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Archive for March, 2009


April Fool Lunch (courtesy Family Fun Magazine) We’ve always been big Family Fun magazine fans — those clever crafts, fun party ideas and tasty tidbits. So naturally we went to check out their April Fool’s ideas too. Faux fish sticks? Chicken-not-pie? Oh my. We think we’ll stick to these less labor-intensive pranks instead. The Family Fun folks were kind enough to send over their clever photo with the gummi worm and the apple, as well as one of our favorite tricks of all time – the Cheeto bag of carrots!

When our kids were small, we always did sly things to their lunchboxes for April 1. Yep, we unsealed the chip bag and replaced the salty, fatty crisps with sliced carrots and celery. We’ve also made inside-out sandwiches – ham and cheese on the outside, bread in the middle; cut sandwiches into rectangles on one side and triangles on the other; and made our own splotchy green bread one year with a little assist from food coloring. And one memorable year, we carefully peeled an orange so the rind was almost entirely intact and stuffed an apple inside. Oh yeah, it was a proud moment.

OK, so what do you have planned for April Fool’s Day tomorrow?

Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Under: Cuisine | No Comments »

DISNEY CD Giveaway

Playhouse Disney Music Play Date Getting tired of hearing the same old tunes? Playhouse Disney just released a “Music Play Date” CD that’s got all sorts of new stuff on it — Handy Manny tunes, Mickey Mouse Club ditties and music from Bunnytoon, Tigger & Pooh and more. And it can be yours! Click “comments” and tell us, what’s your favorite Disney tune of all time? (This contest is now closed. For the current contest, click here.)

Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2009
Under: children's music, Contest | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Potties, Teen Drivers and More

Potty training  (Photo by Ron Ennis, KRT) “Beginning Toilet Training”
April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Meg Zweiback, RN, discusses tips to help parents teach their 18-month to two-year-olds how to use the potty. Free.

“Childhood Matters”
April 4 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN and Dr. Chris Stewart, Pediatrics Director at San Francisco General Hospital, and Abigail Stewart-Kahn from the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, discuss how to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.

“Family Life & Spirituality: Family Systems Theory”
April 5 at 4 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Pleasant Hill. Last in a 5-part series of parenting workshops on family life and spirituality in this modern, hectic world. Speaker: Rev. Rosa Lee Harden, Episcopal Priest, Holy Innocents Episcopal Church
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Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2009
Under: Advice, Parenting Issues | No Comments »

PORTLAND Girl Swallowed by Sinkhole

baseball OK, it’s not April Fool’s Day yet. We checked after reading about the Portland, Oregon baseball diamond that swallowed a girl. Yes, really. The 9-year-old had just hit the ball and was running to first, when a 16 to 20-ft sinkhole suddenly opened under the baseline and Paje Wiklund disappeared from sight, landing, fortunately, on an old pipe which saved her from plummeting to the bottom of what appears to be an abandoned septic system. Another child ran for help, while a 10-year-old reached in and pulled Paje to safety.

Jeez. Maybe we’ll just sit here this weekend and watch TV. It’s safer…

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

MONSTERS, 3-D Aliens and You

Monsters vs. Aliens  (Courtesy Dream Works Films) Reviews are just starting to roll in for the newest DreamWorks flick, “Monsters vs. Aliens,” and as always, we want to hear what you thought. Your comments on “Race to Witch Mountain” were fantastically helpful! Annie B. said she’d seen the Disney movie with her 11-year-old son and found it too intense for some of the much younger kids in the crowd, but “perfect (for) my boy’s demographic… No sex, no bad language, one mildly creepy alien head, and no overlong non-action scenes.” And Cathy said “Witch Mountain” had “enough action to keep Dad entertained while still being ‘PG enough’ to not freak out the kid.”

Now we’re turning our attention to DreamWorks’ 3-D extravaganza about monsters, aliens and a young woman, voiced by Reese Witherspoon, who finds her wedding plans complicated by a rogue meteor, whose radioactive properties transform her into a glowing giant… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2009
Under: Movies | No Comments »

TV’s “Motherhood” Not So Hot?

In the Motherhood (ABC TV) Is anyone planning to catch ABC-TV’s “In the Motherhood” tonight? Our very own TV critic Chuck Barney saw the pilot and was less than impressed. He calls it “a mostly inane sitcom (that) spins tales of mommies and their moppets and falls flat in the process.” Ahhhhhhh!

Definitely disappointing since the original web-based series, from whence the sitcom sprang, was based on viewers’ real life motherhood travails. Moms went online and shared their from-the-trenches tales … and we watched and howled with laughter as Jenny McCarthy and Chelsea Handler spun them into episodes. So clever. And also, according to the NY Times, totally alarming to the the Writers Guild. So the ABC sitcom has been massaged into what screenwriters think is funny. Shoot. If you watch the new ABC show tonight, let us know what you think. Meanwhile, we’ve posted a clip from the original web series – the grocery store nightmare episode featuring Handler, McCarthy, a pair of red panties and a policeman. Click on over to the jump to watch…
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Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: TV | No Comments »

PHONE Booth Stuffing at St. Mary’s College

Phone booth stuffing at St. Mary's (Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times)
Remember the era of goldfish swallowing, raccoon coats and phone booth stuffing? OK, neither do we, but we remember the pictures – especially the iconic shot of 22 St. Mary’s College students stuffed into a telephone booth that appeared in Life Magazine. Well, this is the 50th anniversary of that stunt, so our buddy Matt Krupnick ventured over to Moraga to watch the college kids try to beat the 1959 record, with some kibbitzing from original phone booth stuffers, including Benicia pharmacist Ray Motta. “Several former students,” says Krupnick, “who became intimate with the phone booth in 1959 watched Wednesday as a new generation — some of whom likely have never been in a phone booth — clambered into a glass box on the school’s chapel lawn. Paramedics stood by as the occasional groan rose from the bottom of the pile. All were unscathed… The box, however, was a bit bent out of shape over the ordeal.”

Here’s hoping the kids don’t try to beat any other records. PETA would be all over that goldfish thing.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Other | No Comments »

OCTUPLET Mom Fires Babies’ Nurses

Paparazzi swarm Nadya Suleman's garage (Lou Ponsi/Orange County Register)
A part of me feels sorry for Nadya Suleman, the beleaguered SoCal mother of 14, including 8 newborn octuplets, especially when I see something like this: paparazzi and spectators swarming Suleman’s garage, trying to break in to see the babies. But I’d feel a whole lot sorrier, if she hadn’t just fired her volunteer nurses, the ones Dr. Phil arranged for her during the media feeding frenzy that followed the octuplets’ arrival. Now, the nurses’ high profile attorney, Gloria Allred, is doing the talk show rounds, saying Suleman “doesn’t even come into the nursery to feed her own babies, to hold them, to bathe them, to change them, to love them, to bond with them, except when the cameras are rolling.” Suleman’s attorney, meanwhile, says one of the nurses filed a report with Children’s Protective Services, thus setting up an “adversarial” relationship.

Conflicted doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions – horror over each new development, pity for those babies, shame for even reading this stuff, and a sense of profound relief that no one ever tried to second guess my every action when I was a sleep deprived, new mother. How about you? Click comments and share your thoughts…

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

The Composer is Dead (Photo by Contra Costa Times)
1. Cue the tuba. Bring on those foreign fellows, the French horns. The composer is dead and someone must investigate! That’s Lemony Snicket and composer Nathaniel Stookey contemplating their (upside down) score for “The Composer is Dead,” the hilarious composition they wrote for the San Francisco Symphony. Now they’ve got a new book out – complete with CD – and the Symphony is performing the piece at Davies Symphony Hall on March 29 and down at Flint Center on April 4. ($7.50-$55)

2. Join the spring fling crowd over at Pleasanton’s Museum On Main this Saturday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for kid-friendly, hands-on activities.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

TEEN Dating Abuse & Violence

Tatiana Colon, Chair of the Alameda Task Force on Teen Dating Violence (Contra Costa Times photo)It starts in a haze of happiness: A new guy, a new love, sweet affection and blinding jealousy. What happens next can range from tears and misery to violence and even death. It’s not just lurid headlines about Rihanna and Chris Brown. Teen dating abuse and violence are reaching epidemic proportions, with 1 in 10 American teens, ages 11-19, being physically attacked by their boy or girl friends, and 1 in 4 verbally or emotionally abused. Read Sunday’s story about what’s happening to our teens, then read on for a list of red flags and things parents can do to help, with advice from experts including Tatiana Colon (photo above), chairman of the Alameda Task Force on Teen Dating Violence, and Elizabeth Miller, pediatrics professor at UC Davis Medical Center.

Occasional arguments are one thing. But patterns of manipulation, emotional abuse and violence can quickly spiral from mental distress to physical harm. One red flag is a warning. Several mean your teen needs help if his or her boyfriend or girlfriend:

* Belittles your child and makes him or her feel bad.
* Tries to control where she goes, wears or does
* Exhibits signs of extreme jealousy or possessiveness
* Frightens or intimidates
* Threatens harm if your child tries to end the relationship
* Isolates him or her from friends and family
* Has broken or thrown something at him or her in anger
* Has ever hit, slapped, shoved or kicked your child, or forced him or her to have sex
— Excerpted from

Read on for ways to help…
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Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety, Teens | 1 Comment »