EAST BAY EDITION
boys will [not] be boys are we taking the boy out of boyhood?
APR/MAy 2010 Sug ret $3.95
• Trip to the Zeum • Mother & Daughter Girls’ Night Out • Summer Camp & Activity Guide • The Blessings of a Child with Autism
make a splash
colorful styles to liven up the summer t h e ba y a r e a ’ s f i n e st f am i l y magaz i n e
Because her health is your priority— choose a John Muir Health primary care doctor today It’s not every day that you grow an inch. It’s a big moment for her, for you and for us at John Muir Health. By choosing a John Muir Health primary care doctor, you allow us to be a part of your family. So along with treating her ailments, we treat her with kindness and caring. Just ask the 9 out of 10 people who would recommend their own John Muir Health doctor. Our many locations make it convenient for you to fit us in. And because kids can be kids, our 4 urgent care centers have extended hours on weeknights plus weekend hours. So whether it’s an inch or an infection, we’re right there to care.
johnmuirhealth.com/findadoctor 925-941-2244 2 Bay Area Kids
Volume 2, Number 3 April/May 2010 www.BAKidsMagazine.com
Publisher/Editor/Father Everard G. Strong firstname.lastname@example.org
4 small talk
Sales General Inquiries email@example.com Helga Glasson firstname.lastname@example.org Kathryn Sibley email@example.com General Editorial Inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Calendar email@example.com Photography Shaun Fenn, www.shaunfenn.com Contributing Writers Kelly Pollard, Patricia Kutza, David MacFadden, Lisa Cecconi, Charles Donaldson Submissions Send photos, events, news, and story requests to firstname.lastname@example.org Product submissions Send all products to address below. Include return postage.
Doing our Part
stirring it up
6 play dates
select area events
8 day tripper
San Francisco’s Zeum
2010 Lincoln MKT
10 travelogue mother/daughter over night shopping trip to San Jose and Los Gatos
are we taking the boy out of boyhood?
3 what’s inside
the blessings of a child with autism
reviews product 16 rocking tunes, swanky jewelry, tear-free shampoo, motherhood
clean plate club 28 Yankee Pier, Lafayette
essential summer camp and activity guide
April/May 2010 | East Bay
boys will [not] be boys
14 a light in the
let’s talk boys 30 Yankee Pier, Lafayette
BAY AREA KIDS magazine P.O. Box 30442 Walnut Creek, CA 94598 www.BAKidsMagazine.com
young stars 12 local author Paris Morris
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.
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.
the good stuff
Special Section absolutely
liven up their summer with these colorful styles
Our online edition has even more stuff, including expanded fashions, shopping guide, recipes, and more. www.bakidsmagazine.com
Diamonds are the birthstone for April; emerald for May
Bay Area Kids
health • apparel • toys diaper bags • safety strollers • car seats • feeding nursery • bath & potty
stirring it up “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” -Eric Draven, The Crow (1994)
F 4 small talk
Lady Madonna The Beatles Mamma Mia ABBA Mama I Love You Spice Girls Mama I’m Coming Home Ozzy Ozbourne Thank You Mom Good Charlotte A Song for Mama Boyz II Men Mother and Child Reunion Paul Simon Mother Danzig Mama Tried Merle Haggard Papa Loved Mama Garth Brooks Mama Kin Aerosmith Send your favorite selection to email@example.com
Bay Area Kids
rom the first germs of an idea I had back in 2007 that would eventually coalesce into the magazine you hold in your hands today—I’ve wanted Bay Area Kids to provide a public platform for discussing topics of relevance and importance to today’s modern parents, my family included. As a parent, I found a lack of any in-depth coverage of pressing parenting issues on a local level. Many topics were side-stepped or ignored altogether in favor of banal advice that while may speak to me as a parent, didn’t address my needs as a parent living in the East Bay. I made it a priority to address these issues in Bay Area Kids, which is why I’m excited about this issue. While doing preliminary research on the efficacy of Kelly Pollard’s “Boys will [not] be Boys” on page 18, I found as much fervor in favor of the idea that our sons are not being allowed to be boys as heated arguments on how boys these days lack the respect they once had for authority. This kind of feedback made me realize we were on to something, and I believe Kelly (a mother of two boys) has brought much of this to life. Likewise, with April being Autism Awareness Month, I asked friend Lisa Cecconi to give us a glimpse not of the challenges that come from being the mother of a child with autism (page 14), but of the many blessings her daughter has brought to Lisa’s life. As she writes, “While there’s no guarantee that their life will be changed because of it, what is guaranteed is that yours will be.” Very humbling. To round out an issue that also features a local young author and a mother/daughter getaway, we present six pages of summer-ready fashions provided by Piedmont-based photographer Shaun Fenn. To see more of his inspiring work, go to www.shaunfenn.com. Oh, and I would like to wish each and every Ma, Mommy, Mama, Mom, Madre, Mutter, Mati, Okaasan—and every other translation of the word “Mother”—a happy and relaxing Mother’s Day. Everard G Strong, Publisher, Editor, and Father firstname.lastname@example.org p.s. Happy Easter! “Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove life eternal. It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown.” Author unknown, as quoted in the Lewiston Tribune
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Pleasanton April/May 2010Stoneridge | East Bay Mall Rd. 5820
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very important dates
April | May Detail from Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872, Musée d’Orsay
6 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@ BAKidsMagazine.com
Bay Area Kids
Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay Sat., May 22 through Sept. 6. De Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, (415) 750-3600, www.deyoungmuseum.org. Tickets go on sale April 6, no pricing available at time of print. Awash with bright colors and focusing on everyday life, Impressionistic art lends itself to childhood awareness and a wonderful way to introduce young minds to the world of artistic masterpieces. Featuring works by Degas, Monet, Morisot (shown here), Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Bouguereau, this unique peak into Nineteenth Century Paris will enthrall young and old alike. (Tip: bring a notebook and some pencils, and have your son or daughter draw their own version of a painting they like. It’s a good excuse for you to sit down, and a great way to get their creative juices flowing.)
Impressionist Berthe Morisot was the sister-in-law to Edward Monet
Go online to www. bakidsmagazine. com for more listings that can’t be included here for space reasons.
An Old Fashioned Easter Sat., April 3, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, (510) 615-5555, www.dunsmuir.org. Adults, $5; children ages 5 – 12, $2; children under 5, free. Take part in a traditional Easter celebration that is fast becoming an East Bay tradition in its own right. Your child can have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny (yes, it’s the real one!), go Easter egg hunting (bring your own basket), or share a picnic with the family on the estate’s sprawling lawn. There will also be mansion tours, entertainment, games, and a special SPCA adoption area.
the Child. At the Aquarium, not only can you get in free (did we mention that?), but there will be live music, folk dancing, skits, a craft room, and of course, lots of fish, penguins, birds, mammals, starfish, and other interesting denizens of our oceans. Celebrate good times, come on. Oh and by the way, it’s free for children under 12.
Asparagus Festival Fri., April 23—Sun., April 25. Downtown Stockton, (209) 6443740, www.asparagusfest.com. Teens (1117), $7; Seniors 60 and older, $7; adults, $12; children 10 and under free with paying adult. Celebrating twenty five years, Stockton’s Asparagus Festival has been lauded as the Earth Day Celebration Sun, April 11, 11:00 best food festival in the West, and that’s saya.m.–4:00 p.m. Chabot Space and Sciing something for a three day event cenence Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., tered around the green vegetable. If Oakland, (510) 336-7300, www. you ever wondered how many ways chabotspace.org. Free with genthere were to fry, boil, mix, chop, or eral admission. According to y y! p p Ha ’s Da even drink asparagus, you will find leading scientists, everything r e 9 h probably each and every way of doabout our Earth—its size, disMot n., May Su ing so at the festival. You can sip on tance from and time spent roasparagus martinis while your chiltating around the sun, and its dren gnaw on fried asparagus sticks own rotation—all work in perfect or slurp down asparagus ice cream unison to create and sustain one of and enjoy the many sights and sounds the true wonders of the universe: life. of the festival: an asparagus eating contest, Through fun and innovative activities, let your Tyson the skateboarding bulldog, roving enchildren (and your own inner child) discover tertainers, cooking exhibitions, vendors, and how fragile and important our home planet’s live entertainment by Loverboy, Blue Oyster environment can be. They will race model soCult, Sha Na Na, and San Francisco’s own lar cars, watch wiggly worms at home in a CoverGrrlz. compost pile, vacuum chambers, and even create a glitter globe of Earth. Oakland Museum of California Grand Re-Opening Sat., May 1. Oakland Museum Berkeley Playhouse presents Oliver! of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland, (510) Sat.–Sun, April 24 & 25, May 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 238-2200, museumca.org. Admission and and 15 & 16. Sat. hours 2:00 & 7:00 p.m.; times not available as of print. What does a Sun. 1:00 p.m. Julia Morgan Center for the $58 million renovation look like? Find out May Arts,2640 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 6651 at the unveiling of what is described as a 5565, www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. Adult new era for the Oakland Museum. What we $28, Senior (65+) $25, Child (14 and under) do know so far is that visitors will be treated to $19. As the closing musical for their seaa whole new, modern look at what it means to son, Berkeley Playhouse is taken us out in live where we do. Over five thousand square style with the energetic and triumphant ragsfeet of new exhibit space has been opened to-riches tale that is Oliver! Adapted from up, and there will be interactive journals, video Charles Dickens’ classic story of a boy in early demonstrations, dynamic new lighting, and London who despite his environment, makes much more. good. On a par with Annie as a child’s favorite story, your child (ages five and over) will be Youth Theatre Company’s Junior Theengrossed in Oliver’s journey. atre Presents Mulan Jr. Fri., May 21 — Sun., May 23. Show times 7:00 p.m. Fri; 11:00 MOCHA Art Carnival Sat., April 25, 1:00– a.m., 2:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Sat; 2:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m., Museum of Children’s Art, 538 4:00 p.m. Sun. Dell Valle Theatre, 1963 Tice 9th St., Oakland, (510) 465-8770, www.moValley Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 943-SHOW, cha.org. Free admission, though some acwww.lesherartscenter.org. $17 regular/youth tivities do require ticket purchase. Have your admission, $15 senior/child. One of Disney’s child join in this annual, outdoor celebration most beloved animated films comes to life in of community and creativity, and watch their this special, action-packed stage adaptation. smile bloom. Projects and activities include Performers ages 5-14 will delight your chilgiant bubble making, potato masher stampdren in this celebration of honor, culture, and ing, play dough and gloppy gak, a build-yourthe will to fight against the odds. own buoyant boat station, and Kindergarde, experimental poets’ theater for children. Día del Niño at Monterey Bay Aquarium Sun., April 25. Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, (831) 648-4800, www.montereybayaquarium.org. Free admission for children 12 and under. Let’s repeat that: Children 12 and under will be admitted FREE. If your Spanish is rusty, Día del Niño is an international holiday set aside to celebrate April/May 2010 | East Bay
MEET & GREET Come say hi to the Bay Area Kids staff at Celebrate Mama, April 25, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Shadelands Art Center, 1 North Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek. Mother’s Day marketplace, pampering, prizes, and more!
BERKELEY PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS
APR 23rd - MAY 16th G ET T I C K E T S AT B E R K E L E Y P L AY H O U S E . O R G JULIA MORGAN CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Bay Area Kids
by Kelly Pollard
8 day tripper
Zeum: San Francisco’s Children’s Museum www.zeum.org 221 4th St., San Francisco (415) 820-3320
Bay Area Kids
estled in Yerba Buena Gardens, across the street from the Metreon, a few blocks from the Powell Street Bart Station, San Francisco’s Zeum is a fun day trip for kids and adults alike. Zeum’s philosophy—to nurture creativity, collaboration, and communication in kids of all ages—is carried out through the mediums of digital arts, sculpture, and technology. Open and clean, Zeum’s layout encourages creativity and exploration: children can wander from room to room and experiment with digital arts, special effects in videography, and star in their own music video. Teen interns at the museum are eager to help families have the best experience possible. Is there a budding animator in your family? Have them take a seat in the Clay Animation studio, where they can mold characters out of clay, and then learn how to shoot their own stop-motion digital movie using their
freshly-created characters. Movie enthusiasts can write, produce, and perform in their own movie, or choose from a variety of scripts—before filming, a stunning wardrobe is available to complete the look for the film and to encourage role playing and fun. Parents can then burn the finished product onto a disc for their proud artists to take home. Families can easily spend an entire day wandering from the upper and lower levels to try all the exhibits. Restless kids can take a break outside at the Zeum Cafe and ride on the historic carousel before diving back into techno-creativity. Through March 17, Zeum features “My San Francisco: A Neighborhood Mash-up,” a collaborative showcase of multimedia youth art. This exhibit is sure to inspire the little ones to contribute their own digital arts to the creative community.
Spelling Bee, broadcast in 1938, was the first televised game show
by Charles Donaldson
2010 Lincoln MKT
or large families in need of a flexible transportation option, but aren’t interested in the image of a minivan and have outgrown the SUV fad, Lincoln offers a fresh upscale option with their all-new 2010 MKT Crossover. From its bold split-waterfall grille to its broad rear shoulders, this Lincoln will be the envy of your neighborhood. Being a parent with a twenty one-month old son and a twentyyear old daughter, we took the MKT through the paces. Even with the little guy’s car seat positioned in the middle of the back seat, there was still plenty of room for passengers on both sides; access to the third row seat was a matter of fold-and-flip; locking down the child seat was also a breeze. The 2010 Lincoln MKT shares its basic skeleton with the Ford Flex, with radically different exterior and interior. In an era of copycat car designs, Lincoln took a bold new design path while also reflecting on its esteemed heritage as a luxury car: its large grille is a modernized reflection of the 1940’s Lincolns. The MKT’s soft and elegant bodylines flow from the front to the tall rear dominatequarter panels, giving the car an air of strength and luxury. Chrome dual exhaust, a rear spoiler, and a low, prowling stance will also please sports car lovers. The MKT is available in three iterations: front-wheel drive ($44,995), all-wheel drive ($46,990), and EcoBoost all-wheel drive ($49,995). The new EcoBoost engines give you the rocket power of a V8 out of a fuel-saving V6 motor by powering up twin turbo chargers that kick in early to provide a smooth and constant flow of acceleration. For the more aggressive driver who also wants upscale transportation, the Lincoln MKT satisfies both these needs. Shift paddles allow you to take the six-speed automatic transmission and morph into manual mode. Quiet and smooth on normal roads and confident on sharp curves, adaptive HID headlamps rotate to the direction you are turning.
April/May 2010 | East Bay
The interior, trimmed in real wood, feels like a living room with plush, comfortable seats. The cabin is equipped with SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system, and a THX sound system that trumps most home theater systems. The center stack houses the control screen for adjusting radio stations, interior temperatures, navigation directions, and more. Sirius Satellite Radio is standard and—an attribute the kids will love —the CD jukebox system allows you to store over one hundred albums. Other features include a power accelerator adjustable pedal, power rear hatch, blind side awareness monitor, push button start, dual sunroofs, and a wood trimmed steering wheel. The split rear and middle seats fold down to provide a flat floor for hauling family items. It’s easy to get comfortable in the twelve-way power front seats and trizone climate control, and the rear camera and sensors provide a much-needed safety feature for backing up. If you are looking for an upscale, fun, family transport vehicle then take the AllNew 2010 Lincoln MKT for a test drive. you’ll like what you find.
The Lincoln Motor Company was founded by Henry M. Leland in 1917
2010 Lincoln MKT Base price $44,995 as driven; $49,790 (with destination charges) Engine 3.7-Liter V6 Horsepower: 268 @ 6250 rpm Torque 267 lb/ft @ 4250 rpm Transmission Sixspeed Automatic with Overdrive Drive Front-Wheel Seating 7 passenger Turning circle 40.7 ft Cargo space 75.9 Cu Ft Curb weight 4,499 lbs Fuel cap 18.6 gal EPA mileage 23 hwy, 17 city Wheel Base 117.9” Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles Also consider Audi Q7, BMW X5, Buick Enclave, Lexus GX470, MercedesBenz R-Class
Bay Area Kids
Just the Two of Us
10 over nighter
Hotel Sainte Claire www.thesainte claire.com 302 South Market St San Jose (408) 298-1234
Bay Area Kids
here is a special bond between a mother and her daughter, but with a daily life filled with hurried baths, neverending laundry, piled up homework, and the always tooshort bedside story time, I felt the bonds with my little girl starting to stretch. We both needed a break from our own version of our daily grinds, and an overnight shopping trip sounded like a great opportunity to have some girl-only fun. In choosing a destination, I wanted somewhere within easy driving distance, while still offering the feeling of being away from home. I decided on Santa Clara county, and planned a two-day weekend shopping getaway that included visits to the Santana Row, an overnight stay at the Sainte Claire Hotel (if we were going to have a fun time, we were going to have fun in style), and a visit and leisurely stroll through Los Gatos’ Old Town district. To counter our capitalistic urges, our first stop was San Jose’s Tech Museum, not so much a museum as a vast kid-friendly, handson celebration of technology and its importance in our everyday life. After wandering through the exhibits and educating ourselves with the many hands-on demonstrations, we caught a screening of the iMax movie Under the Sea, which delighted my daughter and set the right mood for the rest of the weekend. Our next stop: Santana Row. Not only is it a top shopping destination, it’s a wonderful place to grab a coffee, and people
by Kristiana D’Aubenville
watch for hours. Spread out along several streets, Santana Row is home to a who’s who of world-class boutiques and retailers. My daughter was visibly excited with what awaited us, and the little girl inside me was jumping up and down as well. Before we did any shopping, however, we headed to Lavende Nail Spa, where I treated myself to the signature Mani/Pedi treatment, while my daughter received the regal Little Princess Manicure and Pedicure treatment, which includes a small bag of candy and a princess crown. Ten pink toenails and ten blue fingernails later, we were ready to hit the Row. That is, we fully intended on hitting the Row, but were interrupted by Kara and her tempting Cupcakes. (If you’ve ever encountered these decadent creations, you will know that there is no resisting the temptation. They offer gluten free options as well.) With some guilty calories to burn, we began our mission in earnest. Urban Outfitters, Z Gallerie, Diesel, Burberry, H&M, Footcandy, Salvatore Ferragamo, we hit them all. There is only so much expected of a little girl, however, and because she indulged my habit, we ended that day’s event by spending some time at the magnificent fountain (in front of Starbucks) and allowing her to run in the artificial grass skirting the sculpture. She was happy — I was content sipping my Pinkberry smoothie. We skipped stopping at a restaurant for dinner, opting instead to head back to the comfy relaxation of our awaiting suite at the Sainte Claire. Running through the spacious, immaculate rooms, my daughter hugged me, looked into my eyes and said, “Mommy, I love you. Can we stay here all week, please?” Ah, to dream a little dream. Within the confines of our room’s luxuries, we settled in for a long, bubbly bath and ordered some carpaccio, butternut squash ravioli, and a mixed
Hotel Sainte Claire, built in 1926, is registered in the National Register of Historic Places
our Ask about tary n complime
salad from Il Fornaio—conveniently (for us) located in the same hotel. For in-room service, the food was surprisingly excellent, rivalling what many fine restaurants serve for sit-down fare. After our private feast, we made a selection from the hotel’s vast DVD selection and cuddled under a sea of comforters and soft pillows. She was still holding her princess wand as she drifted off into Dreamland. Breakfast—more like an early brunch— saw us returning to Santana Row’s Village Bistro: this family-owned dining destination delivers unique fare like their brioche French toast with organic strawberry compote and Tahitian vanilla whipped cream for breakfast (served all day) and a tombo tuna wrap with spicy aioli, an organic green salad, and a red chile tortilla. Los Gatos’ Old Town shopping center offers traditional retailers like White House Black Market, The Gap, Sur La Table, and other similar retailers. The one store that kept our attention the most was BabyCoo, an organic, all natural baby and infant store with some really cute clothing items, many by local manufacturers and producers. We left with some adorable shirts for both her and him—they also had some fun stuff from Violet’s Peapod, Orbit strollers, GroBaby diapers, Kanoe hanging cribs, and so much more. Vania, the owner, was there with her daughter (the store’s namesake), and while my daughter played with her new friend, I talked to Vania about many of the store’s offerings and her mission: what a great gal, and the store is well worth the trip to Los Gatos on its own, very highly recommended. One can’t say they’ve been to Old Town without a visit to Icing on the Cake and sampled from their vast array of sweet treats: cookies, mouth-watering slices of cake and pie, cupcakes … all four of our eyes were wide with eager anticipation. Making our selection, we also ordered extra for the boys back home, and then ambled over to the beautiful little park down the street. Sitting across from two old men arguing about politics, we delved into our treats under the afternoon sun. “Mommy,” she said a couple of minutes later, licking the last of the icing off and looking woefully at the now-bald cake, “I really like pink.”
April/May 2010 | East Bay
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Bay Area Kids
From Paris, With Love
D 12 young stars
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@ bakidsmagazine.com
Bay Area Kids
anville resident Paris Morris could be considered a prolific writer by most accounts: in the last six years she has released four books—each of which have received full five-star reviews on www. amazon.com—and she’s working on a fifth. In between projects she finds time for her family, traveling, spending time with her friends, and finishing her homework every night before going to bed. Wait. What? Well, she is only twelve years old, after all. Morris was inspired to write the first book in the series, I’m Having Twins, when she found out her mother was going to have twins, and noticed a dearth of children’s books addressing the arrival of multiple siblings in one swoop. Inspired by her dad (who owns New Year Publishing through which the Paris books are released), she put pen to paper, and the first book was born. Her twin sisters, Victoria and Liberty, now aged six, continued to flame Morris’ muses, and other titles followed: My Twins are Coming Home, and My Twins’ First Birthday. Taking a literal break from the sisterhood, Morris penned Paris Goes to Lake Tahoe as the first of what may be a new line of travel books as well. A fifth one, My Twin’s First Christmas, is in the works. David, her father, keeps it all in check: “Paris did this because she wanted to help our other kids who were in the same situation as she was; going through a major life change with the addition of twins. The first Paris book came out of her sincere desire to help other kids with this adjustment so that they would welcome the additions to their family and not dread it.” Bay Area Kids caught up with Paris recently to get a look behind the scenes of this young author’s world.
by Everard G Strong
PARIS AND HER ALTER EGO … PARIS
How is the character Paris different from the real Paris? My Friend Paris is a little different from real Paris because the she is very social and chatty. In real life I am sometimes shy and quiet. Both of us love their twin sisters which is the most important part. Do you feel your writing has improved since the first book? My writing has improved a lot because of what I learned in English class with Miss Torres at Green Valley. I learn a lot from my Mom because she is a professional writer. While I do write the stories, my mom edits them because after all … I was 10 when I first started. How did you find the illustrator who made Paris the way she looks? Do you have a say in the books’ illustrations? We got requests from almost fifty illustrators who wanted to draw me and samples from people from the United States, Asia, Russia and South America … even from countries my dad had never heard
The city of Paris, France, was named after the Parsii, a Gaulish tribe who lived in the area
of! My Mom, Dad and I looked at the illustrations without talking about which ones we liked most and all of us immediately loved the same one. The guy who draws Paris is named Barry, and he lives in the Philippines. He has a daughter my age and we saw where he lives on Google Earth. Do you blog/Twitter at all? Do you have lots of fans? I don’t blog or Twitter, just Facebook. I have a few hundred fans for My Friend Paris which is separate from my own Facebook page. People also sign up to get e-mail about My Friend Paris from my web site and we send stickers to lots of people.
PARIS AND her two muses: twins Victoria and Liberty
Do you interact with your fans, do they give you ideas for more books? I like hearing from my fans and friends. We get e-mails from lots of kids and Moms who like the books. My Dad told me that he had dinner with a man who asked how Liberty and Victoria were doing (her sisters). Surprised, my dad asked how he knew his twins’ names, and the man said he reads about them to his three-year old every night. Those stories make me smile. What other projects would you like to do in the future? I do want to write other books, possibly a musical or a drama. I really like musical theater and was in Alice and Wonderland for the Danville Children’s Theater. I hope to be in Annie in the fall. Maybe one day they will perform my musical about My Friend Paris.
A Few of my favorite things Favorite books Frindle by Andrew Clements, Blind Slide by Michael lewis, and the Twilight series (I’ve seen all of the movies as well). Favorite restaurant Pete’s Brass Rail in Danville. My Dad wants to have Barry the owner create a version of the Pete’s coloring page that they put up on the wall to look like My Friend Paris but I won’t let him. Favorite ice cream place I love Foster’s Freeze. My dad takes us there after school when it is hot and I usually get a dip or a root beer float. I like The Candy Shop in Danville as well and get a little embarrassed when I am there because they have my poster up on the wall. We had a release party for Paris goes to Lake Tahoe there that was really fun, a whole bunch of my friends came. Favorite movie star Taylor Lautner. I would love it if you could get him to come visit me at school :-) Favorite singer Taylor Swift or the Glee Cast. I am a total Gleek and you are welcome to have them come on the same day you get Taylor to come! PARIS ONLINE Click on over to www.myfriendparis.com for free coloring pages, stickers, books, and other cool stuff.
Is a Paris Goes to the Moon book coming soon? That would be a great book, but my books are based on real life experiences. If you can help me get into NASA I would be really happy to write about going to the Moon. Mars might be farther than I am willing to go. Do you have any advice for any other girl or boy who wants to write a book? I would just say believe in yourself, you can be anything you want to be. I know that every middle school teacher says that but it is really true. The Internet pretty much gives to access to everything you would ever need to get published.
April/May 2010 | East Bay
Bay Area Kids
A Light in the Wilderness Blessings that come from a child with autism
by Lisa Cecconi
Do you have a friend, family member, neighbor or “other” doing something worthwhile for our children and the Bay Area? Send us a note about them to editor@ bakidsmagazine.com
Bay Area Kids
ne morning last week as we were getting ready to leave for school (running late, natch), my 17-year-old daughter came downstairs wearing a pair of jeans, her favorite new lip gloss, and a sweatshirt. Normal enough for a high schooler, except for the fact that it wasn’t just any sweatshirt, but a big, green Christmas sweatshirt—with an embroidered, haloed angel smack dab in the middle, and the word “Joy” in puffy, colorful letters above it. Briana couldn’t have looked more adorable, but I knew the fashion choice would most likely have the high school kids pointing to her as a candidate for TLC’s What Not To Wear. I turned to my daughter, Shelby, a sophomore at the same school, and asked, “What do you think, will she get made fun of if she wears this?” Shelby thought for a moment and then answered, somewhat apologetically, “Yeah, I guess she should probably change.” Back upstairs Briana and I went to find something more seasonally appropriate, as I explained she could put the sweatshirt back on when she got home from school. In addition to her incredible sense of humor, contagious laugh, logic-defying memory, unconditional generosity, and beautiful—almost cerebral—face, Briana also has autism: while her peers are consumed with knowing the latest Taylor Swift lyrics and choosing whether to be on Team Edward or Team Jake, Briana’s interest run more toward list-making (oh, the lists…), being on a constant quest to make the perfect smoothie, and memorizing everything from birthdays and the nutritional information on cereal boxes to the FBI warning that appears at the beginning of a DVD. (Although, in defense of her true teenager-ness, she is quite fond of a certain Nick Jonas.) Despite what appears to be a preference to be alone most of the time, relationships are incredibly necessary for those with autism, just as they are for the rest of us. Ironically, in Briana’s case, this is precisely the thing that separates her from others. Her inability to appropriately socially interact ends up presenting an invasion of personal space, a lack of etiquette, or just plain weirdness. How many times a week, day, or hour do kids on the autistic spectrum hear the phrases, “Don’t do that,” “Stop staring at him,” or “Oh my goodness, you didn’t just say that.” Guilty, guilty, and guilty…especially during her preschool and middle school years. So much has she heard this from those of us closest to her, that Briana has become extremely familiar with the word “appropriate.” In fact, if she has a day where she’s been corrected for something, whether being too giggly in class or saying something she shouldn’t have to a grocery checker, (“Your eyes are crossed”), the next morning as she gets out of my car at school, she’ll formally announce, “We hope to see more appropriate behavior today.” Kids like Briana often don’t get invited to slumber parties, the mall, movie outings, or other usual teenage fare. Which is why for my money (not that they cost anything), programs such as Anthony Kennedy Shriver’s Best Buddies—and places in our own backyard such as Livermore’s Camp Arroyo—are profoundly important. They give these kids an amazing gift—that of celebrating their individuality. The people connected to these
Autism now affects 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys (source: www.autismspeaks.org)
Briana ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lisa Cecconi is a freelance writer who also owns a gourmet baking business which donates 5 percent of all sales to autism research and programs. MORE INFORMATION www.bestbuddies.org www.taylorfamilyfoundation.org
programs—and I’m fortunate to have met many—are truly, madly, deeply in love with special kids. They get them, and love them for exactly who they are Perhaps Dr. Temple Grandin, the wellknown, respected—and autistic—Professor of Animal Science, whose life story was recently the subject of an HBO movie, said it best. In her lectures, she describes the scan of a normal person’s brain “like a bunch of lamps in a lamp store.” The brain scan of an autistic person, however, “is as a little bright cabin out in the snowy wilderness.” Though she used the analogy for purposes of explaining the mental clutter in a normal person’s brain (hello?!) versus the focused, detailed absorption of an autistic person’s concentration, Grandin’s analogy speaks to me in another way: that while the small, quiet cabin may not appear to be as hell-bent on having company as the mega-watt “party central” lamp store, it’s worth our time to at least peek inside. The interior may—no, will—surprise you. If I’ve come to believe anything over my years spent with Briana, it’s that she was placed in my life for a reason—not for the person she could be, but for the person she is. If you get to know someone with autism, while there’s no guarantee that their life will be changed because you’re in it, what is guaranteed is that yours will be. Dr. Grandin has also written about compassionate people who have taken the time to build relationships with autistic people, and the tremendous, positive, lifechanging results. In June of 2007, I had the unique honor to interview three NHL players who had formed Athletes Against Autism, a nonprofit which raises funds and awareness for autism research and programs. Hockey star Byron Dafoe won me over when he had this to say about his son: “Do I think Eric will grow up and get a job? Get married and have kids? I don’t know. But if he has to live with us until he’s 70, that’s great. We’d love to have him.” Works for me. If Briana is 50 and telling me how many milligrams of sodium are in a cup of Special K, I’m ready to listen. Besides, everyone knows that cabins are way cooler than lamp stores. BAK
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Special Mother’s Day Selections Music
16 mixed media
The Verve Pipe A Family Album (www.vervepipe.com
Swank Mommy Silver Name Loops Motherhood
Mom-blogging Eliza Welsh (Uma Thurman) is having one of those days: in no short order she must plan for her daughter’s sixth birthday party, set her scatterbrained husband (Anthony Edwards) straight, save her car from being towed, run all over town, and write an essay for a parenting magazine’s contest before deadline. Also stars Minnie Driver as her supportive friend. Funny, touching, and oh-sorelatable. Good movie to watch after the kids are down, with wine in one hand.
The “child” of San Ramon’s Ali Krebs, Swank Mommy has grown from a few simple designs to a haute, hip, high-end jewelry design business focusing on mothers (and now dads too). Her designs vary from the loop featured above to solid squares, circles, tags, toggles, and even child-sized charms. Many feature her trademark embedded precious stones commemorating the month of birth, but engraving and other custom options are available as well. Elegantly affordable, these swank items make memorable Mother’s Day gifts ... ahem ...
(www.motherhoodthemovie.com Best known for their early Nineties’ hit “The Freshman,” Verve Pipe’s drummer Donny Brown and lead singer/songsmith Brian VanderArk have re-teamed (along with a roster of guest musicians) on this effervescent, quirky, and very fun collection of accessible tunes for children who like to rock out. Brian serves up clever lyrics backed by country, jazz, blues, and straight rocking rhythms. The end result includes the side splitting “We Had to Go Home,” the slightly fru-fru “Complimentary Love,” an ode to morning cereal, and “Only One of You,” a support song for kids welcoming a younger sibling.
Hair Care Original Sprout Bathing Products (www.originalsprout.com Tested at Bay Area Kids’ own labs (read: our bathtubs with our own children), we can confidently say that the Original Sprout line of bath and styling gels live up to their claims of worry-free luxury. All products are biodegradable and 100
Bay Area Kids
percent vegan, free of phytoestrogens, soy, parabens, gluten, phthalates, formaldehyde, and other yucky stuff. What’s left are safe, baby-friendly, tear-less bath times for Mommy, and soft hair and clean skin for baby and child. The shampoo lathers like the best shampoos, smells nice, and cleans even nicer, leaving everybody happy. Their detangler is magical, and the balm and conditioners are soon-to-be family favorites.
The Verve Pipe’s Brian VanderArk had a bit part in the big screen movie, Rock Star
Behavior Analysts, Inc. We help children with Autism and other developmental disabilities obtain the best possible outcomes! Dr. James W. Partington, Ph.D., BCBA-D and his staff at the STARS Clinic in Walnut Creek provide:
• Design and review of educational programs for children with Autism • Help to develop teaching procedures and IEP’s • 1:1 instruction in our clinic • Training for staff and schools to develop educational programs • Training for parents on how to teach their individual child • Necessary skills for children to communicate effectively For more information contact Autumn Bailey at 925-262-8523 or email@example.com and start teaching your children well today! 311 Lennon Lane, Suite A, Walnut Creek, CA 94598
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Bay Area Kids
Boys will [not] be Boys Are we taking the boy out of boyhood?
N 18 family matters
What topics would you like to read more about? Send us an e-mail at editor@ bakidsmagazine.com
Bay Area Kids
oah is a first grader in Livermore, and your typical boy: he struggles to sit still in his classroom, and sometimes he shows aggression and lack of impulse control. His behavior has led to phone calls from the teacher and even visits with the principal. “I do think his so-called struggles have everything to do with his natural tendencies as a boy. None of Noah’s exhibited behaviors are abnormal,” says his mother, Jeannette (last name withheld). Little boys explode with energy; and yet, with stricter education standards—partly due to No Child Left Behind—expectations are high for boys to learn the tools needed to pass standardized testing. This means more study time and much less free play in the classroom, or opportunities for physical education or long recesses. Kindergarten is the new first grade. And these standards are even trickling down to the preschool level as more parents opt to wait to start their children in kindergarten. “The classroom, the teachers, the whole public school system are not set up for boys. It’s like trying to cage a wild animal, it’s not natural,” Jeannette says. “Trying to put boys in a confined space with several other kids, with so much stimuli, having to sit still and listen, it’s not natural. They learn better by touching, feeling, and doing.” Dr. Anthony Rao PhD, a child psychologist and author of The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World (William Morrow, 2009), agrees. He relates a typical story he’s heard many times: a stressed-out mother doesn’t know what to do about her kindergarten-aged boy who was labeled as a “serious problem at school” because of his inability to sit still, had tendencies to rough house, and shout out answers. Rao assured her that her son Josh wasn’t the problem. “Instead, I told her the problem is a national one—fitting active boys into a narrow definition of education that goes against the grain of their normal development. I told her she needed to stop seeing him through the eyes of everyone else, and start protecting what precious time he had left to be a little boy.” There are ways, however, for teachers to work around the system. “I recommend that teachers have the more active
by Kelly Pollard
boys take turns assisting in the classroom by retrieving and handing out materials,” says Rao. “It gets them out of their seats and makes them a valued member of the class, when often they are perceived or labeled as squirmy or uncooperative,” In his book, Rao stresses at length about the benefits that come from young boys having a male teacher—a rarity considering 95 percent of kindergarten teachers are female. Although there haven’t been many studies of male teachers in earlier grades, it has been shown that males generally use a more playful approach, put up with more of boys’ behaviors, and promote more movement in the classroom. Steve Anthony, a kindergarten teacher in Sunnyvale, is a perfect example. He incorporates short breaks throughout the day where kids can move around and has the more energetic boys be his messengers. He praises them when they are doing the right thing and to seat the more wiggly guys closer to him or with calmer peers.
“I told her she needed to … start protecting what precious time he had left to be a little boy.” “They do eventually adapt to classroom expectations,” says Anthony, “but it is after lots of role play, lots of guidance.” Dr. Rao is quick to say that although more male teachers like Steve Anthony are hugely beneficial to young boys, that this isn’t the only solution. Teachers in general struggle with dwindling resources due to the budget crisis in California and growing class sizes. Co-teachers and smaller classrooms also make a huge difference because all children benefit from the individualized attention. Boys make up the overwhelming majority of expulsions in preschools, usually for aggression and repeated classroom disruption. Kerri, who lives in Redwood City, was told by her preschool that her son Ryan had to leave his preschool last year. “Ryan was the most active boy in the class, but I believed he was just being a boy,” Alpay says.
“Little Boy” was the nickname given the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945
April/May 2010 | East Bay
Bay Area Kids
His tendency to run away from teachers, difficulty sitting still during circle time, and his loudness in general became too much for teachers to handle without giving him constant one-on-one attention. Kerri is currently looking into assistance through her health care insurer and the school district to get Ryan the attention he needs so he will be ready to start kindergarten later this year. Wendy Vasquez, a preschool teacher in Livermore, agrees that boys can be a challenge and has learned the art of redirecting their behavior. “They have a hard time sitting still and keeping their hands to themselves,” she says. “When they get disruptive, we continue to remind them to be better focused. Sometimes in circle they sit on one of our laps.” Dr. Rao believes that if more movement was incorporated into the school day, even allowing children to stand up while they are working on papers or rotate through different areas of the room, would make a difference. “I’m not advocating a crazy, noisy environment,” Rao says. “That can go the other way too far and over-stimulate and distract kids. It should be organized chaos in a sense, but fun. Firm boundaries. Clear rules.” Ultimately, it’s up to the parents to be advocates for our sons in the classroom. Fight to keep physical education programs and do not let standards shorten the much needed recess time. We can also help overextended teachers by offering to volunteer in the classroom and by signing up our boys for extracurricular activities to release some of that boundless energy, like sports, karate, or theater. Setting boundaries in the home and being consistent about rules also carries over into the classroom. “We have lost perspective on what normal boy behavior is in this country. The more we ask boys to sit, listen only to languagebased learning plans, wait longer and longer for them to take turns or participate, hold in their natural drive to explore and move vigorously, we will continue to see elevated rates—and misdiagnosing—of ADHD as well as other behavioral and learning problems,” Rao says.
Teacher Steve Anthony says not every boy fits the stereotype and his own preconceived notions about boys have been proven wrong by classes over his sixteen years teaching both kindergarten and first grade. But they dynamic of how many boys are on his roster definitely influences him. “It’s funny because every teacher I know, at least in the early grades, counts to the boy to girl ratio at the beginning of the school year,” he says. He should know. One year he was shocked to find his new class consisted of fifteen boys and five girls. Yet that was the class that continued to surprise him in terms of going against his beliefs about boys. “Boys are a handful and are extremely busy…it’s in the intermediate grades where the girls have a tendency to get cattier and clique-ier and the boys are more of a godsend,” Anthony says. “But you know? They’re totally enjoyable, they don’t all fit the same mold, they do increase the decibels inside the room, but they’re lots of fun, keep me on my toes and are always chock-full of knowledge on the stuff they love—whether it be dinosaurs, Transformers, Nintendo games or Bakugon.” Mothers Jeanette Petrilli and Kerri Alpay wouldn’t trade raising their sons for anything, no matter how tough some days are. “Although we struggle to get things ‘right’, I wouldn’t throw him back for a girl, ever!” Petrilli says. “We snuggle and he whispers with a big smile on his face, ‘Mommy, do you know what I haven’t told you in a long time? I love you!’ This just melts my heart and all of the daily struggles and difficulties we have disappear.” Alpay agrees. “While Ryan may be rambunctious and constantly moving, I have enjoyed watching him grow. He is an extremely affectionate child and he rarely complains. Given all the ups and downs, the frustration with discipline and cooperation, I would not change a thing about him.” BAK For more information on all things boy, check out Dr. Rao’s book The Way of Boys and his web site: www.anthonyrao.com.
Wild Things Need Time-Aways In Maurice Sendak’s classic story Where the Wild Things Are, Max’s mother calls him a wild thing when he misbehaves and sends him to his room. According to Dr. Anthony Rao, PhD, his mom gets the discipline just right. “Sendak’s story beautifully illustrates how a child’s play and imagination is the catalyst for cognitive growth,” Rao says. “In Max’s fantasy, he uses pretend play to channel his wild urges. Next he models his mother and pretends to be a parent. He banishes the Wild Things to their bedroom without supper. He’s now powerful and in control. He uses that power on improving himself. Now he’s ready to go home.”
Bay Area Kids
Rao advocates Time-Aways, as demonstrated in this story, for a means of disciplining young boys. They respond to action and immediate consequences over long-winded lectures when they do something wrong. Remove them from the situation and let them process what happened alone. Rather than putting them in a time-out chair, Rao advises sending boys to their rooms with their doors closed. It worked for Max’s mother and it can work for you. “This conveys confidence in Max that he can work through the problem himself. Only he can pull back his wildness,” Rao says.
So how is a Time-Away different from a Time Out? A parent sends her son to his room, door closed, until he has stopped crying and is ready for a fresh start. There is no required time, like the standard minute-perage rule. Rao suggests that parents hold the door closed initially if their son refuses to stay in his room. By imposing Time-Aways, parents essentially teach their son how to calm himself. They quickly learn that their parents are in charge, but it is fully in their power to control their anger, discuss why they were sent to their room and get a fresh start.
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BBT YOUTH COMPANY AND CHILDREN’S DIVISION DANCERS. PHOTO BY ASHRAF.
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Bay Area Kids
Pink bathing suit Jack and Jill (www.jandjchild.com) $38; Yellow bikini Old Navy (www.oldnavy.com) $19.50; Boys green trunks Small Fry (www.smallfryc.om, SF) $20.95; Boys orange trunks Old Navy (www. oldnavy.com) $14.50; Sunglasses Gymboree (www.gymboree.com) $9.75; Vintage Swim Cap Twisters Vintage (www.twistersvintage.com, Berkeley) $50; Bucket and shovel, goggles stylist own
Bay Area Kids
liven up their summer with these colorful styles Photography by Shaun Fenn Assistant: Christina Strong; Stylist: Colleen Hartman; Hair and Make up: Lisa Strutz; Studio Teacher: Christine Bloomingdale; Models: Jada West, Kohle Bolton, Abby Gayles, Julian Mahogany, Kendra Pillay, Paris Duarte, Lia Simmons, Spencer Mino, Wesley Alpert, Tiffany Shinn. All models courtesy J E Model, Inc.
April/May 2010 | East Bay
Bay Area Kids
Yellow dress Sprout (www.sproutchildrensclothing. com, healdsburg) $72.50; White Guayabera shirt Old Navy (www.oldnavy.com) $16.50; Cap Gap (www. gap.com) $12.50; Sleeveless T-shirt Old Navy (www. oldnavy.com) $9; Cargos Small Fry (www.smallfrys. com, SF) $30; Head bow Small Fry (www.smallfrys. com, SF) $8.99
Bay Area Kids
Coonskin Cap Paxton Gate (www. paxtongate.com, SF) $20; Butterfly Net Paxton Gate (www.paxtongate. com, SF) $21; Plaid Shirt Old Navy (www.oldnavy.com) $15; Blue jeans Gap (www.gap.com) $20.99; Undershirt Old Navy (www.oldnavy. com) $9; Shoes Red Wagon (www. redwagon.com, Lafayette and Berkeley) $58 April/May 2010 | East Bay
Bay Area Kids
Slip Old Navy (www.oldnavy.com) $19.50; Dress Red Wagon (www.redwagonkids.com, Berkeley and Lafayette) $42; Lantern stylist own
Bay Area Kids
Sneakers Converse (www.converse.com) $29; Denim jacket Gap (www.gap.com) $29.50; Knickers, vintage boots, visor, cap, and chess setâ€“stylist own
April/May 2010 | East Bay
Bay Area Kids
clean plate club
Yankee Pier Restaurant, Lafayette
28 dining out
yankee pier 3593 Mount Diablo Rd., Lafayette (925) 283-4100 www.yankeepier.com
Bay Area Kids
re-children, my wife and I had enjoyed Lafayette’s Yankee Pier for its cozy atmosphere and their tasty approaches to fresh seafood and shellfish that incorporate both West and East coast recipes. It was my better half’s memories of their fish tacos that ultimately tipped the scales in favor of Yankee Pier as the destination for our March family outing. One of four Bay Area locations, one might classify Yankee Pier as a franchised restaurant, and it’s true that menu items are shared between the Lafayette, South Bay (Santana Row), Larkspur and the SFO locations. However, the organization as a whole has shown a deep and strong commitment to fresh (and thanks to its collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, sustainable as well) ingredients and seafood in its menu selections, and Lafayette’s head chef, Michael Dunn, is constantly tweaking the local menu and offering his own take on standard menu items, and presenting new dishes available exclusively at that location, and usually for only a very limited time (like that day). Welcomed by a warm, toned down New England coastal decor, the three of us sat down at a booth, and almost immediately my daughter was handed a pail of crayons and coloring materials, which kept her happy (and the personal attention of our hostess made her feel very grown up too). The wife and I shared a delicious
Dreamsicle martini—which tastes as good as it sounds—and scanned the menu while our daughter slurped on a very icy lemonade (made fresh), swirled with a natural strawberry puree. She was also presented with her own tray of celery and carrot sticks, and munched contentedly away. We decided on the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartare—featuring marinated kohlrabi, pickled lemon vinaigrette, toasted almonds, fried oyster, and creme fraiche— as our starting point, which arrived elegantly dressed, only to disappear almost immediately under a cavalcade of three spoon-wielding assailants. For the main course, I chose the cioppino, my wife was gently urged away from the tacos to a seared Ahi Tuna special of the day, and by her choice, a battered rockfish and chips, with a side of coleslaw for my daughter. While the cioppino was amazing and filing, the aroma that wafted over the table
Many linguists believe the word “Yankee” is derived from combining two dutch names, “Jan” & “Kees”
Win Stuff! from my wife’s Ahi captivated me—the smell of freshly-grilled fish—and a small bite confirmed that it tasted as delicious as it smelled. While my daughter finished most of her food, she was distracted by the many spiny crab legs that extended out of my bowl, and wanted nothing more than to crack the legs and play with the empty clam shells. With a bib and a cracker in hand, her and I made short work of the dish, and thanks to the accompanying loaf (though the restaurant lists it as a “biscuit”) of freshly baked corn bread, I taught her the fine art of sopping up the excess stew. Another option for diners is to order off of their Marketplace menu—you can customize your dish based on several types of fresh fish and tasty sides. To fill any empty spaces that might still be available in our bellies, we ended the night with a fabulous cinnamon and caramel bread pudding creation that was devoured within seconds. Yankee Pier encourages a family atmosphere, and with its friendly service geared to include little ones, their Lafayette location makes for a welcome family dining expedition. While I understand that hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, chicken breasts, and hamburgers are handy go-to items, it would be great to see more seafood-based menu items—like their fresh grilled wild salmon and hook-and-line rockfish— geared toward the little ones. There’s a missed opportunity here to introduce children (and future returning customers) to the tasty and varied world of fresh seafood and shellfish that adults eagerly look forward to from Yankee Pier.
ABOUT THE SEAFOOD WATCH PROGRAM The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. Our recommendations indicate which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.” Find out more at www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx
April/May 2010 | East Bay
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diary of a suburban queen
Let’s Talk Boys
30 last words
Kelly Pollard is a TriValley writer and mother of two boys, ages five and four. You can find her at TwoBoysinTwoYears. BlogSpot.com with more incriminating tales of her family.
Bay Area Kids
efore I had two of my own, I had a few ideas about raising boys based on stereotypes often slapped on the male species that (eventually) grow into the men we eventually fall for and marry: they were destructive, aggressive, obsessed with cars. Mama’s boys, and competitive. Hanging out with my guy friends throughout the years, I knew about the competitive part. Now with two little men of my own, many of my beliefs are confirmed on a daily basis. My boys can be aggressive and total Mama’s boys, often swapping gears faster than a NASCAR driver. They are manic for anything with wheels, counting down for months the day we can go to the monster truck show in Oakland. Competitive? Oh man, and how. Especially with each other. In a way, I asked for it by having them less than two years apart. From the time my younger son Shane first yanked a toy out of his big brother’s grasp, the games have been on. All things big and small are fuel to see who has the most, the best, the fastest. A favorite game in our household is what I refer to as Battle of the Blue. Both boys’ favorite color is blue, so one would think I’d be clever enough to only stock blue plastic cereal bowls and blue plastic cups in my arsenal? Ha! Such logic is the last thing from my mind; until, that is, I dare to give one son a red bowl (a “girly color”) and one a blue bowl. And thus the riots begin. So I smartly adjusted my strategy: I now only offer a blue bowl if one is without his nemesis, or if I miraculously have two blue bowls clean, And then yesterday happened. I dutifully gave each their own blue bowl, only to witness in horrified fascination my older son Bobby’s first rate meltdown because I gave him the dark blue bowl and his brother the light blue one. Our family has now entered into the realm where two boys are competing over different shades of blue. That spectacle proved to be the beginning: the competition grew more heated over who got the blue cup with shells (desirable) over the blue cup with whales (not cool enough). Their eyes furtively cast at each other’s cups of milk, silently assessing who had the better one. Was one cup filled half a millimeter higher than the other cup? Great, we have a winner! The relentless competition plays out most obviously in their quest for video game domination. I have video evidence of another diabolical meltdown when Shane
lost a race on the Monster Truck Wii game to his older brother. Bobby and Shane also compete over who is wearing the cooler shirt, a totally subjective task, really. How can you prove that ones’ dinosaur shirt is cooler than the other’s Batman shirt? Or how the skull foot pajamas are more awesome than the construction foot pajamas?
“Our family has now entered into the realm where two boys are competing over different shades of blue.” As a writer, what fascinates me when observing these boys is understanding what makes them competitive. Things I would think they’d compete over turn out to be completely glossed over. For example, last season saw the both of them playing soccer for the first time. While Shane dominated the soccer field, averaging two or three goals a game, Bobby did not make a single goal the entire season. Did Bobby care? Did he throw a fit on the wet grassy field? No, he couldn’t care less. Did Shane throw a fit on the field? You bet he did. Those first few games, every missed goal attempt was a nail-biter on our side of the field. Will Shane lose it again? Will we have to peel him off the grass so he isn’t run over by a gaggle of four-year-olds hustling the ball? His biggest competition in sports is really against himself. On those grass-stained afternoons when Shane grumbles about that goal that got away from him, I do what any mom wise about the way to a boy’s heart would do: I give him the blue plate during lunchtime.
The word “soccer” is derived from an abbreviation of “Football Association,” established in 1863 in the UK
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