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Archive for April, 2009

MORE Great Board Games

Backseat Drawing If you’ve got your TV turned off this week – and even if you don’t – you’re probably busily looking for fun things to do with the fam. So this week, we’re talking about our favorite board games. Have you played “Backseat Drawing“? ($24.99, all ages, 4-10 players) In this goofy game that turns Pictionary on its ear, two teams race to identify sketches drawn by teammates – only problem is, the artists don’t know what they’re doing. No, we don’t mean they’re lousy artists, but every stroke of the marker is directed by a teammate who holds the card. It’s kind of like those Survivor challenges where a blindfolded player is guided through an obstacle course by a teammate’s verbal instructions. Only with whiteboards and markers and no blindfold. Very fun, which is what you’d expect from the company that makes Apples to Apples. The regular version’s cards spell out the object to be drawn. The junior version has a picture of the object. We just wished some of the objects were more bizarre. After a while you get bored drawing trucks and submarines, so we started writing our own… for the other team.

Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

TV Turnoff Week: Day 1.5

Family games (Michelle Hazelwood illustration) Last year during TV turnoff week, we ran a Fab Five round-up of fun family crafts and games, including flower fairies, DIY checkers and bizarre hopscotch games. Let’s see what kinds of fun we can dream up this time, not just for this much-hyped “TVs are evil” week, but all year round.

You remember playing Parcheesi and Sorry as a kid? A few months ago, we set out to find the most entertaining, endlessly replayable board games for teens, with the help of 20 teens, college kids and 20somethings who road-tested 15 different board games. Some games were great, some were snoozers and some … well, they very vastly improved after we tweaked the rules a bit. So this week, we’re going to profile a few of those games and add a few more for the younger set. Ready to Toss Your Cookies?
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Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

TV Turn Off Week: Day 1

No TV ILLUS.jpg I have mixed feelings about TV Turnoff Week – and at first I thought it was just because it’s inadvisable to get between me and my Tivo’d episodes of “Lost.” But I’ve been reading Christy Matte’s blog post on the topic, and she just nails what I was feeling.  OK, she says, we spend too much time staring at screens, but “this one week without any connectivity is supposed to make us healthier, smarter and more close to our families. I find the whole thing absurd.” TV Turn Off Week is like a “fad diet” that doesn’t differentiate between good and bad electronic amusements, and doesn’t provide any kind of long lasting effects. Instead, she suggests, “How about encouraging people to spend an hour more family time each week all year long? Or to spend another 45 minutes a week doing something fun outside?”

Read the rest of Christy’s comments here, then punch a button on the poll or click comments and let’s talk.

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
Under: Technology & Video Games, TV | No Comments »

BUGS, Bugs, Everywhere … & a Bugged Out Giveaway

Bugs Fandex (Courtesy Workman Publishing) Ahhh, spring! Flowers, showers and bugs buzzing everywhere. Remember catching creepy crawlies in a bottle so you could take a closer look? Well, this week we’re giving away the tools your kid needs to wile away a lazy afternoon just like that: Workman Publishing’s Bug Book & Bug Bottle – with ventilated lid so insects stay safe till junior returns them to the garden, unharmed – and a cool Bugs Fandex. Very fun. And all you have to do win this is click “comments” and tell us, what’s your kids’ favorite way to laze away a summer afternoon? We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday. (This contest is now closed – congrats, Tim! Click here for details on the next contest.)

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
Under: Contest | No Comments »

PARENT Talks: Teen Stress, Tot Discipline & More

Stressed out student by Kirk Lyttle, MCT
“Stressed out? A Teen Panel on Stress”
April 23 at 7 p.m. at Las Lomas High Theater, Walnut Creek – NOTE: This event has been cancelled.

“Oh Baby! Tours of the John Muir Birth Center”
April 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek. Choose a pediatrician, meet birth center staff and hear talks on pain relief options, surviving your first week home, eco-nurseries and the Pregnancy Disability Act. (Free, but register ahead of time.)

“Childhood Matters: Road to Recovery”
April 25 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN, and panelists discuss parenting issues.
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Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | 1 Comment »

East Bay College Fair this Saturday

Harvard Saint Mary’s College is hosting the 18th annual East Bay Connection College Fair this Saturday, April 25 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Chat with reps from 150 private and public universities from across the country, hear workshops on financial aid, applications and advice for first-generation college students, and get a jump start on the college search process. The fair is free, and a free shuttle runs from the Orinda BART station every 20 minutes, so you don’t have to hassle with parking. Click here for info on the college fair and a list of participating schools. And click here for advice on getting the most out of a college fair.

Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2009
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

Newest Harry Potter Trailer

Whoa! Here, as promised, is the newest trailer for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Three months to go…

Posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Under: Movies | No Comments »

Super Granny!

Super Granny We’d been curious about Sally Wendkos Olds’ new book “Super Granny: Great Stuff to do with Your Grandkids,” which landed on our desk a couple of weeks ago. The book looked like big fun, with its descriptions of 75 cool activities, from starting a family blog to elevator rides, Grandma Camp, Segway tours and more. They all sounded great, but we lacked the grandparent perspective. But Susan Adcox,’s guide to grandparenting, says, no, that first impression was absolutely correct. The book’s great. “Yes, there is a chapter on knitting,” she says, “but there is also one on skiing, one on using email and another on taking your grandchild to a demonstration, and I don’t mean a cooking demonstration!” She also liked the stories provided by real-life grandmothers that preceded each section. Read the rest of Susan’s review here. (And then check out the rest of Susan’s site for other grandparenting inspiration!)

Posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Under: Grandparenting | No Comments »

Octomom Trademarks the Name

Nadya Suleman (AP Photo/Nick Ut) OK, you know how I was saying I felt a little sympathy for Nadya Suleman, octuplet mom and target of a million paparazzi? Forget it. Now, not only is Suleman trying to set up her very own reality show – which she’s calling a “documentary,” not a “reality” show – but she just filed the paperwork to trademark the word “Octomom.” Your thoughts?

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

High School Coach & Playboy Model??

High School Cheerleading CoachA high school cheerleading coach’s extra-curricular activities seem to have put a quick end to her coaching career after parents at Casa Roble High, a school just outside Sacramento, discovered semi-nude photos of the 5’2″ brunette on Playboy’s web site.

School officials aren’t talking, citing confidentiality rules, and the cheerleading squad has been told not to comment, but other parents are not so tight lipped. The Sacramento Bee quotes Ann Buell, a mother of two student athletes, saying that it’s particularly worrisome these days when so many ill-advised photos of teens are popping up online: “How are we going to tell them it’s wrong when they say, ‘Coach is doing it?'”

Your thoughts?

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »