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LIL’ KICKERS IS MORE THAN JUST A GREAT SOCCER PROGRAM FOR KIDS. Our balanced and creative approach to coaching will have a positive impact on your child that goes far beyond the soccer field. Our high-energy soccer classes are carefully designed to enhance your child’s overall growth and well-being. The result? Kids with strong physical skills, who are well-balanced and confident. We do all this while your child has the time of their life. CALL NOW AND MENTION BAY AREA KIDS MAGAZINE TO SCHEDULE A FREE TRIAL AND RECEIVE A FREE UNIFORM UPON ENROLLMENT!

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Bay Area Kids

Online version This version of Bay Area Kids magazine includes a different layout and extra or extended content you won’t find in the print edition.



10 small talk papa san

12 play dates select happenings reviews 14 product Marshmallow shooters, cats on the iPhone, get your Freak out, and more

18 health matters how to enjoy and prepare for a a safe summer for your children EXTENDED INTERVIEW »


young stars 26 Parenthood’s Tyree Brown


green living 28 grow your own candy


food 40 sizzling summer recipes 50 diary of a

what’s inside

20 let the children come to me

The story of an exceptional woman who runs an exceptional camp for exceptional children

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The never-ending birthday month


30 you’ve got to cool it now

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June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


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June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids




Volume 2, Number 4 June/July 2010


papa san “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” — Rev. Theodore Hesburgh


10 small talk

YOU’RE A WINNER Last issue we ran a contest giving away two Mother’s Day Packages, including a Motherhood DVD, a $100 gift certificate from Swank Mommy, and free flying time from iFly. And the winners are: Susan Wong Eleanor Baltazar Congratulations, and enjoy your (belated) Mother’s Day gifts!


Bay Area Kids

hildren are fun. Having children is fun. Raising them – at the core of the exercise – is supposed to be fun. Being a father to my two children has been the most fun, most exhilarating ride I could have ever imagined. Here’s the secret of being a father: having kids lets us act like kids again … with no repercussions. Being Dad gives me the excuse to jump out from behind the curtains, pasta strainer on my head, drinking straw in hand, using my worst Johnny Depp imitation and recreating scenes from Pirates of the Carribean; or put the wooden salad bowl over my head and do my best (ahem) Jack Black/Kung Fu Panda recreations. It allows me to send the two running and screaming because the Tickle Monster has decided to make an unexpected appearance, and to frustrate my daughter because I get my Disney princesses mixed up: “Cinderella … she’s the one that swims under water with Peter Pan, right?” To sing(?) in harmony with my son as he yells out the words (as he interprets them) to “Hakuna Matata” while we’re in the car together. (Hmmm … for some reason many of these moments seem to revolve around show tunes and movie soundtracks.) There’s also the peaceful joy of just sitting, for twenty minutes, with my son as we watch a praying manthis slowly make his (or her, not sure how you tell the difference) way across our backyard fence; of taking my daughter out on a clear night and showing her the pinpoints of stars, and how to connect them to create her own constellations. Even when there’s nothing going on, when we’re just sitting on a hammock rocking gently to an afternoon breeze, and they sit on my lap staring into their own little worlds, there’s fun in that moment. It’s those moments—in between the persuading and the arguing and the gentle nudging and discipline and hair tugging (my own, not theirs)—that define my fatherhood experience, and it’s those moments that I hope they remember when looking back at their childhood. Now if you’ll excuse me, the little ones are coming back from school soon and I need to go make a fort out of the couch cushions before they get here. Everard G Strong, Publisher, Editor, and Father

Mission Impossible Starting with this issue I am going to try and do the impossible: get back in shape while working a more-than-full time job, spend quality time with my children, be a useful husband, and somehow find time to sleep as well. Follow along online and in our next issue, and wish me luck, I’m going to need it. (Thank you to Concord’s UFC gym for setting me up).

Publisher/Editor/Father Everard G. Strong Sales General Inquiries Kathryn Sibley General Editorial Inquiries Calendar Photography Shaun Fenn, Contributing Writers Kelly Pollard, Elyssa Lee Submissions Send photos, events, news, and story requests to Product submissions Send all products to address below. Include return postage.

Doing our Part Bay Area Kids magazine is printed on 10 percent recycled paper using only soy based inks. Our printer meets or exceeds all Federal Resource Conservation Act (RCRA) Standards and is a certified member of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Small Print 2010 Big E Productions (DBA Bay Area Kids magazine). No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Big E Productions assumes no liability or responsibility for any claims made by advertisers in the magazine.

BAY AREA KIDS magazine P.O. Box 30442 Walnut Creek, CA 94598 ON THE COVER Jack is wearing a Reactor denim shirt $30 and Polo Ralph Lauren T-shirt $25 (Bloomingdale’s, Photo by Shaun Fenn.

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Bay Area Kids



June | July Photo this page: Barry Rice

12 play dates

These listings are provided as a free service to our readers. Submit your event to us (include place, date, and description) online at events@


Bay Area Kids

Chomp 2! Return of the Carnivorous Plants through Oct 31, San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Dr. (Golden Gate Park), San Francisco. Hours: Tues-Sun, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Admission: $7.00/adults; $5:00 youths, seniors and college students; $2.00 children 5-11; free for children 4 and under. Visitors can feast their eyes on hundreds of multi-colored, meat-eating plants arranged in swampy, living bogs that showcase species both by their trapping strategies and by their native regions and countries, including California’s own sinuously curved cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica). Other new additions include the Dionaea B-52, the world¹s largest Venus flytrap, and the aptly named (if you were a bug, that is) Abandoned Hope, a pitcher plant hybrid that can grow up to two feet tall.

Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival Sat June 5, sidewalks along North Shattuck, Berkeley. Hours: Tues-Sun, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Free admission, tickets needed for chocolate sampling. Celebrating 14 years of celebration, areas of North Shattuck’s sidewalk will be assigned to participants to create their own fanciful chalk drawings. A contest for the best drawing will be judged after 4 p.m. Chocolate lovers can nibble and sip on organic café mocha, chocolate mochi ice cream, chocolate truffles, savory chocolate mole, spicy chocolate tandori chicken, or the weirder chocolate foot massage! Live music, clowns, and activities for the children.  What the World Needs Now Gala Opening Night Fundraiser Sat June 5, 5:00 – 10:00 p.m., Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA). 538 Ninth St., Ste 210, Oakland, (510) 465-8770, Be a part of this special event that will celebrate young artists in their What the World Needs Now . . . juried exhibit of children’s art. Guests will be treated to delicious hors d’oeurves, wine tastings, an artists’ marketplace and entertainment by youth performance troupes. The exhibit features artwork by Bay Area children in grades K–12 on the themes of social justice, community awareness and world peace. Ace Dance Academy presents Outdoor Adventure Sat June 12, 1:00 & 6:00 p.m. Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Rd, San Ramon, (925) 973-ARTS. www. Tickets $15. Students of Ace Dance Academy perform dance pieces highlighting their skills in ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, and hip hop. From “Rainbow Connection” to “This Land is Your Land,” Outdoor Adventure is a dance event you and your family will not want to miss. Sticky Fingers-Clay Creations II Tues, June 15, 11:00 a.m., Lindsay Wildlife Museum, 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 935-1978, www. $15 admission. Mold and form with gooey clay to create animal-inspired sculptures using live animals as models. Bronkar’s Circus of Sound Sat June 19. Two performances: 12:00 p.m., Hayward Main Library, 835 C St., Hayward, (510) 881-794; 3:00 p.m., Hayward Library-Weekes Branch, 27300 Patrick Ave., Hayward, (510) 293-5366. Body percussion, juggling, and beat boxing combined in one spectacular show. To find out June/July 2010 | East Bay

more about Bronkar and his amazing talents, go to Model Train Show Fri June 25, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m., Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society, 2751 Buena Vista Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 937-1888, Admission: $3.00/ adults, $2.00 for children 6-12 and seniors, children under 6 are free. For model railroad enthusiasts, the WCMRS’ H.O. scale layout is one of the largest in the United States. Guests can see “Tommy,” “Hogwart’s Express,” and “Jelly Belly,” trains. Visit the towns of Port Allen, with its busy seaport and naval ships, and Olympia, and view operations of the overhead wire trolley system. Father’s Day Brunch and Solar Car Challenge Sun, June 20, Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, (510) 336-7300, Admission: $15/general admission; $13/dads and members; $10 plus general admission/kids. Buffet hours: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Solar Car Challenge hours: 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Celebrate Papa with a special Father’s Day Brunch at the Starlite Bistro in Chabot. After, help Dad design and create a “green” hot rod that you can design and race with him!

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Father’s Day at the Zoo Sun, June 20, Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, (510) 632-9525, Regular admission prices. To celebrate Father’s Day, Dads get to ride the train for free at the Oakland Zoo. Bring dear old Dad to the Zoo for a fun day filled with animal exploration. Wild Australia Exhibit Grand Opening Sat, July 3, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, (510) 632-9525, Help celebrate this new addition to the Oakland Zoo, and welcome the new residents from Down Under in style. There will be live entertainment featuring didgeridoo music. Board the Outback Express Adventure train in the Rides Area and sit back and relax while watching emus and wallaroos graze on the hillside. Fourth of July at the Marina Sun July 4, Berkeley Marina, noon – 10:00 p.m., (510) 981-6740, Free admission. Alcohol-free event. Live entertainment, arts & crafts, food, and fun kid stuff. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.


Bay Area Kids



14 mixed media Marshmallow MForcer (Marshmallow Fun Company) A manually pumped repeat pistol that shoots mini marshmallows twenty to twenty-five feet. Whoa. We see several scenarios where this could be useful. Scenario one: on a hot summer day, siblings are going at each other non-stop. Solution: give each one a loaded pistol and send them outside to duel it out. Scenario two: office wars. Scenario three: rainy day at the ranch? Give everyone their own MForcer. Stand around the living room table loading the ammo (you have to load by hand). Then, everybody gets five minutes to hide. Let the hunt begin. Holding fifteen marshmallows, the MForcer can serve as an effective weapon of family peace. $39.95. Available online at, Toys R Us, and other retail stores.

Freak-O-Bag (Kamibashi, Imagine a product that kids love, has a utilitarian value, and makes the world a better place in the process. Freak-O-Bags begin life as cute dolls with oversized heads, perfect for little hands as they sit in the back seat on the way to the store. Once inside, moms can unfurl a rather hefty (and attention getting) shopping bag from the doll’s head, saving plastic and paper bags at check out time. As for making the world a better place? Each bag is made by the Koonin family in Thailand through a fair trade program. Available in several styles. $14.45-$19.95. Available at Treehouse Green Gifts, Berkeley, (510) 204-9292 or online at


Bay Area Kids

Alphabetica: Odes to the Alphabet (Diana Spieker and Krista Skehan, 2010 Personify Press, San Francisco). Created by Menlo Park moms Spieker and Skehan (who founded Personify Press in order to publish the book), Alphabetica offers a unique, while still kid-friendly take on the ABCs. Each page has a main theme that revolves around a certain letter, with a poem accentuating that theme. The wording is hip and modern, introducing “big words” without overcrowding or over intellectualizing. Each letter receives its own illustrations and font treatment, so every turn of the page turns up something new, adding to the discovery and engagement elements. For example, the page for the letter “I” has a fun ode to ice cream (“sweet cream vanilla bean chocolate in a frosty shake, any Sundae you can make brain freeze, yes please”) and in the illustration you can find ivy, ink, an Indian, Idaho, Iowa, igloos, Italy, an inch, insects, an ironing board, and even the infinity sign. A charming learning experience for adults and children. $19.95, available at all Pottery Barn Kids and online at

Cat Chorus I-Phone App (My Musical Cats) This app and a sister title, Cat Opera, were submitted to us by a couple of local Art Institute students, and our kids have loved playing with them since. Featuring thirteen kitties, you can swipe or tap individual ones to create your own music, or listen along to several pre-recorded tracks. You can also tap along to various songs as well. Very entertaining, with fun illustrations and an easy interface – in other words, perfect for little children on those long road trips. $0.99 from iTunes and

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


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Bay Area Kids



Having a Safe Summer


he ‘lazy days of summer’ quite often find children in a variety of summer camps, summer school and/or spending days with a new group of friends. With the start of camps and summer schools, children can be exposed to many different germs and increased opportunities for injury. It’s not unusual for emergency departments to see more children suffering from brand new injuries…just like at the beginning of a school year.

18 health matters

About the Author: Board Certified Pediatrician Arnold Blustein, M.D., has been in practice for more than 30 years. He is on the staff at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.


Bay Area Kids

There are a few things to remember with your child’s environment: Preventing Infections The best way to prevent infection is frequent hand washing. Pediatricians encourage all of our patients and their parents to form good hand washing habits from the start. Children should be coached to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom and after playing outside. Immunizations are another important means of preventing infection. Vaccines have saved countless lives over the last several decades, and groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage everyone to be fully immunized. Booster vaccines, which renew immunizations that may have lost their effectiveness, are also important. It will be important to think of these as you approach the new school year as well.

by Arnold Blustein, MD

Avoiding injuries Kids can also have a high risk of injury – especially if they are participating in sports. And, by remaining physically active over the summer, they will be in better physical condition and less likely to hurt themselves in sports. Most pediatricians recommend children get 25 – 30 minutes of vigorous play every day. Adding walking or biking while on vacation or to a summer activity can also increase a child’s risk of accident or injury. Wear brightly colored clothing and, for bikers, always wear a helmet. This can help avoid an injury. Whether they are walking or riding, children should always be taught to observe traffic rules like using a cross walk and stopping at intersections. Staying healthy The most important tips for a healthy life are the simplest: Get plenty of sleep and eat a nourishing diet – even in the summer time! Young children need 9 – 10 hours of sleep and teenagers need 8 – 9. A healthy diet minimizes salt, sugar, and animal fat intake and emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

More than bacteria and viruses In addition to infections, just like during the school year, there is a higher occurrence of head lice. Lice are tiny (2 – 4 mm); lay eggs called ‘nits’ that stick tightly to the hair shaft; and sometimes cause a lot of itching. Head lice can be treated using an over-the-counter shampoo such as Nix or Rid. Parents who prefer a drugfree approach can try suffocating the lice by covering the child’s entire scalp with mayonnaise at night and then rinsing it off in the morning. Washing clothes and bedding can also help prevent recurrences. The most important part of treatment, though, is to painstakingly comb the hair with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any critters or nits. My own recommendation when a nit is seen is to cut out the hair shaft. To prevent infestations from occurring to begin with, children should be taught not to share caps, combs or hair brushes with others.

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


Let the Children Come to Me For ten years, Elaine Taylor has been running a very special camp deep in the woods of Livermore. We need her to run it for at least ten more years. by Everard G. Strong

I 20 neighbors

The title of this article was taken from Matthew 19:14 (NIV) “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


Bay Area Kids

f you are not familiar with Camp Arroyo or The Taylor Family Foundation (TTFF) that runs the summer-long camps deep in the hills of Livermore, it’s hard to not suck in your breath and hold in a tear as the full expanse of what is offered—and to whom— becomes evident. Each summer TTFF commandeers Camp Arroyo, a state-of-the-art recreational facility jointly developed and operated by the EBPRD and TTFF, and hosts week-long camps that cater to groups of children who are dealing with life threatening or chronic illness or developmental disabilities. For one week, kids come to Camp Arroyo to be kids and enjoy (as much as possible) a life away from their lives. For one week children are treated to the best food, activities, sleeping quarters, and attention they could want. All of it is free—no camper or their families pay a penny for what has often been a life-changing experience. Behind Camp Arroyo and TTFF sits Elaine Taylor, though it is rare to actually find her sitting down. With an army of volunteers and a small but dedicated staff, Elaine schedules each camp and appropriate medical needs, keeps in touch with families, coordinates daily life, entertains the troops, and acts as Mommy when needed. And then there’s the planning for their big annual fund-raising event, A Day in the Park (they skipped the event in 2009 because of the economy and to also focus on this year’s anniversary). 2010 marks a double anniversary for Elaine: The Taylor Family Foundation celebrates twenty years, and Camp Arroyo is seeing its tenth season. To mark this occasion, we decided to sit (though not really … see above) with Elaine and get a better glimpse of the woman behind the smiles we see on so many campers’ faces. Why did you found the Taylor Family Foundation? Was there a catharsis, a “vision” where you decided this is what you wanted to do? There was no personal issue. Barry (Taylor, her husband) and I were living a pretty blessed life and we both felt that if you are able to give back, then you

should. All I really wanted to do is go down to the local hospital and rock babies with AIDS, but I also realized that such actions wouldn’t change many lives or make a real difference in how the needs of these children were being addressed. Barry and I cofounded TTFF to help children locally who were in need of resources that they could not get, to keep the money here in the Bay Area and make sure we monitored every dime, so that no funds would go to waste... we wanted to pour every cent into the kids and their needs.   Was there anything in your background that had led you to this path, given you the tools needed to set up and direct the Foundation (and Camp Arroyo)? My folks were givers, they helped anyone who needed it. They were truly authentic when it came to caring and giving, and they taught me and encouraged me to treat people how you want to be treated: if you can help then you must help.  Then I met Barry— probably the kindest most giving man on the planet— and he gave me the freedom to journey down this path without any restraints. He joined me on this path and we believed in what we were doing with our hearts and our minds. And now its twenty years later and we still believe that we can make a difference, and I’d like to think that we walk the talk. But, and let me be very clear on this point: we did not do this alone, without our family, friends, community, and campers none of this would have happened. How did Camp Arroyo come from this initial vision and Foundation?  Initially we were just funding medical programs for children with HIV/Aids. We became very aware of how the kids’ and families’ social needs were being put on the back burner. Camp is a very critical part of sharing community. The idea of a camp peaked our interest and we thought, heck let’s just build a camp and let them come and be kids. We sure didn’t realize what was involved, and we count our lucky charms that the East

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


What does a twenty dollar donation do for the Taylor Family Foundation or Camp Arroyo? Twenty dollars allows for a great day of meals, another life jacket to be purchased, a great evening of smores at the campfire, and support for our field trips. (For further validation, their 990’s are online).

Bay Regional Parks partnered with us so that we can share this amazing space with them (the landowner of Camp Arroyo is the EBRPD. It was funded originally by TTFF, EBRPD and the State of California. It is operated and facilitated by the YMCA of the East Bay.) Give us a peek at your first days in the Foundation It was scary. I was so insecure about people wanting to support the mission, that they would want to help HIV/Aids kids, that they would look at TTFF like we were too small. Those first months, the phone was not ringing. I was calling people, but nobody was calling back. I truly believed that if people really knew what we were doing, realized how many children in our backyards had no resources, they would positively respond and they did. If you just keep telling your story enough times, people will start to hear you... they starting seeing things that they had never noticed before. My mentors and inspiration in the beginning were Elizabeth Glaser (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation) and Marlo Thomas (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital), women who really believed in what they were doing. Today it’s women like Angie Coffee (local business leader), Gigi McMillan (We Can, Pediatric Brain Tumor Network), Dr. Ann Petru (Children’s Hospital Oakland), and Dr. Diane Wara (UCSF Children’s Hospital), all women who really put it out there and don’t take no for an answer. You see children at their happiest, and you’ve seen what disease and suffering can do to a child. Do you believe in God (or a God)?  I believe there is something out there a whole lot bigger than me, and that this spirit has set destinies for all of us. Some days I am very spiritual and do a lot of praying to the heavens. Some days I am frustrated by what the heavens have dished out. You are celebrating twenty years with TTFF and ten years with Camp Arroyo. What are some of the most difficult obstacles you’ve faced with both?  Keeping things stable in today’s world has been the hardest. Wanting to keep our programs intact has demanded that we do the same work with smaller budgets, which has led TTFF to reduce some of our workforce. This decision then means that our dedicated employees now take on even more of a workload.  Though working in a non-profit, one’s mentality of “work load” is different. One has to buy into the mission of the nonprofit to work for them, because the workload is heavy and you just have to love it to appreciate why you are doing it. It’s important for me and my team to go up to camp and mix with the groups and see the children getting to be just kids. Seeing and experiencing that makes you come back down and confirms why you are doing it, why you are working so hard.


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Where there days where you just wanted to crawl into a ball and wish it all away? During the days of construction, I just could not wrap my head around why things took so long. So I started doubting, asking myself what was I thinking? Why did we think we could even do this? What brought you back down and kept you going? I am a big believer in whatever happens was and is a meant to be. So, while I can make all the plans I want, the expression “If you want to make God laugh make plans” is always rattling around in my brain. What difficult obstacles do you face today?  One of the biggest is not turning kids and families away. Almost every group is full and has a waiting list. There is no way for us to expand, so we get creative: have more weekend camp groups, make all camps a day shorter, allowing us to squeeze in yet another new camp with those few extra days. Working with the YMCA of the East Bay, our excellent facilitator, to use any spare days when possible. Have you thought of expanding or splitting the Camp to include another location, maybe in the South Bay or San Joaquin county? No, No, and No. We are a tiny non-profit with four total employees, we are at capacity for what we can do, I would not want to dilute our programs by trying to expand. What I would really love to have happen is for a 37-year old woman with an amazing amount of energy to come to me and ask me how she can do her own version of what we do. I would love to give her the cookie cutter version. Lord knows there are so many more children just in the East Bay who need to have the Camp Arroyo experience, there are just not enough camper spaces here to accommodate them. How do you balance the good with the bad that comes with the nature of these camps? There are just so many stories that have left such a mark on me. We have had the saddest of circumstances where a child will hang on to life just to attend camp and then pass away a day or days later. Camp meant that much to them, even though they were not an active participant … they were there, seated in their community, filled with love and comfort, knowing all too well that this would be their last time with this group who does not judge and only gives love. Those moments rip my heart out of my chest. They are the moments that make me grateful that I get to be a tiny piece of this community. Then there are the moments when I stop in at lunch to the Exceptional Needs Network group. This group covers the entire Autistic Spectrum and children with Developmental Disabilities. Some of these children are severely impaired and others are not. Some of these children are so outgoing and gregarious and

When was the first Day in the Park held? How has it grown since then? Our first event was held in 1990. It was a little event in our front yard to help children with HIV/Aids get some very important funding for the clinical and social programs.  It has since grown to help children with brain tumors, childhood cancer,   heart disease, skin disease, diabetes, autism and developmental disabilities, hemophilia, sickle cell, asthma, HIV/Aids, Chrons, colitis and irritable bowel, celiac disease, preschool burn survivors, bi-polar disorder, bereavement issues, congenital hand and limb issues, and epilepsy. From a small and humble beginning we have grown to a large and humble network for such a broad base of children right here in our community. It’s because of Day in the Park that we have been able to do this, because our community is beyond generous at this event. How long does your team prep for the Day in the Park? The day DITP is over is the day we start in for the next one. A whole year’s worth of very talented volunteers come in and put labels on 4,000 mailers, uncork 500 bottles of wine and champagne, assemble 3,000 goodies bags, run over 1,000 feet of hoses and electrical cords, wash over 10,000 dishes and wine glasses, fold over 4,100 T-shirts and the list goes on…. With out these volunteers, we could not do or be who we are! 

others are so painfully inhibited. Yet when the music comes on after lunch, and it is “YMCA” by the Village People (and it’s always “YMCA”), most of these children —through the encouragement of their amazing counselors—will get up on stage and sing and dance with joy. Here at camp they are free to be who and what they are: children filled with excitement, spirit, joy, laughter, and a sense of pride. It is at camp that the feeling of belonging truly exists, from the counselors to their peers to the staff, everyone is up on stage dancing and laughing and, corny as it may sound, they are spreading the love. As I look back on these ten years of camp and twenty years as a foundation, I would thank the sun and the moon and

June/July 2010 | East Bay

stars for the gift of being able to spend almost a third of my life in the presence of these glorious children. What’s your definition of childhood? Life without worry, free of illness, total acceptance, and abundant joy and love. BAK

Find out more about Camp Arroyo, Day in the Park, and The Taylor Family Foundation at

What’s the minimum operating budget needed to operate a full schedule of camps for one year? Approximately one million dollars. This year’s Day in the Park takes place on August 29 from 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Tickets and more information available online at

Elements of this interview were cut due to space limitations. Subscribers to Bay Area Kids magazine can access a virtual version of this issue that includes the whole interview and more special content. Subscribe at www.

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Parenthood ’s Tyree Brown After wanting to be an actor all his life, 6-year-old Tyree Brown has finally gotten his first big break, starring as Jabbar Trussell in the increasingly popular new NBC drama, Parenthood, set in Berkeley. We sat down with the Sacramento

26 young stars

native to talk about his busy life now that he’s a star, having fun with his “pretend” parents on the

by Elyssa Lee

scene because I got to play Candy Land. Do you have Candy Land? It’s my first [favorite game]—I like being a person. You’re in kindergarten. How do you memorize your lines?

[My mom and I] work on the lines at home. I do home schooling. I like home school. I like my mom teaching me and my dad teaching me. I like calling my mom Ms. Renee and [wearing] my jammies. What’s the hardest word you’ve had to memorize so far?

turned the big 0-6.

“Intolerant.” It means that you’re sick. It was for a car scene—I’m in the scene with my dad and I’m intolerant to something [lactose].

So, Parenthood. How did it come about?

That is a big word. But you’re a big boy now—you just turned 6. What’s going to be different about being 6 versus 5?

set, and how he’s a changed man now that he’s

I did an audition in San Francisco and then that’s how I got in Parenthood. My mommy and daddy jumped up and down. But I started acting when I was 3.

I’m going to stop whining. Sometimes I’m crazy—I get hyper. And I don’t [like to] eat vegetables, but I’m going to eat vegetables. And now I don’t need a car seat.

You did? How did you get started in acting?

Do you know of a young friend or family member making a name for themselves in the East Bay or beyond? Send us information to editor@


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My sister Mackenzie was bigger than me—she’s 10 and I’m 6— and she was an actor. She does modeling, too. And when I watched her do her modeling, it looked really fun. So my mom took pictures of me and sent them to JE [Model, a San Francisco agency], and they liked me. I’ve done the Barn [Pottery Barn Kids]. I did a State Fair commercial—me and my sister. We had a pretend grandpa and grandma. We got to go on rides.

Speaking of car seat, do you drive or fly when you have to go down to L.A. to shoot Parenthood?

And now you’re going to be on TV. That’s really cool.

Do you like L.A.?

Yeah. I like Parenthood. I like my pretend dad and mom [played by Dax Shepard and Joy Bryant]. I like hugging Dax. [Based on the hit ’80s movie of the same name, the show chronicles the imperfect life of the Braverman family. Tyree plays Jabbar, the son of commitment phobe Crosby Braverman (Shepard).]

Yeah, cuz of Austin [his cousin, who lives there]. He’s a baby. He just turned 3. So he’s a baby, but he can go pee by himself.

Are they like your real mom and dad or different?

In Elk Grove. In a big house—we have an upstairs and a downstairs. My first best friend Evan lives next door. He’s really cool. I like his Wii games.

They’re different. Dax is white and Joy is brown. [Tyree’s mom, Renee, is white and his father, MacArthur, is black.]

Drive. But I like flying. I like going on an airplane because I am really high up and I can look out the window and say, “Whoa, look at that!”

You visit L.A. but you live in the Sacramento area. Where?

What do you like about being on set at Parenthood?

The donuts. I like the glazed ones. And licorice. I liked one

June/July 2010 | East Bay

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Bay Area Kids

“I liked one scene because I got to play Candy Land. Do you have Candy Land? It’s my favorite game—I like being a person.” What else do you like to do for fun?

I like to go to Toys ‘R’ Us. I do soccer. And I like boxing. I [also] like tackling. I’m a good tackler. So I want to play football. I want to learn football when I’m 21. I like swimming too. When I was 3, I learned how to ride my bike and I learned how to swim—without the floaties. When I was 5, there was a girl that was 6 and I beat her in swimming. Wow. Back to acting, you’re on a TV show. Do you want to be in a movie?

That’s great. And finally, now that you’re a big Hollywood star, I have to ask: Do you have a girlfriend?

Yes. From preschool. Her name is Brayden. She’s in first grade now. Her hair is curly. It’s like my mommy’s hair— blonde—but curly. We like playing with blocks. This interview originally appeared in Sactown Magazine ( Reprinted by permission of the author and publisher.

Yeah, I want to be in an Iron Man movie. He can shoot [repulsor rays] and he can fly. But I have to be 16 because he looks very old. Do you think you’ll want to act when you grow up or do something else?

I want to do something else. What do you want to do?

Be Iron Man! I have the costume. Or I want to be a doctor. I want to go to the hospital and help people.

June/July 2010 | East Bay

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MODEL: Sam Lacoste white and striped beach towel ($40, Macy’s, www.

June/July 2010 | East Bay

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MODEL: Oriana Aqua seersucker blazer, Ralph Lauren top ($68/ blazer, $45/top, both at Bloomingdales, www.


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MODEL: Amitai Ralph Lauren top ($45, Bloomingdales, www.

June/July 2010 | East Bay

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MODEL: Tianna Lily Bleu tie dye dress, ($38, Bloomingdales,


Bay Area Kids

Bay Area Kids magazine and JE Model present

Answer the Call contest

The Greater Bay Area Child Casting Call Two Boys Two Girls Four winners Winners will earn a one-year contract with JE Model, and appear in an upcoming fashion photo shoot for Bay Area Kids magazine, as well as win other great prizes! IS modelIng RIgHT FoR YoU And YoUR CHIld? Before submitting a photo, DO ...

For submission information, rules, prizes, and other details, click on over to Contest ends November 12, 2010. Winners will be announced in the December/January issue of Bay Area Kids magazine. Children must be newborn to 8 years old. Entrants must reside in the greater Bay Area and able to travel to local photo shoots. Photos judged by JE Model and Bay Area Kids magazine. More details online at www. SPONSORS: Contact on sponsorship availability

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Know your child. is he extroverted with strangers? does he mind being told what to wear? does he take direction well? AsK your child. does she want to do it? if she is not old enough to understand, think about the following: is she happy having her picture taken? does she like trying on clothes? does she like meeting and speaking to other kids and adults? EvAluAtE your lifEstylE. you must be flexible. if both parents work full time, your family travels for months at a time, or if you are unable to pull your child from school for jobs & auditions, you might decide modeling is not the right path for your family. if you have multiple children, are you able to arrange or pay for child care for your other children when you need to bring your young talent to see a client? thinK objEctivEly. when gathering photos to submit to an agency, take about 5 simple, clear snapshots that are current, in good natural light, without any makeup, hats, costumes, sunglasses, food on the face, etc…. trust me, we’ve seen it all! your child’s natural, smiling self is what will win us over. hAvE rEAlistic ExpEctAtions. Modeling is not always the glamorous life portrayed on tv. you will spend a lot of time in the car or in a waiting room. very few kids skyrocket to superstardom. normally, models start out in their local market doing print work for catalogs, online sites and some commercials. while bigger jobs such as tv shows and movie opportunities do come up, they are less frequent. think of every go-see (meeting with a client) as a positive experience for your child. bE prEpArEd for rEjEction. the fact is, your child may not be accepted by every agency in town and they certainly won’t book every job they audition for. it’s nothing personal. just stay positive and keep at it as long as your child is having fun. bE rEAdy to drop EvErything. After you’ve signed with an agency, that’s when the work begins. jobs and castings happen at the last minute. you will normally get calls the night before you need to be somewhere. updating photos, sizes and Entertainment work permits are your responsibility. lEt your child spEAK for thEMsElvEs. whether meeting with an agent or a client, your child should answer questions directed to them. Encourage them by not answering for them. trust your instincts. if you get a bad feeling about a “modeling school” or agency, listen to your gut. do your research and ask questions. rEMEMbEr: this is A job. be prepared and on time to everything! on set, parents need to step back and let the crew direct the models. parents should remain professional at all times. you never know who the person standing next to you might be. remember, the objective of the shoot is not to add to your scrapbook, it’s to produce an image that will attract buyers to a product. rElAx And Enjoy! yes, it will be stressful for you, but pursuing a modeling career for your child should be fun for them. the less you stress, the more enjoyable it is for everyone. Written by Shannon Malloy, children’s agent at JE Model

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



Grow Your Own Candy


ant to get the kids (and you) really excited about gardening this year? Grow plants that satisfy a sweet tooth! In the temperate-to-warm San Francisco Bay Area climate, gardeners can grow a wide variety of interesting foods, including sugar beets, ginger, and yes, even sugar cane. Sugar Cane

28 green living

THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB is taking a summer recess and will be back in the fall


Bay Area Kids

Kids in the Caribbean routinely snap off a piece of sugar cane, peel off the outer husk, and gnaw on the stalk for a juicy, sweet treat. You can make your backyard the go-to destination for the neighborhood’s children by heading to an ethnic produce market and purchasing a cane to propagate your own stand. Cut the stalk into pieces, but not at the joints. The joints are where the roots sprout; look for the tell-tale circles. Bury the sections a few inches deep in rich, moist soil. Within a couple of weeks, roots will appear. A new stalk won’t be far behind. Plants can either be started in pots indoors or, if it’s at least 60F at night, directly outside. Sugar cane shares many characteristics with bamboo. A stand of the sweet stuff can double as a natural privacy screen, due to its up-to-12 feet in height and plant density. Plants in the right conditions grow fast, and self-propagate rapidly. A first harvest can be ready in a year to eighteen months. To eat, carefully slice about 1/8th inch into a section of stalk, down its length. Pull away the outer surface to chew on the fibers beneath. Stalks can also be sliced into skewers for a sweet surprise shish kebab. To extract the sugar, crush the fibers to extract the juice, cover in water and boil. Extract the pulp, and boil down the juice until it crystallizes into brown sugar. There are a couple of noteworthy cautions to growing sugar cane. This plant does best in tropical and subtropical zones, so place them somewhere out of the wind, in full sun, where they will enjoy as much warmth as possible. Also, warn the kids that the leaves are sharp and can cut unprotected skin.


June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


Sugar Beets

Don’t judge a beet by its cover. Sugar beets look like bland, off-white parsnips, but looks are deceiving. On average, a single beet contains three teaspoons of pure sugar. The kids won’t have any trouble eating their veggies if these are on the menu! In the spring, direct-seed sugar beets in loose soil. Thin seedlings to three inches apart when plants are a few inches high. Enjoy the greens in salads during the summer months. These are very nutritious, though not very sweet. Allow the weather to get chilly before harvesting in the fall, if possible, as that will best develop the sugars in the roots. Wash the beets well; soil accumulates in every crevice. Sugar beets are best enjoyed tossed in olive oil and roasted until soft. Cooking brings out the flavor; the root doesn’t taste very good raw. It’s easier to extract sugar from beets than from cane. Cut the roots into small pieces, cover with water and boil until soft. Reserve the juice solution and boil it down to a third of its original volume. Scrape crystals out of the cooled liquid. Boil again, until the liquid is gone, to recover the last crystals. The sugar will not be perfectly pure, but it will be sweet! Ginger

Admittedly, fresh ginger isn’t sweet in and of itself, but candied in sugar it makes a delightful homegrown confection. It’s also a beautiful, aromatic plant, with speartip shaped leaves and cane-like stalks, from which delicate, colorful flowers emerge. Brush past this plant and breathe in the spice.


Bay Area Kids

Growing ginger starts with a fresh rhizome, commonly called the “root, “ available in supermarkets. Select plump, moist, thin-skinned pieces. Soak them overnight before planting. Ginger likes warm temperatures and moist, warm soil out of direct sunlight. Bury rhizomes in and inch or two of soil. Sprouting occurs from protrusions called growth buds. Harvest rhizomes for the kitchen once a year, and replant. Ginger can grow outside in the Bay Area. Potted plants also thrive in sunny windowsills, so gardeners in cooler climes can enjoy them, too. To candy ginger, select a thick, plump, fresh rhizome. Peel and cut into razor-thin slices. Put about a cup of the slices with two cups of sugar and a tablespoon of water into a skillet . Simmer gently for about an hour, stirring occasionally to separate pieces and keep them from burning. Let the slices crystallize, but remove them from heat before they carmellize. Use the candied ginger in cakes, as a garnish, as candy by itself or dipped in chocolate for extra decadence. Vegetable gardening is all about growing foods your family will actually enjoy, and instilling this green healthy habit in the next generation. Cultivating a little fun alongside the superior nutrition of fresh, organic produce will certainly encourage little hands to get dirty! Elise Cooke is the author of the award-winning The Grocery Garden, How Busy People Can Grow Cheap Food. Visit her website at

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



Sensational Sliders


ishes with smaller serving sizes are currently the rage at outdoor barbeques, and offer guests more tastes to choose from. Give guests petite portions of classic barbeque favorites like sliders, mini chicken sandwiches, or hotdog bites. Here is a delicious recipe that will be sure to keep your friends and family talking about your summer barbeque all year long.

40 food

Blue Cheese Sliders Makes: 6 servings 1 lb ground beef Steak seasoning (2-ounce container) 4 oz ounces blue cheese 12 dinner rolls 1 Tbs vegetable oil 2 Tbs olive oil Hand press ground beef on a cutting board until flattened to approximately 2 inches. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut-out the slider patties and lightly season each. Set aside. Heat barbeque to medium heat and coat the grill rack with vegetable oil. Brown the patties by cooking for 4-5 minutes, allowing each side to cook for about two minutes. When the patties are almost done, top each with blue cheese. Remove the patties from the grill once the cheese is melted. Split rolls and lightly brush the insides with olive oil before toasting on the grill surface (brushed-side down). Place patties in the toasted rolls and serve.

Here are a few ideas to help you throw a sensational summer soiree. Guard Your Guests: Shield your guests from the summer heat by setting up a large umbrella over the patio table, place chairs under trees for shade or have an outdoor fan running. When the sun sets, make sure the party is well lit by hanging festive lanterns and deter pesky insects with citronella candles. Keep Cool Knowing You’re Prepared: To fully enjoy the day, plan in advance as much as possible. Be sure to stock up on supplies like plates, napkins, utensils and ice. Get charcoal or refill the propane tank beforehand, and clean and season the grill rack the morning of your barbeque. Create Hot Spots: Make different areas of interest around your yard to prevent everyone from congregating in one place. Put your bar opposite of where you’re serving the food. Set up games for both children and adults to encourage movement around the party and interaction with each other.


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June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



Tropical Fruit Pizza Makes 12 servings one 18 oz roll refrigerated ready-to-slice sugar cookie dough 1/3 C sugar one 8 oz package fat-free cream cheese 1 tsp coconut extract 1-1/2 tsp grated orange rind 1 C fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed one 26 oz jar mango slices, drained, or 2 fresh mangoes, sliced 16 oz pineapple slices, drained, or 1 fresh pineapple, sliced 11 oz mandarin orange segments, drained 1/2 C apricot preserves 2 Tbs orange liqueur or orange juice 2 Tbs coconut, toasted, optional Preheat oven 3500F. Press cookie dough into a 12 to 14-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 12 minutes, cool completely. In medium mixing bowl, blend together sugar, cream cheese, coconut extract until well mixed. Stir in orange rind and whipped topping, mixing until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of cooled crust. Arrange mango slices around edge of iced pizza. Then, arrange pineapple slices around edge. Next, arrange mandarin orange slices in another ring to fill center of pizza. In small saucepan or in microwave, heat apricot preserves and orange liqueur just until melted. Spoon glaze over fruit. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Refrigerate until serving.


Bay Area Kids

Watermelon and Tomato Salad Makes 10 (1/2-cup) servings 4 C scooped out watermelon balls or chunks 1/2 C chopped red onion 1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved 2 Tbs fresh chopped basil 1 Tbs olive oil 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar Salt to taste 1/3 C crumbled reduced fat feta cheese, optional In bowl, combine watermelon, onion, tomatoes and basil. Whisk together oil and vinegar and toss with salad. Season to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



Sundaes 101


hen a trip to the ice cream parlor isn’t in the cards, bring the ice cream parlor home with DIY sundaes! Making the perfect sundae might look like a hefty task, yet with a little creativity this all-American dessert is one of the easiest to make. By offering an assortment of ice cream flavors and toppings, everyone in the family can concoct their own personalized combinations. There is no wrong way to craft this ice cream dessert, but read on for tips that will help you recreate the ice cream parlor in your kitchen. Dishes. Glass bowls are traditional favorites, but be imaginative and rummage through your forgotten dishes to find something special. Chill the dishes for 30 minutes in the freezer to keep the ice cream from melting while creating your sundae. Ice cream. Pick ice cream flavors that go well together or use vanilla, which tastes great with everything. Scoop the ice cream with a slightly warmed metal scoop to make it easier. Mix-ins. From crushed cookies to gummy bears, there is no limit to what can go in a sundae. Fruit and chocolate chips are popular toppings and toasted nuts provide a crunchier texture. Create a mix-in buffet by placing all the goodies on the kitchen counter with a bowl and a spoon for each. Toppings. Once dishes are filled with ice cream and mix-ins, drizzle syrup over top. Caramel, chocolate, strawberry, peppermint and English toffee are popular choices. Don’t forget the whipped cream and cherry, if desired. Sprinkles, malt powder and mint leaves make good finishing touches as well. Dig in! Long-handled spoons are great — they are ideal for scooping out everything, right down to the bottom. And remember kids love colorful spoons with funny characters or motifs on them. Try these sundae recipes for creative combinations

Turtle Sundae

Makes 4 servings 4 3 1/2-inch waffle bowls 5 C turtle sundae ice cream 16 chocolate Turtle candies assorted candy, for facial features one 1.5 0z package chocolate covered crisp wafer stick candy, (such as Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes) Form four scoops of ice cream and set aside. Fill each waffle bowl with remaining ice cream. Place each waffle bowl ice cream side down on an individual dessert plate. Place each of the four ice cream scoops that were set aside against each waffle bowl for the turtles’ heads. Arrange four turtle candy pieces partially under the bottom of each waffle bowl to form the turtles’ legs. Press assorted candy pieces into ice cream scoops for eyes and mouth. Place one chocolate wafer stick partially under waffle bowl for tail. Serve immediately.


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June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


Cinnamon Bun Hot Apple Sundae Makes 8 servings 1 4-inch frosted cinnamon roll 3 1/2 C cups vanilla ice cream, softened 1/2 C cup glazed walnuts 21 oz apple pie filling 1/2 C cup butterscotch-caramel topping glazed walnuts, optional

Cut cinnamon roll into half-inch pieces; set aside quarter cup for topping. Combine three cups of ice cream, cinnamon roll pieces (not reserved amount) and half cup glazed walnuts in large bowl; gently mix to combine. Freeze at least two hours. Warm apple pie filling in microwave-safe container or in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Spoon about onethird cup apple pie filling into eight serving bowls. Top each bowl with one scoop (scant half cup) of the ice cream. Drizzle each with one tablespoon butterscotch-caramel topping, several pieces of reserved cinnamon roll and glazed walnuts, if desired. Serve immediately.

Caribbean Sundae

Makes 4 servings 1/2 C cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained 1/2 C cup chopped mango, thawed if frozen 2 C cups vanilla ice cream 8 tsp teaspoons unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted 1 tsp teaspoon grated lime peel 4 fresh lime slices Place one tablespoon crushed pineapple and one tablespoon chopped mango into each of four small parfait glasses. Top with quarter cup ice cream. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of toasted coconut. Repeat layering. Top each parfait with one-fourth teaspoon grated lime peel. Garnish rim of each parfait glass with a slice of lime. Serve immediately.


Bay Area Kids

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



July 4 Cupcakes


hese all-American cupcakes are festively adorned in red, white, and blue from top to bottom, beginning with starstudded Old Glory baking cups all the way up to the waving flag. They promise to be patriotically pleasing for all — kids and adults alike. The cupcakes can be any flavor, made from a mix or from scratch. Ice with white buttercream to create a canvas for star-spangled decorating fun. For a surprise in every bite, fold red, white, and blue nonpareils, sprinkle mixes or jimmies into the cupcake batter just before filling the baking cups. Use up to one-fourth cup for a twolayer cake mix. Now they’re patriotic inside and out. To make a flagpole for the candy flag topper, simply insert a lollipop stick into the cupcake and attach the flag icing decoration with stiff buttercream. Or use stars and stripes party picks or patriotic foil pix to top the cupcake instead of the candy flag. Either way, they will be a perfect tribute to the occasion. Cupcakes can be baked, sprinkled and iced up to one day in advance; store covered at room temperature. Top with the flag just before serving. To order star-spangled decorations, or for additional holiday, special occasion and everyday celebration ideas, visit

Flag Festivities Cupcakes Makes 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 3 24 24

THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB is taking a summer recess and will be back in the fall


Bay Area Kids

package (18.25 oz) cake mix Egg, oil and water to prepare mix cup red, white and blue nonpareils, sprinkle mixes, or jimmies, divided cups ready-to-use white decorator icing or buttercream icing four-inch lollipop sticks Patriotic Flags icing decorations

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking cups in standard muffin pan. In large bowl, prepare cake mix following package instructions. Stir in up to quarter cup sprinkles; spoon into baking cups. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center or cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely. Smooth icing over cupcakes; add remaining sprinkles. Insert lollipop sticks into cupcakes; attach icing decorations with stiff icing.

CUPCAKE PRODUCTS Zebra Cupcake and Frosting Kit ($22.99, www. and major retailers nationwide). Boasting an ingredient list that includes 70 percent organic content, each kit comes with chocolate and white cupcake mix, cups, frosting pen, and very kid-friendly illustrated step-by-step instructions. Frosting Deco Pen/ Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set (both by Kuhn Rikon, $29.95 for the pen, $24.99 for the set, available at Sur Le Table, Bed Bath and Beyond and other retailers). These tools are great for little and big hands, and easy to use (and clean … very important). The deco pen has a battery operated pump that lets you lay down icing or pipe in various decorations. A fun filler tip is included for giving your cupcakes surprise fillings. Locally Baked Gluten-Free Option. Want or need gluten-free cupcakes for your next party, or for your personal enjoyment? Miglet’s Gluten Free Bakery just opened up in Walnut Creek, offering a bevy of cupcakes, pastries, and other finger-licking delights. Find out more at

June/July 2010 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



The Never-Ending Birthday Month

G 50 last words

Kelly Pollard is a TriValley writer and mother of two boys, ages five and four. You can find her at TwoBoysinTwoYears. with more incriminating tales of her family.


Bay Area Kids

reat things come in clusters, or so they say. Take birthdays. They’re supposed to be a cause for celebration, whether it’s your child’s or your own. Who doesn’t appreciate a spread of cake and ice cream accompanied by piles of brightly wrapped presents? Yet, every family I know has a certain month in their arsenal plastered with birthday obligations. Mine is no exception. We have a concentrated two week period around the beginning of May that boasts seven birthdays and caps off with Mother’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love birthdays. This is when I celebrate my first son’s birth— the anniversary of my stumble into motherhood; this is when I celebrate my birthday, My mom’s birthday, several nieces’, and a brother-in-law’s. And then there’s Mother’s Day ... but seriously, who has the stamina for that after two weeks of marathon cake baking, present searching, and party planning? This year, as I attempt to every year, I vowed to make things simpler. For Bobby’s seventh birthday, I backed away from my family-only party policy and allowed him to have the buddy birthday. I stuck to my guns about not making it one of those chaotic bashes inviting his entire classroom and dropping a mortgage payment on bounce houses, catered foods, and overpriced presents. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that just because we threw him a party to share with friends, I couldn’t cancel the ensuing celebrations with various family members. Our birthday journey started one Friday evening with ten of his buddies at the local bowling alley. One thing I got right: the choice of venue. It was relatively cheap compared to the tempting kiddie gyms and video arcades, and it ensured I wouldn’t have ten wild first graders scrambling around my house. In less than two hours, the kids tossed multicolored bowling balls, attempted to surf down the lanes when they thought we weren’t watching, giggled over cheese pizza and lemonade, and Oohed and Ahhhed over the dalmatian dog cake that I labored over all afternoon. Round one of birthday week madness had been a rousing success. Since we didn’t invite family members, we hit a pizza parlor a few nights later to hook up with the in-laws. The next morning, for Bobby’s “real” birthday, I woke up at the crack of dawn to spell out his name in pancake batter, and fry up eggs and sausage, only to have him and

his little brother lick syrup off their plates and declare it too early for a big breakfast. Let’s not forget the last minute trip to the grocery store for cupcakes to bring to his classroom. Oh, and the balloons; what is a birthday without balloons? Then we opened presents after school with just Mom, Dad, and Brother, along with a trip to McDonald’s for dinner.

“The marathon cake baking must have rattled my logical thinking abilities.” Two days later, we set out on yet another Bobbythemed celebration to Chevy’s with another set of grandparents. Sunday proved to be a much-needed day of rest for these weary parents. Right. Think again. Another celebration seemed like a fabulous idea, a family BBQ for Bobby and his two cousins who fall into our birthday cluster. The day called for another baking binge with rainbow sprinkle cupcakes and brownies. The cake batter was starting to give me hallucinations. It was at this party that my siblings asked what, pray tell, did I want to do for my upcoming birthday? I mumbled about just wanting some quiet time and having no responsibility for planning another birthday celebration. Then we returned home to unwind after the chaos … only to have Bobby delve into his newest present from us: a drum set. The marathon cake baking must have rattled my logical thinking abilities. So much for peace. And quiet. Meanwhile, little brother Shane drank in the nearly two week birthday celebration dedicated to his brother and is now silently plotting a strategy for his November birthday. With any luck, he’ll figure out how to draw his birthday partying out until Christmas.

June/Juyly Expanded Online edition  

Extended online edition of our June/July Bay Area Kids East Bay issue. Available to subscribers only.