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Archive for April, 2009

PARENT TALKS: From College Woes to a Baby Fair

Child guardian ILLUS.jpg “Socially Responsible Lifestyle: Changes Start at Home”
April 29 at 7 p.m. at Murwood Elementary, Walnut Creek
Parent talk on ecology, consumerism and responsible parenting by Roberto Giannicola from Provokare. Free. Sponsored by Acalanes Adult Ed.

“Your Spirited Child”
April 29 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland.
A six-week series on how temperament affects behavior in children, ages 9 months to 5 years. Taught by Helen Neville, BS, RNP. This Kaiser-sponsored class runs April 29 to June 3. To register, call Kaiser at 510-752-6150. ($40 for Kaiser members, $55 for non. Limited free child care available by calling Bananas at 510-658-7353.

“Child Car Seat Safety Inspection”
May 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Boat House, Lake Merritt, Oakland
Oakland Parks & Rec and CHP Auto Trends are hosting a free child car seat safety inspection. Appointment only – rsvp by calling 510-251-9510 or email
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Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

SUSAN BOYLE has met her match

If you don’t know who Susan Boyle is, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. But it’s possible you’ve never heard of Shaheen Jafargholi. He’s a 12-year-old boy from Wales who just upped the competition ante on “Britain’s Got Talent.” After getting off on the wrong note with Simon Cowell, Jafargholi stormed back to prove that kids have got talent, too. Check out the YouTube clip of his performance.

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009
Under: TV | No Comments »

BOARD Games: Quelf

Quelf When it comes to board games, “Quelf” was our hands-down favorite this holiday season. No need to even read the directions for this game ($28.90, 3-8 players, ages 12 and up). Gather up your tweens and teens, pick a strange character and move him along the multicolored brick road, according to the roll of the die, then read the card that matches the game board space and prepare for the unexpected. Quelf has been described, variously, as the “weirdest, best game ever” and “Cranium, if the makers of Cranium had been high when they designed it.” That’s as good a description as any of a game that will have you composing poetry about your armpits, orating in a foreign language you don’t know (but will make up), or ending every sentence in “izzle.” There are trivia questions, brain teasers and charade cards, as well as Roolz cards with lasting consequences – you may have to shriek “pizza party!” every time the phone rings, or offer hushed golf-style commentary on other players’ actions for the rest of the game. It’s a fantastic game for family reunions and multi-generational play too.

OK, we’ve dished on our favorite board games. Now it’s your turn. Click “comments” and tell us, what’s your family’s favorite game?

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

Live chat, noon Friday: Our obsession with youth sports

Whether they admit it or not, I suspect most fathers of Little Leaguers live vicariously through their children. Am I projecting? Perhaps. I’ve always told myself it’s OK so long as the kid isn’t aware of the old man’s vicarious thrills. Am I rationalizing? Perhaps.

Maybe I’ll get some answers tomorrow: Join us for a live chat at noon Friday with sports reporter Carl Steward.

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Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Under: Dads, Parenting Issues, Sports | No Comments »

BOARD GAMES: Ninja-style

Ninja versus Ninja A ninja board game? With teeny tiny, adorable ninjas sneaking from dojo to dojo? What’s not to like? “Ninja vs. Ninja” ($24.99, a two-player game for ages 8 and up) is a fun, fast strategy game, but it’s for two players only, so it may not be the best thing for a family game night. Still, any ninja fan will be tickled and, as far as we know, there aren’t exactly a lot of board games out there for the ninja demographic. This one’s made by Out of the Box, makers of Apples to Apples. Idea is, you roll a cool die that sends one of your little ninjas into enemy territory, but you only have a few moves in which to get him back. The deeper he advances, the more points you get – but the more difficult it is to retrieve the tiny fighter, and the points don’t count unless he gets back safely. Suffice it to say, I scored zero points and lost my entire dojo’s worth of ninjas, while my kid cackled wildly and swept to victory.

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

NY Mom Leaves Bickering Kid on the Road

Temper tantrum (Hector Casanova illustration/Kansas City Star) A White Plains, NY mom was arrested Sunday for endangering her daughters, which is a misdemeanor. Madlyn Primoff was driving when the kids, a 12- and 10-year-old, started bickering so much, she pulled over and told them to get out of her car, then drove off. She stopped and let the older child back into the car, after the kid ran to catch up, but a passer-by picked up the 10-year-old and called police from a nearby ice cream shop. When the mom went to the police station to pick up her missing child later that evening, she was arrested.

OK, abandoning your child by the side of the road? Wrong, of course. But how many of us have been driven so demented by incessant backseat bickering that we at least fantasized about doing this?

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

Supreme Court Debates 8th Grade Strip Search

Supreme Court (Photo by Chuck Kennedy/KRT)
Have you been following the Supreme Court case about middle school strip searches? The case stems from a 2003 Arizona middle school incident where a 13-year-old girl was stripped to her skivvies by two female school administrators, who’d been tipped off by another student that the girl had prescription-strength ibuprofen. You know, Advil. But the school officials found absolutely nothing, even after making the child pull aside her bra and panties to check. Now we have the spectacle of Supreme Court justices grappling with “crotching” – yeah, the word was new to us too – and “ick factors,” as incurring audience laughter over their verbal missteps. After Chief Justice John G. Roberts noted that searching a bra for contraband “doesn’t seem as outlandish as the underpants,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day. We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

Well, the New York Times’ account of this case is certainly more entertaining than the usual courts coverage, but we can’t help but be alarmed that a child was strip-searched at school – on nothing more than a classmate’s say-so. Is it just us? Click “comments” and tell us your thoughts.

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Under: politics, Schools | No Comments »

BOARD GAMES: Harry Potter-style

Clue: Harry Potter Expelliarmus! Sure, we all played Clue growing up, and many of us have played some of the other versions put out by Parker Brothers, so we were pretty thrilled when this Harry Potter version landed in our laps ($24.99, for 3-5 players, ages 9 and up). Draco Malfoy in the potions room with the sleeping draught? Secret passages and pathways that change? There was so much promise in this premise, but alas Parker Brothers not only gilded the lily, they dipped it in chocolate, rolled it in nonpareils and then bronzed it too. The game includes not only the standard Clue cards, but a slew of help, disaster, ally and house point cards that get players so confused, they lose focus. The game became instantly better when we threw away the nonessential components and got back to basics – Dolores Umbridge in the Infirmary with the lead pipe, er, Impedimenta Curse.

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

MOCHA 1. MOCHA, Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art, is hosting a free Birthday Bonanza Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Play art-themed putt-putt golf, blow bubbles, hear live music and help celebrate the museum’s 20th birthday.

2. The Bay Area’s West Wind drive-in movie theaters – including the Solano Drive-in in Concord – are hosting a free movie night this Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. Catch “Bedtime Stories,” “Madagascar 2″ or “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (depending on the theater), plus bouncy house fun for the kids.

3. The eighth annual “Week of the Young Child” Fair lands at Pittsburg’s Small World Park this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with free rides, a bouncy house, live entertainment and a petting zoo for the kiddies, and nutrition, health, child care and school info booths for parents. This fun, free event is geared toward families with kids 5 and under, and is sponsored by First Five and the East County Regional Group. (For info, call 510-654-5335.)
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Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »


Recalled Tupperware Maracas Not to cramp your kid’s musical style or anything, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Tupperware just recalled 44,000 of these Shape-O Toy Maracas (pictured). Seems they break easily, and the contents pose a choking hazard for tots. We’re also told the handle poses a “suffocation hazard” – we’re not quite sure how. In any case, if you’ve got these maracas, this link will take you to the Tupperware web page that tells you how to return them.

Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »