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What's Up for January From Kids Off the Couch

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It's been hard not to get caught up in the latest parenting debate, sparked by a Wall Street Journal article "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," author Amy Chau's provocative piece based on her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The Journal received over 5000 responses to the story, and countered with Ayelet Waldman's "In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom." Spend a few moments on these articles and you'll have conversation fodder for the rest of the month. Our New Year's resolution is to put a little more tiger into our Western tank of parenting... just as soon as we recover from another weekend of sports games and sleepovers!

PRE-SCHOOL AND EARLY ELEMENTARY -- The Little Mermaid at El Capitan and the reDiscover Center in Santa Monica: Disney's 1989 classic animated tale plays for two weeks at El Capitan in Hollywood, from January 21 - February 10, with a visit from Ariel herself at every show. The El Capitan Theatre will also host "Tiny Tot Tuesday" on Tuesday, January 25, at 10:45 AM only, allowing parents and small children to enjoy the movie with lights dimmed and sound levels reduced. For a fun DIY project, come to the reDiscover Center in Santa Monica on Saturday, January 29 from 2:00 - 5:00 PM with a bag of used clothes to participate in a crafty swap-o-rama.

ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL -- Julian Hoeber at the Hammer and Ben Franklin at the Bowers Museum: We love Julian Hoeber's stand-alone exhibit at the Hammer. Demon Hill is a tilted box made of plywood that sits on an outdoor patio and looks easy enough to climb into... except that once you do, you'll immediately feel like you have fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. Dizzying and mind-warping, boys and girls (who don't get seasick) will find this exploration of "gravitational mystery spots" really cool. The Hammer is also holding a FREE screening of The Goonies on Saturday, January 23 at 11:00 AM. And while you've got science on the brain, try an excursion to the Bowers Museum (in Santa Ana). Their new exhibit brings the inventions, humor and wisdom of one of our country's most original thinkers to life; Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World until March 13. Before heading out, check out the exhibit's online resources (including a fun guessing game about Franklin's famous sayings). Younger kids will like the nearby Kidseum.

HIGH SCHOOL -- The West Wing:
We re-discovered the snappy political savvy of The West Wing when our 12th grader devoured the first two seasons over the holidays at the suggestion of her US History teacher. Written by Aaron Sorkin (who just won a Golden Globe for The Social Network), and focused on a Democratic president and his staff, the show is compelling and informative.

PARENTS -- Get Arty: The Los Angeles Art Show takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center from January 19-23. Grab a day pass for a visual vacation, or attend Wednesday's Opening Night Premiere Party, which partially benefits the Getty's program to fund museum visits for disadvantaged kids. In fact, art aficionados can take advantage of free admission at many area museums during the Museum Free-For-All Weekend, January 29th-30th and find deals at over 30 local arts institutions through April 30th, part of Discover the Arts in LA.

Worth Pondering:
Our most practical (and so far, successful) New Year's Resolution is to do our best not to waste food. Inspired by Jonathan Bloom's new book, American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It). Not only are we are tired of tossing left-overs, we're alarmed that food pantries are struggling to meet the needs of a hungry population. By cooking meals that take advantage of staples in the pantry, we wind up shopping more often for fresh veggies and meat. Yet, we are purchasing and preparing less food, and have actually saved money. Best of all, our refrigerator shelves are far less cluttered. Click here for a NYTimes article that summarizes an issue that touches on our health, our wallets and our natural resources.

Worth Clicking:
If your New Year's Resolution has to do with keeping your kids safe in cyberspace, check out Common Sense Media's program to protect kids' online privacy. If your issues have more to do with keeping your household safe, you'll be interested to hear that Consumer Reports teamed up with the National PTA to create a School Safety Alert Program to help families stay abreast of the constantly changing status of items that are in the home.

Yum Yum:
Our friends at Coolhaus, a rolling ice cream sandwich truck that was on the front edge of the food truck craze, have a new concept and product: Phydough -- a truck with home-baked treats for your four-legged friends. Follow them on Twitter.