Fun Idea: Ice Skating

Posted by Annie on Aug 19, 2011 in Activity, California, Seasonal

If you have plans to be in the Los Angeles area this winter, take a little detour and check out the W Hotel. What a terrific idea for a special field trip idea. A little on the pricey side but wouldn’t this be the perfect place to hold a graduation gathering?


Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

With a new look and new feel, grab your skates and take a spin on the coolest ice rink in Los Angeles.

For the third year in a row, W Los Angeles – Westwood will transform its world-renowned WET pool deck into a spectacular winter getaway complete with a hybrid ice skating rink and a rink-side lounge decked in whimsical and enchanting  décor. Set amidst lush gardens and fragrant flora, W Los Angeles – Westwood becomes the magnificent setting for another beautiful winter season, perfect for first dates, family celebrations and holiday parties. Guests can feel the cold tingle of California’s crisp winter air, listen to LA’s hottest music while gliding around “CHILL”, Los Angeles’ coolest location for winter fun.

W Los Angeles – Westwood will once again bring an unforgettable holiday experience to locals and hotel guests alike in a fun surrounding. This year, CHILL guests will enter a world of luxury with distinguished design elements at every corner from unique textiles with geometric design patterns to classic and opulent decorative pieces. Guests will feel they’ve traveled the world as each cabana is outfitted with a playful and elegant mix of lavish and modern décor by Z Gallerie; from chic mirrors to white deer heads and handmade rugs to modern textiles. The 1,600 square foot custom shaped hybrid-ice rink, styled by Chad Hudson Events, will also be set amidst a backdrop of bright lights, fanciful candlelit votives and snowfall every hour. While admiring the skaters, guests can snuggle up in a rink-side cabana while enjoying delectable comfort foods and specialty cocktails from The Ice Bar.

“Not only does the ice rink offer an exciting activity, it represents the latest in our ongoing efforts to provide a welcoming atmosphere and enhance our guests’ experience. What better way to enjoy California’s winter nights with a spin on a rink”, Ren Hirose, General Manager at W Los Angeles

More exciting new surprises are in store for this season, including the new skate-up E-WOW cabana, special performances by BH Skating Cabaret Theater on Saturdays at 6PM, featured bar serving winter cocktails such as Sugar & Spice + Everything Nice or BY’s Secret Nog, a children’s design station for holiday gingerbread cookie decorating and more. The Backyard’s “Ice Bar”, managed by Choice Hospitality Group, will offer winter bites from Executive Chef Dakota Weiss, such as winter squash chowder with spiced maple syrup; venison sliders with smoked juniper berries; sugarplum tarts; and vanilla bean baked apples with peanut butter crème anglais.

W Los Angeles – Westwood is also offering an “Ice Skate, You Skate, We All Skate” room package. Complete with a Wonderful Room, two tickets to CHILL plus a private cabana, two delicious winter cocktails and Bliss’ Super Minty Soap & Scrub.  The “Ice Skate, You Skate, We All Skate” package starts at $299 and is exclusive to W Los Angeles – Westwood. [Click for details]


CHILL is open November 18, 2011 through January 2, 2012, every Monday through Friday (3pm- 10pm) and Saturday and Sunday (10am- 10pm). Children’s design station is available on Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 1PM and is free with a purchase of an adult admission ticket. Cost is $10 per guest for a full hour of skating which includes skate rentals. Guests can bring their own skates as well and reservations are not required. CHILL is the winner of AH&LA Stars of the Industry Award 2011. [Get more information]

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Break The Cycle of Shrinking Family Time

Posted by Annie on Jul 28, 2011 in Activity, Parenting

Evangelical Pastor Offers Lessons Taught by His Dad

Best Family Game - Settlers of CatanSan Antonio evangelical preacher Matthew Hagee’s new release Response Able: What my father taught me about life and making a difference (Charisma Media) offers the insights of a lifetime on parenting, self-reliance and affecting societal change. The key to any significant transformation, according to Hagee, is a refusal of the sense of entitlement often associated with Gen-Y and Millennials.

Instead, Hagee argues that readers should embrace self-reliance and acknowledge the individual’s God-given ability to respond in a positive manner, regardless of the circumstances.

“One of the most valuable lessons my father taught me was to focus on what I can do, rather than what I cannot,” says Hagee. “If your life is on a course that you would indeed like to change, you can change it. No matter what.”

With some parents working two jobs or both parents working more than 40 hours a week, Hagee wants to help parents break the cycle of shrinking family time in America. To do this, he has issued a provocative challenge to the parents in his flock. He calls it the 707 Challenge and, beginning this month, he wants parents to sign up for the 707 Campaign that requires moms and dads to commit to spending at least seventy minutes per day with their children, seven days a week, for seventy days.

“The time has come for this generation to take responsibility for tomorrow,” says Hagee, “and the response begins with you.”

Hagee’s book offers faith-based insight and guidance on initiating powerful change in personal, social, financial, educational and political arenas. Hagee bases his premise on a conviction that principle should be the compass by which to guide one’s life, and not passion.

“Principles are powerful,” says Hagee. “They will make men out of boys and instill a foundation in future generations that cannot be shaken.”

Other foundational concepts offered in the book include:

• Responsible people submit to authority, namely God
• Declare war on the status quo
• Invest in others, primarily children
• Patience rewarded
• Gratitude
• The joy of giving

And many more concepts chiseled into his character by his father’s loving guidance. For more information on this remarkable man and his new book, visit: www.response-ablethebook.org — get a free digital copy of the first chapter.

Matthew Hagee, the son of global evangelist John Hagee, serves as Executive Pastor of the 20-thousand member Cornerstone Church founded by his father in San Antonio, Texas. The elder Hagee launched the church more than three decades ago, growing it into one of the most influential and charismatic Christian communities in the country.

The companion TV ministry now reaches almost 100 million homes in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa and New Zealand. Matthew Hagee, the heir-apparent to the church and TV ministry, uses many lessons taught by his father as the framework of Response Able.

Part of Matthew Hagee’s rich legacy from his father John, included practical wisdom rooted in Christian principles. As Pastor of a large church in Texas, Matthew now applies this wisdom in a challenge to his congregation to responsibly change a disturbing trend in our country today – the shrinking window of family time at home. In his latest book, Response Able, Hagee offers workable solutions for five key areas that he believes are all connected, and encourages us to make the necessary changes in order to bring about a lasting transformation in our lives and the lives of loved ones.

 Additional Information

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Freestyle Homeschooling Tips

Posted by Annie on Jul 21, 2011 in Education, Parenting

We’ve all heard of traditional homeschooling where mom sits at the kitchen table, the children are gathered around, workbooks open and curriculum flows as if the children never left the public school system. Mom and dad believe if it’s good enough for Johnny, it’s good enough for my Henry, too.

Unschool Your Teen by Diane Flynn KeithDid anyone ever bother to ask Henry? Maybe Johnny has different goals and, more importantly, a different learning style than Henry.

Joe has been a difficult child from the beginning – he has a mind of his own. His parents have tried everything from public school, parochial school, private school, independent study, to charter school — but nothing seemed to fit and home was a generational battleground between parent and child. Finally, Joe’s parents stumbled upon Unschooling and a child-led approach to school – after all, not much was being accomplished anyway. Joe has no interest in education, period.

How does a parent decide? We all want the best for our children. However, many parents are too afraid of the unknown that they aren’t even willing to consider making appropriate changes in their child’s educational instruction.

I have recommended many of Diane Flynn Keith’s products over the years because I believe in her educational approach. As an educational expert, she has created many quality educational products that I have had the pleasure of either using or sampling personally. For instance, Diane Flynn Keith’s, Unschool Your Teen Audio-Seminar & Resource Guide is one of my favorites. Diane and her expert speaker panel make it all sound so easy — so doable.

I know that when most people think of Unschooling, Sandra Dodd’s, “Radical Unschooling,” comes to mind. Diane does not advocate a child-led curriculum in the true sense of the word “child-led”.  Her own philosophy (as I understand it) is more to my own way of thinking. I learned a long time ago that children don’t have a clue what they like and they don’t like. (But they think they do.) So, we might have to encourage them to try something new.

Diane has taught me to really pay attention to my son. We took her advice to find out his learning style, once we knew how he learns best, it helped us to expand his options. When you really spend time talking with your child and learning more about his personality, interests and goals, a parent can offer suggestions and encourage their child in avenues they might have never considered under different circumstances. [Discover Your Child’s Learning Style]

Diane has taught me to be more of a cheerleader, coach, parent and advisor all rolled into one. The Unschool Your Teen Guide is simply fabulous. Her sub-title is a terrific fit, “Rethink, Redefine, and Reinvent the Teen Years!” If the same old thing just isn’t working, what have you got to lose? Try something new. There are so many opportunities for young people these days. It would be nice to have a road map or instructional manual…but each child is different.

My son is like many young people I know these days, and to be honest, I had them, too; a fear of rejection, not fitting in and the worst fear of all — a fear of trying new things. (And parents are even worse than the kids at not being willing to try something new.) Diane knows how to make education fun! She knows how to get the kids involved and pique their curiousity. I wish I had half of her energy and creativity. She is one of the most generous and inspiring people I know.

I can’t tell you how many untold numbers of hours Mrs. Keith spends daily helping homeschoolers to find their way. I am positive someday my son will thank her personally. She believes in not only her own children’s ability to succeed but every child whose life she has touched. I am certain I am a much better parent because of her assistance.

Notice I didn’t say the best education money can buy. Money can’t buy an education, no matter how many times the NEA and the CDE tell us they do. Education takes time, devotion, dedication, perseverance and creativity. Diane has all that in spades. Diane has demonstrated a lifelong passion for children. She never hesitates to offer her assistance to a struggling homeschooling child.  She only recently began a coaching career that by all rights, she should have started 20+ years ago.

She also shares daily links with subscribers to her ClickSchooling e-Zine. More than 20,000 parents are already subscribed. Of course, those parents know a good thing when they find one.

Do yourself a favor though. Don’t call Diane until you are ready for change. She is straight-forward with her advice and somehow she always manages to get right to the heart of the matter. However, if you are ready and willing to really help your struggling teen to succeed — don’t wait another day. The advice she has given me over the past ten-years has been the most helpful to me as a parent, bar none.

Don’t let the term “Unschooling” fool you, this is all about giving your child the tools they need to succeed. If you are looking for a step-by-step instruction manual, keep on looking, this is not for you. Every child is different! Don’t let anyone ever tell you they know more about your child than you do — and Diane will tell you exact same thing. Her coaching is more about putting the parents on the right track — the children will follow in their footsteps.

I like to call what we do “Freestyle Homeschooling“. We homeschool as we live our lives, one-day at a time. We make plans but we aren’t afraid to change them mid-stream if they need adjusting and sometimes that means abandoning those plans all-together.

Freestyle Homeschooling Tips

  • Listen More – As parents, we should talk less and listen more. When our children talk to us it gives them a chance to learn to better express themselves. Being able to hold a conversation with someone for more than two-minutes takes practice. Let them use their words, and when able to, ask open-ended questions where a simple yes or no will not suffice.
  • Offer Suggestions – Parents often make demands of our children, when a simple suggestion would be well-received by our teen. All teens need practice making good decisions. We encourage our son to make as many decisions for himself as we feel he is able.
  • Be an Encourager – I am ashamed to tell you how many times I’ve been critical to my son, when what he really needed was my encouragement. Grandma always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes we need to hold our tongues if we can’t say something positive to our child. They will endure enough criticism out in the harsh world.
  • Try Something New – If your current educational program isn’t working out for your child, change it. Try something new. Do not live in fear, be brave and explore new educational options. Keep trying until you find something that really suits your child and keep in mind that what works for one child might not be appropriate for another.
  • Ask Questions – When I was a new parent, I asked lots and lots of questions. No parent knows it all. If you find you are in over your head, get help, ask questions and don’t stop asking until you get the answers you need. And don’t limit yourself to asking the experts. Ask your child for their input, as well.
  • Have Fun – And most importantly, as Diane would suggest, keep it fun. Education that is memorable is enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be a huge drag. Of course, some projects are more fun than others but Diane has proven to me over and over again that anything can be made to be fun.


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