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Archive for January, 2009

SCHOOL HEADLINES: Mt Diablo Fireworks, West Contra Closures

Colored pencilsWell, this week sure whooshed past. Here are the big school headlines, in case you missed ‘em:
That peanut butter recall has impacted 162 California schools now, including 12 in Contra Costa and 9 in Alameda counties, where peanut butter cookie dough may have been tainted with salmonella – but no one has gotten sick.

Fireworks over in Mt. Diablo-land, where Superintendent Gary McHenry had recommended eliminating six vice principals as part of his budget cuts. Instead, the school board – with a new majority comprised of Gary Eberhart, Paul Strange and Sherry Whitmarsh – not only rejected that proposal, they told him to eliminate six directors or assistant directors from the previously Teflon-coated district office. And they cut his most trusted aide too. Reporter Theresa Harrington said it was “a visibly deflated superintendent” who left the board meeting, railing that the move was “somewhat vindictive and retaliatory and I’m going to see what action I can take to address it in whatever form is appropriate.” Um, “vindictive”? Really? Looks more like the board is trying to keep cuts as far away from children as possible, in a district that’s already faced year after year of painful cuts, teacher layoffs and jettisoned student programs. Now they’ve cut some $5.8 million from next year’s budget. That number needs to rise to $6.6 million … and those six district administration jobs alone will trim $600K.
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Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
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OCTUPLET MOM: What Was She Thinking?

Octuplets (illustration by Junie Bro-Jorgensen, MCT) A guest post by Times and Tribune features editor Lisa Wrenn:

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time not being really, really judgmental about the Southern California woman who had eight babies, despite (as we just learned this morning) already having six children at home. When I first heard about the team of something like 45 doctors who were assembled to perform the C-section delivering the seven babies expected, I cringed, thinking about the cost of delivering and then caring for all those preemies. But, I told myself, this happens sometimes with fertility drugs, and that’s between a woman and her doctor. Still, I wondered why we in the media were glorifying the event.

But as the news has leaked out about the fact that the family filed for bankruptcy last year, I’m feeling a sense of outrage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

EXPLOSIVE Aromatherapy

Recalled Aromatherapy set Another day, another recall. And this time, it’s exploding Bath Bombs. Yep, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and JAKKS Pacific just recalled more than half a million Spa Factory Aromatherapy Fountain & Bath Benefits Kits. Seems the carbon dioxide in the jars of bath bombs, bath balls and bath fizzies builds up and then, whammo. The jars explode, sending bits of lid and citric acid into children’s faces. CPSC has gotten 88 reports of exploding jars, including 7 instances in which children, ages 6-11, received eye injuries or facial cuts, and four cases where adults were hurt. If your family has this stuff, contact JAKKS and they’ll ship you free replacement lids with vents.

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Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

NFL Football’s Erectile Dysfunction

Football advertising If you’ve spent any time lately watching pro football with your family, you’ve probably fielded some distinctly uncomfortable questions from your tots, including “Mommy, what’s erectile dysfunction?” That’s because 40 percent of the ads aired during pro football games are for Viagra and Cialis.

And the rest aren’t a whole lot more kid-friendly, says Common Sense Media, the San Francisco-based family advocacy group. CSM has spent the last four months watching football games – well, not the games themselves, the 5,000 ads and innumerable network promos that air during the games. And their findings do not exactly gladden parental hearts. We’ll summarize ‘em here, then urge you to go on over to the report itself for more info and tips on what you can do about it.
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Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

SCHARFFEN Berger Factory Closing

Sharffen Berger chocolateOK, factory closings are always sad, sad affairs. But this? Hershey’s is closing the Scharffen Berger factory, easily Berkeley’s most beloved and deliciously fragrant production facility. Sigh. Yeah, the cocoa nibs were fab and chocolate awesome, but it was the factory tour that rocked on the sweetness scale. Hershey’s claims it’s making most of Scharffen Berger’s stock elsewhere anyway – which, I’m sorry, but that’s sacrilegious right there… But the Berkeley factory was a great, offbeat destination for a family outing, a little gourmet Willy Wonka in our own backyard. Yes, the Bay Area has plenty of other wonderful, family-friendly destinations – including that cool Dragonboat Festival on Treasure Island that one of our readers, rkt88edmo, mentioned earlier this week! But let’s take a moment of sad silence for Scharffen Berger…

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Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009
Under: Other | No Comments »

VALENTINE Countdown Coming Soon!

 Valentines Day (Laurie McAdam, MCT)Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Check back with us on Sunday, as we begin our 2-week countdown to the pinkest and sweetest of holidays – Valentine cards, crafts, recipes and classroom party ideas.

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Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009
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VALENTINE … Toys???

OK, people. We need a reality check. Got a press release this morning touting the top 10 Valentine “Toys to Say I Love You With.” And yes, we’re troubled by the uneasy grammar there, but we’re boggled by the notion of a Valentine toy ($5.99-$29.99) shopping list. Chocolates and roses for romantic grown-ups, yes. But Valentine toys? Hmmm… Punch a button on the poll and tell us what you do… Or click “comments” and dish.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
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FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Pippi Longstocking (photo by Joshua Posamentier)1. Pippi Longstocking, left, that irrepressible redhead of kid lit fame, takes the stage at Berkeley’s Julia Morgan Center for the Arts Jan. 31-Feb. 8, in an Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences production. Then, the play moves south to San Ramon’s Front Row Theater for another two weekends of performances Feb. 14-22. (Tickets: $14-$18)

2. Build igloos, make snowflakes and celebrate blizzards at the “Let it Snow” day at Berkeley’s Habitot Children’s Museum this Friday. ($7-$8)

3. Ring it, shake it and play it by ear at the Bay Area Discovery Museum‘s brand new musical sound exhibition, “Play It by Ear: Bing, Bang Bong!” which opens this Saturday at Fort Baker, Sausalito. ($8-$10)
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Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

TURNS Out, Dirt is Good for You

GYMGERMS ILLUS.jpgApparently, toddlers had it right all along. Putting dirt and assorted street treasures — oooo, previously chewed gum! mmm, trash! – in your mouth may be critical to the development of healthy immune systems, say researchers. And our ultra-clean environments are dooming our children to a life of allergies, asthma and other autoimmune maladies.

Baby’s immune systems are like “unprogrammed computers” that need to be taught, Tufts Medical Center gastroenterologist Dr. Joel V. Weinstock told the New York Times in a fascinating article in this morning’s paper. Live too clean and the immune system doesn’t develop properly. Sampling dirt and other unappetizing items lets a child’s immune system learn from the assorted bacteria, viruses and – gag – worms what needs to be dealt with and, says microbiologist Mary Ruebush, “what is best ignored.”

Yep, you read that right. Worms are your baby’s friends. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Postpartum Depression, College & More

Overworked mom“Cash for College Workshops”
Cal Grants is hosting free financial aid workshops throughout the Bay Area, including Jan. 27 at the San Mateo Public Library and Benicia High, and other locations through March.

“Parenting the Net Generation”
Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School Library, Moraga
Speaker: Social worker Jason Brand, who specializes in helping families build positive relationships with technology. Sponsored by Acalanes Adult Ed and Moraga Parent Club. Free.

“Childhood Matters: Postpartum Depression & Dads”
Jan. 31 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on www.childhoodmatters.org. Rona Renner, RN and male postpartum depression experts Dr. Will Courtenay and David Klinker on the signs of depression fathers can look for, and what they can do to help.

Something to add to the list? E-mail us the details or click “comments” and add it right here.

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Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »