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Talking to your kids about mass shootings by Sonia Kang | November 09 2018, 1 Comment

Thousand Oaks, CA:  Talking to Your Kids About Mass Shootings


I woke up Thursday morning to the horrible news that another mass shooting happened, and this time it was closer to home.  Thousand Oaks is not too far of a drive from my Los Angeles home and all I could focus on was that it was College Night.  So many victims were young adults, starting their college careers, living their lives.  So many parents devastated thinking their child just went to have a fun night of line dancing.  I dreaded walking into my college classroom in case one of my students knew a victim.  Mostly, I just spent a little time thinking of how would I address my morning class to make sure they took care of themselves as more and more news came in. As a psychologist, I also made sure to have a little explanation about how hospitalizations for mental instability occur, since the shooter was assessed but never hospitalized.  


The same way I was planning to talk to my students, I realized parents all over the country might be trying to talk to their kids about what happened.  They may not know what to say or whether they should address such horrific violence with their child.  There is no way to have all the answers, but it is important to open the dialogue.  Reality tells us there will be more mass shootings and allowing kids and teens to have a place to hash out their confusion, fears and helplessness at home will give them strength to deal with the next one and a sense of safety in the midst of chaos. The points I’m making below apply mostly to the Thousand Oaks shooting, but many of the topics below apply to many of the shootings in our nation’s recent history.


Loneliness and Pain are a lethal mix

Kids need to understand first, that all humans will go through some pretty serious pain.  Pain happens when we’re young and when we’re older.  Ask your child about some pain they’ve felt in their lives.  Death of a pet, divorce, getting rejected by peers.  Help them understand that some people will experience pain that will be so overwhelming that they will wonder when it will stop or how they can survive it.  Pain is just a part of life, but we can argue some people get more than their fair share.

Kids can also think about how when they keep their pain to themselves, it often feels worse.  They will easily be able to understand that talking to their friends and family sometimes helps the pain feel better.  Showing kids that pain feels worse when we’re alone is key.  They can connect being in pain with having a shorter tempter, being mean to others and crying more easily.  They can then start to understand that this shooter and many other mass shooters were in considerable amounts of pain for a long time which just let their anger and sadness get more and more intense.


Mentally Ill People Look “Normal”

Many (if not all) of our mass shooters have a history of mental illness and the shooter in Thousand Oaks is no different.  From pictures that surface and interviews with those who knew him, it may look like he was a “normal” person.  Help your child understand that normal can be a misleading word and that people with mental illness do not look “sick.”  They should understand that mental illness is a problem of emotions, and emotions are not seen.  They interact with people who have psychological diagnoses every day, but a very small percentage will resort to violence or homicide.  When the news says a shooter was mentally ill, we should not then be scared of people with mental illness.  In fact, being scared of mental illness is part of the reason we don’t see people getting the help they need.  We shame them and make people think that their suffering is a sign of weakness or proof they are not as good as others.  This makes them stay alone in their pain, which we already know is a bad mix.  Mental illness is complex and getting help is hard.  Kids need to understand that their attitudes and acceptance of people who are different or suffering is a key part of helping people to stop being alone in their pain.


Family Support Plan

I hate to even type this, but perhaps the same way families are encouraged to have safety plans in the case of earthquakes, maybe it’s time we should have family safety plans to prepare for emotionally devastating times.  What will the family do for each other when one of them is in pain?  When big brother’s girlfriend breaks up with him, how will the family support him?  When mom loses her job, how will the family rally behind her?  Will we text big brother funny gifs while he spends some time alone in his room?  Will we make mom her favorite snack or write her homemade cards of love and encouragement?  This is the time to make a family pact that when anyone finds out a family member is suffering, they will not leave them alone.  They will continue to show love, offer support and try to get them the help they need.  This is a way to help a child feel safe in the wake of another mass shooting.  They can feel a sense of security that their family pact means they will not suffer alone.  As your kids learn and practice coping with difficulties and trials in their life, a sense that others will always be there to help them up when they fall will add confidence to their ability to survive outside of the home.


There is always more good than bad

After any tragedy, I think it is always a good practice to help our kids see that there are always more people doing good than doing bad.  Where there is one mass shooter, there are many first responders that rush in to rescue others.  There are family, friends and neighbors that offer support.  There are activists who fight for solutions.  There are artists who use their creativity to help us process our pain.  There are fundraisers with thousands of donors.  There are candlelight vigils with thousands of people present.  Help your kids see past the one shooter to all the thousands of people who show up in response.  Ask them how they’d like to be part of the good, how they want to respond with support.  This will help them feel less helpless and afraid.  They can hold on to some trust in humanity and that, even when horrific things happen, people really do come forward to support one another.




Dr. Jenn is a clinical psychologist specializing in kids, teens and their parents.  She is a tenured psychology instructor and has a private practice in Los Angeles.  Dr. Jenn is passionate about her work with parents to improve their communication and understanding of their child or teen.






Trunk or Treating with Chevrolet by Sonia Kang | October 30 2018, 0 Comments

Want to Trunk or Treat this year? Join me and the Chevy Colorado as we DIY on a dime!

TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES by Sonia Kang | October 29 2018, 0 Comments

A yummy delivery arrived in anticipation of the home entertainment release of TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES.

The superhero movie to end all superhero movies:Teen Titans GO! to the Movies

arrives onto Blu-ray and DVD October 30!

It seems like all the superheroes are getting their own movies – everyone but the Teen Titans, that is! Determined to be a star, Robin vows to change this. If only they could get Hollywood director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) to notice them! With a few madcap ideas and musical numbers (of course), the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town. But when Supervillain Slade (Will Arnett) messes with their plans, the Teen Titans will have to become true superheroes to save the world!

The first-ever big-screen version of DC Entertainment and Cartoon Network’s animated TV show stars Greg Cipes (TV’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”) as Beast Boy, Scott Menville (TV’s “Spider-Man”) as Robin, Khary Payton (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) as Cyborg, Tara Strong (the “My Little Pony” franchise) as Raven, and Hynden Walch (TV’s “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake”) as Starfire, reprising their roles from the series. Will Arnett (“The LEGO® Batman Movie”) and Kristen Bell (“Frozen”) also lend their voices as the evil Slade and Hollywood director Jade Wilson.




Teen Titans GO! to the Movies Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:

  • Lil Yachty Music Video: “Teen Titans GO! Rap”
  • Sing-a-long with Silkie “DC Super Hero Girls: The Late Batsby” Mini-Movie
  • Red Carpet Mayhem
  • Teen Titans GO! To the Movies: WB Lot Shenanigans
  • “Everything is Fake”: Exclusive song not in the movie
  • “Teen Titans GO!: Translated”
  • Storyboard Animatics:
    • Storyboard Animatics: Time Cycles
    • The Final Battle


Teen Titans GO! to the Movies Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:

  • Storyboard Animatics: Time Cycles
  • The Final Battle



MARY POPPINS RETURNS by Sonia Kang | September 17 2018, 0 Comments

Hey friends!! A new trailer, poster and photos from MARY POPPINS RETURNS have arrived…here is your first look at the new adventures on Cherry Tree Lane with the practically perfect nanny!


In Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, an all-new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.


MARY POPPINS RETURNS is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. The producers are John DeLuca, p.g.a., Rob Marshall, p.g.a. and Marc Platt, p.g.a. with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer. The music score is by Marc Shaiman and the film features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. The film also stars Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen; Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and introducing Joel Dawson as the Banks’ children, with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character.


MARY POPPINS RETURNS arrives in theatres everywhere on December 19th! 

Red Lipstick Makeup Studio by Sonia Kang | September 03 2018, 2 Comments

I have been overweight most of my adult life. As a mom of 4, I struggled with losing the weight after each subsequent birth. With each pregnancy, the weight kept adding up.  

As my youngest son approached his 10th year, I made the decision to change my lifestyle. I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror. At over 200 pounds, I was embarrassed of the person I had become. I hated taking photos, hated buying clothes, and hated myself. That is not an exaggeration. I seriously hated myself and I never thought I would feel that way about myself. I pride myself for being body positive yet that was only for others, it's not how I felt about myself.

It wasn't until I recognized that about myself and took stalk of the real me by getting honest with my feelings, that I was finally able to take the first steps in becoming the "Me" I wanted to be.

I walked into a Jenny Craig center and started their weight-loss program. I also started exercising every day. Whether it's 30 minutes or 2 hours. Whether it's on a hike or on a treadmill, I am doing some type of daily activity. I look at each day's schedule and I plug in my activity for the day. Just like my life isn't routine, my exercise schedule isn't either. Again, it comes down to being honest with myself. Each day is different so I have to be flexible or else I won't do it.

One year has passed and I am down 60 pounds.

With each pound loss comes a new sense of self-love and self-esteem. It feels so good to know that my hard work and dedication has paid off so I started to reward myself. I used to reward myself with a nice dinner or sweet treat. Now I treat myself to a nice facial or massage.

I went to go check out my friend, Wendy, of Red Lipstick Makeup Studio based in Canoga Park. Wendy just became a licensed esthetician and I couldn't be more proud of her and the amazing ladies she works with. Liz and Teresa are wonderful at what they do: hair, makeup,facials,waxing and nails.

On this treat day, Wendy welcomed me into their newly remodeled studio and ushered me into the facial room. Once on the table and with the sounds of melodic music playing, I immediately felt a sense of peace and tranquility come over me.


Her technique was amazing and I knew I was in good hands. By the end of the 45-minute treatment I wished I had more time with her.

I like to support female and multicultural entrepreneurs who also give back to the community like these ladies.

I will definitely be back to support these lady bosses and I hope you will, too.


 Red Lipstick Makeup Studio

7222 Owensmouth Ave Suite 101
Canoga Park, Ca 91303

Weddings - Filming - Photoshoots
Private Events - Dances - Proms
Date Night - Special Weekend

Liz Conde 818-917-8220
Wendy Urena 818-723-9930
Teresa Miranda 818-806-5039
Disclosure: the facial was a gift but all opinions are mine.

SMALLFOOT by Sonia Kang | August 24 2018, 1 Comment

My family and I had the pleasure of checking out a special screening oWarner Bros. new movie, "SMALLFOOT." 

"SMALLFOOT” is an animated adventure my littles enjoyed about a young yeti who finds something he thought didn’t exist—a humanThey loved the original music and following the story that turns the yeti myth upside down.

My kids are so inquisitive that they enjoyed following the story about what else might be out there in the big world beyond the snowy village.

A fun and fresh story about friendship, courage and the joy of discovery. 

“Smallfoot” stars Channing Tatum (“The Book of Life,” the “Jump Street” films) as the yeti, Migo, and James Corden (“Peter Rabbit,” “Trolls”) as the Smallfoot, Percy. Also starring are Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), Common (“Selma”), LeBron James (upcoming “Space Jam 2”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Danny DeVito (“The Lorax,” Best Picture Oscar nominee for “Erin Brockovich”), Yara Shahidi (TV’s “Black-ish”)

Follow us as we head to Hollywood this weekend for the interactive experience for the release  SMALLFOOT called "Yeti Village" which runs through September 14.

We can't wait to have our own personal “Smallfoot” encounter at the Smallfoot Yeti Village in Hollywood. 


The Smallfoot Yeti Village is at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Vine Street in Hollywood. Ticketing available at SmallfootYetiVillage.com 

Hours are as follows:

  • Saturdays and Sundays: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Summer weekdays, prior to Labor Day: Noon to 6:00 PM
  • Back-to-School Weekdays, after Labor Day: 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Disclosure: sponsored events but opinions are mine


The Smith-Kangs go to Mexico by Sonia Kang | August 06 2018, 0 Comments

If you know my family and me, you know that we are not the most organized “krew”. We are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of family. The Smith-Kangs are a special breed. We are a large party of 6 and with that many people, chances are we are going to forget or lose something. Each trip we vow to do better and this trip to the Nayarit Riviera, Mexico, was no exception.


When I received word that I would be attending an influencer trip to the W Punta Mita, I told myself this trip would be different. I was going to be everything I had not been up to now. It was going to be like opposite day, Freaky Friday and Bizarro World all rolled into one.

Instead of waiting until the last moment, I was going to be prepare, if it killed me!  

Here’s my list of things to do and to remember when planning and traveling with your family to Mexico.

Days before:

Start a list of items you’ll need for the trip. Start gathering said items a few days before. Items I knew we wouldn’t use, I started collecting them and placing them in suitcases.

Travel essentials:

  1. Passport-check expiration dates
  2. Credit card (don’t forget to call the card company before you leave to notify them that you will be in Mexico so they don’t set a fraud alert and potentially stop any transactions)
  3. Identification/drivers’ license
  4. Check weather to help pack accordingly (umbrella/heavy jackets, etc)
  5. Research local attractions to help plan out your itinerary ahead of time. Make reservations if necessary.
  6. If you’re family wants to snorkel but get the ickies when using rental snorkel gear, you may want to purchase a set or two prior to the experience so you’re not on the open water reassuring them that they have been adequately cleaned and there just aren’t any other options out here in the ocean at that moment. I’m not Amazon Prime people! Just sayin'!


Clothing essentials:

  1. Coordinated family outfits. Essential? I know what you’re thinking…but yes I am that mom! I love me a good coordinated look. We’re not super matchy-matchy but I do try to make us look like we’re “’posed to be.”
  2. Minimally pack utilizing carry-on suitcases. Ok, this right here is where I could spend most my blog space discussing. After decades of travel, I am yet to travel efficiently and effectively. Decades. Le sigh!
  3. 3-5 shirts, undies, 1-2 shorts, bathing suit, pair of pants, pjs, socks, flip-flops, walking shoes, workout clothes,1evening out/special occasion clothes
  4. Travel sized Wool Light or detergent for washing in the tub if a Laundromat or facilities are unavailable
  5. Packing cubes or clothing bags to keep organized and tidy (a mama can dream)
  6. A plastic bag for dirty clothes



Medical/Safety Essentials:

  1. Health insurance cards
  2. Bottle water
  3. Daily medications (keep with you in case luggage is lost)
  4. OTC medications like Motrin and Benadryl in case of fever, pains or allergies medication
  5. Locate your nearest consulate, hospital or urgent care
  6. Extra packable duffle bag or backpack for beach days or hikes
  7. Sunscreen, hats, Off! bug spray and sunglasses, unbrella


Entertainment essentials:

  1. Snacks and drinks
  2. iPad with programmed movies
  3. Headphones-enough for each kid because god-forbid they share
  4. Portable games, crossword puzzle, Sudoku, coloring books and crayons



     1. Phone/mobile devices (verify with your phone service so you don’t spend                 more on roaming charges than your whole trip)

     2. Waterproof phone covers

     3. Cameras

We had an amazing time and hope you get to explore with your family. Stay tuned for some more on Mexico.

Note: I may or may not have done all of these. I may or may not have added some in writing this post in hindsight after learning another Smith-Kang lesson, ahem, the hard way.

 *This trip was sponsored by the W Punta Mita and Riviera Nayarit but all opinions are mine.

Disney’s CHRISTOPHER ROBIN by Sonia Kang | July 10 2018, 0 Comments

Hey all you A.A. Milne fans and movie goers! Grab your advance tickets for Disney’s CHRISTOPHER ROBIN  available for purchase!

To celebrate, check out a new sneak peek of the film as well a featurette on the legacy of the beloved A.A. Milne characters.


“Sneak Peek”:


“Legacy” featurette:



About the movie:

In Disney’s heartwarming live action adventure, the young boy who shared countless adventures with his stuffed animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood has grown up and lost sight of what’s important in life. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasure in life once again.


CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder and a story by Perry based on characters created by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. The producers are Brigham Taylor and Kristin Burr, with Renée Wolfe and Jeremy Johns serving as executive producers. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin; Hayley Atwell as his wife Evelyn; Bronte Carmichael as his daughter Madeline; and Mark Gatiss as Keith Winslow, Robin’s boss. The film also features the voices of: Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger; Brad Garrett as Eeyore; Toby Jones as Owl; Nick Mohammed as Piglet; Peter Capaldi as Rabbit; and Sophie Okonedo as Kanga.

Like CHRISTOPHER ROBIN on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyChristopherRobin/

Follow Walt Disney Studios on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneystudios  

Follow Walt Disney Studios on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneystudios/

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN arrives in theatres everywhere on August 3rd! 


Teen Titans GO Movie by Sonia Kang | July 06 2018, 0 Comments

Sometimes my kids think my work is cool especially when we get invited to press junkets and movie screenings for movies they enjoy.

That's exactly what happened last weekend we got the opportunity to participate in an experiential press day for the upcoming Warner Bros. Animation movie, TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES. 

The kids felt like stars when they walked the “red carpet” and were greeted by lively paparazzi taking photos.

These two decided to forego the usual saunter down the red carpet and go for an unconventional dance culminating in the popular dance craze, the dab! 


We got a chance to interact with the voices of their beloved characters from the movie, enjoyed the stand-up style interview opportunity and photos with them.

We were then ushered into the theatre for a quick informational before the movie.

Following the movie screening, the kids were treated to pictures with costumed characters Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy!


The reception and the afterparty was a blast! We were treated to yummy foods, desserts and fun activities.

The movie was hilarious and exactly what my kids enjoy about the tv show. We totally recommend you checking it out when it opens July 27th.

The only thing they regretted from the day was not being able to say hey to Lil Yachty who voiced Green Lantern. They screamed when they saw him but like most super heroes, he was fast and disappeared quickly! 



Turtle Odyssey by Sonia Kang | June 19 2018, 0 Comments

As a proud military brat, my family and I were stationed on the island of O'ahu, Hawaii. Last Summer I took my children to visit O'ahu and we spent time time on the North Shore at Turtle Beach learning about sea turtles.

Imagine how excited I was to see that Turtle Odyssey, a Definition Films production will be narrated by Russell Crowe. It will be released by SK Films this summer in select museums, science centers and IMAX® theaters worldwide.

 Although our visit to O'ahu was brief, we quickly understood how important it was to not touch the turtles and respect them as they are endangered.


My family and I are looking forward to Turtle Odyssey which tells the heartwarming story of one tiny sea turtle’s big adventure.

Turtle Odyssey explores the unique lifecycle of an Australian green sea turtle named Bunji and her incredible journey across the open ocean. The film follows Bunji the green sea turtle from a hatchling into adulthood as she swims thousands of miles, meets incredible creatures and has some really wild encounters. She will eventually migrate, with mysterious precision, back to the very beach where she was born – to lay her own eggs that are the foundation of the next generation.

Russell Crowe narrates the film as he is already such a champion of turtle conservation, it was a natural fit for all of us, and the perfect way to give a voice to an animal that now more than ever needs to be heard. says the film’s Producer David Gross.

Based in Australia, Crowe maintains a close association with Australia Zoo in the conservation and protection of sea turtles, creating a perfect synergy between the voice and messaging of this landmark film.


We are tremendously excited to release Turtle Odyssey. Having such an engaging voice combined with the immersive Giant Screen format will take audiences on an unforgettable journey.” says Jonathan Barker, SK Films.


There are only half as many turtles in the ocean than a hundred years ago, and the biggest threat to their survival is not life in the wild, but in sharing their world with humans.


To support the international release of Turtle Odyssey, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga will be creating an educational initiative to deepen the learning from the film and provide kids, families and educators with the tools and knowledge they need further understand the importance of marine life conservation.