Welcome to Candy Cane Lane

Every year in the beginning of December, a block in El Segundo opens up their front lawns to their spectacular holiday season decorations. This year, Santa showed up from Dec. 8th-23rd in the 1200 block of E. Acacia Avenue. Here are some of the highlights from our basic point and shoot camera.

A Tree Santa - from the 12 Days of Christmas Theme Decoration

Trains! - Mishy's Favorite.

Planes! - Mishy's second favorite

Watching the trains from a different angle.

We went last year after we landed from our trip around the world. Most of the lights were down. It was closer to New Years than Christmas. We still enjoyed it and of course we enjoyed the lights even more this year because we saw the full deal. Parking is relatively easy if you park on a side road or park on Imperial Highway – an amazingly close and secret parking place. (The block is closed down for car traffic.) If you need to use the facilities, there is an Embassy Hotel on Imperial Highway which also has free popcorn and red delicious apples at the check in counter.

Details:

http://www.elsegundo.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=324

Once a year, L.A. County celebrates the holiday season by organizing an annual holiday music and dance celebration at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in downtown Los Angeles. This is where all of L.A. comes to enjoy the holiday spirit. Tickets and parking are free. Wristbands are given out during the day – starting at 11:30AM until they run out. The doors open at 2:30PM and the show runs from 3-6PM. The wristbands are color coded which indicated where you will generally be sitting inside. If you don’t have a wristband, you may wait in line to be let in first come first serve. There are also chairs and a large screen set up outside to watch among the sunset and celestial stars.

We got there at 12:30PM and there was a long line up to be given wristbands. While I waited in line, my husband and Mishy enjoyed the entertainment which was provided – students drumming, two Chinese dragons dancing, and an extremely charming and talented group of carolers called the National In Choir. They have a bird as a mascot and healing dog they bring to their shows. Every year, The National In Choir sing sings for people in hospitals to spread the holiday spirit. We stayed and enjoyed their entire set and wish they could have sang more.

This year, the L.A. County Holiday Celebration was hosted by Tia Carriere and Fred Willard. They provided as much banter as needed to host a mostly seamless show of different choirs, dancers – including and amazing hip hop group , and two marchiachi bands. This is an amazing tradition which I know we would not have gone to if we didn’t have Mishy. This year, we have been enjoying the holiday spirit and taking in as much as we can.

What did we do for the remaining two hours before the show started? We headed over to MOCA Grand to see their current exhibition, ate at their restaurant – Lemonade, and shopped at their book shop. They have a terrific selection of beautiful children’s books.

Details:

You may view this year’s celebration online through this link: http://www.lacountyarts.org/holiday.html

Silver Horse Healing Ranch

December 25, 2010

Mishy looking at Silver, the director of Silver Horse Healing Ranch. Yes, the ranch is named after Silver.

We’ve been going to the Silver Horse Healing Ranch in Topanga for 6 months. Mishy loves it there. She takes part in two group lessons twice a month with other children, which I’ve organized. The lessons are for children starting at age 2.5 years old. The children have a gentle ride – either around the stable or on a trail – depending on the child’s age and ability. The parents are able to walk alongside the horse or stay by the stables and talk to the other parents, or take pictures. After the horseback ride, the children may brush, massage, and groom the horses. Once that is completed, the children lead a horse with a rope, usually Silver –  and learn other natural horsemanship skills such as how to tie a horse to a fence or tree or feed Silver her food of beet leaves. Finally, the horses are given snacks of carrots and apples. We have learned it’s important to be aware of the hierarchy of the horses at the ranch. Each herd has a social order and the horses higher up on the hierarchy must be given carrots first – Sara explains this prior to the children feeding the horses. She also shows us how safely to feed them.

Riding Laydee - her first time on a draft horse.

The Silver Horse Healing Ranch is a horse rescue ranch with a focus on natural horsemanship skills – which means the horses are not asked to do anything they do not want to do/makes them uncomfortable. The owner of the ranch is Sara Vaughan who has been teaching natural horsemanship skills for 12 plus years. Our classes are two hours long which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the ambiance of the ranch. (At one point, there was a compostable toilet and yurt.) She is available for group or private lessons. She does have a focus on children with high functioning people with Autism and others on that spectrum. If you are interested in participating in group lessons for your child – please write on the comments section of this post and I will get back to you. If you are a member of any yahoo groups I am on, you may also write me on them as well – NaturalParentingLA. (I have been trying to organize a class for children with autism for some time and would love to make this happen. Mishy does not have autism. I have just witnessed how special and healing the ranch is for children with high functioning autism.) I do not work for Sara Vaughan or Silver Horse Healing Ranch. I truly like what they are doing at the ranch so I happily arrange group lessons for children. (Sara mentioned I have tripled her children’s program.)

Making food for Silver

Details:

Silver Horse Healing Ranch

http://www.silverhorse.org/

They are on Youtube as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3bnqGQXX0 – an introduction to the ranch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AU_HIATkow – a demo with Diva

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3bnqGQXX0 – Laydee with Amber, a teenager with special needs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3bnqGQXX0 – introducing Courtney – a person of special needs

Daily Deal Sites

December 20, 2010

Daily Deal Sites

I’ve been asked lately about the different daily deal sites I am on so I thought I would compile this list. Daily Deal sites are websites that sell a special offer to different museums, restaurants, spas, adventures, etc for 50-90% off. I suggest getting a separate email address so you don’t overwhelmed with all of the daily deals in your regular email box. I do receive referral credit for first time buyers.

Family Finds – http://familyfinds.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=5&aff_id=1031
I really like this site. It’s family specific and have some great deals which I purchased. What I like most about this site is that you can try new classes for a huge discount and if you don’t like it, it’s not a huge investment and if you do like it – you just got a great deal on it. We tried a toddler yoga class through this site and since my daughter loves the classes so much we’re going to continue taking them. The yoga studio is giving us 20% off a year’s worth of classes because we bought the initial deal through Family Finds. If you buy something on Family Finds that you haven’t used and decide you don’t want to, they will refund your money if it’s been 30 days or less since the purchase.

Juice In The City – http://juiceinthecity.com/?referrer=1t929vkaum

This is a new daily deal site to the Los Angeles area – though they have deals outside of L.A. In the L.A. area, they are currently focused on the South Bay market, but I am told they will be launching the westside edition in the summer!

Mamapedia Sweet: http://deals.mamapedia.com/?ref_id=189900&utm_source=invite_earn_10_share_popup&utm_medium=email&utm_term=189900&utm_content=yahoo

This is a new one and seems to have some great national deals, Past deals include: Kiwi Magazine subscription and Parents Magazine Subscription.

Living Social – https://livingsocial.com/redeem_invite/3611821-mkangj?ref=lnk Their customer service takes a while. They do have fun deals on restaurants, some adventures, massages and on travel escapes. If you purchase a deal and decide you don’t want it within 5 days of purchasing, and you haven’t used it, they will refund your money. If you purchase via my link – you get $5 off your first order and I get $5.

Groupon – http://www.groupon.com/r/uu1243521
You’re probably on it and if you’re not – get on it now! I love it! I have bought a bunch of groupons for local restaurants, museum memberships, and half priced admission to various museums and animal rescue places, among other things – they have spa services such as haircuts, massages, manicure/pedicure. What I love about Groupon is the customer service. I have had two problems with a groupon purchase and both times, they have given me credit – no questions asked and responded right away. Also, groupon, has a comments section so if you have questions about the deal, you can ask.

Social Buy – http://www.socialbuy.com/r/5510
Socialbuy has more music related deals – though occasionally, they have food deals and museum membership deals. They had a museum membership deal at the Natural History Museum for 50% which offers free children museum memberships across the US and Canada – which was an amazing deal.

Buy With Me – http://www.buywithme.com/ref/KZVC594F
Buy With Me is a newer site. Has some interesting deals. Most deals I buy are food related. I really like to go to nice restaurants, but don’t want to pay the full value – especially if I’ve never been to the restaurant before. We got a great deal to Zengo, a new restaurant by Richard Sandoval at the newly renovated Santa Monica Promenade Mall. It was delicious. We felt like we were in Hong Kong where some of the best upscale dining is inside malls. If you ever go to Zengo, ask to be seated in their nicely heated patio.

Plum District – https://www.plumdistrict.com/ref=uff956134178It’s a newer site. Good customer service. If you purchase something within 7 days of signing up, you get $5 credit. More family oriented deals.

Zulily – http://www.zulily.com/invite/mkang883
Zulily has some deals on toys, clothes for both children and moms and other things. I always check on Amazon prior to purchasing anything from here to see if the price is cheaper on amazon – I take into consideration the cost of shipping. Zulily’s shipping is generally just under $9. Also, amazon’s reviews are very helpful.

The Mini Social – http://www.theminisocial.com/invite/MjKang

This site features toys and clothes for children aged 0-12 years old. Until January 7th, if you use the code: “merry10” you will receive $10 off your order.

Ideeli – www.ideeli.com/invite/mkangj

I love their selection of clothes for women. They also feature toys, shoes, and clothes for children as well – many of them Eco-Friendly.

Ruelalal – www.ruelala.com/invite/mkang695

Similar to Ideeli – clothes, shoes, toys for children, women, and men – also features spas and getaways.

Swirl – http://beta.swirl.com/invite/mkang
I love this site for buying clothes. I love the style of the clothes featured. It’s the deal site of daily candy.

Okay, here are the daily deals I have for now. It seems like a lot. For restaurant/food deals, I do a search on yelp before purchasing. We have gotten some amazing museum memberships off these sites. When I get museum memberships, I check if they are offering any reciprocal agreements with other museums.

Kids Revolving Yoga

December 14, 2010

My daughter and I have just started taking classes at Tiffany Craft’s Kid Revolving Yoga. We take the side by side yoga class for 2-4 year olds. It’s a lovely studio in Santa Monica and she is a fantastic teacher – incredibly imaginative, creative, and flexible – in terms of what to offer the children. She uses simple tools such as rocks or soft balls to encourage coordination, fun music to encourage movement, and delicious smelling lotion to massage our child(ren)’s feet and hands at the end of the class. Her classes are small – we took one lesson where it was just me and my daughter and another class where there were two children and two parents. Here is her website for more details:

http://www.kidsrevolving.com/Kidsrevolving/Welcome.html

She also teaches at various highschools and preschools in the Los Angeles area. If you do decide to attend a class, please let her know I referred you 🙂

I found out about her via Family Finds – this is a great online website which feature special deals that are family oriented in the Los Angeles Area. It also features recommendations for families to go out and do things together. Here is my referral link if you would like to sign up to family finds.

http://fmlyfnd.us/g5w0g9

I love this site. I have bought several deals on this site and have not been disappointed. Another great thing about this site – if you purchased a deal, have not used it, and would like a refund on the deal, you have 30 days to ask for one. 30 days! So, you’ll never get buyer’s regret.

Mishy connecting with Pooh

The original animals

Inside New York City’s Public Library’s main branch lives the original animals, minus Roo, which were the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories. They are housed in a small room inside the Central Children’s Room, which is on the second floor. (Roo was lost somewhere in Sussex, unfortunately.) It is wonderful to see the original and then the inspired versions which are painted on the walls in the small room. This is a must see for anyone touched by the stories of Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Eyeore and a surprise late addition to the family of animals I will not name 🙂 You just have to go and see it for yourself.

Details:

Central Children’s Room (2nd Floor)
Donell Library Center
The New York Public Library
20 West 53rd Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
USA

Day Hours
Monday 12.00-18.00
Tuesday 10.00-18.00
Wednesday 12.00-18.00
Thursday 12.00-20.00
Friday 12.00-18.00
Saturday 12.00-17.00
Sunday 13.00-17.00

Closed Sundays May-September

No flash photography is allowed.

Scholastic Storybook Treasures

December 14, 2010

I was recently given samples of three Scholastic Storybook Treasures. These are children story books brought to life on DVD. While we are not a huge DVD watching family, there are some DVDs which are a welcome addition to our very small collection. These are some of them. What does Mishy love about them? The stories are from books she already knows and loves, they are cleverly narrated and accompanied by fun music which makes her laugh, and they introduce her to a different element of story telling – more visual, but still word focused.

What do I love about them? You may read along with the stories, the images are true to the original book, the themes of the story are age appropriate and most importantly, Mishy loves them.

Each DVD features questions you may ask your child about the story, which generates a gentle discussion and deeper understanding.

Details:

The Boy Who Cried Wolf and more children’s fables. This DVD features 5 stories which are narrated by Michael York, Peter Scolari, and feature illustrations and work by Tomi dePaola and Marcia Brown. The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a new story for Mishy and she had many wonderful questions about why he cried wolf and what happened to the sheep afterwards – why the sheppard couldn’t find his sheep. I enjoyed listening and facilitating her understanding.

The True Story Of The 3 Little Pigs and more animal adventures, which are narrated by Paul Giamatti, among others. The True Story Of The 3 Little Pigs is a clever re-telling of the classic story – The Three Little Pigs. Mishy loved this re-telling and was glad to know wolves are simply mis-understood.

Click, Clack, Moo: Animals That Type… and more amusing animal tales. This collection of three DVDs is filled with 17 stories which are fun, inventive and amazingly well spirited for the 3-8 year olds in your life. This collection was by far Mishy’s favorite because it features Mishy’s well loved story – Dooby Dooby Moo. Randy Travis narrates Dooby Dooby Moo and other stories written humorously by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. He provides just the right amount of laid back Southern charm, swagger, and fun to this joyous collection of animal tales.