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Archive for March, 2009


"The Composer is Dead" Got any Lemony Snicket fans out there? This week we’re giving away a just-published copy of “The Composer is Dead,” the hilarious result of a San Francisco Symphony collaboration penned by Lemony Snicket and composer Nathaniel Stookey. The picture book is a great introduction to the instruments of the orchestra, with a little mystery and Snicketesque humor thrown in. (Here’s a sneak peek.) It comes with a CD of the SF Symphony performing the work with Lemony Snicket narrating. Very, very fun. And it can be yours! All you have to do is click comments and tell us, how are you introducing your kids to the arts? We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday. (P.S. Congrats to Amy, who just won this book!)

Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Under: Books | No Comments »

FAB FIVE: Intro to Music

Davies Symphony Hall How do you turn your child into a music lover? All you have to do is expose them to the joy and wonder of the art form. Let them fall asleep to classical music recordings – we loved Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” particularly the CD and beautifully illustrated book set adapted by Anne Gatti. Take your kids to hear your local high school’s orchestra or symphonic band perform, or to catch the school musical. Play Wii Music. Get them a recorder. Start piano lessons. It’s all good. And if you live in the Bay Area, you have a treasure trove of musical opportunities in your very own backyard, including these five upcoming concerts that are perfect for children of all ages:

1. Amazing music and a 3-D extravaganza? The California Symphony’s spring concert features piano prodigy Conrad Tao, age 14, performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, and a stunning, 3-D film that accompanies Mussorgsky’s famous “Pictures at an Exhibition” on May 3 and 5 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts.
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Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Adoption, Time Outs, Potties & More

Not fair (Illustration by Hector Casanova/MCT Direct) “Adoption Book Group”
March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
This book group for adoptive parents focuses on books about race and parenting issues. This time, it’s “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Free.

“Childhood Matters: Positive Discipline”
March 28 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN and panelist Stephanie Agnew, parent education coordinator for Parents Place, discuss ways to raise respectful, well disciplined, compassionate children.
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Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

UNWED Mothers Becoming the Norm

You may have seen the news story yesterday that 2007’s birth rate topped the baby boom record with 4,317,119 births. But the part of the story that left us stunned was that 40 percent of those 4.3 million births were to single mothers, and three quarters of them were over 20, so it’s not some huge spike in the teen birth rate, although that rose slightly too. How times change! It wasn’t that long ago that an unwed mother was a scandalous figure. Now it’s the norm. The Angelina Jolie effect, perhaps? It makes us wonder too why we’re not seeing that trend in our own social circle. Are you?

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

TWILIGHT Countdown

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t have any tween or teen girls living at your house … “Twilight” is about to be released on DVD. Hordes of screaming girls (and their mothers) will descend upon Borders and other stores at midnight tonight for Twilight parties, vampire trivia and the chance to dish on Edward’s awesome hunkiness. You know, the same thing they did last summer when the fourth book in Stephenie Meyer’s series came out, and last fall when the movie version of the first book landed on the silver screen. Need help passing the remaining 12:45 hours until the DVD comes out? Here ya go:

The “Twilight” page on YouTube features movie trailers, interviews and footage from last summer’s ComicCon appearance by the movie’s stars.

A peek at Catherine Hardwicke’s Director’s Notebook, which came out Tuesday, and other Twilight tidbits on Entertainment Weekly’s web site.

A Twilight party kit, including a party planning checklist although frankly, all you need are a bunch of girlfriends, some sleeping bags and vast amounts of popcorn.

And Stephenie Meyer’s web site, including her draft of “Midnight Sun,” the fifth book in the series, which re-tells the tale from Edward’s point of view.

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009
Under: Twilight Saga | No Comments »

BEST STORY of the Week

Basketball happiness (Photo by Jose Carlos Fajardo/Contra Costa Times) Ahhh, forget AIG, economic gloom and all those other grim headlines. Read this story instead:

Hearts were low in Danville last Saturday after Monte Vista High’s boys basketball team fell 46-43 to Oakland’s McClymonds High in the NorCal Div. I championships. The Monte Vista coach was just crushed, as were his boys. And then, he got a call from a team family who had heard that McClymonds’ team couldn’t afford to go to the state championships this weekend in Sacramento. Why not, the family asked, turn this defeat into something wonderful? Why not rally Monte Vista’s Mustangs and raise the money so McClymonds’ Warriors could go? Within hours, they’d raised $1,100 from players and parents from both their girls and boys’ teams.

“I think it speaks to the spirit of competition and what it’s really all about,” coach Bill Powers told the Times and Trib’s Jimmy Durkin. “You certainly went in there trying to beat them, and it was a good basketball game. But at the end of the day, somebody needs a little help, and this is the spirit of giving…This is just respect for a team that deserves to go up to Sacramento first class.”

McClymonds coach Brandon Brooks was stunned when he got the call: “That’s amazing, that the team you beat in NorCal, their parents want to help out with your cause,” he said. “That’s unheard of.”

The Warriors will face off against Westchester-Los Angeles in the Division I state title game this Saturday. And yes, that photo shows McClymond’s Will Cherry, #22, right, hugging Monte Vista’s Zack Ertz, #32, after their game.

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Under: Teens | No Comments »


Kill us now. No, seriously.

What, you don’t think this is bad? Then watch Tori Spelling do it too.

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots, Just Bizarre | No Comments »

INSURANCE Bears Recalled

Recalled State Farm Bear (CPSC) Oh irony of ironies… State Farm Insurance is recalling 830,000 “Good NeighBear” teddy bears because they’re life threatening. Seems those twinkly little eyes pop off, posing a choking hazard for little ones. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and State Farm have received one report of a small child putting the eyeballs in her mouth, but no one was injured. The bears were freebies, given to small children by State Farm reps at various community fairs and other events from 2005 to 2007.

P.S. We try to post the major recalls here – the ones involving hundreds of thousands of toys, or that have seriously injured children, or that have a high likelihood of being in your toy box. But if you want to hear about every recall, sign up for the CPSC’s free, e-mail alerts.

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

RACE To Witch Mountain

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

We’re moving into blockbuster season, with the first flurries of exciting cinematic fare arriving just in time for spring break. Disney’s “Race to Witch Mountain” raced to the top of the box office charts this weekend. It’s an action packed frolic, says Orlando Sentinel critic Roger Moore (sadly, no relation to James Bond), with a first hour that’s “breathless fun.” (We’ve posted the movie trailer after the jump, if you haven’t seen it already.)

But Common Sense Media warns that the PG-rated movie is also very scary. Parents will want to know, the CSM reviewer says, that “the destruction of the world is at stake, and the main characters are in constant peril. And, for a PG-rated film, it has more violence and intense moments than you might expect. Since the alien villain and government agents are all trying to kill or capture the extraterrestrial teens, the kids are constantly in danger and have to ward off many threats, including explosions and direct gunfire.” It’s OK for the 8-and-up crowd, not younger kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Movies | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Vaquero Day 1. Calling all cowboys and little buckaroos! This Saturday is Vaquero Day at the Los Vaqueros Watershed, Kellogg Picnic Area in Brentwood. Hosted by the Alameda County Cattle Women and Contra Costa Water District, this free family fest features horse-drawn wagon rides, farm animals, hands-on cowboy activities, sheep shearing, and calf branding – with paint, not the likely-to-traumatize-small-children kind. (The event is free, but bring $6 for parking.)

2. Celebrate Persian New Year – Norooz – at Berkeley’s Habitot Children’s Museum this Saturday with Norooz-inspired art projects, Iranian children’s stories and a Golden Thread performance. (Children $8, Adults $7)
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Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »