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Archive for June, 2009

Parents offer Alameda County fair tips

Hello! I know it’s been a long time (too long) since this Pleasanton mommy of two has blogged, but I’m dusting off the keyboard in honor of my all-time favorite summer family pastime.

This weekend will mark our seventh year of taking our kid (now 2 kids) to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton.

I posted some tips here last year that still ring true, so here they are again (updated slightly), along with some new ones from readers. Feel free to add yours!

1. Always get the free program at the entrance. Attractions and events vary daily and from year to year. New this year: A farm tour to introduce kids to rural life; kid and adult hot dog-related contests; an India-themed festival on final day.

2. Make sure to venture beyond the carnival rides. There are so many free fun things to do that will stretch your budget further. And if you can’t avoid the rides, buy a wristband. ($25) It will pay for itself quickly.

3. Visit all the furry critters. But bring the hand sanitizer. It’s usually provided but having your own is your best bet.

3. Seek out indoor exhibits when it’s hot. Especially the garden displays. Ahhhh. Cool gurgling water.

4. Bring your own food! Yes, you are allowed to do this, and it gives the belly a nice break from those funnel cakes. Our playgroup used to do a picnic in the central shaded grassy area by the barbecue station, and once someone brought in a whole cake for us to share. (So much for belly breaks). There are several tasty takeout and dine-in restaurants located nearby at the corner of Bernal and Valley avenues. (Or, even better, plan a sidetrip to our quaint/historic downtown Pleasanton — just a short drive away and full of shops and eateries.)

5. Avoid the high parking fees. If you’re from out of town, take BART to the Dublin-Pleasanton station and then the fair shuttle ($2 for those 6 and older; $1 seniors/disabled) from the station and from the Livermore Transit Center.

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Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

Nebraska Dad Who Dumped Kids is a Father-to-Be

Teen depression You remember that Nebraska Safe Haven Law that yielded unexpected results when parents started abandoning their teens too? One father, Gary Staton, abandoned nine of his ten children. Now comes news that Staton is going to be a father again. Ahem.

After Staton’s wife died of a cerebral aneurysm in 2007, he was left to raise their 10 children, then ages 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, on his own. But rather than ask family members for help last summer, he told his nine younger children they were going to a grief counseling session at the Creighton University Medical Center and he dumped them there. (By then, the oldest was legally an adult.) Now, Staton’s girlfriend is PREGNANT. And one can only imagine what his other children are thinking.

“So how does a guy who claimed he’d have a vasectomy if he had the thousand dollars end up a father again?” asks StrollerDerby’s Jeanne Sager. “I feel for Staton’s kids… They now have to face the fact that their dad has moved on not from the death of their mother but from THEM.”

ThatsJustNotRight’s Clarissa is blunter, “Anyone got $1000? Or a soldering iron? I figure either one will work just fine.”

Your thoughts?

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

BACKYARD FUN: 4 Great Lawn Games

Tug of War (Photo by Heather Stone/Chicago Tribune/MCT)Ah, the simple joys of playing in the backyard on a summer night. But when the cries of “I’m bored!” go up, as they inevitably do, you might want to suggest these backyard games. Oh sure, you could play tug-of-war or “Red Light, Green Light.” But what about Sardines? Statues? Diminishing Points or Shark? Here’s the scoop on four awesome games… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Under: Backyard fun | 1 Comment »

SUPER Granny Book Giveaway

Super Granny Sally Wendkos Olds’ book, “Super Granny: Great Stuff to Do with Your Grandkids,” is a total charmer. It features 75 awesome activities for grandparents and kids, from treasure hunts and gingerbread architecture to high tech fun, all divided by age, from 0 to 18. It’s a compilation of fun-filled wisdom and practical tips from Olds and 60 grandmothers from the United States, Germany, New Zealand, India and other countries, who all adore spending time with their grandkids. Two thumbs up! And all you have to do to win this is click “comments” and share your favorite grandparent memory. We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday.

(Congrats, by the way, to Jennifer who won last week’s Queen Lullabye CD!)

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Contest, Grandparenting, Kids & Tweens | 4 Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Baby Yoga, Booties Camp

Baby Yoga (MCT Direct Photo)
“Changes & New Beginnings: Preparing for Transitions”
July 1 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Speaker: Madeline Meyer Riley, MFCC. Whether it’s the first day of child care, preschool or kindergarten, changes can be challenging. This workshop is designed to help parents prepare for those big transitions. Free.

“Childhood Matters: Healthy Eating on A Limited Budget”
July 5 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and streamed live on Childhoodmatters.org. Rona Renner, RN, and panelists discuss the importance of nutritious, delicious food during these challenging times.

“Booties Camp: Baby Basics”
July 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at Bananas, Oakland
First in a series of five classes, ranging from baby basics to yoga, for new and expecting parents. Register online.
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Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

HOGWARTS, Twilight not the Only Books-into-Movies

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

OK, yes, we’re counting down the days (hours, minutes, seconds) until the sixth Harry Potter book hits the silver screen on July 15 … 21 days from now. And yes, the second Twilight movie, “New Moon,” brings Edward, Bella and Jacob to cineplexes on Nov. 20. But those aren’t the only kids and teen books to go cinematic in the coming months. Also ahead:
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Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Movies | No Comments »

PRINCESS Protection Program

Princess Protection Program (Courtesy Disney Channel) Disney’s newest girl-centric comedy, “Princess Protection Program,” debuts tonight and we’re wondering, are you going to watch? It’s a royalty-meets-reality, fish-out-of-water, Princess Diaries-type romp about a coup-threatened princess who takes refuge in the covert Princess Protection Program. Now she’s masquerading as an average 16-year-old visiting her American tomboy cousin. Princess Rosalinda is played by young singer-actress Demi Lovato of “Camp Rock” fame, and her country cousin is teen pop star and Mouseketeer Selena Gomez of Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” and a million fan mags. We’ve posted the trailer after the jump. But first!

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Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Movies, TV | No Comments »

HOMEMADE Ice Cream

Ice Cream (Photo courtesy of Jeff Prieb, Stock.Xchng) This weekend is the fifth annual Great American Backyard Campout, a National Wildlife Federation-sponsored activity designed to get families outdoors and in tune with nature. So much fun. And it got us all nostalgic for the many campouts we did when our kids were small. Ah, the s’mores, the hikes, the ghostly bedtime stories… and the homemade ice cream we made using a coffee can. So it was big fun to get an e-mail this morning from Rachael Ray‘s people with a recipe for… homemade ice cream using a coffee can. (Pause while we ask, where do Peet’s and Starbucks devotees find coffee cans? No, that’s not, like, a lightbulb joke. We really want to know. Do they buy Folgers and throw away the innards?) OK, on to the how-tos…
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Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Under: Cuisine | No Comments »

NYC Teachers Paid $80K to Twiddle Thumbs

Toy school bus Unbelievable. Apparently 700 New York City teachers are being paid their full $70,000-$80,000 salaries to sit in a room, surf the ‘Net, play board games, do yoga and whatever else floats their collective boats while they await disciplinary hearings. They call it “the rubber room,” and some teachers have spent two to six years in there, running up a $65 million annual taxpayer tab while they wait for arbitrators, who work 5 days a month, to hear cases that range from sexual misconduct to whistle blowing over tainted test scores.

One math teacher spent 14 months in a “reassignment center” after he blew the whistle on an assistant principal who, he charged, had changed test data. Another was charged with “having a student sit in my class with a hat on, singing.” And a third, an art teacher, landed in the room because she used inappropriate language after a student attacked her.

Administrators say union rules prohibit them from weeding out dead wood. Teachers say they’re being punished for standing up for themselves. What do you suppose the taxpayers are saying?

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: Schools | No Comments »

BEWARE of Playground Sand

Play sand warning label Forget the gnarly, snarling neighborhood dog, the trench-coated stranger and various other things out to getcha. Now we have to beware of playground sandboxes too. If you’re refilling your backyard sandbox with sacks of sand from the hardware or landscape store, take a good look at the label. Much of that stuff comes from crushed quartz and contains crystalline silica dust, a carcinogen responsible for the fatal lung condition silicosis. How bad is it? The Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA require protective clothing and masks for workers who handle the stuff. “If it is not safe for a 200 pound construction worker to inhale CS dust,” says SafeSand.com founder Mona Lisa Wallace, “why should it be safe for preschoolers?” In California, sand with CS has to be labeled (see above). Outside California, it carries the warning “not labeled for sale in California.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | 1 Comment »