Artsy kids

Centre Stage Inc. presents “A Night of Broadway,”
at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5, at Arcadia Christian School, 1900
S. Santa Anita Ave., Arcadia.

Tickets are $15 each and includes dessert, coffee and drinks.

Proceeds will benefit programs offered by

Centre Stage Inc., a performing arts school in Monrovia.

For more information, call (626) 297-4768 or

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Free pancakes!

Today, Friday, Oct. 28, through 10 p.m. local IHOP restaurants offer kids 12 and under a free Scary Face Pancake. No tricks, just treats, thank you very much!

The “design-your-own” Scary Face Pancake includes an oversized
signature buttermilk pancake with a whipped topping mouth and strawberry
nose, served with two mini OREO cookies and candy corn on the side to
allow kids to create their own Halloween

Are you brave enough to go?

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Free workshop

Everyone is invited to a free seminar on mental health and the family at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, May 21, at the Azusa Senior Center, 740 N. Dalton Ave., Azusa.

Admission is free.

This is the first in a series of six high quality and culturally-sensitive health seminars offered by AzusaCares, and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-57th District), Mayor Joe Rocha and Azusa Renew. Hernandez, by the way, sits on the California Assembly Health Committee.

For this first seminar, speakers include Dr. Scott Bledsoe, clinical psychologist at Azusa Pacific University; Andrew Levander, director of residential services at David & Margaret Youth and Family Services in La Verne; Claudia Shields-Owen and Christine Estrada-Lee, school psychologist with the Azusa Unified School District.

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Shopping report

Decided to brave Black Friday shopping and showed up at the Monrovia Toys R Us at 10:30 p.m. tonight. Thank goodness the tea place nearby stayed open so I got a nice hot cup of green tea! But the line moved along nicely, and I was in the store by 11:30 p.m.

No carts, no bags, so I grabbed a box and one of those disposable shopping bags and was off. Didn’t even make it to the electronics section because the line snaked round and round the aisles all the way to the back of the store. No thanks!

Found most things on my list save for two: a Polly Pockets toy set and a dump truck, both discounted to under $10. Never mind, I say! I joined the checkout line and made conversation with my fellow shoppers, finding a discarded dump truck along the way. Victory!

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Weekend fair

If you’re already missing the L.A. County Fair, mosey on down to Arcadia this weekend. Holy Angels Church is having it’s annual fiesta, replete with the joys of carnival time: the wonder wheel, food booths, face painting et al. The boys are already talking Gravitron.

Fiesta hours are 6 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 8; 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10. Weather promises to be just beautiful and perfect for wandering the fair grounds.(I’ll be there working the hula hoop booth on Saturday, Filipino food
booth on Sunday and trying to keep up with the kiddos the rest of the

Admission is free. The church is celebrating its 75th anniversary by the way, so come help celebrate a bit of local history too.

Holy Angels is at 370 Campus Drive, in Arcadia, right across from the mall. For more information, call (626) 447-1671.

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Let us entertain you

Birthday parties for one-year-olds should really be a simple affair: cake, ice cream, family.

But for some reason, the first birthday has become an excuse to throw a huge, all-frills-thrown-in affair. I’m guilty of this. At Firstborn Son’s first birthday in 2002, we threw a humdinger of a home party for 100-plus people with the requisite jumper, tables groaning with food, a clay art artist who made little clay souvenirs for the guests, a snow maker machine, cotton candy machine, sand candy table, oh, my head hurts thinking about it now!

For Wonder Boy, we scaled back a bit but still brought out the invites for 100 closest friends and family, the jumper, the balloon artist (Steven Ming, love him! who also does the Monrovia Family Festival every Friday) and goody bags for every child.

From the party supplies and decoration, to food and drinks, the fun stuff (pinata and fillers, jumpers etc.) each party easily cost about $1,000. Remember, we had about 100 people at the house! You really have to think why you do this (for us, it’s great to get everyone together.)

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Love in the age of Legos

Legos will make a saint out of me.

Just you wait.

Meanwhile, sit a spell while you watch me pick up blue bricks,
red bricks, itty-bitty see-through plastic bits no bigger than the
eraser on a No. 2 pencil and assorted miniaturized wheels, guns, swords
and car parts.

Sift through the Lego booklets I keep in a Ziploc bag, just in
case either of the boys want to rebuild that Lego spaceship they spent
hours assembling, then later smashed to pieces in a mock battle.

Watch in amusement as you see me sit on, step on, vacuum, and
direct angry, muttered threats toward these little Legos. When they are
put away nicely, or still safe in plastic bags inside the box, Legos are
one of my favorite toys. I got my first Lego set when I was about 8 and
remember well how I built and rebuilt that little airport scene, plane
and car.

I love when Firstborn Son and Wonder Boy scrupulously follow
the instructions for each set, and then later, forget all about assembly
instructions and just make up their own vehicles and ports and bases.

I love that they are learning about construction and design, and using their

imaginations to play with everything by themselves or
together. They build, they problem solve, they create. Online, they play
Lego games and design their own sets and parents get help with assembly
and age-appropriate activities (

Lego’s newest line are games, such as Connect 4, that kids can build then play games on. (We have the Minotaurs version for family game night.)

So, yes, I have now accepted that Legos will be underfoot at
our house for many more years. Accepting this means I will put love into
these Legos as I try to do in all the little things of everyday life.
Love in the little things of everyday life is my calling.

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I am a
Karen Maezen Miller groupie.

            I love her
voice, her easy smile, her cute do and effortless style. I love her wisdom and
subtle humor. I am thankful for her kindness.

If you see her around town, it
would be easy to think, “I could never be like her,” “her” being that kind of
mom of who is chic and so well put together, maternal and calm, the mom who
never raises her voice after calling her children three times (usually to get
these hypothetical children to pick something off of the floor or get out of
the car while you’re holding the car seat with the baby in it as well as a
heavy purse.)  

Karen (it doesn’t feel right to use
her last name in the usual journalistic style), is a mom, wife, daughter and Buddhist
priest and teacher. Meeting Karen after reading her book, “Momma Zen,” I
realized that yes, I could never be like her. And thank God. That’s not the
point. I can be me. (And why do I suddenly hear Sammy Davis Jr. singing in the

Karen lives in Sierra Madre, in a
beautiful home with a century-old Japanese garden that invites serenity. She also
does laundry, and picks up after the dog, teases her husband about his new flat
screen TV
and worries about her daughter and our material world. I know she
gets angry and frustrated too, but she has a deep perspective that helps me out
every time I visit her site.

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Good intentions

What do
they say about good intentions?

include going through that stack of magazines on the desk and cleaning out my
purse (down to the crumbs and gooey things I didn’t know were in there.) I also
make a list of New Year’s resolutions that pertain to me (lose weight, be more
cheerful, don’t yell at kids) but these get sidetracked soon after the second
encore presentation of the Rose Parade.

Robert Mahar, self-appointed grand poobah of the Junior Society, of which I am
a proud member. The society is “dedicated to the proliferation and advancement
of better than average kiddie culture and design,” which means I get a weekly
e-mail on everything from Halloween pumpkins to arts and crafts projects and
sales on unique children’s items. I love it. (

            Mahar, of Los
, is also proprietor of the online shop Mahar
Drygoods which offers artisan-created goodies for children and grown-ups who
like vintage stuff (count me in). Suffice to say, I’m a Mahar fan, so when he
pointed the way recently to a unique campaign, I listened.

            He calls it
“pay-it forward/random acts of kindness/secret Santa love.”

            Last week
marked the second annual World Wide Christmas Toy Drop organized by the Toy
Society, am Australian-based group that makes handmade toys and leaves them in
public places to be found and given homes by strangers. The project has
attracted people from the Netherlands
to Greece , Guatemala
to Japan .

            Their blog
is at

 “I’ve become a regular visitor, reading about
the various ‘toy drops’ in places near and far and loving the accounts by those
who have discovered and given homes to these toys,” Mahar said. “It’s such a
simple act of kindness and some of the discovery stories are really moving.”

Last year, more than 100 toys were
made and dropped and the numbers for this year will be out next month. Mahar
made his contribution by making a red and white sock elf featured in his shop.

“I left him hanging from the
fencing that surrounds a child development center
playground in my neighborhood,” he said. “The Toy Society has downloadable
labels that read simply, ‘Take me home, I’m yours!’  and a letter that
explains the project and encourage the finders to report back  and let
them know the toy has been claimed.”

Mahar said people are so ingenious
and thoughtful, “not only in the creation of these handmade toys but in their
drop locations – everywhere from the safety seat of a frozen shopping cart to
the toy hanging out in the manger of a nativity diorama. I can’t tell you how
much I love this idea.”

Me too.

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I see the light

Don’t hate us because we don’t have Christmas lights at our house.

the three little trees in the front yard have had lights on them all
year, and Hubby will connect extension cords to them this week in hopes
that not too many mini bulbs have died since last Christmas.

But I’ve had to say goodbye to my vision of those same
trees festooned in lights (I like clear ones) because, 1) I’m not the
one doing the light hanging and 2) Hubby says we never have enough
lights for three trees. The choice boils down to lighting one tree well
or all trees half-brightly.

Between you and me, I think the energy shortage lies with
my erstwhile decor-hanger and not the light supply, but we love him

To all of you who decorate their homes to the rafters,
those with motorized snow globes and lit-up Nativity scenes, candy cane
lanes and reindeers on your rooftops, bless you. We who spend many a
holiday evening cruising neighborhoods, stalking the best decorated
streets, thank you.

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