Los Angeles

Volunteer From Home: Host a Playdate with a Purpose

Children of all ages from toddlers to tweens love getting together with friends for playdates. And you love hosting them—except when the kids complain about being bored (yes, even with all those games and activity kits spilling out of the closet). The next time your child asks to have pals over, consider organizing a simple and fun service project that can be done at home to help people in need. It's a great way to keep the kids entertained while teaching them the importance of giving back to their community—and reminding them of how lucky they are to have a room overflowing with toys!

Whether you connect the project to something personal, like your child's birthday, or highlight a difficult social issue like homelessness, a service-focused playdate is a gentle way to incorporate helping others into your everyday lives. And of course, doing it with friends makes it feel all the more special.

Here's a list of easy projects for all ages that can be done at home, as well as charities that would love to accept your donations. Always remember to include a handmade card—a sweet personal message from a child can brighten anyone's day.

Piñatas: Where to Find the Real Piñata for LA Kids' Parties

On the hunt for that perfect piñata for your kids' birthday party? If you've checked the local chain stores, you've probably found the same designs, the same small sizes and large prices, and the same styrofoam construction. If you're looking for something simple and traditional, check the neighborhood Mexican markets first. But if your need is for a black horse or a taxi cab or a specific character for a child's birthday party; for a one-of-a-kind custom piece for a themed event; for a larger piñata that won't open on the fourth whack of the stick, or for a traditional large Mexican star for Cinco de Mayo—then you need to go to one of these independent party stores that specializes in traditional papier maché piñatas.

Fun & Free Activities with LA Kids this Weekend: Grossology, Grammys and Museums Free For All: Jan 25 - 26

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something different about you. You seem somehow...craftier. Hey, you've been dabbling in our WeeWork projects, haven't you! What's been your favorite so far? The Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dream Mobiles? Indoor bowling? I'm guessing it's not the ice lanterns, unless, to quote my favorite snowman, you wanted to finally learn what frozen things do in summer.

If you’re craving more inspiration, a score of Los Angeles area museums are free on Saturday. Seriously, the Hammer, the Skirball, the Pacific Asia Museum. Free, free, and totally free. You know what inspires me? Free. (Word to the wise: only those museums that are on the list are free. Don’t try waltzing into any other ones without paying. That’s called breaking and entering.)

Frankly, I don’t know how you can get any more inspired than by watching the exaltation of the human form that is the latest edition of Cirque du Soleil: TOTEM. (And it even gets bonus points for being spitting distance from Santa Monica Pier.) Leave the kids home if you have to. (You don't have to; they'll love it. But you might "have to." Because, you know, kids turn into pumpkins if they stay out too late. Or something like that...)

Keep reading for some of our favorite picks for the weekend, none of which will turn your kids into a winter squash...

Fun for Kids at Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM (Parent Review)

Forgive the rhetorical question, but can anyone make acrobatics more exciting than Cirque du Soleil? The Canadian circus phenomenon has umpteen touring productions in at least umpteen cities, and what keeps us all coming back for more goes beyond the gymnastics, the tumbling, the trapezes, the unicycles, the silks, the flying rings, the trampolines, and the tightropes. It even goes beyond those unexpected flourishes like the steampunk waterskiing flamenco rollerskating bullfights. What takes our breath away is the all-out drama of a celebration of the human body. Or, as my 10-year-old more succinctly put it midway through TOTEM at the Santa Monica Pier, "Talk about impossible!"

Museums Free-for-All in LA

The best things in life are free, right? Well, maybe. Raising kids is one of the best things in life, but it's certainly not free. Except on some days, like when several spectacular Los Angeles area museums waive their entrance fees. That's right, free admission. We've shouted from the rooftops about free museum days in LA and OC before. And now we're singing the praises of a special Museums Free-For-All happening Saturday, January 25. A free outing with the kids to explore a treasure-trove of art or science or craft or culture? One of the best things just got better.

Jason and the Argonauts at the Wallis Annenberg Center - Parent Review

If Jason and the Argonauts is a sign of the type of kid-friendly theater we can expect from Beverly Hills' new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, then families have a lot to look forward to - and a great new reason to rediscover 90210. The 65-minute production out of Scotland is a rare treat, serving up classic story and mischievous humor that reaches a variety of ages simultaneously.

Fun & Free Activities with LA Kids this Weekend: Mary Poppins, Tu B'Shvat & a Giant Web: Jan 11 - 12

Wow, it’s cold out there. And by there, I mean everywhere but here. Here’s pretty darn nice. I’d even venture to say it's beach weather, but that might seriously bum out some of our ice-bound brethren.

Sure you can find snow if you want. You can feel the Chill (at least until Sunday). But now’s definitely one of those times when you simultaneously think, “I like living here” and “why does anyone live anywhere else?” (Seriously. Does anyone have an answer for that?)

There's plenty of SoCal style fun to keep your family amused this weekend, from LA's perennial Bob Baker Marionettes to free improv workshops at Second City, a zip-lining, tomahawk throwing Tu B'shvat shindig in Malibu to a beach birthday party for 1930s icon Marion Davies. Or, if you want to act in solidarity with the frozen majority, you could always try to win Mommy Poppins' latest giveaway!

Keep reading for some of our favorite picks for the weekend...

25 Things To Do with Kids in Redondo Beach

You may be a fan of our list of 100 Things to Do Lists with LA Kids, and perhaps you've also checked out our 25 Things To Do lists in Culver CityBurbank, or Hollywood. Well, if you're ready to do some more exploring, how about the South Bay? Whether you're a local wanting to try something new or from farther afield looking to spend a day (or even a weekend) at the beach, Redondo Beach has plenty of options to keep families with kiddos entertained. TIme to get off the freeway and enjoy the fresh ocean breezes!

10 Los Angeles Mommy Blogs that We Loved in 2013

Somehow it's January already - a time for recovery (from the holidays) and resolutions for the new year. As we plan how to make Mommy Poppins even better than it was last year, with even more insights into even more wonderful ways to enjoy our time with kids, we take a look at some of our favorite mommy blogs of 2013, raising a glass to the network of parents who enrich all of our experiences in LA parenting. We're highlighting 10 below who turn out some of SoCal's finest reading for busy, fun, connected, and curious moms. And so, in no particular order (since they're all wonderful) we present 10 of our favorite family blogs from last year, covering everything from recipes to private schools, from baby gear to kids' auditions. Please feel free to shout out some of your own favorites in the comments below!

Fun & Free Activities with LA Kids this weekend: Oshogatsu, Kwanzaa & Lunar New Year: Jan 4 - 5

Whoo hoo! It's 2014, baby!  No more of that wishy-washy, so-24-hours-ago, 2013 nonsense. It's 2014 all the way. Because you are not only on top of, but in fact ahead of the curve, we can even let you in on our peek-into-the-future, best-of-what-is-yet-to-come highlights list known as our January Go List. (And for those of you who just wrote the first check of the year with a slash one-three date, all I can say is, really?  Really? SMH and RME.) 

2013 may have gone out like a wrecking ball, but 2014 is starting slow, thank heavens. (Momma needs a break after all the "vacationing" the kids have been up to!). In the meantime, maybe now's a good time to get back on track, tidy up your messes, and follow through on your resolutions. If one of your resolutions was to recycle more, we can help you off to a good start: Mommy Poppins has the low-down on Christmas tree recycling options throughout Los Angeles.

Before you know it, it will be business as usual. Martin Luther King. Jr. Day is just around the corner, and Lunar New Year events are starting to pop up, including this weekend's Oshogatsu Festival at the Japanese American National Museum (they have free pony rides!).  And that's just the beginning of what 2014 has to offer....

Keep reading for some of our favorite picks for the weekend...

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