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Archive for June, 2008


We’ve got a Backyardigans DVD to give away. In this one, the popular Nickelodeon characters transform their backyard into Mt. Olympus, Atlantis, an alien planet and the land of dinosaurs and cavemen. (OK, so they didn’t co-exist. It’s fiction!)

We love the idea of a show that celebrates imaginary backyard adventures. As children, we went on many a long sea voyage, traversing the Sea of Gravel and the Ocean of Lawn, sustained only by the yellowfish (leaves) we caught along the way — and the booty we looted from pirates. You too? Click “comments” (congrats, by the way to Holly, who won last week’s American Girl giveaway!) and regale us with one of your childhood backyard adventures, and that Backyardigans DVD could be yours! (This contest is now closed — congrats Ann!)

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Contest | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Bullies, Love & Woe

Overworked mom “Childhood Matters”
July 6 at 9 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and 105.1 KOCN-FM
Childhood Matters’ Rona Renner and panelists talk about parenting issues.

“Power Parenting: Cyberbullying”
July 9 at 7 p.m. at Loma Vista Adult Center, Room B-1, 1266 San Carlos Ave., Concord. Speaker: Karen Lingenfelter. The first in a three-part Mt. Diablo Adult Ed series on parenting issues, this workshop focuses on technology, cyberbullies and how to protect your child. ($10 per session or $25 for all three;call 925-685-7340 ext. 2771 for details.)

“10 Great Dates”
July 11-Aug. 29 from 7 to 9:15 Danville’s Community Presbyterian Church
A 10-week series designed to energize marriages and strengthen families. Couples meet every Friday night for light hor d’ oeuvres and a 20-minute video on parenting, communication, love, etc. Childcare for kids in 1st through 5th grades (babysitting vouchers for younger kids). (One time charge of $15 per couple plus $10 for the book.)
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Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

BIG Q: Body Image

?! by Dhiegaum/StockXchngThis question came in over the transom this morning, inspired, we think, by today’s Childhood Matters radio show on body image and preteens. And we’re interested to hear your take. So read the question, then click “comments” and share your thoughts.

“How — and when — do I even begin to broach the topic of body image with my kids? Between that JC Penney ad last week and the pop culture all around us, my kids are bombarded by images of impossibly thin models, actresses and athletes. How do I help them feel OK about their bodies when they look nothing like the images out there?”

(To see previous Q&As, check our advice archives.)

Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Under: Advice | No Comments »

COOL Family Travel Sites

London busLooking for cool, family-centric travel web sites? We recently ran across TravelSavvyMom, which has recommendations for great family-friendly hotels, from Egypt to Belize. At the moment, Jamie Pearson, the TSM herself, and her family are climbing lion statues in Trafalgar Square, riding original red double-decker buses and, er, glossing over the grisly parts of Tower of London history. We’re looking forward to reading her write-up soon.
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Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

FAMILY TRAVEL Contest: One Perfect Day

Road trip (illustrated by Ana Lense Laurrauri, Miami Herald, MCT) Whether it’s a wooden ship-building school in Maine, cattle wrangling in Montana or scooting around Catalina Island via golf cart, when it comes to family vacations, the only limit is imagination … and gas prices, family budgets and swim meet schedules, right? These days, it’s almost harder to carve out a vacation week from the jam-packed family calendar than to plan a fun-filled jaunt. And the possibilities are almost overwhelming — resorts and tour packagers practically fall over themselves to offer kid-friendly adventures, from ziplining in Costa Rica to surf lessons in Hawaii.

We ran a passel of family travel tips in the Times travel section recently, but the experts we really want to hear from are the folks who actually brave the airport lines, hit the road and take their kids on vacation. So the Times is running a travel contest, dubbed “One Perfect Day.” Describe the perfect day in your favorite vacation destination (where to stay, where to eat and what to do), attach a few photos of your family, and send it in! In addition to publishing fame and glory, there are some pretty glorious prizes to be had, including hotel packages, museum tickets and backseat survival kits that include books, DVDs (including TripFlix, a cool made-for-teens travel vid) and more.

Sound like fun? Click here for details or drop us a line. Happy travels!

Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008
Under: Contest, Family Travel | 1 Comment »

WALL-E Charms All Ages

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

Don’t know about you guys but Pixar’s new “WALL-E” is at the top of our must-see movie list this weekend. Critics are falling all over themselves singing its praises – the Orlando Sentinel’s Roger Moore calls the movie “genius,” the best Pixar movie since “Finding Nemo.” Plugged-In Online’s family reviewer says no, it’s the best one ever, with scenes that “evoke a sense of awestruck wonder, innocence and a childlike sense of possibility.” And Common Sense Media, our other favorite family-centric review site, says, “Who would’ve expected an animated feature with stretches of near-silence, a deeply intellectual and ecological bent, and a robot with relatively few bells and whistles to be profoundly moving and thought-provoking, yet still entertaining?”

Have you seen it yet? Click “comments” and tell us what you thought…

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
Under: Movies | No Comments »

KIDS Online & Reading Too

Scholastic study An interesting new study by Scholastic Books and Yankelovich turns conventional wisdom about Internet use and kids’ reading upside down. (Er, that’s the wisdom that’s upside down, not some newfangled acrobatic reading.) According to the 2008 Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, yes, it’s true that more kids go online than read for fun each day, but high-frequency internet users are actually more likely to read for fun than low-frequency users. And nearly two-thirds of kids 9-17 use the Internet to extend their reading experience by visiting websites about the book or looking for more books by the same author.

Here’s what else they found:
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Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
Under: Books, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

KILLER COPTERS or Yet Another Toy Recall

Recalled toy helicopter The Consumer Product Safety folks just recalled another 104,000 toy helicopters because they overheat and burrrrst into flames. They’ve had seven reports of overheating and/or melting Thunder Wolf helicopter toys, including two reports of minor property damage (wait, property damage? what kind of property damage?) and one case where the helicopter — say it with us now — burrrrst into flames. That brings the 2008 recalled flaming copter total to 286,000. Perhaps it’s time to find something else to play with…something that doesn’t ignite …

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

GREAT AMERICAN Backyard Campout

Campfire (Duluth News-Tribune/MCT) Quick, go find a tent! And some graham crackers and marshmallows too. The second annual Great American Backyard Campout, a National Wildlife Federation-sponsored family fest, is this Saturday night and you’ve got two options. Pitch a tent and fire up those s’mores — er, we mean, toast them till they’re golden perfection — in your own backyard or go join a group campout at a park near you.

Nearly 100 families are expected at the city of Oakland’s “Backyard Campout,” for example, at Joaquin Miller Park — and you could be there too. Stargaze with Chabot Space and Science Center experts, enjoy nature talks and storytelling, a magic show, campfire songs and so much more. The $8 registration includes parking, dinner, breakfast, snacks and activities. Need more info? Register for activity#92336.101 at, or call Oakland Parks and Recreation at (510) 238-7275.

Need backyard campout inspiration? Here are some of our favorite links for camping know-how:
Family Fun campout tips, recipes and songs
Scout-o-rama camping recipes
Boy Scout Trail camping recipes
Orinda Boy Scout Troop #237’s Dutch Oven recipes
Or click “comments” and add your fave there.

Posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Under: Cuisine, Family Outings | 1 Comment »

GET SMART, Kid Fare?

"Get Smart" (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros./MCT)
We’ve been waiting eagerly for the “Get Smart” remake — loved the old TV show, adore Steve Carell, so what’s not to like? But is this PG-13 version suitable for the small set? Not particularly, says Plugged-In Online’s family-centric critic, and the movie doesn’t seem sure whether to go goofball or aim for crude, shoot ’em up fare: “One minute we’re in the telephone booth elevator on our way to CONTROL headquarters and having kid-friendly fun with a bumbling wannabe agent and his goofy gadgets. The next, we’re bombarded with bloody fights, painful-looking crotch-thumpings and explosive death scenes.” Common Sense Media says it’s OK for the 12 and up crowd. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Still, “Get Smart” sounds like a better option for kids than Mike Myers’ PG-13 “Love Guru.”
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Posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Under: Movies | No Comments »