Monday, August 31, 2015

Munchkin Parents' Night Out Turned Out to Be a 'Miracle'

Munchkin 360 Cups at the company's Parents' Night Out
Munchkin offered up a fun night out for parents last week when the baby- and kid-friendly product company invited moms, dads and kiddos to visit its super-cool headquarters in Van Nuys.

And when I say cool, I mean modern art covering all the walls, no doors in offices and a courtyard lunch area that boasts basketball hoops and street art murals. Were we at a baby-focused company or an intriguing hands-on gallery at LACMA?

Basically, it was amazing.

While parents had the opportunity to indulge in tasty hors d'oeuvres in neon-colored bottles, literally sip drinks out of sippy cups, sample delicious Sugarfina candy in snack containers, and get a makeup touch-up from Glam Squad, the kiddos, well, they got to do the same — only water instead of wine for them. (And babysitters, thankfully, were on hand to help out.)

Besides ogling their offices, I fixed my eye on their Miracle 360 spoutless sippy cup. (SRP: $7) It's really beyond cool. And when my picky 8-year-old claims one for her own, you know you've succeeded with your design.

What's cool about the cup for kids about Will's age is that there's no spout, which is dentist recommended, and it doesn't spill. It. Does. Not. Spill. That's because the 360 degree drinking edge reseals after kids sip from it. I love it! Will literally turned it upside down on the floor, and nothing leaked out.

Now, both Will and CC want to drink from it at breakfast and dinner and have it packed in their lunches.

At parents' night out, apparently everybody wins!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming Attraction: 'Suffragette' and Happy Women's Equality Day!

I was having a conversation with CC not long ago, and both of us were marveling at the fact that there was actually a time in this country when women couldn't vote.

It was strange and funny, because the thought of that seems so bizarre now, and CC was asking what year American women were finally able to cast a ballot. It was 1920, by the way, and today marks the 95th anniversary of the admission of the 19th Amendment — women's right to vote — to the U.S. Constitution.

That makes today Women's Equality Day! In case you'd like to dress for the occasion, the colors of suffrage are purple for dignity and ability, green for hope and white for purity.

My strong-willed, very opinionated 8-year-old daughter is just one of many modern young girls who can't fathom what it's like to be denied basic rights or even certain jobs because they're not men.

And it makes me so happy that those concepts are so foreign to her.

Taking a look back at that history, and the brave women who fought for that right, is "Suffragette," a film from Focus Features that hits theaters in Los Angeles and New York on October 23 before expanding across the country.

"Suffragette" stars Carey Mulligan as a working wife and mother who is secretly recruited to join the rising suffragette movement in the U.K. in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst, an outlaw fugitive who inspires the young women to action.

And to ring in this special day, take a look at the film's trailer, which will surely get you in the mood to talk Election 2016.

Because, whatever your politics, your voice deserves to be heard.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Eva Longoria Fires Up Baking Fans at LG Fam-to-Table Event in Culver City

CC is ready for some yummy flat bread, courtesy of Eva Longoria and LG.
L.A. parents, kids and celebs were all messy smiles on Saturday afternoon as actress Eva Longoria hosted a super family-friendly foodie event at The Washbow in Culver City.

Spotlighting the new LG ProBake Convection ranges, the "Desperate Housewives" star and Beso restaurateur brought in her team of chefs to help kids make their own pizzas, pasta art, as well as decorate cookies.

And let's just say that CC and Will ate their weight in marinara and sprinkles and did not want to leave.

CC makes her own pizza.
What makes the gorgeous stainless steel ranges, which arrive in September, so amazing is their ability to heat food evenly from the top and bottom, so you don't get a charred pizza top with a gooey mess in the middle.

We tested that out first hand, while indulging in multiple (yes, guilty) mini pizzas and toasty shrimp- and mozzarella-topped flat bread.

Photo courtesy of Sara Jaye Weiss
Longoria also baked and passed around one of her favorite Mexican cookies, which is featured in her family-friendly cookbook, "Eva's Kitchen."

And speaking of cookies, CC and Will loved decorating their own. One of CC's even riffed on a popular phrase: Keep Calm and Eat Cookies. (Done and done.)

CC and Will decorate cookies.
Making his own pasta-themed art, Will rubbed paint-splattered elbows with Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott's kids, who were enjoying the festivities alongside their famous parents.

While my 2-year-old son may have been more concerned with getting loads of paint onto his little canvas than getting the scoop on reality-TV gossip, I had to chuckle at the proximity yet obliviousness to that thing called fame.

Tori and Dean and Will.
Other celebs on hand included Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and husband Ryan Sweeting, Lou Diamond Phillips and family, Jesse Metcalfe and Cara Santana.

At the end of the day, we had such a fun time, and I loved bonding with the kiddos over food. Lots and lots of food. We were also able to make a donation to No Kid Hungry, an organization that provides meals to children all over the country.

And what better way to bring families together — from TV land and otherwise.

CC is "muffin" if not sweet.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Finds: Giant-Size Little Marvel Comic Books

Avengers take on X-Men.
CC has been building up quite the reading list this summer. She just finished "The Witches" by Roald Dahl, and she also checked off one Judy Moody book, one of the Magic Tree House books, as well as a Ramona Quimby favorite.

And while I love it when she reads chapter books -- particularly ones that challenge her -- I also just love to see her reading. Period.

Her latest favorite is Giant-Size Little Marvel Comic Books ($3.99 each) from Marvel Comics. This new series, created by writer/artist Skottie Young, has pint-sized Avengers superheroes hanging with the mini X-Men gang.

Except they're not exactly friends.

In fact, the two groups tend to get into a lot of playground skirmishes. Only these skirmishes involve explosions, (un)natural disasters and lots of cool superpowers.

Little versions of The Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America and more take on Magik, Wolverine and Rogue for some seriously kid-sized fun. And while some of the action takes place of the streets of Marville, the town where they live, kids will also recognize familiar school-centric scenarios.

The Hulk needs to go to the bathroom during class, Magik's mom calls her home for dinner just as she's standing up for herself, and Marvel Ball (aka Dodgeball) has the kids picking favorites for their teams. All of that is totally relatable to elementary-school children.

While there is some comic-book violence and serious sass, the short books are rated T, which is the Marvel version of PG. The books are appropriate for most readers, but Mom and Dad might want to read them over first.

So far, there are three comic books in the series, with #4 hitting shelves September 9. Expect to see little Guardians of the Galaxy and the other two gangs comparing toys.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Happy First Day of 3rd Grade!

Back to school!
After a whirlwind trip to Oklahoma (more on that later), we're back in Los Angeles to start the first day of third grade. Yesterday was CC's "Unconventional" first day of school, and today was, well, conventional. Except for the whole new teacher, grade, classroom and a few new students part of it.

While she was a little hesitant during the summer to start back again -- CC was all about Steve & Kate's Camp this year -- she was more than excited to get started once we got back from our trip. Buying last-minute school supplies and seeing old friends also helped with that. :)

Have a great day, CC, and a wonderful school year! We love you!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Day Trip: Discovery Cube Los Angeles and Hansen Dam Aquatic Center

Will and CC enjoy the "Clifford the Big Red Dog" exhibit at Discovery Cube LA
Summer's almost over, but there's still time to pack in a fun Los Angeles day trip before your kids hit the books once again.

Ian, CC, Will and I ventured up to the Valley again to explore the hands-on exhibits at Discovery Cube Los Angeles while making a swim date at the nearby Hansen Dam Aquatic Center — which has a super-cool pool complete with winding water slide!

CC and Will were all about the "Adventures With Clifford the Big Red Dog" exhibit, which encourages kids to role-play activities such as working in a back yard (I say role-play because my children seldom water plants or rake leaves. I still love them, though. :) They can also pretend to steer a ferry and sell hamburgers and fries at Samuel's Fish and Chips Shack.

It's ferry time for the kids!
The goal for the exhibit, which runs through September 7, is to teach kids to work together, share, be kind and believe in yourself — all qualities I want to see in my own little ones.

This coming weekend, August 15-16, is particularly special, because Clifford himself will be on hand for photo ops!

Race to Zero Waste at the Discovery Cube LA
Will also got his hands on the Race to Zero Waste exhibit, which teaches kids the difference between recyclables, trash and other waste.

And before we made our way over to the lovely Hansen Dam Aquatic Center, we grabbed some snacks at the Cube's Bean Sprouts Cafe.

How cute are these offerings — Crocamole and a Do-Re-For-Me sandwich?!

Kid-friendly food options at the Bean Sprouts Cafe.
Just next door is the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center, and if you haven't been, it's definitely a semi-hidden gem that you have to explore.

The pool, first of all, is huge. And I what I loved most about it was how beachy it felt. Sand surrounded the pool, while the edges sloped in like an actual shore. That made it so much easier for Will to wade in — especially because they don't allow floaties on kids. (Apparently, one lifeguard told me, parents tend not to pay as much attention when kids are wearing them. Eek!)

Hansen Dam Pool
There was also an awesome water slide that CC and Ian went down a few times. (Will was sadly too little and young. The minimum age is 7 years old.) And its twists and turns make it a definite must-do!

Photo courtesy of Hansen Dam Aquatic Center
While we stayed at the pool and had a nice canopy to escape from the blazing sun when necessary, there are other attractions at the Dam.

There's the nearby lake that offers boating and kayaking. There's also an equestrian trail.

Prices are beyond reasonable for the public park, with tickets at $3.50 for adults and $1 for kids. Canopy rentals start at $18 for four hours.

Just be quick, though! The aquatic facilities are open only through September 27!

All in all, we had a great time. Even Ian was asking when we could go back.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles
11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $10 for adults and kids through January 3, 2016. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

Hansen Dam Aquatic Center
11798 Foothill Blvd.
Lake View Terrace, CA 91342
Tickets: $3.50 (adults); $1 (children 17 and under)

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post in my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coming Attraction: 'Dinotrux' on Netflix

"Dinotrux" premieres on Netflix on August 14.
If you're going to mix two kid-friendly favorites, you can't go wrong with dinosaurs and trucks!

"Dinotrux," a new animated series from DreamWorks Animation, is doing just that. The original series will premiere on Netflix tomorrow, and the kiddos are eager to check it out.

In this prehistoric "Mechazoic" era, a Tyrannosaurus Rex-megaton excavator named Ty Rux explores a landscape filled with other species of Dinotrux, resourceful reptiles combined with construction vehicles, as well as hand tools called the Reptools. There's also a baddie named D-Structs whose motto is: "I don't share."

The team includes a brainy Reptool named Revvit (lizard + rotary drill), as well as sassy Skya, the Craneosaur (brachiosaurus + construction crane); daredevil Ton-Ton, the Ankylodump (ankylosaurus + dump truck); and Dozer, a grumpy but kind-hearted Dozeratops (triceratops + bulldozer).

The Dinotrux and Reptool gang work together, forging strong friendships, as they build a better world around them.

Check out a clip here:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Coming Attraction: Westfield Century City Playdates

If you haven't already, add Westfield Century City to your kid-friendly go-to list!

The luxe mall on Santa Monica Boulevard has added a Playdates series for parents and kiddos.

The series, which launches on August 13 at 11 a.m., will feature family-friendly entertainment on the second Thursday of each month through the end of the year.

Focusing on a fun, educational atmosphere, Playdates will feature a different activity — crafting, story time, holiday fun — each month.

Here's the 2015 lineup:

August 13: Come Meet Ruby of "The Feelings Show"

September 10: Fall Fairy Fantasy / Happily Ever After

October 8: Story Time & Drawing Fun with Crayon Collection

November 12: Story Time & Cookies with Chudney Ross & Jackie's Cookie Connection

December 10: Dance Party and Holiday Fun with Baby First

We already love visiting Westfield Century City for Giggles 'N Hugs, so I'm happy to hear that the venue is making it easier for kids to bond with Mom and Dad.

Westfield Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90067(310) 277-3898

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

'Shaun the Sheep Movie' Review -- Why 'Ewe' Should Definitely See It

"Shaun the Sheep Movie," from Aardman Animations and Lionsgate, hits theaters today!

CC and I had the chance to catch an early screening, and she had such a great time. We're already big fans of "Wallace & Gromit" and "Chicken Run," and bringing this adorable sheep to the big screen was a great idea.

In the stop-motion animated film, Shaun decides he needs a day off from the monotony of rural life at Mossy Bottom Farm. When he concocts a plan to lull the Farmer to sleep -- by counting actual sheep, of course -- things go awry when the trailer the Farmer falls asleep in rolls down a very steep hill into the Big City.

As the sheep crew and Bitzer the dog try to catch up to the Farmer, they must navigate life in the city for a day off they never bargained for.

The PG-rated movie (86 minutes), which has no actual dialogue, is both funny and clever. With knowing nods to "counting sheep" and even a funny reference to "Silence of the Lambs," writer-directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak make this movie a treat for kids and parents alike.

There is some peril, in the form of Trumper, an aggressive animal-control officer who's out to get the flock and friends. There's also a crazy-eyed dog who hilariously reappears in scenes at the prison-like animal shelter. (That joke pays off nicely at the end, by the way.) But overall, expect your kids to be laughing out loud. You might find yourself doing the same.

"Shaun the Sheep Movie" is a definite family-friendly must-see!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Meet the Newest #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador!

Discovery Cube Los Angeles
I'm so excited to announce that yours truly is one of the new #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassadors for the creative and hands-on kids' science museum in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mom AmbassadorsThe fam and I have made several trips to Discovery Cube Los Angeles (and Orange County, too!), and each time we've been so impressed with the quality of offerings for curious kids. I'm thrilled to have been asked to join the Ambassador program.

From "Thomas & Friends" to the "Science of Hockey," from "Animal Grossology" to "Adventures With Clifford the Big Red Dog," the Cube's special exhibits have encouraged Will and CC to dive in and explore. That's also true for permanent exhibits such as the Discovery Market and Helicopter Tour.

So watch this space for more info on what will be happening at the Cube this summer, fall and winter. It's going to be exciting!

Discovery Cube Los Angeles
11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91342
Tickets: $10 for adults and kids through January 3, 2016. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for my position as a #DiscoveryCubeMoms LA Ambassador. All opinions, however, are my own.)


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