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Archive for November, 2007

UPDATED NEWS: SoCal wildfire & Pepperdine

UPDATE: Pepperdine University students are back in their dorms and the campus has re-opened. In Malibu itself, 49 homes were destroyed and 27 others damaged by the latest SoCal wildfire, but firefighters hoped to have the blaze contained by Tuesday.

YESTERDAY: Pepperdine University students – the few still on the Malibu campus this holiday weekend – were back in emergency shelters early Saturday morning after another Santa Ana-fueled wildfire broke out at 3:30 a.m.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Sunday, November 25th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

Kid Nation: Bonanza City-style politics

Kid Nation(Courtesy CBS)Greg gets elected to the Town Council. He orches- trates respect training in which he lashes out at the participants. “I feel like someone won the presidential election with no background check,” Sophia says. Welcome to politics Bonanza City-style.

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Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

Two days, no recalls – oh wait a minute…

Toy recalls
So, you know how we said, “Beware – the tainted toy recalls are not over yet and by the way, don’t give your children kiddie jewelry“? The Consumer Product Safety folks just issued another 10 toy recall notices, six of which are for kiddie jewelry. The others involve paintbrushes, pencil pouches, flashing pacifiers (what the-?) and Boppy pillow slipcovers whose zippers pose both a choking and lead threat. Ahem. Makes you eager to go holiday shopping, doesn’t it? Download a list of unleaded holiday shopping tips here and alternative gift ideas here.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

Nancy Drew Trivia & Giveaway

nancy drewWell, folks, earlier this week, we launched a Nancy Drew trivia contest and prize giveaway, and tonight’s the night. Share your favorite villain-foiling technique, inspired by the legendary titian-haired sleuth, in the “comments section” and we’ll draw a winner.

Prizes? The latest ND video game, “Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull” (for Windows XP or Vista), in which our intrepid titian-haired sleuth scouts out a mysterious artifact in New Orleans, and a hot-off-the-press copy of Penny Warner’s “Official Nancy Drew Handbook: Skills, Tips and Life Lessons from Everyone’s Favorite Girl Detective.”

Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

Fab Five for the Weekend

ice skating
Looking for things to do when the Thanksgiving feast stupor wears off?
1) Ice skate at Walnut Creek’s outdoor ice rink,
2) Or take BART to San Francisco’s Embarcadero rink to strap on the blades.
3) Get a dose of Christmas, Smuin Ballet-style , at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center,
4) Or launch Nutcracker season with the San Francisco Ballet.
5) Or venture into Oakland for a family workshop on California Indians – storytelling, hands-on activities, games and crafts all at the Oakland Museum.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

Unleaded toys and gift ideas

SantaHoliday shopping in the age of toy recalls is particularly challenging, but the folks at Contra Costa and Alameda counties’ Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs have put together a list of creative, alternative gift ideas for families, and for kids ages 3 months to 9 years:

For the whole family: Time together; sports activities and hikes; outings to the zoo, aquariums, museums, picnics; concert, event and movie tickets; family movie nights; a drive to the snow; garden gifts (trees, bulbs, flowers to plant together); pet obedience classes with the family dog; philanthropic projects (donate time at a soup kitchen, beach clean-up); gift certificates for family activities.

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Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | 2 Comments »

Sesame Street with a parental warning label?

oscar the grouchSeems the Sesame Street Workshop folks are shipping out DVDs of the classic TV show’s first season with a parental warning label: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

So naturally, the New York Times did a screening. “The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating,” writes Virginia Heffernan. “Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar’s depression was untreated…”

We’re betting the playground in the opening sequence didn’t meet federal safety codes either. And is that full-fat milk they’re drinking?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Just Bizarre | No Comments »


teacherDear Miss School Manners: I’m the room mom for my first grader’s classroom and other parents have suddenly started asking me about teacher gifts for the holidays. Ack! Are we supposed to give the teacher a present? Each kid or a group gift? And is that supposed to be my job? Signed, Worried in Walnut Creek

Dear Worried: It’s all optional, optional, optional. But having said that … yeah, most people observe the winter holiday in some way. That’s why educators have such massive collections of “Best Teacher” coffee mugs…

(Read more or write to Miss School Manners now)

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Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Under: Miss School Manners | 1 Comment »

Over river, through woods

Road tripHeading to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving? Child health expert and former bodybuilder Merilee Kern offers up some road trip survival tips to keep your kids – and you – healthier: pack healthy snacks, try to avoid those fatty fast food stops, and build exercise into your mini-vacation with post-feast strolls, laps in the hotel swimming pool and outdoor sports.

Among Kern’s snack suggestions: frozen grapes, fruit, popcorn, pretzels, roasted nuts, low-fat string cheese, cereal bars with whole grains, and plenty of water. And if the lure of fast food becomes irresistible, minimize the damage by steering clear of deep-fried, mayo-laced fare. Opt for a sub sandwich instead, or go for a plain burger, sans mayo, cheese and other heart-cloggers.

Got tips to add? Click “comments” and let’s hear ’em.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

Exhausted and fat?

Sleepless babyTurns out sleep-deprived moms have a harder time losing post-partum weight. According to a Kaiser Permanente-Harvard Med study, new moms who got five or fewer hours of sleep a day when their babies were 6 months old were three times more likely to carry an extra 11 pounds by the baby’s first birthday.

It’s not that they’re lying around the house exhausted and eating bonbons – well, yes to the exhaustion part, but nyet on the candy. Other studies of sleep deprivation and weight gain say exhausted people eat less and still gain weight. Theory is, sleep deprivation adversely affects one’s metabolism. Great. Now we’re exhausted and fat. Maybe the study will provide a little added incentive for those middle of the night spousal elbowings. Instead of “I got up last time,” we can try, “Want me to look hot? You feed the baby.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »