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Archive for April, 2009

MOTHER’s Day Countdown: Petit Fours

Pastel Petit Fours (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine 5/09) A Mother’s Day Tea Party? How cute is that? Family Fun Mag’s May issue is filled with the usual adorable assortment of family crafts and activities, but their mother-daughter tea party is just too sweet for words. They’ve fashioned floral hats out of wrapping paper, devised games and come up with a menu that includes these Petit Fours. And they were kind enough to share both the photo and the recipe with us. The recipe is adapted from Barbara Beery’s “Pink Princess Tea Parties,” a book we’re going to have to get our hands on. (Homemade Cherry Vanilla Cream Soda? Raspberry Tarts and Gingerbread Tea Loaves? Sign us up!) Here’s how to make these dainty tea cakes:
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Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2009
Under: Cuisine | No Comments »

MOTHER’S Day Countdown: The Clever Coupon Book

Ribbons (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT) Mother’s Day is just a week and a half away, so we’re starting our countdown of wonderful ways to celebrate Mom. Remember the little coupon books we used to do when we were kids? Each coupon was good for a lawn mowing, car washing or similar task – and our parents ended up with badly sheared front yards and streaky windshields. Well, it’s time to craft some 21st century coupon books with things us moms would really, really like to have. You know, like an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday morning. Or someone who’ll load our iPods with new music, teach us to play something other than drums on Rock Band, or give our Power Point presentations a little added pizzazz. So may we suggest a new wave coupon book, filled with projects that play to our kids’ techie strengths?

Younger kids can use Disney’s downloadable, printable coupon books, with coupons for “breakfast in bed” and “no whining,” as well as blank pages to add their own scrawled ideas. But older darlings will want to make their own out of heavy paper, ribbon and the computer skills they already use to embellish their Facebook pages and multimedia oral reports at school. Tell them to try these ideas on for size, then add their own: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Crafts | 7 Comments »

SWINE FLU: Schools Closing in Pittsburg, San Jose

Swine flu sign at Seoul Airport (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool) A day after one Pittsburg elementary school was closed to limit the spread of swine flu, nine children at another Pittsburg school seem to have been infected too. And that Santa Clara county teen thought to have swine flu? It’s confirmed and her high school has been shut down too. By this afternoon, some 100 of the nation’s 132,000 schools had been closed, and an Associated Press report quoted President Barack Obama as saying parents in every state should start preparing for that possibility. How are you doing? Freaked out? Staying calm?

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

Swine Flu in Pittsburg, Marin, Sacramento

Outside a temporary health clinic at the University of Delaware (Photo by Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT) Anxiety over a possible swine flu pandemic continues to build as cases pop up here, there and eventually… everywhere? It’s definitely in the Bay Area now.

A Pittsburg elementary school has closed for a week after tests there found three “probable cases of swine flu” and 13 kids showed symptoms. The cases are mild, but custodial crews are sanitizing the school and classes have been canceled till May 6.

Meanwhile, there are two confirmed cases in Marin , three confirmed in Sacramento and another, probable case in Santa Clara, and similar reports are popping up across the country. The University of Delaware (pictured, above) set up a temporary flu evaluation clinic for students after four UD students fell ill with what authorities believe is likely the new influenza strain.

Worried you might have it? The Santa Clara Public Health Department has a list of symptoms to watch for. Got kids away at college? Have them check their university’s home page for online advisories.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

SWINE FLU: Parents, how’s it affecting you and your children?

If your kids are old enough to pick up on news reports, how are they reacting? Are they scared by every little sniffle or cough?

Are you doing anything to try to protect your kids from swine flu?

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Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety, Parenting Issues, Schools | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Hogwarts scarf (credit: Eric Chapman, MCT) 1. Join the Contra Costa County Library Reading Festival May 3-9 when authors, puppet shows and belly dancers take over every library in the county. Drop by Concord’s Willow Pass Center to hear about Hogwarts from the webmistress of TheLeakyCauldron. Catch Lemony Snicket in Walnut Creek. Or swing by the San Pablo Library for tree frog treks, Kensington for storytellers and comedy, and El Sobrante for the Fratello Marionettes. Check the county library web site for the full festival schedule.

2. Go theatrical at Berkeley Rep this Sunday at the free, family workshop this Sunday morning. Perfect for kids 4 and up. (Free, but bring a children’s book to donate to a local school.)
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Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

BACKYARD FUN: Children’s Gardens & Bean Pole Hideouts

Children gardening (Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire)
Last week, when we asked you how you and your children like to wile away a lazy summer (or spring) afternoon, the ideas poured in. Cindi talked about her 91-year-old dad’s vegetable garden, and Cassandra wrote about nature walks with her daughter and how much fun it is to explore plants, trees, birds and insect life.

We were so inspired, we pulled together three great ways – from strawberries to bean pole tepees – to get your kids away from the video games and into the garden, with help from the pros at the University of New Hampshire’s Growing a Green Generation project. Read on, then click “comments” and share your tips too!
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Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Under: Backyard fun | No Comments »

LA Schools Want to Make Firing Teachers Easier

School search ILLUS Talk about playing with fire. Faced with the prospect of laying off thousands of teachers, including 3,500 newbies, Los Angeles school officials are talking about making it easier to fire lousy educators. The board will vote tomorrow on its proposal to drop seniority rules that put the youngest, newest teachers on the chopping block every year while sparing those with more seniority. The board also wants to institute a new way of evaluating teachers that would result in an automatic dismissal after two, consecutive bad reviews. How hard is it to get rid of an ineffective teacher now? Well, in the last five years, just 31 teachers have been fired in the entire state. We can guess what the reaction of the state teachers unions will be. Heck,we can practically hear those powerhouse unions donning their armor and sharpening their blades right now. But what do you think? Click comments and tell us…

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009
Under: Schools | No Comments »

BURGER King Spongebob

Burger King OK, surely you’ve seen this thing, a Burger King ad for its Spongebob kids meal that uses the infamous Sir Mix-a-Lot song to tout the notion that the creepy king likes “square butts and I cannot lie.” We’re at a loss to understand why seeing women shake their telephone book-sized booty (booties?) would promote the sale of children’s meals, but maybe that’s just us. Reality check, please!

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

GUMBY Giveaway

Gumby the Movie Last week’s giveaway comments had so many FABULOUS suggestions for summer fun, we’re going to use them as inspiration for a new, weekly feature: a recipe for backyard fun that will run every Tuesday. So don’t be surprised if you get an e-mail from us, pestering you for details on some of those awesome ideas!

OK, on to this week’s giveaway. This time, we’re featuring “Gumby the Movie,” rated G, and hot off the press. It even comes with a little bendable Gumby toy. And all you have to do to win this is click “comments” and tell us about your favorite childhood icon. Gumby? Big Bird? Captain Kangaroo? You tell us! We’ll pick a winner’s name next Monday morning. (Congrats, by the way, to Tim, who won last week’s bug book, bug fandex and bug bottle!)

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009
Under: Contest | No Comments »