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Archive for September, 2007

Halo 3 at the dinner table

halo 3 The sound of stampeding Halo 3 fans has died away, and been replaced, of course, by the sounds of millions of gamers madly playing the epic video game … or madly gobbling dinner so they can go back to playing the game.

So, we were enjoying a delightful dinner last night, with background music provided by the humming, paused XBox. And as you might guess, the dinner table conversation was going nowhere. So after our desperate Halo chitchat gambit – “Er, what’s up with that Master Chief? Is he the man or what?” – met with gales of laughter from our teens, we did the obvious thing. We called Times video game critic Gieson Cacho for a little help. “Gieson,” we said, “help us connect with our kids and not sound like dweebs.”

Gieson laughed, of course. Because, like, duh, Master Chief is the man. But he had some suggestions…

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Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues, Teens | No Comments »

What’s in a baby name?

Crying baby Castro Valley mom Gwendolyn Schlatter spent months scouring Fortune 500 rosters and baby books to come up with the perfect names for her baby boys. Her ultimate choice? James and John. In this morning’s Times, reporter Candace Murphy looks at the newest baby name trend – going traditional. Check it out, then weigh in with your comments – how did you name your baby? Did you go traditional?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots | 4 Comments »

Boogie babies this Saturday

clubIf you’re looking for something to do this weekend, the Baby Loves Disco parties are still going strong at Club Aura in Pleasanton. The next one is set for this Saturday.

For those new to the concept, Baby Loves Disco is a national par-tay created by hip parents tired of listening to Barney and such. The party-makers take over nightclubs during the day, turning them into family friendly dance venues where the DJ is spinning groovy tunes from the 70s and 80s, and diapered bottoms are gettin’ busy.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

Pink guns for girls?

pink gun
Seems some Milwaukee firearms dealers are starting to coat their rifles and shotguns in pink paint to appeal to the girl market. Our favorite youth culture expert, Anastasia Goodstein, spotted the news squib online — and our eyebrows shot up so high, we’re having serious trouble getting them back down. Among the gun shop offerings: pink Remington 20-gauge shotguns bearing the motto “Shoot like a girl if you can!” They’re available in pink camo too, although we’re not sure that’s going to fool any self-respecting mallard. No word on whether the guns come in Hello Kitty prints too.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

1 year, 1 family, 1 trip around the world

Five continents, 28 countries, one family and one year – it’s the stuff of dreams for anyone with wanderlust. Swing by REI in Concord tonight at 7 p.m. and meet the Highams, a Mountain View family who made that dream come true last year, journeying around the world from the Great Wall of China to the Amazon Basin. (That’s them in the photo above, setting out on the Amazon River) Adventure? Oh yeah. Broken bones? That too. Hear how they did it, what they learned and what they packed in addition to tandem bikes and schoolbooks.

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

Halo 3 – 3 hours and counting

Halo 3 If your household is anything like ours, you’ve got a couple of teens who are counting down to midnight. A New Year’s Eve countdown? Pfft! No, no, this is the countdown to Halo 3, the conclusion to the epic XBox trilogy, which comes out at midnight tonight. News squibs say the lines at Best Buy and the like started forming last night. And early reviews have been positive, including this one from the San Jose Merc in which games critic Dean Takahashi gave it his all – literally. “I vomited while playing ‘Halo 3,'” he says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. During the 11th hour of the game, a weird zooming effect in the graphics gave me a sharp feeling of motion sickness. I went right back to playing… It was my pop culture moment. I just had to play Halo 3 ahead of what will be one of the biggest launches in video game history as the game goes on sale today. Overall, (the game) delivered a rare gift. Playing the last part of a trilogy is almost as fun as the original. The developers walked a tightrope between providing familiar game play that made the earlier games memorable and giving you enough new surprises to keep you engaged.”

My guys can hardly wait. Check out the rest of the review – plus links to demos! – then let us know what your family thinks of the game.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
Under: Teens | No Comments »


teacherDear Miss School Manners: I read the Times article about preschool pressure last week. It is comforting to know that we are not the only parents out here searching and to some degree stressing over which preschool to place our child in! We simply want our child to attend a great preschool to learn, grow and socialize with other children in a safe and healthy environment. But we’re overwhelmed – all the ads for preschool programs claim to offer everything a parent wants. We don’t want to get caught up in the hype of this school and that school. But how do we even start looking?
Signed, Bewildered in Brentwood

Dear BiB: It is bewildering at first. But the best place to gather preschool recommendations without the ad hype …
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
Under: Miss School Manners | No Comments »

Kid Nation poll asks ‘Is it OK for a child to kill a chicken?’

kidnationThe younguns’ on Kid Nation, the new CBS reality TV show, will be contemplating the slaughter of chicken in the episode that airs Wednesday.

According to the Kid Nation web site, “As the town debates whether or not to kill chickens for protein, a group of kids protests by locking the chickens–and themselves–in the coop.”

So, we’re asking in a poll, Is it OK for a child to kill a chicken? You can vote here. The options:
– Sure, eat or be eaten.
– It’s OK if it’s for food, not sport.
– No, it’s wrong to kill animals.
– No, it’s too dangerous.
– No, I’d have Michael Vick do it.

OK, so if I’d killed a chicken when I was 8, I probably would have been traumatized. But the adolescents probably can handle it. Some of ’em come from farms. They can help the kids from the cities and the ‘burbs get a lesson in where their dinners are coming from. I’m more worried about the axe and the need for a post-slaughter finger census than I am about mental scarring.

C’mon back here Wednesday night and Thursday morning, when Ann Tatko-Peterson and I will pick apart the episode. Our take on the first episode.

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

Parent talks & more

SupermomParenting superpowers need a little polishing? Here’s what’s up on the East Bay parent education front this week:

** Holistic Moms Network Open House
New East Bay chapter moms’ group forming
Open house Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Upaya Center for Well Being, 478 Santa Clara Ave., Oakland

** “The Organized Student: Planning for Now and the Future”
Sept. 25 at 7 p.m., Acalanes High School Theater, Lafayette
Speaker: educational consultant and author Donna Goldberg
Free, sponsored by Acalanes Adult Ed

** “Blazing Your Path: Straight Talk for Teens with Learning Disabilities”
Sept. 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Preparatory Campbell Center, Atherton
Speaker: Dyslexic writer and activist Jonathan Mooney and a student panel
Cost: $20 students, $25 adults, $50 families, sponsored by International Dyslexia Association

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Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

3-second meals

Frantic cookIt’s hard enough to get meals on the table while juggling kids, carpools, jobs and general panic, without the ghosts of Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray weighing in on EVO and garnishes… which is why we’re so smitten by this “3-Second Meal” entry from Stroller Derby’s Kitchenista: “First step, lower the bar. Your kids won’t remember home-cooked meals as much as they’ll remember fondly the time you spent sitting next to them on the couch watching their favorite show. Second, spread out a huge blanket in front of the television and get everyone their own bowl. Third, fill each bowl with Raisin Bran and milk and voila! Dinner is served.”

Hilarious. And healthier than fast food too.

Hey, check back with us Wednesday – well, check back every day, but most particularly Wednesday because we’re bringing you “The Lunchbox: Reinvented” – new ideas for putting pizzazz into the lunch bag. You pour Raisin Bran into the brown bag…

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Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »