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Archive for January, 2008

NORTHGATE Principal Quits

Northgate High, Walnut Creek
Latest news for those of you following the Mt. Diablo saga – In a surprise move, the principal of Northgate High, where families are trying to secede from the Mt. Diablo school district, announced her resignation today over the school’s PA system. Martha Riley said she had intended to retire last June, but stayed on to fill 19 teacher vacancies at her school. What she didn’t say was that those vacancies were part of a mass exodus last year. Students found themselves sitting in college-prep math classes, for example, taught by substitute after substitute for months, in a school where 19 out of 66 teachers had bailed. It’s one of the factors fueling the parental outrage that led to the secession effort, in the house that Jack, er, Riley and McHenry built. Riley’s last day will be Feb. 29. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this saga…

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »


We had big fun during last week’s baby books contest collecting baby gift tips, from baby slings and onesies to diaper cakes. (And boy, are we glad our kids never received the 5-ft tall stuffed Mutual of Omaha tiger D described as a what-not-to-do!) Congrats go out to Vicki – lover of baby Uggs and last week’s winner.

And now, on to this week’s challenge. This one’s inspired by Nancy Yi Fan, the 12-year-old author of the New York Times bestseller “Swordbird” and its prequel, “Sword Quest.” Yeah, we’ll give you a moment to re-read that. Twelve. 12. A decade plus two. This action-packed, fantasy epic, written by what can only be described as a literary prodigy, is about the bird battles of Stone-Run Forest and the legendary Swordbird who can conquer evil and restore peace to the land. Young Nancy’s favorite book is “Charlotte’s Web,” which hit the silver screen last year in a charming re-make. We figure it’s just a matter of time before some Hollywood movie studio options “Swordbird” too. Meanwhile, here’s how you can win this magical duo of tween-perfect reads. Click comments (we’ll draw a winner’s name this weekend) and tell us, what movie, based on a wonderful children’s book, is your family’s fave?

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Books, Contest | 9 Comments »


Happy Birthday, Legos! It was 50 years ago today that the Lego brick was born in all its colorful plastic wonderfulness, and we, for one, would like to say thank you, Big L, for all those sleepy summer afternoons spent snapping together the little onesies and 2x6s to make spaceships, houses and other fantastical creations. Today, there are enough Legos out there to build 10 columns tall enough to reach from the Earth’s surface to the moon. Lego factories churn out 620 new Lego sets a minute, and the population of Lego people will soon outstrip the number of humans. So when we heard about Steve Klusmeyer’s inspirational little tract, “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From LEGOs,” we just had to share:

  • Size doesn’t matter. When stepped on in the dark, a 2X2 LEGO brick causes the same amount of pain as a 2X8 brick.
  • All LEGO men are created equal (1.5625 inches tall). What they become is limited only by imagination.
  • There is strength in numbers. When the bricks stick together, great things can be accomplished.
  • Disaster happens. But the pieces can be put back together again.
  • And every brick has a purpose. Some are made for a specific spot – most can adapt almost anywhere – but every one will fit somewhere.

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Teens, Tuition & Teeth

Calm drivers ILLUS.jpgTeen drivers, college woes and baby teeth – here’s what’s up on the parent ed scene:
“Drawing Out the Best in Your Child”
Jan. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m., Diablo Vista Middle School, Danville
Speaker: Jon Pearson, learning skills consultant; sponsored by SRV Council PTA (Free, but rsvp)

“Drive Smart, Stay Safe: A Class for Teens and Parents”
Jan. 30 at 6 p.m., Acalanes High, Room 105, Lafayette
Sponsored by the California Highway Patrol. Teens and parents must attend together. (Free, but you must pre-register by calling 925-280-3980 ext. 8001.)

“Parents’ Day Out: Mt. Diablo Parenting Conference”
Feb. 2 from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Concord High, Concord
Workshops include “Teen Stress and Depression: How Parents Can Help,” “Never Argue with Your Teen Again,” “Tools for Smart Parenting;” Sponsored by the Mt. Diablo District, or call 685-7340, ext.2773. ($25 per person or $40 per couple, incl. breakfast and lunch)
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Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

BIG Q2: What Would You Do?

?! by Dhiegaum/StockXchng
Here’s your chance to be the advice columnist. This question popped up the other day and rather than offer up our thoughts, we thought we’d ask all the parents out there, “What would you do?”

“My daughter loves apple juice. She’d drink it all the time, if she could. But now the dentist is saying it’s bad for her teeth. What now?”

Click “comments” and weigh in with your tips and advice!

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008
Under: Advice | No Comments »

FAMILY TRAVEL: Tanzania Safari

The Tennenbaum Family in Tanzania
We’ve spent the last few months traveling the world – vicariously – through our adventuresome readers. This time, we’re off to Africa with the Tennenbaums of Oakland, and they’re giving us the scoop on where to go, what to do and how to do it….
THE TREK IN A SEC: This Oakland family spent 12 days in Tanzania, Africa for a “Safari Serengeti” trip — and 25th wedding anniversary celebration.

THE TRAVELERS: Lee Eisman, founder of East Bay Moms, husband, Jay Tennenbaum, retired, and their son Jordan, age 14.
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Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008
Under: Family Travel | 4 Comments »

MT. DIABLO DIVORCE Part II: Caught in middle as petition to move W.C. schools submitted

School question by Earl Lam, MCTNorthgate High parents officially submitted a petition Friday asking that Walnut Creek schools in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District be moved to the Walnut Creek and Acalanes Union High school districts. As Shirley Dang reported in the Times, this likely will pit neighbor (Concord) against neighbor (Walnut Creek) because those W.C. schools in MDUSD include some Concord students.

It’s an issue I’ve paid close attention to because I find my family smack in the middle of it. We live in the Limeridge community, right on the border of Walnut Creek but on the Concord side. We choose to stay here because my step-daughter attends Valle Verde Elementary and next year will move on to Foothill Middle School. Like so many parents, we’re frustrated by the continuing financial problems – among others — facing Mt. Diablo. On one thing all parents seem to agree: we’d like to see solutions that benefit our children. Is breaking apart the district the right solution? That’s not easy to answer, because I can see points on both sides.

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Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008
Under: Schools | 14 Comments »

FAB FIVE: Things you may have missed at preschool fair

eastbaymomsfairTheaters for babies. Hand-sewn storyboards. Purple “Gak.” Those are just a few of the things you missed if you couldn’t attend Saturday’s 10th annual East Bay Moms Preschool & Childhood Resource Fair in Oakland. Here are five participants who grabbed our attention. (For a complete list of participants and to order a copy of East Bay Moms’ Preschool & Child Care Program Directory, visit their Web site or call 510-653-7867.)

pacific kid1. Pacific Kid in Walnut Creek — This educational toy company is appealing when you consider the fears about lead-based toys. The gorgeous cloth storyboards and play walls (pictured right) come with hand-sewn felt animals featuring Velcro for easy movability. The animals are made by women in Thailand, which helps their economic situation, says co-owner Karen McHugh.

mandarin2. Small World of Lamorinda and My Early Start in San Francisco — Small World offers Mandarin immersion and music programs for kids ages 1-6. My Early Start sells DVDs that teach Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin has become popular among programs teaching young children foreign languages.

baby brigade3. Baby Brigade at Speakeasy Theaters — Parents with infants 1 year and under are invited to dinner and a movie (where crying babies won’t be asked to leave, promises Cerrito general manager Jenny Martens). Baby Brigade is at the Oakland location on Mondays and El Cerrito on Tuesdays.

gak4. Habitot Children’s Museum in Berkeley — At the fair, children could play with purple “Gak,” (pictured left) an interesting clay-like substance that looked a little like slime. (Is it any wonder kids were loving this stuff? You can buy the recipe at the museum and make your own.) Thursday evenings the museum offers free admission from 5-7 p.m. See its Web site for a list of activities.

tumble&tea5. Tumble & Tea Cafe in Oakland — The cafe for parents and tots has expanded to include a New Parent Resource Center. Workshops range from support groups to feeding instruction and an effective parenting series (the latter taught by MarRem Remington, LMFT).

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008
Under: Babies & Tots, Fab Five | 1 Comment »

MUSICAL Petting Zoo

Tootling flutes, cheery cellos and brassy trumpets – how often do you get to actually touch one of these, let alone play it? May we introduce you to the California Symphony’s annual Family Concert and “Instrument Petting Zoo”?

The event is so insanely popular, they’re doing it twice this year: Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, and April 13 at 2 p.m. at Antioch’s El Campanil Theatre. Tickets are $5, and the petting zoo instruments are provided by Best Music, one of our favorite music shops. (If your kid falls in love with a tuba or piccolo at the petting zoo, you’re going to come to know Best very, very well.)

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

Gee, your kid is really fat!

I’ll never forget what it felt like as a kid for family members and friends to comment on my weight, which fell into a category the Sears catalog dubbed “husky.”

I was devastated when a relative compared my tummy to a turtle’s and when a family friend noticed that I had returned from a vacation looking a little plump.

After a few years on the swim team and some natural growth, I was fine, even thin, by the end of high school. Now that I’m older, I’ll never be skinny and that’s OK.

Given that experience, and all we now know about eating disorders, I try to be extra careful with my own daughter, who seems to have inherited my body type.

What’s been a bit shocking is how other adults don’t seem to have picked up on the need to be sensitive about this.
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Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Under: Health & Safety, Parenting Issues | No Comments »