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Archive for September, 2008

MT. DIABLO Incurs IRS Wrath – Again

Northgate High, Walnut Creek The economy is tanking, Wall Street is crumbling … and the Mt. Diablo school district is in trouble with the IRS for failure to pay payroll taxes again. Ah, some things never change. This time around, the Internal Revenue Service is levying the Mt. Diablo school district for $833,000 in unpaid payroll taxes and penalties from 2006-07. And once again, Superintendent Gary McHenry didn’t bother to notify the board that his administration had just incurred its sixth – at the very least – major IRS violation since 2002. McHenry never told the board about the other five penalties either. They found out about those from the Times, courtesy of a July 15, 2005 investigative piece written by yours truly. But this time around…
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Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »

TEEN Bloggers Hunt “39 Clues”

39 CluesThere was so much buzz about Scholastic’s new “39 Clues,” a 10 volume, multi-author, multi-media game and book about a sister and brother’s hunt for the most powerful treasure, we couldn’t help but be curious. So we passed on a review copy to a favorite sister-brother pair of our own – Rhiannon, age 14, and Max Kelly, 10, major Harry Potter fans, devotees of “39 Clues” author Rick Riordan and book reviewers extraordinaire. Here’s their take!

“Touted by the publisher as ‘The next Harry Potter,’ the 39 Clues series is not disappointing in the sheer scale of the plans for the future of the books. The ten-book series is only part of the experience; there’s an interactive website and trading cards to go along with the story. Readers can become a Cahill and join in the hunt for the 39 clues and win fabulous prizes.

The two main characters, orphaned siblings Amy and Dan Cahill, are 14 and 11 respectively, making it easy for readers of that age group to identify with them. They are unique and spunky; Amy loves reading, and Dan is an avid collector. When their grandmother, their only loved relative, dies, she leaves her relatives with a secret and a challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Under: Books | No Comments »

CITY OF EMBER Movie, Books & Author Appearance

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

Fans of Jeanne DuPrau‘s “City of Ember” series are counting down the days till Oct. 8, when the movie opens. It’s the first installment in a series about a glittering city buried deep beneath the Earth more than 200 years ago to save the human race. But now, the lights are flickering, the vast storerooms are emptying and no one remembers or even wonders how they got here. No one, that is, except 12-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet who run across a mysterious document labeled “Instructions for Egress.”

Read on to find out more about the movie, see the movie trailer, and find out how to meet Jeanne DuPrau this Friday in Menlo Park.
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Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
Under: Books, Movies | No Comments »

QUEEN of Halloween Book Giveaway

"Queen of Halloween" by Mary EngelbreitThere’s a nip in the air, leaves are turning color (well, not in California, but elsewhere!) and mini-Snickers bars fill the aisles … Stores have been celebrating the start of Halloween shopping season for months, of course, but now even we are getting in the mood. So this week we’re giving away a pair of adorable picture books, including Mary Engelbreit’s “Queen of Halloween” and Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul’s tale of “Winnie’s Midnight Dragon.” And all you have to do to win these is click “comments” and tell us, what was your favorite childhood Halloween costume? We’ll draw a winner’s name next weekend. (This contest is now closed. To see the current contest, just click here..)

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
Under: Contest | 29 Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Tween Angst, Smart Money & More

Parenting (John Roberge, MCT Direct) “Not Just ‘Mean Girls': A Toolkit for Parents”
Sept. 30 at 6:45 p.m., Seven Hills School, Walnut Creek. Panel discussion on mean girls, social aggression and ways to instill empathy and raise cooperative, constructive, responsible young adults. ($15 per person, teachers are free, click here to register.)

“Autism Education Series for Parents”
Thursdays beginning Oct. 2, 5:15-6:45 p.m. Center for Autisim and Related Disorders at Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto. A 10-part educational series for parents of young children (1-5 years) newly diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. ($5 per session)

“Parent Primer: What to Expect in High School”
Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Campolindo High Library, Moraga. Michael Simon, MFT, gives a year-by-year guide to the teen years, including discipline, sexuality, communication and substance abuse issues. Sponsored by Campolindo parents’ club and Acalanes Adult Ed.
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Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | 1 Comment »

FAMILY TRAVEL: Lakes & Glaciers in Yosemite

The Kiels at Dorothy Lake, Yosemite
This California family retraced a favorite trek with cousins, grandfather and other relatives in tow. Here’s the scoop on their favorite Yosemite destination, Dorothy Lake.
THE TRAVELERS: Dannie, 10, and parents Dan and Nancy Kiel of Pacheco, plus Dannie’s grandpa, Joe Hammon of Carson City, Nev., and uncle Jim Hammon and cousins Jamie, 12, and Justin, 10, of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

THE TREK: We went to Dorothy Lake, a glacier lake, says Dannie, in the northern tip of Yosemite National Park. The area along the Pacific Crest Trail — accessible only by foot or livestock — was a family favorite hiking area. Grandpa wanted his grandkids to see where their parents spent many summers. The trek began at the Leavitt Meadows Pack station and was a 13-hour round trip by horse.
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Posted on Sunday, September 28th, 2008
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

FAMILIES Abandoning Teens in Nebraska

Teen depressionWe’ve all heard of “safe haven” laws that allow parents to abandon a child, usually a baby under age 1, to authorities without being punished. But Nebraska legislators passed an unusual variation that allows parents to abandon not just babies, but children and teens up to age 19 – never expecting people really would. Ahem. In what adoption expert Adam Pertman calls the “worst-case scenario of unintended consequences,” at least 16 children and teens have been abandoned in the last three months. On Wednesday evening alone, three fathers abandoned their children at hospitals in Omaha. One was a widower who left nine of his ten children, ages 1 to 17, saying he couldn’t handle parenthood anymore. Relatives have since contacted the hospital, offering to take the siblings in and saying the father never called them for help.

We’re speechless. Your thoughts?

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
Under: Other | No Comments »


Recalled ride-on toyLead-painted toy recall? Check. Flaming helicopter toys? Check. Scooters that tear open your Achilles tendons? Wait a sec. The Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled 103,000 Razor Power Wing Three-Wheeled Scooters with sharp undersides, after receiving 10 reports of Achilles tendon or ankle lacerations. How serious? Four children had to have tendon surgery and three required stitches to close their wounds. Razor and the CPSC also recalled 30,000 Razor Dirt Quads (pictured), after receiving 60 reports of the throttles of these junior ATV-type toys malfunctioning – the ride-on toys surged forward unexpectedly, knocking riders to the ground. In two cases, children were injured. Follow the links for return information.

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | 1 Comment »


Bla Bla monkeys Are we the only ones fascinated by the props TV and movie set designers use in children’s rooms and nurseries? We LOVED Charlotte’s daughter Lily’s nursery in “Sex and the City” and we actually hit pause midway through last season’s finale of “Without a Trace” (which we only caught the other day because, well, we’ve been busy). We’re not sure if actress Poppy Montgomery‘s new baby has toys as adorable as the striped, stuffed animal her character, Samantha Spade, carefully propped up on a changing table. But we think it came from Blabla Kids – hang on a sec, yes, it did, because we just spotted another one in OK Mag – and now we want one too … even though our kids are wayyyy too old for stuffed toys. Confess – do you covet TV nursery props too?

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Shangri-La Acrobats1. The dazzling Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats take center stage tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Pleasanton’s Amador Theater. ($10-$30)

2. Oakland’s free Sundays in the Redwoods concerts swing into high gear when the Oakland East Bay Symphony performs a “Thousand Strings” concert that includes 12-year-old cellist Clark Pang and Destiny the “Harpist from the Hood.” It all goes down Sunday at 4 p.m. at Oakland’s Woodminster Amphitheatre in Joaquin Miller Park.

3. The California Academy of Sciences‘s grand reopening festivities are this weekend. Enjoy live music and dance and the Academy’s dazzling new space free on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »