Wednesday, February 20, 2013

'Mulan' Offers Up Girl Power at the El Capitan

CC stands on Hollywood Boulevard outside the El Capitan. (The bleachers are for the Oscars, on Feb. 24.)
Out of all the Disney "princess" movies, Mulan is by far CC's favorite. In fact, she asked for a Mulan doll for Christmas (it was actually hard to find!), and she's memorized a couple of the songs—I've heard I'll Make a Man Out of You more than a few times from my car's back seat.

That's why I was so excited that the 1998 Disney film was coming to Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre. (It's playing through March 6.) CC and I gladly accepted an invitation to go and take a look. As expected, it was magical.

Of course we had to brave the packed stretch of Hollywood Boulevard that's overflowing with bleachers for this weekend's Oscars. There were tons of people out, passing through the pre-award show madness.

Once we got inside, I remembered just how amazing the theater is for kids—and adults, too. The organist was playing classic Disney songs. Kids and their parents were filing in, carrying popcorn and drinks, and we were even greeted by an usher from Berlin! (CC got to practice a few words.)

Mulan (Photo: (c) Disney)
Mulan was preceded by a fun dance performance by a costumed Mulan character. Capped off with a colorful pop of confetti, the pre-show was an especially entertaining way to settle in before the show.

The movie itself, about a young woman in China who must pretend to be a man to fight in the army against the Huns, is inspiring and a great source of girl-power inspiration for CC. I love that Mulan was so courageous and fought for what she believed in—making mistakes along the way, sure, but kicking some serious Hun bum.

Take a look, if you're looking for a fun outing with the kiddos. What I especially loved was that CC and I could get some good mother-daughter time in over the weekend. That's become a little rarer these days, and I don't want her to forget just how much I love being with her.

El Capitan Theatre
Through March 6
6838 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tickets: Starting at $10

Note: Press VIP tickets were provided.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

4 Months Old!

4 months old!
Baby Will just keeps on growing! Not only is he coo-ing and laughing at CC's antics (he loves when she dances and sings Itsy Bitsy Spider), but he's very close to rolling over. He just has to figure out what to do with that one arm, and he's good to go.

He's at such a cuddly age right now, and I love just how chubby and kissable his cheeks are. It's a far cry from when he was nursing as if his life depended on it (well, I guess it did) what seemed like every 5 minutes. Back then, he was barely gaining weight. Now, he's solidly in the 75th percentile, and his doctor loves it.

I'm really just happy that he's healthy and happy himself. In fact, he has the sweetest disposition, which makes all of us smile.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

'Beautiful Creatures' Created by L.A. Moms

Beautiful Creatures, the supernatural saga of teen romance that takes place down South, hits theaters today, and credit a pair of L.A. moms for dreaming up this tempestuous world.

And who do they give a lot of the credit to? Why, their kids, of course.

Kami Garcia, a former teacher who's mom to 5- and 8-year-old kids, and Margaret Stohl, a former videogame industry wizard with 11-, 17- and 19-year-old girls, are the masterminds behind this tale of forbidden friendship and sorcery—that is, the 600-page novel and subsequent franchise that was turned into a film.

The story centers on Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a popular South Carolina teen who can't seem to shake dreams of a mysterious girl on a Civil War battlefield. Arriving as a newbie to school one day is Lena (Alice Englert), who turns Ethan's world upside down. Turns out this mysterious young lady is a Caster (similar to a witch) who will be chosen for either good or evil on her 16th birthday. Yikes!

Add to this ultra-dramatic story sassy Southern characters portrayed in the Richard LaGravenese-directed film by Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis.

Both Garcia and Stohl are huge fans of young adult fiction as well as science fiction, which informed their writing. What also heavily influenced the story was input from their kids, mainly Stohl's teens.

Take a look at my conference-call interview with Garcia and Stohl on to see how they balanced motherhood with novel-writing -- and equally sassy teens.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to ring in the sweet holiday than with a donut-flavored card. :)

Find more free Valentine's Day printables at (I actually used these for CC's class.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Parents' Night Out: 'Safe Haven' + Premiere

Get your tissues, folks. Safe Haven, starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, could have you blubbering in your seat -- or possibly even ugly crying.

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel on the red carpet.
I had the chance to attend the star-studded premiere of the film last week at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and not only did I get a glimpse of Duhamel and Hough, I also caught sight of Ryan Seacrest, Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw, the last two even performing before the movie began.

Ryan Seacrest
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John), Safe Haven is a romantic thriller about a young woman (Hough) who shows up in a North Carolina town with secrets of her own. She slowly joins the community and is ready to settle down, but her past keeps trying to catch up with her. She meets a widowed store owner, Alex (Duhamel), who has two kids of his own, but who's the guy who can't seem to let her go?

Safe Haven is somewhat of a mystery. From the beginning, we know that Hough's character, Katie, is on the run. But why? Seems a relationship has gone south — way south — and we don't know if she's innocent or something much worse.

The love story in the film is sweet and (sometimes) fraught, as Katie holds her cards close. As she gets closer to Alex, it's easy to get caught up in their romance. (Definitely a date night film, parents!) But with Katie not being what she seems, are Alex and his kids at risk? And who's that friendly neighbor (Cobie Smulders) that keeps checking in on Katie?

Like I said, get some tissues, because those answers might have you reaching for more than just the popcorn.

The movie opens nationwide on Valentine's Day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Adventures in the Crystal Empire' Review

The latest DVD installment from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, released by Shout! Factory Kids in December, is a new favorite for CC.

In Adventures in the Crystal Empire, the ponies, led by bookish Twilight Sparkle, embark on another adventure that once again pits light forces against the darker ones looming over Equestria (is that the draw for the Bronie crew?), and it's up to the brave ponies—and Spike—to save the day.

In the two-part episode, the Crystal Empire is a magical place that appears in the arctic north of Equestria. The crystal ponies, not so crystal-like in the beginning, are downtrodden because of an evil overlord pony that's controlling their world.

Princess Celestia asks Twilight Sparkle to lead the charge, along with pony friends including Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Apple Jack and Fluttershy, to bring happiness back to the kingdom.

CC was completely entranced, watching as the ponies tried, made mistakes and, ultimately, *spoiler alert* saved the day.

At one point, I asked who the pink pony was. (I blame baby brain for my forgetfulness.)

CC looked at me, exasperated, and said, "Pinkie Pie! Don't you know your ponies?!"

Her favorite, though, is Fluttershy.

"Why do you like Fluttershy so much?" I asked.

"Because she's so sweet and shy," CC said.

That surprised me, given how boisterous CC is.

Regardless, the ponies came through once again, teaching CC about persistence, confidence and friendship.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

'Sesame Street' Spoofs 'Downton Abbey'

Have you seen this fun video of "Sesame Street" spoofing fellow PBS show "Downton Abbey?"
Watching it made me laugh and definitely feel better after last week's "DA" episode. Poor Sybil.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog (Photo via National Geographic Kids)
Happy Groundhog Day! Looks like our Pennsylvania friend Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow.

Granted I always forget what that means. Of course, I have a 50/50 chance of getting it right, but still.

Anyway, it looks as if we can look forward to an early spring! Woo-hoo!

And speaking of cute, furry animals, did you know that the National Wildlife Federation makes it possible for kids (anyone, really) to symbolically adopt an animal? Kids can adopt a snowy owl, a harp seal, bison and lots of other animals. Just make a donation, and they'll receive goodies such as a stuffed animal, poster and a certificate of adoption. That, plus the knowledge that they're helping to protect our world's wildlife.

How fun!


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