Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for February, 2009

DESPERATE Schoolwives?

Breaking down barriers (illus. by Beto Alvarez) Who needs TV when reality plumbs the outrageous factor so thoroughly? In a scene straight out of — wow, we’re not even sure there’s a TV show that quite equals this, Jerry Springer crossed with “Desperate Housewives,” perhaps? — some tawdry TV script, a Pasadena high school teacher’s wife was so convinced her husband was having an affair with a colleague, she stormed onto campus earlier this week and got into a fistfight with her husband’s alleged lover. The female teacher was mildly injured during the fracas, and the wife, 29-year-old Leta Carruthers was arrested for battery. No students were injured during the altercation, but we can only imagine their thoughts upon witnessing a grown-up brawl in the hall. We’re hoping they didn’t stand around and chant, “Fight! Fight!”

Our favorite line in the news coverage? School board president Tom Selinske calling the fight “an action of passion.” Guy’s got a way with words…

Posted on Friday, February 27th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

TEEN Driving Laws are Working

Calm drivers ILLUS.jpgYou know those graduated drivers license laws teens gripe about so much? The ones that don’t allow new drivers, ages 16-18, to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or have teenage passengers in the car for the first 12 months, unless there’s a licensed driver over 25 present? A new AAA study says those laws are having tremendous impact. Death rates for 16-year-old drivers dropped by 38% in states with those types of laws, and the effect is probably even more profound for other people. That’s because the majority of deaths in traffic accidents involving 15- to 17-year-old drivers weren’t teen drivers. Some 63% of the people killed in those accidents were passengers, occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Got tips to share on how to cultivate safe teen drivers? Click comments!

Posted on Friday, February 27th, 2009
Under: Teens | No Comments »

BIRTHDAY Sharks, Jeeps and More

Shark Cake (Photo by Kenneth Chen for
And we’re back with more birthday cakes! As we mentioned yesterday, we thought we had the whole birthday cake thing down pat … until we caught sight of these amazing cakes crafted by colleagues all over the country. So we’re sharing our 10 favorite birthday cake ideas – and we’re hoping you share yours with us too.

FABULOUS CAKE #4: Who could resist a shark cake like this one? Our friends over at came up with a slew of birthday cake ideas that left us breathless with envy. But this one? This one takes the, er, cake. We’ll share the basics here, but this link takes you to the pattern you’ll find helpful for cutting out ol’ Jaws, plus 30 other amazing cake ideas …
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 27th, 2009
Under: Cuisine | 1 Comment »

New San Ramon & Dublin Moms Group

San Ramon-Dublin MOMS club swap We love mothers’ groups – can’t even imagine how we’d have gotten through those early years without the support and friendship of the women in our moms group! So we were thrilled to hear that MOMS – the Moms Offering Moms Support – Club is launching a brand new group for stay-at-home moms in the San Ramon and Dublin area. What makes it even cooler is that the existing moms club in the area is taking them under their wing and relaunching, in effect, as a MOMS Club East (zip code 94582) and MOMS Club West (92583) with weekly activities, park days, holiday events, socials and service projects. Among those activities, fun swap meets like the one pictured above, where mothers have a chance to swap gently used toys and baby items, socialize and donate items to the Salvation Army too.

San Ramon and Dublin moms interested in joining the MOMS East group should contact Rachel Yost at (925) 365-1620 or For MOMS West, contact Charity Pelletier at (925) 487-4682 or

Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

BIRTHDAYS, Cakes & Confetti

Birthday Cake (Bob Fila, Chicago Tribune, MCT Direct) Ahhh, birthdays! Sure, the party hats and games are splendid, but there’s nothing better or more iconic than a birthday cake, swirled in frosting and sprinkles, and topped with candles. We’ve done them in every shape and theme – or so we thought, until we ran across these splendid examples of the birthday cake genre. A shark bursting from the water? An outback jeep? A Cat in the Hat hat? A cake crafted entirely from Rice Krispie treats? Heavens.

We thought we’d done pretty well with the King Tut cake for an Indiana Jones themed party (cut a 9×13 sheet cake into a sarcophagus shape, then let your imagination run wild with richly tinted icing), wildly colored fish (purple icing, topped by ring-shaped gummy candies, cut in half for scales), castles, teddy bears and swimming pools. But these? These are awesome. Read on for a round-up of the 10 most spectacular and do-able birthday cake ideas around, including a blow by blow guide to that hilarious shark cake! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009
Under: Cuisine | No Comments »

Cold Cheese Controversy in Albuquerque Schools

Lunchbox( Photo by Scott Vlha/Contra Costa Times) Associated Press has a hot story this morning on cold cheese sandwiches. Seems Albuquerque, NM, schools are giving students whose parents are behind on their hot school lunch payments brown bags with sandwiches, fruit and a carton of milk instead of whatever the lunch ladies are serving. “Critics argue the cold meals are a form of punishment for children whose parents can’t afford to pay,” the story says. Big uproar.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m afraid I don’t get the controversy. Granted, I’m a big fan of cheese sandwiches. I grew up brownbagging it and my kids do too — and a cheese, ham or PBJ sandwich, fruit and milk is a perfectly lovely little lunch. When I was growing up, kids who forgot their lunch money went hungry or “borrowed” an apple from a friend, and kids whose parents couldn’t or didn’t want to shell out hot lunch money, brought a sandwich. Even now in my town, teachers keep a stash of granola bars and apples for any kid who frequently “forgets” his lunch and discreetly gets the parents an application for the free lunch program. So how does supplying children, whose parents are in lunch money arrears, with a free, perfectly suitable alternative qualify as offensive? Go on, click “comments” and educate me.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Angel Island (Jane Tyska, Contra Costa Times)
1. Go on a little adventure – take the ferry (pictured above) to Angel Island and check out the newly renovated Immigration Station Barracks Museum for a slice of intriguing history at the Ellis Island of the West. Or if you have teens, take a short “Mystery Hike” hike with retired U. C. Berkeley professor Alan Miller and explore the island’s Civil War heritage and ecological wonders this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (The hikes last three to four hours and start at Ayala Cove, right after the ferries arrive. Wear layers, comfy shoes, bring water, a snack and the $5 hike fee)

2. The 3rd Annual San Francisco Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival opens this weekend with more than 150 short films, grouped by age-appropriateness, at WonderCon and Zeum, and the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. (Feb. 27-March 15)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Tots, Teens & Middle Schoolers

Parental Juggling (Illustrated by Mark Hoffer/MCT Direct)“Cash for College Workshops”
Cal Grants is hosting free financial aid workshops throughout the Bay Area, including Feb. 26 at Chabot College, as well as other locations through the beginning of March.

“Positive Parenting”
Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
A 6-week parenting series on raising healthy, competent children, facilitated by by Madeline Meyer-Riley, MFT, mom and former family child care provider. (Free; limited childcare available – reservations required.)

“Drive Smart, Stay Safe: A Class for Teens and Parents”
Feb. 24 from 5:45 to 8 p.m. in the Acalanes High School cafeteria, Lafayette
Free workshop for parents and teens to attend together, sponsored by the California Highway Patrol. (Reservations required.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

DR. SEUSS Book Giveaway, Thing Two

"And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" by Dr. Seuss We’re back with week two of our Dr. Seuss celebration, and we’re giving away another pair of fabulous Seussian classics, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and the irresistible “If I Ran the Zoo” – and frankly, if I ran the zoo, I’d have a Gusset, a Gasket and a Gootch from the wilds of Nantasket too!

The question this week is, they keep remaking Seuss books into animated and live action movies — which one’s your favorite? Click “comments” and enter your answer. We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday.
(This contest is now closed. For the newest giveaway, this one involving a cool new Hannah Montana book, click here.)

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Under: Books, Contest | No Comments »

GIRL SCOUTS Chat with the Space Station

There’s more to Girl Scouts than Thin Mints and Do-si-do cookies. Just got this video clip of a very cool phone call between 100 Illinois Girl Scouts and Dr. Sandra Magnus, an International Space Station astronaut and former Girl Scout – watch it and enjoy! Click here to read Dr. Magnus’ space blogs too, and over here to find out when the Space Station and various spy satellites(!) will be flying over your house.

We never got to do anything this cool back when I was a Brownie, but I loved those campouts and s’mores. How about you? What’s your fondest recollection of Girl Scouts?

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »