Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for October, 2007

“Gossip Girl” and your kids

GOSSIP GIRLGossip Girl” made a major splash this fall as the top rated show among teens, says USA Today, and the number one seller on iTunes. Among parents, it’s another thing entirely: a worrisome mélange of sex, drinking, bad decisions and swanky high school parties. Think “Sex in the City” for the underage set. Common Sense Media suggests that parents watch with their teens and use the show as a jumping off point for some serious discussion.

What’s happening in your home? Are you watching this show with your kids? Banning it from your airwaves? Or is it just a dash of frothy fun? Click “comments” and share your thoughts.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007
Under: Gossip Girl | No Comments »

Britney’s mom writes a parenting book?

The lohan family
Last week TrueMomConfessions posted an entertaining question – “Which celebrity would you like to have as your own mother?” Answers ranged from Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster to Bette Midler, but astonishingly, *cough* no one mentioned Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears’ moms. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Lynne Spears from penning her very own parenting book, due out Mother’s Day. And we hear Dina Lohan is filming her own “reality” TV series, all about her wholesome family life. So here’s our question: under what circumstances would you ever seek parenting advice from a Lohan or a Spears?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

Around the world with…

Traveling with children may be challenging, but the delights far outweigh the baggage. So last month, the Times travel section launched “Around the World,” a showcase of practical tips and great family travel finds from the real experts, Bay Area families. We began with the Big Apple and DC with the operatic Streshinskys of Kensington, then followed the Williams family to Cancun, Mexico. This week, the Casey family weighs in on California beach towns.
THE TREK IN A SEC: This Pleasanton family wanted to escape to the beach, but didn’t relish the idea of driving all the way to Southern California. Their find: Avila Beach, a cozy beach town on the central coast near Hearst Castle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2007
Under: Family Travel | 1 Comment »

FAB FIVE for Traveling Tots

Bla Bla monkeys Boarding a plane with a wriggly preschooler isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time, but this Fab Five of preschooler survival gear should help.

1) A cuddly friend – a beloved teddy bear or a new buddy, like these Bla Bla dogs, cats, monkeys and other whimsical dolls. Adorable, soft and handknitted by women in Peru. (The 12-inch dolls are $31).

2) A soft blankie to help little ones get comfy and (we can only hope) sleepy. The wonderful children’s travel website,, carries fleece shawls that double as blankets ($34.95). We’re also smitten with …

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Family Travel | No Comments »

Staph session

GYMGERMS ILLUS.jpgMore staph warnings: Mt. Diablo school district just announced that a Sequoia Middle School teacher has MSRA, the serious, antibiotic resistant staph infection. A Northgate teen was diagnosed with it earlier this week, and cases are popping up in East County and the valley too. Don’t panic, says Francie Wise, director of communicable disease control for Contra Costa County, but see a doctor if you or your child has a wound that becomes red, hot to the touch or swollen. “What you’re looking for,” she says, “is a sore that doesn’t begin to heal within about 48 hours.”
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS & College Admissions

teacherEarlier this week, we asked parents to weigh in on college admissions anxiety and this culture’s hyper-focus on “top tier” schools, and talk about the smaller colleges they’ve come across that were great fits for their kids. Here’s a sampling of their responses, a couple of new resources and an invitation for you to join the party – post your thoughts by clicking “comments.”

“Our learning-disabled son has attended CSU East Bay for 1 1/2 quarters and we are very pleased so far… Classes are small and the counselors and professors are very approachable. Our son gets much more help than he ever got in high school. His major advisor spent 45 min going over a schedule modified to suit his learning disabilities. By way of contrast, I think my older son (at Cal) knows the name of his advisor (maybe).” – CL, Walnut Creek

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
Under: College Apps & Angst, Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »

Airborne babies, head injuries and more lead paint

bumbo baby sittingThe latest round of recalls includes a million of these Bumbo baby seats, an award-winning baby product that already carries a warning against using it on elevated surfaces. It’s designed for floor-level use only. But in 28 cases, parents placed their babies atop a table, the seat toppled and the head injuries include three skull fractures. Parents may contact the company for new, more blatant warning stickers – or better yet, don’t put your babies on top of tables and walk away. Jeez.

In other recall news, hundreds of thousands of kiddie bracelets, Go Diego toy boats, and bobble-head football cake decorations have been recalled due to lead paint. Of course.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

“Go DIego Go” Trivia & DVD Giveaway

go-diego-goOK, campers, time for a little trivia challenge. With “Go Diego Go Live! The Great Jaguar Rescue” stage show headed for Oakland’s Paramount Theater this weekend (and San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts next), it seems appropriate to, well, go Diego. So, here’s the deal. We ask the question, you click “comments” to enter the answer, and voila – you could win a DVD of “The Great Jaguar Rescue,” “Safari Rescue” and “Dora Saves the Mermaids” – and boy, that’s a lot of rescuing.

Three DVDs for a three-part question about Diego’s amazing camera – What’s her name? Who’s her voice? And what’s her catchy theme song?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

Sex abuse, slashings and staph in school

School signThis week’s school headlines run the gamut from concerning to appalling.
First up, a national Associated Press study uncovered 2,570 cases between 2001 and 2005 in which classroom teachers were cited or removed from the classroom for sexual abuse ranging from groping students to rape. And you worried about predators living near schools?

A UC Berkeley study may have figured out why California kids score so dismally on national science tests – 80 percent of the state’s elementary classrooms spend less than an hour a week on the subject.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2007
Under: Schools | No Comments »

Hauntings & cardboard tube duels

Mummy Looking for a little fun? Here’s this weekend’s Fab Five:
1) Is Alameda’s USS Hornet haunted? Check out the aircraft carrier’s Monster Bash this Saturday ($10-$20).

2) The Cardboard Tube Fighting League takes over San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza this Sunday for duels involving, well, cardboard tubes.

3) Danville’s Blackhawk Automotive Museum hosts a family fun day with “Bippety Boppity Move: Aladdin’s Carpet to Harry Potter’s Broom.” (Free with adm.)

4) Livermore’s Haunted Barn throws open its creaky doors to goblins, ages 10 and up ($7), and offers up a Halloween Carnival for the younger set too.

5) And the East Bay goes totally pumpkin this weekend. Check out the HUGE list of Halloween events in the Times.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Family Entertainment | No Comments »