Information and advice about family life in L.A.

Life At Home

“Thankful Jar” – Family Questions of Gratitude

As much as I remind my young daughters to show gratitude by saying “thank you” and other niceties, I often wonder if I’m expecting too much of them. Is it unreasonable to want my 2-year-old and 6-year-old to see beyond the immediacy of their own wants and needs and remember to extend graciousness to others? Perhaps, but I keep at it anyway. My mom raised me to regard gratitude as...

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thanksgiving with kids

In L.A., All is Gravy on Turkey Day

Millennials, or at least the coastal-elite version I cavort with, have a complicated relationship with that American holiday referred to as Thanksgiving. That’s probably because a more enlightened reading of American history has scrambled our feelings about the fourth Thursday in November.   First, there’s the genesis of the holiday, which children were once taught celebrated a communal harvest meal that native Americans shared with the New England colonists. Now, many...

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winter camps in Los Angeles

Winter Camps in Los Angeles with Parent Perks

As parents, we instinctually ask, “What’s the best choice for my child?” when making almost any decision, and that is a natural place to start when choosing a winter camp for your kids. But in a city like Los Angeles, with its wealth of premium resources, isn’t there also space to consider, “What’s the best choice for me, the parent?” After all, it’s your winter holiday, too!  Below is a...

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Before and After Kids: L.A. Parent Launches #HappierWithKids Campaign

Many parents have taken to Instagram to post “Before and After Kids” photos of themselves. The idea, in case you live under a rock, is that everyone posts photos of themselves before they had kids, and after. While some hashtags have taken a negative tone toward becoming a parent, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the joy of parenting. To that end, L.A. Parent is launching the #HappierWithKids campaign. With...

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postpartum depression screening

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Launches Postpartum Depression Screening Program for New Mothers

Every year, more than 6,500 women give birth at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Now, all new mothers are being screened for one of the most under-diagnosed and under-treated medical conditions in women: postpartum depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of women who give birth each year report symptoms of postpartum depression. Only a small number ever get help, leaving many with the serious, untreated condition....

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kids social life

Kids’ Social Life at School: Helping Your Child Manage Without Meddling

We all know how important social life at school can be. We were kids once, too. From making new friends in kindergarten to navigating fickle social circles in middle school, forging and sustaining relationships is a huge part of growing up. Peers also play a significant role in kids’ development.  “The power of the relationship is crucial in building other components of learning,” explains Christina Kim, director of student life...

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race talk with kids

Having the Race Talk with Kids: Parenting Resources by Age

I grew up in a small paper-mill town in central Louisiana during the late 1970s and ’80s – a time still rife with the lingering effects of segregation. My family lived on what folks called “the black side of town.” On the bus ride across town to school every morning, my friends and I fawned over the beautiful houses that decorated the better-paved streets in other neighborhoods, and I envisioned...

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toddler road trip

Tackling the Toddler Road Trip

It’s the stuff of teeth grinding and stress-induced headaches, a prospect that makes your average parent hysterically bargain for alternatives. Yes, I am referring to road trips with kids. I have an irrational fear of flying, so my young family – wife Kate, 2-year-old Hank and baby Leo –  and I take the challenge head-on. I live for the open road and freedom on terra firma. My family road-trip goal...

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On the Record: Teaching Kids About Family Heritage

Growing up, I remember people asking me if I considered myself more Hispanic or more American. I thought it was an odd question, because I didn’t think I had to choose between the two. My parents are from Bolivia and my brother and I were born and raised in Texas. It was hard to explain back then, but I felt I was American and at the same time truly loved...

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chris pegula

Chris Pegula: The Diaper Dude

Armed with a degree from NYU, Chris Pegula began his career in pursuit of his dream of acting. But parenthood shifted Pegula’s perspective and family life became his main focus. The father of three is the creator of the hip line of Diaper Dude gear for cool dads and author of the newly released book, “Diaper Dude, The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years.” In the book,...

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Aligning Your Kids’ Enrichment With Your Big-Picture Goals

My 7-year-old son is a joiner. He plays Little League, basketball and dances in a hip-hop class. When the brochure for after-school enrichment comes home in his backpack, he pores over the choices, circling everything that interests him. This past year, he tried drum lessons, skateboarding, game design and cooking. I love his enthusiasm, but almost every day I see articles online about the dangers of having overscheduled kids. Am...

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home organization for moms

The Art of Organization for Busy Moms

When it comes to life and all its chaos, the thing that can help or hinder busy moms the most is organization – or the lack of it. Efficiency and time management are key to making it through those busy days filled with soccer practice, kid’s birthday parties and parent-teacher conferences – all before it’s time to come home and put dinner on the table. In Barbara Reich’s new self-help...

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music therapy for families

Time for a Family Tune-up at Home

In July, after 3-year-old Jackson Verner suffered strokes that left him with limited use of the left side of his body, Jenna Bollard, his music therapist at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, handed him a ukulele to play. “It forced him to start using the left hand,” says Jackson’s mom, Sara. “You have to be creative with kids.” Jackson’s family uses drums in the same way. And when they put on...

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praise your kids

Praise This, Not That: How to Praise Your Kids

There is nothing more satisfying to me than to tell my daughters how proud I am of them. I’ve always thought parents are expected to tell our kids they’re good and smart to help build their self-esteem. I was surprised to learn that some child development experts encourage parents to say things such as, “Good job,” “I’m so proud of you,” and, “You’re so smart” to our children less often....

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audiobooks for kids

Audiobooks for Kids: Reads for the Road

Four years ago, my family and I were preparing for a camping trip to Camp Whitsett in the Sequoia National Forest with my son’s Cub Scout pack. Ben was 8 and he loved books. I loved to read to him, but I get carsick if I try to read in the car. Obviously, my husband couldn’t read and drive at the same time. I was worried Ben would get bored...

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cycling with kids

2 Years on  2 Wheels: Cycling with Hank

When I was a single lad in my 20s living along the Miracle Mile, I commuted to work in Santa Monica by bicycle. Four days a week, I placed my young life in the hands of Los Angeles traffic. This was unwise according to my future wife, who worked as an RN in the ICU at Cedars-Sinai and saw countless critical bike accidents, the details of which I will mercifully spare you....

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teaching kids about friendship

Teaching Kids About Friendship: You’re Not My Best Friend Anymore

It absolutely ruffles my feathers when I hear kids say to one another, “You’re not my best friend anymore.” I’ve heard it on the playground at school and even in my home.  Some kids have said it to my 6-year-old daughter, Sofia, and, unfortunately, I’ve heard Sofia say it to her friends. I’ve wondered whether they understand how hurtful those words can be. When I heard Sofia say that to...

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9 Kid-friendly Work-friendly Spots

School is out and your kids are on the loose, but you might still have work to get done. When it’s inconvenient to hire a babysitter, or you just need to get your children out of the house, we’ve found amazing places where you can work and they can play. From child-friendly coffee shops to full-time drop-off care, we’ve got you covered. It Takes a Village A celeb-approved (Rebecca Romijn...

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Kids Can Pitch In to Help Shelter Pets

Whether it’s a stray cat, a lost dog or a baby bird that has fallen from the nest, kids love lending a hand to help animals in need. “There’s a movement of kids who want to help animals,” says Pasadena Humane Society President and CEO Julie Bank. “The Pasadena Humane Society gets calls on how kids can get involved, probably a daily thing, and we started to really listen.” The...

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Our Breakfast-to-Bedtime Back to School Guide

Remember last year’s back to school photo? The kids wore big, happy grins and fresh haircuts. Inside their shiny new backpacks awaited orderly pencil cases and a homemade-with-love lunch filled with summer veggies and nothing processed. Cut to the second week: Running to the car five minutes late, the day’s completed homework forgotten on the kitchen table and cranky parents playing Rock-paper-scissors to see who has to leave work early...

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A Divorce Lawyer’s Tips for Parenting Through Kid Conflict

Tara Scott is a former Brentwood divorce lawyer – with a 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter – so she knows a thing or two about parenting through conflict. Now a family mediator in Beverly Hills, Scott has found that things she learns in her mommy-and-me group help in mediation and that her mediation skills apply at home. Here are some of her tips for wading into a disagreement between your...

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Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn: Celebrating the Everyday Wins

Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn are good friends, co-hosts of the hilarious podcast “One Bad Mother” and authors of the newly published book, “You’re Doing a Great Job: 100 Ways You’re Winning at Parenting,” designed to cheer on parents from pregnancy through the toddler years. Instead of focusing on Pinterest-inspired birthday party décor and Instagram-worthy meals, Ellis and Thorn encourage parents to celebrate their hundreds of daily, at times mundane,...

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Hitting the Beach for Summer Fun Hollywood Style

To many of us in and around Los Angeles, summer fun at the beach is an afterthought, only beckoning when the inland heat calls for relief. A friend from Studio City once referred to it as “the great A/C unit to the west.” Out-of-towners often accuse us of taking our 75 miles of Pacific coastline for granted. And they're right. I'm feeling especially salty at the moment because I recently...

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Raise Readers By Starting Your Own Book Club

Like many parents, I’m guilty of turning to digital babysitting when I need a break and the kids want some summer fun. Television or cell phone games become my go-to when I need 15 to 20 minutes of peace and quiet after a long day. I know it might not seem like good parenting, but sometimes when survival mode kicks in, a little help from the television or cell phone...

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Bridging the Summer Gap to Prevent Learning Loss

Now that the academic school year has ended, students are ready to enjoy summer and all of the fun that it promises. Beach days, family vacations, swimming pools and waterparks; activities that bring fun memories, social time with friends and a highly anticipated break from the classroom. Unfortunately, with all of the fun that summer has to offer, the gap between the end of one academic year and the beginning...

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Nine Tips for Tackling Tantrums

Tantrums are a common childhood experience, particularly if you are parenting kids ages 18 months to 4. When a child begins yelling, crying, kicking, whining and complaining that is out of proportion to an incident or situation, it can be frustrating, uncomfortable or embarrassing for parents or caregivers – especially when this behavior is displayed outside the home in front of bystanders. Parents may feel puzzled about how to act...

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A Parenting Slow-Down With the Help of Band-Aids

I’ve always wondered about kids’ obsession with Band-Aids. At my house, we go through about two boxes of Band-Aids a week, using them for every little mark my daughters get on their bodies. They try to mend everything with a Band-Aid – including holes in their socks – even though I’ve explained to my 5-year-old year old, Sofia, that colorful Band-Aids don’t fix everything. Or do they? A couple of...

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fatherhood

Stephen “tWitch” Boss: On the Joys of Fatherhood

You might know him as the resident DJ on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” every so often showing off his awesome dance moves alongside Ellen herself. As a hip-hop dancer, entertainer, actor and former “So You Think You Can Dance” star, Stephen “tWitch” Boss has had some great gigs, but he is quick to admit that his favorite is being a dad. He married Allison Holker of “Dancing with the Stars”...

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Our Millennial Dad Talks About Father’s Day

Father’s Day. When is that? Oh yeah, in June. Papas, pops, padres, daddies, daddios and plain old dads don’t get a holiday with the same play as Mother’s Day – or even the Feast of St. Joseph. (That’s a Catholic holiday in March honoring Jesus’ more-terrestrial father.) This talk of Jesus and his dads reminds me how many ways the term “dad” can be interpreted. And this reminds me of...

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spa le la

Spa Le La Makes Me-Time Sitter-Free

As I parked, pattering hail created a strange white noise against my windshield. This probably helped all three of my children enjoy an extended nap in the back of my minivan. It was a week before Mother’s Day and there was no sitter in sight. None of this sounds like the start of a spa day, but alas things have changed. Enter Spa Lé La, a luxurious spa with a...

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Abbie Boudreau: On Raising News-Savvy Kids

As a kid, Abbie Boudreau was curious about everything. She wanted to grow up to be an astronaut and a pastry chef. Later, as a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, her inquisitiveness and desire to help others led her to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. The Emmy-Award winner went on to work at CNN and ABC News as an investigative correspondent and now covers feature...

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Work-From-Home Tips for L.A. Moms

In just a few short years, working from home went from a novelty to a bona fide, mainstream way of life. These days, nearly one in four Americans does part or all of their work from home, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that number is expected to rise. Working remotely saves on commute time and costs, boosts morale and can offer flexibility –...

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The Millennial Dad Takes on Alternative Transportation

I am sitting with Hank in a Nippon Sharyo (which literally means Japanese vehicle) cab, model P865. This pantographed workhorse – a Los Angeles Metro train with a electric-current-collector on top – is here because of years of painstaking negotiations and political savvy, an effort by L.A. officials to create a more attractive cityscape while simultaneously curbing carbon emissions and alleviating traffic congestion. I have fantasized about a train connecting...

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New L.A. Moms Share Their Joys and Challenges

Around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 20, Sara Hulan-Crestani was in bed and about to fall asleep, having just come in from an evening visiting friends. Her husband, John Crestani, had also gotten home not long before. Sara was pregnant and due in two weeks, so she and John were enjoying their last days before the responsibilities of parenthood set in. Sara was ready for a good night’s rest, but before...

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Shopping For a Mom’s Day Out?

Gather the gals for a Mom’s Day Out celebration at The Point and The Collection at Plaza El Segundo from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. May 13. The first 50 attendees to register (at The Point next to Superba Food + Bread) for the free event will receive an exclusive tote and a free ride at Soul Cycle. All attendees receive a VIP passport unlocking exclusive specials: Michael Stars: Mimosas, macaroons and...

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Understanding Middle School Mean Girls

Eleventh grader Natalie Hampton had always loved school. That changed in seventh grade, when fellow students at the private all-girls L.A. middle school she attended began cyber bullying and taunting her, even physically attacking her on four occasions. She almost always ate lunch alone and developed migraine headaches and gastritis. It was a common case of “mean girls” at work. Why do some girls become bullies around age 12 or...

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paying for your special needs child

Facing Your Finances: Paying for Your Child’s Disability

About a year ago, financial planner Robert J. Smith received a call from the father of a 27-year-old woman with Down syndrome. “Mom had died two years previously and Dad was finally able to address planning for his daughter,” Smith says. “We asked if his daughter was currently covered by Social Security and Medicaid. He replied that she wasn’t and he was too intimidated and overwhelmed to apply.” The father’s...

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On the Record: Weathering Parenting Storms

It was Sept. 12, 2008, and I was scrambling through my house in Houston, trying to secure my family, check our emergency supplies and board up the windows while packing a duffle bag full of rain gear and non-perishable food so I could leave for Galveston Island and cover Hurricane Ike, a powerful storm approaching the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall in less than 24 hours. The anxiety...

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When the News Is Scary or Confusing

Editor's note: This is an update of a 2015 article which, sadly, is still quite relevant and timely. Television, radio, newspapers and social media bring us news of terrorist attacks and tragedy on a daily basis. And too often, as in the case of a shooting Monday (April 10, 2017) at North Park Elementary school in San Bernardino, the news is much closer to home. How can parents begin to...

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Millennial Dad: A Voyage of Selfie Discovery

What’s wrong with me? What am I doing clutching my 2-year-old in this chokehold as I attempt to aim my phone at our two duck-lipped faces? Can’t he have a normal “mirror” phase like any other pre-Kardashian child? Profound parental – no, human – guilt confronts me. I know this is wrong, base, tacky. But I need Hank to stare into my smart phone and smile. Smile! C’mon, smile! Instead,...

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family game night

Personalogy Family Fun Game Giveaway – For Friday Game Nights!

L.A. Parent is all about giving you fun ways to engage with your friends and children. Starting today, we're offering a fun way to get families talking each week in April, game-night style. For the next month, every Friday, we will encourage you to ask your children questions you may have never explored with the help of Personalogy Family Fun Edition, a new card game that's a conversation starter just for parents and kids...

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parenting

Jill Simonian: On Being A Real FAB Mom

When I first received a copy of “The Fab Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby,” my first thought was, We don’t have enough pressure as moms? Now we have to be back to fabulous within seconds after giving birth? But author Jill Simonian’s message is about a different kind of fabulous. For Simonian, founder of the parenting and lifestyle website TheFABmom.com, FAB...

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politics and parenting

Parenting Through the Politics

  On election night 2016, Diane Michaeli of La Crescenta watched the returns come in with her 13-year-old daughter, Carmela. Like many families in the L.A. area, they were supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and were surprised by the results of the presidential race. “When it slowly became apparent that she had lost, sadness descended upon us,” Michaeli says. Carmela began sobbing. “I realized that I couldn't lose myself...

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parent shaming

The Cost of Parent Shaming

“A parent who lets their child act like that without reprimanding them is definitely raising an asshole,” a colleague said to me once. She started this conversation during a lunch meeting at a restaurant as we watched a mother wrestling with her toddler-age son who was having a tantrum. She made the comment because she knows I am a parent coach who works to end the practice of shaming parents....

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saying sorry

Beyond Saying Sorry: A More Meaningful Path to Conflict Resolution

“Say ‘I’m sorry’ and mean it!” How many times have we told our kids to apologize for saying or doing something hurtful to someone else? Honestly, forcing my 5-year-old, Sofia, to apologize in the heat of the moment makes me feel better as a parent. But when she doesn’t mean it, I feel guilty because I believe it’s a poor lesson to make her say empty words without meaning. After...

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Doc Talk – Springing Forward With the Kids

We switch to Pacific Daylight Time at 2 a.m. March 12. Most of us know it as “springing forward,” but it hardly makes us – or our kids – feel springy. Monika Mathur, M.D., a neurologist with the pediatric division of the Long Beach Adult & Pediatric Sleep Center at Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach, offers advice for getting the kids back in step. Does the time change...

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Shop Talk: Game On!

Whether you want to head outdoors together or gather around the kitchen table, we found some award-winning products to help you rev up the fun! These are courtesy of the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA). For more information on NAPPA visit their website at www.NAPPAawards.com or follow them on social media at @NAPPAawards on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

parenting - Omar and Argelia

K-Love’s Dynamic Duo Share Their On-Air and At-Home Magic

Argelia Atilano jokes that Omar Velasco, her husband and morning radio co-host on K-Love 107.5-FM, was never really “her type.” “I only dated guys in suits,” she says with her trademark laugh. “Attorneys, businessmen. I would never date a DJ – but the magic happened.” “I knew she was out of my league, but I kept pursuing her,” says Velasco with a smile. This is the type of banter that...

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valentine's day plans

The Millennial Dad’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

There is a war going on out there, a cold war between loving couples with kids and loving couples without kids. And it heats up on Feb. 14. Officially named Saint Valentine’s Day, I call it S-V Day, after the iconic V-E Day and V-J Day from World War II. Childless couples meander carefree throughout the city, staying out ’till unholy hours. Meanwhile, the child rearing must meticulously plan and...

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kids and money

Teaching Kids About Money: Spend, Save and Give Jars

When I told my daughter, then 4 years old, that I didn’t have money to buy her a toy, she said, “Just go to the bank and they'll give you money.” I frowned at her and tried again, explaining that I had only a $10 bill and what she wanted cost $20. She said, “It’s OK, just use your card.” I realized she had no idea about the value of...

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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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cameron candace bure

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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parenting having the talk

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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fun ideas for kids

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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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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products - beauty

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.)

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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fun ideas for kids

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.  

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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Fun ideas for kids - Communigift

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 fun

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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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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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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