Learning With Films: Disneynature’s Oceans


Credit: Disneynature

The past few months we have visited as a family three aquariums and the kiddos have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different sealife that surrounds our beautiful coastline. A few months back I remember reading an article in a parenting magazine about reinforcing learning through films. It was a fascinating article and I can now kick myself for not writing down the name/title and for not keeping it. One of the suggestions was after say a trip to the aquarium, zoo, etc.. to sit down and watch as a family and watch a film about the specific animals you encountered. We put this to the test two weeks ago and let me tell you my son was on the edge of his seat and excited as could be.

We decided to watch Disney’s Oceans. It is really a great film for the entire family. The documentary was released on Earth Day 2010 on IMAX screens and I almost want to kick myself for not watching on the big screen. The film was filmed in over 50 locations and took almost 4 years to make. It features every kind of ocean animal imaginable. The film is breathtakingly beautiful and even my 5 year old was able to appreciate the beauty and quality filmmaking. He loved every second of it and asked questions throughout the entire film and also provided a running commentary. I think he really enjoyed being able to connect what he learned at the aquariums to what was going on in the film. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already seen it, watch again after that trip to the aquarium.

I also downloaded the educators guide here. This is a great resource for homeschooling parents or for those of you that simply want to expand your children’s learning.

We will be heading to the San Diego Zoo next month and just in time for Disneynature’s newest release, Chimpanzee which will open nationwide on Earth Day, April 20th, 2012. I cant’ wait to watch it. I’m hoping to get a group together to watch the film on IMAX.

LA Cupcake Challenge


Credit: S Morales

Do you love cupcakes? Who doesn’t right? Syreeta shares about a one of a kind event all about cupcakes.

Two weekends ago I took my best friend to the LA Cupcake Challenge, hosted by Drink Eat Play, for her birthday.  What is the LA Cupcake Challenge?  It is a battle between awesome bakeries and cupcakeries from all over Southern California to determine who has the best cupcakes in our land.  Eighteen fierce competitors came together at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood on Saturday, February 4th armed with two of their best mini cupcakes for patrons to partake in.  The tickets to the event are $40 (plus $3.86 service fee, natch), and that may have you thinking no cupcake is worth such a steep cost.  But what other time can you pig out on cupcakes in the name of history?!  The price of the ticket grants you entry into the event and one of each mini cupcake flavor from each of the 18 bakeries.

Credit: S Morales

When you enter the main room at the hotel, you will be overwhelmed by the noise and the amount of people packed inside waiting to have their sweet tooth satisfied.  At first glance, there appears to be a line for the row of bakeries that leads around the room like a Candy Land board game.  As you make your way through Yummy Town, people will ignore the line and cut in front of you, but resist the urge to smear frosting on their faces.  There are enough cupcakes for every ticket purchased.  The most important thing I learned is that, unless you have 18 hands to hold your 36 cupcakes, you will need to bring some form of Tupperware or cake box large enough to hold your treats.

By far, the best part of the LA Cupcake Challenge is the bakery owners and their employees.  They are enthusiastic, super knowledgeable about cupcakes, and downright jolly.  This is what they love to do, and they are beyond thrilled to see you gobble up their masterpieces.  As you make your way to each bakery’s table, they will mark their name off the yellow rate sheet you are given when you check into the event.  They will describe each of their cupcakes to you in delicious detail.  You will want to stop right there and dig in.  Be strong!  There’s time for that later.

Credit: S Morales

After you gather all 36 of your delectable treats, find a table and stake your claim pronto.  A few dedicated cupcake lovers had to sit on the floor.  They didn’t seem to be enjoying their cupcakes any less.  Sit down, and prepare for sugar overload.  The second most important thing I learned was to share one mini cupcake at a time with my best friend, instead of digging in to a whole one all by myself.  Once we started this practice, we were able to enjoy more cupcakes without feeling sickly.  Plus, you can take the leftovers home to your kids and they can eat them without wondering why there’s a big giant bite taken out of their dessert.

This year, there was only one category: Best Bakery.  After you’ve filled up on cupcakey goodness, you choose the Top 3 bakeries whose cupcakes you loved the most, and turn in your yellow rate sheet.  The rating given by the ticket holders and a special panel of judges chosen by Drink Eat Play determines the winner.  My Delight Cupcakery in Ontario was the winner for the 3rd year in a row.  While I was not impressed with either cupcake they brought to the event, I am a HUGE fan of their bakery.  My faves at the event?  Sugar Babies Cupcakery with their savory ‘n sweet  Pancakes ‘n Bacon cupcake, and The De“Bite”ful Cups Cake Pop Shop who brought a mind blowing treat they dubbed Pastelitos Caliente: a hearty cornbread cupcake with bacon, and a cilantro frosting.  YUM!  Will I be attending the LA Cupcake Challenge next year?  Me and my 18 arms can’t wait to buy a ticket!

Syreeta is  mom to two very busy boys, ages 3 and 10.  She works full time as a loan processor at a local credit union, and part time as a finder of fun!  She loves to take her  family out on new adventures all over Southern California.  Disneyland is her  favorite place to make memories, but she  also enjoys other amusement parks, museums, zoos, exhibits, and anywhere else there are good times to be found.

La Mirada Performing Arts Center’s Program for Young Audiences


La Mirada Performing Arts Center

My husband and I are both love the theater  and before we had children we used to watch at least two shows per month. Now that we have kiddos we don’t have the opportunity to watch shows quite as often, but we love to catch a good show whenever the opportunity allows. I want to make sure my children develop a love for the arts and I think early exposure is a huge part in developing that love.

We are lucky enough to live in beautiful Southern California where the opportunities abound. One of my favorite theaters,La Mirada Performing Arts Center, has a fantastic and inexpensive program for kids that can introduce kids to some great live theater.

The La Mirada Performing Arts Center Youth Program features a few shows per seasons geared just for children. This season features four shows that would be perfect to watch as a family. This Saturday they will Jambo, Watoto!Tales and Rhythms of Africa, Are You My Mother? based on the popular book by P.D. Eastman, Cinderella, and Funky Punks.

Shows are only 1 hour long with no intermission. It’s the perfect time frame for younger kiddos. Tickets are only $8 for children and $12 for adults. For the price of a movie you can introduce your children to the world of live theater and a love of art. It is a great deal! I priced out tickets for my daughter and I to watch Cinderella for a mommy/daughter special day out and it would only be $20! You can’t beat that!

For additional info and to purchase tickets head here.