Valentine’s Day is for Families, Too

Dear Parents,
Valentine’s Day is traditionally a fun-loving favorite for children. Red will rule the day as they head off to school Friday with specially chosen valentines, heart-shaped cookies for the class party and perhaps secret thoughts of a special someone they’ve had their eye on.
This celebration can extend into a weekend celebration for families. Jump at the chance to pause and put some fun into your ordinarily crammed schedule. Take time on this Valentine’s Day weekend to share special love in your family.
In his insightful book, “The Five Love Languages of Children,” author Gary Chapman describes the variety of ways children experience the giving and receiving of love. Continue reading “Valentine’s Day is for Families, Too”

LCHS Grad Surveys NFL From Thoughtful Distance

Covering the NFL for the L.A. Times has placed La Cañada High School graduate Sam Farmer in some pretty heady company, whether sitting on a discussion panel with former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman (above), climbing a mountain with Commissioner Roger Goodell (below) or chatting up Denver quarterback Peyton Manning at practice (right).
Covering the NFL for the L.A. Times has placed La Cañada High School graduate Sam Farmer in some pretty heady company, whether sitting on a discussion panel with former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman (above), climbing a mountain with Commissioner Roger Goodell (below) or chatting up Denver quarterback Peyton Manning at practice (right).

This was a call he had to take.
It was former Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, wanting to know what everyone else did: Were his Rams coming back to L.A.?
“And I thought, ‘This is really a cool moment in my career,’” said Sam Farmer, a 1984 La Cañada High School graduate whose hard work covering the National Football League for the Los Angeles Times was recognized recently by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, which named him the California Sportswriter of the Year. Continue reading “LCHS Grad Surveys NFL From Thoughtful Distance”

College Daughter Has the Winter Blues

Dear Parent Coach,
Our daughter is a college freshman at an Eastern university. She called us this week (unusual!) saying she is under a lot of stress with her classes. She admits she is staying up too late and isn’t eating well. She seems to manage having fun, but doesn’t have the same drive to handle her studies. She’s questioning whether or not she’s cut out to be in college, or if this is the right college for her. We aren’t ready to give in and say come home, but we feel frustrated and worried. How can we help her?
Signed, Puzzled Parents Continue reading “College Daughter Has the Winter Blues”

Sibling Rivalry is Universal in Families

Sibling rivalry is as old as Cain and Abel and as current as the latest argument at this morning’s breakfast table. Anyone who has at least one sibling has experienced its dynamics.
Whenever there is more than one child living in a family, sibling rivalry will naturally occur. However, petty arguments between brothers and sisters do have some basis and understandable causes. Every child has the primal desire to be loved, to have emotional security, in addition to the basic needs of food, clothing and a guidance-oriented environment. When there are two parents who are the source of all these needs, the more children who are living in a home, the more parents will be divided in their efforts to provide. Continue reading “Sibling Rivalry is Universal in Families”

Grandparenting in Magical Santa Barbara

Dear Parents,
At the end of the day, it is the trusting relationship one builds and maintains with a child that matters most. This was the conclusion I came to as I stood on the end of the Santa Barbara pier with grandchildren Ivy and Everett, watching the sun set on the first day of a new year. I quietly sang taps to them: “Day is done, gone the sun . . . safely rest, God is nigh.” None of us wanted to leave, but it was getting dark. Continue reading “Grandparenting in Magical Santa Barbara”

Dupre’s Fascinating Story of Adversity and Triumph

Photo courtesy Alen Barbosa Wood
India Dupre, at the keyboard, is surrounded by adoring students, including Jessica Mazin, Genny Seto, Shelby Kim, Lauren Halley, Tanvi Chawla, Soren Dziak, Bo Oliver, Nitya Chawla and Axel Frame.

Sometimes, when she’s coaching kids in the neighborhood, imparting important technical pointers and, more crucially, being a booster of the confidence that makes those skills sing, the thought strikes India Dupre: “I was only that little.”
In La Cañada Flintridge, Dupre comes highly recommended. For the past 15 years, she’s worked here as a voice and acting teacher for youth, sometimes directing ambitious productions at the La Cañada Junior Theater and often tutoring pupils privately as they prepare for auditions.
Most of those students don’t know much about Dupre’s personal background beyond the fact that she comes with a cool Australian accent.
Heck, as LCF resident Brent Kuszyk put it, he had to “pry” to get Dupre even to talk about her professional accomplishments after his daughter, Ali, began taking voice lessons from her. So clients might not know that Dupre graduated magna cum laude from UCLA’s School of Theater, that she’s appeared on network TV shows and in video games or, soon, that she’ll be making a short film funded largely by the Kevin Spacey Foundation.
This year, the KSF Artists of Choice program awarded Dupre a grant to help transfer her biographical story from her computer hard drive to the screen.
Dupre will direct the seven-minute “Stripped” as a proof of concept for a full-length feature. She’s set out to tell a tale — with help from La Cañada Junior Theater actors Stella Bonstin and Bo Oliver — that will teach viewers a lot about a difficult, despicable chapter in Australian history. And about her. Continue reading “Dupre’s Fascinating Story of Adversity and Triumph”

A Golden Moment After Dark Days for the Buck Family

The cheer that went up in La Cañada Flintridge on Sunday night was for Chris Buck, the LCF resident and co-director of the Disney smash-hit “Frozen,” which was honored at the 71st Golden Globe Awards as the Best Animated Film.
It was another chapter in an emotional few months for Buck, whose son Ryder was killed in late October after being struck by two cars while walking across the 2 Freeway.
“I have to say, I’ve been fairly schizophrenic the last few months,” Buck said Tuesday. “When my son was killed, I was doing publicity in New York and we flew back for the service and everything. I was there for about two weeks before we kind of had to get rolling again. But I think it was a good distraction.”
At his first Golden Globes ceremony Sunday, Buck took the stage to accept the award with fellow director Jennifer Lee. They thanked those who helped make the film, and Buck added, “And we want to thank all of the fans who have taken ‘Frozen’ into their hearts.” Continue reading “A Golden Moment After Dark Days for the Buck Family”

Cool Head Leads to Escape in Encounter with Gunman

It was a great day to be selling cell phones, and La Cañada Flintridge resident Riley Donaldson was on his game, dealing devices to a steady stream of Black Friday customers.
Then, at around 4 p.m., during a lull in the action, a man with a gun walked into the Verizon store in the La Crescenta shopping center in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard.
The man said he had just robbed the nearby Rite-Aid for prescription medication before entering the shop where Donaldson and Michael Arnold were working.
Donaldson, a 20-year-old St. Francis High School graduate, spent the next few minutes talking to the gunman, eventually persuading him to let the two of them leave. (There were no customers in the store at the time.)
Five hours later, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau deputies entered and found the suspect dead. Continue reading “Cool Head Leads to Escape in Encounter with Gunman”

‘Hangover’ Movie Writer Makes LCF His ‘Wolfpack’

No, Craig Mazin will not let his 11-year-old son watch “Hangover III.”
The movie — which was co-written by Mazin, the incoming president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation — opens this week. It’s the final installment in the franchise that includes the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. The wickedly nefarious trilogy follows a quartet of friends on a series of comedic adventures.
“I think I know, as well as anybody, whether or not [he] should see this movie,” said Mazin, who also helped write the second of the “Hangover” films. “And the answer is, ‘No!’”
Lots of people have seen the movies, of course. Including lots of LCF residents.
“I sometimes worry because [this] is a conservative town,” Mazin, 42, said. “But I’ve never received any negative comments, no one’s ever scoffed. I think people understand: It’s a movie. Continue reading “‘Hangover’ Movie Writer Makes LCF His ‘Wolfpack’”