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Archive for September, 2007

DIY Halloween Costume Contest

halloweenThe crispness in the air, the sudden proliferation of pumpkins and the the overwhelming miles of candy-crammed supermarket aisles – ah, Halloween is coming. And it’s making us wax all nostalgic, remembering a time when Halloween costumes weren’t skanky, when you rummaged through the dress-up box and made your own clever concoction. We still remember the adorable, pint-sized IRS auditors who showed up on our porch one Halloween night – scary! Or the small, bespectacled Clark Kent whose Superman shirt peeked out from behind his suit. So we’ve been checking out other DIY Halloween ideas, like the hilarious hot dog vendor on, or the bubble bather made with small white balloons and a rubber ducky. And we’re betting you’ve got some fantastic costume ideas tucked away too.

So here’s the deal: Send us a jpeg and brief description of your favorite trick-or-treater in a great homemade costume by Oct. 10 (e-mail it to and we’ll post the best of the best. And did we mention prizes? Oh yeah…it wouldn’t be a contest without prizes…
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Sunday, September 30th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

FDA may ban cold medicine for tots

triaminicIn startling news, the FDA may ban all over-the-counter, multi-symptom cough and cold medicines for children under 6. According to this morning’s New York Times’ coverage, there’s little proof that Toddler’s Dimetapp, Triaminic Infant and 800 similar cold medications even work on young children, and experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers. Some 123 children have died after taking OTC cold medicines in the last 30 years. And between 2004 and 2005, more than 1,500 children under age 2 had serious health problems after taking these medications. Scary stuff. The FDA panel will consider an outright ban next month. You may not want to wait that long before cleaning out your medicine cabinet.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Saturday, September 29th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

Finger-pointing after 14-year-old’s tragic death

This morning, a San Leandro 14-year-old girl died in a freeway accident, which occurred at 2:48 a.m. Some readers are questioning what kind of parenting the girl had given the hour at which she was out. Others are saying to wait til more facts are in.

Here’s a sampling from the online discussion:

Good parenting means protecting your children when they are not mature enough to make good decisions. My daughters have curfews of 11 pm and if they aren’t home by then, there are consequences. There is no good reason why a 14 year old should be out and about at 2:45 am.


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Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
Under: Teens | No Comments »

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone about this blog entry!!!!

I really shouldn’t be telling you this.
I should keep this information to my self.
But I feel I’m duty-bound as an aPARENTly Speaking blogger to remind parents everywhere that, although Christmas feels really far away, the time to buy tickets for the Niles Canyon Railroad Train of Lights is near. ncry6_8_small

Visit the NCR Web site for details and a schedule and check back daily to see when tickets go on sale because once they do, they’ll sell out within hours. Price is $30 for reserved seating and $20 for general seating. (It’s a fundraiser for the non-profit railway group.)

If you are lucky enough to get tickets, here are some tips…

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Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

More recalls – lead paint & strangling concerns

playardFolks, it’s time to up-end the toy boxes again. It’s TRBLP time. This week’s “Toy Recall Because of Lead Paint” affects more Thomas the Tank Engine trains, Happy Giddy Gardening tools and chairs from Target, puppet theaters, Knights of the Sword toys and oh jeez, so many more toys listed on the Consumer Product Safety Commission home page.

In addition, the CPSC is recalling 425,000 Sesame Beginnings infant playpens after a baby was strangled by a restraint strap, and other similar playpens that trapped or otherwise endangered babies.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the weekend

Car kidsA Fab Five round-up of family fun for the weekend…

1) Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the Black Diamond Mines we go to catch “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” on the outdoor movie screen Saturday, Sept. 29, in Antioch.

2) The Sally Ride Science Fest, a full day of scientific fun and hands-on workshops for girls grades 5-8, comes to NASA Ames, Moffett Field, this Saturday, Sept. 29…

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Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Family Outings | No Comments »

Filling ye olde lunchbox

lunchFive days a week, 38 weeks a year, year after year after year … is it any wonder refilling your kid’s lunch box is beginning to resemble a scene from “Groundhog Day”? Morning comes, the alarm clock clangs, and there the lunch box sits once more, waiting for culinary inspiration or at least – oh God, not another overly fragrant tuna sandwich. But, as promised, we’ve got suggestions for filling that lunch bag. Follow the link to the full line-up, which includes an amazing peanut sauce for broccoli and chicken sates, and a pear crisp. But for starters, here’s a fantastic base for homemade trail mix…

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Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
Under: Cuisine | No Comments »

‘Kid Nation’ kills its audience (read on for status of the chicken)

kidnationWarning: spoiler alert (for those who Tivo’d it). … So much for the drama of the chicken slaughter. The standoff between the hungry carnivore kids on Kid Nation and the animal lovers fizzled, resolved in the first 15 minutes of Wednesday night’s show. Too bad. It had the potential to be a great storyline. Guess that’s the reality of reality TV.

The only really interesting scene was seeing the reaction of kids who witnessed the slaughter. Although I’ve been quite cavalier about the whole chicken killing debate, that scene troubled me because I wondered whether the kids who were present really wanted to be there or were influenced by peer pressure to watch the head chopping. On the other hand…

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Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

Chicken dinner tonight before ‘Kid Nation’

kidnationIt’ll be chicken tonight for my kids as we get ready for the second episode of “Kid Nation,” and the big battle over whether to slaughter a few of the feathered ones. Not sure if we’ll barbecue or pick up one of those pre-cooked birds from the supermarket. I am thinking that of setting their places with some big honkin’ steak knives. Just want to set the mood.

Don’t forget to vote in our poll, “Is it OK for a child to kill a chicken?”

See ya back here later, as Ann Tatko-Peterson and I give our take on the show.

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | 1 Comment »

Sleepless in the nursery

Sleepless babyBlankies, teddy bears and soul-wracking, relentless parental exhaustion are hallmarks of the baby years. And sleep deprivation is what turns perfectly intelligent moms and dads into zombies who will do anything – anything! – to get a few hours sleep. Naturally, the marketplace has responded. These days, you can hire sleep consultants, browse “sleep training” books by the hundreds, and buy all manner of products, from nightmare-prevention nightcaps to aromatherapy dollies – as grandmas ’round the world roll their eyes at the very thought. 2 a.m. feedings aren’t exactly new to the species, after all. But they’re still awfully painful while you’re going through them – we remember them well. The Times ran a big story on infant sleep training last year, but it’s such a classic issue, we’re reprinting the resources and tips section here …

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Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »