, I was impressed with just how many fire-safety tips and everyday lessons were included in the six episodes.

The preschool-focused show features Wilson the "trainee" learning how to be a leader during a fire safety drill. While some trains don't want to listen and a few mistakes are made along the way, Wilson learns that giving clear, firm directions helps others to pay closer attention and follow through.

Wilson also teams up with new friend Asher to learn how to use a powerful fire hose in a rescue. While there's a bit of a learning curve -- as there is with most everything -- Wilson sticks to it and even helps out another train with his newfound knowledge.

Bonus material includes coloring pages, new character spotlights and an extra "Bonus Badge Quest" episode.

What I appreciated about the episodes were the clear lessons and safety tips that came from the trains as well as the human crew. The DVD even starts off with a tip that tells kids to hold an adult's hand while crossing the street.

Kids learn important lessons like teamwork and following directions alongside rules about fire safety from the point of view of firefighting trains. (Make sure you take the wind into account when aiming the fire hose at a building's window.)

Will loves taking this Chuggington train to bed.
Will loved playing with the train included in the DVD pack. It's now become part of his bedtime pals that he takes with him to sleep.

He also started saying "Oh bumpers!" -- an expression Wilson uses a lot to express frustration -- during the show. So cute!

Will wears his Junior Firefighter badge.
He was also a big fan of wearing a "Junior Firefighter" badge while watching the show.

It's safe to say that we'll be learning a lot more about Chuggington. And don't be surprised if you find yourself singing the theme song, "Chugg-ing-ton, chugga-chugga-chugga," for days to come!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Discovery Cube LA 'Science of Hockey' Exhibit Is a Must-See

CC shoots a few goals at the "Science of Hockey" exhibit at Discovery Cube LA.
It is officially spring break in our house, and if you're looking for a (literally) cool place to take the kids, visit the newly opened "Science of Hockey" exhibit at Discovery Cube LA.

In addition to all the fun activities at the hands-on museum in Sylmar -- "Thomas & Friends Explore the Rails," an awesome rock wall, an interactive grocery store and more -- the "Science of Hockey" is yet another exhibit that gets kids moving and learning.

CC got to practice shooting a few goals in the "You Be the Shooter" section, and then got to try her hand at being goalie in the "You Be the Goalie" section. Kids can even try on hockey gear for size.

CC gets her goalie on at Discovery Cube LA.
Created in association with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the permanent exhibit mixes math and science with the sport itself.

Kids can also help get a player out of the penalty box by correctly answering a series of hockey questions related to math and science. CC also enjoyed designing her own (digital) jersey. Let's just say it was a lot more colorful than the traditional Kings jerseys.

There's also a replica locker room that invites visitors to learn about nutrition and training through interactive games and consoles.

Even with all of that, Will loved climbing on the replica Zamboni machine the best while turning the knobs and steering wheel. How many kids have dreamed of doing just that?

Will got behind the wheel of the replica Zamboni at the "Science of Hockey" exhibit.
Fun for kids who love sports, fun for kids who love to explore science and math, and definitely fun for kids who just like to try things out for themselves, the "Science of Hockey" exhibit is a family-friendly must-see.

And that's just one exhibit at Discovery Cube LA. Remember, there's always the rock wall!

CC climbs the rock wall at Discovery Cube LA.
And right now, tickets are only $10 for adults and kids!

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

(Note: Media tickets provided)


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