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Dec 31
icon1 Susan | icon2 Special Days | icon4 12 31st, 2009| icon3No Comments »

It’s New Years Eve today and I know that a lot of parents will be enlisting the help of sitters so they can go out and enjoy the New Year’s Celebrations.  For some parents, that won’t be an option and for others, celebrating with the entire family is another age-old tradition.  For me, I am fighting a upper respitory infection with major pleurisy (inflammation of the lungs), so we will be home bringing in the New Year.  I actually prefer that because I am not a huge fan of being in crowded areas where I cannot hear the person next to me.  I will probably be sleeping in on New Year’s Day and eating some Dduk Guk (Korean rice cake soup traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day) in the morning.  My husband and I grew up on those traditions and it’s great to pass it on to my children.

When I was checking my email today, I came across a bunch of activities that families could do together on New Year’s Eve.  It was compiled by ParentsConnect.com (a very good resource I use).  So if you are in the Los Angeles area, I have the list for you.  If you live in another city or state, just go to ParentsConnect.com, and click on your City, then click on Events.  You will get a whole list of events for today!

Thursday, 12/31

Rock on! Ride on! New Year’s Eve
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Revelers can ride the rides, dance in the streets, and count down to a midnight fireworks display in Calico Square. Tickets are still available as we go to press…
Location: Knott’s Berry Farm
Cost: Adults $38; Children (3-11) $18, (under 3) free; Passholders free
Ages: 6 – 18

Rollin’ in the Years
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The skating rink sets its clocks ahead to celebrate New Year’s Eve by day, allowing families to ring in 2010 together – on wheels…
Location: Skating Plus
Cost: $7.50; Skate rental $2.50-$4
Ages: 4 – 18

Fireworks in the Marina (FREE!)
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The fireworks extravaganza over the main channel features one firework shot into the air for each second, counting down to midnight, followed by a full display lighting up the sky…
Location: Burton W. Chace Park
Cost: Free
Ages: All Ages

Kidspace at High Noon
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Young revelers are invited to ring in the new year (12 hours early) with special festivities, balloons, and a sparkling apple cider toast…
Location: Kidspace Children’s Museum
Cost: Free with Kidspace admission
Ages: 2 – 9

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The Discovery Cube gets in the noontime swing, counting down to 12 o’clock and applying scientific principles to seltzer rockets, without keeping anyone up past bedtime…
Location: Discovery Science Center
Cost: Free with paid admission
Ages: 3 – 17

New Year’s Eve Cele-brick-tion
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Children and their parents get to ring in the New Year before bedtime at an event that includes a performance by [get performer details] a countdown followed by a huge LEGO brick descending 22 feet, and a dazzling fireworks display…
Location: Legoland California
Cost: Free with paid admission
Ages: All Ages

Dec 25
icon1 Susan | icon2 Special Days | icon4 12 25th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

I wish everyone the happiest, warmest, joyful Christmas!  It’s amazing how fast the years go by, as it just seemed like yesterday when I would sit by the Christmas tree with my cousins, waiting for the clock to strike 12.  Year after year, we would gather at my uncle’s house which was always decked out to the nines ,as my aunt was an Asian version of Martha Stewart.  Out of all my cousins, I was the only little girl, as my other two girl cousins were much older than myself, so I was always spoiled with gifts.  Now that I have my own family, those traditions are ones that I want to pass onto my child (not the spoiling part).

My older daughter who is going to turn 4 next year, now knows the story of Christmas and why we celebrate.  The year before, she just thought of it as some event with a bearded old man with glasses.  Now that she is in pre-school and she is constantly reading and watching Christmas stories, she is definitely in the Christmas spirit.  Living in Los Angeles and trying to celebrate Christmas is far different from the white Christmas’  I grew up on, back in Chicago.  The memories of having snowball fights with my cousins, building a snowman, and drinking hot apple cider on the snow filled porch while I looked for the largest icicle.

When we first moved to Los Angeles, my husband and I would actually celebrate Christmas with some ramen noodles at our apartment in West Hollywood.  It was hard getting into the Christmas spirit because the weather was warm and of course no snow.  However, that all changed once we had our first child.  My most fondest memories as a child were from Christmas and I wanted my children to have memories of their own. 

Being fashionably LA, this year we got a purple sparkly Christmas tree with matching purple lights.  It’s actually very cute and my daughter loves it!  We have our eco-wrapped gifts all placed underneath the tree and it definitely looks more like a Bohemian Christmas, but I absolutely think it’s special.  Just thinking that my children will also have their own memories of Christmas makes me fulfilled in so many ways. 

Memories are something that cannot be bought, reproduced, or taken away.  With that in mind, I wish you and your family the warmest Christmas filled with lots of joy and laughter, with everlasting memories.

Merry Christmas! :-)

Dec 24
icon1 Susan | icon2 Experiences, Tips | icon4 12 24th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Did you ever stop to think how “wasteful” Christmas is?  It’s probably the time of the year when we collectively increase our carbon footprint on this earth.  With all the wrappings that are used, then thrown away, and all the driving that we do from store to store, it really becomes toxic.  My family and I try our best to reduce our carbon footprint in the little things that we do on a daily basis.

One day I was reading Jenslist, my daily newsletter for everything LA, and came across a post about an opening for The UCLA Family Commons.  I love when I hear about new places and new things.  They offer mindful awareness, yoga, coaching, martial arts, and many more classes coming soon.  One thing that catched my attention immediately was the free eco-wrapping that they were doing for Christmas presents.  Of course, I had to get my gift wrapped in a eco-friendly manner.

When I went there, they had set-up shop in front of the building.  Immediately, I was welcomed by the warm staff.  I could not help but stare at the eco-friendly wrappings, all accented and finished off with beautiful fabrics donated by designer Cynthia Vincent.  The name behind the eco-friendly wrapping extraordinaire: Sonya Nimri (Artist in Residence at The UCLA Family Commons), who is a mother, professional crafter, and author of Beadalicious and Just for the Frill of It.  She was very welcoming and had such a great spirit.  She also mentioned that she was going to teach art classes there, so be sure to check that out.

Eco-Wrapped Gifts at The UCLA Family Commons

Eco-Wrapped Gifts at The UCLA Family Commons

Sonya Nimri eco-wrapping my gifts

Sonya Nimri eco-wrapping my gifts

Our eco-wrapped presents looked like designer wear.  Out of all honesty, it put shame to all those presents that are wrapped at department stores.  If you want to follow a certain fad, then jump on the eco-wrapping bandwagon.  Not only will your gifts look très chic, you can reuse or recycle them after use.  So try to be conscious this Christmas and all those that follow.  Make sure to check out The UCLA Family Commons, as it’s definitely a privilege to have a whole center based on the well being of families.

Dec 22
icon1 Susan | icon2 Experiences, Special Days | icon4 12 22nd, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Not really.  I remember the days when the lines were extra-extra long and everyone would be scrounging for leftover gifts.  It’s really sad to see that every year that I participate in the shopping festivities, the lines get shorter and shorter.  Of course, I don’t mind the short lines that get me in and out of the store, but it’s sad for the businesses that need this holiday boost to keep their doors open for the next year.

The economy has definitely taken a toll on everyone’s pocket (customer, employer, employee, store owner).  Just about everyone who doesn’t have some sort of huge life savings or a good and hefty trust fund, is struggling to make ends meet.  With this holiday season, I see more faces of stress rather than faces of glee and happiness.  People’s faces wondering how they are going to buy the gifts and pay their own bills.

Is this a wake-up call?  For most, it is.  Growing up, Christmas was all about coming together as a family and celebrating age-long traditions.  Us children would wait by the Christmas tree to stare at the clock strike 12 (midnight) and the adults would come up from chattering, to hand out Christmas gifts.  For me, it was one of those highly anticipated moments, next to my own birthday.

This year, I bought Christmas gifts for my children that were things they would need, throughout the year.  I got educational things such as letter tracing cards, memory cards, make your own necklace set, and books.  I’m sure my daughter would have loved for me to get everything that she requested off of television commercials that she had seen aggresively flashed at her for the last month, but financially, that would have not made sense.

With this economy, I think it’s great to make smart choices that won’t make us go into debt.  I purchased things that my daughter would need for the entire year, so my purchases made sense.  I think it’s great to support the businesses around us because they are equally struggling, but as a buyer, we need to make conscious choices that makes sense to our bank accounts.

Dec 18
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 12 18th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Our kitchen is filled with stainless steel bowls, spoons, forks, chopsticks, cups, mugs, just name it.  Well, a lot of those items, I grew up with.  When I got married, I did not have a registry or asked for any gifts, so my kitchen looked pretty bare.  When my mom came to help us out with our first child, she looked at our kitchen, and her jaw dropped. That’s when the nagging started, “I cannot believe you could live like this, you don’t have anything!”  You know how moms are (I am one too now).  So my mom shipped half of her kitchen to my place, which I was not pleased with because I am not a fan of clutter.  Anyhow, a lot of the kitchen utensils, plates, bowls, were some that I was very familiar with because I grew up with it, or shall I say, it grew up with me.

The stainless steel kitchen items looked as good as when I used it when I was barely in elementary school.  What I love about stainless steel products are that they are manageable, functional, and sleek.  Plus, they are eco-friendly, something all of us should be conscious about.  Most of the stainless steel items I have seen come with a lifetime warranty.  From my own experiences so far, I definitely believe that they do last a lifetime.

I wanted my children to have an alternative to the plasticware that they use (the plasticware that my children use are safe, tested, and do not contain anything harmful).  After some research, I came across the Anyware Collection from Untangled Living.  The collection contains a bowl, square plate, cup, fork, and spoon, all made of stainless steel.  It’s 100% made for children, but you’ll catch me from time to time, eating a snack out of the square plate.  The second my daughter laid eyes on the collection, she loved it (I mean how could she not when it had her favorite butterfly on it).  From the first day she got the set, she has been using it everyday.  Even if she’s not using the spoon or bowl, she still wants to have the entire set laid out before her.

Anyware Collection (Butterfly)

Anyware Collection (Butterfly)

I love that the collection is simple in design, easy to wash and maintain, and eco-friendly.  With any good product, there is always a story or message behind it.  Sue Volpe, mother and mind behind the Anyware Collection wanted a low maintenance and healthier alternative to plastic.  With children in mind, she was able to come up with her stainless steel collection.  She says, “As we raise our children, let our choices be conscious. Let us be the generation to raise our kids in full awareness. Let us give this gift to ourselves and our families – the gift that brings us happiness and health.”  Being a mother myself and always striving to be conscious, these words speak to me in mounds.

If you want an alternative to your children’s plastic dishes, cups, bowls, and utensils, I highly recommend the Anyware Collection.  You and your child will feel good about using it.  It’s one step towards conscious living.  I know my daughter will thoroughly enjoy hers for years to come and maybe I can ship half of my kitchen with her, when she moves out on her own!

Dec 17
icon1 Susan | icon2 Event | icon4 12 17th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Want to give the environment a holiday gift?  Join thousands of shoppers in LA County in using reusable bags in lieu of disposable ones for 24 hours.  I actually carry reusable bags in my diaper bag all the time, but it would be nice to know that other fellow citizens of this world are making the effort to reduce their own carbon footprint.  As an early Christmas present to you, Heal the Bay has a bag giveaway at 50 locations for you.  If you like free stuff, go there and get your bags and help the environment.

Today December 17th, 2009 marks Heal the Bay’s third annual “A Day Without a Bag.”  Held on the third Thursday of December, this event will give away more than 20,000 reusable bags at 50 different locations.  Join in on the festivities by using reusable bags.  It will also save you the trouble of sorting through unwanted shopping bags that end up going into the dumpster.  So if you live in LA County, be a part of this joyful movement!

Dec 15
icon1 Susan | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 12 15th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Tis the holiday season and so many gifts to buy, but don’t know exactly what to buy?  Well, PTPA Media gathered a list of PTPA winners to make it easier on you.  If you are not exactly sure about what to get for that special child in your life, click here.

Oh and don’t forget about the mommas and poppas out there, they definitely deserve a great Christmas gift too.  I mean without the parents, there would be no kids.  So if you are on the fence about what to get for that special mom or dad in your life, take a look at this list.

PTPARemember, these are Parent Tested Parent Approved.  Just because your a last minute shopper doesn’t mean you can’t get something really great!

Dec 14
icon1 Susan | icon2 Tips | icon4 12 14th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Watch video here.

Holiday Online Shopping Tips  from Microsoft’s “browser moms”:

  1.  Always be Prepared – Before you start shopping, make sure you’re running the latest and greatest technology.  You can keep all your software current with Automatic Updates, and click here to ensure you’re running Internet Explorer 8. 
  2. Stand Up for Yourself – We want to make sure you have the best defense.  For online shopping, this means using firewall, antivirus, antispam and antispyware software.  For an added layer of antivirus protection on your PC, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free or find other antivirus solutions.  
  3. Look Both Ways – Online, you need to be aware of phishing scams and malware.  By default, Internet Explorer 8 runs its SmartScreen Filter to block and warn you of malicious software or phishing threats.  
  4. Expect the Unexpected – In addition to the usual bullies, there are new methods for criminals to get your personal information online.  Internet Explorer 8 helps protect you against these types of attacks as well. 
  5. Only be Friends with Kids on the “Nice” list- Internet Explorer 8 helps you avoid deceptive Web sites that may trick you with misleading addresses.  The domain name in the address bar is highlighted in black to help identify a Web site’s true identity. 
  6. Don’t Gossip, Keep Your Secrets – When you’re shopping for a surprise gift (or helping Santa with his list), it’s a good idea to use Internet Explorer 8’s InPrivate Browsing feature – it ensures your browsing information is not left on your computer – so your tech savvy child or spouse can’t dig up your past purchases.    
  7. Follow the Signs – When you’re shopping online, make sure your payment websites uses encryption.  There are three indicators to look for to confirm this:  a) An “s” after http in the Web address – it should read https: b) A tiny closed padlock in the address bar, or at the lower right corner of  the window. c) If you’re running Internet Explorer 8, look for a green address bar as a sign of  trustworthy web sites.
  8. Don’t Talk to Strangers – Never respond to unsolicited requests to update your account information.  These email messages could be scams used to steal your identity.  Most legitimate companies never send unsolicited email or instant message requests for your passwords or other personal information.

Dec 11
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 12 11th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I actually came across the Mytouch before it even came out on the market and before it even had a name.  I was anxious to know more about it and give it a test run.  Since I have been a T-Mobile customer forever (since I started using cell phones), I wanted to know more about this phone that is matched up against its competitor, the Iphone.  When the Iphone came out, I have to be honest, I contemplated on switching over to AT&T.  However, I had my loyalties with T-Mobile, and stuck with them.  Instead, I got my Blackberry Curve and loved everything about it.

I am not a tech geek or someone who knows a lot about cell phones in general.  When phones are good looking and make me look good while using it, I like to know more about it.  I am not vain, but its like buying a pair of shoes.  If you like the design and look good wearing it, you want to buy it.  Of course, I also like email capabilities, web browsing, and other little girlie things, but if it’s ugly, then I pass.  When I initially saw the pictures of this “3G” phone before it was called Mytouch, I definitely gave it a double take.

mytouchRecently, I was able to loan the phone out for 2 weeks from T-Mobile for my review.  When I received it, I loved that it came in its own black case (pretty thick I must say).  It felt pretty executive and powerful (I felt money behind it).  Once I opened the case, the right side had the phone, and the left side had all the accessories (ear phones, charger, etc).  The loaner that I received came in Merlot, it was pretty and sleek, but I actually prefer the white, it’s more me.

After I got past the design of the phone, which I love, I got to start the phone.  The screen opened up to this little android with a finger telling me to touch it.  The initial setup was easy, as I had to enter my gmail address, and it opened me up to the world of Mytouch. When it comes to 3G, touch screen, android platforms, I am like a newborn.  I have no experience navigating one or even trying one.  So if you are a tech/android/experienced 3G user, you may want to turn away now because I am giving my opinion as a mother/novice/amateur regular Blackberry user, who doesn’t even know 90% of what her Blackberry can do for her (I love speaking in third person).

First, I loved using the touchpad to make calls. At first, I thought the numbers were so close together, I didn’t know if my fingers were small enough to press the numbers (I have very small and thin fingers).  However, to my surprise, it actually correctly put all the numbers on my screen.  I was impressed!  Another important factor was the web browsing.  I touched the globe symbol and was able to go onto the Google page.  I loved the fact that I could touch all the letters to do my search.  I went to my favorite sites and loved that I could zoom in and out.  As a mother, everything has to operate quick and easy, and it definitely met my needs.

Another thing I got to try out was the GPS system.  I liked the fact that it gave me a detailed description from my place to the end location, but I did get lost.  Not the phone’s fault, actually the University was undergoing major reconstruction.  Even my friend liked the GPS over her boyfriend’s Iphone.  I did not get to try out the camera or the video, only because those are not my main interest on phones.  I only looked at things that I would need on a daily basis, which is good call quality, email, web browsing, and GPS.  The Mytouch did well on all of those things.  Plus, it’s cute and sleek, and fits perfectly onto my small hand.

Would I consider purchasing this phone?  Definitely!  I know that there are a lot of other smart phones/cell phones that can probably do everything that I am looking for, for a lot cheaper (full price), but I like to have a phone that gives me options.  Hypothetically, let’s say one day I decide to become a full fledged gamer (which I won’t), and I want to download games, the Android platform will become very handy for me.  I love that the Mytouch, is all about putting your touch to the phone and personalizing to your own needs.  As a mother and a smart phone user, I would feel comfortable using this phone and feel it offers me everything I need.

Currently, you can get the Mytouch for $149.99 with a 2 year activation.  I am tempted to get one, but I will see if the holidays will bring me one, or I may just have to put it on my own wishlist.

(Disclosure: T-mobile gave me a loaner for a 2 week period for review purposes. This review is based solely on my personal opinion and experience and results may vary person to person.)

Dec 9
icon1 Susan | icon2 Sale | icon4 12 9th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

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