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Archive for December, 2007

BAD KARAOKE and racoon cuisine

Emergency callSome days, this blog just writes itself…

A Connecticut high school teacher barricaded herself in her classroom and called in state troopers and police dogs after hearing threats over the PA system. Turns out, it was just really bad singing – three teens doing a little impromptu karaoke. Sounds like their interpretation of Guns N Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” won’t get them put through to Hollywood either. Somewhere, Simon Cowell is rolling his eyes and Randy Jackson is saying, “Dawg, not good.”

And lest you think Connecticut has the monopoly on weird this morning, a Texas high school is under fire after two students in a wildlife management class killed, skinned, cooked and ate a baby raccoon … in class. According to the superintendent, there was a substitute teacher that day and he “didn’t know any better.”

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre | 1 Comment »

FAB FIVE for the weekend

Looking for family fun this weekend? Here’s a Fab Five roundup…
Christmas Revels
1) The annual Christmas Revels take families on a joyous musical ride through the 19th century English countryside this weekend, led by comic actor Geoff Hoyle (pictured above – you also know him as Zazu, his Tony-nominated role in Broadway’s “Lion King”) at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Temple. (Tickets $15-$50)

2) Rialto Cinemas Elmwood continues its holiday kiddie matinees – just $2 a pop and it benefits four local PTAs – this weekend with “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie” at 10 a.m. and noon Saturday and noon on Sunday.

3) We hear Tilden Park‘s merry-go-round has gone all wintry and fantastical. Hit the steam trains and the Little Farm, then go ride the carousel. ($2)

4) “Wrap It Up!” at MOCHA’s family art workshop this Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Make wrapping paper, cards and decorations. ($7)

5) Or, if you’ve had enough holiday folderol, go rock climbing in Livermore. Livermore Park & Rec is hosting an open house at Valley Rock Climbing Gym, 2455 Railroad Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 15th. Two free climbs, including harness and shoe rentals. Santa would approve.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Family Outings | No Comments »

KID NATION: We’ll miss you, sort of

KID NATIONFor weeks, “Kid Nation” tried to build up the drama. They dangled $20,000 gold stars in front of a bunch of kids to get them to work. They went on and on about these kids building their own society, all the while dictating the show with the so-called “Pioneer Book.” For the most part, it was boring.

In the end, however, I was invested. I knew a lot about these kids. Taylor, the spoiled brat. Greg, the hypocrite. Sophia, the bossy hard worker. Alex and Jared, the mini geniuses. Most of the kids had a unique personality (at least those we got to see up close

So, when CBS billed the finale as being filled with surprises, I didn’t hold out much hope but I tuned in. Glad I did. They flew the episode at warp speed: fire, candy stealers, almost little girl cat fight, one final challenge, parents showing up, last three gold stars being awarded. It was a lot, and a long time coming. In context of the show, this was as good as it gets. Yeah, not all of it felt genuine, but it was just enough payoff. All in all, they are good kids and they did more than even I expected. That said, it was a lengthy investment to have to make, and the reward of the finale isn’t enough to bring me back for a second season. It’s just enough to keep me from calling the first season a total waste.

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

KID NATION: Wish I’d been one of the kids

For the kids on the show, I suspect that Kid Nation was an amazing experience with great bonding and growth. “It’s going to be really emotional for them,” my 10-year-old just said. She gets it.

But for us adults watching, it was a disappointment because it was so contrived. Yeah, if you google that word, you’ll probably find this blog. Sorry if I sound like a broken record on that point, but it was inescapable week after week.

And the gold stars were a disaster, making us question everyone’s motives.

Since the council had to award three final gold stars, I have no problem with the merits of Sophia and Morgan. If Migle deserved it, well, it must be for her actions off camera. The council members spoke highly of her, so perhaps her best moments never aired.

As for Sophia, for one kid to get so much more cash than everyone else is just wrong. Most of those kids, who will go home with wonderful memories, will never forget that moment.

– Ari Soglin

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Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

CONTEST TIME: Send holiday decoration picture, win hard-to-find toy

LIFE HOLIDAYORNAMENTS 2 CSDo you still have that great felt hand cutout ornament you made in kindergarten? Have your children made any wonderful handmade holiday decorations? E-mail us pictures of your favorite kid-created holiday ornaments or decorations.

Then, check back on the blog Monday (Dec. 17) to see all the posted pictures. Vote for yours (or any other one that you like) in our comments section between Monday and noon Friday (Dec. 21). The owner of the picture receiving the most comments will win Domino Rally by Hearth Song. The hard-to-get toy (retailing for $49.98) is currently out of stock — but we’ve got one for our lucky winner.

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Contest | No Comments »

KID NATION: Count down to the end

KID NATIONTick. Tock. In less than 5 hours, the finale for “Kid Nation” airs. We here at aPARENTly Speaking consider this a momentous event. Yes, our boredom is nearing the end. OK, seriously, we’re actually expecting a lot from the finale. Maybe that’s simple hope. Or maybe we’d just like to think we didn’t invest a full season in this show for nothing.

So, to mark the occasion, fellow blogger Ari Soglin and I will chime in with our thoughts LIVE on the blog tonight. Join us at 8 p.m. Tell us what you think in the comments. We’d love to know we’re not in this alone.

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

PARENT OF THE DAY: Oakland mom, son suspects in carjacking case

Today out of Oakland:

Oakland mom, son suspects in carjacking case

Boy allegedly confronted driver with knife after mother gave him ‘nod’, police say

A 40-year-old mother and her 17-year-old son were arrested Monday afternoon in an armed carjacking the woman “gave the nod” for the boy to commit, investigators said.

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Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

YUMMY MUMMY: Modern mom phenom?

Heidi KlumIn today’s Times, we look at the latest phenomenon in modern motherhood – the Yummy Mummy. If you caught the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show last week (click to see a video), then you saw supermodel Heidi Klum jogging back into catwalk shape with an Ironman Sport Utility stroller. And similar scenes of fabulous motherhood abound in the media – “Desperate Housewives”, anyone? But we’re seeing it in the real world too – smoky eyes at the supermarket, couture at the park and even stiletto-heeled mothers tottering through the petting corral at the Oakland Zoo. Fashionista revolution or motherhood evolution? Self-empowerment or maternal mid-life crisis? Or just a passion for high-end shoes? You tell us. Take the poll, then share your thoughts by clicking “Comments.”

Opinion Polls & Market Research

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

LESS YELLING, more joy

Childhood MattersIt’s been ages since we burbled enthusiastically to you about Childhood Matters, Rona Renner’s call-in radio show. The enthusiasm was still there, of course, but we’ve been remiss in our burbling about this terrific resource. Renner, a registered nurse and parenting educator, brings some of the East Bay’s best pediatric and family experts on the air each Sunday to talk about everything from tantrums and whooping cough to cultural issues in parenting.

This Sunday, she’s bringing in parenting and relationship expert Joshua Coleman, author of “The Marriage Makeover,” and her own husband Mick Renner, PhD, to offer ideas for creating a healthy and happy family environment and tips for making-up after a fight. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, put your slippered feet up and tune in to “Less Yelling and More Joy” this Sunday from 9 to 10 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM or 540 KRXA-AM. And join the discussion by calling 1-877-372-KIDS.

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

DUTCH DIPLOMAT tries to return adopted child


At a time of increasing political controversy over foreign adoptions – Guatemala’s foreign adoptions cease Jan. 1; Vietnamese adoptions are stalled, stranding families in Hanoi halfway through the process; and political tensions simmer in Russia and elsewhere – comes this: A Dutch diplomat and his wife are trying to return the daughter they adopted seven years ago. The little girl just doesn’t “fit in” with their lifestyle, they said – although their two biological children, conceived after the adoption, fit in just fine (or maybe they lost the receipt).

According to today’s Daily Mail, the girl was adopted from South Korea when she was just four months old, and the family has lived in Hong Kong since she was three. But, the family told a reporter, the girl was “struggling to adapt to their culture, including food.” Last year, they tried to give her back, only to discover that South Korean authorities see adoption as an unbreakable commitment – you know, like a parent-child bond or something. 

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Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre | 5 Comments »