Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Break + Keep Staycationers Busy = Kids Off The Couch

...And Movie Ticket Offer from Family Finds!
For those of us who haven't jetted away to a beachy climate, making vacation days feel different from a regular school day takes some extreme parenting acumen. Have no fear! There's plenty to do that will make your time off feel like a break in the routine.

Family Finds: We're friends with the folks at a new LA-based website for families, Family Finds, and they've alerted us to a great offer for movie-loving families. If you click here, you can participate in a special offer from Fandango that is good until next Thursday (3/31). For $9, you receive two tickets to one of three family-friendly films that are in theaters now, or opening in the next few weeks: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," "Rio," and "Hop." You will need to sign up for future emails, but the site is geared to bring you deals on family products and services that you will find useful.

Do Something for Japan: It's been barely two weeks since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and many parents are facing real challenges when trying to explain to their children what has happened. We think it's key for children to feel that they are reaching out and helping others in their time of need, whether by sending notes or money. Josh Duhamel's has mobilized another fundraising effort, Youth Run for Japan, modeled after his successful Run for Haiti last year. Join Josh on Sunday, March 27, 2011 for a 2-mile run on the beach in Santa Monica to raise funds for the American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund. If you can't run, you can still click through and contribute to this worthy effort. We are also fans of theKamibashi string doll company, which has made a special doll to support relief efforts.

The Last Movie Star: Fans mourn the passing of Elizabeth Taylor this past week. The newspapers are full of lovely tributes to a career that spanned decades, and it's noteworthy that she is remembered as much for her AIDS work as for her spectacular acting career. (And those diamonds!) At KOTC, we have a special place in our hearts for her because of the movie National Velvet. Click here for our Popcorn Adventure about the film that established her as a star. We paired the movie with a visit to the polo fields at Will Rogers State Park. The practice matchesbegin on April 16, and take place on Sunday mornings; they're free, and open to the public (though, you will need to pay to park at Will Rogers). Other notable Taylor films include A Place in the Sun, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff and, of course, Cleopatra. For a more realistic telling of that tale, read Stacy Shiff's excellent (and recent) biography, Cleopatra: A Life.

Explore Downtown: We've always supported the REDCAT International Children's Film Festival which kicks off this weekend downstairs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Check out this year's schedule, pick a day to stop by (this Sunday is Nick Family Fun Day), and then peel off to explore some of downtown's unique tastes - Wurstkuchefor excellent sausage and Bottega Louie for remarkable desserts.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: The movie we've been waiting for since the start of the year finally arrives in IMAX theaters on April 8. Born To Be Wild 3D tells the story of orphaned orangutans and elephants and people who rescue them. The Boxtales Theater Company returns to The Geffen Playhouse on April 9 with Prince Rama and the Monkey King, part of its Saturday Scene programming. There will be a DinoFair at The Growing Place in Santa Monica on April 9th. We love visiting the Natural History Museum's Pavilion of Wings, which opens this year on April 11th.

MIDDLE SCHOOL: March Madness continues and if you can't get enough of the action, check out Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by sports reporter John Feinstein, about two intrepid teen reporters who solve a mystery at the Final Four basketball tournament. Or, if extreme sports are more your kids' style, get to The Annenberg Space for Photography to catch Extreme Exposure before it closes on April 17th. And don't forget that Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is in town for ten performances between April 8th and 17th.

PARENTS: Set your Tivo to record HBO's new miniseries, Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, which premieres on Sunday (3/27) and is set right here in Glendale. The reviews have been tremendous; we went to school with the indie director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) who helmed this masterpiece. Extra credit if you also read James Cain's novel on which the film was based.

Archived Adventures: It's always nice to play tourist in your own city - take the tram to the Getty and let the kids wander the gardens, or get yourself out to Pasadena and explore The Huntington or the Descanso before having lunch on Colorado, or hike around Griffith Park and check out the Observatory. For local coastal action, head to Malibu for a hike and then drop in for lunch at the new Lumber Yard shopping center. If you're searching for great things to do this month, don't forget to page through the KOTC Archives.

Food Finds: We love Sweet Butter, a new cafe on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. And, if you're in Pasadena, check out Beyond the Olive, where you and the kids can conduct taste tests of various olive oils and vinegars. Excellent for a mail order gift!

We'll be back in two weeks for a complete listing of April picks, including Houdini: Art and Magic opening at the Skirball Center at the end of the month. Now, go get some sand between your toes!

Kids Off The Couch

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater + Family 4 Pack Ticket Giveaway = Kids Off The Couch

April 8-17 at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Family 4-Pack Ticket Giveaway

You won't know if your kids love modern dance unless you take them to see a performance, and the very best way to start them off is with the Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater. Mesmerizing from the curtain's first parting, the renowned company helped to move modern dance to the forefront of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. Long time dance lovers and curious newcomers are in for a special treat when the company comes to town for 10 performances in April.

Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center has a multi-cultural parade of shows throughout the rest of the spring, including Mark Morris Dance Group, Ballet Nacional de Cuba and American Ballet Theatre. Whether you catch Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (and your kids are clamoring for more) or you are looking for an elegant date night downtown, you'll find something in the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center's varied line-up between now and June.

Where and When: Tickets are still available for all the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater shows, which will take place at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, between April 8 and 17 (including four matinees). The company will present three different programs: "21st Century Ailey" features compelling and exciting works from recent years; "All Ailey" features Ailey's timeless masterpieces; and "20 Years of Jamison" celebrates the phenomenal influence of Judith Jamison in her final season. All programs include the beloved Revelations, which is celebrating 50 years as an enduring classic. Approximate running time is two hours, including intermissions. Appropriate for children age eight and up. Click here for ticketing information.

Enter to Win: Kids Off the Couch subscribers are eligible to win a Family 4-Pack for the Wednesday, April 13 show. Please send us a note if you're able to attend the 7:30 PM show. Winners will be chosen by Tuesday, April 5. Don't forget to include your phone number so we can reach you if you are chosen!