Thursday, April 30, 2009

TheWrap's got the goods on my blog post

Please check out my Hollyblog over at Biz Moms: Et Tu Hollywood? I talked to moms in the industry who are dealing with layoffs both personally and from afar. Having been recently laid off myself, I wanted to take the temperature around town.

I scream, you scream

It was two scoops of frozen goodness last night when CC and I dipped into 31 cent scoop night at the Baskin-Robbins on Larchmont.

We met my old high school friend Peter and arrived just in time, before word got out and the line extended out the door. We also ran into some friendly firefighters from the fire station on Melrose and Western.

The night was an event to honor The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program, so firefighters parked the big red truck outside and helped out behind the counter, handing out wallet-friendly scoops.

Capt. Lucas even volunteered to hold CC for a friendly pic. We were both a little worried she might freak out, but she was perfectly happy to be in the arms of a man in uniform. Having ice cream as a distraction certainly didn't hurt, either.

In fact, I ordered a scoop for each of us and ended up maybe getting two bites out of the whole deal. Maybe.

It was also nice catching up with an old friend, who seemed to be a little in awe of CC's energy. "Is she a free spirit?" Peter asked. Mister, You. Have. No. Idea. It was fun, though. I don't think he left too shell-shocked and even got a few great pics of CC. Helps when you've filmed videos of The Flaming Lips. (Check out Peter and his g.f. Diana's web site wideshot studios.)

After taking a stroll around Larchmont Village, we capped off the evening back where we started. In front of the shop, where kids gathered around a toy-laden reggae drum player, who had the patience of ... well ... who's more patient than a guy playing reggae in front of an ice cream shop sporting one of those cool hats?


Top photo credit: Peter Hermes of wideshot studios

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baskin-Robbins' 31 cent scoop night!

CC and I are making a date tonight to hit Baskin-Robbins. They're having a 31 cent scoop night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. to honor America's firefighters with a $100,000 donation to the National Volunteer Fire Council National Junior Firefighter Program.

Good cause, good ice cream (Hopefully they still have the birthday cake flavor). Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Money woes put kibosh on L.A. kid zones

Unbeige has an update on the closure of the Children's Museum of Los Angeles -- before it even reopened. The site links to the L.A. Daily News' postmortem.

The Children's Museum, which used to be located in downtown L.A., closed its doors in 2000 in an effort to find bigger digs. Museum honchos then decided to expand with two new facilities -- one in the Hansen Dam Recreation Area in the San Fernando Valley's Lake View Terrace, and the other in Little Tokyo. But it looks like an important $10 million donation has fallen through, leading the museum to file for bankruptcy.

In other sad kids' news, I just saw a big "For Lease" sign in the window of Spa Di Da, the kids' salon on Beverly Boulevard. Checking their web site, it notes that they closed their doors on April 5. But creator April Weiss has directed former and would-be clients to Sprinkles and Confetti, which organizes children's events.

I hate reading news like this and seeing potentially fun places to take CC now out of the picture. OK, a kids' spa did seem a little exorbitant for these tough economic times. But who wouldn't love to see cucumbers on their child's eyes just for a second -- about as long as it would take for her to peel them off and put them in her mouth, that is.

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month

On July 29 of last year, CC and I were at home when the electricity went out.

We live in an old building, so it's not too out of the ordinary for something like that to happen. (That and the water needing to be turned off periodically for pipe issues. Now that's a pain.) But what made me nervous was that it lasted for more than half an hour.

I had been getting ready for work, and CC was toddling around, and suddenly there was a rumbling before the entire building seemed to jerk to one side and then snap back. Just like that.

Not knowing exactly what it was, my first instinct was to scoop up my child and get the hell out of there. Which is exactly what I did. I called Ian, who was on his way to work, but no calls were getting through. When we got outside, there were tons of people already in the street and on the grass.

We had just experienced a 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

You might have seen the banners on light posts around the city, but if not, April is Earthquake Preparedness Month. CaliforniaVolunteers has been a great resource for informing residents on how to prepare just in case of disaster. They even sent over a kit filled with items such as packets of water and food, a flashlight and a first-aid kit.

Some tips include:
  • Create a family disaster plan
  • Practice that plan
  • Build a supply kit for your home and car
  • Talk to your kids about how to prepare
Everything was fine for us. CC and I walked back inside after several minutes and went about our daily routine. It's always good, though, to know what to expect and how to react.

I know April is almost over, but it's never too late to prepare.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bouncy house bonanza in Hollywood

Spring Wing Ding has got to be one of my favorite phrases. I had never heard it until this weekend, but now I want to say it every day. It just seems to guarantee fun, no? (Why can't there be a Tax Day Wing Ding? Now that, I'm up for.)

This weekend, the fam and I attended our first Spring Wing Ding game day at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Once again, my friend Kirstin came through with another great idea.

I've driven by this beautiful church so many times. It's right off the Gower exit of the 101. But I had no idea just how sprawling it is. When we walked in, we immediately found ourselves amid a fervent drum circle. And despite many turns around many corners, the place just seemed to keep going. As promised, the Wing Ding day offered several bouncy houses (which CC goes absolutely nuts for), games like a lollipop toss and even a friendly magician showing off his tricks.

And the food. Who doesn't love a bake sale where chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting sell for 50 cents each? And cookies for 25 cents? You see where I'm going with this. I totally gorged. In fact, every time I ran into Kirstin and her fam, I seemed to be stuffing my face with yet another baked good.

It was a gorgeous day. The sun was out, but it wasn't scorching. A perfect afternoon for running barefoot in the grass (but not in the Lego room, of course).

I know the Spring Wing Ding only happens once a year (maybe because the rhyming just works out too well with that particular season), but we'd be totally up for a Winter Wing Ding or even a Fall or Summer Wing Ding.

Heck, even a Wednesday Wing Ding would be great.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Totally booked

There's still time to hit the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (OK, you have about an hour, but still).

Today CC and I made our way to the UCLA campus, where it was packed with several tent cities of literary goodies. (You can make out the top of her head poking up from her seat in the much-appreciated stroller.)

It was a perfect day for weaving through wheelchair-friendly (and hence, stroller-friendly) ramps, up and down the campus. Besides the book offerings, CC and I got to see live bands, snag a balloon, run around crazy in one of the many grassy spots and basically just soak up the sun.

Oh, and afterward, grab an almost frozen Jamba Juice.

Ah, L.A.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hollywood Blvd.: Where the wild things are

I have to say, it's always a treat when we can head over to the El Capitan and watch a movie with CC. Not only is the theater itself beautifully ornate and complete with its own organist (!), it's also a place that caters to screamers and loud talkers (not that I, ahem, know any of those).

It's not that she's disruptive. OK, so maybe a little. It's just that when she's surrounded by so many kids and there are live animals (!!) on stage, she can't resist the urge to tell them all hello or squeal with delight.

Despite some restless moments, the outing did not disappoint. Experts from the Wildlife Learning Foundation in Sylmar brought in animals such as a porcupine, an arctic fox, an alligator and a serval (from the cat family). They also took questions after each presentation. CC, along with the rest of the kids, was on her feet, pointing, ooh-ing and ahh-ing with everyone else.

The movie itself, Disneynature's "Earth," was amazing. The photography alone is stunning, and watching these various sets of animals interact in the wild is awe-inspiring and often harrowing. (Just as a warning, the movie doesn't shy away from death. As narrator James Earl Jones says, "It's the circle of life." The gruesome part of the circle is left off screen, thank God.) The movie tracks three families (polar bears, elephants and whales) on their quest for sustenance as well as various animals (predators and prey) they meet along the way.

My new fave animal, though, has got to be the insane-looking bird of paradise (left). Watching it tidy up its digs before bringing sexy back to a fellow feathered friend left me in happy tears.

What made my day though, also bird-related coincidentally, was before any of this even got started -- before the wild animals, even before the movie. It was during the overture (for lack of a better word) as the music played, curtains parted and various screens lit up on stage. One of the images was a peacock, with its feathers adorned in lights. CC smiled so wide, waved at the screen and screamed, "Hi, Peacock!" amid the silent moviegoers. She had just learned the word that day and apparently was proud of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of the occasion we're heading to Hollywood to check out the opening day of Disneynature's "Earth" at the El Capitan. According to Disneynature, they will plant a tree for each ticket sold during the movie's opening week.

For other ways you can get a little greener, check out Earth Day Network.

In the meantime, happy recycling!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's not you, it's me

CC found a picture of herself the other day from when she was smaller and shrieked "Baby!"

"That's you, Sweetheart," I said.

She held up the above pic, pointed to her younger self and said, "You!"

"No, it's you. ... I mean me. Say 'Me. It's me,' " I said, finding myself suddenly caught in an Abbott and Costello routine.

At that moment, I realized we had a pronoun emergency on our hands. It's funny. Every time we refer to CC, we always say "You," not "Me" -- for obvious reasons. And therefore, she thought she was you. Or me was you. Well, not you you. Oh, the confusion and grammar crisis. *Sigh*

Hmm, what to do?

Taking CC's little index finger, I then pointed first to her and then to her baby picture while saying, "It's me. It's Me."

After a few moments, she picked up the photo, smiled and said, "Hi, baby me."

Monday, April 20, 2009

CC, do not tear down that wall!

This is where I got kind of selfish. Yesterday's trip to LACMA was all for me, and I think the kiddo sensed it.

After all, I can't really get away with claiming that CC said something along the lines of, "Mummy, darling, could we pleeeeease go to the museum to catch the surreal, devastating and moving images in Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures? Pleeeeease?"

Yeah ... no.

It was all me. I was intrigued, and I rounded up the fam for a trek down Wilshire Boulevard. It was only when one museum-goer gave me the fish eye as we passed a particularly gruesome set of photographs that I wondered if I had erred in my Teutonic-loving ways.

A little background and a serious nerd alert: I studied German in high school and college, lived in Hamburg for a year, and I'm truly fascinated with the culture. The country has a horrific past, don't get me wrong, but witnessing the dramatic evolution of a culture ... well ... OK, I bet your eyes are glazing over about now. Anyway, it was the last day of the exhibit, and I would've felt foolish had I not gone.

Truth be told, we had to zoom through it. CC just didn't have the patience and wanted to touch everything. (Btw, can't wait for the Boone Children's Gallery to reopen!) What she did love was running through the light post exhibit out front and climbing on the Franz West sculptures (eek, hope that's OK, LACMA security) in the plaza.

There was also the super kid-friendly (read: unbreakable) Richard Serra sculpture Band, made from 200 tons of steel, which wound around itself on the first floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. And the newly reopened French sculpture garden. Although maybe I picked the wrong sculpture to photograph.

I have to give another shoutout to LACMA, which has a great kids' program that allows one adult to accompany a child member for free. Can't beat $12 for a family of three to visit a huge museum for as long as we wanted. Although that's not including the breakables bill.

Kidding, LACMA security. Just kidding.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Telephone: 323-857-6000

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sid the Science Kid dishes some dirt

Earth Day is almost upon us, and a first-year PBS Kids show "Sid the Science Kid" from those creative folks at The Jim Henson Company and KCET/Los Angeles is telling tykes it's OK to get dirty. And CC loves it.

It's actually the first time I've had to watch something twice because my child was entranced by a jazz-singing earthworm. Yeah, you read that right. Complete with fedora, no less.

Sid is a preschooler who is uber-curious. Asks lots of questions. Loves his mom and sings about it (hoping CC will belt one out soon ... or just start rapping her love for me). And has pre-K friends who have some seriously smooth moves on the playground.

The episode we watched, "The Dirt on Dirt," tackled the question of what makes dirt dirty? And what the heck is in dirt? CC kept asking, "What's that? What's that?" as everyday detritus -- and something wiggly -- was pulled from the ground. (She also liked to point out who was the mama and who was the baby. A favorite game of hers lately.)

The program is geared toward kids ages 3-6, and CC is still a little young for it. The structure of it, though, is similar to what I would expect from a classroom. The teacher encourages the kids to explore, write down/draw what they've found, ask questions, talk about it and then spin that off into fun games. It kinda makes me want to go back to preschool myself. (But so does nap time.)

That kind of analysis, although fun and wonderfully animated, is probably something that's in store for CC next year. But, hey, she's only 2. The thing is, she does love watching the kids interact. And don't forget about the singing earthworm. Anything that engages my toddler while trying to teach her something gets a hats off -- fedora or otherwise -- from me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brusha, brusha, brusha

Earlier this week, I had my twice-yearly dental appointment and decided to take CC along for the ride.

I thought it would be great for her to see what goes on during the cleaning, polishing and toothbrush-giving process. And to give her a taste of what's to come. Let's just say, I'm now questioning my sanity over that decision.

I love my dentist. Love. That's why every six months I make the trek up to the Los Feliz/Glendale border to see her. Dr. Ligia Lopez is sweet, thorough and loves to talk about her kids and grandkids. She saw me through my pregnancy, and this time I thought it would be great for her to see the finished product.

But by the end of the visit, I think she was ready to chase the finished product out the door with one of those crazy dental drills. We even had to call in reinforcements (aka the receptionist) to help rein in the toddler while I was immobilized in the chair.

We tried with stickers, books and even a talking tooth toy, but CC was transfixed by all the cords and expensive equipment. I think that appointment went a little quicker than usual, but we did manage a quick pic of CC and Dr. Lopez, smiling through the pain.

I asked Dr. Lopez when kids should go to the dentist, and she said 3 was a good age. Before then, apparently they're hard to corral. (Hmm, don't believe it.)

In related news, I also received some tips from the California Association of Orthodontists. They say kids should visit an orthodontist no later than age 7 because doctors can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and teeth while a child still has her baby teeth. Some things to look out for are:

  • early or late loss of baby teeth
  • difficulty in chewing or biting
  • jaws that shift or make sounds
Here's a link to the national site that offers tips, plus games and braces-friendly recipes.

And, finally, like I said, I love my dentist, but I also got word of another L.A. dentist, Dr. Jay Grossman, who operates out of Brentwood and on April 6 offered free dental appointments to L.A. moms who had lost their jobs.

Knowing first hand what it's like to be employment-challenged, I'd like to commend him for helping out those in the community.

In the meantime, keep brushing!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Potty Training 101

Well, the time has come and I've been stalling. Like, really stalling.

Yes, it's time for little CC to make the big girl move to the potty and leave those pesky baby diapers behind. It's just that Ian and I are terrified. Not that our daughter's growing up. We're basically freaked out by the messiness of it.

That's my latest post on LA Moms Blog, Is There a School for Potty Training? You know, for Parents? Check it out.

Photo credit: © Hallgerd -

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Goodbye, Variety

I know this isn't "mom blog" specific, but it's definitely part of my L.A. Story -- and by extension, C's. Today I was laid off at Variety after having worked there since November 2004.

I've made some amazing friends there, and they have been a true source of encouragement and support through the years. It's hard to leave a place that was your constant during an engagement, turning 30, marriage, a baby and the birth of this blog. It was also the place that finally made me feel at home in Los Angeles after having moved from New York.

Thank you to those friends, and I wish you only the best. It was a good run.

Now for the next step.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bunnies, tigers and bears, oh my!

First off, Happy Easter!

After CC and I hit Mass at St. Brendan (and somehow missed the coffee and donut line -- seriously, how does that happen?), we made our way up the crowded streets of Los Feliz onto the traffic-heavy 5 en route to Big Bunny's Spring Fling at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Little did I know (although I should have suspected) that everyone and their second cousin would be there. Not that I was expecting intimate bunny time with only a few other pint-sized Angelenos, but heck, this was insane.

Luckily, the crowds did not deter my little munchkin from making her own bunny ears, throwing hay at the bunnies themselves and trying to leap into the tigers' digs -- while one of them was batting around ... a keg? Yeah, a keg.

It was actually adorable watching tons of kids gather in the giant egg patch, complete with stacked bails of hay, to make their own set of bunny ears to wear around the zoo. In addition to the arts and crafts, there were exhibits showing how rabbits live, eat and play. Then there were the actual furry guys themselves.

Safely protected behind a little fence and some hay bails, the bunnies seemed to multiply on sight. There were so many of them. For some reason, CC thought it would be fun to pull out straws of hay and throw them at the bunnies. This disturbed me, even though the hay ... being, well, hay, doesn't have the weight to go very far. But who throws things at bunnies? What disturbed me even more was that the boy next to her thought it was kind of funny and wanted to do the same. What had I created? It was time for Distraction Technique #254: Hippos!

As we roamed around the zoo, taking in various owls and monkeys, we stopped at one exhibit where a large crowd had gathered. "Up, Up!" C said. I lifted her out of the stroller, and we poked our way through a guard rail of people to peer into the tigers' den. "Tiger! Tiger!" she squealed. This was before she grabbed onto the fence and tried to hurl herself over it.

There were three tigers in all, pacing around their little space. But one leaped into a pool of water and was batting around, like I said above, a keg. What was next, a keg stand? Beer pong? I tried to be discreet while describing the scene to CC. "Look at the tigers, Sweetheart. That one's got ... a barrel."

"Look at the keg!" said the guy next to me, holding his infant son and laughing. "Looks like that tiger wants some beer!"

"Beer!!!" screamed CC.

Good God, I thought. Your baby son may not talk, but mine does, mister. Time for Distraction Technique #255: Bears!

"Beer!" screamed CC at the bear. Doh! Forgot her pronunciation of that word is still a little off.

Now it was just time for the walk of shame back to the parking lot. But not before we hit the playground, where she joined the equivalent population of the city of Fresno on the jungle gym.

CC had a great time and even got to ride a stationary elephant ... which, for a parent of a 2-year-old, is the best elephant ride ever.

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Always stop at kids' lemonade stands

Or water stands, in this case. That's my motto.

It's always cute to see children handing out drinks to passersby (unless it's Sally Draper on "Mad Men," but that's another kind of libation entirely).

After C and I got back from Trader Joe's, we happened on this neighborhood water stand. You might not be able to see what's on the sign taped to the table, but there are two water glasses under which is the word "Yummy!"

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the kids manning the stand. It kinda looked a little abandoned, but it was adorable anyway, and C insisted on sitting in the little red chair behind the table.

But then she got a call on her faux cell phone, and it was time to go. Priorities.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bedtime has a new act ... the duet

I've been singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to C every night as the last step in the bedtime routine for her entire little life.

Last night, she sang along with me for the first time. It was the most amazing thing. For some reason, I hadn't ever expected that ... or even that she was retaining the words. All this time, it always seemed to just signal bedtime, and her eyes would get sleepier and she'd lean toward her bed as I held her.

But last night, she just smiled up at me as she sang some of the words. Star! Are! High! Sky! And at the end, she wanted more. We sang it three times before she allowed me to put her in bed.

What a moment. I'll try to get audio next time.

Photo credit: Atropat -

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Madeline Alice Spohr

One of my fellow LA Moms bloggers, Heather, lost her daughter today, and I can't imagine the heartache. Her name was Madeline Alice Spohr (pictured), and her mom's blog is the cute The Spohrs Are Multiplying.

Her parents, Heather and Mike, ask that you don't send flowers. Instead, if you'd like, please make a donation to the March of Dimes in memory of Madeline. (There's a badge to the left of this post.)

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Spohr family.

Like many parents, I've knocked wood until my knuckles bled. Prayed until my knees hurt. And, yes, I take it for granted in some ways. Every day.

These are the moments when you realize that there's nothing to take for granted.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has the story: "Death of blogger mom's daughter prompts outpouring from Internet community"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's a birthday without a little splash?

After a particularly hefty babysitting-expense week, we decided to pick a kid-friendly restaurant and make it a family outing for Ian's birthday dinner. And really, what's more kid-tastic than Universal CityWalk?

OK, yes, there's Disneyland, but that's all the way in Anaheim, and what are their dinner options, anyway?

We had barely driven into the Universal parking structure (Jurassic Parking, natch) before CC was completely enthralled by the T-Rexes lining the joint. "What's that? What's that?" she pointed and squealed.

Once we entered the tourist hot spot proper, she didn't know where to look first. There was the huge Imax theater, with a band out front promoting a video game debut at the neighboring GameStop. The massive guitar outside the Hard Rock. The indoor skydiving insanity. And, oh yes, the huge gorilla hanging off the side of a building that CC pointed to and said ... what else? ... "Mamma!"

We finally landed at the Daily Grill and tested the patience of yet another wait staff. As you can see in the video above, we were very happy we'd remembered the stickers that Grandma sent. I, however, was not very happy about being mistaken for yet another wild animal.

The night's coup de grace, though, was when CC made a beeline over to the jumping fountains and got completely soaked. She, of course, loved it.

Happy Birthday, indeed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Baby Snuggie is just wrong

Please, no. I have to high-five my friend Lisa for pointing me in the Baby Snuggie direction. It's actually called a Peekaru. Even worse.

To me, it just looks like a Teletubby gone horribly wrong. Or something from Alien. Yikes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Come back to Griffith Observatory, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

This weekend also marked a trip up to Griffith Observatory. Haven't been there since the chain-link fence came down and the renovation was complete. Yes, it's been more than two years since it reopened. We're slow.

After making our way up the winding road from where we parked (didn't take the shuttle), we finally arrived on the grassy grounds in front of the observatory itself. We had to wake CC from her nap, so she wasn't her usual Tasmanian devil self -- more like its distant cousin, the laid-back Angeleno devil.

It was nice to just walk around, in and outside of the renovated building. The views are amazing, and the exhibits are interactive and informative. You can see a solar eclipse, a tiny Earth spinning around the sun to show how seasons change, and, of course, there are the stars.

We didn't try the planetarium. That's a risky bet with a squirmy 2-year-old. But maybe next year.

Our favorite part of the trip was probably the door leading into the observatory. Is this some sort of physicist joke a la Stephen Hawking -- or just your typical mixed message?


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