Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy 4th Blog-iversary!

On this last day of September, I wanted to say just how amazed I am that this blog is now 4 years old. (With all of this preggo hoopla going on, I missed my actual blog-iversary date of Sept. 9.)

It's so hard to believe that it's been four years since I decided to start chronicling life with my little smurf. We've been on so many adventures, and I can't wait for more.

In fact, our biggest adventure is probably yet to come ... in about 12 days, if my doctor is correct. CC has been so wonderful about the prospect of getting a new little brother. First, she called him Tom (it was either that or Jerry), then Target (guess you know where we go all the time) and now William. We'll see if that one sticks.

She's such an amazing girl, and I know she'll be a wonderful big sister. Tom/Target/William will be lucky to have her.

And I'm lucky to have the great readership that has come with L.A. Story. I love reading the comments (here and on Facebook and Twitter), and I'm so thankful that people are interested in reading about our lives in L.A. Thank you!

Now, what to do about that logo ...

Friday, September 28, 2012

'Hotel Transylvania' Review

The super-kid-friendly Hotel Transylvania, from Sony Pictures Animation, opened today, and you can check out my review here.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jumpstart Read for the Record *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to Marcela, who won the Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad book! Please email me at with your address. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You know I love reading -- and I especially love reading to CC. It's so important to both Ian and me that her world is filled with imaginative books that she can pick from every night before bed.

That's why I love programs that promote reading among children, and Jumpstart's Read for the Record is a great one. (You might remember earlier posts about the annual campaign here and here.)

This year, Jumpstart is hoping to break a record by having kids all over the country read the children's book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman and Jacky Davis on Oct. 4. (Last year, 2.2 million people participated.)

CC and I read it before bedtime tonight, and it's an imaginative story about Lulu, a girl who leads her friends on a fun bug-themed adventure outdoors. But she has her own friendship lesson to learn when she does something without asking first.

CC loved the costumes illustrated in the book, and I know we'll be reading it again -- especially on Oct. 4. You can, too, by either purchasing the book or reading it online for free. Also ...

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 1 copy of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, courtesy of Jumpstart.

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your child's favorite book.
For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page and share the giveaway.

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

Good luck, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday, Oct. 4!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Guys with Kids' *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to Ruth, who won the studio taping tickets! I'll send an email with further details. Thanks for playing! I laughed out loud at your comment.

It's true that dads today are way more involved with their kiddos than they ever have been before. If you could have seen Ian five years ago, you would have noticed a certain little accessory hanging from his shoulders almost constantly. (And I mean CC and not some sort of man-purse.)

That's why NBC's new comedy Guys with Kids, premiering tonight at 8:30 p.m./7:30 p.m CT, seems more relevant than ever. Created by funny man and executive producer Jimmy Fallon, the show focuses on a trio of married and divorced, working and stay-at-home dads who are balancing their 30-something years with Baby Bjorns. (Have you seen the commercial with them in the bar?! Very funny.)

The show stars Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger as the dads Gary, Chris and Nick, respectively, and Tempestt Bledsoe, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Erinn Hayes as the moms.

And, according to NBC, "no tantrum is too loud, no diaper is too dirty -- Nick, Chris and Gary are up to the challenge."

Stay tuned for my interview with Anthony Anderson and executive producer/creator Charlie Grandy!

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 tickets to see a live studio taping of Guys with Kids, courtesy of NBC.

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your best/funniest/favorite parenting moment.

*Keep in mind that you need to live in the L.A. area. Travel and/or other accommodations/prizes will not be included. The taping will be in October, with the exact date yet to be determined.*

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

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

Good luck, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday, Oct. 3!

"Guys with Kids" on NBC. (Photo courtesy of NBC)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Won't Back Down' Review

If you're looking for a rousing, mom-friendly movie this weekend, check out my review of Won't Back Down, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.

The film, from Walden Media and 20th Century Fox, is about two moms (one a teacher) who want to fix their children's crumbling public school.

It should definitely get you fired up -- if only to finish that volunteer project you promised your child's teacher would be done by Monday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guess Who's Losing Her Teeth?

This girl!

It all started this summer with her bottom teeth, but another one has just been sent to the Tooth Fairy.

Between this and kindergarten, I feel like my little CC is growing up so fast!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

NCircle Entertainment's Back-to-School DVD *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to kidstuff, who won the four DVDs from NCircle! Please email me at with your address, and I'll have it sent as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone who participated (and to for helping me decide)!

School is officially back in session, and kids are getting into the swing of rising early and adjusting to homework. I know CC has had to get used to both -- especially the homework part, which was a bit of a shock after the playful bygone days of preschool. Luckily, courtesy of NCircle Entertainment, I'm giving away a few back-to-school DVD treats that should make the weekends extra fun.

The Gruffalo's Child, the sequel to one of CC's favorite short animated films, The Gruffalo, is the sweet story of a little girl gruffalo who wants to explore the world beyond the snowy cave where she lives with her dad. Even though Daddy Gruffalo warns her not to visit the deep dark woods -- and tells her a scary tale of the Big Bad Mouse -- this only serves to pique her curiosity more. She bravely sets off on her own in search of this mysterious mouse.

CC has had a lot of fun with this DVD, and I think a craft day is in store very soon. Noodly Doodly Things to Make, a show you might have caught on Sprout, offers kids and parents fun and easy crafts to make, including butterflies, as well as bake-sale treats. What I love is that Sean and friends Noodle and Doodle also encourage kiddos to clean up. Nice!

I'm a big fan of WordWorld. Any show that turns everyday objects into actual words and makes that fun for kids gets an A+ in my book. In WordWorld: To the Rescue, Duck and Fly want to be firefighters like their friend Firefighter Frog. But the gang -- and the kids at home -- have lots to learn about what to look for before they see a fire (*cough* smoke *cough*).

CC has really gotten into dinosaurs over the past year, so Dino Dan is always great for inspiring lots of prehistoric-based questions. In case you haven't seen it, Dan's the kid who uses his imagination to bring dinosaurs into real life -- well, only he can see them. On Dino Dan: Where the Dinosaurs Are, there are lots of story lines, from Dan teaching a baby Triceratops to outwit a hungry Spinosaurus to a sleepover adventure at the Royal Ontario Museum.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away all 4 of the above NCircle Entertainment DVDs!

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your child's favorite part of school so far.

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

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

Good luck, and I will announce the winner on Friday, Sept. 28!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coming Attraction: ZamFest Kids Arts & Music Festival

When it comes to planning kids' festivals, some organizers draw inspiration from children's TV or even family-friendly events around the city.

Not Paul Kim, creator of the annual ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for kids. His inspiration? The uber-hip and decidedly un-kid-centric Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which draws thousands of hipsters young and old to the Coachella Valley every year.

"It was great how (the Coachella organizers) focused on the experience itself, and it wasn't a giant commercial event," Kim said.

And that's exactly what he wanted to bring to the Los Angeles area -- not only for little Angelenos ages 10 and under, but also for his daughter, Zoe, who's now 8.

ZamFest, now in its second year and taking place on Sunday, Sept. 23, is a kids festival that offers a variety of interactive games and activities geared toward the right side of the brain, Kim says. Kids, he adds, are being shorted by LAUSD, what with all of the cuts, especially to arts and music classes, and he wanted to offer something to families that was equally as important as 2+2=4.

Not only that, but he was also less than impressed with other kids' festivals around town.

"I would take my daughter to kids' festivals, and over and over again I'd be disappointed," he says. "The focus wasn't on the kids. There would be booths of people selling stuff and maybe a bouncy house. I was really inspired by Coachella and thought that someone needed to put together what they did -- where festivalgoers are engaged with the experience and not the bottom line."

So Kim replaced the vendors with creative-based businesses (songwriting, music, paper-plane making) that would engage kids on a creative level.

He decided to call it ZamFest, both for Generation Z (aka, our kids now) and for his daughter, Zoe. While last year's festival took place in Long Beach to attract visitors from both L.A. and Orange Counties, this year, the festival will be firmly situated in West L.A., at University High School.

And that's not the only change. This year, to accommodate kids who are completely wrapped up in activities, Kim has gotten rid of the stage for live music, instead opting for a street performer feel, a la Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. That way, kids can walk by and see the performers on their level instead of having to look up at a stage.

Sounds like an event that can inspire the kiddos -- especially his own.

"I've tried to include (Zoe) as much as possible," Kim says. "She helped design the T-shirt and logo."

And last year, he adds, "she was running around like she owned the place."

ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for Kids
University High School
11800 Ohio Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Sunday, Sept. 23 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Tickets: $5 (pre-sale); $8 (at the door); Free (kids 3 and younger)
Activity Tickets: $5 for 5 tickets; $7 for 12; $12 for 20; $25 for unlimited wristband

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coming Attraction: 10th Birthday Party at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

Happy 10th Birthday to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, which is celebrating the occasion this Saturday, Sept. 22, with a free, family-friendly party.

In addition to cool exhibitions of landscape artist Edgar Payne and sculptural artists Layer, the museum will also have live music on offer, as well as hands-on workshops for the kiddos, video art, DJs, food trucks and more.

CC and I haven't yet visited the museum, but this sounds like a fun outing for a California kid to learn more about his or her home.

Pasadena Museum of California Art
10th Birthday Party
Sat., Sept. 22 (12 p.m.-5 p.m.)
Admission: Free

490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA. 91101

Saturday, September 15, 2012

L.A. County Fair *Giveaway*

The Ferris Wheel at dusk (Photo courtesy of the L.A. County Fair)
UPDATE: Congrats to James Hames, who won the tickets and parking pass to the L.A. County Fair! Please email me at with your address, and I'll send them right away. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You know we love the L.A. County Fair. It was, of course, the place where CC milked her first (well, only) goat -- and where I get to indulge my crazy sweet tooth (hello, Texas-sized donut! Yes, I shared. :)

This year, while going to the fair has become such a great tradition with us, we're going to sit this one out. At eight months pregnant, I'm feeling the need to stay close to home and out of the sun. It's been so hot lately, and I think I would totally melt -- or pass out, another pastime of mine -- if I walked for more than five minutes in the scorching sun.

That said, I still wanted to give away tickets to the L.A. County Fair, which runs through Sept. 30 at the Fairplex in Pomona.

In addition to the always awesome FairView Farms (yay, pigs, and goat-filled petting zoo!), the rides and the signature food, this year the fair will feature A Living Library of Fun. Kids will be able to explore 8-foot tall books and see fictional characters make real-life appearances. Apparently, children don't even have to whisper. (A plus for kiddos like mine.) They'll also be able to spot favorite superheroes on Saturdays and Sundays and participate in arts and crafts.

Hope they have all of that next year, when we have another L.A. Story kiddo to introduce to donuts and, yes, goats!

L.A. County Fair
Through Sept. 30
Fairplex at Pomona
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
Tickets: $12, $17 (adults weekdays, weekends); $7, $12 (children ages 6-12 weekdays, weekends)
Parking: $12 (weekdays); $15 (weekends)

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 tickets and 1 parking pass to the L.A. County Fair.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite part of the fair.

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

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

Good luck, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday, Sept. 19!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coming Attraction: World City at The Music Center *Free*

Barynya, a group that performs Russian music and dance, will kick off the 10th anniversary season of World City at The Music Center.
World City at The Music Center, a program that offers free performances from international acts, will kick off its 10th anniversary season on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Hailing from countries such as Russia, Colombia and Sweden, performers from all over the world will introduce their music and culture to Los Angeles-area families on select Saturdays or Sundays through May 18.

Performances are free and will take place at the W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre at Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown.

First on the lineup is Barynya, a group that performs traditional Russian, Ukrainian, Siberian and Jewish dances, among others. Not only will families be able to enjoy the traditional music and dance, but they'll also be able to check out the colorful, handmade costumes and instruments such as the balalaika (a triangular-shaped guitar).

Other performances on the schedule include Scandinavian dancers, a zydeco group and puppet theater from Taiwan.

Extra fun for the kiddos are the free passports that will be given out at each performance!

World City at the Music Center
W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre
111 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Sept. 15-May 18 (select Saturdays or Sundays; 11 a.m. and 12: 30 p.m.)
Tickets: Free and are distributed at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Blue Ribbon Garden
Phone: (213) 972-4396

Monday, September 10, 2012

Frances Fisher Talks 'Titanic,' Motherhood and Clint Eastwood

When Titanic hit theaters in 1997, I was living in Hamburg, Germany. I remember going to the movie theater next to the Hauptbahnhof (or main train station) and catching what would be my first of four times watching the film (in English as well as dubbed in German) very far away from home.

I was hooked. Not only were the effects amazing, but I fell in love with the love story -- and a little bit with Leonardo DiCaprio. (I mean, who wouldn't after the way he looked at Kate Winslet's Rose?)

Frances Fisher in Titanic
Fifteen years later, the Blu-ray 3D edition (SRP: $54.99) has arrived in stores, and I had the chance to talk to Frances Fisher (who played Winslet's character's mom, Ruth Dewitt Bukater, in the film) about making the movie, motherhood and former love Clint Eastwood (who also happens to be the father of her only daughter, Francesca).

L.A. Story:  What part of the filming of Titanic had the biggest effect on you personally?

Frances Fisher: When I read the script, it's always a good sign when I read it from beginning to end without putting it down. I know it's something that caught my attention. And I have tear stains on my script, in two places, one where the old couple lay down in the bed to drown together and also the mother putting her children to bed. When I read those two sentences, I burst into tears, and I knew that this was going to have an impact on audiences.

And this was such a laser beam into the times, where a mother is trying to protect her daughter in the only way she knows how because she only has a certain number of tools. And she's trying to protect her daughter and give her as much as she can by saying, "Marry the boy, and then go do whatever you want," which was my (character's) subtext. I just thought it was such a powerful scene to show the older generation and the new generation.

L.A. Story: Being the parent of a teen, do you have any advice for moms who are parenting their own teen girls?

Frances Fisher: My advice would be not to take anything personally that your daughter says to you because she's trying to define herself, she's trying to individuate. And as close as you are to your child as they're growing up and you're their whole world, there comes a time when they see past you to the rest of the world, and you have to give them that ability to thrive and step out and become who they are. And the best thing to do that I've discovered is just to be there, hold on to your own values, and love them. Just continue to love them. As much as they fight you and try to do things that might horrify you, they need you more than ever

L.A. Story: Do you have any advice you've given your daughter that you're proud of?

Frances Fisher: I have learned that whatever I say, my daughter will do the opposite, so now I'm using reverse psychology on her. I'll say, "OK, do that," and she'll say, "Well, maybe I won't."

I think loving them unconditionally and hanging on to your own values is the most important thing -- and not falling into the trap of trying to become friends with them too early.

L.A. Story: When your daughter looks back at Titanic or any of your other movies, does she see you in your characters?

Frances Fisher: You know, kids don't care about their parents in that way. I'm her mom, and I've done a bunch of movies.

When (the filming of Titanic) was happening, she was 3 years old, and I brought her to the set. She was so enthralled with Titanic, she would watch it all the time. She would throw all her Barbies into the pool and pretend she was Kate. We would do the scene where Kate walks down the stairs and greets Leo. I would kiss her hand every night before dinner. I made her a little dress that was a copy of Kate's dress, and she was enthralled by it all. She loved it.

L.A. Story: With Francesca being on the reality show Mrs. Eastwood & Company, is that strange for you to have her be in that world?

Frances Fisher: Well, that was one of the times when she didn't take my advice, and I thought, "OK, well, go do that, spread your wings, and I'll be there."

L.A. Story: Speaking of the Eastwoods and Clint Eastwood ... for parents who are no longer together, I know it's hard to keep up a relationship when you have kids. How have you been able to stay positive about your former relationship for your daughter?

Frances Fisher: I think the most important thing is to not say anything negative about the other parent because the child has both sets of blood running through their veins. And it's very important, too, to remind them that at one point, Mommy and Daddy loved each other very much. And circumstances beyond one's control places you in a different direction.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Coming Attraction: Disney Baby Store Opening

The first Disney Baby Store celebrated a limited celeb-friendly opening today at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, and I wish I could have been there to see it. Of course, the day job comes first, but with only about five weeks to go in my pregnancy, I'm all about baby gear -- and super-cute baby gear at that.

I was able to catch a sneak peek earlier this year of some of the store's newest items, and I was impressed with so many of the products and their design -- particularly this multi-functional Minnie Mouse Pack 'N Play from Graco ($219.99).

For those of you who missed today's opening, there will be an official public opening of the Disney Baby Store on Saturday, Sept. 8, with fun extras to boot. Here are the details:

* Ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.
* Meet and greet and family photo opportunity with Winnie the Pooh and friends, from 12-4 p.m.
* The first 100 babies will receive special Disney Baby Mickey Mouse ears.


Disney Baby Store
The Americana at Brand
889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More Reasons to Love Santa Barbara

CC gets her first pedicure.
To celebrate our anniversary, Ian and I decided we'd make a weekend of it in Santa Barbara -- our go-to spot for SoCal relaxation.

We love going to Santa Barbara...something you might have already gathered from how often I've posted about it on this blog.

While we have our favorite things to do (walking up and down State Street, for one), we also love discovering new things. And, of course, relaxing. (Yes, I've said that once already.)

This time, relaxing involved a mother-daughter mani-pedi session -- which was all Ian's idea! While I opted for the mani and the pedi, CC enjoyed her first pedicure, and her feet look so cute. The polka dots on top of the purple polish were genius. (Thank you, pedicure woman!)

After that, we all headed to a quaint little French restaurant, tucked into small arcade, called Petit Valentien. While it might have been difficult to keep a 5-year-old entertained while out and about, we didn't have to worry about that for long.

Our little one fell asleep shortly after the salad course, leaving us able to enjoy a lovely, romantic dinner on our own, with our little angel snoozing quietly close by.

CC at Petit Valentien in Santa Barbara.


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