Information and advice about family life in L.A.

Life At Home

parenting

5 Common-Sense Tips For Raising Great Kids

It’s the middle of January and many of us have broken our New Year’s Resolutions and are back to who we were in December. For parents who are looking for a way to raise their children to be respectful, likeable, and successful adults it’s not too late. Here are 5 philosophical tips that will pay dividends for years to come including: Teach your kids to leave a trail of people...

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parenting

Depression in Moms Goes Beyond Baby Blues

“I’m depressed.” How often have we heard a fellow mom say that? We commiserate, give her a hug and move on. After all, the phrase is used quite casually these days. It might indicate sadness – the loss of a job, the death of a loved one or a sense of stagnation – or it might indicate hormonal shifts. Unless that mom says she has been clinically diagnosed with depression, there is a chance we won’t treat her comment with gravitas, ask questions or steer her toward professional help. Experts say we should. Depression in moms is not always definable, not always evident, not always diagnosed. Women suffer from mood...

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parenting

Giving Your Child The Power to Say No

The weekend was winding down and the four of us headed out for a Sunday matinee. We all decided on “Miracles from Heaven,” rated PG. It’s a story about a 10-year-old girl who has a rare, incurable disease. The mother becomes a fierce advocate for her daughter and the film eventually ends with the young girl recovering from her illness, in what can only be described as a miracle. But...

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parenting

ON THE RECORD: Parenting at Dinner Time: From Chaos to Calm

As we start a new year, we often think about what we can do better and differently. At the top of my list is my chaotic, loud and frustrating dinner time with a toddler and a baby. It often includes meltdowns, whining, getting up and down hundreds of times and me repeating the lyrics to the hit song, “Sit Down and Eat.” My husband and I are on a mission...

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parenting

Parents Spend More Than Nine Hours a Day with Screen Media

A first-of-its-kind study released this month by Common Sense Media shows that parents spend more than nine hours (9:22) a day with screen media, the vast majority of that time being spent with personal media (7:43) and only slightly more than 90 minutes devoted to work media. The vast majority of these parents (78%) believe they are good media-use role models for their kids. Meanwhile, many parents are concerned about...

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divorce and parenting

When Your Ex Text Messages Too Much

Open communication between parents and children is always encouraged. For children whose parents are divorced, communication with parents should mimic how communication would operate if both parents were under the same roof. However, the non-custodial parent (aka the parent who does not have child custody at that given moment) should be careful not to abuse that open door. Often times I’ll hear complaints from the parent in custody that the...

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Candace Cameron Bure: On Motherhood and her own Full House

As a fan of ’80s family sitcoms, I loved watching Candace Cameron Bure’s TV character, D.J. Tanner on “Full House,” navigate middle- and high-school drama, struggle through her Spanish class, crush on cute boys, fight and make up with her younger sisters.  For many of us, she was the big sister we wished we had as we watched her grow up on the popular ABC show, which ran from 1987...

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toy safety

Be On the Lookout For Choking Hazards

Much is written about toy safety this time of year, and one of the biggest toy related dangers to young children is choking or aspiration - the entry of a foreign object into the respiratory tract. But there are many things besides toys that end up stuck in kids' throats or airways. We have seen kids choke on gumballs, candy, wheels from toy cars, earrings and toy parts, but the...

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parenting

Creating Your Own Fun Family Traditions

Many family traditions are passed down through the years and are a great way to connect the generations. For my family, I like to incorporate traditions from our childhood and create new family traditions together. I believe traditions help us focus on experiences rather than things. Here are some ideas to help you make a lifetime of memories: Kindness or Service Elf: Our twist on “Elf on the Shelf” is...

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8 Tips for Talking to Kids About Alzheimer’s

Learning that a loved one has Alzheimer’s can be quite overwhelming. If you’re a parent and have to talk to your child about the disease, those feelings are likely exacerbated. This reality, while harsh, is one that affects millions of families. While we often think of Alzheimer’s as an illness that solely affects the patient diagnosed with the disease, the fact is, it affects the whole family. According to the Alzheimer’s...

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holiday traditions

Family Holiday Traditions Worth Sharing

Add any of these ideas from L.A. families to your seasonal celebration. When you roast a Thanksgiving turkey in my house, you have to use Grandad’s stuffing recipe. And all the up-and-coming young cooks in the family are pressed to take a good whiff of the stuffing so they can learn how much poultry seasoning to add. (Sniffing is the best way to tell.) Family and friends love my Christmas...

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Hottest Trends and Products from the ABC Baby & Kids Expo

What’s the hottest trends for baby and tots this year? Well, we found the world’s smallest stroller, a glider that reclines and charges your cell phone, colorful silicon food storage made even better and whimsical teepee tents to add some fun to your playroom. We’re back from the ABC Baby & Kids Expo, the largest juvenile-products trade show in North America, where we had an exclusive first look at all...

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Shop Talk: What’s Cookin?

The holiday season is the perfect time to show off those culinary skills. Don't have any? Don't fret! Here are some tools and treats that will have you whipping up tasty goodness in no time.

Family Loss

Grief During the Holidays

If your family lost a loved one this year, the approaching holiday season might seem a little less joyful. And how your family approaches it can make a big difference – especially for the children. “Kids are going to take their cues from the adults,” says Lauren Schneider, clinical director of child and adolescent programs at Our House Grief Support Centers in West L.A. and Woodland Hills. Our House provides...

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parenting book

Book Review: “Girls & Sex, Navigating the Complicated New Landscape”

Peggy Orenstein, a New York Times best-selling author, covers it all – sexual myths our teens believe, the effects of social media, the hookup culture, the role of drugs and alcohol and the realities of sexual assault – in this book that every parent should read. Orenstein is a journalist and a mom who shares her own concerns as a parent and tells us early on that the in-depth reporting...

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parenting

Three Everyday Questions for Your Kids

“How was school? How was your day?” That’s what I eagerly ask my 5-year-old daughter every day when I pick her up from school. My anticipation of an exciting and enthusiastic answer is quickly shot down when I get the same answer every time: a simple and monotone, “good.” That’s just not going to cut it. I need more than that! In my quest to find out what’s really on her mind, who she’s playing with, who’s not being nice...

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positive parenting

Finding Diversity in Children’s Books

Five Easy Ways to Find Inclusive Reads Your Kids Will Love “There were tons of brown kids just like me running around the neighborhood where I grew up in East L.A. in the mid-90s, but I never came across a single book about anyone who looked like me until high school,” says Julia Casas, youth services librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch. When Casas, a Latina,...

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If Your Child Accidentally Sees Online Porn

If it hasn’t already, it’s going to happen. Your child will type an innocent word into an online search engine, log onto a gaming site or search for a favorite music video and stumble onto photos and video you – and often they – would rather they didn’t see. Tracy Levine Wallace wants you to think about that now. “Be one step ahead of this,” urges the L.A. mom and...

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positive parenting

On the Record: The Keep-Your-Cool Challenge

A diaper blowout right before you need to leave your house. Bedtime tantrums. The constant need to repeat things like, “Hurry up, let's go,” and, “Stop doing that!” A daily routine that leaves you so tired you become aggravated at your kids for splashing water at you during bath time. There are countless ways your kids can make you lose your cool, but your reactions to these parenting trials teach...

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Booki Vivat Turns Doodles Into Her Debut Book

Inspiration for a writer can come for almost anywhere. An overheard conversation. A story on the news. Two paths diverged in the woods. For Booki Vivat, it was a doodle she drew that said: “I live my life in a constant state of impending doom.” That drawing evolved, eventually, into Vivat’s delightful debut book “FRAZZLED: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom” (due out Sept. 27 from HarperCollins Children’s Books). The book...

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parenting

Chat Room: Super Mamas is Bridging the Culture Gap for Latina Moms

Family is an all-encompassing part of Bricia and Paulina Lopez’s world. The sisters grew up working alongside their two other siblings in their parents’ Oaxacan restaurant on Olympic Boulevard in Koreatown, and are now not only co-owners of the family business, but co-anchors of their own parenting podcast, Super Mamás, geared toward young, hip, Latina moms. Bricia and Paulina were born in Oaxaca, Mexico and immigrated to Los Angeles with...

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positive parenting

Practice, Not Perfection: Mindfulness Meditation for Kids

Meditation is a simple tool that can help kids develop focus and feel more calm.  And it can be enjoyable. Parents can meditate with kids in playful ways that create safe space for emotions to surface and imaginations to be set free. But getting there takes some practice. Mindfulness practice and meditation are different for kids than for adults, but their purpose is the same: to build awareness by taking...

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parenting

Doc Talk: Beyond the Bicycle Helmet

It typically happens like this: A child hops on his bike, hollers to his mom that he’s going for a ride and is gone before she can even respond. No one has checked to see if he is wearing a helmet. No one even knows exactly where he is. The boy is hit by a car and knocked unconscious. Someone calls an ambulance and he is brought to our emergency...

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positive parenting

On The Record: Becoming a Butterfly Parent

Rhinoceroses are strong, have endurance and thick skin. A rhino charges toward its goals and never stops until it gets there. As a child, my bedtime stories were not about princesses and unicorns. They were about living life like a rhinoceros and not a cow. When I became a mother and had little rhinos of my own, I naturally wanted the same for them – to be strong and determined....

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parenting

Is Homework Worth Kids’ and Parents’ After-School Time?

Is the deluge of after-school tasks a necessary character builder or a waste of kids’ time? As we look back over our school days, most of us can remember a particularly torturous homework assignment – an English essay, a science project, maybe a history presentation – that kept us up past midnight or ruined a weekend. Or a perfect storm when a lack of communication between teachers meant two projects...

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positive parenting

How Your Kids Can Mindfully Succeed At School

Mindfulness and focusing have the potential to help children achieve school success with peace. I am talking about not just your peace of mind as a parent, but peace and ease for your children if they are experiencing aversion towards school or homework. Mindfully focusing at school can help students get through their day with greater ease and success. The effect of mindfulness on the brain supports increased memory, positive...

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parenting

Parenting After Divorce: Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

While on a lunch break this summer, I noticed a small group of children all wearing summer camp T-shirts that read “Grandma’s Summer Camp, 2016.” Printed on the shirts were destinations the children had been during previous “summer camps” with their grandparents – the Los Angeles Zoo, Knott’s Berry Farm, the Hollywood Bowl, etc. Watching the kids’ excitement to be together as a family took my mind off my workload...

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parenting

Parenting & Eating Disorders in Kids: When Healthy Goes Too Far

You’ve heard medical experts extol the virtues of healthy eating. You’ve been told to keep your children away from sugar, salt and processed foods, and have started to focus on healthy eating and nutrition for yourself and your child. With all this attention to healthy eating, you’ve certainly helped safeguard your child’s health. Or have you? Is it possible you’ve put them at risk? Unfortunately, when the focus on healthy...

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On the Record: Confessions of a Helicopter Mom

I’m a helicopter mom. I hover over my 5-year-old daughter, Sofia, watching and listening to everything she does and imposing my ideas and interests on her in hopes she’ll choose what I think is best. My friends call me “controlling,” but I thought being a helicopter mom meant you were being protective, loving, motivating and educating. I was dead wrong, and my helicopter made a hard landing. I became conscious...

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parenting

Parenting: Foster Care and Finding Forever Homes

Thousands of children desperately need a home, or even just a safe place to sleep tonight. And they aren’t in some developing country. They are right here in Los Angeles County. “There are 35,000 children in the foster-care system,” says Lynne Baumhoff, director of adoptions and foster care at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, which provides adoption and foster care services in Southern California. “Some are in foster...

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fun summer activities

Blackberry Crumble: A Sweet Taste of Childhood

Katie Shyne of Taste on Melrose shares fond memories and a Spiced Blackberry Crumble recipe. Doesn’t blackberry picking with your mom sound like a delicious way to spend a morning? Katie Shyne, executive pastry chef at Taste on Melrose, brings her childhood memory and a childhood favorite recipe to life in this Spiced Blackberry Crumble. “It’s one of the first things I learned how to make when I was a...

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positive parenting

A Family Legacy Worth Leaving Behind

It is a day I will never forget – Christmas 2013 in snowy Chicago, and my parents were visiting from Texas. Christmas carols were playing, festive food and decorated cookies were on the table, and I had buttery egg nog in hand and a big smile on my face as I sat to watch my then 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, open her first gift from under our tree. The first package...

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positive parenting

Six Summer Essentials for Family Harmony

With a little advance planning, summer break with the kids at home does not have to be anxiety-filled. As the school year winds down, so do the hectic days of getting the kids dressed, getting lunches made and rushing out the door to make it before the first bell rings. Summer vacation gives parents and kids a respite from the demanding daily schedule. Oftentimes kids associate the end of the...

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parenting

Dealing With Tragic News

Whether it’s happening in Nice, Dallas, Louisiana, Orlando, Brussels or Paris, it can sometimes feel like tragedy is also taking place right in the palm of your hand – or your child’s – via social media and smartphones. “It’s just a constant bombardment of input. I was shocked to hear that kids are getting news information from Instagram,” says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media, a California-based nonprofit...

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summer activities

Ready For Summer With Pie

When strawberries come into season in the spring, at my house we start out by just bingeing on them plain – or with maybe a touch of whipped cream. Eventually, we get around to some shortcake. Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections – with locations in L.A., Echo Park and at Grand Central Market downtown – offers a recipe for another strawberry classic, strawberry-rhubarb pie. “Kids love pies,” says the mom...

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positive parenting

A Family with Unreasonable Hope

The doctor said it again and again: “She will never ….” And for Chad Veach, hearing this about his 4-month-old daughter, Georgia, was too much. “My heart sank into my socks,” says Veach, pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles and author of the new book “Unreasonable Hope.”   The doctor was explaining to Veach and his wife, Julia, that their daughter has lissencephaly, which literally means “smooth brain” and is...

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parenting

On the Record: Raising Bilingual Children

“Mami, quiero milk,” my daughter Sofia, 5, said to me in Spanish the other day. Translation: “Mom, I want some milk.” In a very annoyed and frustrated tone, I found myself snapping back, “Sofia, don’t speak Spanglish! How do you say ‘milk’ in Spanish?” She paused and yelled, “Leche!” Why was I so angry? It was a parenting moment I feared coming, Sofia choosing speaking in English over Spanish –...

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positive parenting

Tips to Help Your Child Deal With Recital Nerves

As the end of the school year draws near, we are entering into “recital” season. Your child may soon be participating in a dance recital or dance show. It is normal for them to be excited about the upcoming performance. In fact, these nerves are a sign of energy. Nerves are often transformed into an exciting on-stage charisma and a successful dance performance. But how do you help your child...

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5 Tips to Lessen Summer Visitation Drama

Summer is when many of us create some of the best memories with our children. For divorced parents who have limited custody during school months, summer visitation can provide an excellent opportunity to extend visits and spend quality time with their children. It also allows for children to maintain a loving relationship with both parents after a divorce. Parents typically follow a child custody order issued by the court during...

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5 Don’ts For a Stronger Marriage

Given enough time and togetherness, any relationship between two people will face a challenge or two. And all marriages take a bit of work, no matter how in love you are. “Love is a component, but it really is only one component,” says clinical psychologist Darren Sush, Psy.D., whose Brentwood-based practice specializes in helping parents of children with autism. Many other things come into play in making a marriage work....

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The Container Store and Goodwill Want to Help You Kiss Clutter Goodbye

The Container Store is teaming up with Goodwill Southern California to help customers Kiss Clutter Goodbye. Through May 15, The Container Store is encouraging customers to de-clutter, donate and do life organized. The spring campaign includes item-donation weekend events April 23-24 and April 30-May 1 at The Container Store’s locations, as well as a call for monetary donations to Goodwill Southern California through May 15. “In partnership with Goodwill, we’re...

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Green Beauty and Home Care Products For Your Family

We all want to avoid exposing our families to harmful chemicals, whether they come in the form of airborne environmental toxins, pesticides in our food or toxic ingredients in our personal-care and household-cleaning products. The biggest offenders may be petrochemicals, which are derived from petroleum, oil and coal and have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity and cancer. These widely used offenders can be found in just about...

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Can You Afford to Work Less?

Becoming a parent is a wondrous thing. Balancing home and work can be less wondrous – a parental juggling act of being present for the family and earning a living. To have more time for children, one parent occasionally scales back work. In my case, I’d had a career and waited to have a baby, so I wanted to be home with my newborn. In Los Angeles, where childcare costs...

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toys

New York Toy Fair – Unplugged

I made my annual trek to New York in February to attend the Toy Industry of America’s Toy Fair, a trade show that features hundreds of thousands of new toys, games and novelties from more than 1,200 exhibitors. It was worth braving the record-low temps and snow flurries of Manhattan for a sneak peek at the products hitting stores this spring or fall. Drones, robots and toys with integrated apps...

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Costumed characters are part of the fun at the Milk + Bookies Storytime Celebration. PHOTO BY MORGAN PANSING

Milk + Bookies Story Time Fundraiser Adds Celeb Readers

Milk + Bookies' 7th Annual Story Time Celebration is gearing up with new celebrity faces and a new open-door policy. In previous years the celebration and its arts and crafts, costumed characters, yummy treats and celebrity readers (who have included Tiffani Thiessen, Jack Black and JJ Abrams) was only open to those working with the non-profit organization. This time Milk + Bookies is extending an invitation to all L.A.-area parents to celebrate...

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5 Ways To Shrink Your Child’s Digital Footprint

Yalda Uhls understands how much you want to Instagram those adorable photos of your toddler on the potty. Really, she does. And the mom of a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy is happy that Instagram wasn’t around when her children were small. “I have the cutest picture of my daughter and her friend in the bathtub,” says Uhls, senior scientific researcher at The Children’s Digital Media Center@LA at UCLA....

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Peter Walsh: Making DeCluttering a Family Affair

It starts with the baby shower and grows to invade our living rooms, closets and kitchen counters. Under the weight of all the baby gear, toys, art projects, school announcements, awards and books, we wonder whether it is even possible to de-clutter when you are parenting kids. Peter Walsh, an L.A.-based organization expert, best-selling author and a contributor on “The Rachael Ray Show,” says the answer is a definite yes! But...

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8 Creativity Boosters for Kids

One of our jobs as parents is to find new ways to inspire and encourage our children’s curiosity, creativity and interest in the world around them. Try these eight tips to spark your child’s inner artist, actor or architect. Role Playing. How often have you heard the words, “Mom, can you play with me?” And what kind of games do our kids want to play most? The most exciting and...

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Beauty Products We Love

For the last six months, the staff and parent testers at the National Parenting Products Awards have examined and experimented with an abundance of creams, gels, lotions and potions in search of beauty products that actually deliver results. Here are our favorites. (See more beauty product reviews at NAPPAawards.com.)

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Driving, Dreaming and Daytime Napping in L.A.

How to waste gasoline in style while putting your baby to sleep I’m leaping over speed bumps, cruising the potholed boulevards and aimlessly wandering the canyon roads. I have no destination and am often jammed in a traffic-laden city artery, but I have not an ounce of road rage, lane pain or street defeat. No, I’m delighted, because Hank is still asleep in the back seat. When you have a...

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Read Aloud Like a Rock Star

Seven Secrets from Voice-Over Actors, Teachers and Literacy Experts Early in my time volunteering with BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools), I picked up my first valuable lesson on what not to do when reading to kids. On that fresh, September morning, my read-aloud selection for the 20 eager third graders gathered before me at Paseo del Rey Elementary in Playa del Rey was an educational but – in...

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A Plea for More Old-Fashioned Play

Happy New Year! Like many of you I also had a busy holiday season. This week, our kids were ready to go back to school, the house is slowly getting back to normal and routine is kicking in. If you are like our family, many gifts were given and received, especially anything that was device- or game-oriented. As a parent, educator and advocate for wellness and vitality, I have to...

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Great Cold-Weather Gear

Feeling that winter chill? Here are some finds that will keep you cozy as the temperature drops. For more product reviews, visit NAPPAawards.com.  

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When the News Is Scary or Confusing

Editor's note: This interview was completed before the Dec. 15 closure of Los Angeles Unified district schools. In the last few months, we have been faced with terrorist attacks in Paris, shootings at college campuses in Texas and Arizona and a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and, most recently, at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. How can parents begin to explain these horrible events to their children? We recently...

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Mary McNamara: A Mom With a Critical Eye on TV

Mary McNamara took on her job as television critic at The Los Angeles Times in 2009. The mother of three – Danny Stayton, 17; Fiona Stayton, 15 and Darby Stayton, 9 – had been a features writer and editor at The Times for 18 years when she was offered the job. “My question was, ‘Can I work from home?’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll have to.’ If I didn’t...

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Top Tech Tools for Families

The school year is half over and the holidays are here and I’m starting to feel the familiar overwhelm. The errands, events, work demands and to-dos seem to multiply mercilessly as I try to handle it all. And while over the years I’ve gotten better at greeting stress with a smile, it still can feel hard to breathe when you realize your life is wall-to-wall, and cloning has not yet...

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CommuniGift Helps Birthday Boys and Girls “Gift Back”

Most children who attend The Salvation Army’s Los Angeles Day Care Center downtown don’t expect a big party and a pile of presents on their birthdays. The center serves low-income children, many with parents who spend long hours working nearby in the Fashion District. So, 4-year-old Henry was shocked and delighted to receive presents courtesy of a secret birthday buddy who decided to “gift forward” some birthday presents through an...

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Holiday Recipes From Milo and Olive

When Erin Eastland was moving to Southern California from New York in 2005, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to call Santa Monica home. It helped that she and her family scoped out the city on a Wednesday. “We came upon the farmers’ market and I was like, ‘We’re done,’” says the mom of two, who is now executive chef at Milo and Olive, a...

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What To Do When Your Kids Argue

Sibling rivalry is one of the most discussed topics in my practice. “How do I get my children to stop fighting? How do I help them get along?” No matter what the age difference between the children, this is an area of no escape. Common areas of conflict include siblings sharing rooms, siblings being rude to one another and siblings arguing when a friend is over. And when rivalries flare...

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Kids Help Kids With Your Golden Ticket

Community involvement and philanthropy are common dinnertime conversation topics for the Woods family, so it’s no surprise that Lisa and Josh Woods of West Los Angeles fully supported their children’s decision to start their own nonprofit to help less-fortunate kids. Created by 11-year-old twins Ryan and Jack, and their 8-year-old sister, Marley, Your Golden Ticket gives disadvantaged youth an opportunity to experience the excitement of live events such as ball...

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Have a Fabulous Fiesta Birthday!

Lucky and I love throwing parties, celebrating with friends, laughing, drinking and eating. Lucky is the chef of the house and I am the party planner – but neither of us likes doing the dishes! Here are our tips for a great fiesta with plenty of fun ideas for kids: Mix up the guest list. Invite your most fun friends and your most interesting friends. Sometimes, these are the same...

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Healthy Food Tips from Thyme Café & Market

Chef Maire Byrne, founder of Thyme Café & Market in Santa Monica (www.thymecafeandmarket.com), grew up in L.A. in a home with five brothers and sisters, so she’s no stranger to mixing food and family. Now the mom of two daughters, she was happy to share her favorite tips about healthy family fare. What is your approach to healthy eating for your family? At home, we eat pretty clean. We have...

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This Service Brings Healing To Your Home

Renee Dua is a doctor – and a busy L.A. mom of two. And after an exceptionally long night in a hospital emergency room with her infant, to receive medical attention for something that any pediatrician could have handled, she’d had enough. “We spent eight hours of our day sitting there,” Dua says. So in mid-February she founded Heal, a service that brings doctors to see patients at home. All...

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Celebrate Good Times

Planning a party? Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you covered with great finds, including fun ideas for kids, that will make your next shindig a hit! Party Plan On the Go Need a little inspiration? The Partyology app (free for iOS, www.partyology.com) lets you design, plan and shop from top retailers with your iPhone or iPad. Get instant access to great party tips from bloggers and party experts, and find...

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Try This Fun Fall Workout With the Kids

It’s that time of year. The kids are back in school, and suddenly, life is crazy busy again, which means getting in a workout can be even more challenging. As a mom of two and pre/postnatal exercise specialist, I’ve found the best way to do this is to involve your kids. I hope you and your little ones will find this 10-minute workout fun and effective! Sara Haley is an...

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Stress Busters for Students

There’s no question that academic expectations for students have become more rigorous in recent years. You may have heard that traditional kindergarten at most public schools is now academically equivalent to what first grade was a generation ago. And it doesn’t get any easier from there. While many students enjoy and rise to the challenge of mastering new subjects, the steadily increasing load of schoolwork, tests and homework can take...

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Helping Your ‘Average’ Student Thrive

Somewhere between the worlds of the trilingual 5-year-old concert pianist and the student struggling through remedial classes lies another student. This is the average student, the one who neither breaks scholastic records nor lives on the edge of failure. He can easily be overlooked by teachers because he’s not putting cherry bombs in toilets, nor is he solving the world’s food-shortage problems. He is just getting by. That’s not good...

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A Fetching Family Service

Necessity isn’t always the mother of invention. Sometimes, it’s parenting fatigue. At least that’s how it worked for Bryson Strauss and Ashley Eaton, who became parents for the first time four years ago. “It’s just so incredibly exhausting having a child,” Strauss says. During one of many sleepless nights, husband and wife looked at each other and said, “We wish someone could just go get us some diapers.” The result...

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A Different Kind of Carpool

Need to get each of your three kids to a different place at the same time? HopSkipDrive (www.hopskipdrive.com), a ride service started by three L.A. moms tired of struggling to get their children to various activities, could be the answer. No, this isn’t Uber for kids. HopSkipDrive is more like an extension of your child’s caregiver. Drivers will follow your pick-up and drop-off instructions, walking in to sign your kids...

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Teaching Kids To Speak Up

My daughter is lost in play with a friend, and I watch as her eyes suddenly fix on the floor beneath her. The conversation is quiet and I can’t quite make out the words between them, but I can sense from her posture that she doesn’t want to speak up. The path of least resistance tends to be her favorite path, even if it means pushing her own ideas and...

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Use The Six R’s For a Smoother Return to School

Stocking up on new notebooks and sharpened pencils is the easy part of going back to school. Oftentimes, a more difficult adjustment is navigating the emotional changes kids and parents experience in the early days and weeks of returning to the classroom. But the start of a new school year doesn’t have to be stressful for kids or for parents – just remember the six R’s: Rest: Make sure your...

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30 Real-Food Snack Ideas for Kids

Snack. The word itself sounds fun and delicious, right? We all perk up when imagining our own personal-sized package of chips, crackers or cookies. Sadly, these so-called “snacks” are just treats with a convenient name change. Most Americans are not eating quality meals or snacks, but instead are eating packages of sugary, salty, empty carbs with minimal nutrition. We have been conditioned to crave these snacks in bright, colorful boxes,...

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Turn Your Kids Into Drought Busters

This past spring, after a disappointingly dry winter made it clear that 2015 would be the fifth year of California’s punishing drought, Bettina Bush’s 5-year-old daughter, Cassie, started learning about hygiene at school. “She was spending a lot of time in the bathroom washing her hands,” says the L.A. mom of two. The water was running, and it was time for some positive parenting and a mother-daughter talk. Bush, editor-at-large...

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How Failure Improves Homework Habits

Most parents want to make sure they are doing everything they can to assure their children are happy, healthy, feel good about themselves and are successful. “How do I get my child to clean up their room without a fuss?” “How do I limit electronic entertainment?” “How do I get them to stop fighting with their siblings?” These are common questions I receive. But one of the most common is:...

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Three Keys to Positive Parenting

As the mother of three wonderful children and a professional psychologist, I have often been asked – by my clients, friends and family – “How do you do it?” My answer is that having a positive mind and attitude will allow you to accomplish things and get tasks done. The key to reaching that positive attitude is to be organized, take time for self-care and learn to let go. We...

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L.A. Moms Who Blog

A new blog is created somewhere in the world every half second (if you believe what you read online). When I was pregnant with my first child, back before I knew enough to appreciate all that private time, I too, decided to start a blog. But after my son was born, regular showers and sit-down meals became fond memories and the only “me time” available was during naptime, during which...

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Three Powerful Ways to Motivate Summertime Music Practice

As a teacher, I am frequently asked how to encourage children to practice during summer break and school holidays. Some experts believe children who do not practice (or rarely practice) during summer will need one additional month of practice to recover their skill at the end of the holiday. So, what can you do? Get involved. Ask your child about the piece he or she is working on. Sit with...

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Party Invitation Tips From the Pros

Every year we grow a little older. And when we are children, this is fun. That’s because of birthday parties. And if you are planning a party for your child, you know that you can’t open the gifts, cut the cake or get to that magical singing-over-the-candles moment unless you’ve sent out the invitations. Here, then, are a few parenting tips to help you do that with maximum etiquette and...

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Finding Quality Childcare in L.A.

Choosing a childcare provider can be one of the most important decisions parents can make, particularly during the years before a child starts kindergarten. The number of available options can be overwhelming, and it is easy to be tempted to go with the first recommendation from a friend or neighbor. But experts warn that a childcare solution that works for one family might not work for yours. Here are some...

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Parenting Through Technology Transitions

These tips will help you take your child from total supervision to safe driving on the digital highway. Not that long ago, a child’s road to independence was pretty straightforward. At first, you took them everywhere with you. Then, maybe, you let them walk down the street to a trusted neighbor’s house. Eventually, they made the trek to school with a friend. Little by little, they made their way from...

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Divorce and The Two-Household Family

A few simple strategies can make family time better at both parents’ houses. Do you still have homework? What time did you go to bed? What did you eat this weekend? What did you do at Daddy’s? Did Mom take you to get new sneakers? When you’re divorced or separated and the kids have been with their other parent all week or weekend, it’s tempting to start asking questions the...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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