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Archive for June, 2009

FATHER’S DAY: Picnic Time!

Picnic basket (Photo by Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/MCT) There are few pleasures in life as simple and sweet as a picnic. Or rather, attending a picnic. Prepping all the food, packing up all the gear and then serving it atop wet grass or an ant-strewn picnic table? Not so fun. So we’ve gathered up five great tips for throwing together the perfect picnic. Ready?

1. Plan for imperfect conditions.
Planning to use the park picnic tables? Pack a big tablecloth to cover the grimy (or ant-y) surface, and pretty things up. Aiming for the lawn? Pack blankets and throw a tarp in the trunk. If the grass is wet, say the folks at, place the tarp down first, then blankets on top. Add a few waterproof cushions (like the kind for outdoor furniture) for extra comfort.

2. Make a splash with your drinks.
We’re loving the spectacular Strawberry Lemonade Spritzers – diced, sweetened strawberries, lemonade and club soda – suggested on Epicurious’ picnic planner. Perfect for kids as well as adults.
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Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009
Under: Cuisine, Dads | 1 Comment »

FATHER’S Day: Awesome Kids’ Gifts #1

Pint-Size Car Wash (MCT Direct)
Washing the family car is a classic Father’s Day gift – of course the kids in the photo are scrub-a-dubbing the Little Tikes equivalent, but you get the point. And Dads are always delighted to get their wheels sudsed … as long as the washer does a passable job and remembers to wash off the soap, not just apply it. But a DIY car washing kit also makes a great, inexpensive gift for Father’s Day. Martha Stewart’s web site has suggestions for assembling one by filling a galvanized bucket with all the necessities, including natural sponges, soap, a squeegee and glass cleaner, and then attaching a coupon promising to assist in using the contents. The thing looks fabulous, as all her crafts inevitably do. But we also like the idea of using a bright red, plastic bucket and turning the kids loose with the sharpie markers to decorate the outside.

Posted on Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Under: Crafts, Dads | No Comments »

BABY’s Death in a Hot Car Stirs Questions

20040804-CAR-SEAT The case of the 4-month-old baby who died on Monday after being forgotten in a parked car at an El Cerrito BART station is just heartbreaking. Apparently, little Everett Carey’s father forgot to drop him off at day care that morning, and headed off to work without realizing he’d left his baby in the car seat in the back of the car. It wasn’t a hot day by any means – it only reached the high 60s in El Cerrito – but the temperature inside a car soars even when it’s not terribly warm outside. Authorities think it was probably over 100 degrees inside the car.

It’s not the first time this has happened, of course, but it’s heartbreaking every single time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year 27 children die of heat stroke after being left in cars. And it’s happening for a variety of reasons.

“An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy,” Gene Weingarten writes in an extraordinary Washington Post Magazine story, “or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just… forgets a child is in the car.”

And it happens to frazzled people from all walks of life – wealthy, poor, educated, ignorant, absent-minded and uber-organized. Twenty years ago, such cases were a rarity, says Weingarten:
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Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | 4 Comments »

DAD’S DAY: Lawn Mower Cupcakes

Lawnmower Cupcake (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine) Father’s Day is just over a week away, so we’re launching our Dad-inspired countdown of crafts, recipes and cool ways to celebrate the big guy. And as usual, our buddies at Family Fun Magazine have a million great ideas. Erin, in their press office, told us to get a load of the “sweet lawn mower cupcakes” in the June issue, calling them “a cut above” other daddy-themed desserts. We grabbed the recipe before she could make any more terrible puns. Basically, you start with a basic chocolate-frosted cupcake and… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009
Under: Cuisine, Dads | 2 Comments »

FATHER’S Day Countdown!

Father's Day (Photo by Joanne Hoyoung Lee/SJ Mercury News)
Dads rock. That’s all there is to it! And we are loving all the different ways you guys are planning to celebrate Father’s Day! Earlier this week, we asked you to share your plans for the big day. Now, that list – which is growing by the moment – is an absolute gem. If you’re looking for Father’s Day inspiration, look no farther!

There are picnics at the park with a game of “crispy” (which is what Courtney’s charming daughter calls Frisbee), plus “swings, slides and lots of loving.” Marci’s family is combining Father’s Day with a trip to celebrate her in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary – “It’s been a long time since my hubby was able to spend time with his Dad on Fathers day,” she says. Kelly Ann’s church does a big dinner for all the dads, then they’re hitting the movie theater. (And may we recommend “Up”? LOVED that movie!) Go-karting, baseball games, “grilling and chillin'” – the list goes on and on. Check it out, then add your own suggestions.

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009
Under: Dads | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Gayle Schmitt & the Toodala Ramblers 1. Sure, you can gawk at the stars and planets, but this Saturday, Chabot Space & Science Center is hosting a sing-along, toe-tapping, barn dance for families, featuring Gayle Schmitt and the Toodala Ramblers at 1:30 p.m. (Free with admission)

2. The Elmwood Rialto Cinema‘s family film series continues this weekend with “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” Tickets to the noon matinee on both Saturday and Sunday are just $4, and ticket sales benefit PTAs at four Berkeley elementary schools.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

TEEN Passport to Oakland Adventures

Teen gossip (Illustration by Laurie McAdam, MCT) Got teen with a yen to explore? The Oakland Library is hosting a Teen Summer Passport program to encourage teens to get out and see local sights – museums, farmers markets, skate parks and cultural venues. Starting June 13, pick up a passport at any branch, then start exploring and accumulating passport stamps by visiting one of the recommended Bay Area Hot Spots, writing short reviews, attending library programs or volunteering. For every three passport stamps, your teen gets a raffle ticket that could win him a laptop computer, an iPod Nano or a Flip camera. Cool, huh? Check out the library’s web site or call (510) 238-7232 or 238-7234.

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Under: Teens | 2 Comments »

BACKYARD FUN: Homemade Forts

Pirate Ahhh, forts – that childhood classic. When we first started talking about backyard fun, Janelle, who writes the Brimful Curiosities blog, immediately added her daughter’s favorite pastime to our list. “My daughter likes to build her own tent out of a bed sheet on our deck outside and play in it,” she said. “Keeps her occupied for hours.”

Homemade forts are free, endlessly creative … and heck, we all have a couch fort or two in our pasts too. Actually, I may have several hundred. And I’m not alone. Couch forts are well represented in Flickr’s homemade fort photo collection. Also there: cardboard box castles and cardboard hideaways.

The couch version hardly needs explanation – grab the pillows off your couch, prop them up, drape a sheet or blanket over the top, and voila, a castle, pirate ship, frontier outpost or spy hideout. Draping a bedsheet over patio furniture or between bushes makes a perfect garden fort too. Or you can use PVC pipes and connectors to make a fort frame, ready for draping in camo or other fabric. But cardboard forts have an allure all their own. Here’s how to make an extraordinary one…
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Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Under: Backyard fun | 3 Comments »

DAD’S Day Book Giveaway

"It's the Best Day Ever, Dad!" by Brooke ShieldsFather’s Day is just around the corner, so we’re offering up a Dad-pleasing book this week. Brooke Shields’ “It’s the Best Day Ever, Dad!” picture book offers a sweet glimpse of a doting daddy and his daughters having tea parties, watching basketball and making Super Duper Spaghetti Surprise. Adorable. And this book can be yours. All you have to do is click “comments” and tell us, how do you celebrate Father’s Day? We’ll draw a winner’s name next week.

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
Under: Books, Contest | 24 Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Tantrums, First Aid & More

Tantrum (Illustration by Mike Inman, MCT) “Childhood Matters: Gay Parenting”
June 13 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN, and panelists discuss adoption, surrogacy and the challenges of gay parenting.

“First Aid Class”
June 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Learn lifesaving techniques from a first aid specialist. Each class is offered in two sessions; the first session is on Pediatric CPR and the second session addresses safety and first aid. You must attend both sessions and turn in a registration form and a check payable to BANANAS to reserve a space. Fee: $50-individual; $70 for parents/couples.

“Taming Your Preschooler”
June 15 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Meg Zweiback teaches parents discipline techniques for preschoolers. (Free. Limited child care is also available for $5, call 510-658-7353 to register.)
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Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »