Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for March, 2010

BUGS Bunny DVD Giveaway

Bugs Bunnys Easter Funnies Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd… oh, those were the good old days all right. And this week’s we’re giving away a blast to the nostalgic past with “Bugs Bunny’s Easter Funnies,” a new DVD that recaptures the fun with Sylvester, Pepe Le Pew, Foghorn Leghorn and yep, that other duck. Big fun. And it can be yours!

Click “comments” and tell us, what was your favorite childhood cartoon or animated series? Roadrunner? Bullwinkle? Gumby? We’ll draw a winner’s name on Monday, March 22.

P.S. Congrats, by the way, to Roxy who won last week’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” DVD!

Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010
Under: Contest | 9 Comments »

PARENT Talks: Teens, College, Summer Camp

Summer camp Pleasanton Summer Camp Showcase
March 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Harvest Park Middle School gym, Pleasanton. Sample Pleasanton Parks and Rec summer classes and camps, watch demos, do hands-on activities and meet instructors at this free summer camp showcase. Details: 925-931-5340.

Discipline Through the Lens of Temperament
March 21 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and streamed live on Childhoodmatters.org.
Behavioral temperament and discipline strategies are the topics for this session by Nurse Rona and guests Mary Kurcinka, author of “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles,” and Stephanie Agnew, a parent education coordinator at San Mateo County’s Parent’s Place.

Talking with Teens
March 28 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and streamed live on Childhoodmatters.org.
The final episode in the “Your Teen Matters” series features Nurse Rona and Beth Samuelson, MA, of Student Organizational Services, discussing practical and effective communication techniques for parents of teens.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010
Under: Parenting Issues | 1 Comment »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Circus Spire (Photo by Luiza Silva)
Eemax and Zurno: Acrobats, puppets and contortionists cavort at Oakland’s Kinetic Arts Center stage when Eemax and Zurno’s Amazing Circus Humans take the stage for evening and matinee performances March 13-28. Tickets $10-$15.

Johnny Appleseed Day: Ardenwood, Fremont’s Gold Rush era historic farm, celebrates Johnny Appleseed Day on March 14 with old-fashioned family fun, crafts and farm activities. Tickets: $5-$8.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

20 Failing East Bay Schools Face Dire Sanctions

UPDATE: There’s good news for Mt. Diablo and Pinole high schools – not so good for a couple of middle schools though. In a last-minute revision of its failing schools list, the state removed both high schools from the list and replaced them with Concord’s Glenbrook Middle School and San Pablo’s Helms Middle School. Read the latest news on this topic here.

Mt Diablo High (Photo by Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group) Pinole Valley High, Mt. Diablo High (pictured), Oak Grove Middle School, and 17 other East Bay institutions are on the state’s list of failed schools and may be facing draconian penalties, including the firing of principals and staff, outright closure, or closure and then a re-opening as a charter school. “This is an opportunity to make dramatic changes at chronically underperforming schools,” says state schools chief Jack O’Connell.

Doubtless there is much wringing of hands at the 188 schools statewide that are affected, but here’s what I don’t get. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – these schools’ dismal test scores, the bar they had to reach, and the sanctions have been in the public eye for a decade. The only question to my mind, as a former education reporter who covered the Mt. Diablo school district, among others, was always whether the state would have the gumption to actually impose those sanctions. And frankly, they haven’t yet. They’re just threatening. It’s like those parents who give their kids till the count of 3 – “OK, 1, 2, 2 1/2 … I really mean it this time: 1, 2, 2 1/2, 2 3/4… We’ll try that again, 1, 2…” Hello?

Meanwhile out in Rhode Island, where half the students at Central Falls High were failing every subject, the school board just fired its entire school staff, including 74 teachers and the principal, after the teachers union refused to follow state-mandated restructuring plans that called for longer school days and tutoring. The union said they wanted to be paid for the extra work and that their students had made great strides in recent years.

I have my own thoughts about those arguments, but I’m considerably more interested in hearing yours. Click comments and share your thoughts, or punch a button on the poll… (P.S. Answers are in random order and you can select as many as you wish.)

Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

WARNING Coming on Baby Slings & Suffocation Deaths

Baby sling  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) You know those trendy baby slings, the soft fabric hammock/sash that lets you wear your little one across your chest? Apparently babies have died in them, when their body positions constricted their airways and they suffocated. Now the federal government is preparing to issue an official warning to parents, probably later this week. Consumer Reports began raising concerns about the slings in 2008, first because of serious injuries suffered by two dozen babies who fell out of them. Then, about the suffocation risk, which has been linked to the deaths of at least seven babies. The brand Consumer Reports named was the “SlingRider” by Infantino.

I know a lot of you have used these baby slings or know someone who has. What was your experience?

Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | 3 Comments »

ALICE a Box Office Smash

Alice in Wonderland (Courtesy Disney Enterprises/MCT)
Apparently Alice, the Mad Hatter and the gang have just smashed box office records for biggest March opening ever, earning $116 million between Friday and Sunday. Have you seen it yet?

Reviews have been a little spotty, and parenting reviews, in particular, express some concern about the film for younger children. Common Sense Media calls the “trippy adaptation … pretty intense and scary at times for younger kids, especially because it’s in 3-D.” And Plugged-In Online notes that the “creatures in Underland are not all cute and cuddly. Indeed, some are downright alarming. Take the Bandersnatch, an ill-tempered beast with fur like a cat, claws like a velociraptor and teeth like a Swiss army knife gone horribly awry.”

But if you’re a parent heading out for date night, or taking teens to the show, then the fantasy violence factor may not be that big a deal for you. You probably want to know if it’s … awesome, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010
Under: Movies | 1 Comment »

YO Gabba Gabba Giveaway

Yo Gabba Gabba (Courtesy Nickelodeon) Apparently Yo Gabba Gabba, the stars of Nickelodeon’s children’s series, is the hottest thing around, with indie rockers clamoring for their moment in the YGG spotlight and Muno, Foofa and the gang showing up in Super Bowl ads for Kia. So this week, we’re climbing on the bandwagon, and giving away the latest YGG DVD, “Yo Gabba Gabba Birthday Boogie.”

Want it?  Click “comments” and tell us, what’s the best kids’ show out there these days? Are you a Sesame Street family? An all-Dora, all-the-time gang? Or Yo Gabba die-hards? We’ll draw a winner’s name on Monday, March 15.

Meanwhile, congrats are due to Carol, who won last week’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Inside Tree” giveaway – and whose family loves the picture book, “The Snowy Day.”

Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010
Under: Contest | 3 Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Teen Drinking, Divorce and Discipline

glass The Problem of Underage Drinking
March 8 at 7 p.m., Campolindo High, Moraga
Community leaders will come together to share their knowledge, answer questions and provide resources. Among the speakers: Campolindo High Principal Carol Kitchens; Moraga Chief of Police Robert Priebe; Dr. Jan Gurley; and Defense Attorney Mary Carey. Sponsored by the Campolindo Parent Club and Healthy Choices Committee.

Parent Communication After Divorce
March 14 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and streamed live on Childhoodmatters.org.
Nurse Rona and guests discuss divorce, separation and how to co-parent for the sake of children.

Pleasanton Summer Camp Showcase
March 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Harvest Park Middle School gym, 4900 Valley Ave., Pleasanton
Sample Pleasanton Parks and Rec summer classes and camps, watch demos, do hands-on activities and meet instructors at this free summer camp showcase. Details: 925-931-5340.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010
Under: Parenting Issues | 1 Comment »

Dr. Seuss in Congress

Dr. Seuss on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Theodore Geisel’s birthday was March 2 and for schools across America, this is Seuss week – a chance to celebrate books, host read-a-thons and dine on green eggs and ham. Driving in to work this morning, I saw several zillion kids heading off to a “Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast” at one elementary school, all excitedly clutching books and tugging up their stripey socks. Too cute.

If you’re celebrating the great man behind the Cat in the Hat, Things 1 and 2, Horton and Whos this week, here are some ideas to get you in the mood…

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010
Under: Books | No Comments »

KIDS Making Cocktails?

Champagne Cocktail (Photo by Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT) If you’re a foodie, an avid restaurant-goer or simply looking for fun Oscar party cocktail ideas, chances are you’ve run across Chowhound.com, the San Francisco-based, irreverent, social networky, foodie web site. (Although if it’s Oscar party ideas you’re after, you should check this out too.)

So, I was browsing Chowhound when I ran across this post by Table Manners’ columnist Helena Echlin, who attended a dinner party where – well, here I’ll let her tell it.

The other night I went to a friend’s house for dinner. Sidecars were served beforehand, and they were delicious. This was particularly impressive since a five-year-old made them (with his dad’s help and supervision). The kid also had a ‘cocktail’ of his own: water with a sugar lump in it.”

Echlin goes on to weigh the ethics of having kids make cocktails or serve wine at adult parties. It’s a thoughtful read, and well worth the time. But here’s my question. I’m betting a martini-making kindergartner is a rarity, but what about teens tending bar at a parent party? Or kids helping hand out beers at a Super Bowl shindig? Take the poll below and tell us, what have you seen? (You can hit multiple choices, by the way.) Then hit “comments” and share your thoughts…

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »