Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Snowing at Discovery Cube Los Angeles

Will enjoys the snow slide at Discovery Cube LA's Winter Wonderfest.
Who says there's no snow in L.A.?

Discovery Cube Los Angeles is bringing a winter wonderland to SoCal from now until January 8, 2017!

Be sure to bundle up and get there early, because the science center's "Winter Wonderfest" has four different slides and even an area where kids can make their own snowballs.

CC, Will and I had the chance to visit last weekend, and they had the best time. (Honestly, I should have bundled them up more — they wore sweatshirts and jeans — because it really does get chilly.)

In addition to the snowy playground, there are two sledding areas for kids. One is for younger kiddos (see above), and one is slightly larger for kids ages 6+.

There's also a 75-foot tubing tower that CC and I raced down. Check out the video below!

Plus, enjoy daily holiday themed movies:
Frosty the Snowman 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm
Toy Story that Time Forgot 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm,
Rugrats Chanukah 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm
Don't forget to check out the annual Science of Gingerbread exhibit (through January 1) and the cookie-decorating station! (Will, who's a sweet tooth, especially loved those.)

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $12.95 for general admission (adults and kids — online price). Kids ages 2 and under are free. Winter Wonderfest is an additional $7 per person (non-member) or $5 (member).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Coming Attraction: Cheryl Burke and Brian White Host the 57th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration


I have to admit, I'm so excited for this time of year! One of the major L.A. events that makes Christmas and the holidays especially fantastic is the annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, which takes place on Christmas Eve at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The 57th annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration will feature Cheryl Burke of "Dancing With the Stars" fame and actor Brian White ("Scandal") as hosts, and once again the lineup of multicultural performers from around the county looks like a must-see.

CC and I have visited a few of the rehearsals from past celebrations and attended the actual performance a few years ago. We had so much fun every time — especially getting a sneak peek of what's to come.



This year's lineup looks just as wonderful. Not only that, but the three-hour performance featuring more than 21 acts is completely free. Parking is even free! For those unable to attend, PBS SoCal will be airing the celebration live as well as multiple times after that (check info below).

Performers include Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company with a folkl√≥rico dance from the region of Tabasco, Mexico; Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, performing classical handbell repertoire that celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah; QVLN (Q-Violin), bringing his “Brazil meets Jimi Hendrix on an electric violin” stylings to the Christmas classic “Little Drummer Boy”; Latin jazz band Cuba L.A., performing selections from their Christmas CD, “Navidad Cubana”; Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts, with festive dances from the provincial lowland/coastal region of the Philippines; and much more.

The event has been sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors every year since 1959. What a tradition!

Both admission and parking are free (first come, first seated). Entertainment on the Music Center Plaza begins at 12:30 p.m., and doors open at 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit HolidayCelebration.org.


Saturday, December 24, 2016
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Admission is FREE
No reservations or tickets; first come, first seated.
Doors open at 2:30 PM.
Entertainment on the plaza begins at 12:30 PM.
You may come and go throughout the three-hour performance.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Music Center135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Parking is FREE
PBS SoCal KOCE:December 24 at 3:00 PM - LIVE
December 24 at 9:00 PM
December 25 at noon
PBS SoCal Plus:
December 25 at 3:00 AM
December 25 at 6:00 AM
December 25 at 7:00 PM
December 26 at 11:00 AM

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coming Attraction: 'Sing' Has Lots of Heart — and Soul

CC got her groove on at the "Sing" stage at Universal Studios Hollywood.
CC has been waiting for "Sing" to hit the big screen for months now, and last week we got to catch a screening of the sassy sing-along movie that hits theaters December 21. Let's just say this family-friendly movie has a lot of heart—and soul.



If you don't know the story, "Sing" centers on a good-natured showman of a koala named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) whose theater has fallen on hard times, so he launches a singing contest to help revive his venue and career.

All kinds of animals flock to the auditions, and we get to hear all sorts of fun tunes in the process — everything from rap to pop to big band.



Buster then narrows the roster down to six contestants: Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a dapper mouse who's also got an attitude and something up his sleeve; Meena (Tori Kelly), a shy teen elephant who has a fantastic voice; Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), an overburdened mother with 25 little piglets; her partner, Gunther (Nick Kroll), a German-sounding pig who is sassy, sequined and hilarious; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a young gangster gorilla who's trying to get out of the family business; and Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk porcupine who's having more than a few issues with her self-centered boyfriend.

The PG-rated movie is both rousing and heartwarming. Right from the beginning, when Jennifer Hudson as a former star of Buster's theater belts out a kickass cover of the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers," CC (who's a huge Beatles fan) and I knew this was something special.

The story itself is inspiring, and don't be surprised if you find yourself singing along, too.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Coming Attraction: Au Fudge + Platform Host Roller Disco Party


Who can pass up roller skates and pizza at Platform in Culver City?

Join Au Fudge for their Winter Wonderland Roller Disco hosted by Platform on Saturday, December 17.

The rink will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You won’t want to miss Roberta's Pizza, Morrow Soft Goods, Lucy Michael Ceramics, Local & Lejos and more! 

CC, Will, Ian and I had such a great time at the Au Fudge pumpkin patch at Platform back in October. Can't wait to check out their latest joint event.

WhenSaturday, December 17
Where: 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City
Time: 10AM - 5PM

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Celebrating CC's 10th Birthday Harry Potter-Style at Universal Studios Hollywood

Birthday fun at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Harry Potter, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade were popular topics on Sunday, as CC and I celebrated her 10th birthday mother-daughter style at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Boy Wizard has been a popular theme around our house after I finally convinced CC to start reading the series this summer. It took some convincing—she was a little gun shy (wand shy?) after having caught a glimpse of the first movie a few years ago and getting pretty scared.

My trick? I just started reading it to her at night, and about 30 pages in, she was like, "Ok, Mom. I've got this. I'll take it from here." Now, she's already on Book 6, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

(And yep, I am patting myself on the back right now.)

So after her blow-out Harry Potter birthday party on Saturday with Will, our neighbors and kids from her class, I surprised her with a trip to Universal—and we loved it!

Honeydukes for candy

Our first stop was Honeydukes, the adorable candy shop that offers everything from chocolate frogs, jelly slugs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, chocolate wands and butterbeer fudge. Yes and yes. What a magical little shop! Let's just say, we didn't leave empty-handed.

Hogwarts!
Next, it was off to Hogwarts to check out Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! The ride is beyond cool, but waiting in line has never been so bearable. As you wait to board, you're taken through a tour of Hogwarts that includes Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor lounge and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. With talking portraits and moving books, you feel completely immersed in the Hogwarts world.

The ride itself is like nothing I've ever experienced. (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it's true.) You sit in a pod of four seats, which takes you flying over Hogwarts, narrowly escaping dragons, dementors and a huge whomping willow. Not only that, but as you watch larger-than-life screens, you feel as if you're actually flying over the school of witchcraft and wizardry. It's amazing!

CC and the Frog Choir
While we wandered around Hogsmeade afterward, we came upon the Frog Choir, featuring singers from each house (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and CC's own Hufflepuff), and CC was completely smitten by the singing frogs. I mean, who wouldn't be? And we had to get a pic.

We had such a fantastic day, and we can't wait to go back. And, as an L.A. resident it's especially easy. I bought the California Neighbor Pass ($119 per ticket online), which allows us to come back as many times as we want for the next nine months! Amazing! (Of course, blackout dates apply.)

And trust me, we'll definitely be going back.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, Calif. 91608
Tickets: $99 and up

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sprout Channel Hosts Magical Holiday Party at Universal Studios

The kiddos and I enjoy a little holiday time with Sprout at Universal Studios!
The snow was falling and the hot chocolate was flowing at Sprout's "Holidays Unwrapped" celebration at Universal Studios.

Just before Thanksgiving, the preschool-focused channel hosted an awesome shindig, complete with an indoor ice rink, live performances from Sprout friends Carly Ciarrocchi, Tim Kubart, and a special appearance from Chica!

Will goes crazy over the magical indoor snow.
The singing, dancing and crafting fun helped usher in a huge shout-out to Sprout's holiday programming, which features several new seasonal episodes of popular shows.

Will and I got to meet Chica and friends!
Check out what Sprout has planned for this holiday season!

"Terrific Trucks Save Christmas" — In this Sprout original holiday special, the Terrific Trucks are handed their biggest job yet. This live-action series finds the five trucks banding together to fight back against a bullish businessman who wants to ruin Christmas by preventing the local town’s hundred-year-old Christmas tree raising tradition.




"Nina's World: Hanukkah Adventure" — Nina and friends learn about Hanukkah and celebrate their first snow storm in the city. Actress Mayim Bialik plays Jennifer Goldstein, who leads Nina, Carlos and Chelsea in a city-wide search for oil to help make Hanukkah treats and to light the community menorah with while teaching the kids about the true story of Hanukkah.




"Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave, a Christmas Adventure" — Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave find Santa’s hat and set off to return it to him, to save Christmas Day. For without his hat, Santa can’t drive his sleigh and won’t be able to deliver anyone any presents. Along the way, they help their friends have a perfect Christmas, by singing them a special Christmas song and decorating their tree.

"Noddy Toyland Detective: The Case of the Snow Mystery" — How can Noddy make it snow in Toyland on Christmas Day? Noddy needs to investigate right away. "Noddy Toyland Detective: The Case of the Snow Mystery" was co-produced by DreamWorks Animation and Gaumont Animation.

"Dot.: The Holiday Tree" — Dot is horrified to discover she’s accidentally gotten rid of all the decorations for the town tree. She works round the clock to make new ones and discovers the joy that comes with giving and sharing. “A Song for Everyone”: Dot and her friends work together to write a song for the Winter Concert that will speak to the entire town, regardless of what holiday they celebrate, but their performance is threatened by a snow storm. "Dot." is a new original series based on the book by bestselling author Randi Zuckerberg, and is produced by Industrial Brothers in association with The Jim Henson Company and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spooky Science Meets LEGO: Travel Adventure at Discovery Cube Los Angeles

CC and Will enjoy tractors, pumpkins and a hay maze at Discovery Cube LA.
Halloween is almost here, and there's lots of spooky fun happening at Discovery Cube Los Angeles!

Not only is the science center offering up hay-bale mazes and pumpkins, but the Cube also has animals on hand to observe and—sometimes—touch. You can find a snake, maybe hairless rats (if you're lucky ... or not so lucky, depending on how you look at it), snakeskin and turtle shells. The snake is off limits for touching, just FYI.

Happy Halloween!
CC and Will were eager to check out the pint-sized tractors and hay maze. There is even a little farmers' market with everything from wooden produce to a cute little stand.

The "Spooky Science" attraction, which runs on the weekends and on Halloween day, is accompanied by a the super-cool and interactive LEGO: Travel Adventure exhibit.

Kids can pretend to drive this awesome LEGO race car.


Running through January 16, the LEGO exhibit is a must-see for kids.

Not only can they build their own creations with barrels full of LEGO bricks, they can also pretend to drive in LEGO race cars. You can also catch cool LEGO re-creations of the Titanic and early Ford cars in display cases.

Will even built his own LEGO car to race down steep tracks.

Will races his LEGO car!
The kids will enjoy getting to stretch their imagination, and parents will love the LEGO-made hot rod photo op.

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $17.95 for adults; $12.95 for kids. Kids ages 2 and under are free. 4D movie: $3 for adults and children; $2 for Discovery Cube members
SPECIAL ONLINE PRICE: $12.95 for adults and children

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Coming Attraction: The 2016 Rose Run 5K and Kids' 1K Fun Run


If you're looking for something family-friendly and fun that will also benefit a worthy cause, sign up for and/or donate to the 2016 Rose Run benefiting the Disney Family Cancer Center.

The race kicks off tomorrow, October 9, at 7:30 a.m.

Most of us have had some connection to cancer, whether it's a family member, a friend or even ourselves.

My friend and fellow blogger Jessica Cribbs, who runs Burbank Mom and co-created Expressing Motherhood, lost her mother to breast cancer in 2009. She then created the Strength of a Rose Foundation, named after her mother, to help benefit cancer research.

The proceeds from this year's Los Angeles Rose Run will go directly to the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank to help with the purchase of one of three Tomography Machines for the center. The "Tomo" machine is a 3D imaging machine used for the early detection of breast cancer, with a 41% increase in breast cancer detection.

You can still sign up at TheRoseRun.com!


WHAT: The Rose Run 5k Run/Walk & 1k Kids’ Fun Run
Trail run around the golf course in Griffith Park
Wellness Fair from 7:30am-10am 

WHEN:Sunday, October 9th, 2016 7:30am

WHERE:Crystal Springs Picnic Area, Griffith Park 

SPONSORS: 
A Runner’s Circle, Moms In Motion, Providence Saint Joseph Foundation, 
Belmont Village Senior Living, Shakey’s Pizzaria, Logix Federal Credit Union, 
Run Kids Run LA , BurbankMom.com 

REGISTRATION:
You can register as an individual or start/join a team. 
5k Run/Walk $35 ($40 Same Day)
1k Kids’ Run $15 ($20 Same Day) 
$2 team discount per registrant

INFORMATION:
Registration and all event information can be found at TheRoseRun.com 

SOCIAL MEDIA: 
Twitter/Instagram @TheRoseRun
Facebook @TheRoseRunLA 
#RoseRunLA2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coming Attraction: Boo at the L.A. Zoo

A gorilla checks out a pumpkin during Boo at the L.A. Zoo.
We've been looking forward to Halloween for quite a while now. Actually, my kids have been looking forward to it since last November, planning out Halloween costumes before they even took off the ones they were wearing!

That's why we're so excited about the annual Boo at the L.A. Zoo event, which kicks off October 1 and runs through Halloween.

Featuring spooky caves filled with projections of creepy-crawly spiders and snakes (projections being the key word here!) as well as a cornstalk maze, pumpkin-carving demos and a "Mad Science Fire and Ice" show, this year's Boo at the L.A. Zoo looks just as amazing as years before.

And we haven't even mentioned the animals yet!

Gorillas, hippos and other zoo residents will be dining on pumpkins, while the carnivores will dine on ... well, what carnivores dine on best ... so parental discretion is advised.

This year, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens also offers up:

On the weekends of October 22-23 and 29-30, the Zoo partners with Disney to add activities and giveaways previewing the upcoming release of the animated film Moana. Stations from KIND Healthy Snacks, the LA Federal Credit Union, and ScholarShare add to the Halloween happenings throughout the month.  BOO AT THE L.A. ZOO's Halloween bash concludes October 29-30, with traditional trick-or-treat stations throughout the grounds and special costume character meet-and-greets with PJ Masks and Peppa Pig.  

Be sure to scare up some fun!

"Boo at the L.A. Zoo"
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tickets: Adults ($20); Children 2-12 ($15); Children Under 2 (Free)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

That Time I Got Obsessed With 'Fixer Upper' and Traveled to Magnolia Market, aka the Silos, in Waco, Texas

More than 1,000 miles from Los Angeles.
It's almost as if I've been living under a rock, apparently, but I finally discovered the incredible phenomenon that is "Fixer Upper" earlier this year. And I've been hooked ever since.

Like, seriously hooked.

I have Pinterest to thank, actually. It all started when the ultimate vision board/social-media site recommended a photo of something called a "Barndominium," which turned out to be a renovated Texas barn given new life by the uber-talented construction-design duo Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Joanna and Chip Gaines (Photo credit: HGTV)

That's when my TV-viewing life as I knew it completely changed — and when I became even more obsessed with HGTV. (Who knew that was possible?) Not to mention, when I suddenly wanted to pack up and move to Waco. (There were real tears when I compared those home prices to the Los Angeles market.)

I quickly binge-watched the first two seasons of "Fixer Upper" on Netflix and then bought the third season on iTunes. Who was this charming, down-to-earth couple from Waco, Texas, with the hilarious husband, super-stylish wife and adorable kids? And those goats?! They kind of had me at the baby goats.

(Apparently, you can take the girl out of Oklahoma, send her to Massachusetts, Germany, New York and Los Angeles, but ...)

So when it came time to make our annual summer visit to Oklahoma, I decided to fly into Dallas, as I had done earlier this year when my mom passed away. Not only could I visit my BFF Barbara, I could also drive down to Waco and visit the Silos, aka Magnolia Market, the downtown Waco oasis that is the creative brainchild of my new TV BFFs, Chip and Jo.

The Silos at Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas.
Once we arrived, I have to admit I was stunned. What Chip and Jo (yes, I call them that even though we've never met) have built in this smallish Texas town is gorgeous and homey, aspirational and huge. It's simply stunning — a field of dreams come true before your very eyes.

That sounds like a lot of embellishment, but honestly it's not. Watching this adorable married couple renovate home after home while still trying to grow their dreams — and to see that come to fruition — it's pretty amazing.

There's a large green space that faces stage area (pictured above with the white tables) that is so inviting. There are swings and baskets of balls and frisbees for the kids. You might hear Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Buble on the overhead speakers. CC and Will could have stayed there for hours. And we practically did. But that was after we took a very special tour, shopped and indulged in a couple of decadent Magnolia cupcakes.



We even got the chance to check out Chip's office — and his oversized heads!

Trying these guys on for size!
Speaking of shopping, there is a lot of stuff to buy — I snagged this gorgeous bracelet + of course a #shiplap T-shirt — and there are a lot of people who want to buy it. Basically, it was packed.

We learned that there are, on average, about 25,000 visitors to the silos each week. Week! Sometimes that number climbs to 30,000. And they're from all over the world.

More cupcakes, please. Do you see that icing?!

Watching "Fixer Upper," which is about to kick off its fourth season, you feel as if you're growing alongside Chip and Jo, watching them take risks and succeed at every turn. It's truly inspiring.

Not only have they built this amazing downtown attraction — making Waco a destination city to people around the globe — they also have a book and a magazine coming out this fall. (Of course, I've already pre-ordered. Don't be ridiculous.) You also might know that Joanna now has a furniture line, rugs, a paint line and a wallpaper line.

And this woman has four kids! (That's one way to feel super lazy.)

So, as I not-so-patiently await season four, the book and the magazine, I really revel in our trip down to Waco — and hope to go again.

Because there's nothing like seeing a dream come true that makes you want to fulfill your own even faster.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy First Day of 4th Grade ... a Little Late

Ready for 4th grade!
Ok, so this is definitely a #laterpost. CC officially started 4th grade in late August, but it's been such a whirlwind I can barely keep up!

In fact, how is October just around the corner? Like days away!

CC had a fantastic summer, by the way. She went to Minecraft camp, soccer camp, Star Eco Station camp and her fave, Steve & Kate's camp. Wow — I got tired just writing all of that. Yes, summer is a juggle for us since both Ian and I work, but CC really was living the dream. Heck, I wanted to go to camp!

It was funny, though. CC was definitely ready to get back to her usual routine once summer had wound down. She was especially excited about school when she saw that her new teacher had decorated the classroom in all things Dory. (The kiddos loved "Finding Dory!") It's amazing what blue tang decor can do for your child's #BTS enthusiasm.

So far, so good!

I do have some fun news, which I'll post more about tomorrow. CC, Will and I visited the Magnolia Market Silos (of "Fixer Upper" fame) in Waco when we visited family and friends in Oklahoma and Texas this year.

We went for Labor Day weekend, and the Magnolia empire did not disappoint. You guys. I'm obsessed!

Stay tuned for more details about our trip tomorrow! (We actually got to tour Chip Gaines' office!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

'Turtle Vision 3D' Now Playing at Discovery Cube Los Angeles

'Turtle Vision 3D' is now playing at Discovery Cube LA's 4D theater.
If you want to give your kiddos an entertaining and eco-friendly taste of 3D fun, check out "Turtle Vision," now playing at Discovery Cube Los Angeles.

The 3D tale follows a sea turtle named Sammy and his adventures swimming all over the globe. Not only does he make new friends on his journey through places like Antarctica and the Amazon, but he also discovers what can happen when our oceans become polluted.

CC and Will check out what's on offer in DCLA's 4D theater.
Playing in Discovery Cube's 4D theater — which I learned means that the space is capable of offering extra effects like flashing lights and changes in temperature — "Turtle Vision" is such a perfect film to offer in 3D. First off, it's short — less than 30 minutes — so kiddos can get back to engaging in hands-on fun at the museum. Next, the visuals are so rich and colorful, both CC and Will were reaching out, trying to grab the on-screen fish.

"I'm touching him! I'm touching him!" Will yelled out a few times.

Not only that, but the theater is super kid-friendly, so you won't get any grumpy stares. All of the parents seem to get it. Shout-outs will happen!

3D glasses time!

"Turtle Vision" is also a positive film. While it does touch on issues such as devastating oil spills, it's also quick to point out just how helpful humans can be when they rescue animals like Sammy.

And on these hot SoCal days, the theater's air conditioning isn't bad, either!

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $17.95 for adults; $12.95 for kids. Kids ages 2 and under are free. 4D movie: $3 for adults and children; $2 for Discovery Cube members

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

We Got Our Vacay On in Cabo San Lucas at the Lovely Pueblo Bonito Blanco Resort

Taking a glass-bottom boat out to see the famous arch in Cabo San Lucas.

Well, hello, Cabo!

Ian, the kids and I took a family vacation down to Cabo San Lucas earlier this month, and it was the perfect getaway — short plane flight (two-ish hours from LAX), different country and culture, and a gorgeous, all-inclusive resort once we landed.

Everything was just as beautiful as we'd remembered — Ian and I went last year for our 10th anniversary — and the kids can't wait to go back.

Honestly, I'd been dying for a vacation. We hadn't really taken one since last year, and we were seriously due. The kids had been bummed when Ian and I went by ourselves last year, and we were eager to show them just how amazing Cabo can be.


The gorgeous Pueblo Bonito Blanco in Cabo San Lucas.
The short plane flight was perfect for our fidgety kiddos. While they did color and read, that only lasted about three minutes before sibling bickering and boredom set in. Two hours is really manageable for that.

Once we landed, we took a shuttle from the airport in San Jose del Cabo to our resort, the gorgeous Pueblo Bonito Blanco, in Cabo San Lucas. That took about 45 minutes, which was great for just relaxing, taking in the desert scenery (which CC compared to Palm Springs), and watching Will fall asleep.

Once we arrived at our Mediterranean-style digs just after noon, we were ready for our (all-inclusive) lunch, drinks and pool time. (What's great is that there's also pool-side pottery, so the kids were able to get creative and bring home gifts for family.)

We had stayed last year at sister resort Pueblo Bonito Pacifica (all-inclusive and adults only), and we knew we wanted to stay in the Pueblo Bonito family. The Blanco is right on the water, has fish and turtle ponds, and you can dine at the neighboring Pueblo Bonito Rose as part of your package. It was just too beautiful and easy to pass up.

CC admires the view — and the flamingos — from our balcony.
While I was ready to spend a long weekend by the pool, rediscovering the joys of being lazy, Ian and the kids were ready for action. Ian took CC jet-skiing, which she loved.

Jet ski time!
We also walked into town to explore shops, the marina and random street Zumba. The kids couldn't pass up the #Cabo sign!


We also took a glass-bottom boat out to El Arco, or the arch, at Land's End. Our captain even stopped at the lovely Lover's Beach (the rough, choppy Divorce Beach is on the other side) for us to jump out and have a quick swim.

The trip was just what we needed. I love Los Angeles, but honestly it's nice to escape once in a while. And when it's so easy, it's so worth it. I would totally recommend the all-inclusive option, too. We didn't have to worry about money and just ate and drank whenever we wanted. Definitely a plus, if you want to go that route.

Needless to say, we'll definitely be going back.

Our last night in Cabo.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Skirball Cultural Center Spotlights the Sounds of Los Angeles

Las Colibri, the all-female mariachi band, performs at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Summer is in full swing, and what better way to enjoy the season than with an outdoor concert that celebrates our city and its many cultures?

Skirball Cultural Center, nestled into a hill just off the 405 and perhaps better known for its popular Noah's Ark exhibit, kicked off its Family Amphitheater Performance series in June and offers up fun concerts on Saturdays and Sundays through September 4.

The Sounds of Our City series

CC, Will and I checked out the series over the weekend and had the opportunity to hear Las Colibri, an all-female mariachi string ensemble that's all about girl power. They are amazing. I loved listening to their gorgeous harmonies, the festive songs and those stringed instruments. Wow!

Not only that, but kids were encouraged to get up and dance. Parents, too! The scene was relaxed and inviting, and the ladies even asked everyone up for a Spanish-language version of "London Bridge." I scooped up my sometime-shy Will and walked him under that hand-held bridge.

Las Colibri, which means "The Hummingbirds"
Some other performers in the series include Leftover Cuties, a noir-pop group from Venice (Aug. 6); Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (Aug. 14); String Harmonies (Aug. 21); and more! Performances are included in the price of admission, and you have two opportunities each day to see them — 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on the day of their performances.

Skirball selfie with CC and Will.

And while you're there, don't forget to check out Noah's Ark and current exhibit "Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American."

Skirball Cultural Center 
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Tickets: $12 (general); $9 (seniors, students, children over 12); $7 (children ages 2-12); Free (kiddos under 2)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Finds: Epic! Online Library for Kids


Whether you're worried about summer brain drain or ready to get your kids prepped for their next year of school, there's a cool app and website that makes reading extra fun for the smartphone set.

Epic! is an online library that offers more than 15,000 children's e-books for kids ages 12 and under. It's pretty, well, epic!

CC talked about Epic! a lot last year during 3rd grade. Her teacher used it in school, and one of her friends read books from it all the time. So when I had the opportunity to check it out, I jumped at the chance.



The service, which costs $4.99 per month for unlimited access, is bright, user-friendly and organizes the books into different categories and age groups. There are topics such as Fantasy & Magic, Animals (which CC loves) and Historical Fiction. Not only that, but kids who are pre-readers can also get in on the action with favorites such as "Goodnight Moon" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" at their fingertips. (That's good news for Will!)

Epic! also has a large selection of award winners, too.


While we've used it mostly on my phone, you can get Epic! on all iOS and Android devices, as well as on laptops and desktops, too, via the Web.

What I love as a parent is that I get weekly updates that chart what CC is reading -- book titles, how many pages and minutes she's read. It gives me such a great idea of what she likes and how she can further challenge herself.

What she loves are the variety of books, the easy-to-read graphics, the fun characters that accompany badges and rewards for all of the books she's read. I even got a reading certificate emailed to me to print and give to her.

Epic! offers kids lots of incentives to keep on reading -- which is exactly what I want to keep her motivated for 4th grade and to hit the ground running on her first day of school!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting Eco-Educated at Discovery Cube Los Angeles's Inspector Training Course

Enjoying some summertime fun at Discovery Cube Los Angeles
While summertime might mean lazy days at the pool or lounging on the couch with a great read, another fun option is to head over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles for a little science- and eco-friendly fun.

We made a special trip to check out the science museum's Inspector Training Course, an exhibit that features a replica house and a hands-on game that has kids and grown-ups alike learning how to conserve energy and resources at home.

The eco-friendly California Craftsman inside Discovery Cube LA.
Will and CC loved being in charge of their own touch pads -- aka inspector belts -- that they picked up just outside the house. The trivia-based scavenger-hunt game is super kid-friendly and even offers different options, depending on the age of the child. (Will was in the under-5 category.)

CC sizes up the available games.
Once the kids got their pads and selected their age group and games, they were off and running. First, Will had to find the rain barrel that collects rain water to be used for watering plants or grass. That way, we don't waste water (especially in a drought!).

Will discovers the rain barrel.
The game has kids exploring different spaces in the house, sending them searching for items in places like the kitchen, garage, bathroom and back yard. After that, they answer trivia questions about everything from low-pressure shower heads and low-flow toilets to how much energy different light bulbs use. It's really a cool game and makes everyone reconsider just how much energy they use.

Will loved pushing the button that made the shower splash (recycled) water.
The realism and hands-on aspect of the game makes it extra-fun for kids while also giving them a real-world example of how things like shower heads work. (Part of me also kind of wanted to live in this house, mainly because there was no clutter!)

We find out which bulb uses the most energy to light up.
While I spent most of my time walking around with Will and reading out the questions for him (he is only 3 after all), CC was able to be independent and search out her own clues. And they were both thrilled to become Super Inspectors after the game. I love that Discovery Cube celebrates kids' successes by placing their digital pictures on the wall. Great thinking!

We were also able to connect what we learned at the Inspector Training Course with what we're doing at home to be eco-friendly:

* We have a recycling bin right next to the trash can, and the kids have learned what's trash and what can be re-used.

* We donate clothes and books every month, so that other kids can re-use what CC and Will have outgrown.

* We have an adorable air plant that CC has named Prince. He requires literally a spray of water per week.

* We turn off the water while we're brushing our teeth.

* And we buy energy-efficient light bulbs, have low-flow toilets and low-pressure shower heads.

What a great experience for the family!

11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $12.95 for adults and kids through Labor Day. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

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