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Archive for July, 2010

Kids Crafts: DIY Batik

Courtesy Family Fun MagazineThere’s just something about summer that makes us break out the arts and crafts supplies – and when the craft is wearable, that’s all the better. So we were completely smitten by this bright batik T-shirt treatment from our buddies over at Family Fun magazine. Normally, batik is a wax-resist dye treatment, and neither the hot wax nor the dye baths are particularly kid-friendly. But the Family Fun folks adapted the idea for the younger set in a way that’s both safer and less messy. Plus the results – as you can see – are kinda spectacular.

The full instructions are here, but in a nutshell, you make a gooey flour and water paste, and use a squirt bottle to apply the pattern – here, a simple sun pattern with a spiral center. Let it dry, then use orange and yellow spray fabric paints to add some sunny hues. Let dry, then peel off the flour goo. Very, very cool!

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Under: Crafts | 4 Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Pirates of Penzance
Arrrr, Matey: Forget Jack Sparrow. Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance,” playing at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center July 29-31, offers a funny, musical twist on the pirate theme with sweet swashbucklers, dopey lovers and a quirky military man , whose famous song about being “the very model of a modern Major-General” will leave your tweens singing about calculus and animalculous too. Tickets $20-$48.

The Peekadoodle Kidsclub is hosting a summer fete at Ghirardelli Square from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. July 31 that includes live music, jumping in the bouncy house and train rides through the famous square. $10 per child, tickets at the door; details at Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

GIVEAWAY: Miss Tutu’s Star

"Miss Tutu's Star" by Leslea Newman A little girl who loves to twirl, a plethora of pink tutus and delightful rhyming prose combine to make Leslea Newman’s “Miss Tutu’s Star” (due out August 1 from Abrams Books for Young Readers) a winner for the preschool and young elementary set. We are helpless to resist lines like,

“Selena took some steps with flair and landed on her derriere. She sighed and said, ‘I’m such a klutz.’ Miss Tutu said, ‘But you’ve got guts.”

Plies, releves and arabesques – plus charming illustrations (including the one pictured here) by Carey Armstrong-Ellis – make this picture book a winner. And it can be yours!

Click comments and tell us about your kids’ extra-curricular experiences – do you have a little ballerina, a budding flutist or fledgling swimmer? What age did they start? We’ll pick a winner’s name next week!

Speaking of which, congrats are due to reader Jackie, who won last week’s “Giggle, Giggle, Quack” DVD!

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Under: Books, Contest | 3 Comments »

RECALL: 30K Nap Nannies

Recall: Nap Nanny (CPSC) The federal consumer safety folks and Baby Matters just issued a recall for 30,000 Nap Nanny Recliners in the wake of the death of a 4-month-old girl from Michigan. The baby was napping in the recliner, which had been placed inside her crib – which you are not supposed to do. The recliner is supposed to be used on the floor only. In this case, the baby was still in the harness, but had fallen out and become caught between the Nap Nanny and the crib bumper. The photograph above shows a re-enactment of the tragic accident. This is the second such crib incident – but there have been 22 other cases of babies hanging or falling out of the Nap Nanny, despite being buckled in.

If you have a Nap Nanny, stop using it immediately and visit for information on the harness issue.  And bear in mind that any product of this type, whether it’s a recliner, a baby seat or whatever, should be used on the floor –  not atop a table or countertop, where falling out could lead to serious injury; nor in a crib or playpen, where the child risks entrapment or suffocation.

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Sleep and Zzzzzzz

Sleepless baby Booties Camp
July 28, 10 a.m. to noon at Bananas, Oakland
The fourth in Bananas’ popular 5-week Booties Camp for new and expecting parents, focuses on that all-important topic: sleep – and how to get some.

Booties Camp
August 4, 10 a.m. to noon at Bananas, Oakland
The last session in Bananas’ popular 5-week Booties Camp for new and expecting parents, focuses on baby massage.

Posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

RECALL: Choking Pacifiers

Recalled pacifiers The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled 45,000 of these cheap Karino Baby Pacifiers, sold for 25 cents each, because they violate pretty much every safety standard for pacifiers. The nipple separates from the base, the handle is too long, the mouth guard too small and there are no air holes on the mouth guard. The only thing one can say in favor of these things is that they don’t seem to have been dipped in lead paint or cadmium. If you think you have one, look for the word “Kariño” on the handle side of the mouth guard, and “Mygra” on the handle. And here’s another bizarre thing. The nipple, says the CPSC, is filled with corn syrup. Um, is that normal?

Posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

Backyard Summer Camp: Day 5

Alameda County Fair (Photo by Pauline Lubens/San Jose Mercury News) We’re nearing the finish line on the coolest summer fun idea yet: a do-it-yourself summer camp that turns your backyard (and those of your friends) into kid central. We’ve already shared Peggy Spear’s tips on how to host a DIY Backyard Summer Camp, and some great ideas for Days 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Backyard Olympics, Day Tripping, a Splash Fest and Cookin’ with the Kids. Now it’s time for…

Day 5: Friday Funday
“With the week coming to an end, it’s time to give everyone a break,” says Peggy. “Pick an amusement park, movie theater or sporting event and take the campers on another field trip.”

  • You don’t have to take on something as spectacular, both financially and in terms of roller coasters, as Great America or Discovery Kingdom. Think family friendly and small scale – Concord’s Pixieland, Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland or your local zoo.
  • Check out summer movie deals too. Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse offers $5 family films on weekday mornings during the summer, for example.
  • Go bowling, or mini-golfing.
  • Or pitch a tent for a neighborhood camp-out under the stars.
  • Check out more ideas for backyard fun, including cardboard pirate ships and giant bubbles.

OK, now it’s your turn. Click “comments” and tell us, what are you doing with your kids this summer?

Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Under: Backyard Summer Camp | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Chevron Family Theatre Festival (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Family Fest: Cinderella, Toto and the Sippy Cups headline the fourth annual Chevron Family Theatre Festival at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. The fun runs all day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 24, with free activities and shows outside the theater, and $5 seats for the stage performances. Visit for details.

Zany Boat Races: Berkeley hosts its third annual Derby Day cardboard boat races — with prizes for funniest, most futuristic and, of course, fastest sinking ship — from 1 to 3 p.m. July 23 in the West Campus Pool, 2100 Browning St. at Addison. $5 per boat entry.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

Giggle, Quack DVD Giveaway

GiggleGiggleQuack DVD Happy Monday, everyone! This morning, we’re giving away a copy of the hot-off-the-press “Giggle, Giggle, Quack” – the DVD version of Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin’s award-winning picture book. Here, the barnyard crew from “Click, Clack, Moo” take over when Farmer Brown goes on vacation. He didn’t leave the animals in charge, of course. He left his brother Bob, but … yeah, major hilarious trouble ensues. Adding to the fun, the DVD version, which includes other Cronin stories too, is narrated by Randy Travis and Abigail Breslin. And it can be yours! Click comments and tell us, out of all your most beloved childhood books, what’s your favorite animal tale?

Meanwhile, congrats are due to R. Oliver, who won last week’s “A Visit with Grandma” DVD – and thank you to all of you who shared your sweet memories of times spent with your grandma. Absolutely charming stories!

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: Contest | 3 Comments »

Backyard Summer Camp: Day 4

Cooking class ILLUS Who needs a pricey summer camp, when you’ve got such creative families in your own neighborhood? That’s Peggy Spear’s idea, anyway, and she’s assembled the coolest collection of backyard summer camp ideas ever. We’ve already shared her tips on how to host a DIY Backyard Summer Camp, and some great ideas for Days 1, 2 and 3 – Backyard Olympics, Day Tripping and a Splash Fest.

But, says Peggy, “After all the activity of the last three days, campers may be getting a bit weary. Turn on the air conditioning, if needed, and invite the campers into the kitchen.”

Day 4: Cooking Class
The focus, Peggy says, should be on having fun and getting excited about cooking, but if you can sneak in some healthy eating tips and math/measuring practice, all the better. So here are Peggy’s tips and a few more… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: Backyard Summer Camp, Cuisine | No Comments »