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Archive for June, 2008

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Lawrence Hall of Science
1. Check out the new “Engineer It” fest at the Lawrence Hall of Science this weekend. Float your boat, make a quake, build a bridge. Then venture over to “Science on a Sphere” and watch hurricanes form and tsunamis roar across an animated globe. ($6-$11)

2. Squish, drip and drool at MOCHA’s family workshop this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Paint with shaving cream, soap bubbles, salad spinners and more. ($7 per child)

3. The Oakland Museum hosts a “Birth of the Cool” day for kids this Sunday fro 1 to 4 p.m. Build a model home, learn DJ turntable basics, make art. (Free with museum admission)
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Posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

BABY BORROWERS: Bring on the belly, then baby

NUP_110013_0150“Baby Borrowers,” reality TV’s lesson in parenthood for five teen couples, has me torn. The five teenage couples on the show are contemplating parenthood, so the TV experiment has set them up in houses where they will spend a few days raising babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teens and elderly “parents.” With statistics showing less than half of teen parents stay together and even fewer manage to stay off welfare, I came into the new series rooting for temporary parenthood to knock some sense into these teens. Yet, one episode in and I find myself secretly rooting for a few of them. But not all. Definitely not all of them.

Fact is, almost every teen on the show needs a swift reality check. The immaturity level has spiked clear off the chart. The only exception, perhaps, is Sean. He agreed to the experiment to show his girlfriend, Kelsey, that she’s not ready to be a parent. Smart, except at times he seemed a little too bent on her failing and passing off “parenthood” with a few jokes (more on that in a minute). Not so smart are Kelly and her boyfriend, Austin. Why does she think she’s ready for parenthood? “Because I love kids,” she told the audience. Oh sweetie, love alone isn’t going to get you through sleepless nights, dirty diapers, puking kids and the harsh reality of what it costs — financially, physically and emotionally — to raise a child. And ironically enough, she couldn’t even get through one day of “pregnancy.”

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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Baby Borrowers | No Comments »

39 CLUES, Heir to Harry Potter?

"Maze of Bones" (Scholastic Press) Go on. Admit it. We’re all looking for the next “Harry Potter.” But Scholastic, HP’s U.S. publisher, thinks it may have actually found the heir, so to speak, to the wildly popular book series in a new multi-media book and game they’re launching in September. And Steven Spielberg seems to agree.

The 39 Clues” is a 10-volume mystery series about a powerful, ancient family — the Cahills — whose members include Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin and every major power figure of the last 500 years. (Hmm, sounds kinda Freemason-like, no?) Young Amy, age 14, and Dan Cahill, 11, are caught up in a desperate race to find the 39 clues — hidden across the ages and around the world, we’re told by Scholastic — that lead to ultimate power, before another branch of their family beats them to it.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Books | No Comments »

BABY BORROWERS: Much needed lesson on teen parenthood

logoThe provocative and somewhat controversial new reality show “Baby Borrowers” hits NBC tonight at 9 p.m. Tongues started wagging — mine included — even before the episodes were released to anyone for viewing. The premise: Take five teenage couples contemplating parenthood and give them a first-hand, albeit fast-tracked, look at raising real babies, toddlers, preteens, teens and even elderly “parents.” The shock value: Real babies! What parents would actually allow their living and breathing children to be part of a televised experiment? Believe me, that idea left me unsettled, too. Feeding, bathing and watching babies 24-7 for three straight days isn’t exactly babysitting.

But in the months since learning about “Baby Borrowers,” I changed my tune in a hurry. Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant (and had her baby). “Juno” became a major hit, putting teenage pregnancy boldly in front of adults and teens alike. And recently, news hit about a possible pact between teenage girls at a Massachusettes high school that resulted in 17 of them getting pregnant. Maybe it’s time to find a way to smack teens over the head with this very serious issue. What about the well beings of five babies placed at the center of a reality TV show? Well, what about the well beings of all those babies born to teen parents each and every day? Maybe the only way to reach teens is through reality TV, even if the reality is skewed.

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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Baby Borrowers | No Comments »

BAY AREA MAMA hosts MamaFest

Bay Area Mama Handbook Bay Area Mama hit the ground running this spring, launching a new family resource web site and a series of “Bay Area Mama Handbooks” for the various Bay Area regions. And this Saturday, they’re hosting “MamaFest,” a free series of workshops and lectures on balancing work and family life, at the San Jose Convention Center.

The books include sections on day tripping and family vacations (Big Basin or Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp, anyone?), as well as schools, swim programs, music lessons, birthday party venues and health tips, customized by region. Interested in theater programs your kids will enjoy? They suggest the East Bay Children’s Theatre, CTA Crossroads, Contra Costa Christian Theater, Contra Costa Musical Theatre and Vallejo Music Theatre as great spots to start. Hmm, where’s Town Hall Theater ? (Click “comments” and add your suggestions too)
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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Family Outings, Parenting Issues | No Comments »

BROKEN CRIBS: 320,000 Baby Beds Recalled

Recalled spindle crib from Toys R Us Check your crib, folks. Toys R Us, Babies R Us and the Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled 320,000 Jardine Cribs, sold between 2002 and 2008, because the wooden slats and spindles break. The resulting gap poses a strangulation and entrapment hazard. There have already been 42 incidents of slats and spindles breaking. Four children became entrapped and two suffered bruises and abrasions. Visit the CPSC site for a full list of affected models (including the one pictured).

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

JC PENNEY Teen Sex Ad?

The news is spreading like wildfire, molten lava or whatever other incendiary metaphor you prefer to describe this: that JC Penney‘s latest ad, which shows two teens practicing for an illicit afternoon by timing how quickly they can shed their clothes, just won a prize at the Cannes Lions, an international advertising awards event, over the weekend. The “Today’s the day (to get away with it)” ad is spectacular – artsy, edgy, evocative. But JC Penney??? Teen sex? What the-? Turns out, it was unauthorized. More on that in a moment. But first, the ad itself:

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Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Under: Teens | 11 Comments »


The Jonas Brothers star in The Disney Channel looks to have another major hit on its hands with “Camp Rock.” The hot new show, which debuted Friday night, distills all the same tween-pleasing aspects of “High School Musical” into a summer camp-themed movie, then adds the insanely popular Jonas Brothers. So how hot is hot? Some 8.9 million viewers tuned in for the premiere – making the show’s debut more popular even than the original HSM airing – and the show just got hotter as the night went on. Kids must have been madly texting because by the show’s last half hour, another million had tuned in too.

So now we’re really curious. Did you see it? What did you think? Punch a button on the poll or click “comments” and chime in with your critique.

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens, TV | No Comments »

“BABY BORROWERS” Hits the Airwaves

Watching "The Baby Borrowers"So, NBC’s new reality-based series, “The Baby Borrowers,” launches tomorrow night. Based on a British series, BB gives teen couples a taste of parenthood by installing them in suburbia and handing them babies and toddlers. Over the course of the series, they’ll also be given preteens, teens and senior citizens – the latter so they can experience that “sandwich generation” feel too. It’s a controversial concept and nowhere did it get as interesting a critique as at Crossroads High School, an alternative school for teen mothers in Concord, where Times TV critic Chuck Barney screened the “Baby Borrowers” pilot with students earlier this week. The opening line?

“Cassie Hadley, an 18-year-old mother from Martinez, is getting a firsthand lesson in just how unreal reality TV can be… ‘No way!’ she blurts upon discovering that the show’s five teen couples have been moved into spacious homes on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac for this intriguing prime-time experiment. ‘They should be in trailers or in tiny, crowded apartments,’ says Handley, as she bounces her 1-year-old son, Money, on her knee.”

Check out Chuck’s story this morning, then check back here each week as blogger Ann Tatko – who dissected “Kid Nation” so fabulously last fall with colleague Ari Soglin — analyzes and critiques “Baby Borrowers” each Wednesday night.

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Under: TV | No Comments »

KIT KITTREDGE: American Girl Giveaway

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

The new “American Girl” movie, “Kit Kittredge,” opens July 2 at a megaplex near you and it should be pretty wonderful — the G-rated movie features Abigail Breslin as the intrepid Depression-era Kit, and Chris O’Donnell, Julia Ormond, Joan Cusack and Stanley Tucci fill out the star-studded cast. We’re posting the film trailer after the jump, but first, we’re celebrating Kit’s cinematic debut by giving away two American Girl books, “Meet Kit” and the just-released “Really Truly Ruthie.” (Ruthie, for those of you not steeped in AG lore, is Kit’s best friend.) And all you have to do to win is click “comments” and tell us, which American Girl is your favorite? We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday. (P.S. Congrats to Johannah, who won last week’s Jungle Book DVD!) (This contest is now closed — congrats, Holly!)
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Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2008
Under: Books, Contest | No Comments »