Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rainy Day Reindeer Romp at the LA Zoo

Things always seem a little sad in Los Angeles when it rains. After all, it's chilly and damp -- two things that appall Angelenos more than "C's" in restaurant windows and "no turn on red" signs.

So I thought it might be fun to lift our spirits at the Los Angeles Zoo, where they're hosting Reindeer Romp, with Santa's furry holiday helpers on hand for the kiddos until Jan. 3.

I second-guessed my decision the minute I loaded CC into the car and turned on the wipers. I mean, would the reindeer even be out at all? Or would they be nestled by some warm, dry fire with egg nog telling embarrassing Santa stories?

But, as Ian said, a reindeer in L.A. has a lot of nerve being cold and grumpy.

Once we got there, the zoo was pretty sparsely attended, as expected on a day like today. But that didn't stop CC from having fun, yelling "HIIIIII REIIINNNNDEEERRRR!!!!" to the lounging animals and leaping onto a large, photo-ready stage filled with cutouts of penguins and polar bears.

She even tried to dive into the meerkat digs -- and one of those meerkats was looking pretty freaked out at the idea of that.

We also got to check out the gorillas, flamingos, lions and giraffes. (Next time, we'll have to see the newborn Kikuyu colobus monkey and the snow leopard cubs.)

Yes, our hair got a little damp and our fingers a little frosty, but the rain itself was no match for my child's enthusiasm.

And who doesn't love a reindeer? Or a freaked-out meerkat?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmastime, CC style

Besides trimming the tree, singing Christmas carols and diving into a mountain of presents -- thanks to generous grandparents and the wallet-friendly decision to stay in town this year -- CC also decided to do a little role-playing with our wreath.

"I'm a lion, Mommy," she said. "Roooooaaaaarrrrr!"

That's "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" in, er, lion.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day with family and friends.

And if your Christmas was a little whiter than you expected, remember to be safe on those icy roads.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, December 24, 2009

LADWP Holiday Light Festival is magical

Last night, Ian, CC and I took a drive through Griffith Park to check out the 14th annual LADWP Holiday Light Festival, and, man, was it worth the wait.

Yes, wait. Close to an hour, to be perfectly honest. But, like I said, the mile-long road of displays coupled with the Christmas music playing over loud speakers made the holiday that much more special.

CC thrilled to the tunnel of lights that leads cars and pedestrians into the wonderland of holiday light scenes. From glowing replicas of Griffith Observatory (above) to the Hollywood Sign to the Statue of Liberty, the scenes are eye-catching and fun.

Next year, we might bring thermoses of hot chocolate, leave the car in the parking lot and gaze at the displays on foot. However, sitting in the car with the window down and listening to CC ooh and ahh from the backseat still made for a magical evening.

LADWP Holiday Light Festival
4730 Crystal Springs Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Dec. 3-30; 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

(Note: Excuse the grainy pic above. Took it from my BlackBerry.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the 'Curious George' DVD goes to ...

Congrats to Tee from! She won the "Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas" DVD giveaway, thanks to

Thanks to everyone who participated!

And most of all, have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And the eBay gift card winners are ...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the eBay gift card giveaway, via blog comments or Twitter!

The lucky winners are April, Peter, Dariela, @LuckyRadish and @michellewoo! Please send me an email at letting me know where to send the card.

Merry Christmas!

'Disney on Ice' skates into Los Angeles

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy

Staples Center hosted an icy wonderland of fairies, lions and race cars last week with the arrival of Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy.

Ian, CC and I were invited to attend opening night, which thrilled CC and fueled her new desire to ice skate.

Characters from Disney/Pixar's "Cars" -- real cars driving around on ice! (Don't people usually do their best to avoid that?) -- Disney's "The Lion King," "Tinker Bell" and "The Little Mermaid" joined the frozen stage alongside CC faves Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy.
Although she's never seen the movie, CC kept asking, "Where'd the cars go?" every time Lightning McQueen and Mater drove backstage.

I wasn't sure how Disney would combine so many shows into one larger production, but it was basically broken up into separate, super-condensed stories with a little interaction between "Cars" and the Mickey Mouse mobile. (I guess it was the four-wheel bonding.)

The structure was a nice touch, avoiding any confusion of finding Simba, Timon and Pumbaa in Pixie Hollow rather than the Savannah.

Outside the Staples Center, after the show, we happened upon yet another ice rink at L.A. Live. It was jam-packed and added to the festive downtown atmosphere, which included lighted icicles hanging from the trees, and small toy trains chugging around large planters (right).

Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Fantasy heads to the Honda Center in Orange County Dec. 22-27, then to the Inland Empire's Citizens Business Bank Arena Dec. 30-Jan. 3 before stopping at the Long Beach Arena Jan. 6-10, 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Giveaway: 'Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas' DVD

The holidays might have me overwhelmed, but when my child starts singing "Our Christmas Monkey," all seems right with the world.

A couple weeks ago, I received for review a Curious George party kit, which included a DVD of the recent holiday special "Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas", a CD of music from the movie, the book "Curious George: Christmas Countdown," a puzzle and popcorn to really make it a monkey of a party.

Although the festivities included only Ian, CC and me, we still had lots of fun. As is the case with most toddlers, they're big fans of repetition. So you can bet we've watched the movie, played the CD, read the book and put together the puzzle more than just once. The popcorn we haven't broken into, but shhh. Don't tell.

The movie itself is adorable. Our little Curious George is anxious for Christmas to arrive and wakes up every morning hoping today's the day. While he checks off each day until December 25, George gets caught up in plenty of adventure, from tree havoc to squished tomato madness.

But Curious George and The Man With the Yellow Hat have a big puzzle to solve -- what to get the other one for Christmas. Some of the scenes are silly, yes, but it really touches on the poignant idea of connection and how we sometimes feel as if we might have lost it -- even with those closest to us.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

As CC, Ian and I will no doubt be watching this movie every day until Christmas, I'm offering another copy of the DVD for you and your family to enjoy during the holidays.

Just leave a comment below, or follow me on Twitter (I'm la_story). If you do both, I'll enter your name twice. Just be sure to let me know via comment or direct message.

Good luck, and I'll announce the winner Tuesday, Dec. 22 ... and I'll do my best to make sure you get it by Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

eBay Mobile Boutique arrives in Los Angeles

eBay Mobile Boutique

Online auction site eBay is bringing some holiday goodies to Hollywood in the form of its Mobile Boutique, setting up shop at Hollywood & Highland today and tomorrow.

The eBay Mobile Boutique took its show on the road, with eight stops including Chicago, and it's now here in Los Angeles to offer interactive shopping kiosks, holiday merchandise, virtual windows with live auctions as well as personal shoppers.

The mobile marketplace will be at Hollywood & Highland from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

To give you a financial boost with that last-minute shopping, I'm giving away 5 eBay gift cards worth $25 each.

Just leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter (I'm la_story). If you leave a comment AND follow me on Twitter, I'll enter your name twice!

Good luck, and I'll announce winners Monday, Dec. 21!

UPDATE: Congrats to April, Peter, Dariela, @LuckyRadish and @michellewoo! They won the eBay gift cards! Woo-hoo!

Please email me at with the address where the card should be sent!

eBay Mobile Boutique
Hollywood & Highland
6834 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Dec. 17-18; 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coming Attraction: Merry Merry Movie 'The Polar Express'

If you and the fam are looking to add more gratis Christmas spirit to this lovely yet potentially pricey holiday, visit Pasadena's Laemmle Playhouse 7 on Sat., Dec. 19 for Merry Merry Movie, a free screening of "The Polar Express" followed by an outdoor holiday concert by St. Lucy's Big Christmas Band.

This year marks the third annual Merry Merry Movie event, organized by Pasadena's Playhouse District Association. And in addition to the movie screening and the concert, holiday treats and surprises will also be on hand for moviegoers.

Keep in mind that seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early. Festivities are scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m.

Merry Christmas!

Laemmle's Playhouse 7 Theaters
673 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Saturday, Dec. 19; 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Monday, December 14, 2009

Treehouse Social Club helps a mother out

The Treehouse Social Club

Helping a mother out has never been so much fun.

Yesterday, CC and I made our way over to The Treehouse Social Club on Robertson Blvd. and joined a packed playgroup of L.A.-area moms and their little ones for a holiday diaper haul.

And when I say packed, I mean it. Moms and dads were weaving gingerly in between little feet and hands, as the kids darted here, there and everywhere. They really had the run of the place.

The holiday playdate helped benefit Help A Mother Out, a California-based organization dedicated to providing diapers to families in need. And credit must be given to fellow mom blogger Kim Tracy Prince for making it all happen.

The Treehouse Social Club itself is a clever use of limited kid-friendly space. While it doesn't have the expanse of a place like AdventurePlex, what it does have is a cozy atmosphere and lots of options for young children.

Kids can move around freely among the titular treehouse, which includes a superfast slide, as well as space up top and below for monkeying around; a toddler room with lots of toys; a grocery, with plastic fruit and veggies and a kid-sized cart (above); an arts & crafts room (right); a computer room; and an open room for kicking a ball around.

There's also a cafe area, which serves everything from pancakes to panini. Last night, some of the staff was offering Beef Wellington in small phylo pockets and fried peanut butter and jelly donuts. Yum. Seriously.

And let's not forget the band area, where various artists were stretching their pipes.

It was a great time, and it was fun seeing fellow L.A. Moms Blog contributors including Mar Vista Mom, Elise's Ramblings, Yvonne in LA (who contributed her gluten-free goodies)April from It's All About Balance and Jeannine Chanin, who is managing partner of the Treehouse.
I also took home a TCM gift basket as part of a raffle. Icing on the gluten-free cupcake!

The Treehouse Social Club
426 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Open play: $9

Friday, December 11, 2009

C is for Cookie Song

While I was putting CC down for a nap this afternoon, she started singing her now famous "Cookie Song" as a way to procrastinate on snoozing.

It's a simple little ditty and one she has invited her parents to sing as well.

The trick, however, much like the Chinese language, is intonation. You start out with your regular voice and get louder as the song continues. Notice the above video. "Cookie song, cookie song, cookie SONG!"

Well, today when I offered my feeble efforts, turning up the requisite volume at the end, CC stopped me and showed me how it was supposed to be sung.

"Cookie song, cookie song, cookie SSOOOAAAAOOOOONNNNGGG!!!" she shrieked like a mad chipmunk. "Like that."

Oh. My bad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

C'mon, Hannah Montana

All I can say is, "C'mon!"

CC loves rocking out to this plastic $1 mic I found at Target. And, in light of Ms. Cyrus' catchy new tune, "Party in the USA," I thought this video was totally appropriate.

"Noddin' my head like yeah ... movin' my hips like yeah ..."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Momversations on the Street

Please check out my new video Momversations on the Street, which I filmed over the weekend for

Another mom and I visited a Kidrockers concert in Echo Park, and I had the opportunity to chat with fellow mamas about music and the holidays.

Take a look, and there might be more to come!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Under the Sea makes a splash

Nothing like Under the Sea and its ocean of mermaids, plastic cars, motorcycles and a bounce house to liven up your life on land.

That's exactly where CC and I met a few friends last week, and it was a total hit. Of course, this was before the stitches fiasco of "aught-nine," so I wasn't as freaked out as I would have been, say, now.

CC had a great time, hangin' with a pair of other toddlers -- zooming around on four tiny wheels, climbing into the indoor playtime adventure that is the Southern California specialty.

If you've never been there, which I hadn't before last week, it's a definite must-see. The underwater-themed kiddo extravaganza
offers lots of space and lots of toys.

A couple of other moms and I met with our little ones on a Monday, and the place was totally empty. I'm talking not even the trace of some random Cheerio. If underwater cities had ghost towns, well, you get the point.

But, hey, it was great for the kids. They had the run of the place. And I'm sure the celebration HQ more than makes up for it on the weekends, with pizza parties and birthday bonanzas.

In our case, it was nice. The whole "sharing" issue was a lot more manageable with three kids instead of, say, a sea of them.

Click here for locations.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Disneyland: Still the happiest place on Earth

After the horror of having to take our child to the emergency room on her birthday, it was heartening to watch her rock out at Disneyland.

From the above picture, as CC is spinning in the Mad Hatter's teacups with Ian and me, you wouldn't know that she'd just had nine stitches placed in her chin.

My little daredevil was up for anything -- the roller coaster in Mickey's Toontown, the Winnie the Pooh ride, the Jungle Cruise and lots more. She even got up close and personal with Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and Goofy.

All the activity was a great distraction from what could have been a particularly sad way to start Birthday No. 3.

Luckily, the day ended on the happiest of notes, courtesy of the happiest place on Earth.

Also, remember that Disneyland is free on your birthday -- something that helped to cheer CC's parents as well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, CC!

Happy Birthday, my darling daughter.

I can't believe she's already 3. Of course I had to replay in my head the day I gave birth -- the contractions; the nurse who didn't think I was really in labor; refusing the epidural, then begging for the epidural; and finally, feeling the most incredible sense of peace in the world once my child entered it.

Does every mom do this?

Unfortunately, today didn't go exactly as planned. After opening presents and singing "Happy Birthday," we had to make a mad dash to the emergency room after CC face-planted in the kitchen.

Talk about a nightmare. Everything's OK now -- nine stitches later -- but it was really scary there for a while.

Luckily, we were still able to take her to Disneyland, and she loved every minute.

Special thanks to Goofy, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. They helped my daughter forget that she literally took one on the chin -- and on her birthday of all days.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mar Vista Farmers' Market offers Yvonne's Gluten-Free Goodies

As you can tell from the above photo, my child is indulging in a little chocolate-y goodness. What you might not know is that brownie she's downing is gluten-free, courtesy of my friend and fellow LA Moms Blog contributor Yvonne in LA.

CC and I visited the Mar Vista Farmers' Market last weekend, and, lucky for us, Yvonne had a lot of yummy goodies in stock. We picked up a brownie and a milk chocolate chip cookie, which helped make our Sunday afternoon a little sweeter. Literally.

Yvonne offers lots of desserts on her gluten-free menu, including pumpkin cranberry muffins, cupcakes and mixed berry pie with almond streusel topping.

And -- also lucky for us and L.A. denizens -- she's a regular at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market. We'll definitely be back. Just have to check her schedule.

Mar Vista Farmers' Market

Venice Blvd. and Grand View

Sundays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coming Attraction: 'Mary Poppins' lands at The Grove

(L to R) Abigail Droeger, Ashley Brown, Gavin Lee and Justin Hall in "Mary Poppins"

Four performers from the West Coast premiere of "Mary Poppins," now on stage at the Ahmanson Theatre downtown, will appear at The Grove on Friday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m.

Company members Gail Bennett and Dominic Roberts will be portraying Mary Poppins and Bert, respectively. Katie Balen and Carter Thomas, who play Jane and Michael Banks, will join them.

In addition to the performance, the actors will answer questions from Mark Wallengren of KOST (103.5 FM).

"Mary Poppins" is playing at the Ahmanson through Feb. 7.

Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious! (Yeah, had to do it.)

Photo courtesy Center Theatre Group; (c) 2006 Disney/CML; Photo by Joan Marcus

Giveaway: Putumayo at The Grammy Museum

Putumayo's Johnny Bregar

You might recall when a certain toddler got so caught up in a rockin' Milkshake concert at The Grammy Museum that she performed a spontaneous somersault.

Well, that concert was one in a series offered by the downtown museum as part of a family program called Musical Explorations, during which parents and kiddos can learn about music in a tyke-friendly environment.

Next up, on Saturday, Dec. 12, is Holidays Around the World featuring Putumayo's "A Family Christmas" artist Johnny Bregar.

According to The Grammy Museum website, Bregar "will fill the Sound Stage with upbeat songs that explore cultural diversity as well as celebrate the season."

After the concert, the museum will offer musical arts and crafts, as well as refreshments on the Target Terrace.
*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm offering a family four-pack of tickets to this concert, which kicks off at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12.

Just leave a comment below, telling me your favorite holiday song. OR, if you want to get really creative, write a haiku about the upcoming holidays. (I was inspired to do this by one of my readers.)

Good luck, and I'll announce the winner Monday, Dec. 7.
UPDATE: Congrats, Marcela! You won! Have a great time, and thanks for participating. Please email me at, and I'll give you the deets.

The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live

800 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite A245

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Holidays Around the World Admission: $8

Concert reservations: 213-765-6800, ext. 6


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