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Family Fun for the Weekend

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 3:15 pm in Family Outings

Cardburg (Photo courtesy of the Cardboard Institute of Technology)
The Exploratorium is always a blast with kids, but for the next two weeks, the San Francisco science museum is hosting the Cardboard Institute of Technology and a series of hands-on, family-friendly events designed to turn the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio into “Cardburg.” (Yep, that’s it, above) You thought the cityscapes of “Inception” were cool? Check out this gigantic cardboard city, including subterranean pipe works, air movers, skyscrapers and secret dwellings. Then join in the fun. The folks from the institute will help kids make their own cardboard costumes in the studio from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and discuss their work in the museum’s McBean Theater from 1-2 p.m.. And they’re hosting a “Cardburg Sub-Terrain: Open Build Day” from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday.It’s all part of the Exploratorium’s Open MAKE program, a monthly series co-sponsored by Pixar Animation Studios and MAKE Magazine. Everything takes place at 3601 Lyon St., S.F. Museum admission is $10-$15 and includes activities. For details, visit

And if you’re looking to take the kids to their first concert, make plans to catch the Imagination Movers. The fun four-piece band, while geared for younger ears, should please music lovers of all ages. The group’s from New Orleans, and a veteran of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, plus, they boast some of the most clever album titles out there, such as 2008’s “Juice Box Heroes.” Catch them at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $22.50-$42.50 and are available at

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Fremont Teen on ‘Jeopardy’

By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 3:21 pm in Uncategorized

Jeopardy (MCT Direct Illustration) A Fremont teen is hitting the small screen – as a competitor on the “Jeopardy! Teen Challenge” preliminary round, which airs Wednesday at 7 p.m. on KGO-TV Channel 7. Sixteen-year-old Nikhil Desai, a junior at San Jose’s Bellarmine College Prep and California’s 2008 Geography Bee champ, is keeping mum on the outcome, although he did say it was a pretty incredible experience.

The self-styled nerd said he was handicapped by his lack of interest in pop culture – he loves robotics, interned last summer at the NASA Ames Research Center, and favors books on biochemistry. So when Jeopardy producers asked him to name the girlfriend of New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, during the qualifying round, Desai didn’t know who Bush was, let alone his sweetie, Kim Kardashian.

“I know nothing about video games,” he told the Bay Area News Group’s Matthew Artz . “I do not understand rap music at all. I cannot understand sports at all except cricket, and ‘Jeopardy!’ is never going to ask about cricket.”

Aww, that’s OK. We find that even more charming.

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GNOMEO Giveaway

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 5:34 pm in Movies

Have you guys seen “Gnomeo & Juliet“? It’s the tale of the warring Montagues and Capulets,except… they’re garden gnomes.  I haven’t gone yet, but even my college kids were absolutely smitten – and as we’ve mentioned before, the trailer looks adorable.

And we’ve got a prize pack – a youth-sized T-shirt, beanie and gnome hat-shaped notebook – to get you in the mood! Just click “comments” and tell us, what other Shakespeare tale could benefit from the gnome treatment? Extra points for wit! And if you’ve seen the movie and want to share your take with the rest of us, we’d love it. (We’ll draw a winner’s name at the end of the week!)

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Docs say, energy drinks dangerous for kids

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 3:15 pm in Health & Safety

Energy Drinks (Photo copyright KRT) Caffeine-riddled energy drinks may be dangerous for kids and teens, says a new study, published in the American pediatric journal, “Pediatrics,” and announced over the weekend.

The dangers? Heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even death. There have been enough energy drink overdoses that the national Poison Control Center association began tracking cases last fall — and found 677 overdoses between October and December. They’re at 331 so far in 2011.

Some kids drink four or five of these drinks a day, even though a single can has four or five times the caffeine (or caffeine-equivalent, such as guarana) of a single cup of coffee. Scary stuff. The study urged pediatricians to caution their young patients. Read the rest of the story here.

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The Runaway Wok

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 2:56 pm in Contest

"The Runaway Wok" by Ying Compestine As you may have guessed, my computer got some nasty bug last week, and I’ve been out of commission for days and days. Yikes. But good news, I’m back – and even better news, Ying Compestine, author of “The Runaway Wok,” and her publisher were so delighted by our book giveaway, they’ve sent enough copies for everyone! So folks, I’ll be e-mailing you for addresses and you’ll have those books in hand by the time the firecrackers go off this weekend!

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Parent Talks: Sensory Overload

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 5:12 am in Parenting Issues

Childhood Matters: The Highly Sensitive Child
February 20 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM, and streamed live and archived on
Join Rona Renner and guests as they discuss high-sensitivity children, over-stimulation and sensory processing disorders.

Childhood Matters: Non-Biological Parenting
February 27 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM, and streamed live and archived on
Join Rona Renner and guests as they discuss the joys and challenges of foster and adoptive parenting.

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Parenting Talks: Preschool Expulsion, Autism and More

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 5:05 am in Parenting Issues

Tricycle (courtesy of MCT Direct) Preschool Expulsion Support Group
February 7 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Bananas is launching a support group, led by Tasha Henneman of BANANAS and Madeline Meyer Riley, MFT, for parents of kids who have been expelled from their day care setting.

Autism Forum
Feb. 11 9 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at the Levy Conference Center, 2121 Harrison Street, Oakland (3 blocks from BART)
Autism syndrome disorder (ASD) rates have been increasing nationally. Now, 1 out of every 110 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The Bay Area alone accounts for 10.5%t of the state’s cases. What does all this mean and what solutions and resources are available? Easter Seals Bay Area is hosting its second annual Autism Forum with nationally-recognized experts from Project Mosaic, the UC Davis Mind Institute and Children’s Hospital, Oakland. Free, but you’ll need to reserve a seat.

Childhood Matters: Keeping Romance Alive
February 13 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM, and streamed live and archived on
Join Rona Renner and guests as they
discuss how to keep intimacy and romance alive
during parenthood, and why it’s so important. Read the rest of this entry »

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Family Fun for the Weekend

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 at 12:56 pm in Family Outings

Lunch Love Community Documentary Project  (Pacific Film Archive)
There are plenty of children’s film fests are around, but Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive takes a different approach with its two-part “School Days” series, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday with the 13th annual Screenagers Bay Area Film and Video Festival. It’s an event that captures the Bay Area teenage experience through documentaries, narratives and experimental flicks — made by teens from local high schools and curated by Berkeley High students. Then on Feb. 13, the focus shifts to the Lunch Love Community Documentary Project (pictured), which isn’t so much a film as what they’re calling “a media social” — a little viewing and a whole lot of talking about food, kids and the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative. Filmmakers Helen De Michiel and Sophie Constantinou will be there along with the initiative’s executive chef, Bonnie Christensen, and other experts and advocates. Tickets are $6.50-$9.50. The PFA is at 2575 Bancroft Way. For details, visit

And coming soon … Read the rest of this entry »

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Food Allergies – and Confusion – on the Rise

By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 11:58 am in Health & Safety

Peanut Butter (Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT) There’s no doubt that the rate of peanut and other food allergies among kids and adults is on the rise. Today, 3-5% of the population has milk, eggs, nut or seafood allergies, according to a story in the latest New Yorker – and some allergy specialists are starting to wonder if the advice they’ve believed for so many decades is actually true. Is early exposure really the culprit? Or is it the potential cure? Take a peek at the story and prepare to get more confused…

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Fabulous Valentines #2: The Love Bugs

By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 6:25 am in Valentine

Cupid (copyright Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT) This has to be the cutest Valentine idea ever — possibly even cuter than the night of fairies our family used to celebrate every Midsummer’s Eve, when our children were small. (More on that in a minute.) A San Diego family launched the Love Bugs tradition a few years ago after discovering that their home had two magical little creatures, who visit every winter between mid-January and Valentine’s Day. They stay at the adorable lodging 10-year-old Lexie made for them out of a bling-ed out tissue box, and they leave the family little love notes and treats, like Hershey’s Kisses. Naturally, the family writes back and leaves treats in turn.

What a wonderful way to add a little magic to the depths of winter, spread a little loving, and encourage writing at the same time. At our house, the fairies came every year on the summer solstice to cavort in the garden, sip fairy tea and flit about. Naturally, our children needed to set up that party venue for them – using flowers and leaves and tiny acorn tops or shells as cups – and leave notes. And of course, they needed to sample fairy cakes and berry tea first. They’d go to bed in a state of utter excitement. They never saw the fairies, but by morning, the garden had been festooned with ribbons and streamers, and the fairies had left a thank you note (Ah, the joys of glitter pens) and little gifts. Our kids are in their teens now, but they still talk about it. It was a dash of magic in the midst of the humdrum – and whether you prefer love bugs or fairies or elves, it’s a gift of love.

This post is part of the All About Parenting blog carnival about love, which goes live later this week. Read love-ly Valentine tips from parenting experts and creative parents across the blogosphere.

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