Nintendo Play Tour This Weekend at Irvine Spectrum

Plugged In is my monthly column in the print edition of OC Register Family.  I feature all forms of digital entertainment for children – the latest games, apps and electronic toys. Here are two fun events that take the gameplay off line. From August 29, Friday to September 1, Sunday, the “Play Nintendo Tour” will be at Irvine Spectrum. The event will bring a giant video game playground to life and give attendees the opportunity to play popular Nintendo 2DS games, featuring their favorite characters like Kirby, Yoshi, Pokémon and Mario. Costumed Nintendo characters will also be at the event.


Here are the details.


Friday, Aug.29-Sat. Aug. 30: 10am to 10pm

Sunday, Aug. 31: 10am to 8pm

Monday, Sept. 1: 10am to 9pm


Irvine Spectrum Center (Orange County)

71 Fortune Drive

Irvine, CA  92618

 Featured Games:




Next weekend, retired pro soccer player Mia Hamm will host “Fit Made Fun Day” in Santa Monica. At the event presented by the LeapBand activity tracker (From the makers of LeapFrog), more than 300 children will attempt to become GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® holders for three active play records: Most people hopping on one foot simultaneously, Most people creating sand angels simultaneously, and the Largest swim dance.

Here are the details:


Saturday, September 6th
, 2014
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Santa Monica Beach


Bacon Burger Bonanza with Ingredients from Winder Farms

Receiving a Winder Farms delivery feels like Christmas.  The insulated bag filled with groceries is left at your doorstep in the early morning (depending on your area and regularly scheduled delivery times) and you receive local farm-fresh products, without having to make a trip to the store. 

The challenge:

Order ingredients from and create a Gourmet Burger

Disclosure: I am not a gourmet cook or even a grill master but I do love food!

Behold, My Bacon Burger Bonanza

The recipe:


1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 lb Winder Farms ground beef

½ lb Winder Farms applewood smoked bacon (chopped into small pieces but not too small) and leave two strips to top the burger

Salt and pepper to taste

Winder Farms Colby Jack Cheese

Udi’s Gluten Free buns

Taylor Farms Organic Romaine Lettuce


Sriracha Sauce

The directions:

Combine onions, bacon and ground beef – form into patties.  (I kind of smooshed the bacon bits onto the outer surface of the burger so that I was sure it would cook)

Season with salt and pepper to taste

Grill patties

Fry bacon strips or try grilling them too

The Assembly:

On the Udi’s Gluten Free bun, I topped the patty with a few drops of Sriracha sauce, those bacon strips,  a slice of Colby Jack Cheese, a slice of avocado, and lettuce.

The verdict:

“Pretty good, mom but maybe next time let’s use a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll.”  I’d say that’s a pretty successful burger!

Note: All ingredients except Sriracha sauce available from Winder Farms.




NOTE: I interviewed Kari Byron of Mythbusters for an article in the July print edition of OC FAMILY magazine. You still have time to catch the Mythbusters exhibit at the Discovery Cube until September 7th.

“I’m trying to figure out how to make an invisible plane for my daughter’s Wonder Woman birthday party,” Kari shares.  And I’m not surprised, she is, after all, best known as the MythBusters’ lone female host on popular science program MythBusters (on the Discovery Science Channel) and the spin-off, Head Rush (on the Science Channel).  She wasn’t too keen on the princess stories and characters that young children are often introduced to during their preschool years and sought a stronger character. “So I remembered the old Justice League and there was Wonder Woman, who happened to be a superhero AND a princess too!” Kari says.

As if that’s not  enough to earn Kari cool mom points, I find out that she and her daughter have created “manners monsters” sculptures that help express feelings and correct kids’ bad behaviors (like picking their noses, saying please and thank you etc.)  With MythBusters on a production break, Kari’s been enjoying motherhood to the hilt.  She’s spending a lot of time with her daughter and she also works on her art in her backyard studio, which her daughter calls the “Mom Fort.”  Kari has also been attending some cool events like the White House Science Fair, where she says she was “Humbled and Inspired by all the students.  They were building robots and one student had many patents to his name already.”

If there were one thing that MythBusters has achieved, it is introducing science as cool to a whole new generation.  Kari remembers that back in the day, there was this image of “what a scientist looks like” – typically white, male, socially awkward, wearing glasses. But now, thanks to the show (and others like it) children can envision themselves as scientists – male, female, different ethnicities, and you don’t even have to wear glasses! 

Kari was always interested in science, though she is an artist at heart. Her bio says:  “(she) has trained to be on MythBusters since she was a child. By the age of 5 she was experimenting on her sister and using dolls as crash test dummies.” But the truth is, Kari says, “It wasn’t until MythBusters that I saw how EXPERIENTIAL and VISCERAL SCIENCE could be!  It is exciting.” She adds:  “I think art and science are similar in that they foster a natural curiosity (about the world we live in).”

And that’s why exhibits like “MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition” at the Discovery Science Center are important. They allow children to explore and experience SCIENCE.  “My daughter really loves the ‘Running in the rain’ experiment in the exhibit.”

It is certainly cool to see young people who enjoy learning about science and taking it to the next level. There is hope for the future yet.

See how Kari does vs. a Zombie Horde



What’s In Your Purse?

This is what’s inside my purse right now – minus the sand that I had to shake off.



I am writing to tell you how sad I feel that summer’s nearly come to an end, and I feel that I have not done nearly enough “fun stuff” with my kids.  We went to the Festival of the Arts and took the Laguna Beach trolley which was fun (and we keep saying we want to ride the trolley again one of these weekends and stop at Woods Cove or something but of course, we haven’t done that yet).  And we ended up going to the OC FAIR finally on its last weekend.   It is such a challenge for working moms to “do things” while on summer vacation. But enough of that. 

What I’m really supposed to be doing in this post is reviewing a product that was sent to me for , well, obviously, review.  That’s those colorful packets in the middle of the photo – they are b4 single use hand sanitizers.  

So here’s my review.  In a nutshell, these hand sanitizers are convenient for anyone on the go, especially with kids.  I’ve been able to use them in the car, on the beach – anywhere where I require the kids to “wash their hands” before eating, touching digital device, or anything white.  I also think that having the b4 single use packets would be great to take on a plane because of their packaging.  They do also come in hand pump and wall pump versions according to their site,

Get this, I also read that they give 50% of their profits from sales to children-focused causes.  It’s always good to know that you’re using a product that gives back.

Here are some other highlights on b4 Products:  The b4 hand sanitizer is specially formulated to kill 99.9% germs and bacteria, b4 moisturizes hands with Vitamin E and aloe, all b4 products are made in the USA and b4 is a triclosan-free hand sanitizer.

What’s in YOUR purse?

Disclosure: *I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*



Free Math Fair on August 2nd at UCI

If you have a kid in school, chances are you’ve heard about Jiji the Penguin and ST Math. In case you haven’t heard about it, ST Math is this amazing program that helps kids learn math in a fun way. Developed by the MIND Research Institute, the ST Math program provides visual, computer-based math games that support deep understanding of concepts covered by California math standards at each grade level. Because the program doesn’t rely on language proficiency or prior math proficiency, it’s accessible for English Language Learners and children with learning disabilities. You can learn more about the program by visiting But guess what? The good people from MIND have put together a Math Fair!

“The Math Fair: At the Square Root of Fun” is a free, family-fun event that will excite young minds as they interact with mathematically-themed activities, games, exhibits and performances, to be held on August 2nd, at the Bren Events Center at University of California Irvine.


This isn’t any ol’ fair with math games and boring activities. Consider these: a Li’l Mathematicians Zone, an iConic Bounce House, Mathland Railway, Mystery Math Theater, Math Midway, Buildopolis, Family Math Workshops, Jiji Band Performance.

The event is free and open for all ages.  Math Fair
visitors will experience the beauty and power of mathematics and problem solving.  Register for the free event for a chance to win an iPad.



Interview with Rio 2 Star Rachel Crow

You may remember her as the cute little kid with the powerful voice on X-Factor a few years ago. But these days, Rachel Crow is more known for her YouTube channel. On she does song covers and collaborations for her thousands of #crowmies. She has also recently done voice acting for the movie Rio 2.
Rachel Crow is a delight to chat with. She is candid and polite. She tells me briefly about the cool experience she had doing the voice for Carla, the music-loving blue macaw from the animated film Rio 2. “It’s like me, in bird form!” She talks about how exciting it was to go to the movie premiere events with her friends and family. She recalls the memorable premiere in Colorado, where she’s from, and the samba music and more! It is refreshing to hear a 16 year old, who is more excited about the importance of friends and family, rather than the trappings of impending stardom. She’s been on a few Nickelodeon TV shows and even released an album!

Singer Rachel Crow is Carla, the blue macaw in Rio 2. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Now 16, Rachel is a young woman with a good head on her shoulders. She just finished high school and recently got her driving permit. College is definitely something she’d like to pursue, she reveals, but for now she is concentrating on writing and recording music for her second album.

The “Rio 2″ Blu-ray and DVD will come out on July 15th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win the DVD. Winner will be chosen using and will be posted in next week’s column.

I Love Lucy Live and The Muppets Most Wanted – Retro Entertainment for The Weekend

Ah yes, spring is in the air! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the snow is… oh wait a minute, we live in Orange County! If you are looking for some spring activities this weekend, why not take in a movie with the family or see a play?
You see, over the last week, I’ve had the privilege of seeing two solid entertaining performances, one on stage and another at a movie theater.

If you are a fan of the TV Show, “I Love Lucy,” and even if you aren’t, I encourage you to catch “I Love Lucy” Live On Stage at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It runs till Sunday, March 23rd, 2014. For more information and tickets, visit and The show takes audience members back to 1952 as members of the Desilu Playhouse studio audience where they (You – the audience member) await the filming of two hilarious and oh-so-familiar I Love Lucy episodes. The actors were spot-on, especially the actress who played Lucy (Sirena Irwin), who brought Lucy Ricardo and all her red-headed charm to life! The chemistry of the actors who played Ricky Ricardo, Ehtel and Fred Mertz was also wonderful.

If you are looking for something you can take the kids to, I recommend “The Muppets Most Wanted” movie which I was fortunate to see with my son at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. First of all, I LOVE watching movies at the El Capitan as it makes the movie extra special.

By now, your kids are all probably saying “I am Ker-mit D’ Frog” with a Russian accent thanks to trailers like these:

In a nutshell, the Muppets movie is a lot like the old TV show of our youth with a rollicking plot, lots of cameo appearances by current actors and great musical numbers. In my opinion, it is better than the previous Muppets movie with Walter and Jason Segal. The movie opens today. Go see it!

The Ultimate Life Cast Brings Holiday Cheer to CHOC Kids

This week, I had the honor of meeting some amazing people at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). And I am not just talking about the actors of the movie “The Ultimate Life,” who were there to present a gift to the patients. I am actually talking about the incredible children who were there, who despite their medical conditions, were positive and resilient.

Ultimate Life Cast and CHOC Patients

The people behind “The Ultimate Life” movie led by executive producer Rick Eldridge, presented CHOC with a mobile entertainment unit, containing tons of movies and video games, that could be wheeled around to patient’s rooms. “We try to look for coping mechanisms in the hospital and distraction techniques to get their [the patients’] mind off illness or injury – the reason why they are at CHOC. So, to bring this mobile entertainment system to the hospital is fantastic, and I know the patients in our Neuroscience Unit especially will appreciate it, because many of them are kind of restricted to their rooms while they are being monitored. It’s an excellent start to the holiday season and the gift of giving,” said Kara Kipp, Major Gift Officer of CHOC’s Children’s Foundation.

Ultimate Life Producer

Also present were cast members Drew Waters, Abigail Mavity and Austin James, who interacted with the children and answered questions. “Our movie was based on remembering moments and the positive moments of life and allowing yourself to live off of those instead of the negatives,” “The Ultimate Life” cast member Drew Waters (best known for his role on Friday Night Lights) said to the patients. It was such a treat to see Austin James play video games with young Carlos and Abigail Mavity (who I remember from her role in the Disney show Zeke and Luther) chatting animatedly with Edsel.

Actress Abigail Mavity

The cast also participated in an interview at the Ryan Seacrest Studio located in the hospital. They spoke eloquently about the dedication and also touched briefly on their lives and careers. The interview was made available via closed-circuit throughout the hospital and a clip will be shared with the Seacrest Foundation website.

The Ultimate Life

Now about the movie… if you are a fan of books like “The Shack” and other faith-based, positively uplifting stories, then you are probably familiar with the Jim Stovall’s bestselling book “The Ultimate Gift.” That book was turned into a movie in 2006, starring a young Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and James Garner.

Well, “The Ultimate Life” is a prequel/sequel to that movie. It tells the story of Jason Stevens, who after receiving life-changing gifts from his billionaire grandfather, finds himself in need of his guidance once again. This time, he finds his grandfather’s journal which leads him on another life affirming, heartwarming journey. “The Ultimate Life” will be available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on December 10th.

Free Educational Apps for Children till CyberMonday

What’s better than discounts on Black Friday? FREE stuff. That’s why I’m happy to share some free apps from our friends at, which I’ve featured in my “Plugged In,” column in the magazine. In celebration of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – here are five of Fingerprint’s fan favorites for FREE (say that 5 times fast!) from 11/29-12/2.

Fingerprint Apps
GET ROCKY – embark on a tilt-and-slide geology-packed quest to the earth’s core.

Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure – Doodle your way to Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure and watch the drawings coming to life in an animated tale of buried loot.

Big Kid Life: Firefighter – Preschool Learn & Play to save kitties and puppies just like a firefighter – all while practicing numbers and shapes.

Lil’ Kitten Shopping Cart Premium- where preschoolers can hone their math and budgeting skills. Children will be busy shopping for groceries and learning about budgets while having a lot of fun with Lil Kitten Shopping Cart!

Franklin & Friends: Talk and Playset Premium - Everyone’s favorite turtle stars in this app bursting with rhymes, puzzles and shape games

New Children’s Horror Books Plus a Halloween Book Giveaway

In the spirit of Halloween, I present to you two new series for children that tackle scary themes but are really not that scary.

Three new books by Catherine Leblanc, illustrated by Roland Garrigue are more cute than scary – “How to Outwit Witches,” “How to Get Rid of Ghosts,” and “How to Ward Off Wolves.” These books hope to help younger kids 4-7y.o.banish their fears while having fun. There are cute stickers at the end of the book too!

How to Outwit Witches | Book Cover

Meanwhile, fans of old school R.L.Stine Goosebumps will enjoy the new “Tales from Lovecraft Middle School” series by Charles Gilman. The series stars 7th grader Rober Arthur and his friends. Each book in the series features an eerie but cool morphing cover thanks to what is called as lenticular printing.
Tales of Lovecraft Middle School | Substitute Creature

“Substitute Creature” is the latest book in the series which includes “Professor Gargoyle,” “The Slither Sisters,” and “Teacher’s Pest.” You can find out what happens to Robert and his friends, when they have to spend the night at Lovecraft Middle School because of a giant nor’easter that has blanketed their town in snow. Please note that these books are not for the faint at heart. Recommended for kids 10-up.

Check out this cool book trailer made – looks like it would make for a nice kids’ show too.

Leave a comment below to win one of the books I’ve mentioned. Let us know what your favorite horror story or book is… 2 winners will be chosen on November 1st and contacted via email.