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Archive for July, 2007

BABIES: Stroller tours

DuckyBugaboo, the trendy, uber expensive stroller company, has done up a list of stroller tours, fun, baby-friendly walks through various cities, including San Francisco. We have no quibble with that — we like Golden Gate Park too and the Japanese Tea Garden is particularly lovely. (Added factlet, GG park does free, guided stroller tours at 10 a.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month — exercise, fresh air, meet other parents, and no one will turn up their nose at your cheap but eminently practical, non-Bugaboo’d umbrella stroller.)
But we’re wishing someone would conjure up some cool stroller tours for the East Bay too. Turns out “Self-Made Mom”, a Chicago area blogger, had a similar idea. Well, no, not about the East Bay. She made up her own Windy City stroller tour and this one actually has parking and navigable cafes — Bugaboo apparently has exalted views on its stroller’s ability to climb staircases and thread through tiny, crowded venues. Hers is a real-world stroller trek, complete with playground, cafe and shopping recommendations. Big fun. We need some of those too. Where do you stroll? Iron Horse Trail and then …?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Family Outings | No Comments »

TEENS: New UC application essay topics

College libraryWe’ll be steaming into college app season in a few months, but there are always some high school seniors who like to get their essays done ahead of time. Um yeah, we don’t have any of those, but if you do, you might like to know that the University of California is using new essay topics for its 2008-09 freshman applications.

They’re no more thrilling than the old ones were, but at least they’re not like the University of Chicago’s notorious essay prompts. Last year they included a comparison of oneself to Cartesian coordinates – “Are x and y enough for you, or do you warrant some love from the z-axis? Be sure to include your domain, range, derivative, and asymptotes, should any apply.”

See? That puts it all in perspective. Now you won’t groan over UC’s prompts:
1) Describe the world you come from –and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
2) Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2007
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

BABY: Summer pregnancy survival

Haven’t caught “Notes from the Underbelly” on TV yet, but we’ve been grinning over creator Risa Green’s blog on Mommy Track’d about working motherhood, hormone blasts and the emotional overload known as preschool graduation. So when we got an e-mail with her summer pregnancy survival tips, we just had to share. Ducky
Invest in a few pairs of nice flip flops, she says, because you’ll never get your feet into regular shoes. Spend time in the pool, where you’ll feel cool and, best of all, light. (And if you don’t have a pool, try to make friends with someone who does.) Keep telling yourself, “It’s just water weight. It’s just water weight.” And …
“When attending summer BBQs,” she adds, “take care not to stand near the grilled sausages. You don’t want people making comparisons to your fingers.”
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

TEENS: Fab 5 for new drivers

Calm drivers ILLUS.jpgSo your 16-year-old is driving? Congratulations and, er, oh dear … a little scary too. If you’re feeling like someone’s ripped your heart out and is slinging it cavalierly around the highway at 60 mph, we can relate. We found Lamaze breathing kind of helped … that and making our offspring phone in when they left, when they got there, and then again every five minutes to say, “Um, yeah, still alive. Catch you later.”

But teen driving statistics are too horrifying to ignore, and a recent teen driving survey by AAA and Seventeen Magazine is enough to freak any parent out — and provide plenty of dinner table discussion fodder.

Still, getting that driver’s license is a milestone, a proclamation of independence, competence and maturity – and it’s worth marking the occasion, not just with a teen –parent driving contract and the obligatory “If you crash and hurt yourself, I will kill you” lecture, but with some practical gifts as well. May we suggest…

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Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Teens | No Comments »


Hogwarts has taken over the multiplex and your kindergartner is begging to see it — but the latest chapter in the Harry Potter franchise has a PG-13 rating and people keep referring to it as “dark.” So, what’s a parent to do? Read psychologist Richard Freed’s take on violent films and movie industry-generated ratings in the Times, then let your mouse provide some guidance. In addition to helpful reviews by Times critic Mary Pols and readers, we really like reading the family-friendly movie critics on sites such as Yahoo’s Movie Mom, for example, which gave “Order of the Phoenix” a B-plus. Keep this one for the 12-and-up crowd, she says, “Parents should know that the Potter stories become increasingly violent and that this story for the first time includes the death of a major and much-loved character…

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Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Under: Movies | No Comments »


sunscreen Summer under the sun can be especially hard on baby’s delicate skin. It was long thought that sunscreen shouldn’t be used on babies under 6 months old, but now the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using it sparingly on “small areas of the body such as the face or back of the hands” that are unprotected by clothing. Keep babies in the shade between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is brightest. And you might want to check out some of the special baby sunscreen and sunblock products on the market now. Here’s a quintet of possibilities:

1) Baby Sunscreen by Little Forest Botanicals ($12) — Fragrance and color free, this mineral-based SPF 30 lotion leaves a white sheen over the protected area to ensure full coverage. And Baby Soothing Cooler ($8) soothes sun-exposed skin.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Fab Five | No Comments »


FAMILY Travel 1.0 Ah, summer — sunshine, swimming pools, screaming infants on airplanes. More than one-third of U.S. travelers vacationed with their kids last year, a 44 percent jump in a single decade, and even more are expected this year, despite some daunting family travel headlines: soaring gas prices, airport security hassles and, of course, the family whose tantrum-throwing 4-year-old forced an emergency landing and the family whose chatty 2-year-old got them kicked off a plane.

Most of us can figure out family travel basics — pack twice as many diapers, wipes and Cheerios (and formula, if you’re bottle feeding) as you think you need in your airplane carry-on. There’s no Pampers black market aboard Jet Blue if you get grounded on the tarmac or stuck in a holding pattern. But Eileen Ogintz, syndicated columnist, mom and author of seven family travel books, offers some other helpful travel tips that could mean the difference between happy trails and, er, travails.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2007
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

Great America drowning: Who’s responsible?

We’ve seen a lot of discussion the last couple days on about the culpability of Great America vs. the responsibility of the mother for the drowning Thursday of a boy at the Santa Clara theme park.

A story published Saturday said:

What the family does know is that they are upset, [Yolanda] Flores said. They felt the park staff had not taken adequate steps to protect children in the pool.

“I only saw four” lifeguards, said Flores. “They should have had someone in the water. There was someone in the entrance but not in the water.”

She also said she felt the lifeguards may not have been paying attention.

“They could have saved his life if they did their jobs,” she repeated. “They didn’t do their jobs.”

This comment was typical of what many readers had to say:

Ridiculous! how can the mother blame GA? There is no way I would EVER let a 4-year old go into a pool like that without me RIGHT NEXT TO HIM the whole time. She expressed disbelief that he could drown in 2 feet of water? that right there shows a serious misunderstanding of children’s vulnerability.

One reader thought it was inappropriate to be pointing fingers at the mother:

Insensitive people! This mother you’re putting the blame on just lost her child. Look very hard and put yourself in this situation. The last thing you would want to hear is your opinion. Where is your compassion? Or perhaps you do not have children yourselves to be so cruel.

I understand where this last reader is coming from. However, in this case, the mother is pointing a finger at Great America, which was what prompted many of the readers to comment.

Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »