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Fun Ideas For Kids – Pizza Party Extraordinaire

CPK Made This Mom a Party Pooper No More I’ve got to be honest. Throwing birthday parties is a parental duty of which I’m not particularly fond. There’s so much pressure in the planning, the execution and the clean-up. So here’s my set of criteria for planning these annual events. The party must be: Not. At. My. House. Enjoyable for both children and parents Quick, easy and painless Affordable With...

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Los Angeles Schools: Measuring Progress

If your child attends public schools, you’re likely familiar with the acronym API. The letters stand for “Academic Performance Index,” and the API was created as part of a 1999 law designed to measure the academic performance and growth of California schools. The API is on a two-year cycle, releasing a “base” score for each school and district in the spring (based on students’ scores from state tests taken the...

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Peddle Power

If you like bikes, March will be your month for fun Los Angeles events. March 1, in fact, offers a tandem of bike-related events. At the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; www.hammer.ucla.edu) you can participate in freewheeling (and free!) fun from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. during “Close Encounters: Build-A-Bike.” Draw inspiration from the Hammer’s exhibition spotlighting the innovative Heatherwick Studio and design your very own model bicycle. Just a quick...

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10 Ways To Show (not tell) Your Child Reading Matters to You

You’ve told your child reading is important, but your actions are far louder than words. Set a good parenting example for your child by showing how important reading is to you and your entire family. Here are ten ways to show (not tell!) your child reading is important. Let your child see you reading. Parents frequently read when children are tucked away asleep. Let them see you reading. When they...

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Give A Book, Take A Book: The Joy of a Neighborhood Small Library

On my neighborhood strolls through my city, I’ve noticed little libraries are popping up everywhere. Some are “official” Little Free Library (www.littlefreelibrary.org) versions while others are just good neighbors with a zeal for books and a box or an extra bookshelf to spare. It’s all about give and take. The premise is neighbors will give a book they are finished reading to the “library” and in return, they will take...

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Zoo Outreach Program Makes Special-Needs Classrooms Go Wild

A classroom for students with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities turned into a zoo for a day at Granada Hills Charter High School as the Los Angeles Zoo brought critters and crawlers with their Special Needs Education Outreach Program. Students with disabilities were able to interact with live animals while learning about their habitats from tactile biofacts. The trained zoo docents are certified in the handling of the animals...

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Girlfriend Getaway: Vegas Edition

When a milestone birthday was around the corner for my high school girlfriends and me, someone brought up the idea of celebrating in Las Vegas. The visual of way-too-high-heeled shoes, beauty pageant sashes and tiaras popped into my head. I thought, “No way am I going to be a walking cliché.” But when everyone loved the idea but me, I thought I’d step outside my comfort zone, pack my heels...

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The Parents’ Voice: Key To School Success

When my husband and I bought our house in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in the west San Fernando Valley, we assumed our kids would eventually attend the local elementary school just down the street. But our tour a year before our oldest daughter was about to enter kindergarten left us feeling disappointed and panicked. Test scores were below average, enrichment programs such as art and music were not offered, there...

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Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know About Cutting

Non-suicidal self-injury, also known as “cutting” because that is the most popular form it takes, is frighteningly common among kids – though the problem is difficult to study. Some researchers believe that as many as 10 percent of 8-12-year-olds have attempted self-injury. “The statistics in this particular area are completely unreliable,” says Angela Kahn, founder of the L.A.-based Kahn Institute for Self-Injury. “We have enough anecdotal evidence to say that...

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Ashleigh Parsons: Making Kale Connections for Kids

If there’s one person who can get your kids to eat kale, it’s Ashleigh Parsons. Had she put her Harvard master’s to work in the classroom, the sweet 29-year-old would be everyone’s favorite teacher. But before getting that degree, she spent time juggling a job at an Oakland farm-to-table restaurant with volunteer work at an after-school program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Taking the low-income kids from the food desert...

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Potted Potter

A Whole Lotta Hogwarts

Have you ever wondered whether a Thestral could beat an Acromantula? Hungered for a stoat sandwich? Searched for a vanishing cabinet? Shown more interest in the Quidditch World Cup than the Super Bowl? Looking for unique things to do in L.A.? Then Potted Potter is right up your Diagon Alley. The show comes to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.thewallis.org) beginning...

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Los Angeles Schools In the National Spotlight

Attaining recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School or National PTA School of Excellence is no small feat. It takes teamwork and collaboration among educators, parents, students and the community. Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among students. Nationally, there were 337 schools – 24 in California – that were recognized in 2014. National PTA Schools of Excellence...

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The “D” Word

As a child growing up in America, life can be difficult when dealing with a disability or birth deformity. These are children who had no choice in their heredity, but now are committed to a lifetime of coping with being “different.” For those whose deformities cannot be concealed, it is an even bigger challenge that they face — a challenge that most people will never understand. Having a birth deformity...

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5 Tips To Get You More Involved In Your Child’s School

When the school year began and you buttoned up your precious ones against the fall chill, kissed their cheeks and sent them off with the latest back-to-school goodies, did you make a silent vow that, this year, you would get more involved in your child’s school? More than likely, you’re next thought was, “What time is it?” Most days, after rushing to work and then home again, you can barely...

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A World of Travel Adventure For Kids

February brings with it a pair of Los Angeles events designed to get your mind dreaming of family adventures. The Progressive Insurance Los Angeles Boat Show returns with its unique two-location format. The Boat Show will fill three halls at the L.A. Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa St.) while also docking at Burton W. Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey). It offers two great ways to see what’s...

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Finding a Private School With the Right Vibe

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was one of those mothers. You know the type, reading all the pregnancy books, taking the birth-education classes, sharing pregnancy symptoms with the other mommies-to-be during prenatal yoga class. Once my son was born, I continued on that path. I breastfed. I made his baby food. I enrolled us in a well-rounded roster of baby classes because I had read how...

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Preschooler

I still kick myself for taking a rock away from my 2-year-old. “You can’t carry a rock around other kids,” I explained, prying the flat, round object out of his hand. It was shellacked bright blue with a big “R” painted on it, a trinket we had once found on the ground. “Rigby rock” wasn’t a particularly special toy, but it was what he happened to choose before we left...

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Six Fun Ideas For Kids Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and while you might be picking out cards or ordering chocolates, you can also add a few fun family events to your plans. The California Shakespeare Ensemble will perform a selection the Bard’s love scenes in Descanso Garden’s Under the Oaks Theater at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. A special photo kiosk will offer a floral frame for you and your Valentine from 11 a.m.-4...

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The Life of a Disney Mom

Leigh-Allyn Baker got pregnant, then got her first Disney Channel gig Leigh-Allyn Baker is on a film set in Montreal, confronted with a destroyed pair of shoes that just isn’t right. “They were supposed to be exploded, but someone had just cut them in half,” says Baker, who most recently starred as Amy Duncan in the Emmy-nominated Disney Channel series “Good Luck Charlie.” As an actor in the film –...

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Those Two Warm-Up Guys: Warming Hollywood Hearts

If your kids have talked you into being part of a studio audience for one of their favorite TV shows, one of those common Los Angeles attractions, you might have spent time with hilarious, high-energy local dads Darrin Butters and Ezra Weisz, better known as Those Two Warm-Up Guys. For the past 12 years, Butters and Weisz have warmed up studio audiences for family television shows including “Wizards of Waverly...

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Theater Improv Games are Fun Ideas For Kids

Some kids are naturally gregarious and social, and have no trouble making friends or speaking up in class. Others are shy, struggle to make connections with others, and dread being called on by the teacher – even when they know the answer. Theater improv games can help shy kids and those who need help with social skills, and are fun for all. Parents looking for fun ideas for kids will...

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Plan a Tropical Family Spring Break

Three Fun Island Destinations Offer Fun Ideas for Kids With spring break around the corner, a tropical family getaway might sound like just the ticket. There are plenty of excellent options fun of fun ideas for kids, but the Hawaiian islands, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas, are especially great for parents with kids in tow. San Juan, Puerto Rico Puerto Rico has miles of white-sand beaches near a lush Caribbean rainforest,...

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Las Virgenes Unified School District Accepting Permit Applications

Los Angeles education does offer some flexibility in public schools. Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in Las Virgenes Unified district schools, but who do not live within the district boundaries, can apply for interdistrict permits through Feb. 15. Parents who work within the district qualify, and the process is open to students in grades K-12. LVUSD schools have API scores that put them in top 2 percent...

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Countdown To Summer Camp Los Angeles

When Valentine’s Day cards appear in stores, it’s time to think about summer camp. Maybe you’re sending your child to day camp for the first time. Perhaps your tween’s transitioning from day camp to sleep-away. Whatever your plans, use this month-by-month guide to help you through the process of preparing for summer camp Los Angeles style. February – Start your research. “Most camps should have their websites updated for the...

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A Winning Concert of GRAMMY Nominees

The Children’s Recording Arts Alliance has once again organized a benefit concert showcasing all five acts nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Children’s Album this year. Brady Rymer, The Pop Ups, The Okee Dokee Brothers and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo will perform tunes from their honored albums, while the fifth nominee, Neela Vaswani, will read a selection from the audio book I Am Malala. The concert, much anticipated among...

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Harlem Globetrotters Revenge Tour Comes to SoCal

Southern California sports fans know about rivalries. There’s the Dodgers vs. the Giants, UCLA vs. USC and the Lakers vs. the Celtics. But few sports rivalries can match that of the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. While the Globetrotters are world famous, the Generals are their longtime, downtrodden opponents. For decades, the Generals played against the popular Globetrotters, losing tens of thousands of games and winning an estimated six....

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Rethinking Pizza for Children’s Health

Move over sugary drinks, there is a new enemy in the war against childhood obesity. Pizza. Pizza is the second-largest contributor of calories to the diets of U.S. kids ages 2-19, according to a study in the February issue of Pediatrics, and study authors recommend making it a target in obesity-prevention and children's health counseling. Here are some findings based on dietary information from more than 12,000 kids across the...

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A Course In Stepmothering

When I became a stepmom eight years ago, there were few resources to guide me over the rough spots in my new life. I read the only thin book I could find on the subject of parenting step children, and its bottom line was: “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever have and no one will ever thank you for it.” Before step-motherhood, I thought I was a kind and thoughtful...

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Millennial Parents Explores Modern Parenting, One Click at a Time

When L.A.-based writer Jake Greene became a father in 2011, he was faced with the challenge of being a present parent while staying current in popular culture. His realization that previous generations had given no thought to this impossible task became the impetus for his web series Millennial Parents, co-created with writer Natalie Irby. The series, now in its second season, is steadily growing in viewership and exposure. The two-minute...

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Studying Tummy Troubles and Autism

Research has shown that children on the autism spectrum experience more, and more severe, stomach problems such as constipation and bloating than other children their age do. If your child is one of them, you might be interested in a study being conducted by the special needs researchers at the Boone Fetter Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Because the discomfort from these gastrointestinal issues can make school and social...

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Baking Tips From L.A. Cookie Con

If you weren’t among the thousands of people who surged through the Pasadena Convention Center Jan. 25 for the debut of the L.A. Cookie Con & Sweets Show, you haven’t entirely missed out. True, you won’t get to indulge in the hundreds of samples doled out by the dozens and dozens of exhibitors, but we did gather some baking tips to help you stir up something sweet at home. If...

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Local Museums Are Having a Free-For-All

Some New Year’s resolutions are challenging. How many people, for example, pledge to go to the gym more often (and how many succeed in their goal)? But if you’ve pledged to soak up more local culture in 2015, that resolution is easy thanks to great Los Angeles events. Just take part in Museum Free-For-All Jan. 31, when more than 20 museums across Southern California offer free admission. Participating museums range...

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Parenting Essay: Grocery Shopping with Kids in Tow

I know what you're thinking. There's no such thing as grocery shopping with one baby, let alone three. But I have my parenting ways. That is because I ask for help. A few appointments ran long while the kids were at daycare, so there I was at Albertsons in Reseda after picking up my 6-month-old twins and my very active 3-year-old. I walked into the store, and before I could...

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A Sweet Way To Spend a Day

Are you a chocoholic? Is baking one of your favorite fun ideas for kids? Ever wonder how to make a great ganache? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the L.A. Cookie Con and Sweets Show is for you. Even if you only dream about desserts, you’ll find things to enjoy at the West Coast’s biggest baking and pastry convention. There will be decorating and baking classes, demos...

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10 Quick Healthy Tips for Busy Moms

It may be difficult for moms to set aside time for themselves. They are often more focused on their children's health, and the thought of sticking to New Year’s Resolutions may add to stress rather than alleviate it. However, eating well and exercising benefits moms and everyone in the family. As a physician practicing at Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City and a working mom to active preschool twins, I know...

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STRANGE MAGIC

George Lucas and William Shakespeare Create ‘Strange Magic’

As the filmmaker who dreamed up Star Wars, George Lucas knows a thing or two about magical movie worlds and fun ideas for kids. For his latest film, he used Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as inspiration for a story of fairies, goblins and elves who battle over a potent love potion. Strange Magic is an animated movie full of magic, mystery, misadventures and music. Music, in fact, serves as...

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Brain Training Technique Holds Promise For Kids With Special Needs

Using three short learning sessions with hour-long breaks in between could help children with fragile X syndrome remember material as well as typically developing children, according to neurobiologists from UC Irvine. A genetic condition, fragile X causes intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is associated with autism. People with fragile X typically struggle learning new skills and information. Working with mice bred to display characteristics of fragile X, Christine Gall, Ph.D.;...

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Los Angeles Education: The Archer School for Girls Opens New Media Lab

This month The Archer School for Girls in L.A. opened a new MediaSpace facility designed to encourage its students to pursue careers in media production in film, television and music. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility, funded through donations from the Ahmanson Foundation, Archer parents and supporters Martin Sandberg and Jenny Petersson, and Archer alumnae parents Lauren and Austin Fite, was Jan. 14. The MediaSpace will allow students...

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Athleta at The Grove Offers Free Yoga For Moms and Kids

We’re already past the point in the year when many New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned, but if yours involved fitness or yoga, athletic apparel and gear shop Athleta at The Grove is giving you a chance at a comeback. On Jan. 24, they’ll host the New Year, New You Fitness and Wellness Event in The Park at The Grove. This will include hourly fitness classes for all levels from...

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Cedars-Sinai Employs New Technology to Help Preemies Gain Weight, Sleep Better

Cedars-Sinai is using new devices to personalize the nutritional supplements of the smallest babies in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center. Doctors have begun using a device known as the Pea Pod to measure the body composition of these infants, improving the children's health. Resembling a mini MRI machine, the Pea Pod uses air displacement to calculate the percentage of each infant’s...

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Free Fun Ideas For Kids: National Parks Day

The National Park Service is offering you a deal that is hard to refuse if you're looking for fun ideas for kids – free admission. On nine special days, the NPS will waive its entrance fee. All are holidays, including Jan. 19 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 14-16 (Presidents Day Weekend), April 18-19 (National Park Week’s opening weekend), Aug. 25 (NPS’s 99th birthday), Sept. 26 (National Public Lands Day)...

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Colds vs. Flu: Fever Makes a Difference for Children’s Health

Cold and flu season is upon us, and that means it’s time to invest in a good thermometer to help protect your children's health. That’s the advice of pediatrician Tanya Altmann, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Tracking fever can help you tell whether your child has a cold (more common) or the flu (potentially more serious). Colds typically involve mainly what Altmann calls “head symptoms” such...

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Parenting to Entrepreneur

From Parenting to Entrepreneur: Not Such a Stretch!

Today, you formulated a carpool plan, found a math tutor and baked two dozen muffins for the classroom party, and it’s not even 8 a.m. yet! Without realizing it, you are behaving like an entrepreneur. Parenting means creating something where nothing before existed. It means learning routines, when to delegate, when to give ourselves time outs, when to let go and how to be more flexible. Let’s delve into seven...

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January is National Radon Action Month – Protect Your Children’s Health

Radon gas is a nationwide problem, affecting one in 15 homes in the U.S. The colorless, odorless gas is invisible to the eye. It comes from decayed radium and uranium in soil, and invades homes and buildings through foundation cracks, openings and even directly through concrete, posing a threat to children's health and the health of the whole family. Radon is a carcinogen, and is the number-one cause of lung...

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LA education advocate Jeannie Kamm

LA Education Advocate Jeannie Kamm: Taking Back Her Neighborhood School

When Jeannie Kamm and her husband, Jason, bought their house in Encino two decades ago, they assumed they would send their kids to the local public school. But the young couple soon learned that Lanai Road Elementary was barely keeping its doors open due to low enrollment. The school, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, looked neglected, with overgrown weeds and no enrichment programs. Kamm was determined to...

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Los Angeles Events: Bowl-a-thon

Local Teen Actress to Host Bowl-A-Thon For Ronald McDonald House

Calabasas High School student Jordan Van Vranken will host her fifth annual bowl-a-thon to raise money for kids fighting cancer Jan. 18 at the newly renovated Corbin Bowl, 19616 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. From 7-10:30 p.m., the event will feature bowling; live music from Kailey Swanson, Laci Kay and Lauren Dair Owens; a red carpet, raffle, food from Lyfe Kitchen, a magician and a silent auction – all to support Ronald...

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L.A. Teachers Selected for Raytheon-Engineering is Elementary Scholarships

In a boost for LA education in the area of science, technology, engineering and math, five L.A. teachers have been awarded scholarships to attend a workshop at the Museum of Science, Boston. The workshop will help them implement the museum’s Engineering is Elementary STEM curriculum in their classrooms. Winners were selected based on the innovative methods they use to teach engineering concepts and to create enthusiasm among students. Among the...

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8-Year-Old Raises $1 Million for Best Friend’s Rare Disease

Proceeds From Book Will Benefit Children’s Health By Combating GSD Los Angeles 8-year-old Dylan Siegal is self-published author of the children’s book “Chocolate Bar.” He wrote and illustrated a vibrant and thoughtful picture book as part of a children's health campaign to help raise money to find a cure for Glycogen Storage Disease, a rare liver disease that Jonah, his best friend, suffers from. Children born with this illness lack...

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Children's Health

Where to Get Children’s Health Care

There are excellent healthcare options for your family in Southern California. Here’s how to access them. One day in November, a mom and dad brought their 13-year-old son to the Exer urgent-care clinic in Calabasas. They thought he had the stomach flu – just something a doctor should see. They were wrong about the flu, but right to seek medical care. The doctors examined the boy, took blood tests, and...

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Mom Entrepreneurs Parenting

Making it Their (Family) Business

These Moms Balance Work and Family By Creating Companies of Their Own For Rosie Pope, star of Bravo’s “Pregnant in Heels,” and creator and designer of Rosie Pope Maternity, the decision to start her own business was based on a lifestyle goal. “I knew I wanted to be a mom and have lots of kids,” says the London-born entrepreneur and author. “Being my own boss was the only way I...

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Letting Kids Fail Parenting

Helping Children Succeed By Allowing Them to Fail

Nothing is stronger than the parental urge to protect our children. It’s deep in our DNA. Yet this instinct, taken to the extreme, actually makes our children vulnerable as they grow into adulthood. As a university professor, I had a front-row seat for the coming of age of several young millennials, who often were afraid to step outside their comfort zones. Their fear turned into paralysis and, after college, they...

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10-minute To-Do Positive Parenting

10-Minute Ways to Put Yourself on Your To-Do List

Where did the day go? I was busy all day, but I can’t remember what I did. I’ll get to that when my schedule frees up a bit. Who hasn’t had one of these thoughts at least once a week, if not every day? With kids, perpetual activity is the default state. Gone are the days of predictable schedules and even a little downtime. Throw in work, community involvement and...

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Pregnant Moms Can Help Catch Preeclampsia Early

For most women, being pregnant is a wonderful experience. Getting prenatal care, eating healthy and exercising regularly are all important to help maternal health and delivery of a healthy baby. While physicians are always checking to make sure that mother and baby are healthy, expectant mothers can help be on the lookout for signs that they may need medical attention. High blood pressure disorders are among the most common medical...

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Eat, Sleep, Move: Parenting For Good Health

Health is complicated, but simple basics can make a big difference. How and what we eat, how well we sleep and how much we move are important. Use these healthy parenting tips to help your family be well in 2015. Eat Forget gluten free, paleo and cutting carbs. Eating right means slowing down. “I would like to see families take more time to prepare meals at home,” says Amy Childress,...

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Visually Impaired Preschoolers Learn From All Senses at TLC Preschool

It has taken 10 years of planning and fundraising, but the Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind (TLC) Inclusive Children’s Center and Preschool is now open with a brand-new building offering innovative programs to children ages 3-6 with visual impairment and special needs – as well as their typically developing peers. The preschool, opened in October, is designed for experiential learning and sensory integration. It incorporates the “High Scope Preschool...

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Our 2014 Dad Hero On Vacation

At L.A. Parent, we get to hear about a lot of great dads, and admire their positive parenting skills. In 2014, we decided to shine a spotlight on one terrific father – and do something special for him and his family. We were delighted at the flood of submissions in our Dad Heroes essay contest, and even more delighted to find Joe Stoop, a father of three who fits our...

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Shooting Stars Winners Revealed!

It was a busy day for all of us at L.A. Parent as we stepped out to Plaza El Segundo Oct. 11 to meet more than 200 families looking for fun things to do in L.A. who entered our annual Shooting Stars Cover Kids Contest. But we were all smiling as the photographers snapped away and families enjoyed all the fun activities available at the event. After the event, the...

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Three Ways to Help Kids With Test Anxiety

The second half of the school year will soon begin, and for many parents that means a return to tests and the fear they instill in our children. Often times test anxiety stems from one of two areas: fear of embarrassment and fear of failure. The main idea is to look to the root of the problem. Use positive parenting and these three tips to help your child lower their...

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Mark McKee Chosen To Head Viewpoint School

Following an international search, Mark McKee has been unanimously selected by the board of trustees as the new Head of School at Viewpoint School in Calabasas. McKee began his journey in education at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, serving as an English teacher, Director of Technology and Director of Summer School. He also served as the Head of Upper School at Chase Collegiate School and currently holds a position as the...

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What Does Stay-at-Home Parenting Cost You?

Most working parents can relate to the desire to be with their children at every milestone. On the other hand, careers often provide satisfaction and a dual income that is important to the family. Mothers and, to an increasing degree, fathers must consider whether or not to stay at home with their children—a choice that can be difficult and very personal. One of the most immediate and pressing concerns in...

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Walking in Their Shoes – A Special Needs Sensory Simulation Event

I recently attended a parent workshop at the Frostig School in Pasadena, designed to give parents hands-on insight into what it’s like for students with special needs who struggle to read and write. Educational therapist Barbara Langeloh, M.A.,facilitated Experience Dyslexia – A Learning Disabilities Simulation. The goal was for participants to feel the frustrations our children experience daily, helping us deal more compassionately with them. The six simulation activities, created...

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Los Angeles Attractions Offer A Pint-Size Start To 2015

Staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve can be challenging for a child. When I was 9, I tried to wake up to ring in the new year, but set my alarm clock wrong and slept straight through till morning. Fortunately, Southern California kids now have several ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve on their own time, thanks to a number of Los Angeles attractions. The Children’s Museum at...

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Helping Kids Conquer Fear of the Dentist

Most dental visits are easy and painless nowadays, but scary stereotypes about the dentist persist. For kids who pick up on these stereotypes, fear of dental visits could lead to poor oral health well into adulthood. Talking with your child about their fears and hesitations about visiting the dentist and working to address their concerns is an important part of parenting. Here are some tips that will help you get...

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GETTHERE Mentoring & Tutoring Now Open In West L.A.

GETTHERE Mentoring & Tutoring, now open in West Los Angeles, offers a unique educational mentoring program geared toward teenagers and young adults seeking college admission. The program works with students starting as early as their freshman year in high school to assure they become competitive college applicants by the time the application process rolls around. Each student in the program meets regularly with a mentor who has a Master’s degree...

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Parenting, Self-Control and the Marshmallow Test

Welcome to the time of year when we all focus on self-discipline (or at least we try). Recently, psychologist Walter Mischel has returned to both the popular and academic press with research regarding his famous marshmallow test, an experiment involving 4-year-olds and their ability to resist eating a marshmallow placed in front of them in the hopes of receiving a larger reward later. Mischel found that children who were better...

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Brain Balance of Brentwood Now Open

Nothing is more painful than to watch your child struggle. Difficulties in school, trouble making friends, tantrums and meltdowns are tough to observe, especially when you know that, underneath it all, you have a great kid. At the new Brain Balance Achievement Center of Brentwood, professionals work to address these challenges facing kids with special needs with a program that combines physical and sensory-motor exercises with cognitive skill training and healthy...

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Talented Animator is Making His Way UP

I had the pleasure of sitting down with author, illustrator and children’s media entrepreneur Trevor Lai while he was in Los Angeles speaking at the World Animation/VFX Festival. We chatted about his Shanghai-based company, UP Studios, his dedication to quality children's entertainment and his natural business acumen, which blossomed early. JK: You launched a couple of successful companies when you were just in your teens. Where does that entrepreneurial spirit come from and what inspired...

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Wicked: Elphaba and Glinda Return to the Pantages to Charm Audiences of all Ages

The first time Wicked was in Los Angeles, my daughters were both in elementary school and I organized a mother-daughter day at the Hollywood Pantages with 11 other families. We moms still talk about that day with great fondness. During every mesmerizing set, we would look over at our little girls’ faces and see them spellbound. Our group walked out of the theater knowing we had not only just seen...

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Brooklyn Abbott: Blogging For Colitis Awareness

Not many people fully understand what it means to struggle with Crohn’s Disease or colitis (forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) on a daily basis. Symptoms can range from pain to anemia, severe fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite and joint pain. December is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, so we talked with Brooklyn Abbott, a former L.A. television producer, patient with colitis, single mom, advocate and popular blogger who gave...

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Find New Snow Options For Families On Local Slopes

An increase in families skiing, women skiers and the use of technology on the slopes has prompted mountain resorts to breathe fresh air into snow sports lessons and slope-side activities. Mammoth Mountain, Eastern Sierras (10001 Minaret Road; 800-626-6684; www.mammothmountain.com; App: Mammoth Mountain) Heard the big news? The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – owner of Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain – recently acquired Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Bear Mountain and Snow...

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Get Lit Brings Poetry to L.A. Schools

On Nov. 23, I had the pleasure of attending “The Poetry of Television” hosted by Get Lit – Words Ignite. The event was held to commend some of television’s best writers and to honor Academy Award-winner Alan Ball (American Beauty) with the annual IGNITE award. The gala was held at The Dodgers Stadium Club and featured insightful performances from the Get Lit Players and speeches from Alan Ball and former...

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Volunteer Opportunities for Kids

We want to teach our children about the joys of volunteering, but not all volunteer opportunities are open to kids. The following organizations allow people of all ages to get involved, whether it’s in cleaning up the environment or donating books to children who can’t afford them. Friends of Ballona Wetlands is devoted to restoring and protecting the Ballona wetlands, a refreshingly open space that stretches from Lincoln Boulevard down...

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The Do-Right Thing At The Paley Center

This winter you can visit Frostbite Falls by heading to Beverly Hills, where The Paley Center for Media (465 N. Beverly Dr.) is playing host to an exhibit showcasing the playfully animated work of Jay Ward. During the 1960s, Ward and his crew created some of the most memorable characters ever to populate America’s cartoon universe. There were Rocky and Bullwinkle (whose hometown is Frostbite Falls) and their nemeses Boris...

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Hospital Play Rooms À La Cart

Oscar Litwak had already made it through one hospitalization for the cancer in his kidneys that was diagnosed when he was 4 months old. As an 18-month-old toddler, he was back in a hospital in Washington, D.C., for inpatient treatment. His sessions took 10 hours to complete, so sometimes he wanted to play. “In the outpatient center, the only thing they had were chairs with TVs,” says Oscar’s mom, Sharon....

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Have Yourself An Old-Fashioned Christmas

While it is easy to get caught up in Christmas present (gifts), we should not forget Christmas past (its heritage). Christmas is a holiday wrapped up in traditions, from jolly St. Nick to mistletoe kisses and those tree ornaments that have been handed down from generation to generation. Soak up the historic side of Christmas at holiday events all around Southern California. Heritage Square (3800 Homer Ave., L.A.) will offer...

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Finding Great Educational Apps for Your Kids

It’s amazing to see how education and information are changing, and how that rapid change is largely being driven by handheld devices. Children today have access to so many opportunities, largely because of the plethora of mobile apps. But are children spending their screen time learning, or just being entertained? A national survey of parents of kids ages 2 to 10 released early this year by the Joan Ganz Cooney...

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The 12 Stages of Christmas: Six Nutcrackers – and Six That Aren’t

December is as packed with family-friendly theatrical productions as Santa’s sleigh is with presents. The most popular show this time of year is The Nutcracker and Southern California certainly is chock-full of opportunities to see it – some with an extra twist of fun. But there are a number of other festive shows that are also worth a look. Six Unique Nutcrackers Debbie Allen once again will serve up The...

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Light Up Your Hanukkah

This year, Hanukkah (or, if you prefer, Chanukah) commences on the evening of Dec. 16. There are a number of events in Southern California that commemorate this eight-day celebration. Popular children’s musician Doda Mollie, the woman behind the popular Chanukah Pajamikah CD, visits Children’s Book World (10580½ Pico Blvd., L.A.; www.childrensbookworld.com) at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 for a free “mini-pajamikah” party that includes holiday songs and stories for the whole...

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Toxic Stress and Children’s Health

Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., shows her audience of healthcare workers, therapists and community activists a photo of a bear on the screen behind her to make her point. Encountering a bear in the woods – or other serious threat – makes the human brain pump powerful stress hormones and divert blood to the large muscles of the arms and legs so we can either fight or run away. It’s supposed...

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Panorama City Kids Get a Farmers’ Market Field Trip With a Local Doctor

Panorama City physician Carlos Mendez, MD, led a walking field trip with third-grade students, parents and staff from Ranchito Elementary school to the Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Farmers Market Nov. 19. Along the way, Mendez showcased interactive booths at the Farmers Market and chatted with the families about the benefits of physical activity and filling their plates with fresh fruits and vegetables. The field trip, part of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy...

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Celebrities Doin’ Good

Hollywood actors, recording artists and news anchors gathered Nov. 16 to create a charitable assembly line for kids in foster care during the third annual Celebrity Stuff-a-thon at Hotel Angeleno. The event, sponsored by Wells Fargo, is presented by the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA), which helps connect parents with the best family products. NAPPA partners provided the toys, books, music, DVDs and other essentials that went into duffel bags...

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L.A. Moms Share Special Friendships

In September, we asked moms to write in and tell us about the important friends in their lives. Then we partnered with Terranea Resort to put together a getaway for one special group of women. Dozens of touching stories came in, and we chose Kristine Willis as our winner. Here’s how she describes her group of mom friends: Getaway Winner: Kristine Willis I have known these amazing women from 20-35...

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Building a Communication Foundation

Building your child’s communication skills is the single most effective way to improve behavior, play and socialization. Children who can communicate their needs, wants, likes and dislikes are much less likely to cry, scream or protest. While most parents recognize the value of good communication skills, many are unaware that there are lots of ways to shape these skills long before children begin to use verbal speech. Communication is so...

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Lanai Road Elementary Gala 2014

Lanai Road Elementary Receives National Blue Ribbon Award

By Elena Epstein The excitement was palpable as teachers, students, parents and administrators gathered to celebrate Lanai Road Elementary School’s coveted Blue Ribbon Award this week. The school, located in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood of Encino in the west San Fernando Valley, is among a handful of schools selected nationwide. Of the 24 California schools chosen for Blue Ribbon recognition this year, Lanai Road is the only one in the...

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2014 Hollywood Christmas Parade Is Full Of “Wonder”

One sign the yuletide season is approaching Southern California is the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. Celebrating its 83rd year, this longtime local holiday favorite has been described as the largest Christmas celebration in the country. It will include marching bands from across the country, equestrian acts, colorful floats and a number of celebrities, including Santa Claus. This year’s parade also salutes the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and...

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Contact Lenses Vs. Glasses for Active Kids

Is your child a student of karate? A competitive young swimmer? A baseball player for the local little league team? If your child has an active lifestyle and needs vision correction, contact lenses might be a better choice than glasses. Let’s look at some of the advantages of contact use for your pediatric champion. More stable vision. A child wearing eyeglasses can feel the frames move slightly on his or...

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Have a Handmade Holiday With Crafting Community

A day of art and family fun is coming to L.A. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13, when Crafting Community hosts its “Handmade Holiday” event at the historic Lombardi House in Hollywood. Families will be able to make five different crafts at the various stations, including personalized ornaments, holiday cards and leather wrap bracelets. In addition to the crafts, families can enjoy a festive holiday market, snacks, cookie decorating, photo...

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Meet Boy 5A: Representing 20,000 L.A. County Kids Who Need Families

By Elena Epstein The reception room inside Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts was filled with community supporters, families, and employees of Five Acres, a nonprofit organization focused on finding safe and permanent family solutions for children in L.A. County. But, the most anticipated guest remained under cover most of the evening. Boy 5A, a four-foot sculpture of a boy representing the 20,000 children currently living in foster care in...

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The L.A. Zoo Will Glow For the Holidays

The holidays will be celebrated in a big way at the Los Angeles Zoo (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoo.org), which will host two separate seasonal attractions. For the first time, the park will illuminate the night with Zoo Lights, an electrical display of millions of lights that depict a colorful menagerie of zoo animals, some of the them doing kooky things. There will be a hippo driving on a freeway...

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Light Up Your Holidays!

No matter how you choose to celebrate, twinkling lights are a festive part of the holiday season. Delight your kids with an outing to one of these local favorite illumination locations. The Mission Inn Festival of Lights, 5-10:30 p.m. Nov. 28-Jan. 6, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; www.missioninn.com/festival-of-lights-en.html. Take a photo with Santa Claus and see this display of more than 4 million dazzling lights. FREE. Christmas Tree Lane, beginning...

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Author Sheila McCraith created The Orange Rhino after her handyman caught her yelling at her sons.

Quiet As An Orange Rhino

After an embarrassing incident when her handyman heard her screaming at her boys, Sheila McCraith, mother of four, pledged to refrain from yelling for 365 days. She began blogging as The Orange Rhino, and chronicled her yearlong, yell-free journey. Her post “10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids” was named one of the top parenting posts in January 2014 by The Huffington Post and has garnered...

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6 Essentials For Kids’ Music Lessons

Why do children lose interest in music lessons within the first six months? After listening to many parents’ stories, I wondered. In my experience teaching and running a music school, I saw only a few dropouts after six months of studying. I asked several students’ parents and found some common factors that kept kids engaged in music: In-person experiences with a music teacher: There are lots of online music lessons...

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There’s Now More To Explore At Descanso Gardens

On Nov. 15, Descanso Gardens celebrates the opening of its first major garden addition in three decades. The Oak Woodland represents something old and something new. This lakeside green space is located near historic Boddy Lodge, but it boasts around 30,000 new plants that have been added in the last year. Most of the planting was done in March by a group of volunteers. The greenery features a mix of...

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When Kids Enter Puberty Early

Recently, a friend asked me, “How do you talk to younger kids who are developing earlier than other children?” His 7-year-old niece started her period and the family wasn’t sure how to talk to her about it. Working in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I discuss puberty with teens, young adults and their families quite often. What is normal? What is abnormal?...

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Discover The Valley’s New Children’s Museum

The story of Southern California’s newest children’s museum is something like a fairy tale. Once upon a time, back when your parents were kids, the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles gave kids a place to play in downtown L.A. It was closed so that a bigger children’s museum could be built at the Hansen Dam Recreational Area in the San Fernando Valley. But the Big Bad Economy held the project...

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Navigating Video Game Ratings

You are at the multiplex with your family and your 13 year old wants to see an ?R-rated movie because “All the kids in my class have seen it and are talking about it. I’ll be left out if I don’t see it!” Do you buy your child a ticket and let them see it without you there to see it with them? Probably not. Now take this scenario and...

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Healthy Holiday: Santa’s Cookie Pops

Here in sunny SoCal, hot cocoa is still a favorite, but it’s also ice pop weather almost all year. Health-conscious families can get the skinny on a real treat with this recipe from Mom and Pop Shop, a local, family-owned business that brings all-natural popsicles to events of all sorts. Learn more about them at www.momandpopshoptruck.com. Santa’s Cookie Pops Yield 6-8 pops INGREDIENTS 1 can (13-14oz) Unsweetened Coconut Milk (if...

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Make a Point of Visiting Dana Point

Dana Point was a popular port for trading in the1800s. Today, the harbor is the hub for recreational activities, marine research and festivals. Family-friendly luxury resorts and close proximity to L.A. make Dana Point a relaxing weekend getaway. Eat The harbor-side Coffee Importers Scoop Deck & Deli (34531 Golden Lantern St.; 949-493-7773; www.coffeeimporters.com) has an extensive breakfast, lunch, snacks and smoothie menu for less than $10 per person. House-made granola,...

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Families Pitching In for the Holidays

In the movie of our lives – where we star as the Perfect Parent – we see ourselves unreservedly volunteering to visit the sick, feed the hungry and help those less fortunate. We see our children – inspired by our selfless acts – grow into adults who find ways to eliminate world hunger and make poverty a thing of the past. If only. Most parents I know have trouble squeezing...

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Meet The Squeegees – Again

The Squeegees are not newcomers to the Southern California family music scene. The group released their first album, Meet The Squeegees, in 2008. It was re-released a couple years later, and their new album, Veggie Soup, is a slow-cooked follow-up. It is worth re-introducing yourselves to the band because there have been a number of changes since their debut album. Samantha Tobey from the original duo fronts the band with...

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Chanel Boutakidis: Finding Safe Homes For Kids In Need

Tucked away 
on a tree-lined street in
 Pasadena, Five Acres 
is a beautiful sanctuary devoted to giving voice 
to children in foster 
care. The 126-year-old nonprofit, once an orphanage, has evolved 
into an organization devoted to finding safe 
and permanent family solutions for more than 8,000 children and their families throughout L.A. County. As the chief executive officer, Chanel Boutakidis, MA, MFT, is a tireless advocate for children in need...

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A special Halloween for Babies in the Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Volunteers were working hard on the days leading up to Halloween to ensure a festive celebration for the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center. In what has become an annual tradition, volunteers from Good Beginnings and some nurses in the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center created adorable costumes, all handmade, for the tiny babies who were spending their first Halloween in the...

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Measuring Medications Correctly

It’s the middle of the night, your child has a fever and you find yourself in the kitchen, squinting at the numbers printed on the side of a tiny plastic cup. The bottle of Children’s Tylenol says the dose is two teaspoons. You pour, thinking you’ve got it right. But what if you don’t? In a study out this summer in Pediatrics, as many as 40 percent of parents made...

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Rose Goldwater Volunteer of the Year Award and Community Center Preview

The Village at Westfield Topanga Mall to Create a New Community

L.A. Parent had a sneak peak into the exciting new development just up the street from our office. The Westfield Topanga Mall, a mecca for shopping in the San Fernando Valley, is growing into a “village.” Construction is moving fast on the upscale open-air mall at Warner Center. The Village at Westfield Topanga Mall, a 550,000-square-foot addition across the street from the existing mall, will include boutique stores, restaurants, a...

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Hiro and Baymax form an unusual friendship in the new Disney film. ARTWORK COURTESY WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS

‘Big Hero 6′ Offers Big Laughs and Big Action

The big Disney film Big Hero 6 is an imaginative action-comedy about a teenage boy, his group of misfit friends and an inflatable robot named Baymax who isn’t the big softie he looks to be. The movie, according to co-director Don Hall, is a mash-up of Disney’s humor and humanity and Marvel Comics’ superhero action adventures. If you aren’t familiar with the comic Big Hero 6, you aren’t alone. It’s...

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Holiday Baking and Cooking Classes

After a long, hot summer that spills over into fall, we’re all ready for the weather to cool down and signal the start of holiday baking season. Get your kids into the spirit with these local cooking and baking classes. Mobile culinary school Kitchen Kid (www.kitchenkid.com) brings cooking and baking fun to families all over Los Angeles with its on-site offerings that combine arts and crafts with hands-on kitchen action....

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AEG's Season of Giving Celebrates YoYo School of Hip Hop

Great Skate Spots In Southern California

Los Angeles may have more sand and sunshine than snow, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want our wintertime fun. One splendid way to feel the chill of winter is to stop by one of the temporary ice rinks that pop up this time of year. ICE at Santa Monica, 2-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 2 p.m.-midnight Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. Nov. 1-Jan. 22, 1324 5th Ave., Santa...

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Put On Your Tutu and Walk With Ballet For All Kids

Elise Luna, 6, loves to dance. With her ballet DVD in hand, she twirls around her living room every chance she gets. One of the biggest treats of the week is her ballet class. While verbal communication is a challenge for Elise, who has autism, dance frees her to fully express herself. Elise takes classes at Ballet for All Kids in Encino. The studio, founded by Bonnie Schlachte, offers classical...

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Young Boy Being Tutored by His Teacher

Thanking Your Family’s Special-Needs Angels

Taking time to recognize and express our gratitude to others for the impact they have had in our lives is good for everyone, especially for families of individuals with special needs. Whether you employ direct service providers, or are a client of one, there are several ways to show your gratitude for their work. These special professionals sit knee-to-knee with children and teach them in circumstances that are sometimes challenging....

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Face Value Comics Introduces a New Kind of Hero

The first comic book specifically written and drawn to appeal to readers with autism, Face Value Comics creates a colorful world of aliens, robots and adventure, all set against the backdrop of a future Earth at war. But beyond its intended audience, Face Value makes history in another way. Its hero, Michael, is a young boy who himself has autism. As the story makes clear, Michael wants the same things...

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Flu Season Is Here – Time For Your Shots

While all the talk in the media seems to be about Ebola (including work on a vaccine), here in the U.S. people are at much greater risk of harm from a virus for which we already have a vaccine – the flu. As the annual flu season begins, the L.A. County department of public health announced that influenza vaccinations are now available at no cost to residents at public health...

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Julie Hale

Family Stress and The Big Pause

Recently, someone commented that because I’m a psychotherapist who has practiced yoga for more than 20 years, I must float around in a sort of bliss-filled bubble of equanimity and peace. Eh, not so much! I’d say my life is filled with an above-average amount of minor to major life stressors. It doesn’t look like that is going to ease up in the immediate future. But that is why I...

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Archer School for Girls Opens Saban IDEALab

Leslie Castenada, a seventh grader at the Archer School for Girls in Brentwood, is excited to explain the video game she created for school fitness classes using the SCRATCH computer programming tool. At the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school’s new Saban IDEALab, Castenada shares her enthusiasm with visitors, including Amy Wakeland, wife of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Saban IDEALab, the physical hub housing Archer’s Integrated Design and Engineering...

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Trick-or-Treat, Run and Help This Halloween Season

Halloween giving usually means choosing treats to hand out at your door. The L.A. Cancer Challenge offers another way to give. Taking place at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 26 (the Sunday before Halloween), this annual fundraiser for the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research includes a 5/10K run and a Kids Can Cure Fun Run. The event gets into the holiday spirit with a Halloween Kid Zone with pumpkin decorating, live...

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Halloween ComicFest Features A Comic Book Free-For-All

Halloween and comic books are good at offering a good scare, so it is not surprising that there is a Halloween-themed comic book day. Comic shops across the country will celebrate the third annual Halloween ComicFest Oct. 25. Locally, Golden Apple, Meltdown Comics, Things From Another World and Earth 2 Comics are among stores scheduled to participate. Organized by Diamond Comic Distributors, the day will offer 19 new, and free,...

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Beyond the Beach In Carpinteria

While beautiful silky-sand beaches may be the primary reason for visiting Carpinteria, it’s also fun to explore the laid-back city’s parks, unpretentious downtown and seaside neighborhoods. The electric Seaside Shuttle costs 50 cents per ride, and makes a loop around town and to the Amtrak platform, offering a car-free option for your visit. Eat Show up at The Spot (389 Linden Ave.; 805-684-6311) in your bathing suit and flip-flops (or...

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Mother with Ill Daughter

Use Common-Sense Measures To Prevent Enterovirus

As cold and flu season gets underway, parents should also be on the lookout for signs of a sometimes-serious respiratory infection called enterovirus D68. There are 100 strains of enterovirus, and this particular one isn’t new. It was first identified in California in 1962. But Pia Pannaraj, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, says EV-D68, as the strain is known, “seems to have evolved in a...

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Party-Time Treats

Food can be a fun part of any party, but can be a real headache if you’re the one doing the planning. Keep it simple (and fun for you) with these great recipes from Home & Family’s Tanya Memme. Tanya’s Birthday Party Popcorn! Everyone loves popcorn! Be a hero at your child’s next party with this!  It takes minutes to make, is easy on the wallet and kids love it....

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Stepping Up To the Plate For People With Autism

Danny Gott is 21 and has loved farm animals since he was a little boy. Danny also has autism. In honor of their special son, Danny’s parents, Cathy Gott and Jim Gott – former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and current pitching coach for the Anaheim Angels – founded Danny’s Farm in 2007. The nonprofit petting zoo has two missions: to serve children with special needs, and to employ...

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Play Date: Wild and Woolly Fun

In our urban jungle, there is plenty of wildlife of a more natural variety. If you and the kids are ready for a safari, check out these rescue and conservation centers for creatures both wet and dry. The mission of The Gentle Barn (15825 Sierra Hwy., Santa Clarita; 661-252-2440; www.gentlebarn.org) is “teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other and our planet” – a noble goal, to be sure....

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Travels With Charlie, For a Diabetes Cure

“I remember those big, blue eyes looking at me, saying, Dad, why are you hurting me?” says Kevin Wehrenberg. Those eyes belonged to Charlie, Wehrenberg’s son, who was 3 years old at the time. They were at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Charlie had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the day before. Two nurses were holding Charlie down, and Wehrenberg was giving him an insulin shot for the first...

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Naked Babies and Healthy Body Image

While you might find the sight of your 1-year-old toddling naked through the kitchen adorable, you might feel differently if you’re having a dinner party and your little streaker is 4. And your reaction – including your tone of voice, the words you use, and your body language – are more important than you might think. “Those are sending early, early messages to your child about sexuality and about their...

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Pumpkin Preservation Tips

Does your Jack O’Lantern look more sad than scary after just a few days on the front porch? Keep him looking his best for visiting ghosts and goblins with these tips from Thomas Olton, a carver for RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns, coming this month to Descanso Gardens. Pick a pumpkin that has not been damaged. Even a tiny nick or scratch will cause the rotting process to begin rapidly....

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Ooh La La! Let’s Make Art in L.A.

Artist Hervḗ Tullet, bestselling author of “Press Here” (Chronicle Books, 2011) is coming to MOCA and LACMA this month to shake things up, squish stuff together and fire the imaginations of your children while promoting his latest interactive book, “Mix It Up!” Not familiar with these popular books or the creative mind behind them? Even this adult found it hard to resist the urge to tilt, turn and touch the...

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World City Spins Music and Dance From Around the Globe

During the past dozen years, the Music Center’s World City program has introduced kids to more than 75 different cultures at the intimate, outdoor W.M. Keck Children’s Auditorium (111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.; www.musiccenter.org). This year’s World City offers another stellar international lineup of interesting acts. Season 13’s seven-concert series begins Oct. 11 with a trip to Brazil when Los Masis and Bolivia Corazón de America perform traditional music and...

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L.A. Says ‘Hello, Kitty!’

It’s hard to believe the adorable little character known as Hello Kitty is turning 40. She hardly seems to have aged a bit since 1974. Her parent company, Sanrio, is celebrating this big birthday with the first Hello Kitty museum exhibit to tour North America. “Hello! Exploring The Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” will reside at the Japanese American National Museum (100 N. Central Ave., L.A.; www.janm.org/hellokitty) 11 a.m.-5 p.m....

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Big Draw L.A. Brings Art To October

Sharpen up your pencils, count your crayons and make sure your pens haven’t dried up – Big Draw L.A. returns this month. What is a Big Draw? It’s a month-long series of events organized by Ryman Arts since 2010. One of the great things about this program is that you don’t have to be a certain age, or even have drawing skills, to participate. It is all about being part...

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Beach Cities Kids Ride the Walking School Bus

More than 3,000 elementary students and parents in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach are expected to skip the carpool in honor of International Walk to School Day Oct. 8. But for these students, walking to school isn’t a once-a-year novelty. Each week, they choose leg power over horsepower as part of Beach Cities Health District’s “Walking School Bus” program. Last school year, students who regularly walked in the...

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9 Tips on Breaking Difficult News to Your Child

As a parent, one of the most important parts of your relationship with your child is communication and maintaining an open and honest relationship. Our children look to us for guidance and protection. For example, I always like to be the first to break news to my son, especially difficult news. That way I can control the environment and ensure the information provided will be accurate and truthful. This can...

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The Wallis

Wallis Annenberg Center Kicks Off Season of Family Entertainment

Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is the first and only performing arts center in Beverly Hills. The venue, which opened its doors in October 2013, transformed a Beverly Hills city block into a vibrant new cultural destination in the heart of Los Angeles with two distinct, elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Beverly Hills Post Office, now called the Paula...

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Fertile Action For Women Facing Breast Cancer

Just weeks after her breast cancer diagnosis, Alice Crisci made the decision to preserve her fertility before she started treatment, and to help other women protect theirs as well. After realizing that many women couldn’t charge the $30,000 fee to freeze their eggs to a credit card, as she did, she started Fertile Action to help make fertility preservation affordable for anyone who applies. Crisci explains how she got the...

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Our Favorite Halloween Haunts!

Children pondering the October calendar might be impatient thinking of the 30 whole days they have to wait through until Halloween. That’s, like, 50,000 minutes! (Well, 43,200 to be precise.) The upside is that those minutes are jam-packed with events that celebrate the arrival of Halloween. And Southern California certainly has a bountiful harvest of fun this season. Zoo Boos and Sea Scares You can have a Boo At The...

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On Solid Ground

Your Family Can Be Ready For SoCal’s Next Big Earthquake   Welcome to L.A. Parent's earthquake readiness page. We've compiled this handy guide because, when we're talking about a major earthquake hitting Southern California, it's not "if," it's "when." We want your family to be prepared. We cover a number of topics here, but have tried to keep it simple. Just click below to jump to the section you're interested...

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Pujols Steps to the Plate for Special Needs

Albert Pujols has left an indelible mark on the game of baseball. Over the past 13 years, first with the St. Louis Cardinals and now with the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols has been one of the top hitters in the game and among its best all-around players. His two World Series rings – earned with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 – and three National League Most Valuable Player Awards...

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There’s More to These Playgrounds Than Meets The Eye

When you look at a playground, you might see swings or a jungle gym, but children with disabilities see a fun place that’s inaccessible, excluding them from opportunities to play. Unless, of course, they are visiting one of Shane’s Inspiration’s universally accessible playgrounds, created to bring together children – with disabilities and without – through play. You can find them as far away as Russia, Israel and Ecuador and as...

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Finding Family Treasure With ‘The Boxtrolls’

The Boxtrolls, out Sept. 26 from Focus Features, takes us into the sewers of the town of Cheesebridge, home to the mischievous, trash-collecting Boxtrolls. Eggs (teen version voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright, The Awakening, Game of Thrones) is an orphaned boy who is raised by the Boxtrolls, who believe that one man’s trash is another man’s (Boxtroll’s) treasure. Cheese and social rankings are priorities for the citizens of Cheesebridge, and...

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Don’t Leave Your Child in a Hot Car

Parents and caregivers most often leave children in hot cars due to a change in routine or a quick errand that turns out to be longer than anticipated. Because of all the publicity and increase in children being left in sweltering cars, I was inspired to write this article. To learn more, I reached out to Helen Arbogast, MPH, CHES, manager of the Injury Prevention Program at CHLA. Did you...

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A Sneak Peak At Fall Films

October’s films features a pair of protagonists – Alexander and Manolo – who aren’t having very good days. Alexander is the title character in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Inspired by the popular Judith Viorst book (which also was adapted into a 30-minute TV musical ) this live-action version, which Disney will release Oct. 10, involves a “no good, very bad day” experienced by Alexander’s...

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What’s Your Child’s Learning Style?

Years before research on the auditory, visual, and tactile learning styles was conducted and presented to the world at large, my mother, a 38-year veteran of the Los Angeles Unified School District, kept a dizzying array of tubs of things to count – such as beans, coins, and colored unifix cubes. She was always teaching the class a song or poem, and it seems as if they created a journal...

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Developmental Benefits of Tummy Time

One of the great benefits to working as a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is learning from colleagues from other disciplines. For example, I am co-teaching a class at CHLA for parents on how to care for a child who has a g-tube (gastrostomy tube). An occupational therapist, who is also co-teaching the class, talked about her discipline’s role in helping these children get the nutrition they need,...

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How To Have a Great Family Portrait Session

This moment in your family’s life is precious, remarkable, and unrepeatable. The way your newborn curls her fists when she sleeps. The wide-open wonder in your toddler’s eyes. The developing relationship between your second-grader and your preschooler — those little rivals, little partners in crime. I’m a mother, too — a grandmother now, in fact — and I understand how valuable these moments are and how important it is to...

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Local Boy Has a Key Role as The Boxtrolls Pop Up In Cinemas

The Boxtrolls is certainly a grown-up feat. The latest work from Laika Studios builds on the company’s previous films (Coraline and ParaNorman). Combining stop-action animation with CG technology, the studio created a visually stunning, darkly comic “hybrid” motion picture that was selected for screening at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Based on a story in Alan Snow’s massive graphic novel “Here Be Monsters,” this Focus Features release tells a tale...

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Denise Grande: An Advocate For Arts For All

The arts are slowly but surely reappearing in school curricula across L.A. County, thanks in large part to an initiative called Arts For All. Launched in 2002 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the organization is helmed by Director Denise Grande, a passionate advocate for including the arts, from visual to performing, in K-12 education. Grande explains exactly what Arts For All is, and how it works. What...

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Julian Is the Apple Of Our Eye

Autumn is prime time to visit Julian, an historic gold-mining town an hour east of San Diego that is home to numerous apple orchards. A handful of these are open to the public for apple and pumpkin picking. Eat Housed in a 1920s cottage, the family-owned and operated Julian Grille (2224 Main St.; 760-765-0036; www.juliangrille.com) has extensive lunch and dinner menus. Try the Reuben sandwich or the pecan-breaded chicken topped...

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Creation Classes and Workshops For Little ‘Makers’

The “maker” movement, a DIY wave that has swept the country, has plenty to offer kids and families. If your child loves to make art, repurpose used materials into new inventions, design robots, or build giant structures for the sole purpose of knocking them back down, here are some options that are sure to challenge and delight. What happens when you get a group of enterprising artists and environmental designers...

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How Girlfriends Getaways Help Moms Recharge

Women – especially moms – tend to take care of everything and everyone but themselves. And as important as our daily responsibilities might be, there is real value in taking a moment to rediscover what it is we want out of life, to re-establish our priorities and our passions. A wonderful way to kick-start this process is a night out, or even a weekend getaway, with our special girlfriends. Still,...

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5 Habits To Strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond

All relationships in life require work and effort, but building and maintaining a strong relationship with your child will most likely be one of the hardest challenges you’ll encounter. It’s not just about building a better relationship, it’s about building a connection -- a genuine connection filled with respect, communication, love and hope. Here are five habits that can help you build and maintain a strong connection with your children....

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Helping Your Child Organize, Plan and Follow Through At School

Do your children lose notebooks, books, sweatshirts, cell phones or school handouts? Do they forget books at school that they need for homework, or forget to turn in homework assignments even though they have completed them? Are there piles of paper stuffed in the pockets of their notebooks? Are you shocked when you see their school lockers with crumpled papers in disarray? Do your children wait until the last minute...

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How Enrichment Helps Shy Kids Blossom

It’s no surprise that Los Angeles – where adults spend a lot of time seeking balance – is a hotbed of enrichment programs for kids. But for shy or insecure children, jumping into a brand-new activity can be intimidating and overwhelming. And for their parents, it can be downright daunting to push a reserved child out of her or his comfort zone in the name of “personal growth.” It usually...

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Extracurricular Activities

No need to hit the classroom for a dose of learning. This month offers a host of events that offer a knowledge boost – and fun! For the 10th year, the Smithsonian is hosting Museum Day Live! On Sept. 27, museums across America – including the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the Grammy Museum, the California Science Center, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the...

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How a Modern Daddy Does Work

For too many people, the stereotypical image of fatherhood is still either the bumbling dad who can’t do anything right or the uninvolved breadwinner who kicks back with a beer and leaves the tough stuff to Mom. Fortunately, these stereotypes no longer apply to many modern dads. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Doyin Richards, a Los Angeles father of two girls who has taken his love of fatherhood...

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If the Doctor Didn’t Lather Up, Speak Up

Did you wash your hands? You’ve asked your child hundreds of times, but how about your child’s doctor? If you didn’t see the pediatrician lather up before examining your son or daughter, you should speak up, says James E. Stein, M.D., chief quality medical officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers should wash their hands – or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer – in the exam...

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Ready For Liftoff!

Supplies? Ready! Suited up? Check! 3-2-1 Blast off! It’s time to explore “Planet Kindergarten” (Chronicle Books, ages 3-5). Using space travel, L.A. author Sue Ganz-Schmitt has created a clever picture book to prepare children for the unknown in a relatable and reassuring way. The steps needed to safely navigate new territory are humorously illustrated award-winning local animator Shane Prigmore. The story is told from a young astronaut’s point of view....

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Explore The World At September’s Festivals

If you didn’t find time for family travel this summer, you will get a second chance this month. An international array of festivals taking place around Southern California offer the opportunity to experience cultures from around the globe. September is Latino Heritage Month, and several festivals will salute Hispanic culture. The first two are free! Celebrating Mexican independence, Fiestas Patrias fills Olvera Street Plaza (125 Paseo de la Plaza, L.A.)...

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Encounter Some Impressive Dinosaurs

We can’t know exactly what life was like during the Triassic or Cretaceous periods when dinosaurs walked the Earth. Science offers some clues, and the entertainment industry has its own approach. Walking With Dinosaurs, which started as a BBC TV series in 1999, has evolved into an impressive stage show, and will visit Southern California this month. The production Walking With Dinosaurs: Arena Spectacular stops at the Honda Center (2695...

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Music is for Everyone

As someone who has been teaching music for more than 20 years, I have been fortunate to have taught students from every age group. The one constant I continue to see is the misconception by many adults that there’s a certain age limit by when a child needs to start learning music. The age varies, depending on the parent, but the average seems to be around age 12. This imaginary...

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Go Ju-Ju for Hello Kitty!

  It is official: the collaboration between Ju-Ju-Be and Hello Kitty has launched! The signature Ju-Ju-Be diaper bag now features the adorable face of Hello Kitty, including the signature Hello Kitty bow. The bag’s official launch date was Aug. 25, but it proved so popular that the largest style sold out online the day before! The popular first edition of the Ju-Ju-Be For Hello Kitty Collection is a custom print...

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Battling Back-to-School Asthma

One in 11 kids in L.A. County has asthma. If your child is one of them, you might have noticed more flare-ups at the start of each new school year. Many hospitals report that asthma-related visits from kids peak around mid-September. The weather is part of the problem, with allergens that can trigger attacks increasing in late summer, and pollens and molds made airborne by the hot, dry conditions. Classrooms...

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New Kids’ Club Offers Lots of Fun Activities at the Glendale Galleria

The Glendale Galleria has a fun new Kids’ Club featuring different activities from 10 a.m.-noon every Tuesday. Presented by the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the free activities and entertainment are designed for children ages 10 and younger. Activities include theater skits, craft projects, interactive sing-alongs, musical performances, carnival games and much more. For a listing of Kids’ Club events, visit: http://www.glendalegalleria.com/events/kids-club-at-glendale-galleria The Galleria is also working in collaboration with the Glendale...

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The BeatBuds are Your New House Band

Whether you know them as Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro, Jonny Jingles and Matty Maracas or just the two dudes in the BeatBuds, these two guys are all about the music. For the past few years, this local duo has been a popular presence in the local family music scene. Besides playing all around Southern California, these two childhood friends also have also started doing in-home jam sessions. In these...

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Making Nature Visits Easy in the Audubon Center

I often want to spend time outdoors with my son, to let him poke around the leaves, jump, run, climb and get dirty – but without the crowds and without a big production. One of my favorites spots in Los Angeles is the Audubon Center at Debs Park (4700 North Griffin Ave.; 323-221-2255; www.debspark.audubon.org). It is small enough that you can keep an eye on your child, and wild enough...

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Ten Tips: Breastfeeding and Back to Work!

Everyone is focused on back-to-school at the moment, but it’s also National Breastfeeding Month! New moms headed back to work might wonder how they are going to make breastfeeding and their jobs work together. Here are some simple tips to make breastfeeding and your transition back to work a little easier! Before baby is born … 1. Plan to breastfeed. Simply making a plan and setting a time goal for...

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A Camp That Demands An Encore

Bravo! As a mother of three – and former drama student – I require each of my children to participate in a theater production. Do I want them to become professional actors? God, no. But theater builds character. It teaches self-confidence. It quells the emotion of embarrassment, which hinders so many of us from living in the moment. Theater teaches us to let go and not to take ourselves so...

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Ballet for All Brings Dance to Typical Kids and Those With Special Needs

Elise Luna, 6, loves to dance. With her ballet DVD in hand, she twirls around her living room every chance she gets. One of the biggest treats of the week is her ballet class. While verbal communication is a challenge for Elise, who has autism, dance frees her to fully express herself. Elise has been taking classes at Ballet for all Kids in Encino for the past year. The studio,...

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Get Your Child to Stop Picking Their Nose

My nephew recently came up to me and said, “I have a boogie,” as he held out his finger and waved a ball of freshly plucked mucous in front of me. Gross. I immediately remedied this situation by handing him a tissue and sending him to the restroom to wash his hands. Nose picking is a common habit among kids. In preparation for writing this article, I had the pleasure...

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Catch Up On Vaccines for Back-to-School

With the new school year’s arrival, it’s a good time to catch up the family’s vaccinations. Here are a few reasons it is extra important this year: Measles has been on the rise. L.A. County has been seeing a higher-than-usual number of measles cases according to the county department of public health, which began reminding residents to catch up on their Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine in early March. Statewide,...

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The Back-To-School Boogie: Tips For Teachers And Parents For A Smooth Transition

Regardless of whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a student, August marks the turn of the tides when school supplies, planners, and new-school-year jitters take center stage. It is an exciting time for some, and a dreadful time for others. Each parent, child and teacher is unique and has his or her own feelings about school starting, and that is perfectly natural and normal. Here are some key...

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Set Sail For Fun

  All hands – and feet – can be on deck as August brings a high tide of sailing events. Sailing into the Port of Los Angeles Aug. 20-24 will be the spectacular Tall Ships Festival (www.tallshipsfestivalla.com). This is one of just three West Coast stops for these historic vessels. Visitors can step aboard more than 10 mighty boats – including the twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, official...

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Full-Time Fun In Half Moon Bay

Located along scenic Route 1 between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay is a small coastal community set amidst redwood forests and agricultural fields, and also the oldest settlement in San Mateo. Eat No need to fork over big bucks for an amazing meal with ocean views. Open for lunch and dinner, Sam’s Chowder House (4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy.; 650-712-0245; www.samschowderhouse.com) is a great place...

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Protect Your Family Against West Nile Virus

The 2014 West Nile virus season is underway in L.A. County, with the Department of Public Health confirming the first human cases of WNV infection last week. A San Fernando Valley woman in her 60s was hospitalized and is recovering. A man in his 20s who donated blood in late July was found to be infected, but has no symptoms and remains healthy. WNV is spread through the bite of...

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The Kid-Friendly Foods of Summer

Believe it or not, summer might be the perfect time to give your picky toddler a nutritional makeover. At least, that’s what Scott Cohen thinks. Cohen is a Beverly Hills-based pediatrician whose daughters are 4 and 6, and he admits that toddlers can be tricky. “There is always a struggle between wanting to be in control and having that control,” he says. Toddlers crave independence, but thrive on structure. He...

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Jr. Dodger Broadcasters Are Fielding Their Dreams

If your son or daughter is a baseball fan, the Jr. Dodgers Broadcast program could put them in the middle of a field of dreams. Kids in the program, ages 8-14, broadcast Sunday home games over the Internet at www.dodgers.com and are treated like every other member of the media. That means they must arrive several hours before the first pitch to do their prep work and conduct interviews with...

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Turning Sexual Images In The Media Into Teachable Moments

Last week, a friend posted this question on Facebook: “Help! How should I handle my 8-year-old questioning me about the ‘Sex Tape’ billboards around town?” Her post received comments with suggestions that ranged from outright lying to deceit, denial, deafness and the favorite of many moms, “Ask your dad.” Rather than run away from the question, though, I think we need to make the Sex Tape billboard into a teachable...

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Where to Find L.A.’s Coolest Ice Cream and Gelato Shops

Considering our year-round sunny weather, it’s no wonder Los Angeles has a seemingly endless array of ice cream parlors, gelaterias and FroYo shops. If you’re ready to venture beyond the shop on the corner for something truly special, here are six spots that are absolutely worth a try. Scoops original location is on hip-as-can-be Heliotrope Drive (712 N., Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; 323-906-2649), where they dish up creative ice cream flavor...

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Dads Uniting Dads in Education might look like goofy fun, but it’s a serious way for fathers to get involved in schools. PHOTO COURTESY D.U.D.E.S.

D.U.D.E.S. Making a Difference

Scan the crowd of volunteers manning a school event, and chances are you’ll see mostly moms, with a few uncomfortable looking dads. But not in South Pasadena. Thanks to a grassroots organization called D.U.D.E.S. – Dads Uniting Dads in Education & Service – fathers in South Pasadena show up in full force when a cry goes out for parental help. D.U.D.E.S. is the brainchild of Jeff Kirschenbaum, a dad at...

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Compton Jr. Posse: Horses and Hope

In a place as diverse as L.A., it shouldn’t be surprising that you can find a posse of kids on horseback in Compton. But the members of Compton Jr. Posse aren’t just out for a joy ride. The organization, the brainchild of Mayisha Akbar, helps keep kids off the street, away from gangs and in school. As a side benefit, the kids connect with the animals, and each other, and...

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Yalda Uhls

Bridging the Digital Divide Between Kids and Grandparents

In the digital world where we are raising our children, it seems that toddlers, teens and everyone in between is obsessed with technology and media. As growing numbers of grandparents occupy stools at the Apple Store Genius Bar, desperate to keep up, others choose to remain offline. How, then, can parents bridge this technology gap between their parents and their children, to help preserve the grandparent-grandchild bond? Yalda T. Uhls,...

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Hot Music Blossoms In The Getty Garden

Family music fans will flock to The Getty Center this month for the museum’s free Garden Concerts for Kids. In its sixth year, the summer music series presents another stellar lineup, with each of this year’s trio of acts offering something uniquely educational along with their entertaining music. Kicking off the series of 4 p.m. shows in The Getty’s Central Garden (1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.; www.getty.edu) will be Mister...

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Not Your Standard Fairy Tale Musical

Aladdin sings One Direction, Snow White covers Katy Perry’s “Firework” and the Sheriff of Nottingham goes Lady Gaga in the amusing musical mash-up that makes up the Princess And Pirates Sing-A-Long Concert. Running Fridays through Sundays through Aug. 10 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; www.princesspirateslive.com), this comical musical production is the latest theatrical creation of Lythgoe Family Productions, the folks behind the popular holiday...

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An Unusual Mix Of Surf and Turf

Mud, tar, sand and water – these aren’t the materials for a strange science experiment. They’re the ingredients for some of this month’s most unique events. Families will get a rare chance to dig deep into Southern California’s history when Mud Mania returns to Rancho Los Cerritos from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Aug. 17. At this celebration of adobe, you can plaster a wall with mud, construct a small adobe house, create...

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L.A. After Dark: Summer Nights Offer Family Fun That Beats the Heat

When you think about the joys of summer, your first thought might be the fun of spending school-free days out in the sun. But one of the great things about the summer is that the fun can continue long after the sun goes down (and things cool off a bit). To quote those great philosophers Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (from the movie Grease): “Summer days drifting away, to uh-oh...

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A Mom Reporter’s UCLA Daytrip

Los Angeles is composed of many interesting and unique neighborhoods. We decided to spend the day in Westwood, specifically at UCLA. We wanted to visit two interesting places that would have a lot of activities for our 3½-year-old son. In the morning, we went to the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden (100 Stein Plaza Driveway; 310-825-1260; www.botgard.ucla.edu). In the afternoon, we headed over to the Fowler Museum (UCLA North Campus,...

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Old School, New School: Online, At-home and Other Alternatives

With hundreds of public, private and charter schools in Los Angeles, parents have plenty of educational options for their children. Still, some families look for even greater flexibility through nontraditional schooling – from homeschooling to small independent schools to online schools that have no campus. Why choose an option that often requires greater hands-on involvement and financial commitment than what’s available through traditional schools? And how do you know if...

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Lauren Kaye: Kidspace Mom

Kidspace Children’s Museum first opened at Cal Tech in 1979 and, after stints at two other locations, moved into its present home in Pasadena’s Brookside Park in 2004. Lauren Kaye joined the staff in 2007, in time to be an integral part of the museum’s current expansion campaign – which so far has included the addition of the Galvin Physics Forrest in 2012, the Imagination Workshop “maker” space last November,...

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International Plates for Picky Palates

My child, once a baby who gummed anything I put in front of him, has become a quintessential picky toddler. Every suggestion is met with a cheerful, but firm, “No,” and I’ve watched his culinary world narrow into a rotating Lazy Susan of hot dogs, chicken fingers and fish sticks. This is something I swore I would never allow. Experts say to keep presenting toddlers with new foods, and not...

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Skiing and Splashing at Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is a privately owned lake with limited public access, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful hamlet in the San Bernardino National Forest. Plenty of family-friendly activities, an upscale, lakeside village and close proximity to L.A. make it a delightful weekend getaway with the kids. Eat Enjoy lake views while dining at the dockside Belgian Waffle Works (28200 CA Hwy. 189, Suite 150; 909-337-5222; www.belgianwaffle.com),...

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Telling Tales: Secrets For Sharing Your Story So Kids Will Listen

Once upon a time, when my little girl was 5, our family took a trip to Paris. While my husband was out handling the business part of our business vacation, Lauren and I went to visit the Louvre. It was a November weekday and the museum was wonderfully uncrowded – except for a large tour group from Japan blocking our view of the Mona Lisa. Determined that we would gaze...

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Tips for Keeping Preschoolers Fit

Most health experts say most of us sit too much – and that includes our children. While obesity rates among preschoolers have been declining, as many as eight percent are still overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there’s plenty you can do to keep your little ones moving – and make sure they eat right – says Angela Johnson, executive director of...

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Book Review: Sibling Rivalry, Donkey Style

As the father of four, L.A. author and illustrator Max Kornell is no stranger to the sounds of sibling rivalry. “Me First” (Nancy Paulsen Books, ages 5-8), his latest picture book, explores this common family dynamic courtesy of two young donkeys, Hal and his younger sister Martha. The book begins with Hal and Martha ready for a game of checkers. Who will start? Both children shout, “Me first!” And so...

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A School Offering a Whole New World

All your child’s favorite games – from block building to painting, pretend play and beyond – are at the center of the new toddler and preschool curriculum at World City Center, which will kick off its first semester in August. World City Center (3911 W. Adams Blvd., L.A.) is a new stomping ground where toddlers and preschoolers learn using educational play in a dual-language environment. The center’s curriculum is child-centered,...

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The Balancing Act: Free Play vs. Structure

Oh, summer. A more relaxed routine, bright sunshine and time that isn’t so planned. Each spring, leading up to summer, I toil with the question of how many camps to enroll my boys in. How much time should I take off from work, and how do I want to remember the summer? We all know how quickly the years go by. In our house, the first week of summer is...

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Kole Kodimer: A Westhills Champion

A baseball league for kids with special needs that started as an 11-year-old boy’s Bar Mitzvah project has, in just two short years, developed into a family and community passion. Guaranteed to make you smile, the Westhills Champions baseball league has become a point of community pride. The athletes, whose physical and mental limitations vary, play baseball and form life-changing bonds with local teen volunteers. The league was launched by...

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Kids Get a Chance At Normal When Incontinence Problems Are Treated

Potty training doesn’t always go smoothly, but what if it never quite happens? What if your child is 6 or 7 and still can’t make it through the day clean? It’s a frustrating situation for the parent, sure. But it’s devastating for the child. “One kid came into Cedars ER and basically said that he wanted to kill himself,” recalls Philip Frykman, M.D., associate director of pediatric surgery at Cedars-Sinai...

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How to Manage Your Child’s Peanut Allergy

Did you know that peanut allergy is the third most common food allergy for children in America? To learn more, I partnered with Ronald Ferdman, MD, physician in theDivision of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I’ll explain how you can help manage your child’s peanut-free lifestyle during grocery shopping and at school. Peanut Allergy Facts A peanut allergy is a rapid reaction to the ingestion of...

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Kids Acting Up: Local theater classes offer a world of opportunity for children to take center stage

What do you do when your kids act up? Since the first film studios opened in Hollywood more than a century ago, people have flocked to Los Angeles to become movie stars. So it should be no surprise that Southern California is home to a huge number of acting schools for adults and kids alike. If your child is interested in acting, setting goals will help you sort your options....

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All’s Fair This Summer In Southern California

If you like riding roller coasters, playing Ring A Duck and eating anything deep-fried, you are a fan of fairs. This month officially signals the start of Fair Season in Southern California, which boasts a trinity of terrific county fairs. First up is the OC Fair, which opens July 11 and runs through Aug. 10. With this year’s all-so-appropriate theme “Summer Starts Here,” this fair offers something fun for everyone...

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You don’t need clear weather, or even cover of darkness, to star gaze at Griffith Observatory. PHOTO BY ERIN MAHONEY HARRIS

Seeing Stars: Where to Take In Views Of the Night Sky

When Angelenos talk about seeing “stars,” they often mean the type on the red carpet. But there’s not an actor or actress alive who can hold a candle to the magnificence of the night sky. The universe might not appear as sparkly and vast here as it does in less-populated areas, but there are still plenty of opportunities to gaze up in wonder at the constellations, planets and moons. The...

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Danielle Smith

Ways to help your child lose weight safely

How many fast-food restaurants have you driven through at 6 p.m. on a work night, with a hungry child screaming at you? Many of us have, and as parents we likely feel guilty. Childhood obesity is rapidly on the rise in this country. A recent study published in the Wall Street Journal sites the obesity epidemic as global: 2.1 billion people, or about 29 percent of the world's population, were...

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A World Of Big Summer Fun On Cahuenga

Cahuenga Pass connects the Valley to the Los Angeles basin, and also connects people with entertainment. Most people are familiar with the nighttime shows at its two famous venues, the Ford Amphitheatre and the Hollywood Bowl. But families shouldn’t forget the daytime children’s programs happening during the summer. The Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; www.hollywoodbowl.com) will again present its SummerSounds series, introducing kids to a world of music...

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Food On Wheels For Four-Legged Friends

Some food trucks serve hot dogs, and some serve all dogs. This Fourth of July Weekend, come join Milo’s Kitchen food truck on their patriotic weekend stops. We all treat our dogs like family, and the folks at Milo’s Kitchen believe dogs deserve to eat delicious treats set to the same standard as the rest of our family’s snacks. They’ve created treats made with 100 percent domestically sourced meat, with...

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Overcoming Shyness Through Music

By Oksana Kolesnikova When I was a little girl, I had a problem many children face: I was shy. It was difficult for me to relate to my classmates, not to mention the trouble I had talking to my teachers. I felt like I had nothing that would show the world that I was special. Then, thanks to my parents, I found music. I began studying piano and suddenly I...

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Special Olympics track athletes run with joy, regardless of how they finish. PHOTO BY CORY HANSEN

Santa Clarita To Serve as Special Olympics World Games 2015 Host Town

The City of Santa Clarita has been officially selected as a Host Town for the Special Olympics 2015 World Summer Games. Before the games begin on July 25, 2015, more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be welcomed to Southern California through the “Host Town” program, which includes 100 communities from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Host towns provide the athletes with hospitality, and treat them to a...

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A Midsummer’s Shakespeare

By Michael Berick For a man who died nearly 500 years ago, William Shakespeare remains a remarkably popular playwright. His work is staged constantly in Southern California and around the world. Summer is a particularly prime time to catch a Shakespeare play, and there are several outdoor productions that appear especially intriguing. The Independent Shakespeare Company (www.facebook.com/indyshakes) has been doing interesting productions in Griffith Park’s Old Zoo since 2010, and...

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Go Fourth! – And Celebrate Independence Day

By Michael Berick It’s not hard to find fireworks on July 4th. Just look up. However, if you are looking for more bang for your buck, Southern California is home to many interesting Independence Day events. Head to the hills – Big Bear Lake, to be precise – for that city’s annual Fireworks Spectacular, where the pyrotechnics launch from a barge anchored in the middle of the lake (630 Bartlett...

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Evaluating Research 101 – Your Handy Guide To Evidence-Based Interventions

By Lisa Stoddard, M.A., BCBA From the time our children are born, we parents are faced with a seemingly endless stream of decisions. Disposable or cloth? Cow’s milk or soy? Montessori or Waldorf? But for parents of children with special needs, decisions about treatments and therapies can be daunting. When facing a sea of conflicting theories, treatment models and news reports touting the latest study, how does a parent determine...

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Target and The Honest Company Team Up

  Westwood Target shoppers got an “honest” surprise June 25 as they stumbled upon an in-store launch event celebrating the chain’s new partnership with The Honest Company (www.honest.com), a brand that offers natural, non-toxic family essentials. Six interactive stations, including a fun photo booth and a trivia board, were set up around the store. Each provided guests with the opportunity to learn more about the Honest Co. collection now available...

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Free Beach Wheelchairs Keep Summer Fun Rolling

By Christina Elston Last spring, Jim Schwab and his family traveled to Southern California from their home in Atlanta, and some friends recommended a visit to Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. Schwab and his wife, Helen, have 15-year-old twins, Matt and Alison, and Alison has cerebral palsy. They were delighted to find that her need for a wheelchair wouldn’t keep her off the beach. “During our visit, Alison...

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Los Angeles Students Win Grand Prize at 48th Annual California Media Festival

Three Los Angeles schools were the Grand Prize Winners at the 48th Annual California Student Media Festival. During the June 7th awards ceremony, held at the Harmony Gold Preview House, 87 awards were presented to 47 elementary and secondary schools from across the state. The festival, presented by on PBS SoCaL and CUE, as well as support from eighth-year presenting sponsor, Wells Fargo, is the nation’s oldest student media festival....

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Unplug For Successful Family Dinners

By Randi Goodman, LMFT When I was a child, I remember family dinners as a time to be with the family without interruptions. When the phone rang, my mother would scream, “Nobody answer that.” As a mother myself, I find it difficult to hold a conversation with my children without them being attached to their cell phones and other electronic devices. They are Tweeting, Facebooking, and looking at Instagram instead...

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The Value of Pretend Play

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials Does your child love to dress up as a fearless superhero and conquer menacing villains, or reenact a scene from his or her favorite movie with friends? Maybe your little one can transform a cardboard box into a bottomless treasure chest … with just his or her imagination! If so, your child is engaging in pretend play, an...

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Safer Play For Kids and Dogs

By Lesley Brog As founder and Chief Animal Lover of Los Angeles-based dog rescue Wags and Walks and mom to three girls, I’ve seen firsthand how kids and dogs best go together. There is truly nothing better for a child than the love of a dog. It builds a child’s confidence, immune system and communications skills. That said, there are some important things to know so that the dogs and...

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3 Things Parents and Students Need to Know About the New SAT

By Steve Dorfman Since the College Board recently announced sweeping changes to its flagship SAT exam, parents and students have been in a frenzy to figure out what all the changes mean. Here are three things that all parents and students need to know about the new SAT. 1. The test is not being administered until 2016. That means for parents who have children that are currently in 10th or...

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South Bay Baby Boot Camp Now Covered by Insurance

The South Bay chapter of Baby Boot Camp (http://babybootcamp.com/CA-LA-South-Bay.aspx), a fitness program where current and expectant moms bring their children to workouts, has teamed with Manhattan Beach-based medical center The Wellness Bank (www.thewellnessbank.com) to pave the way for participants’ health insurance to cover the cost of the program. Baby Boot Camp moms will also be able make payments through their Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts and have them...

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This secluded alpine lake is accessed by hiking the Parker Lake Trail. PHOTOS BY MIMI SLAWOFF

Rustic Mountain Fun at June Lake

By Mimi Slawoff June Lake is small and rustic compared to posh neighbor Mammoth Mountain, but star-filled night skies, towering granite domes and four sparkling alpine lakes make this eastern Sierra town a gem. Eat In the Jones family since 1977, the homey Silver Lake Lodge and Cafe (6957 Highway 158; 760-648-7525; www.silverlakeresort.net) overlooks Silver Lake, a popular trout-fishing hole. The cozy diner, open for breakfast and lunch, serves big...

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Where to get Wet: Splash Pads, Fountains and Water Play

By Erin Mahoney Harris From squirting splash pads to burbling brooks, these Los Angeles parks, plazas and playgrounds offer refreshing relief on a hot day – and we’re sure to have plenty of those in store this summer. Downtown’s crown jewel, Grand Park (227 N. Spring St., Los Angeles; 213-972-8080; www.grandparkla.org), has proven a successful gathering spot for concerts, yoga classes and other community events. The highlight of the 12-acre...

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Burn-Injury Prevention Tips For Your Family

By Delilah Dees, BSN, RN, PHN, Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles The American Burn Association states that more than 136,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year due to burn-related injury. Continue reading as I explain the three types of burns, why babies are more at risk and how you prevent your child from burn-related injury. Burns are classified into three categories depending on how bad...

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Mark Steines: DIY Dad

Mark Steines, Emmy Award-winning journalist and father of two, has found his niche as co-host of Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family.” After 8 years as host of “Entertainment Tonight,” Steines, a DIY and photography enthusiast who refers to the show as a live “tutorial for your life,” enjoys “Home and Family’s” refreshing family atmosphere. The show is shot in an actual house on the Universal Studios lot, where he and...

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What Will Your Kids Be This Summer – Bakers, Bowlers, Backyard Campers?

By Michael Berick School is out but kids don’t have to stop learning. If your child loves to cook, check out the Panera Bread Bakers-in-Training program, where kids ages 5-12 can take baking classes at select Panera locations (La Mirada, Lakewood, Pasadena, La Cañada, Walnut, Pico Rivera and City of Industry). They’ll get a tour of the restaurant’s kitchen and learn about making baguettes and cookies. Panera will donate baguettes...

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A Holiday In a Whole Other Language

You’ve probably heard the words “schlep” or “nosh,” but there are lots more wonderful words in Yiddish, a hybrid of Hebrew and German. L.A. actress and author Ione Skye has incorporated more than a dozen of them into “My Yiddish Vacation” (Henry Hold/Christy Ottaviano Books, ages 5-8), a fond fictional childhood reminiscence based on her own life. The book, illustrated by Scott Menchin, follows the adventures of Ruth and Sammy,...

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Drink-up: Kids Encouraged to Choose Water

The kids at the Burbank Community YMCA had a special treat June 11 when actress Eva Longoria, representatives from Brita water filtration systems and television camera crews took over their play yard as part of Brita’s nationwide summer kick-off campaign to encourage kids to drink more water. Brita has teamed up with the national YMCA to donate water filtration pitchers and dispensers to locations throughout the country. During Wednesday’s kick-off...

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It’s Gumby Time Again

By Michael Berick What can you do with a lump of clay? In the 1950s, Art Clokey transformed it into a legendary character named Gumby. After being introduced on the popular TV show “Howdy Doody,” Gumby went on star in his own long-running show. During Gumby’s first heyday, Clokey and his wife, Ruth, created stop-motion animated cartoons of Gumby from their home studio. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 14, Glendora...

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Manage Your Child’s Cat Allergy

By Judith Tighe, RN, CPN, RN Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles When I was growing up in London, England, we had a cat, as well as other animals including rabbits, chickens and one tortoise. Since then, we have carried on the tradition with two to three cats at any given time. You can imagine my surprise when my daughter moved away from home only to find out...

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U.S. News Ranks Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Best In the West

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named to the Honor Roll of the nation’s “best” children’s hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report rankings released online June 10. It is one of only 10 children’s hospitals in the country and the only hospital on the West Coast to make the magazine’s Honor Roll in 2014-15. CHLA has earned a spot on the esteemed list of best children’s hospitals every...

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Summer Pix That Click With Kids

By Michael Berick Summertime is one of the prime seasons for family movies, and this year is no exception. Soaring into cinemas June 13 will be How To Train Your Dragon 2. It has been four years since audiences met the gawky teen Viking named Hiccup and Hiccup met the cute dragon named Toothless. The sequel finds the duo exploring the world beyond their island home of Berk, and encountering...

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WAVE Awards Honor Venice Teachers

By Elena Epstein We all know the tremendous impact a teacher can have on a child’s life. In Venice, a group of parents and community and business leaders has created an annual tradition celebrating the dedication and passion of the educators in their community. The 4th Annual WAVE Awards, held May 8 at the Rose Café and Market, brought together 17 local schools and organization for a fun evening of...

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Dina Kimmel rocks the spectrum with husband Tim, son Gabriel and daughter Sophia. PHOTO COURTESY WE ROCK THE SPECTRUM

Rocking the Spectrum (and Life) With Dina Kimmel

By Robin Heinz Bratslavsky Dina Kimmel rocks, proving daily that this mother’s love knows no bounds. When her daughter, Sophia, was born in 2004, everything went as planned. Sophia developed normally, was an early talker (at age 1) and interacted appropriately with children and adults. Dina and her husband, Tim, were easing into parenthood. In 2007, the Kimmels welcomed son Gabriel. Sophia was happy to be a big sister, and...

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Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Your Family

With so many types of sunscreens available, it is easy to get overwhelmed at the local drug store. Understanding what you might see on sunscreen labels will allow you to choose the right sunscreen for you and your family’s needs. What Does UVA and UVB Mean? Sunlight consists of two types of harmful ultraviolet radiations: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate into the thickest layer of skin and have...

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Why Dad Is Our Hero

A little more than three years ago, Joe Stoop decided to become a stay-at-home dad so that his wife, Jessica, could go back to work as a public health nurse. He jokes that he was lazy, and he thought it would be easy just hanging out with his three kids. “But it was the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I transformed into this person who’s not lazy,” he smiles....

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Extracurricular Activities: What Colleges Really Care About

By Steve Dorfman Everybody knows colleges want well-rounded students. Kids are asked to volunteer, join sports teams, participate in clubs and be a part of student government. However, there are actually only three things that colleges care about when looking at extracurricular activities, and being “well-rounded” is not one of them. Consistency. The biggest misconception is that students should be involved in many activities. In reality, not only are colleges...

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Girl Athletes Should Train To Protect Their Knees

By Christina Elston ACL injuries in girls don’t happen quietly, and usually don’t involve impact. A girl will be dribbling the ball down the soccer field, pivot to avoid an opposing player, then collapse dramatically, often accompanied by an audible “pop.” “You’re going to see it. Oftentimes you’re going to hear it,” says Gregory Adamson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.  ...

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Kids can pan for gold at The Autry this summer. PHOTO COURTESY THE AUTRY

Build Your Own Summer Camp

By Michael Berick Southern California is home to many wonderful camps, and they are a great way to fill up a summer. But your family can construct their own camp schedule using ongoing and summer programs in place at museums, malls, and other places around Los Angeles. Here are a few examples of programs going on this summer and (in some instances) throughout the year. Weekends are terrific times to...

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Step Up Summer Learning! Seven Simple Ways to Help Prevent Summer Slide

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials As the clock slowly ticks down to the final ring of the school bell, kids everywhere dream of those long days of summer filled with endless playtime and carefree fun. However, while this break from the classroom gives kids the chance to relax and revive before the next school year, it can also have another, unintended effect, called...

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Navigate Your Child’s Soy Allergy

By Robert Giesler, BSN, RN, RNC-NIC, RRT, CPST, RN Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Allergies come from different sources such as dust, cats, soy, peanuts, etc. They are a major cause of illness in the U.S. Up to 50 million Americans, including millions of kids, have some type of allergy. Since allergies affect many families, I wanted to learn more and share information about soy allergy. Soy...

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Randy Kaplan Talks About the Tasty Tunes That Fill His New CD, Jam On Rye

By Michael Berick It seems like Randy Kaplan hasn’t met a musical style that he doesn’t like. The Los Angeles-based musician filled a shelf with awards (including a NAPPA Gold) for his last CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, where he reworked old blues tunes into songs for kids. Kaplan stocks his new album, Jam On Rye, with the sounds of rock, folk, jazz, bluegrass and even a Broadway show tune....

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Kids get a hands-on look at California history – including panning for gold – at The Autry.PHOTO BY DANIELLE KLEBANOW

Spots For Summer Learning

By Ellen Byron   The beginning of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of learning for your kids. Los Angeles is filled with great ways to entertain them while injecting a little education. “I think it’s important to keep kids’ brains active over the summer,” says former teacher Sarah Barrett, a Studio City mom and school fundraising expert whose daughters are 7 and 10. “That doesn’t mean you have...

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Parenting Help From Your Inner Child

By Dahlia Greenbaum, Parent Educator   Being a parent, unlike any other experience, can fill us with heart-bursting love and full-bodied joy one moment, while moments later exposing our deepest vulnerabilities and most uncomfortable feelings. Quite a huge impact from such a small human being, right?   When I meet with clients, one of the first ideas I offer is that most of parenting has nothing to do with our...

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Creating Custom Reward Systems For Children With Autism

Be creative and consider the child and the setting when working to shape behavior. By Christina Elston Not long ago, Michael Cameron was at the beach and saw a father and son playing in the surf and collecting shells. The boy was well behaved, but it didn’t take long for Cameron to identify him as a child with special needs. The father, wanting to reward his son for good behavior,...

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More Fun Together

Toys can build connections between kids with special needs and their peers. By Ellen Metrick “Inclusion” is a popular word used around children with special needs. It reflects the emotional need of every human being to be included and the innate desire to share experiences, and there is perhaps no better place to put the concept of inclusion to work than through toys and play. Hot categories of toys this...

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Improvising Through Parenthood

Couples who have children with special needs have to be flexible in their dreams, and care for their relationships, too. By Elena Epstein As Rodney Peete and Holly Robinson Peete chat about their day-to-day family life – homework, after-school activities, teen drama – their manner is warm and casual. They share an easygoing rapport and sense of humor. As talk turns to their son, RJ, I get the sense that...

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Fostering Friendships

Local programs bring together children with – and without – special needs By Ronna Mandel “You’ve got a friend in me,” goes the theme to Disney’s Toy Story films, all of which feature the special bond between a boy named Andy and his toys. Childhood friends, real and animated, are an important part of growing up. For children with special needs, however, making friends can be a challenge. There’s no...

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Enrichment Opportunities for Young Scientists

Local programs offer experiences that go beyond the classroom to let kids explore. By Elena Epstein Sarah-michelle Eversaul’s affinity for all creatures that crawl, fly, swim, hop or slither is palpable. “I love them all,” says the 12-year-old from Irvine. “Every animal has its own personality, and I want to be able to work with them and help them in any way I can.” For this aspiring veterinarian (or possibly...

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Club 21

A Club That Welcomes An Extra Chromosome

Pasadena’s Club 21 opens its arms, and reaches out a lifeline, for families of children with Down syndrome Christina Elston Sixteen years ago, Nancy Litteken’s obstetrician told her this: “Don’t worry. We can take care of it.” He meant that they could abort the baby she was carrying because the results of her amniocentesis test showed that the baby would be born with Down syndrome. “At that time, people who...

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7 Keys to a Positive Summer Camp Experience for Children with Special Needs By Elaine Hall and Jeff Frymer

Choosing the right summer camp experience for our children with special needs can be daunting. The potential rewards, however, are well worth the extra effort. Greater self-esteem, improved self-confidence and independence, new skills, socialization opportunities, new friendships and just plain fun are ready for your child when you are. Here are seven basic keys to help make the summer camp experience great for everyone. Prepare yourself. It is important to...

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Strategies For Struggling Readers

Strategies For Struggling Readers

Whether they have a learning disability or other special needs, your child can build a relationship with books. by Christina Elston Paul Curtis’s favorite childhood book was The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. He read it in fifth grade, and there is a particular reason that it stayed with him. “It was the first book that I think I really pictured in my mind, and I can still see those images...

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A Super Kid, A Heroic Mom, A Story Worth Reading

A Super Kid, A Heroic Mom, A Story Worth Reading

"Life With a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome" tells a family's story with bravery and heart. by Julie Kertes Michael Hulings’ story is a remarkable one, right from the beginning. In a small Israeli town more than 20 years ago, a mother gave up her newborn baby when she discovered he had Down syndrome. She told family and friends that the baby had died, but her misfortune became...

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Cara Natterson

Cara Natterson, M.D.: Keeping a Healthy Conversation Going

This L.A.-based pediatrician and mom updated a seminal book about tween girls and their bodies, and wrote a sequel for older girls. by Elena Epstein Cara Natterson is an L.A.-based pediatrician and author and mom to Talia, 10, and Ry, 8. A graduate of Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Natterson recently teamed up with American Girl to revise the popular tween book, “The Care and Keeping...

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Show Them the Money

Teaching kids at an early age how to manage money could be one of life’s best lessons. By Ron Epstein I had a roommate in college who worked as a teacher’s aide, and every other Friday when he got paid he would cash his check, come back to our dorm and say, “Who’s going to help me spend this?” This went on throughout the semester, and I finally asked him...

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Baby At The Beach

Safer Swimming

Tips from local lifeguards will help you protect your kids at the beach, the lake or the pool. By Melanie Gaball Swim season is seemingly endless for Angelenos this year. Non-existent winter temperatures plus an abundance of recreational water choices means there is unlimited fun to be had! Four L.A. lifeguards offer advice to help you keep your family safe while you frolic in the surf or by the pool....

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Special Connections

Parents can help smooth interactions – and build friendships – between typical children and those with special needs By Lori Lakin Hutcherson Look at me! Why don’t you talk to me? What’s the matter with you? Do you have cancer?! “A young girl stopped my son and started screaming at him,” says Monica Jones, describing an incident at the park with her 7-year-old son Henry, who was born with Hemimegalencephaly,...

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Sandra Graham: School Diversity Advocate

Sandra Graham, Ph.D., believes that more research will help encourage education policy makers to promote more diversity. by Melanie Gaball For 10 years,  Sandra Graham, Ph.D., Presidential Chair in Education and Diversity at UCLA, has been working on a study to evaluate how diversity in middle schools affects students’ social interactions and success. She hopes her findings will help encourage policy makers to promote more diversity in K-12 schools, and...

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Flying, Fishing and Disc Golf in Wrightwood

Who needs snow? This year-round destination offers plenty of family adventures. by Mimi Slawoff Although best known for the skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com), Wrightwood is a year-round destination with a variety of family-friendly adventures. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, ziplining and disc golf are among the fun things to do with kids in this small mountain town about a 90-minute drive from L.A. It doesn’t have a single...

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Shannon Abdulwahab, right, doesn’t let epilepsy stand in the way of being a wife to husband Andy, left, and a mom to son Chase, daughter Farrah, and daughter Drew. PHOTO COURTESY SHANNON ABDULWAHAB

Shannon Abdulwahab: Empowered by Epilepsy

This mom of three juggles family life and advocacy with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. by Lisa Castillo The alarms rings at 6 a.m. and, like most moms of young children, Shannon Abdulwahab hits the ground running. There are meals to prepare, kids to dress, teeth to brush and dogs to drop off (at doggie daycare, of course), all before 8:15. Sound familiar? The difference is that, through...

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This Local Girl Will Bop

This Local Girl Will Bop Around the World

New Kidz Bop kid Ashlynn Chong, from L.A., dishes about being new to the crew. by Michael Berick Ashlynn Chong is proof of the adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When she was 9, she auditioned to be in Kidz Bop Kids – the youth singing group that has sold more than 14 million CDs worldwide. She didn’t make the cut. Last year, the 12-year-old Los...

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Quiet Ojai

Quiet Ojai Offers Laid-Back Fun Kids Will Love

Let's Go columnist Mimi Slawoff offers a guide to this quaint town that's just a short-and-pleasant drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Tucked away in a valley 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Ojai is easy to miss unless you know about it. With its farms, mom-and-pop boutiques, restaurants and inns – no two alike – this laid-back, picturesque town (population about 7,500) is well worth the pleasant drive. Downtown consists...

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The Embrace Kindness

The Embrace Kindness Mission: A Brainstorm Leads to Kinder Kids

An initiative at Laurel Hall School in North Hollywood was spearheaded by parents hoping to replace negative behavior with positive. by Ellen Byron Car magnets bearing the simple message, “Be Kind,” have sparked a lot of curiosity in the San Fernando Valley. They’re the latest brainchild of the Embrace Kindness Mission, a unique program created by parents and supported by the administration and faculty of North Hollywood’s Laurel Hall School,...

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Church & State

Dating Your Husband

You might think the dating phase of your relationship – along with the romance – is over. Think again! By Rina Baraz Nehdar Remember the drums beating inside your tummy, your heart racing as you ran around trying to find the perfect outfit, the make-up so meticulously applied – all in anticipation of that evening date with your special sweetheart? And all these years later, what happened? You still love...

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The Best Summer Camp Ever!

Camp directors offer their top tips for making the most of your child’s summer camp experience By Melanie Gaball An overwhelming number of Southern California kids attend some sort of summer camp, and for many families these programs represent a major investment of time and money. With specialty programs dedicated to the arts, sports, science and other topics; a wide range of day camps, and immersive sleep-away experiences available, the...

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Home And Family with Christina Ferrare

Home and Family with Cristina Ferrare

The ex-supermodel and current television host advises working moms to “forgive yourself when you can’t do everything.” by Melanie Gaball Cristina Ferrare has had an accomplished career as a supermodel, a TV host and a New York Times best-selling author, but the mother and grandmother has never put a job before her family. “There are a lot of things professionally that I missed out on because I put my home...

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Mike Chat: Xtreme Martial Artist and Granter of Wishes

This XMA founder has trained many homegrown celebrities and now is helping grant wishes to moms with breast cancer. by Melanie Gaball Xtreme Martial Arts founder Michael Chaturantabut, better known as Mike Chat, has trained many homegrown celebrities at XMA World Headquarters in Studio City. Now the man who guided the Twilight saga’s Taylor Laughtner through on-camera fight scenes is focused on a new project initiated by two of his...

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Star Gaze

Star Gaze and Off Road In Borrego Springs

Enjoy desert excursions, karaoke, comfort food and other family fun just a three-hour drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Borrego Springs, in east San Diego County, is a quiet little town surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In place of fast food chains and big resorts, the main drag, Palm Canyon Drive, boasts mom-and-pop boutiques, art galleries and diners. Streetlight-free for miles, it is a Certified International Dark Sky...

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Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars Cover Kids In the Spotlight

There wasn’t a cloud in the sunny sky Oct. 12 as more than 150 families turned out at Westfield Century City for their turn in the spotlight. It was 2013 Shooting Stars Cover Kids Contest Day in center court and the cameras were ready to roll. The Event Every year, L.A. Parent invites families to enter Shooting Stars and turn out for a fun photo day where three lucky –...

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Liquori Walk

Weighty Trends

Even as childhood obesity rates plateau, eating disorders in kids have been on the rise. And plenty of families still struggle with both. By Christina Elston It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday, and in a small classroom at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, eight families are taking a quiz. In what order are things listed on food ingredient labels? How many teaspoons of sugar should be your maximum for the day?...

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Hospital Homework

Southern California is home to some of the world’s best medical facilities. Learn the landscape now, so you’re ready if you need them. By Elena Epstein Wendy and Eric Levine, of West Los Angeles, describe themselves as “recovering attorneys.” The ability to evaluate a situation and conduct thorough analysis is part of their DNA. So, when faced with the premature birth of their son and surgeries for both of their...

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Samantha Kurtzman-Counter: The Mother Company’s Mom

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter co-founded The Mother Company, which produces the “Ruby’s Studio” books, apps, shows and activities, after her son Jack was born. by Elena Epstein Samantha Kurtzman-Counter was enjoying a successful career as a television and film producer and director when she became a mom. “I thought I would return to work within three weeks of having my son,” she says. “But, once Jack was born, I quickly realized I...

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Desert and Hollywood Fun

Desert – and Hollywood – Fun In Palm Springs

Time travel to celebrity getaways, take a jeep into the desert and meet the local wildlife on this family getaway. by Mimi Slawoff In the desert about 110 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the ancestral home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and its serenity was first discovered by Hollywood in the 1920s. It served as a rendezvous spot for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard....

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Noreen Fraser

Noreen Fraser: Using Comedy To Fight Cancer

The powerhouse behind the Noreen Fraser Foundation is living with stage IV breast cancer, and has raised more than $12 million to help save women’s lives. by Lisa Castillo Cancer is no laughing matter, but Noreen Fraser believes that comedy can help us come closer to finding a cure. Fraser is a breast cancer survivor living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, co-creator and co-producer of Stand up to Cancer...

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Escape the City in Big Bear

Escape the City In Big Bear Lake

There’s plenty of off-season family fun to be had at this snow and ski resort. It’s a rejuvenating retreat. by Mimi Slawoff On a drive to Big Bear Lake shortly after your ascent to the resort begins, the landscape changes dramatically from clogged freeways to mountain vistas, with whiff s of pine drifting in through open car windows. Fresh mountain air, year-round recreation and diverse culinary options are about a...

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Love In the Lunchbox

Freshen up your approach to school lunches with help from Catherine McCord of Weelicious By Christina Elston Maybe you started the school year with a great plan to pack your child a tasty, nutritious lunch every day. Maybe things even went well through most of September before you exhausted that back-to-school energy or just ran out of ideas. Or perhaps you’ve always just knocked together a PB&J and some chips,...

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Don’t Let the Party Eclipse the Celebration

How To Keep Your Child Front and Center When Planning a Special Event By Erin Mahoney Harris As a parent, it’s easy to get carried away when it comes to party planning – be it for a baby’s first birthday, or a coming-of-age event such as a quinceañera, Sweet 16 or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. One-upmanship can run rampant, particularly among families with enough disposable income to throw over-the-top celebrations. But does...

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Soccer Player and Dad Marcelo Sarvas

Soccer Player and Dad Marcelo Sarvas Stays On the Ball

The L.A. Galaxy midfielder loves the game, but loves family time just as much. by Ron Epstein Marcelo Sarvas is a gifted midfielder for the L.A. Galaxy. Born in Brazil, he played professional soccer in Sweden, Poland and Costa Rica before joining the Galaxy in 2012. He’s played with and against some of the best players in the world, but ask him who he enjoys hanging with today and he’ll...

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Mary John

Mary John: Money-Savvy Mom

This single mom of two daughters is also a wealth advisor. And she wants moms everywhere to take better charge of their finances. by Elena Epstein When it comes to money, Mary John, Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor for the Beverly Hills Region of Wells Fargo Private Bank, is on a mission. She wants every woman, starting at a young age, to understand money management and be able to...

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Go Danish or Western

Go Danish or Western in the Santa Ynez Valley

From the quaint town of Solvang to the rustic trails near Alisal Guest Ranch, your family can have a world of fun. by Mimi Slawoff Located in northern Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley contains six distinctive, rural communities with a total population of about 20,000. The most unique and picturesque is Solvang (Danish for “sunny field”), a Danish community. Only about 125 miles from L.A., it feels worlds...

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2 Bit Art Walk

Attention Explorers!

Pursuing their passions – or even passing interests – helps kids find their place in the world By Christina Elston Once upon a time, my daughter wanted to be a princess. Then she decided to become a ballerina, a herpetologist, part of her school’s marching band, a rock star and a photographer. This means we went to ballet, guitar and clarinet lessons, nature and zoo camps, and photography workshops. Often...

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Basketball

Lisa Leslie’s Layups and Leadership

WNBA Star’s Academy Goes Beyond Basketball By Elena Epstein Hannah Martin, 13, doesn’t mind waking up early on Saturday mornings to drive from Los Angeles to Calabasas for a basketball clinic. Like the other boys and girls enrolled in this program, she’s fueled by an extra dose of adrenaline stemming from the opportunity to learn from WNBA legend, Lisa Leslie. “I’ve learned so much,” says Hannah, who started playing basketball...

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Hidden Beaches

Hidden Beaches, History and Family Fun in Oxnard and Ventura

Plan a day trip or weekend getaway filled with beaches, music, museums and sports the kids will love. Published: 08/05/2013 by Mimi Slawoff Situated between sultry Malibu and posh Santa Barbara, Ventura County is a rather underrated coastal and cultural destination. But sandy beaches, a plethora of recreational activities, year-round festivals and historic districts make Oxnard and Ventura an ideal family day trip or weekend getaway. Ventura is also the...

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Kayaking

Feeding Family Ties In San Diego

This nearby getaway destination offers the perfect combo of relaxation and family fun By Ron Epstein By the time our girls were each around 4 years old, we realized that they were pretty self-sufficient travelers – and that they enjoyed going places. So we bought them their own luggage, showed them how and what to pack, and let them choose things to do on long car drives or plane rides....

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Viewpoint

Managing Middle School

Help Your Child Through the Big Transition With These Tips By Elena Epstein I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s first day of middle school. There was the scariness of a new place – not unlike the first day of kindergarten – only this time we didn’t have a sweet teacher taking her hand to reassure her everything would be OK. It was hard leaving our neighborhood elementary school, where most...

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Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg Takes His kids’ Music Around the World

Author, illustrator and songwriter Barney Saltzberg appears at Theatricum Botanicum on the heels of a tour of China and Russia. by Michael Berick Barney Saltzberg is a quadruple threat of creativity – an author, illustrator, songwriter and performer. The native Angeleno has written nearly 40 children’s books and recorded four CDs, including Crazy Hair Day, which features guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Peter Himmelman and Dustin Hoffman. Besides making appearances...

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Happy Swimmer

The Water’s Fine!

Swimming Can Boost Your Child’s Fitness and Confidence – and It’s Fun By Lori Zanteson For most L.A. families, summer means swimming – lessons at the community pool, trips to the beach, excursions to local lakes, even the thrill of a water park. Definitely the coolest way to beat Southland heat, swimming is also one of the best ways to get kids active and outdoors. And those strokes, splashes and...

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BrentwoodDiesel1-E

A Local Crop of Kids’ Books

Shop these independent stores for personal recommendations and great family fun By Ronna Mandel If you only shop online, you’re missing out on input from some of our city’s most enthusiastic and knowledgeable kid-lit experts. To find bookstores that felt “just right” for this roundup, I channeled Goldilocks and made tracks for the independents – the magical, privately owned bookstores located throughout Los Angeles. Pages, A Bookstore: 904 Manhattan Ave.,...

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Cleveland Library

Bringing Up Bookworms

Build your child’s love of reading with these tips By Christina Elston The Velveteen Rabbit wasn’t Jennifer Graves’ first love. Snow White is the first book she remembers falling for as a child. “I thought it was so scary, but I wanted to read it again and again to get to the end, where everything works out,” she says. She enjoyed lots of other books, too – Frog and Toad,...

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Mother's Group

Mothers Together

Joining a moms’ group can help forge connections and support By Elena Epstein Michelle Turner says the best advice she received while pregnant with her twin daughters was from a co-worker, advising her to join a moms’ group. She found the West L.A. chapter of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and signed up. Her daughters, Coco and Aya, are now 3 years old and the moms in...

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UCLA L&D

High-Risk Pregnancy

What To Do When Complications Arise By Christina Elston Jessica Fisher had a busy month ahead. Pregnant with twins after two years of frustration and fertility treatments, she was at a 19-week ultrasound where she would learn whether she was having boys or girls. Two days later she and her husband were headed to Palm Springs to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with family, followed by a trip to Las Vegas...

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Girl Playing Tennis

Empowering Our Daughters

A Recipe For Raising Strong, Confident Girls By Robert Moskowitz Once upon a time, people said little girls were made of sugar and spice, and everything nice. Today, most of us recognize that the recipe for raising girls not only includes more ingredients, but that too much sugar can be toxic. According to Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking and still-relevant book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent...

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Gluten Free Food

Is Gluten-Free Good?

You’ve Seen the Labels, Now Get the Facts By Christina Elston Once upon a time, people who wanted to follow gluten-free diets (and there weren’t many of them) didn’t have many options. That’s not to say that they couldn’t find much to eat. There are many, many foods that don’t contain a trace of gluten and never have. But back then, the words “gluten-free” weren’t screaming at folks from every...

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