July 12th is Malala Day


Our Los Angeles Magazine post this week highlights the bravery of Malala Yousafzai, our very own Malala Rumi Johnson’s namesake.  In celebration of Malala Yousafzai’s miraculous and courageous life, take the time to read and sign her appeal to afford all children their right to an education.

We are in the middle of an Education Emergency:

At this moment there are upwards of 61 million children without access to education and millions more who aren’t learning in school. Working together, we can lower that number to zero by 2015.

On July 12 — less than a year after she was shot by the Taliban for her strong voice in this fight — Malala Yousafzai will mark her 16th birthday by delivering the highest leadership of the UN a set of education demands written by youth, for youth, to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

We can’t stand on the UN floor next to Malala — but we can all stand with her. Sign this letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to show your demand for emergency action in support for Malala’s education fight.

Then Tweet about it and share on Facebook!  Here’s a social media hot sheet to make it very easy for you.

You can even watch the live UN proceedings, here.  Or watch Malala’s powerful and moving morning address, here.  Prepare to cry.  She’s incredible.

Or watch a clip of Malala’s address to the UN this morning, here.


The Milky Way Breastfeeding Film: Every Mother Has A Story



Two lactation consultants have launched this Kickstarter campaign titled THE MILKY WAY to raise funds to complete, market and release a feature-length documentary film about breastfeeding into the world to educate and inspire.

With only 7 days left to fundraise, we wanted to share both the campaign and some facts about breastfeeding:

America has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

Breastfeeding empowers women.

Preemies do much better when they spend more time on their mama’s chest than in an incubator.

Other countries are more advanced in their birth and breastfeeding policies than the U.S.

Both of us think this is a worthwhile cause and thought to share it with you.  If you feel inclined, even a small donation of $5 or 10 will help this project get funded.


The Beverly Hills Children’s Library & Awesome Book Rental App for Kids


Last week on Los Angeles Magazine’s Citythink we blogged about the new and fabulous Beverly Hills Children’s Library.  Check out our post here:


You and your tots may want to go to their:

Summer Reading Club 2013 Kickoff Party

This year’s kickoff party features a performance by Jumbo Shrimp Circus, whose feats of juggling, magic, and zany antics are sure to induce giggles. Sunday, June 23 @5:30pm


When you can’t get to the library or don’t want to tote those books around in your suitcase, we found a cool book rental app for kids called Bookboard where you can rent over 300 children’s books on your iPad.  There is even a read-aloud option.  Subscriptions cost $5 – 9/month.

Tackling Technology This Summer + Cool Educational Apps


Last week on Los Angeles Magazine’s Citythink blog, we were anticipating how to set expectations for ourselves and our kids with regard to technology this summer.  Our tips work for both summer vacations as well as days spent at home.  Check out the link here: http://www.lamag.com/citythink/citythinkblog/2013/06/06/mamala-on-the-sore-subject-of-screen-time

Meanwhile, we have been on the lookout for cool new apps and games that either have an educational bent to them or that we feel less guilty about time logged on.  After checking out Cool Mom Tech for suggestions, here is what they have suggested as far as educational (& fun) apps go:

For younger kids:

Educational apps for little kids

1. Endless Alphabet 2. Wee Alphas 3. Timmy Tickle 4. Kindergarten Reading App


For older kids:

Educational apps for big kids

1. DragonBox+ 2. Geography Drive USA 3. Scribble Press 4. BrainQuest

For more great ideas about age appropriate educational apps and games, visit our Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/mamalablog/coolest-kid-apps/



MamaLA Invites You To A GIANT PLAYDATE This Saturday!


Giant Playdate

Please RSVP for A GIANT PLAYDATE at Yasmine’s home on June 1st. We have one of the city’s best caterers Heirloom LA providing delicious drinks, snacks and ice cream. We are nearing our guest list cut-off, so please RSVP at the link below now.

It’s FREE to attend, but RSVPs are mandatory.
The raffle prizes are pouring in. Some of the big items you could win come from cool brands like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Frederic Fekkai, Skiphop, Ron Robinson’s Apothia, Katsuya, Joan’s On Third, a year’s supply of diapers from The Honest Company and many many more.   There are so many prizes it’s going to be hard not to win something! And of course, all of the proceeds go to The Alliance for Children’s Rights program that helps pregnant foster teens and their babies.
Click on the link and come and join us for what promises to be a really fun event for you and your kids.
Oh, and there will be free valet parking provided.
See you there!
Yasmine and Soraya

Summertime Boredom Debunked



Our most recent Los Angeles magazine piece highlights the genius behind Courtney Watkins, imaginaire extraordinaire.  Talking to her is like having tea with Willy Wonka, you just wonder how much fairy dust is being sprinkled in her morning cup?

Courtney hosts highly coveted (translation… click here quick to sign up!) Creative Adventure Summer Camps for kids.  She puts the pop in Poppins, the gno in Gnomes and the pied in Piper.  She rocks.

Courtney is a flashback to the summer days of our youth with a vision for 
how we can all live more spontaneous, art-filled lives now!” 

— Lisa O’Brien, VP of Sprout

We asked Courtney for a couple fun and easy summertime ideas to beat the boredom blues.  Here’s what she had to share…

Adjective Scavenger Hunt

Whether hiking Runyon Canyon, heading to the grocery store or trailing the mountains of Kauai, have an Adjective Scavenger Hunt with your children.  You can even play this when stuck in traffic, hello 405!

  • Make a list of descriptive words:  bumpy, green, gargantuan, unusual, beautiful, tiny, magical, etc.
  • Ask your children to find something that fits each word.  You can verbally throw the words out one by one, or print up little lists to be tucked away and consulted by wee adventurers.
  •  When one list is finished, put your child in charge of the next list.  What kinds of words next?  Icky ones?  Slimy, creepy, spooky, etc.  Enchanting ones?  Dreamy, royal, fairylike, etc.
  • This is a great way for kids to explore and interpret their environment– and have FUN on some otherwise “boring” outings!

Everyday is Parade Day

  • In Courtney’s world, 5 or more people make a parade.  Love that!
  • You can ride on anything with wheels.  Scooters, bikes, wagons, all work.  Walking parades can be equally fun.
  • Good old fashioned crepe paper can do wonders when hit with a bit of wind.  Same goes for ribbons or handmade banners.
  • Coloring and painting flags to represent a theme is a great way to get excited for the parade.
  • Themes can be centered around holidays (4th of July and parades pretty much go hand-in-hand), or colors, or anything your kid is into.  Bring the dog and make it a Puppy Parade!
  • Bust out some portable speakers and have your kids put together a parade appropriate playlist.
  • Smile, wave and spread good summertime cheer!




Navigating the Confusing World of Sun Protection



With summer fast-approaching, our post this week on LA Magazine’s Citythink is titled It’s Time to Dive Into Swim Training.  As a companion piece to swim training, we decided to post about sunscreen and sun protection.

Trying to stay on top of the latest research about everything we put into and onto our kids can be overwhelming.  We have tried to put together a sunscreen guide, if you will, for you to choose from.  Keep in mind that we are not medical professionals – just mamas who like to research this kind of stuff.

It turns out that a good diet rich in antioxidants actually helps your body produce it’s own barrier sunscreen that is effective at blocking some of the suns UVA/UVB rays and we all know that some sunshine exposure is necessary and good for you.  Ideally, you want to get about 20-30 minutes of direct sunlight onto as much bare skin as possible to build up your Vitamin D levels.  Let your kids run around in the yard in shorts and a tank top without sunscreen.  Start gradually at the beginning of the sunny season — maybe 10 minutes a day and build up to 20-30 once you have some melanin built up.  Vitamin D deficiency is linked to low immunity as well as diseases including cancer and diabetes.  And that synthesized Vitamin D on your skin needs to be on the skin for three days to get maximum absorption so just shower off with plain water except in those areas that need a little soap.

The latest research we’ve read has cast a shadow onto chemical sunscreens.  These are the sunscreens that most of us can buy at our local market or drugstore (which makes this a bummer).  The reason being is that those chemicals that are used actually turn out to potentially become endocrine disruptors that mess with our kids’ hormone levels.  Chemical sunscreens are also absorbed by the skin and have to be processed through the liver, adding yet more to our already taxed livers trying to detox out the chemicals and toxins we ingest and inhale and absorb on a daily basis.  Truth be told, there will be times when our kids are going to get sprayed down with whatever is on hand.  It’s just how it is for most of us but if we can, we will try to opt for a healthier sunscreen when we can.

So where does that leave us mamas with sun protection?  Obviously, the fairer the skin, the less natural melanin one has to protect it from the sun.  We did some research on which sunscreens were “healthiest” and the most user-friendly.  Here are some of our top choices:

Kabana Skin Care ~ Green Screen Organic Sunscreen SPF 20 in Original or Tinted


Why do we like it?

  • 86% Certified organic ingredient formula
  • Non-nano zinc oxide active ingredient, broad-spectrum, 95% UV protection (SPF 20)
  • Baby and child safe with just 8 ingredients
  • Comes in original or tinted (tinted great for adults but can stain clothing so beware)
  • Biodegradable, safe for protected aquatic parks, reef-safe
  • Fragrance-free, gluten-free, corn-free, chemical-free and vegan
  • Available at  Amazon.com for $32.95

Loving Naturals Clear Body SPF 30+ Sunscreen Non-Nano Zinc Oxide UVA/UVB


Why do we like it?

  • 100% Natural/organic ingredients
  • Highly rated for safety by the EWG
  • Broad spectrum protection UVA/UVB
  • Cruelty free & gluten free
  • Water resistant
  • Baby version also available
  • Available at Amazon.com for $21.99

The Honest Company Sunscreen SPF 30


Why do we like it?

  • Natural, unscented, broad spectrum protection UVA/UVB
  • Highly rated for safety by the EWG
  • Easy to apply, non-greasy, non-whitening (non-nano!) zinc oxide sunscreen
  • Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes in the water
  • Vegan, petrochemical free, non-nano, biodegradable, reef-friendly
  • Baby-safe (even for babies under six months of age)
  • Available from The Honest Company for $13.95 (great price!) and free shipping if you spend over $50

To check out the ratings on your favorite sunscreens (or whatever you have in your stash from last summer), check out the EWG (Environmental Working Group’s) database at:  http://www.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/.   Just keep in mind that all sunscreen has an expiration date and those dates should be heeded since the active ingredients will no longer be effective.


Happy Mother’s Day! Some sweet (& inexpensive) ideas to celebrate the mamas in your life…


Happy Mother’s Day to all of our beautiful mamas out there.

We share a special story this week on our Los Angeles Magazine Citythink blog highlighting a project that our friend, Jasa, has embarked on with her tween stepdaughter, Stella.  Check out Chicks of A Feather Stick Together.

We are celebrating our mother this weekend and our kids are celebrating us.   We looked for some fun ways to celebrate mamas without having to spend a lot of money and have shared some of them below.  You can also visit our Pinterest page for more ideas plus some yummy brunch recipes.

Wouldn’t these handmade personalized wooden bead necklaces that we found on Willowday be perfect for grandmas?  Love how they have the look of being hand-dipped and are simple to make with your kids.

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Here’s another sweet way to let those mamas know that they are loved.

  1. Punch or cut out hearts on craft paper.
  2. Pull the pre-attached tags off of store bought tea bags.
  3. Attach the hearts to the ends of the tea bag strings using a bit of tape.
  4. Write heartfelt messages on the tags then box them up for your beloved mama.


If you need some free printable tags (courtesy of Poppytalk) we thought these were super simple and cute too.  Even your little ones can help cut out the tags.  A string of pretty ribbon to attach it to your present and you’re all set!


Happy Mother’s Day!

Soraya & Yasmine


Soraya and Yasmine Featured in Americana at Brand Ad



Breathe. Let’s Get These Photos Organized!



Our most recent Los Angeles magazine post, Confessions of A Guilty Mama Part One: Photobooks, may cause a pang of anxiety.  It’s about all of those kid pictures eating up your hard drive or fading away in plastic bins.  The post is the first in a series on Mama Guilt.

After you’ve calmed down and recognized that you are part of the majority (the non-photobook makers), we wanted to share practical tips on organizing your pictures.  Where to begin?  Here are the basics to get started and a couple of links to some stellar suggested organizing systems:

  • Start with your most recent pix and work back.  Don’t make yourself crazy trying to address photos dating back to 2002.
  • Edit, edit, edit.  It’s tough to do, kinda like throwing away your kid’s artwork (which we will address another time), but you do not need multiple just okay shots.  Get rid of ones that are blurry, too dark, too bright or of people you don’t even know.  Create a routine so that every time you transfer your pictures from your camera to your computer, you  go through them right then to delete.
  • Create folders by kid and year, ie: Maverick Photobook 2010, and go through events picking your top 3-5 pictures and drop them into the folder.  Use that folder to create your photobook for the year.  You could also create special folders for Grandparent Holiday Gifts or a special Baby Book filled with all star pix.  You can even create a folder of pictures to print and put into old school photo albums.
  • While your going through events, name each event and each jpeg to make them easier to search later.  Use the date and a brief description, like 2008_10_31 Halloween or 20081031 Halloween.  Most photo programs will allow you to rename entire batches of pictures to save time.
  • Consider including key words, or “tagging”, in your photo-naming strategy, then you can easily search for photos by specific themes. (Flickr, Picasa, iPhoto and Lightroom all allow this.)
  • Back-up photos onto DVDs and/or external hard drives.  Ideally, every 3 months.  Calendar it.  Keep one set of DVDs or a hard rive at home and one someplace else (spouse’s office, grandma’s, etc.).  Nothing is worse than having a hard drive crash.  Soraya lost most of Lila’s first photos this way; it is devastating.
  • Use holidays and birthdays as a reminder to make at least one annual photobook.  Maybe an annual (and reasonable) gift for grandparents for Christmas or Hannukah?  Maybe around Mother’s Day?  Or each child’s birthday?  Make it a ritual.
  • Got a million iPhone pix?  Download the Mosaic App onto your phone or iPad.  You can VERY easily create and order super cool books from your phone.  See a pic below.

These super smart folks have broken down organizing photos into fantastic step-by-step guides:




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