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Archive for March, 2009

PRINCESS Project Prom Dress Giveaway

Princess Project prom dress giveaway (Photo by Contra Costa Times)
Do you know any teenage girls dying to go to prom, but for whom financial distress has made it an impossibility? Schools offer discounted, even free prom tickets to students whose families cannot afford them, but as any fairy tale lover knows, you can’t go to the ball in street clothes. So the Bay Area’s Princess Project is playing fairy godmother again. Girls can come to their Oakland site on March 21 and San Francisco on March 28, and receive an absolutely free, taffeta dream of a dress. Because every girl deserves to be a princess at least for one night.

(And if you’re still hanging onto a gorgeous prom dress, 2002 vintage or later, that you’d like to donate, check the Princess Project web site next January for donation information.)

Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Under: Teens | 4 Comments »

FAB FIVE Baby Shower Ideas

About-to-Pop Favor Box (Corner Stork Gifts)We’ve got babies on the brain here lately. My cubicle mate is about to become a proud auntie for the — ooo, fourth time? fifth? – and she’s hosting a baby shower soon. And babies just seem to be popping out all over. So we’re bringing you a Fab Five list of fabulous baby shower ideas, with a little help from guest blogger Karen Sullen, from, an online gift shop that’s all babies, all the time. As you might expect, Karen is a baby shower expert. And the trick, she says, is picking a good theme. Read on for Karen’s Fab Five list (with a few parenthetical comments from us), then come back Friday for more ideas.

“Sometimes, selecting a theme can be the most difficult part of planning a baby shower,” says Karen.  “But once you’ve done that, all the other details seem to fall into place.  So to get you on your way, here are some fun baby shower themes that will help sprinkle Mom with love.”

1. About To Pop!
Everyone is just popping with excitement as they prepare to welcome a new little star to the world’s stage.  Whether you like to watch movies or wish you could be in them, this idea is perfect for the movie fan.  Using a popcorn theme, treat your guests to movie snacks, your own home movie, and make popcorn balls to enjoy.  You could even give guests a mini popcorn box that says “About To Pop!” with sweets inside as your baby shower favor. (Corner Stork carries cute pre-printed boxes, but you can get plain ones at most party stores too, including Boswell’s in Lafayette.)
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Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

BABY Toy Recall

Recalled baby toysYou know those dangly baby toys, the ones you place over a crib or car seat to keep the sweet bebe occupied? Check those things. Give them a good tug and make sure no parts come off, because the Consumer Product Safety people just recalled 172,000 of those things. The toys in question are made by Infantino (a sample is pictured to your left, but the Lil Chef activity set and stacker toys are recalled too) and the metallic blue fabric comes off, posing a choking hazard for babies. The company has received 45 reports of the toy coming apart, but there have been no injuries. Got one? Return it to Infantino for a replacement.

Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety, Toy Recalls | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Pi Day Celebration at the Exploratorium
1. Celebrate Pi Day (pictured above) this Saturday, March 14 at 1:59 p.m. — that’s Pi, of course, 3.14159 etc. — at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Eat pie, bead a Pi string, sing Pi songs and, of course, do scientific things involving circles, diameters and circumferences. (Free with museum admission)

2. Remember that cool children’s matinee series at Elmwood’s Rialto Cinema over the holidays? Cheap seats, proceeds benefited local PTAs, good time had by all? The Rialto is turning it into a monthly event! Catch the Beatles in the zany, music-filled “Hard Day’s Night” at noon this Saturday and Sunday. ($4)
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Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

DRINKLES, Invisibooboos and More

The KidDictionary by Eric Ruhalter Thumble, Invisibooboo, Threemageddon … oh yeah, those are the words parents need to describe those things their kids do. You know, like the owie your child insisted you bandage, even though it didn’t bleed. It’s an invisibooboo. Or the fireball that’s certain to erupt if mom ever reaches that ominous third digit: 1… 2 … Threemageddon.

Eric Ruhalter has collected them all in “The KidDictionary: A Book of Words Parents Need But Don’t Have,” a very funny glossary of made-up words and definitions, designed for parents whose kids passed the time awaiting the Tooth Fairy’s arrival by counting their remaining teeth to figure out the potential profit.  Or who try to talk with fingers in their mouths.  Or squeeze their juice boxes… Check it out, then tell us, what do you call the debris under your kid’s car seat?

Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Under: Books | No Comments »

HAPPILY N’Ever After 2 DVD Giveaway

Happily N'Ever After 2 (Courtesy Lionsgate) It’s always fun to see a new take on an old fairy tale – that’s why we loved “Enchanted,” after all. OK, that and Patrick Dempsey’s hair. The line of fairy tale remakes and mash-ups is certainly long – Shrek 1, 2 and 3, Happily N’Ever After, etc. etc. So it was inevitable that Lionsgate would follow up previous successes with … yes … “Happily N’Ever After 2.” This time, Snow White is a teenage princess who’d much rather hang with buddies Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks than help people. But she soon learns her lesson, as she battles the evil scheming of Rumpelstiltskin and her father’s fiance, Lady Vain, with a little help from three pigs, seven dwarves and – dear lord, that’s a complicated plot. The DVD hits stores next month but we’ve got it now – and you can too. Click “comments” and tell us about your favorite 21st century fairy tale. We’ll draw a winner’s name next Sunday night. (This contest is now closed. Click here for the next giveaway – a trio of new baby books.)

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009
Under: Contest | No Comments »

TOPPS Baseball Cards Go High Tech and 3-D

Baseball cards (Photo by Dan Z. Johnson, Philadelphia Inquirer, KRT) OK, the Topps baseball card company may not say its latest venture was inspired by Harry Potter, but those of us with a yen for chocolate frogs and the magical trading cards with moving wizard pics, will find the new 3-D baseball card concept a little familiar. But awesome, nonetheless. Topps, purveyor of traditional trading cards (like the one pictured to the left) for a zillion years, is introducing new “augmented reality” baseball cards today. Hold one up to a webcam and a 3-D avatar pops up on your laptop. Rotate the card and the baseball player rotates too. Topps’ chief digital officer Steve Grimes called it “the ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ version of a baseball card,” in his interview with the New York Times. And Louise Curcio, marketing veep at Topps competitor, Upper Deck, says her company is working on virtual cards that “come alive and contain video.”

OK, that’s cool. But we’d rather have one with Dumbledore.

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Toys, Tech & Adoption

Toys R Us in New York City (Alejandra Villa/Newsday/MCT)“Dr. Toy, Kids and Playthings”
March 10 at 7 p.m., St. Mark’s Church, 451 Moraga Way, Orinda
Speaker: Dr. Toy, internationally renowned toy expert and child development specialist Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, discusses play as a tool for developing young minds, imagination, resourcefulness and social interaction. This talk is sponsored by the Lamorinda Moms Club for members and prospective members. Social time begins at 7 p.m., and the presentation at 7:30. Free.

Sibling Relationships
March 10 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Meg Zweiback, RN, leads a workshop on sibling dynamics. Free. (Childcare available for $5, reservations required.)

“Children and a Healthy Media Environment”
March 11 at 7 p.m. at Wagner Ranch Elementary School Library, Orinda
Presentation by Dr. Richard Freed on how to protect your child from addiction to video games and the Internet. Sponsored by the Wagner Ranch Parents Club.
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Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

6 Baby Bottle Manufacturers Ban Bisphenol A

BPA-Free Baby Bottles  (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/MCT) Six major baby bottle manufacturers agreed yesterday to stop selling plastic baby bottles that contain bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to disruptions of the human endocrine system. After studies showed that babies and toddlers in the United States have the highest concentrations of BPA in their systems, many parents shifted to glass or BPA-free bottles, such as the ones pictured here, in an effort to avoid the chemical.

Now, the six largest manufacturers of baby bottles sold in this country – Playtex, Evenflo, Gerber, Avent America, Dr. Brown and Disney First Years – have pulled the chemical from their product lines. Some, including Playtex, stopped using BPA last fall.

Now, after years of advocacy efforts, the ball is rolling. Fourteen states are mulling anti-BPA legislation currently, and Canada has banned the substance in baby bottles.

Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

DORA the Explorer/Fashionista?

Toy Fair 2009  (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) And to think we once joked about making a new, teen version of Winnie the Pooh, with a whole lot of attitude and an unhealthy fascination with taking honey pots of a different sort into the Hundred Acre Wood. ‘Twasn’t a joke. Well, the Winnie the Pooh part was. But the Tween Dora the Explorer, a cusp-of-teenhood fashionista extraordinaire, is no joke. And she looks nothing like the sweet beanie baby version pictured here. Our friends over at StrollerDerby encountered her at the big New York City toy fair last month and shared their hilarious and deeply perturbed take online.

It’s not just Dora, either. Strawberry Shortcake has gotten a sexy little makeover too. The Care Bears have gone on a diet, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were sent to anger management class, and even Mickey Mouse is getting tweaked. Hey, if that mouse gets tats, we are through.
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Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens | 2 Comments »