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Archive for December, 2008

HAPPY New Year!

New Year's Balloon Drop at Chabot (Jane Tyska/Oakland Tribune)
Happy New Year from the aParently Speaking bloggers, who hope you have as much fun in 2009 as these kids at Chabot Space and Science Center‘s New Year’s Eve Day celebration did today!
New Year's Balloon Drop at Chabot (Jane Tyska/Oakland Tribune)

Posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Under: Other | No Comments »

FAB Five for the New Year Holiday

The Time Outs
1. Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a little kid-friendly rock and roll at Walnut Creek’s Red House, courtesy of the Time Outs (pictured above). The band plays – and kids get air guitar lessons and rock star makeovers too – at 4:30 and 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. (Tickets: $10 each or $30 per family)

2. Downtown Martinez turns into a family friendly, festive zone today from 3 p.m. till midnight for First Night — live music, plenty of entertainment and fabulous fun. ($8-$11)
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Posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

TOO MUCH attention for Bristol Palin’s baby

palinfamilyoutsidev02pr1The baby’s birth is the top article on Even before his birth, the baby had receive thousands of gifts from around the world, according to his great grandpa. About the only thing clouding this picture is the fact that the baby in question belongs to the teenage daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The articles gush about how the family is so excited, and we certainly don’t want to begrudge them their happiness. But let’s not forget that Bristol Palin is part of an alarming statistic — an astounding number of unwed (for now) teenage moms.

By propping her up, highlighting the celebrity factor and glorifying all those baby gifts, we send mixed messages to other teens. What they see is the fun stuff, not the lifetime commitment, the financial hardships and the reality checks that come with being parents while still essentially kids themselves.

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Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
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GREAT Kids Books

"Ivy & Bean" by Annie BarrowsGuest blogger Trine Gallegos and her kid lit expert Sofia, age nearly-7, say cuddly book reading time should be an everyday thing. “We have been reading to Sofia since she entered our world 7 years ago on Jan. 12,” says Trine. “Seriously, we have read to her daily, nearly without fail. This has been a win-win situation, Sofia loves stories and has become a top reader, and we enjoy the endless joyful books out there. Here are a few of our current favorites…

Ivy & Bean” by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall: I was attracted to the cute little cover of the title characters, took a gamble and bought it. Wow, did my gamble ever pay off. This chapter book covers the “adventures” of these 7-year-olds. Bean is a bit of a wild tomboy, while Ivy is a quiet bookworm. They seem an unlikely pair, but oh what a pair these two become. Sofia and I have plowed through the first four books, and can’t wait to get our hands on Book 5: “Bound to be Bad.” I’ve shared this with two first-grade teachers, who found the book entertaining and charming. They said they’d read this with their students. Do us a favor; share this book with as many little elementary-school readers as you can. (And parents, pick up Annie Barrows’ “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” for yourself. Best. Book. Ever. JB)
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Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
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ZOO’s Shoes Giveaway

The Zoo's ShoesForget ordinary sneakers! Lynn Brunelle and Emilie Chollat’s charming “Zoo’s Shoes” board book lets your tot practice his shoelace-tying skills on a stripey zebra shoe, a speckled giraffe shoe and so on through all the Zoo’s shoes. Very, very cute. And all you have to do to win this adorable picture book is click “comments” and tell us, did you do shoelaces or velcro? (Congrats, by the way, to Marci who won last week’s “Orangutan” DVD!)

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Under: Books, Contest | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Toddlers and Tech Savvy Teens

Playground“Childhood Matters: Setting Limits & Yelling Less”
Jan. 3 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN and panelists discuss discipline, kids and the art of setting limits.

“Living in the World of iPhone, Wii & MySpace”
Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at Walnut Creek Intermediate. Sponsored by Acalanes Adult Ed Free.

“Living with Ones and Twos”
Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland. Meg Zweiback, RN, offers practical advice on parenting babies and toddlers. (Free. Child care available for $5 by reservation only.)
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Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

TRAVEL: Family Adventures on the Amalfi Coast

The Hallers on the Amalfi Coast
Looking for travel inspiration? Italy is a perfect destination for families, says the Haller family, but “while Rome, Florence, and Venice are wonderful stops on any Italian vacation, don’t miss the stunning beauty of the Amalfi coast and the rich history of Pompeii.” Here’s the scoop on where to go, where to stay and what to do:

THE TRAVELERS: Chemical engineer Doug Haller, physician Christine Haller and their children Timothy, 17, Jameson, 14, and Madelyn, 11, of San Rafael.

THE TREK: “Our first trip for Tim’s graduation was to Paris and London, which was fabulous,” says Christine, “so we were eager to go abroad again when Jameson graduated from eighth grade last year. For this trip we chose two weeks in Italy. A highlight of this vacation was our time spent in Southern Italy along the Amalfi Coast. Jameson was interested in volcanoes as a young child, so a visit to Pompeii prompted this itinerary.”
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Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008
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FAB FIVE for the Long Weekend

Family Day at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (courtesy CJM)
1. Celebrate Hanukkah and festivals of light from around the world as you explore San Francisco’s cool Contemporary Jewish Museum on Dec. 25. This free Family Day features art-making, exhibitions, and performances, with delicious holiday treats for sale in the Museum Cafe. The fun runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow. (Free, but send a nod of thanks to Target for its support.)

2. San Francisco’s Exploratorium hosts a fun and quirky Holiday Film & Animation Festival Dec. 26-28 at noon and 2 p.m. (Free with museum admission)
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Posted on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

STILL Shopping for Video Games?

Video game controllerStill looking for holiday gifts for the teen or teen-at-heart in your life? Our buddy Danny over at Gamester, the video game blog, just gave us a heads-up on some cool retro video game bundles that … OK, actually he was hinting around that he wants them for Christmas, but we figured video games that cost $9.98 each and don’t involve a trip to the mall might appeal to other people too! Our video game expertise doesn’t stray much beyond “Rock Band,” but Danny’s got the lowdown on all the latest titles, in case you need other ideas too.

Posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN #12: Gingerbread house delights

Staff Photojournalist
It seems fitting to end our 12 Days of Christmas (and Other Holidays) with a little gingerbread. Nothing quite says holiday season like the smell of gingerbread and the look of these delightful houses. My sister-in-law, Lisa, convinced me to let my stepdaughter, Dana, make one with her older cousin four years ago. It’s become an annual tradition ever since. And with each year, Lisa and I get a little more creative. Sure, the kids do the decorating but the base of operations begins with us moms.

We thought it would look great (and smell good) if we could find a way to stick a small light into the back of the house. Naturally, this meant cutting out a window — then several windows, and this year skylights in the roofs. Our first year with windows, we melted Imperial hearts to give them a red sheen that lit up thanks to the inserted light. This year, we got more creative, making our own poured sugar and adding food color for a stained glass effect. Having got the knack of that, we also poured blue sugar to create a river over which Dana add a Tootsie Roll bridge. Creativity has no limits.

Which is one of the reasons why I love the newspaper’s annual Gingerbread House Contest. (See the winners and runners-up online. Pictured is the third-place house, created by a teenager from Foster City) In addition to creative adults, we had quite a few imaginative kid entries this year, too. What I really love about looking at all the pictures is picking up clever ideas for next year. To learn more and find recipes for your creations, continue reading…

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Posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Under: Christmas | No Comments »