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Archive for September, 2008

MAJOR, QUIET victory for foster children

20080104 Orphan(“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.)

So much coming out of Washington right now focuses on the election and bailout of the financial industry. Perhaps that’s how a significant piece of legislation went unnoticed this week. For the first time in this century, Congress agreed on a major reform of child welfare laws. One major change includes extending federal foster care assistance until age 21 for those who are enrolled in school, working or otherwise engaged in “constructive” activities. The reform also provides a more concrete transitional plan for those who age out of the foster care system. Finally, lawmakers recognize that not all 18-year-olds are ready to be declared adults and left to fend for themselves.

Other key changes: Federal adoption assistance is now available to all special needs children. Before assistance was based on whether the birth parents were eligible for welfare. Also, the Adoption Incentives Program was extended and expanded, increasing the financial bonuses awarded to states for children adopted out of foster care. Both measures should help encourage more adoptions. For a full list of changes to the child welfare laws, read here.

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Under: Adoption | No Comments »

EXPELLIARMUS, Bookends!

Recalled Potter BookendsTruthfully, we’d have written about this even if the Consumer Product Safety Commission was only recalling two pairs of Harry Potter bookends – how often do you get to use Hogwarts spells in normal conversation? No, I said “normal” conversation. No, I said … never mind. But the CPSC is actually recalling 36,000 of these Giftco bookends, which were sold through elementary school fundraisers and discount stores from 2004 to 2006. The paint contains excessive levels of lead, and although you’d think they could just use their Time Turners, go back in time, holler “Accio” and fix them all … nope. If you’ve got these in your house, click here for return instructions.

Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

CHOO-CHOOs and CD Reviews

Two Flowers We’ve got another installment of CD reviews from two of our favorite guest bloggers, Trine Gallegos and Sofi, her adorable music expert, age 6, who say…

Nighty night: If you’re like us, we always have music on at night. It’s soothing and comforting … and perhaps a bit Pavlovian. We’ve been playing a variety of quiet music since Sofi first came home. Mostly it’s been classical. I do fear, however, that one day she’ll attend her first symphony and promptly fall asleep! We have added a charming and sweet, non-classical CD to our night-time rotation. It’s called “Two Flowers” by Danielle Sansone, who has an incredibly wonderful voice. This is not your typical baby quiet time music. Sansome’s voice is layered, and the music rich. This is a lovely CD, a nice gift for the newborn or even the first grader, who still likes sweet music at bedtime.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

BUGABOO Stroller Detailing?

Stroller (photo-illus by Noah Musser, MCT)
We hardly know where to start. You know those uber-expensive Bugaboo strollers? Now, there’s a company that does Bugaboo detailing. You know, like a super fancy car wash only for strollers, instead of Maseratis. The Ooh-La-La package ($79.99-$89.99) includes upholstery cleaning, chassis and bassinet scrub down and all kinds of TLC for your wheels. Diaper fiasco? Projectile vomiting? No worries, San Francisco’s Buggy Bubbles does emergency “Uh Oh” work for $59.99. They also offer such specialty a la carte services as foot muff washing. (And no, we’re not sure what that even is. But Bugaboos are $900 strollers whose accessories include $25 cup holders for your latte … or perhaps for baby’s chai.)

We’re torn between admiration for the clever couple who came up with this one, and another emotion entirely. Reality check, please? Click “comments” and tell us what you think, or punch a button on the poll…

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Under: Just Bizarre | 7 Comments »

SPEED RACER Giveaway

Speed RacerWe have no idea where the summer went. Seems like school just got out and whoosh, an entire summer blockbuster season raced by. So when this brand new Speed Racer DVD crossed our desk, we immediately went into deep mourning over the movies we’d missed – even though, silly us, this is not the big silver screen “Speed Racer” that hit cineplexes last May. No, this one’s even newer – an animated, full-length movie called “Speed Racer Next Generation: Fast Track.” It releases next week, but lucky you, you can have it NOW. We’ll draw a winner Sunday night, but all you have to do is click “comments” and tell us, what was the best kid-friendly movie you saw this summer? (This contest is now closed! For the current giveaway, just click here.)

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Under: Contest | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Tweens, Middle School and Mean Girls

Mean girls (John Roberge, illus.) “Understanding Your Middle School Child”
Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at The Creek Youth Center, Walnut Creek. Michael Simon, family therapist and founder of Practical Help for Parents, leads a discussion on tweens, psychological development, middle school and parenting challenges. (Free but rsvp.)

“Booties Camp: Baby Yoga”
Sept. 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland. Third in a series of five “Baby Basics” classes for new and expectant parents. (Register with Bananas.)

“Special Education Community Resource Fair”
Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Cameron School, 7140 Gladys Ave., El Cerrito. West Contra Costa school district resources fair for parents and the community. Lunch provided. For info, call Jeanine Bishop at 510-526-8631.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

TRAVEL Q&A: Dishing on Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest
Our family travel guru, Donna Airoldi from the fabulous TravelMuse site, tackles the next tourist quandary: Munich’s famous Oktoberfest, the two-week festival that celebrates beer, good food and revelry on a meadow covered in huge, elaborate tents.

Q: What week is better to visit Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany? The first week, when it is just getting kicked off? Or the second week when things are up and running? I have just started planning our trip for next year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
- East Bay reader

Hot type A (Stock.Xchng Photos) Donna says: A friend who lived in Munich for five years, and has returned to Germany several times for Oktoberfest, has this advice to offer: In terms of the weekdays, it really doesn’t matter. But weekends are very different experiences. Opening weekend, there are two parades: The first one takes places on the Saturday that Oktoberfest opens and it is the parade of beer wagons. On Sunday, it’s the parade showing traditional styles of dress from different regions of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. She says this is amazing to see and definitely recommends it.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

FAMILY TRAVEL: Kauai & Quirky Food Fun

LeBlanc Family on KauaiHawaii-bound? Susan LeBlanc and her daughter spent six days on the Garden Island of Kauai this summer, and while Susan’s daughter Nicole is now all grown-up, many of their discoveries would do splendidly for any family headed for Hawaii. So here’s the scoop – the Lappert’s coconut-macadamia ice cream scoop.
THE TRAVELERS: Paralegal Susan LeBlanc and her daughter, sales rep Nicole Roulette, Oakland.

THE TREK: Six days of wonderful mother-daughter time in a tropical paradise.

BEST BEDS: The Sheraton Kauai Resort at Poipu Beach. The island is so small, says Suan, that any destination is only a few hours away. From our balcony we could even see humpback whales breaching and spouting in the distance.

MEMORABLE MEALS: We loved the Savage Shrimp Truck — a truck parked at the intersection of Hoonani and Lawai roads, not far from the hotel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

COLLEGE Admins Scan Applicants’ Facebook Pages

This should be chilling news for any teen. According to Kaplan, the test prep folks, one in ten college admissions officers check out their applicants’ Facebook and MySpace pages as part of their applicant vetting process. And some 38 percent found information that reflected poorly on the applicant. It wasn’t necessarily because they’d posted pictures from the teen kegger, either. In one case, an applicant bragged about having aced his application, even though he didn’t want to go to that school. So the school didn’t put him in that situation – they rejected him first.

Your thoughts? Punch a button on the poll or click “comments” and share.

Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

AMERICAN GIRL Craft Workshop

American Girl crafts Got an American Girl fan at home? The folks at Michael’s Crafts are hosting a free American Girl-themed family workshop this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Kids can make customized T-shirts and handbags for their AG dolls or favorite teddy bear. Cute! It’s all part of the publicity push for two new AG craft books, “Doll Tees: Sparkling Shirts to Make Your Doll Shine” and “Doll Purses: Create Tiny Totes Your Doll Will Treasure.” Perfect for ages 8 and up.

Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008
Under: Crafts | 1 Comment »