Friday, October 24, 2014

Coming Attraction: 'Modern Family's' Fall for All at The Grove + Giveaway

"Modern Family's" Fall for All festivities will be at The Grove on Sunday, Oct. 26
UPDATE: Happy Halloween, and congrats to Melissa Teears, who won the "Modern Family" gift pack! Please email me at with your shipping info. Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and check back for more fun giveaways!

One of our favorite shows on television is Emmy-winning comedy "Modern Family" -- and that's not only because CC's friend Aubrey plays Lily on the show (although we love rooting for her!)

The family dynamics, from goofy Phil and his childlike charm to the hyper-neurotic Claire to the loveable couple of Mitch and Cam, are always relatable and hilarious. (Hello, school drama!) Love them!

So we're excited to hear that a fun family event in honor of the show is hitting The Grove on Sunday, October 26, from 12 p.m.-8 p.m., thanks to its syndication station Fox 11.

"Modern Family's" Fall for All event will bring Halloween fun to The Grove and feature family-friendly activities such as a 60-foot long corn maze, a seriously large pumpkin like the one pictured above from the New York event to head up the pumpkin patch, as well as a flower-making station and face-painting. And did someone say Halloween Candy Bar courtesy of Hershey's? Yum!

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 1 amazing "Modern Family" gift bag, filled with the complete DVD collections for Seasons 3 and 4, plus a tee, tank top, sweatpants and a reusable tote bag—all worth $200!

To enter, please:

1. Leave a comment, telling me your favorite "Modern Family" episode, scene or character.

2. Tweet a link back to this giveaway with the hashtag #ModernFamilyFall4All

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 Monday, October 31! Happy Halloween!

(Giveaway is for U.S. residents only)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Coming Attraction: STEAM Carnival + Thrively's Kid Cred Game *Giveaway*

Thrively's Kid Cred game
UPDATE: Congrats to boyzrule, who won the Family 4-Pack of tickets to STEAM Carnival!

With nearly every parent I know talking about the Common Core and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in the school curriculum, I'm happy to hear about an inaugural family-friendly event that celebrates learning.

The STEAM Carnival kicks off this weekend, October 25-26, at the Port of Los Angeles, and there will be lots of games and activities created just for kids.

Not only that, but I'm giving away a Family 4-Pack of tickets to STEAM Carnival (see below).

Created by Two Bit Circus, an engineering entertainment company, STEAM Carnival will feature tech-friendly games and carnival-style entertainment. There will also be plenty of artisanal food.

Rooms with lasers? Check. Mad Science demos? Check. Musical robots? Yes, and more!

There will even be Kid Cred, a game show inspired by "The Newlywed Game," in which parents are tested on their knowledge of their children's interests. The game was created by Thrively, a family website that helps kids discover their passions.

This sounds like such a fun way to get outside and spend time with the kiddos while also encouraging them to get involved in science, tech, and the arts!

October 25-26 (11 a.m.-7 p.m.)
CRAFTED at The Port of Los Angeles
Warehouse No. 10
112 E. 22nd Street 
San Pedro, CA 90731
Tickets: $25 (adults); $20 (kids ages 7-18); Free (kids 6 and under)
PROMO CODE: STEAMKIDS for $5 each ticket


I'm giving away a Family 4-Pack of tickets to STEAM Carnival!

To enter, please:

1. Visit STEAM Carnival and leave a comment with what you would like to check out at the event.

2. 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, October 22! (I know it's a quick turnaround.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Wiggles and Octonauts Are Back for More DVD Fun *Giveaway*

UPDATE: Congrats to Jessibeth Vicenty, who won the NCircle Entertainment DVD prize pack! Please email me at with shipping details. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Will has become obsessed with The Wiggles. Obsessed.

That's why I was happy to see a new DVD out from NCircle Entertainment featuring that favorite kids' group from Down Under. "The Wiggles: Apples & Bananas" (SRP: $9.99) offers up 22 songs on the DVD, including "The Wheels on the Bus" and "This Old Man Came Rolling Home!" that help teach little ones early preschool skills, such as counting and literacy.

With "Apples & Bananas," Will points at the screen and shouts out words like "puppy" and "bear." I love to see him interacting with the Wiggles crew (which has now added Emma Watkins to the group!).

CC was more than excited, too, when we also received a copy of "Octonauts: Deep Sea Mission" (SRP: $12.99) for review from NCircle. In this DVD, the crew heads down to the hidden depths of the Midnight Zone. Along the way, they discover creatures that can only be found deep down in the ocean. One of CC's favorite episodes involved a blobfish. And watch out for the vampire squid!

I'll be giving away those two new NCircle DVDs plus three more!

"The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Show & Tell Sure Is Swell!" (SRP: $10.99) focuses on back to school. Our favorite part about going to class? Why show and tell, how great you should ask! Kids will also learn about the different seasons with the super-fun voice of Martin Short.

In "Animal ABC's: Animal Atlas," (SRP: $6.99), preschoolers will be introduced to a wide variety of animals as they also learn the alphabet and what letters are at the beginning of animal names. The DVD features songs, rhymes and puzzles.

And in "Sid the Science Kid: The Ruler of Thumb" (SRP: $6.99), our preschool pal Sid learns how important different tools are in science. Take his chore chart -- parents will appreciate this one! While he needs to fill it up with stickers so that he can get a new toy, he also learns that you can compare and contrast using charts. And while checking out a roly poly, he also discovers the joys of magnifying glasses.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away all 5 of the above NCircle Entertainment DVDs for a fun family prize pack!

To enter, please:

1. Visit NCircle Entertainment and leave a comment below with your favorite DVD or franchise.

2. "Like" the NCircle Entertainment Facebook page.

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 Monday, October 27!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Child Had a Conversation with Siri, and It Was Amazing

CC had this conversation with Siri on the iPad last night.
Last night I heard CC talking to someone—but that someone wasn't a someone. It was a something.

In what could be the non-romantic child's version of "Her," CC was having a pretty lengthy conversation with Siri—Apple's so-called "intelligent personal assistant"—on our iPad.

And Siri was surprisingly clever, and at times sassy and coy. CC, admittedly, was being pretty sassy herself.

Take the above conversation:

CC: You are the nicest Siri in the world.
Siri: Oh, go on ...
CC: Do you like being nice?
Siri: I really have no opinion.
CC: Do you like "How to Train Your Dragon?"
Siri: This is about you, not me.
CC: Do you like tickling?
Siri: I'd rather not say.

Or this one:

CC: Shut up. (I had to tell CC that wasn't nice.)
Siri: My lips are sealed. (This was text only—no voice.)
CC: You're so nice.
Siri: Was it something I said? Everyone's been saying that to me lately.

I wish I had taken more pictures of their conversations—one involved an IQ test for some unexplainable reason—but it was funny to think that CC had been so eager to have a conversation while her parents were busy and her little brother was, well, being a toddler, that she just struck up a chat with someone she knew would talk back.

Clever girl!

Although I guess I'll have to start worrying if Siri starts initiating conversations with us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Will! You're 2!

Will enjoys his Thomas the Tank Engine cake!
Baby Will turned 2 this weekend, making him less of a baby and more of a full-on toddler.

And while we had a family-focused birthday celebration—instead of a big blow-out bash with all of his daycare peeps—he definitely had some little kid epiphany that somehow, magically, one day can be devoted to you and you alone.

Ian, CC and I had wrapped all of his presents in Elmo and Thomas the Tank Engine wrapping paper. Those are by far his two favorite characters in the world. When we unveiled his Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake, he got even more excited.

"My Thomas! My Thomas!" he shouted.

Will's Thomas the Tank Engine cake
After we gorged on cake and opened a ton of presents -- more Elmo! more Thomas! with a few soccer balls and Julius Jr. toys thrown in the mix -- we headed over to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

There we saw gray seals, goats (an L.A. Story fave!), lions and gorillas. It was a full day, and by the end we were exhausted, but our little boy had an unforgettable day -- well, as unforgettable as it can be for a 2-year-old.

Happy birthday, Will! I love you!

Will checks out a goat at the LA Zoo petting zoo.

CC and Will check out the gray seals at the LA Zoo.
Will cuddles with CC for a pic with Ian.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

'Very Bad Day' Premiere at El Capitan Kicks off Kid-Friendly Fun

CC on the red carpet.
It was a star-studded Monday night for CC and me, as we headed over to the El Capitan in Hollywood earlier this week for Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" premiere.

While walking the red carpet into the theater, we spotted Steve Carell (who plays dad Ben Cooper alongside Jennifer Garner as mom Kelly) and Bella Thorne. Once we got inside and grabbed our seats, we saw more actors from the cast, including Jennifer Coolidge (love her!), Kerris Dorsey and Dylan Minnette.

The El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.
The PG-rated film, which opened on Friday, is a family-friendly movie that gets lots of laughs from the Cooper family's really bad day. (Check out my review on

After the film, everyone headed over to Dave & Buster's in Hollywood & Highland for some game-friendly fun. It was CC's first time at the party place, and she went crazy over all of the video games, wheel-spinning games and air hockey.

Dave & Buster's in Hollywood & Highland.
We had such a great time, and it was fun to spend some one-on-one time with CC. Girls' Night Out with my daughter, I have to say, is pretty cool. Next time, though, I'll definitely have to make sure we get a pic with Jennifer Garner when we happen to be in the same place again.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October Means a Visit to Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch

CC and Will get a wagon ride at Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch.
On its opening day of the Halloween season, Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch was a bit of a scorcher. If you were in Los Angeles last weekend, you know. It was just hot. Seriously hot.

That didn't stop us, though.

The whole family, plus my dad who was in town for Grandparents Day at CC's school, headed over to West Hollywood to enjoy some pumpkins, pony rides and an adorable petting zoo.

It was Will's second time at Mr. Bones -- the last time, he was a mere 2 weeks old. This time, he was just shy of 2 (that's coming this weekend!), and he was ready to explore, heat be damned!

Besides wagon rides ...

Papa pulls the kiddos around the patch.
CC rode a pony ...

Pony rides at the patch!
And bounced in a pumpkin bouncy (only after it cooled off a bit, though) ...

But really, what would any LA day really be like without any goats ...

CC and Will pet goats, sheep and chickens.
We had a great time despite the heat. We also saw a sign that said Mr. Bones would be moving locations next year. Join the mailing list on the website to find out more info.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch
702 N. Doheny Dr.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Admission: $5 (adults); $3 (kids ages 1-11)
Open through October 31

'Thomas & Friends' Rides Into SoCal at Discovery Cube

Will was in train heaven at the "Thomas & Friends" exhibit at Discovery Cube Orange County.
Kids who love Thomas & Friends will want to get on board the newest exhibit, Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails, at Discovery Cube in Orange County. The lovable tank engine and some of his trusty pals have arrived at the science center in Santa Ana and will be staying through January 4.

Will was thrilled the moment he walked into this magical space, filled with everything from large versions of Thomas himself and fellow train Percy to tabletop train sets and photo booths. He loved boarding the Thomas and pretending he was an engineer, as he worked the knobs and buttons like a pro.

Will takes in the view from the Thomas window.
Kids also had the opportunity to dress up as a conductor and sell tickets, load up Percy's coal box, fix his wobbly wheel and just play with the dozens of toddler-sized train sets that dotted the exhibit.

One highlight was meeting Sir Topham Hatt and catching a screening of "Thomas & Friends: Tale of the Brave." While Will was a little too wiggly to watch the entire hourlong film, CC caught the fun movie, which finds Thomas and friends finding some very large, very mysterious footprints after a huge storm creates a massive landslide.

Will, CC and I meet Sir Topham Hatt.
And while the Thomas exhibit was definitely a huge draw (particularly for the train-loving Will), CC was drawn to other parts of the Discovery Cube, including the insect section and the eco-friendly grocery store.

Get ready, parents! You're in for full, fun-filled day.

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails
Discovery Cube Orange County (Through January 4)
2500 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Tickets: $16.95 (adults), $12.95 (kids 3-12), Free (kids 2 and under)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Finds: Rodan + Fields

Let's be honest. When it comes to skin care, it's really easy as a mom to just grab whatever cleanser is closest to the sink -- or the one you've used since college -- and go about your twice-daily routine day in and day out.

Or is that just me?

Anyway, I was talking to my friend Kathy, who is an independent consultant for skin-care line Rodan + Fields, and she told me more about this cool company launched by two Stanford-trained dermatologists, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields.

The pair developed the now-ubiquitous Proactiv line before creating their own line of skin-care products, which addresses everything from blemishes to aging skin.

But it was when I tried out the exfoliation paste and accompanying serum, with retinol and peptides, that I really felt as if I'd been missing out on skin care that pampers.

Don't get me wrong. I've tried different kinds of exfoliators, and most of them have been really harsh. This version actually left my skin feeling soft after I'd scrubbed God-knows-how-many layers of epidermis from my face.

The serum was an added bonus.

Not only that, but Rodan + Fields has a fascinating new product that will be out in January, and I'm itching to see how it works.

The product is called Acute Care, and it's like a Crest White Strip for facial wrinkles. Amazing, I know! While I haven't yet tried it out, I'm looking forward to its January debut.

Not that moms get wrinkles or anything.


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