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Archive for July, 2008

FAMILY TRAVEL: Mt. Rushmore

Joyce Zee at Mt. Rushmore
Thinking about making the trek to Mt. Rushmore? There’s more to South Dakota than a bunch of rocky presidents. Just ask Joyce Zee and Brandon Wong, the first finalists in the the Times’ “One Perfect (Vacation) Day” family travel contest. And this, they say, is how to do Mt. Rushmore with flair – and luge rides:

THE TREK: “We spent Memorial Day weekend at the Black Hills in South Dakota with the main purpose of visiting Mount Rushmore. Who knew we could have so much fun in South Dakota?”
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Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2008
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

ONE PERFECT DAY: Family Travel Contest

ParisHey, family travelers!
The Times is running a family travel contest this summer. We want to hear about one perfect day from your family vacation – and there are some pretty fabulous prizes, including a weekend on the beach in Cambria (including hotel suite and tickets to Hearst Castle), cool travel gadgets and “backseat survival kits” filled with cool books, DVDs and activity kits. And with a deadline of Aug. 21, there’s still plenty of time to enter. There’s more info at this web site, but here’s the basic scoop:

Pick your favorite vacation destination, and give us the basic details on …
The Travelers: names, occupations, kids’ age(s) and hometown
The Trek: Where you went and why
Best Beds: Your favorite lodging
Best Eats: Your favorite restaurant or cafe
And a cool sightseeing excursion or two
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Posted on Saturday, July 26th, 2008
Under: Contest, Family Travel | No Comments »

MORE Flaming Helicopters of Doom

Recalled helicopters
Remember a few weeks ago when we suggested that you refrain from letting your kids play with toys that burst into flame, torch the drapes and otherwise threaten hearth, home and child? Take a look in your toybox, we said, because after three large-scale recalls of remote control helicopters this year, it’s only a matter of time before every toy maker discovers their copters self-combust too. Well, the Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled another 685,000 toy helicopters because the battery inside the Sky Scrambler and Sharper Image toys overheats, ignites and sets things on fire. That brings our 2008 flaming copter recall count up to 971,000. (Visit the CPSC web site for other toy recalls.)

Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | 1 Comment »

“TWILIGHT” Fans Abuzz at Comic Con

twilightGot a “Twilight” fan at home? Then you’ll want to read this. Vampire fever took over Comic Con in San Diego yesterday — that’s vampire as in Edward, dreamy hero of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling YA novels, not Dracula. And the chance to see footage from the new movie, “Twilight,” which opens Dec. 12, had hundreds of teens camped overnight on the sidewalk. Thousands filled the comic convention’s largest exhibit hall, and screams erupted when the young stars of the flick were introduced. They’re familiar faces, too. Edward will be played by Robert Pattinson, who you may remember as hunky heartthrob and all-around good guy Cedric Diggory in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Bella is Kristen Stewart (“Jumper” and “Zathura”). Want a sneak peek of your own? Summit Entertainment has trailers posted here.

Are you counting down the days till the film debuts? Click comments and tell us what makes “Twilight” so very compelling?

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: Books, Movies | No Comments »

PREGNANCY “PACT”: Chapter Two

pregnant Remember the story about the Gloucester teens and their alleged pregnancy pact? Whether or not the pact ever existed, the shocking fact was that 17 teens from a single high school got knocked up this year. Now, Massachusetts school and city officials are (finally) doing something besides hand-wringing. The city plans to host three community forums, including one for teens, on the topic this fall. And school officials met with teen pregnancy experts last night to discuss ways to improve sex education and give teens better access to contraception. The high school does not distribute condoms, but a new, federally-funded health center is opening nearby. One school board member asked whether they could hold student contraceptive discussions there, instead of at school.

Obviously, it’s too late for the 17 soon-to-be mothers. But what about the rest? Is this a good first step? Too little, too late? Or are they targeting the wrong age group? Click “comments” and share your thoughts.

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

GOOD NEWS on the Math Front

Brain power (illus. by Gary Meader, MCT) Remember those horrifying statistics about girls’ math scores sadly lagging behind boys’? Twenty years ago, girls and boys’ mathematical prowess was fairly equal through the elementary years, but by the time they hit high school, there was just no comparison. Those days are over, according to a new study of 7 million children, published by UC Berkeley and University of Wisconsin, Madison, researchers this morning in Science Magazine. Today’s girls do every bit as well as boys on standardized math exams, probably because they’re finally taking the same number of challenging math courses in high school.

Well, duh. But here’s where it gets interesting.
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Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »

FAB FIVE For the Weekend

Save the Bay canoe trek
1. Pack a picnic, don some grubbies and head out for a family canoe trek at Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh this Saturday. It’s $20 for kids 10-18 and $45 for grown-ups, but the cost covers canoes, paddles, life jackets and guides — and it all goes to Save the Bay. (Are you a South Bay family? They’re doing it again in Palo Alto on Aug. 9!)

2. Fly a kite or just enjoy the spectacle of colorful, gigantic airborne things at this weekend’s Berkeley Kite Festival at Cesar Chavez Park at the Marina, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free.
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Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

BABY BORROWERS: Teen quits, another rises to occasion

The Baby BorrowersSo long Daton, and frankly, good riddance. Neither he nor Morgan showed the maturity needed to be a couple, let alone parents, in the “Baby Borrowers,” but his behavior was way out of line. He was downright cruel to Morgan, saying she would look better without makeup, calling her a “bitch” and dropping the hate word with too much ease. Poor teen Eddie looked extremely uncomfortable watching his “teen parents” break-up within an hour of showing up on their doorstep.

But major props to Morgan. Instead of bailing on the experiment, she decided to stick it out as a “single” mom. She planned to live up to her commitment. And for the first time, she not only showed real maturity, she actually showed glimpses of being a true mom. When Eddie took part in the contrived t-p of the court, she was all over him in a disappointed but not over-the-top angry manner. Even better, she finally called her mom to apologize for her juvenile behavior during their surprise visit back during the baby episode. If this episode was any indication, she’s a much better person without Daton. It was great to see her finally turn the corner, especially because not every couple fared so well.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Under: Baby Borrowers | No Comments »

GOSSIP GIRL’S “Mind-Blowingly Inappropriate” Ads

Gossip Girl promoSo “Gossip Girl,” the CW’s frothy soap about privileged, extraordinarily good-looking, prep school teens is back in the news, this time for its racy ads. Wait. Didn’t we talk about this a few months ago? That’s when their ads featured a certain gorgeous blonde, spotted on the East Side, going at it hot and heavy with her BFF’s BF. XOXO. Anyway, the tagline on that ad was “OMFG,” which made the Parents Television Council writhe in horror. (And OK, we laughed, because mainstream magazines use four-letter words these days, and the PTC is upset about letters of the alphabet? Those letters are probably flying right over the heads of everyone outside the Gossip Girl demographic anyway.)

Now, the newest GG ads show their beautiful cast members kissing, lounging, whatever over a new set of taglines, each one a quote from a reviewer: “Every Parent’s Nightmare,” “A Nasty Piece of Work” and “Mind-Blowingly Inappropriate” — a quote from the Parents Television Council review. And man, is the PTC steamed. So, what do you think? Punch a button on the poll or click “comments” and dish…

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Under: Gossip Girl | No Comments »

WAITING FOR BABY: Bad seed slips through crack

20070719 Shattered lives(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Fingerprinting twice seemed a little absurd. As part of the pre-adoption home study process, my husband and I had to have our fingerprints processed for the background check. Not once, but twice. We had to make two separate appointments. We had to have our fingers pressed onto a computer screen and then come back a few minutes later and do it all over again. Asinine, I thought at the time. Why couldn’t the fingerprints we’d just given be copied and sent for each of the required state and federal background checks?

The logistics of this remain a mystery. The need for background checks does not. Last week, a New York woman was sentenced to almost 11 years in prison for fraud that led her to adopt 11 disabled children. Authorities say Judith Leekin physically and emotionally abused those children while collecting more than $1 million in subsidies. The children were beaten, locked in a room without food, denied medical and dental care and kept out of school. The damage is irreversible — and the reason why so many of us who plan to adopt wish the punishment extended well beyond what Leekin has received.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Under: Adoption | No Comments »