Friday, December 31, 2010

'The Sound of Music' Rings Out 2010

For my final post of 2010 -- not to mention this year's 300th entry here at L.A. Story -- I thought I would write about "The Sound of Music," a classic film if there ever was one.

I remember when CC was a tiny baby, my repertoire of lullabies was pretty limited. (You forget all of those songs you haven't heard in so many years.) But one of the songs I did remember -- in addition to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Rockabye Baby" (whose lyrics later freaked me out) and, for some reason, "Hello, Dolly!" -- was "Do-Re-Mi," from this Rodgers & Hammerstein movie/musical, directed by Robert Wise.

I would sing that to her, hoping it would help her fall asleep, but also hoping that it would ready her for the day when we got to see Julie Andrews marvel at those gorgeous Austrian Alps.

Christmas 2010 was that moment.

Luckily, I had received a review copy of the Blu-ray/DVD combo (SRP: $34.99) from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment in honor of the film's 45th anniversary. Wow, 45 years. And this G-rated movie, while long at a whopping 175 minutes, complete with intermission, was so worth it.

I forgot how magical the songs are, how touching the story is and how rousing Andrews is as spunky nun/governess Maria.

The story of her charming the seven von Trapp children and their father (played by the wonderful Christopher Plummer) is just so timeless.

And the songs!

CC loved "My Favorite Things," especially the whiskers on kittens, and I'd forgotten just how beautiful "Edelweiss" sounds with a simple guitar.

Throw in a harrowing Nazi escape, and what's not to love?

The quality of the film is magnificent -- and watching it on a 52-inch flat-screen didn't hurt. But it only made me want a Blu-ray player, as two of the three discs in the anniversary package are in that format. Those discs sport fun special features, including an interactive "Backlot Tour" with featurettes on the songs, the stage show and movie and the real-life von Trapp family. It also has a virtual map of filming locations in Salzburg, Austria.

As it was, the features on the regular DVD offered a sing-along and "The Sound of Music Tour -- A Living Story," a short insider's look at the tour offered in Salzburg. (Wish that had been a little longer, actually.)

Nevertheless, we had a great time watching the movie, and I'm sure we'll watch it again -- maybe on the 50th anniversary in five years.

But one song does offer a handy and inspiring goal for the upcoming 2011 -- "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," whatever your mountain happens to be.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Tron: Legacy' Lights Up the El Capitan

Last week, CC and I had the chance to check out Disney's new "Tron: Legacy" at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

Talk about a spectacle.

The amped-up (but still PG-rated) 3D sequel to the 1982 original "Tron," starring Jeff Bridges, was a visual stunner, and the laser light show that preceded the pic was pretty amazing itself.

The blue and green lights danced around the theater, bouncing to the techno beats of Daft Punk -- the French duo who also created the movie's soundtrack. CC was wowed, and it was fun to watch her little eyes dart around the futuristic-looking space in awe.

While I missed the original film, about hacker Kevin Flynn (Bridges) who's forced inside a computer world he created, the sequel (written by "Lost" writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz) touched on familiar themes of a son (Garrett Hedlund) looking for his long-lost father (Bridges again), who has been pulled back into that same digital world.

CC asked plenty of questions (quietly) during the showing -- a 10 a.m. screening that had lots of kiddos and parents -- about who was whom and why they were doing what they were doing. Some elements were lost on her (the subtleties of mistaken allies, as well as the whole "creating programs" aspect), but she was particularly fond of the femme character Quorra (Olivia Wilde, pictured above), an endearing yet kick-ass confidante of Kevin Flynn.

"I liked all the woman's parts," she said after the movie was over. "Quorra!"

At 127 minutes, the film is admittedly long for a little one, and I wasn't completely wowed by the script (even though it was written by Losties). But the visuals of the 3D movie, plus the lively action and rockin' soundtrack, were lots of fun -- for both parents and kids.

"Tron: Legacy" is playing at the El Capitan through Jan. 20.

Note: VIP press tickets provided.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rose Parade Floats: It's All in the Details

When a float supervisor for the 2011 Rose Parade, set for Jan. 1, in Pasadena, asked me if I was interested in volunteering for detail work, little did I know she was about to hand me a tub of uncooked split peas and a bottle of glue.

"This is for the sea turtle," she told me.

This split-pea-enhanced sea turtle was just one element of the elaborate Dole float -- a first for the Hawaii-born fruit company -- which will be heading down Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Day.

A representative from Dole invited me to volunteer and check out the floral goings-on, and despite not being able to bring CC (kids under 12 are not permitted in the Fiesta Parade Floats warehouse), I didn't want to pass up this distinctly Southern California activity.

So I made my way over to Irwindale -- about an hour's drive northeast of L.A. proper -- and found myself face-to-face with enormous and elaborate floats being readied by a large team of staff and volunteers, which also included a bevy of young Girl Scouts.

Created and designed by Raul Rodriguez of float-building company Fiesta Parade Floats (which has, incidentally, built 17 consecutive Sweepstakes Trophy winners in the Rose Parade), Dole's parade entry, "Living Well in Paradise," will sport a replica statue of King Kamehameha, waterfalls, roses, orchids, hydrangeas, fruit and, of course, my sea turtle.

The work itself was very detail-oriented, as the supervisor suggested. People were even coming around to check that spaces between split peas weren't too wide or sloppy. Eek! Lucky for me, my peas were just fine.

While I was worried that boredom or frustration would set in quickly, I was surprised by how zen-like I felt by just arranging peas in their proper places. It was actually pretty relaxing and a task I could do while putting my brain in low-stress mode -- something I don't give myself the chance to do very often. Plus, it was kind of like the game "Tetris," in that I was always trying to find misshapen peas (splittier peas?) to fill oddly shaped spaces.

Anyway, three hours ended up flying by. As for my turtle, I only filled about four patches on his right flipper. Seriously.

That only added to my amazement about how all of the Parade elves get this enormous job done. It also made me better appreciate the finished products, as I saw people walking around cutting straw flowers into fine powder and gluing black beans onto over-sized fish.

Check out the above photo gallery. I was able to spy preparations for other floats, including the ones from Kaiser Permanente, the Ronald Reagan Centennial and the Beverly Hills Tournament of Roses Committee.

For information about kid-friendly float decorating closer to the Rose Parade site in Pasadena, visit

CBS Los Angeles: Family Picks for This Week

Please check out my latest post, "Top Picks for Families -- Week of December 26."

There is so much family fun in store this week -- the week before New Year's -- including float decorating in Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses, "Noon" Year's Eve at Kidspace Children's Museum and, of course, the 122nd Rose Parade itself (where CC and I had a great time last year.)


Monday, December 27, 2010

L.A. Holiday Celebration = New L.A. Story Tradition

The Salvation Army Tabernacle Children's Choir performs
at the L.A. County Holiday Celebration.

The L.A. County Holiday Celebration kicked off its 51st annual extravaganza at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Christmas Eve, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that it was CC's and my first time to attend.

Featuring more than 20 diverse performers, and hosted by actor Fred Willard and actress/singer Tia Carrere (whom CC met just a few months ago), the Celebration was a lively, moving and very L.A. event that shouldn't be missed by any local family.

An awesome bonus? It's free! (Thank you, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who sponsored the event, which was produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.)

Getting the crowd into a hand-clapping, toe-tapping mood was first act Eileen Ivers, an Irish fiddle player who could beat the devil down in Georgia if she felt like it. Talk about pumped up, the crowd really went crazy when she whipped that fiddle into a frenzied, Christmas-themed duet with an accordion player.

The acts made up an eclectic mix of artists -- from children's choirs to Bollywood dancers to mariachi performers. It was a real testament to the diversity of people within the Los Angeles area.

CC and I sat in the parents' section, so there were plenty of proud moms and dads. In fact, one mother leaned over to me during the Young Angels Choir performance to point out her daughter.

I was a pretty proud mom myself, watching CC take in such a grand holiday celebration the day before Christmas. She clapped, she danced and she listened, which was adorable to see.

Can't wait to go back next year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope you and your family have a wonderful and Merry Christmas today!

I can't believe how quickly December has flown by. Between CC's birthday and the holidays, it's been a mad dash to Christmas, not to mention next week's New Year's festivities! (And with all the activity, I'm going to have to play catch-up. I still have fun posts in the blog hopper.)

Thanks so much to my family, friends and everyone else in the world -- yes, world! -- who check out my blog. It's so meaningful to me, especially this time of year, when I think about all the people who are sharing CC's and my L.A. experiences.

Cheers, and have a great one!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Disney on Ice 'Let's Celebrate' Fires Up Anaheim Crowd

(Disney on Ice presents "Let's Celebrate!")

Despite driving through pounding rain, CC and I arrived in Anaheim last night to see Disney on Ice presents "Let's Celebrate!", and what a celebration it was.

The show, spotlighting festivities from unbirthdays (thank you, Alice in Wonderland) to Christmas (fun times from Mickey and the gang), offered a wide range of Disney characters while also showcasing the skating talents of its troupe.

Kicking off the party was a fantastic opening act, during which Disney staples such as Goofy, Snow White and the Candlestick from "Beauty and the Beast" glided over the rink of the Honda Center (home to ice hockey team the Anaheim Ducks) to get the audience fired up.

Much more focused on the ice skating itself than previous Disney on Ice incarnations, "Let's Celebrate!" offered up skilled skaters who interacted with the audience (the skater playing Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" really seemed to delight in his role) and who had no qualms about adding flips, spins and maybe even a Salchow into the mix.

One highlight that really stuck with CC was the "Fantasia" segment, in which Mickey donned his wizardry apparel and summoned a bevy of broomsticks.

At least 20 skaters appeared on the ice dressed as the tall dusters, donning black-light lit striped handles (which covered their faces; I have no idea how they saw anything) and straw-colored pants.

The sheer number of broomstick-clad skaters was truly dazzling, and the clever costumes only added to the fun. But top that with engaging and energizing choreography, and it was a recipe for sweet -- and shivery -- success.

"Disney on Ice presents Let's Celebrate!" will be at the Honda Center in Orange County through Dec. 26, before traveling to the Inland Empire's Citizens Business Bank Arena Dec. 29-Jan. 2. The show will end its SoCal run at the Long Beach Arena Jan. 5-9, 2011.

Note: Press tickets provided.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Dinosaur Train All Aboard!' Game Review

Preschoolers can pretend they're traveling through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods with the "Dinosaur Train All Aboard!" game, recently released by The Jim Henson Company and Pressman Toy Corporation.

CC enjoyed a brief ride, alongside her 3-year-old friend, who corrected CC when she announced she would be playing with the Conductor piece.

"It's Mr. Conductor," her little friend said.

Sent to me for review, the game is based on the PBS Kids animated series that has a family of winged Pteranodons -- plus one adopted T-Rex -- visiting all sorts of dinosaurs on the titular dinosaur train. This magic locomotive has the power to transport dinos in between time periods, offering a learning experience for everyone on board. Mr. Conductor is the friendly guy who explains who's on the train, where they're headed and what's so cool about each prehistoric playmate.

Similar to "Candy Land" in its simplicity, "Dinosaur Train All Aboard!" (2 to 6 players ages 4+; SRP: $12) has kids choosing their characters and moving around the board using a spinner. The object is to get to the nest in the middle, and players have to follow dino tracks to get there. Special stopwatch spaces allow them to take short cuts along the tracks.

While I appreciate the simplicity for little learners, I was really hoping the kids would have more opportunities to learn about different dinosaurs.

There is a "Field Guide" included with the game, and includes information on Triceratops, Stegosauruses, T-Rex's, among others, but it would have been better (imho) to have incorporated that info into the game itself -- on the "Dinosaur Crossing" spaces, for instance.

Also, there is very little distinction on the board between the trio of time periods.

"Dinosaur Train All Aboard!" could be a nice way to spend some time with your preschooler, but I hope newer incarnations of the game will offer material just as rich as the PBS Kids series. After all, our kids are up for it, as demonstrated by so many little fans of the show!

Monday, December 20, 2010

What to Do When Christmas Tree Lines Become Too Long ...

Whip out the iPod Touch. That's exactly what CC did while we were standing in what seemed like an endless line of Christmas tree customers.

The kid's a master on the touch-screen gadget, and it really helps out in situations like these. (Otherwise, she might have tried to climb a Douglas fir or played hopscotch on five or 10 wreaths.)

Of course, you might overhear, as I did, a pointed and loud conversation about how old children should be before playing with one of these tech toys.

I, however, bit my tongue (you're welcome, Christmas tree crowd) and reveled in the fact that my 4-year-old child was not only in complete control of the device but was also occupied, entertained and playing quietly.

And isn't that really a Christmas gift in and of itself?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coming Attraction: L.A. County Holiday Celebration

On Christmas Eve, performers from all over Los Angeles County representing a multitude of cultures will hit the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage for the 51st annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration.

Twenty-three music and dance troupes celebrating Korean, Mexican, Hawaiian and other traditions will take center stage at the free (yes, free!) three-hour extravaganza.

CC and I had the chance to attend rehearsals for the mammoth project a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing to see what's in store for the evening before Christmas.

We watched as the professional-sounding Palmdale High School Choral Union sang Yuletide tunes and Halau O Lilinoe, based in Carson, Calif., choreographed their island dances.

CC was enthralled and a couple of times wanted to get in on the acts herself.

Other highlights of the show will include:

  • “Snowflake Boogie,” hip-hop version of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride by Antics Performance
  • classical chamber music blended with indie rock sounds from Loch & Key
  • toy soldiers in a Dixieland-style tap dance by the Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation
  • songs in English and Hebrew from the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus
  • contemporary gospel sounds from Christian's Community Center Cathedral Choir
  • the traditional “One Drum Dance” from Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy
  • folk music from the Caribbean coast of Colombia by Mr. Vallenato
Sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the program is free to the public but requires a wristband for entry. (Wristbands are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 24 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.)

Can't make it to the performance? Lucky for you, the celebration will be broadcast live on KCET and KPFK-FM and streamed live at

What a great way to celebrate the holidays! CC and I can't wait!

51st Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Friday, Dec. 24, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets: Free (wristband required for entry; offered on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 24 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion). Parking, too, will be gratis.

More information: 213-972-3099 or

(Photo of Balle Fette of Senegal, above right, is courtesy of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Ramona and Beezus' DVD Review

When I was a curious munchkin myself, I used to disappear into the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. The overzealous and sometimes mischievous little girl was an inspiration to an 8-year-old with her own adventurous spirit.

And while I didn't get into as many sticky situations as Ramona, I could still console myself after parental admonitions that some other kid had managed to have it worse than I did.

After all, I'd never spilled paint all over my neighbor's car.

That's why when I had the opportunity to review this year's DVD incarnation of the books, "Ramona and Beezus" (SRP $29.98), from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Walden Media, I was curious to see how the adventures would play out on screen.

And, for the most part, it works.

The story centers on Ramona Quimby (played by the adorable Joey King), a naturally curious elementary school girl who mingles that curiosity with a true lack of embarrassment -- a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. She and her sister, Beezus (Disney favorite Selena Gomez) have to deal with the fact that their dad (John Corbett) has just been laid off, which is affecting their home life in a big way.

In the process, Ramona has to deal with just getting through the day at school -- a difficult task when you get stuck upside-down on playground equipment or cover yourself in mud.

The most important thing in this movie was to nail the Ramona character, which King did with total charm. There's a fine line between being sympathetically ornery and just plain obnoxious, and King really pulled it off.

It was the adults who were a little less compelling, taking a way back seat to the childhood antics. While this G-rated movie was perfectly appropriate for CC, she's still a little young to sit through the entire film. But for kids who are a few years older, this is a fun entertainment option. Parents, though, might not be as entertained.

A couple of DVD extras, which weren't on the screener I received, sound like great additions to the movie, particularly "My Ramona with Beverly Cleary" and "Show & Tell Film School -- Tips and tricks on how kids can make their own movie."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rockettes Kickstart Christmas at Nokia

"The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes"
(photo courtesy of Madison Square Garden, LP)

The Radio City Rockettes high-stepped it into the Nokia Theatre this weekend, and, wow, did it feel like Christmas!

From fur-lined holiday costumes to familiar yuletide songs to even a few appearances from Santa Claus himself, "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular," which is now touring the country in addition to entertaining New Yorkers at Radio City Music Hall, was truly rousing and, well, spectacular.

It was CC's and my first time seeing the famous dancers -- well, except for when they stopped briefly by the Santa Monica Pier this summer -- and it's been years since Ian had seen them in the Big Apple as a young Manhattanite.

And from the second row of the Nokia, we had an amazing view. CC watched with wide eyes as the dancers marched as toy soldiers and kicked up their heels in a Can-Can take on dancing rag dolls.

It also didn't hurt when a blizzard of white confetti and colorful streamers shot from cannons alongside the stage.

Perhaps the most nostalgia-inducing number, though, was when the Rockettes and other dancers boarded an open-top, double-decker bus that "toured" the streets of New York -- from Radio City Music Hall past Rockefeller Center, up 5th Avenue to Central Park -- which appeared on a huge digital screen on stage.

It made Ian and I want to go back to the city, where we used to live, if only to show CC the lights along 59th Street or 5th Avenue or anywhere else on the island.

After a poignant finale, which followed a gorgeous manger scene with Mary and Joseph (the real reason for the season), we headed out into the warm L.A. sun.

"I liked every part of the show," CC said as we left, anticipating my eternal question of what she liked best.

"Every part?" I asked.

"Every part."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sesame Street eBooks Offer Kids a New Way to Read

With the popularity of Kindles, Nooks and iPads on the rise, it only makes sense that e-reading is becoming a reality for the preschool set as well as the jet set. To that end, Sesame Street has launched an eBookstore in tech partnership with Impelsys, Inc.

I had the opportunity to check out the site gratis in an effort to see exactly how it works and to gauge CC's interest in reading images on a screen that do for books what websites did for magazines and newspapers -- that is, give full-color, interactive representations of words and images.

If that sounds a little wonky, the actual process is not. The paid website ($3.99 per month or $39.99 per year) -- -- is super-easy to navigate, and the graphics appeal to young readers and listeners, including CC.

Yes, I said listeners. In addition to eBooks that kids read themselves, there are also audio eBooks and animated eBooks, which allow kids to interact with the stories.

At the click of a button, tykes can turn pages, zoom in on the screen, enlarge the image to full screen and even print pages. It's pretty awesome.

That means children can read at their own pace and at their own level. It also increases independence, as they work through the buttons and prompts. CC, in fact, tried to make off with my laptop in order to keep reading about Elmo and Abby Cadabby -- a definite mixed blessing.

There are more than 125 eBooks on the site, so the selection is nice. (Although, don't be surprised if your child wants to read the same book over and over again. That's what happened with CC.) There is also a Free eBook of the Month, if you and your kids just want to browse.

It's amazing to me just how closely eBooks resemble real, tangible books that are on CC's bookshelf at home. Of course, you have to fire up the computer to read these e-versions, but with kids like mine, who already know how to work an iPhone ... well, parents, welcome to the Digital Age.

The tykes already own it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Narnia' Stars Visit Los Angeles + Giveaway

Will Poulter ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"), me, CC and Santa
at the Beverly Center Ice Palace

Congrats to Pokie and Vita, who won the autographed "Narnia" posters. Please email me at with your address, and I'll mail them right away. Thanks again to all who participated!

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,"
the third installment in the latest "Narnia" franchise, is hitting theaters on Friday, Dec. 10, and there's been lots of snowy hype in anticipation of its arrival.

Last month, we visited the festive (and super-crowded!) ice palace, on display at the Beverly Center until Dec. 24, where we bumped into Santa Claus and a couple of the movie's stars, Georgie Henley (who plays Lucy) and Will Poulter (Eustace).

I also had the opportunity to chat with Henley and Poulter (pictured right, and yes, I should have worn heels) at a small round-table discussion at the Sofitel Hotel, across from the Beverly Center, while the pair were making the rounds in L.A.

Both kids were charming and very excited about their upcoming film -- one that sports a $2.7 million ship, the titular Dawn Treader, that will never sail a single sea. Yes, the ironies of Hollywood.

This entry in the "Narnia" storyline has Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, alongside their cousin Eustace, falling through a painting and landing on board the Dawn Treader. According to press notes, "they overcome their greatest temptations and shortcomings, as they travel to mysterious islands and a pool that turns anything it touches into gold." They will also reunite with their friend, the "Great Lion" Aslan, as the fate of Narnia rests with them.

Asked if their teenage lives parallel the movie's emotional adventures in any way, the 15-year-old Henley said, "In 'The Dawn Treader,' Lucy goes through tons of insecurities when she has to deal with jealousy and her insecurities in the way she looks as well as dealing with the way people treated her."

"I believe this is something that all teenage girls encounter at some point," Henley continued. "I know it's something I've encountered already, and it's just a natural experience, a rite of passage."

The 17-year-old Poulter agreed, saying it's a "cool message" to send to other young girls.

"Teenage girls in the audience see a strong girl," he said, "and that's a nice thing for them to be able to relate to in Lucy's character."

In the film, the kids all face temptations, something both Henley (who began the franchise with the 2005 "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe") and Poulter say is great for kids to watch, so they can see that others can overcome those obstacles.

"I think that's what's really great about the film," Henley said, "and I believe that makes it a powerful tool for teenagers."

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 posters of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" autographed by Georgie Henley and Will Poulter.

Just leave a comment below, with your email address, telling me what you've enjoyed about the "Narnia" movies. If you see "Dawn Treader" on or after the 10th, feel free to comment on that movie.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page.

Just be sure to leave extra comments telling me you did so.

Good luck, and I'll announce the 2 winners on this post (not a separate one) Tuesday, Dec. 14!

CBS Los Angeles: Weekly Tips for Families

Please check out my latest post, "This Week's Top Family Picks."

From the Rockettes to the Los Angeles Children's Chorus performance, there are plenty of things to do this week in the Los Angeles area.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, CC! You're 4!

Happy Birthday, my little bear! I can't believe you're already 4 years old!

We had a wonderful time at your party today at Menchie's in Santa Monica. And judging by lots of smiling, painted faces (thank you, Paint on Your Face), your little friends had a great time, too.

What I loved most was you thanking Mommy and Daddy for such a great day. How thoughtful!

You are my little darling, and even though you're growing into such a lovely, big girl, you will always be my baby. (In fact, you always look the part when you fall asleep.)

I love you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids Help Children's Hospital of Orange County

Teens, tweens and CC were out in full force for the Kids Help Children event last month to benefit Children's Hospital of Orange County, aka CHOC.

Mostly girls crowded around the red carpet in one courtyard of the Anaheim Hilton Hotel to catch a glimpse of young stars in attendance. From Chelsea Staub ("Jonas") to Joey King ("Ramona & Beezus"), from Shane Harper ("High School Musical 2") to Ryan Ochoa ("iCarly"), the kings and queens (er, princes and princesses) of the Disney and Nickelodeon set had kids squealing and giggling.

While CC was somewhat immune to the celebrity hype (except for the SeaWorld penguin in attendance), what she did enjoy were all the kid-friendly activities, including a bouncy obstacle course, an amazing balloon artist (left) and a game that involved pirates, prizes and small whiffle balls.

All of the festivities served as a fundraiser and toy drive for CHOC, and specifically the hospital's Child Life program, which supports hospitalized children's need to play, create art and engage in pet therapy.

Kids in attendance, including my own, could also contribute while strengthening their sharing skills. The Kids Help Children "Toy Store" offered a fun opportunity for kids to choose a prize for themselves and a prize for a CHOC patient.

The ticketed event (we were provided press passes) raised an estimated $36,000 in cash and donations.

For more information, or to find out how you can help, visit

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CBSLosAngeles: Awesome Libraries!

Please check out my latest post on, "Best Libraries for Kids in and around Los Angeles."

From the sustainably built Santa Monica Library to the gorgeous Children's Literature Department within the Central Library downtown, there's something for every curious mind.


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