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a m o d e r n r es o u r c e f o r m o d e r n f a m i l i es

A Haute Day at the Zoo

5 pages of cool kids fashions

NEW THIS ISSUE: Expanded Event Listing and Family Dining Guide!

Four-year old Ayden at the Oakland Zoo’s Petting Farm.

Aug/sept 2009


w w w. b a k i d s m a g a z i n e . c o m



» Local activist Susan Junfish » Party Planning: Birthday Cake Ideas » Make a Picnic Quilt!

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Is your child struggling in school? Has tutoring failed your child? 80% of smart kids who struggle in school have one or more cognitive skill deficits that

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Bay Area Kids



Volume 1, Number 5 August/September 2009

the regular

Publisher/Editor/Father Everard G. Strong

6 small talk

Sales General Inquiries Helga Glasson Kathryn Sibley Editorial General inquiries

editor’s letter

8 play dates

our new extended event calendar!

shelf 14 book Mixed media reviews

15 arts and crafts quilt your own blanket

Photography Christina Fabbri Photography

16 grab bag safe sunscreens,

Contributing Writers Kelly Pollard, Patricia Kutza, Elise Cooke, Cathy Jetter, Li Miao Lovett

school daze 18 first day jitters

Submissions Send photos, events, news, and story requests to

2 4 health care a knee jerk reaction

Product submissions Send all products to address below. Include return postage.

the good stuff


memory keepers

party planning 30 a piece of cake

33 eco talk

what’s inside

22 the green green grass of home

profile: local activist susan junfish

don’t freak out over a breakout 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 2009 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

August/September 09 | East Bay

34 table talk:

clean plate club lark creek walnut creek

guide dining our new kid-friendly dining guide!

last words 38 diary of a suburban queen

Special Sections

20 Absolutely Essential Back to School Guide

styles 25 haute back-to-school fashions

Look down here for fun trivia and silly stuff

Bay Area Kids


editor’s letter

thirty minutes to go “Summertime, And the livin’ is easy Fish are jumpin’ And the cotton is high Your daddy’s rich And your mamma’s good lookin’ So hush little baby Don’t you cry.” -George Gershwin, “Summertime”

6 small talk

sound check This issue’s theme Dance Mix for a One Year Old

Barry Mann : Who Put the Bomp The Beatles : Penny Lane Bobby McFerrin & Yoyo Ma : Hush Little Baby Buddy Holly : All My Love Burl Ives : Blue Tail Fly Max Bygraves : Windmill in Old Amsterdam Katrina & the Waves : Walking on Sunshine Happy Days Theme Peter, Paul, Mary : Puff the Magic Dragon George Harrison : I Got My Mind Set on You Mary Poppins Soundtrack : Let’s Go Fly a Kite Dean Martin : Memories are Made of This send your mix list to


Bay Area Kids

IT’S 6:30 AM on a monday morning. This magazine needs to be in the printer’s hands in half an hour. It’s a good time to rewrite the editor’s letter. The original letter, while grammatically and logically sound, was at odds with the early morning sunshine peeping in the back sliding door. The message—that parenting was difficult but the rewards were worth it—was a bit too morose for the day. So I decided to rewrite it. I think this version is much better: It’s summertime! Enjoy it along with your kids; it’ll be gone before you know it and you’ll wonder where the time went ... again. So go. Go outside. Roll in the grass. Run through the sprinkler. Look for birds. Feed the ducks. Jump in the lake. Jump in the pool. Sing silly songs. Wave at passing motorists. Build a lemonade stand. Buy ice cream with the profits from the lemonade stand. Get an extra scoop of ice cream. Make your own ice cream. Roast marshmallows. Sleep under the stars. Stay up later than usual. Tell stories in a tent. Take a train ride. Visit a ghost town. Go to the zoo and make funny faces at the monkeys. Make funny faces at each other. Make mud pies. Plant a garden. Wear pretty dresses and have an outdoor teddy bear tea party. Plan a pirate raid. Hunt for grass sharks in the backyard. Map out a treasure map. Design a scavenger hunt. Sit still and listen to nothing. Visit that one place you’ve always planned on going but haven’t yet. Be a tourist. Take pictures of strange people. Take pictures of bugs. Imitate your favorite bug. Ride a bike. Ride a surfboard. Go on a fishing boat. Rent a canoe, Rent a paddle boat. Learn to kayak. Visit the mountains. Visit the beach. Visit your neighbors. Go to a concert. Host an impromptu karaoke party. Sing in your best Ethel Merman voice. Laugh. Love. Whatever you do, we hope you and your family have a fun, wonderful, memorable summer! Oh, and one more thing ... don’t forget the sunscreen!

The Cover Our Cover Photo: After hours of planning, location scouting, assembling a great crew, and coralling the talent, we are very proud to present our first fashion feature (starting on page 25). We think the results are as cool as the styles the kids are sporting. The shoot would not have come together without the help and assistance of the following individuals, to whom we extend a very humble Thank You: Nicky Mora and all the staff at the Oakland Zoo, stylist Courtney Jo Barnes, assistant Bryan Molyneaux, and additional support provided by Hudson Cuneo. Our gratitude also to the talent (the children: Ayden, Malia, Natalia, Cristiano, and Cassie) and their families for their patience and cooperation. We hope you had as much fun as we did! Photo: Christina Fabbri Photography

Your Turn We’re always on the lookout for cute boys and girls—your children—for our upcoming fashion shoots and other ideas. If you have a child 1-8 yrs. old, send us a photo (head shot preferable) to

Happy Father’s Day! Everard G Strong, Publisher, Editor, and Father

Franz Greiter introduced the concept of Sun Protection Factor (SPF) in 1962

Strength. Longevity. Vitality

Childcare Group Classes Hot Tubs Locker Rooms Massage Personal Trainers Squash

Welcome to ClubSport San Ramon, the East Bay’s Premier Health and Fitness Club! With its dramatic architecture, panoramic views, luxurious amenities, kid-focused activities, and world-class service, ClubSport San Ramon helps you achieve your family’s fitness goals and improve your quality of life.

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Mention Bay Area Kids magazine and receive a one-week free trial membership, along with free childcare and a frozen yogurt for your little ones while you tour our facility!

Sauna & Steam Rooms Showers Heated Swimming Pools Salon Tennis Courts Youth Programs Physical Therapy

Bay Area Kids


event calendar

august | september

8 play dates

Children of Hangzhou

EDITOR’S PICK  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

Tues-Fri 9AM-4PM; Sat-Sun 10AM-5PM. Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, www., (415) 339-3900. Adults $10, children and seniors $8, children under 1 free. The Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China exhibit presents China from the viewpoint of four young people. Join kids from Hangzhou for a close up experience of China today. Explore school, home, theater, library, and a farm, all set against a beautiful backdrop of traditional Chinese paintings. Hangzhou combines the best of old and new, rustic countryside and modern urban center.

Hangzhou is considered one of the most beautiful cities in China.

our Ask about tary n complime

Peek-A-Boo Visit

August 1-2 Helmet and Toddler Rodeo Sat 1, 10:30am–12:30pm, 3:30pm–4:30pm, $8; free admission 10:00am– 12:00pm, 3:00pm–4:30pm. Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, (510) 647-1111, While learning about toddler helmet safety, families can purchase CPSC/ASTM/ANSI approved helmets, sized especially for toddlers. Children can then test out their new helmets at Habitot’s tricycle rodeo obstacle course. Saturday Story: My Cat Pearl Sat 1, 1:00-2:00pm. Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Ste. 210, Oakland, Free admission. Curl up and hear author and Illustrator Dona Turner share the story of her real-life cat, Pearl. After the story create your own cuddly feline with fake fur and fabulous fabrics. Family First Sundays: Living History Day Sun 2, 11:00am3:00pm. Dunsmuir Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, (510) 562-0328, Afternoons devoted to the topic of the day with intergenerational activities, learning experiences, games, and mansion tours. Bring a picnic lunch and relax on the Great Meadow. Mersey Beach: From the Beatles to the Beach Boys Sun 2, 5:30pm, Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon. Part of the San Ramon Summer Concert series. Go back to the “Summer of Love” with this Sixties band. Bring the family, a picnic, blanket, and/or lawn chairs for a perfect summer evening in Central Park. Enjoy great music and enjoy watching the kids dance barefoot in the grass. Wine, beer, soda, and ice cream available for purchase. Out on a Limb Mon-Sat 10:00am5pm; Sun noon-5pm, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose,, (408) 298-5437. $10 adults and children, $9 seniors, infants under 1 year free. Open for a limited run, Out on a Limb features a 1,200 square-foot sculptural, interactive, where children can check out the “Tree House,” build a fort, climb and balance, experience nature using their senses in “Light Play” and “Forest Jam,” and more.

August 3-9 Wee Wednesdays Wed 5, 10:0010:50am. Chabot Space and Science

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Bay Area Kids


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chef demos • Gourmet fare wine tastinG • microbrews orGanic farmers market arts, crafts & jewelry fair trade imports for kids: pumpkin patch • nature art projects • crafts projects • culinary activities • farm animals • pony rides carnival rides • climbinG wall

10am to 6pm

Rose to Virginia Streets Along Shattuck Avenue


Mark your calendar for the Annual North Berkeley Spice of Life Festival!


Visit our web site for a complete business directory & events guide!


Bay Area Kids

playdates Center, 10,000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland,, (510) 336-7373. Guests: $12 for first child / $10 each additional child; members: $6 for first child / $5 each additional child. Kids bring a special grown-up to share in the exploration, experimentation, and excitement of science and space. Parents must attend the entire class with their child(ren). For children aged 2½ -5 years, plus one adult for every two children. Peter Pan, the Musical Wed 5, 7:00pm, Thurs 6, 7:00pm; Fri 7, 7:00pm; Sat 8, 2:00 and 7:00pm; Sun 9, 1:00 and 6:00pm. Run time, approx 2.5 hrs. Berkeley Playhouse, Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, www., (510) 6655565. Tickets: adults $28 ($30 door); kids, seniors $22 ($25 door). Directed by Elizabeth McKoy, with musical direction by Phil Gorman, experience the musical adventure of a lifetime with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Hook, Tiger Lily, Wendy, and the other familiar characters. Fantastical flying, singing, dancing, and a story that will uplift and inspire children and adults alike. School of Rock Thurs 6, 6pm (movie begins at twilight), Deluchi Park, 4551 First St., Pleasanton. Free admission. Part of the City of Pleasanton’s Free Movies in the Park Summer Series. Bring your blankets, low lawn chairs, picnics, and air guitars. School of Rock follows the antics of Dewey Finn (Jack Black) as he attempts to liberate a group of talented prep school musicians. Also features Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman. Rated PG-13. Free popcorn provided by Thriving Ink. The Jungle Book Kids Thurs 6 - Sun 9, 7:15pm. Knight Stage 3 Theatre, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, www.lesherartscenter. org, (925) 295-SHOW. All tickets $15. Specially adapted from the beloved film, this musical includes all your favorite Disney tunes, like “The Bare Necessities,” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.” With colorful characters and that toetapping jungle rhythm, The Jungle Book Kids is sure to be a crowdpleaser for audiences of all ages. From Earth to the Universe: A Visible Journey through

the Wonders of the Universe Wed–Sat 9:30am-5:00pm; Sun 11:00am-5:00pm; a limited section of the exhibit is viewable on Mondays and Tuesdays. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000, Adults $24.95, children under 6 free, children 7-11, $14.95, all others $19.95. Explore the Universe and our place within it. Exhibit includes a collection of astronomical images from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope, and professional and amateur astronomers, reflecting the vast variety of known astronomical objects – planets, comets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. The Secret Lives of Seahorses Mon-Fri 9:30AM – 6:30PM; Sat-Sun 9:30AM-8:00PM (members 9:00AM – 8:00PM), Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey. www. Adult $29.95, children under 3 free, children 3-12 $17.95, students and seniors $27.95. One of the largest and most diverse exhibitions of seahorses and their families, visitors will view more than fifteen species of these sea creatures and their kin. Learn how they grow up, mate, and give birth. Ron Thompson Sat 8, 6:00pm, Oak Hill Park, 3005 Stone Valley Rd., Danville. Free admission. Part of the Danville Music in the Park series. Get your blues on with this energetic live musician— dance and groove against the scenic backdrop of Oak Hill Park. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and your boogie shoes. Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground Tour featuring Rhythm Child Sat 8, 1:00pm, Clorox Wildlife Theater. Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, www.oaklandzoo. org. Regular zoo admission rates. Using fun rhythms and movements, drummer Norman Jones (Rhythm Child) gets parents and their children to sing, drum, and dance together. Ziggy Marley Sat 8, 11:30am (show starts at 1:00pm), Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga, www.mountainwinery. com, $23.50 and $16.00 for

Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate reserved seats. Children under 2 are free. Ziggy Marley is on tour promoting his newest effort, Family Time, an album of fun children’s music set to irresistible reggae beats. Children are expected and encouraged! Bay Area Adventure Trip: Point Reyes Sat 8, 8am-5pm, Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District, (925) 373-5700, $47 per person. Put on your adventuring hat and explore the cooler climate of the Northern California coast at Point Reyes National Seashore. The group will walk to the historic lighthouse for an amazing view across the Pacific Ocean then head to the beach for lunch. Transportation is provided.

The Jungle Book Kids Mon 10–Sat 14, 7:15pm. Knight Stage 3 Theatre, Lesher Center for the Arts. See August 3-9. Youth Orchestra of the Diablo Valley Summer Concert Series Tue 11 7:00-8:00pm, Shadelands Arts Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek, www.walnut-creek. org, (925) 943-5846. Tickets $10. Listen to today’s best young classical musicians play some favorite pieces.

From Earth to the Universe: A Visible ] Journey through Orchestra d’Soul TO [ GO the Wonders of Sun 9, 5:30pm, m o .c e agazin the Universe Wed– Central Park, 12501 BAKidsM t n e v e d Alcosta Blvd., for update more Sat 9:30am-5:00pm; nd Sun 11:00amSan Ramon. Free listings a 5:00pm; a limited admission. Part of the section of the exhibit is San Ramon Summer viewable on Mondays and Concert series. Latin Salsa Tuesdays. California Academy of dance music and R&B grooves Sciences. See August 1-2 will heat up the night at the final Summer Concert performance. Wee Wednesdays Wed 12, Bring the family, a picnic, blanket, 10:00-10:50am. Chabot Space and/or lawn chairs for a summer and Science Center. See August 5 evening in Central Park. Enjoy great music, and watching the Peter Pan, the Musical Wed kids dance in the grass. Wine, 12, 7:00pm, Thurs 13, 7:00pm; beer, soda, and ice cream Fri 14, 7:00pm; Sat 15, 2:00 available for purchase. and 7:00pm; Sun 16, 1:00 and 6:00pm. Run time, approx 2.5 Out on a Limb Mon-Sat hrs. Berkeley Playhouse, Ashby 10:00am-5pm; Sun noon-pm, Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, Children’s Discovery Museum of, (510) San Jose. See August 1-2. 665-5565. Tickets: adults $28 ($30 door); kids, seniors $22 ($25 Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri door). See August 3-9. 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See The Secret Lives of Seahorses August 1-2. Mon-Fri 9:30am–6:30pm; SatSun 9:30am-8:00pm (members August 10-16 9:00am–8:00pm), Monterey Bay Wente’s Dinner and a Movie: Aquarium. See August 1-2. Mamma Mia!, the Sing-A-Long Version Mon 10, sunset (around Out on a Limb Mon-Fri until 8:30pm). Wente Vineyards, August 14 10:00am-5pm; 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, Children’s Discovery Museum of Free San Jose. See August 1-2. admission. No food or drinks allowed to be brought in– can be Family Extravaganza: Blowin’ purchased on-site. Come out to in the Wind Sat 15, 1:00Wente, put down your blanket, 4:00pm, Museum of Children’s grab some popcorn, and get Art, 538 Ninth St. Ste 210, ready to sing and dance along to Oakland, $7 per one of America’s favorite musicals child, free to members. Monthly of all time! Beautifully shot, workshop focused on family artMamma Mia! features ABBA’s making and collaboration. Learn August/September 09 | East Bay

(510) 562-0328 2960 Peralta Oaks Ct., Oakland (by the Zoo)

greatest hits sung by today’s hottest movie stars. Not to be missed by child or parent. (Bring blankets and sleeping gear for the tots.)

Outdoor Music & Movie Fridays Aug. 28 : A Little Princess Sept. 25 Finding Neverland

Come Picnic at the Family Estate! Nestled on 50 acres, with lush green meadows, footbridges, duck pond, and mansion tours.

• $5.00 Admission •

Not everything is learned in the classroom Some things are learned on the court and in the gym Town of Danville Youth Basketball League Basketball leagues for grades 1-12

Registration begins August 10, 2009 1st & 2nd grade leagues begin September 26 Practices for other grades begin in December For more information call (925) 314-3400, or check out Interested in being a volunteer coach? Contact Ian Murdock, Program Coordinator, at 925-314-3480, or

“Sportsmanship, teamwork, self esteem, physical fitness, fair play, friendship and FUN!”

Town of Danville

“Creating Community through People, Parks & Programs”

Bay Area Kids



Confidence begins  with Perfect Smiles!

For your convenience and comfort:

about the varieties of kites that can soar though the air, and then create your own flashy flyers.

• Latest technologies for the least invasive procedures • Intra-oral cameras and digital x-rays • Friendly & competent staff committed to meeting all of your dental needs • All rooms have flat screen LCD TVs, cable, DVD & music. • Internet café to surf the web and check e-mail • Complimentary refreshments • Interest-free payment plans available • Early morning, lunchtime, evening and Saturday appointments • Adult & children dentistry

Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See August 1-2.

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August 17-23 Raiders of the Lost Ark Thurs 20, 6pm (movie begins at twilight), Delucchi Park, 4551 First St., Pleasanton. Free admission. Part of the City of Pleasanton’s Free Movies in the Park Summer Series. Bring your blankets, low lawn chairs, picnics, fedoras, and whips. The first (and many argue the best) in a fast-paced trilogy of movies about archaeologist Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford who asks the question, “snakes, why did it have to be snakes?” The movie is rated PG13. Free popcorn provided by Thriving Ink. From Earth to the Universe: A Visible Journey through the Wonders of the Universe Wed – Sat 9:30am-5:00pm; Sun 11:00am-5:00pm; a limited section of the exhibit is viewable on Mondays and Tuesdays. California Academy of Sciences. See August 1-2. The Secret Lives of Seahorses Mon-Fri 9:30am–6:30pm; SatSun 9:30am-8:00pm (members 9:00am–8:00pm), Monterey Bay Aquarium. See August 1-2. Peter Pan, the Musical Thurs 20, 7:00pm; Fri 21, 7:00pm; Sat 22, 2:00 and 7:00pm; Sun 23, 1:00 and 6:00pm. Run time, approx 2.5 hrs. Berkeley Playhouse, Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, www., (510) 665-5565. Tickets: adults $28 ($30 door); kids, seniors $22 ($25 door). See August 3-9.

• Immersion program • Small class sizes • Experienced teachers • Classes for toddlers to teens • Day camps too!

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Take 2 Sat 22, 6:00pm, Oak Hill Park, 3005 Stone Valley Rd., Danville. Free admission. Part of the Danville Music in the Park series. Dust off your dancing shooes, and get ready to groove this summer night away against the scenic backdrop of Oak Hill Park. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and lots of energy.

Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See August 1-2.

August 24-30 From Earth to the Universe: A Visible Journey through the Wonders of the Universe Wed – Sat 9:30am-5:00pm; Sun 11:00am-5:00pm; a limited section of the exhibit is viewable on Mondays and Tuesdays. California Academy of Sciences. See August 1-2. Fourth Friday Summer Nights: A Little Princess Fri 28, movie starts at dusk. Dunsmuir Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, (510) 562-0328, www. Have a supper picnic to live music on a warm summer evening, and then enjoy a fun movie after dark. The Secret Lives of Seahorses Mon-Fri 9:30am–6:30pm; SatSun 9:30am-8:00pm (members 9:00am–8:00pm), Monterey Bay Aquarium. See August 1-2. Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See August 1-2.

August 31- September 6 From Earth to the Universe: A Visible Journey through the Wonders of the Universe Wed – Sat 9:30am-5:00pm; Sun 11:00am-5:00pm; a limited section of the exhibit is viewable on Mondays and Tuesdays. California Academy of Sciences. See August 1-2. Family First Sundays: Let’s Play Games Day Sun 6, 11:00AM-3:00PM. Dunsmuir Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, (510) 562-0328, Afternoons devoted to the topic of the day with intergenerational activities, learning experiences, games and tours. Bring a picnic lunch and relax on the Great Meadow. The Secret Lives of Seahorses Mon-Fri 9:30am–6:30pm; SatSun 9:30am-8:00pm (members 9:00am–8:00pm), Monterey Bay Aquarium. See August 1-2.

Alameda • Lafayette • Pleasanton


Bay Area Kids

Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See August 1-2.

September 14-20 Germanfest Sun 20, noon7:00PM. Dunsmuir Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, (510) 562-0328, www. Adults $10 ($15 at door), children 6-12 $5, advance tickets available online. Celebrate old-world German culture with music, dance, food and song as Dunsmuir Hellman and the United German-American Societies of the East Bay celebrate the Hellman family’s Bavarian heritage.

All Shook Up Thurs 3-Sat 5 8pm; Sun 6 2:30pm. Center Repertory, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, www., (925) 295SHOW. “Love Me Tender,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Heartbreak ­Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Fools Fall in Love.” Over twenty of Elvis Presley’s hits make this ] an exhilarating new [ GO TO om All Shook Up Wed 16 musical comedy with e in 7:30PM; Thurs 17-Fri agaz .c a whole lot of shakin’ BAKidsM event 18 8:00PM; Sat 19 d te a d go­ing on. p for u nd more 2:30 and 8PM; Sun listings a 20 2:30PM. Center September 7-13 Repertory, Lesher Center for the Arts. See Sept 7-13. From Earth to the Universe: A Visible Journey through the Wonders of the September 21-27 Universe Wed – Sat 9:30amFourth Friday Summer Nights: 5:00pm; Sun 11:00am-5:00pm; Finding Neverland Fri 25, movie a limited section of the exhibit starts at dusk. Dunsmuir Historic is viewable on Mondays and Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Tuesdays. California Academy of Oakland, (510) 562-0328, www. Sciences. See August 1-2. Have a supper picnic to live music on a warm The Secret Lives of Seahorses summer evening, and then enjoy Mon-Fri 9:30am–6:30pm; Satthis fun story about the author Sun 9:30am-8:00pm (members behind Peter Pan, starring Johnny 9:00am–8:00pm), Monterey Bay Depp. Bring blankets. Aquarium. See August 1-2. Children of Hangzhou Tues-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm. Bay Area Discovery Museum. See August 1-2. Movie Under The Stars: Marley and Me Sat 12, movie starts at dusk. Heather Farms, 301 N. San Carlos Dr., Walnut Creek. Free admission. Starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Arrive hour early for a best spot (bring blanket and food). No pets. Grandparents Day Sun 13, 1:00PM, Clorox Wildlife Theater. Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, www.oaklandzoo. org. Regular zoo admission rates. Grandparents receive free train rides all day! All Shook Up Tue 8 - Fri 11, 8PM; Sat 12 2:30 and 8PM; Sun 13 2:30PM. Center Repertory, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, www., (925) 295SHOW. See August 24-30.

August/September 09 | East Bay

Emergency Care on Weekends New Patient Examination Cleaning/ Fluoride/ Varnish BPA- Free Dental Sealants Preventative Treatment Fillings (White, sparkely rainbow Colors, Silver)

Nitrous Oxide Extractions Bleaching Mouth guards Braces White Crowns for Children

925.828.0824 General Dentistry for Children 21310 San Ramon Valley Blvd. Suite #2 San Ramon, CA 94583

All Shook Up Wed 23 7:30PM; Thurs 24-Fri 25 8:00pm; Sat 26 2:30 and 8pm; Sun 27 2:30pm. Center Repertory, Lesher Center for the Arts. See Sept 7-13.

September 28-31 KidsFaire Family Expo Sat 26Sun 27, 10am-5pm. Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, www.americasfamilyexpo. com, (866) 283-8600. Adults $8, children $5. Over fifteen acres of attractions and family entertainment. See pop stars Girl Authority and Clique Girlz perform live, and also catch favorite television show stars like the Veggie Tales, Spongebob, Dora, Clifford, Alvin, the penguins from the movie Madagascar, and many more. (Bay Area Kids magazine is a sponsor of this event – stop by and say Hi!) All Shook Up Wed 30 7:30PM. Center Repertory, Lesher Center for the Arts. See Sept 7-13. BAK

Bay Area Kids


mixed media reviews 1-3 years

4-7 years

The Frogs and Toads All Sang Arnold Lobel (author) Adrianne Lobel (illustrator)

14 book shelf

Swing! A Scanimation Picture Book Rufus Butler Seder If you can find an explanation for the magic that brings the pages of Rufus Butler Seder’s books to life, please let us in on the secret. It’s the artistic genius—no batteries required—that keeps the kids swinging bats, turning cartwheels, swimming laps, and cheering with every flip of the page. Easy to follow text adds happy rhymes for little ones, while the pictures will keep older children entertained for many, many readings. Cathy Jetter

Long before the award-winning stories of Frog and Toad became familiar members of every young reader’s library, author Arnold Lobel had told tales about their silly amphibious ancestors. Three newly-found books have been compiled as a series of sweet and silly poems where frogs and toads speak in rhyme and nothing turns out quite the way the reader expects. Adrianne, the author’s daughter, brings wonder and whimsy to Lobel’s original line drawings with her bright, bold watercolor brushstrokes. Cathy Jetter

7-12 years

STAMPEDE! Poems to Celebrate the WILD SIDE of School! Laura Purdie Salas (author Steven Salerno (illustrator) Bay Area schools will soon be teeming with all the creatures so vividly described in Salas’ rhymes: new kids struggling like mice in a maze, teachers guiding little ones like ducks in a row, and hungry students descending upon the cafeteria like a pack of wild dogs. Bring a little humor to the anxiety that can fill the first weeks back in class—ask your children if any of the crazy animals in Salas’ eighteen poems can be found roaming the hallways of their own schools. Cathy Jetter

» LOcal Author Spotlight Quickly: The Magic Spatula

Are you or do you know a children’s author (or illustrator)? Send information to editor@


Bay Area Kids

Jeryl Abelmann and Miriam Kronish | Illustrated by Chason Matthams Published by Danville’s New Year Publishing, the whimsical story recounts how discovering one item—a spatula named Quickly (we won’t spoil why)—triggers warm childhood memories spent in the kitchen watching as Mommy made her famous silver dollar pancakes. A transcontinental accomplishment, Quickly: The Magic Spatula pairs San Ramon native Abelmann (a retired Teacher of the Year) with Massachussets resident Kronish. Bonus: the pancake recipe in question is included so you can recreate the fun in your own kitchen—but you have to BYOS (bring your own spatula). The world’s biggest pancake (over 49 ft. wide) was cooked in Rochdale, England, in 1994.

sewing project

make a custom picnic blanket Article by Susan Goldie | Project courtesy of SewNow!

This picnic blanket is perfect for toddlers to play on, for picnics in the park, or to have in the trunk for whenever you might need it. You need only basic sewing skills to make this unique family heirloom, customized with your child’s portrait or another special family photo. Make a few matching beanbags, and the quilt doubles as a giant tic tac toe board—giving everyone something fun to do while the burgers cook.

5. Align denim short border pieces with edge of pieced blanket top and stitch right sides together using a ½” seam allowance. 6. Press open all seams. 7. Align denim long border pieces to top of pieced blanket top and stitch right sides together using a ½” seam allowance. 8. Spread out batting on top of table and lay completed blanket front top right side up on top of batting. 9. Place denim backing right side down on top of both layers aligning edges and pin all three layers in place. 10. Sew around the perimeter of the blanket using a ½” seam allowance and leaving an 18” opening to turn blanket right side out. 11. Turn right side out. 12. Close opening with hand stitches or top stitch by machine close to edge. 13. Make pompoms and stitch to blanket through all layers. 14. Make yarn “ties” in the corner of every block to hold all layers together. 15. Go Play!

Supply List for Picnic Play Blanket • ½ yard each of four coordinating assorted fabrics (42” wide goods) • 3-¼ yards of denim for border and backing (58” wide load goods) down line: on • 54” square piece of quilt batting (we recommend Warm attern agap and Natural by the Warm Company) sm BAKid • red yarn for pom-poms and ties om zine.c • digital image to transfer • one sheet of HP Photo Transfer paper • 8” by 10” remnant white 100 percent cotton for center image Susan Goldie is the owner of sewnow! fashion studio in Lafayette, CA. They offer Making the Picnic Play Blanket a 4-week class (one and a half hours/ 1. Cut fabrics according to cutting diagram (available as a free week) for beginners to learn how to sew, downloadable PDF at and they can make their own custom picnic 2. Prepare photo transfer to be 6” x 7¾” and iron on to a white cotton play blanket. You can also purchase a picnic remnant. play blanket kit, which includes all of the 3. Trim ½” beyond photo transfer and sew small denim borders to each materials listed in this article. For more side of photo using a ½” seam allowance. information call (925) 283-7396 or visit 4. Assemble nine blocks in desired order using a ½” seam allowance and press open all seams. August/September 09 | East Bay

The first Sock Monkey Madness Festival was held in Rockford, Ill. in 2005.

15 arts and crafts

Send photos of your finished picnic play basket to editor@ and we’ll post them online!

Bay Area Kids


Ws IbN ! ook


akids w w.b m w o t o Go zine.c m a ga y for m r t n for e

baby’s journey memory book (Terra Joy)

16 grab bag

With embedded Swarovski Crystal elements embedded on its cover, this beautifully-crafted book from Italianstyle artisan studio Terra Traditions, features fifty pages of unique designs, is destined to be a keepsake. Book measures 11x11. Various designs. $49.95. www. for store locations.

Protection, naturally After discovering these all-natural sun and bug protecting products, we don’t leave home without ‘em. Tip, buy two of each: one for your backyard, one to keep in the car. All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Six essential oils, clinically proven to repel mosquitoes. $4.99 / 2 oz. Aubrey Organics Natural SPF 25 Green tea and jojoba. $9.49 / 4 oz. Dessert Essence Tea Tree Oil Skin Ointment Relief for insect bites, dry skin. $6.99 / 1 oz. 365 Arnica Gel Relief for muscle aches, bumps, and bruises. $7.99 / 2.6 oz. Send your kid-friendly products, fashions, accessories, music, or recipes to editor@


Bay Area Kids

All products available at Whole Foods,, and other locations.

Tea tree oil is a well-known antifungal agent.

Sakura Gakuen

Japanese/Chinese Language School Embracing Open Minds and Open Hearts We provide: Emotional nurturing • Social integrity • Diverse community

Sakura Gakuen

6850 Regional St., Ste 110, Dublin (925) 556-9555

Diablo Valley Montessori School

S at ee f te or n y le d on our ss e se on fr lf: ! ee

Sakura Gakuen offers a variety of classes depending on the student’s age and language proficiency level. Whether the language is Japanese or Chinese, a group lesson or private, “Mommy & Me” class or high school class, everyone has fun learning the language at Sakura Gakuen. Our new school year begins August 24. Register now before it’s too late!

3390 Deer Hill Rd., Lafayette (925) 283-6036

Expanding Worlds of Learning

Enroll Now for 20092010!


Ballet and Karate-Gym now offered along with our other electives: Spanish, Puppet Making, Art, and Yoga OAKLAND 4700 Lincoln Ave (510) 336-9897

MORAGA 1450 Moraga Rd. (925) 377-0407

KENSINGTON 52 Arlington Ave. (510) 527-1278

GISSV German International School of Silicon Valley The Best of two Worlds - Learning in German and English Berkeley Campus located at 1 Lawson Rd, Kensington, CA 94707

• Growing K-5 campus in Berkeley/Kensington

• Accepting applications for children entering Kindergarten, First and Second Grade • High-standard bilingual (German-English) educational concept

• Montessori-Certified Teachers • Parent Involvement

• AMS Affiliate • Convenient Access Off Hwy 24

Now enrolling children 3 months-6 years of age (Half-Day & Full-Day Available) Tour Our Campus or Visit Us Online August/September 09 | East Bay

• Integrated curriculum fosters holistic and individual development

rolling! Now en Call for s Tour h Sc ool

• Afterschool Program • Safe and nurturing learning environment tel (650) 254 0748 fax (650) 254 0749

310 Easy Street, Mountain View, CA 94043 email, web

Bay Area Kids


First Day Jitters 18 school daze

A back to school primer by Kelly Pollard

Whether your child is leaving home for the first time as a preschooler or marching determinedly into third grade, you will need to be prepared for the first day of their upcoming school year.

Find more backto-school articles, tips, and more online at www.


Bay Area Kids

The Month Before Former preschool teacher, daycare provider, and mother of two, Becky Paasche of San Leandro has been preparing her son Evan, age 4, for his first year in preschool by building skills that will ensure success in the classroom. “I am starting out with the basics: he is fully potty trained, he can recognize and spell his name, and he is working on using his words—not his fists—to get his point across.” Sue Pierson, a kindergarten teacher with Livermore Unified School District, also emphasizes that parents should work on developing skills that will help their child cope in the classroom. Also, take advantage of any opportunity to meet your child’s new teacher, and get your child comfortable at the school. “One of the most important things a parent can do with their child is read daily to them. Also, give the child lots of opportunities to play with other children. That is where they will learn to share, take turns, be patient, and do other life skills.” Julie Cadigan’s daughter Katherine of San Leandro is keeping her skills sharp by working on homework packets before starting second grade this fall.

The Week Before Most children will need time to adjust to the school schedule at least a week before the first day of school (some parents begin this schedule as far as a month in advance). Pierson suggests setting up a nightly bedtime routine and carrying this routine into the morning, having them eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth before they leave for school. For some children, taking them school shopping for a special outfit and school supplies will get them excited about the new academic year. While you are organizing those new school clothes, be sure to label any sweaters, jackets, and hats with their names. Pierson also recommends establishing a special spot in the house for kids to keep their school papers and homework. Paasche and Cadigan found that the excitement of meeting new friends and reuniting with playmates gets their kids pumped up for school, and found that this helps ease their young nerves. “The promise of seeing her school friends again in late August is all the encouragement Katherine needs,” Cadigan says. The Night Before “The more they know about the schedule and what is expected of them, the better,” Becky Paasche says. “Kids are quick learners, but they also require a sense

Urban American cities in the 1800’s had an eleven-month school year.

Golden Gate

Boys Choir and BellrinGers of comfort and safety before they can relax and have fun in a new environment.” Listen to any concerns your child has and answer questions the best you can. Stick to that established bedtime routine and keep a positive attitude, even if your own nerves are aflutter—children have a way of sensing your anxiety. The Day Of Pierson suggests arriving at school early so your child can burn off some nervous energy on the playground and not feel rushed. “Once the teacher has invited the class in, walk the child in, give him a hug and kiss goodbye and remind them that they will see you soon,” Pierson says. “As teachers, we have lots of strategies for helping the child feel more comfortable.” Paasche and Pierson agree that the toughest part of that first day could be that teary goodbye at the classroom door. “The linger, as I call it, is a killer,” Paasche says. “Do it bandaid style: quick and less painful.”

August/September 09 | East Bay

Cultivate his musical gifts with choral lessons and instruction on handbells and Orff instruments. Performances, tours and music camp available.

(510) 887-4311 • (415) 431-1137 “Building Friendship Through Music”

Congratulations to our 8th Grade Graduates! 510.549.0605 2722 Benvenue Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705

Calvary Christian Preschool Fun, loving, caring, nurturing, stimulating, large preschool with small classroom settings. • Infants to Kindergarten • Structured curriculum for all ages (with a school year implementation) • Field trips all year and special activity days for the summer. • Annual student and school pictures • 2 snacks and lunch served every day

o to e ch ad lun gr Hot rs th e 12 ms • put ips r m tr st – 1 nifo Co ield U F

After the Bell Your child has survived the anticipated first day of school and you are both on your way to another fun school year. Julie Cadigan recommends getting involved in the classroom. “It’s nice to have an insider view of what the rules are, what the teacher’s expectations are and the rhythm of that particular school,” she says. Paasche encourages always being available to listen to your child about school. “The best thing in the world we did for our older son to help with the adjustment was to have him tell us about his day,” Paasche says. “My best advice would be to talk, talk, talk before and after each day of school.” BAK

Boys age 7 and older are welcome to join the angelic voices and heavenly sounds of the internationally acclaimed Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers.

Director: Arlene McLean

3425 Concord Blvd. Concord (925) 689-2542 Lic. #070213244

Bay Area Kids


back to school guide : special advertising section

Diablo Valley Montessori School

3390 Deer Hill Rd., Lafayette (925) 283-8036

The Academy

2722 Benvenue Ave., Berkeley (510) 549-0605 • The Academy is an independent, co-educational school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Class sizes are limited to 16 students, enabling academic cohesiveness while also accommodating individual academic needs. The curriculum is traditional, yet also rich in opportunities for creative experience and expression. The school has a warm family atmosphere and celebrates its diverse school community. Admissions: Limited space is still available for the 2009/10 school year. Call now for a brochure and to schedule a school tour. There is no deadline for new student applications.

Growing Light Montessori Schools Oakland (510) 336-9897 | Moraga | (925) 377-0407 Kensington (510) 527-1278 •

Serving children 3 mos. -6 yrs. of age, DVMS offers a rich curriculum designed to produce developmentally appropriate academic progress and independence. Experienced Montessori-trained teachers provide the highest quality education using a “whole-child” approach. The goal is always to engage the child’s love of learning, while honoring each individual and his/ her physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs. Now enrolling for 2009-10. Visit us online or call to arrange a campus tour to observe our Montessori classrooms and learn more about our academic programs and enrichment opportunities, which include Dance/Movement, Computer Lab, Spanish and Mandarin.

German International School of Silicon Valley — Berkeley Campus 1 Lawson Road, Kensington (650) 254-0748 •

Our goal at Growing Light Montesoori is to help children feel good about themselves and others in a wonderfully diverse world. Welcoming classrooms allow preschoolers the chance to express and acknowledge feelings, listen to others, resolve conflicts and freely explore interests in a child-centered setting designed to promote confidence, creativity and success.

Our German-English immersion program is open to any families interested in a high-quality bilingual education, whether they are German or non-German speaking. Our program offers children an effortless and natural language acquisition in both directions— German and English. Both languages are everyday speech and language of instruction at the same time.

Admissions: Limited openings for 18 months-Pre-K/K for the 2009-2010 school year. To apply, download an enrollment application online. Parents are also encouraged to attend our Open Houses throughout the year.

For the 2009/2010 school year we will have openings for Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade. For additional information or to schedule a tour, e-mail at, call at 650-254-0748 or visit us at


Bay Area Kids

special advertising section : back to school guide

Sakura Gakuen Japanese/Chinese Language School

6850 Regional St., Ste 110, Dublin • (925) 556-9555 •

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” —Nelson Mandela

Sakura Gakuen provides a Japanese environment where your child will be immersed in the language and culture of Japan, through academic instruction, songs, traditional games, and crafts. Non-Japanese children will also find it to be a fun way to learn about a different culture, begin to develop their own foreign language skills, and make new friends along the way. Our curriculum is not simply an enrichment program. Nor is it just intensive language training. Elements of Japanese culture and games will also be introduced to help students gain a better understanding of the language and have fun while learning. To further experience Sakura Gakuen, we encourage to attend one lesson for free! Chinese classes starting September!

Calvary Christian Preschool

Viva el Español

3425 Concord Blvd., Concord (925) 682-6728

3451 Golden Gate Way, Lafayette (925) 962-9177 •

Your child’s growth—physical, mental, social, and spiritual— is our first priority at Calvary Christian Preschool. From Kindergarten to high school, we offer a structured curriculum (with a school year implementation), field trips, and special activity days for the summer. Two healthy snacks and a savory lunch are served every day. Our smaller classroom settings offer a fun, loving, caring, nurturing, stimulating experience for your child. Infant care available too!

Viva el Español, a non-profit Spanish Language Center, offers engaging, interactive full-immersion Spanish programs for young amigos in pre-school through grade 8. Classes include music & movement, storytelling, arts & crafts, interactive games and more! With locations in Lafayette, Alameda, and Pleasanton, we also teach at numerous pre-schools and elementary schools throughout the East Bay. Viva el Español also offers holiday camps, Teen Internships, Adult Classes and private instruction.

Admission: Visit our location and experience our environment for yourself, or call us at (925) 682-6728.

Admissions: For registration information, including schedules and fees, visit or call (925) 962-9177.

August/September 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


B 22 profile

Protecting the

Green Green Grass of Home What Susan JunFish began in a park in Moraga has grown into an environmental movement by Patricia Kutza 22

Bay Area Kids

The success of Parents for a Safer Environment is based on collaboration with other concerned organizations, individual volunteers, and private funders. For more info: Parents for a Safer Environment (www. Contact: Director, Susan JunFish, MPH, junfish@gmail. com, or call (925) 283-4609

y all accounts, Susan JunFish would be considered a conscientious mom. When her family relocated to Moraga in 2002, JunFish, an environmental health scientist, canvassed eighteen preschools in Moraga, Lafayette, Orinda, and Walnut Creek, looking for the best school to send Benjamin, their then three-year old son. While she was pleased to see that most of them shared the same child-rearing philosophies as she and her husband, JunFish wasn’t prepared to see conditions that other parents, lacking her environmental health background, may not have noticed. “I noticed that some of these schools were spraying pesticides [in their lawns and playgrounds]—pesticides are one of the top ten things in general that can hurt the healthy development of a child,” she says. Looking up the specific toxicity of the products being used, JunFish was able to give the school administrators an informed discussion for the disuse of these products. However, she found them to be often unconcerned or uninterested. As she began visiting other area preschools, JunFish witnessed negligence ranging from bad to worse—cut and exposed asbestos in classroom ceiling tiles, children handling solvents used to polish silver, hazardous disinfectants inappropriately being used for cleaning, building renovations occurring in the presence of children, and even projects where old computer screens were opened, and children were allowed to play with the myriad of mercury and lead present there. What she saw catalyzed the Moraga resident to take action; so much so that JunFish now devotes a majority of her time to her passion: reducing preventable environmental hazards and in the process foster an environment that leads to the optimal development for children. JunFish works incessantly to improve the environmental health in schools, town and county parks, and buildings. More recently, Susan and volunteers have been working at the State Legislative level to pass bills to protect public health and the environment.

Are Kids in Harm’s Way? Yes, says JunFish. “A child’s immune system is not mature and does not have as much of a defense mechanism as that of an adult. Dried pesticides are invisible but still active. Kids can inhale or absorb them through their skin (like when handling solvents) and it may be many years before diseases manifest as a result of these contacts.” According to Junfish, studies have shown a link between environmental hazard exposure and an increase in children’s cancers and diseases

Before the 1830 invention of the lawn mower, most lawns were maintained by grazing.

like ADD, ADHD, and autism. In addition, chronic asthma and allergies have been shown to increase significantly in children who’ve been exposed to pesticides—including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and disinfectants. If we choose to ignore these facts, we can be damaging our kids’ future health as adults. “Parents are teaching kids not to get hit by a car or burnt by fire when harm is immediately experienced,” says JunFish. But when it comes to these invisible environmental threats, she found a large awareness gap.

Working Passionately In the past seven years, JunFish has been working fast and furiously to close that gap. In 2002, she organized a conference, “Reducing Environmental Hazards in Preschools.” The conference was attended by over sixty public health experts, nurses, doctors and preschool directors. “I had no intention of actually starting a movement,” says JunFish of the conference. “But the parents who attended got really excited and urged that we continue this work.” Based on this feedback and urgency, JunFish founded Parents For a Safer Environment (PFSE) in 2003. Nurtured by an infusion of small community grants, PfSE has grown to include an eight member steering committee and a twelve member advisory board that includes many high profile names in the environmental health sector. “Over the years, my focus has actually narrowed,” JunFish says. “When we started, I wanted to educate preschools on all possible environmental hazards. Seven years later, ninety per cent of our work focuses on ‘least toxic pest management.’ or what we commonly call ‘integrated pest management,’ where we focus on decreased pesticide use and safer pest control.”

The threat of weeds In the crosshairs of PfSE’s current campaign is Contra Costa county and its use of pesticides to control weed growth along creeks, roadsides, and on turf in parks and around county buildings such as health clinics, preschools and libraries. “Parents should be aware that these areas are currently sprayed with pesticides,” she advises. “The county doesn’t currently post when they spray.” These pesticides have a half-life that can range from a week to two years. The problem is less a matter of inhaling it, unless a bystander is nearby while they are spraying it, than exposure to it by absorption into the skin or tracking it home on clothing and shoes. According to JunFish, one only needs to go as far as Santa Clara and San Francisco counties to see how weed abatement can be done with less herbicides. Mechanical means August/September 09 | East Bay

Child-care facility checklist At the Parents for a Safer Environment Web site (http://www. you can find a list of categories to consider when evaluating a child-care facility for environmental hazards. Here is a summary of PfSE’s recommendations: Location Is the building near a road where one can smell exhaust fumes? Studies have shown kids who live near freeways have much higher rates of hospital visits for asthma. magnetic field)) Indoor air quality Is there a peculiar smell in the air? (A chronic smell may indicate poor air quality due to chemicals or mold present in the area) Pesticide usThe amended CA Healthy Schools Act of 2005 requires that all schools, including pre-schools must notify parents regarding any pesticide usage as well as track usage. http://apps. schoolipm

such as mowers and goats are used to keep the weeds in check, and they do not spray so close to creeks. Her tenacious approach to identifying hazards, evaluating them, and implementing solutions has created waves in the community. “In any bureaucracy, people have an established way of doing things. Susan doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” says Steve SchollBuckwald, managing director of the Pesticide Action Network. “As a trained scientist (JunFish has a Master of Public Health degree from UC Berkeley and worked many years in research and for Cal/EPA), she knows her facts. So when she approaches agencies, they know they can’t buffalo her, as they might try with those who are less-informed.”

“Don’t sabotage our kids for life.” Susan uses well-thought-out strategies in her current initiative. “In her most recent work, she won a grant award for a collaborative county project to study goats as an alternative for managing weeds near creeks,” says Scholl-Buckwald. “The goal is to find effective and less toxic weeds-management systems to protect public health and the ecosystem.”

Got her science down Scholl-Buckwald attributes Susan’s success, such as her ability to get a county-integrated pest management position created, to her unusual skill set. “She not only has her science down—so folks she needs to influence tend to listen to her—but she’s also very effective at networking and pulling in expertise when needed. Her organization is an authentic communitybased group that JunFish has given an amazing amount of energy to. As a volunteer, she gets as much done as many full-time salaried environmental scientist positions.” BAK

Go to www. for a more complete checklist.

Bay Area Kids


A Knee Jerk Reaction Decreasing knee injuries in young female athletes

24 health care

Find out more about ACL injuries and ACL injury prevention such as the PEP program online at www.bayarea or www.aclprevent. com.


Bay Area Kids

The brochures and articles create quite a stir for parents: elite soccer camp, girl’s soccer training camp, basketball camp, athletic summer sessions. Young female athletes are enjoying more focus in an ever growing sports arena. The passage of Title IX (see below) in 1972 resulted in a dramatic increase in young female athletes – up to a ten-fold increase in particular sports. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, the huge surge in participation in women’s college and high school sports has resulted in a corresponding increase in female athletic injuries. Females are more prone than their male counterparts to specific injuries—namely knee injuries like tears of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). The knee is an especially vulnerable area for young women involved in sports, particularly those who play soccer and basketball, according to David Chang, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine on staff at the Orthopedic Center of Excellence of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Young female soccer players “sustain ACL injuries on the order of four to eight times more often than their male counterparts,” says Dr. Chang, who serves as a consulting physician for the Los Angeles Galaxy (pro soccer team), is team physician for the U.S. Olympic rowing team, and team physician for Contra Costa College athletics. Among several possible explanations for this phenomenon are differences in women’s physiology and in the architecture and biomechanics of their knees. “Females are typically more knock-kneed, and their knees experience different stresses that render the ACL to be more vulnerable to tears,” he says. “In addition, certain hormones, such as estrogen, allow ligaments and tendons to be relaxed, creating additional instability.” It really all comes down to body physiology, body mechanics, gender, and chemistry. While some of these factors cannot be influenced by the athlete, there are still mechanisms to help minimize the occurrence of non-contact ACL injuries. Research has shown that through specialized training, female athletes can learn to strengthen Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, now known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, or simply as Title IX, is a

law enacted June 23, 1972, stating: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the

muscles and improve their body mechanics to minimize non-contact ACL injuries. To help prevent ACL injuries, Dr. Chang encourages teams to adopt the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) program, specifically designed to protect soccer athletes. This is a ten to fifteen-minute regimen, designed to be incorporated into regular soccer warm-ups, that focuses on flexibility, strengthening, plyometrics (powerful, purposeful movements), and agility techniques. In one Southern California study, female soccer players who implemented the PEP program experienced 88 percent fewer noncontact ACL tears than the control group that did not incorporate PEP. More recently, a similar program has been developed for basketball players. A great deal of attention has been paid to ACL injuries by orthopedic surgeons because the injury is a serious one. Once an athlete tears her ACL, surgery is usually required if she wishes to return to her sport at the same level. Therefore, prevention is ideal. Dr. Chang hopes to see the campaign to educate young women and their families about the PEP program and injury prevent to receive broader attention. Another key message Dr. Chang wants to get across to female athletes is the importance of thinking long term. “You want to be a successful athlete over the course of many years, if not your entire lifetime. Pain is a warning signal and should be heeded. Sometimes less is more, meaning rest and recuperation periods for the body are very important.” benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Although the

The rules for European Football (soccer) were codified in 1863 in England

most prominent “public face” of Title IX is its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no reference to athletics.

Haute Day at

The Zoo

photography Christina Fabbri Styling Courtney Jo Barnes


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August/September 09 | East Bay

The carousel was originally used to train Medieval horseback soldiers

Bay Area Kids



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Bay Area Kids

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August/September 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



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Bay Area Kids

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August/September 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


30 party planning

Make Kids’ Parties

a Piece of Cake 30

Bay Area Kids

When the goal is to delight a child with a birthday party they’ll never forget, nothing says “it’s your day” like an unforgettable birthday bash. It’s a piece of cake when the party is organzied under one creative theme, down to the delicious detail of a birthday cake that sweetens said theme. “As a parent, one of the best gifts I can give my child in an incredible party,” said Ann Stuart, a professional cake chef. “When planning the food and activities for themed parties, it is important to enjoy the party-giving experience so it’s memorable for both parents and kids. After all, birthdays only come around once a year.” According to recent research (conducted by Space 150), the top birthday cake styles or types searched online are the castle, princess, pirate, and dinosaur cake designs. Here we give you two recipes: the Princess Cake for the little girl in your life, and the Pirate Cake for the little guy.

The song “Happy Birthday” is still under Copyright law, and royalties are paid for singing it.

Fairy Tale Princess Cake Makes thirty servings

2 boxes yellow cake mix Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix boxes 2 containers (1 lb each) vanilla frosting Red food color 1 fashion doll (11 1/2 inches tall) 1/4 cup festive candy decors Heat oven to 3250. Grease one (1 1/2-quart) ovenproof bowl (8 inches across top) and two (8-inch) round cake pans with shortening; coat with flour (do not use cooking spray). In large bowl, make both cake mixes as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs for each mix, if needed. (Two boxes of cake mix can be made at one time; do not make more than 2 boxes, and do not increase beating time.) Pour 3 1/2 cups batter into one 1/2-quart bowl and two 1/4 cups batter into each cake pan. Bake cake pans 35 to 40 minutes and bowl 45 to 50 minutes or until tooth­pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and bowl; place rounded sides up on cooling racks. Cool com­pletely, about 1 hour. If necessary, cut off rounded tops of cakes baked in 8-inch pans. Cut 2-inch-diameter hole in center of all three cakes. Spoon frosting into large bowl. Stir in enough food color until desired pink color. Place one 8-inch cake on serving plate; spread 1/3 cup frosting over top. Top with second 8-inch cake; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with bowl cake. Wrap hair and lower half of doll with plastic wrap. Insert doll into center of cake. Trim side of cake if necessary to make a tapered “skirt.” To “crumb-coat” cake, spread thin layer of frosting over side and top of layered cake to seal in crumbs. Freeze cake 30 to 60 minutes. Fit a number 24 star tip into decorating bag. Spoon 1/4 cup pink frosting into decorating bag; set aside. Starting at waist of doll, frost cake with downward strokes to make ruffled skirt. Use star tip to cover bodice of doll and add decoration to skirt if desired. Gently press star decors into frosting to deco­rate neck­ line and skirt. Unwrap hair.

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 to set up a free trial — mention Bay Area Kids magazine and get a free uniform when you sign up!

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Celebrate Their Birthday Lil’ Kickers Style! Let us do the work while you have the fun! Our party packages include 50 minutes of field time, a party room and a host to handle every detail. (Ages 5-9 years)

Lark Creek Walnut Creek 1360 Locust Street, Walnut Creek (925) 256-1234 •

Pirate Cake

Makes twelve servings (photo shown on next page) 1 box cake mix (any flavor) Water, oil and eggs called for on cake mix box (if needed) Tray or cardboard (15x12 inches), covered 2/3 cup dark chocolate frosting 1 cup vanilla frosting (from 1-lb container) 1 chocolate-covered mint patty 1 sliced marshmallow August/September 09 | East Bay

Serving seasonal farm-fresh American fare for the whole family since 1995 • Kids menu includes fresh fruit plate, hand-breaded fresh crispy chicken fingers with house cut fries, peanut butter and housemade jelly sandwich • Award winning all-American wine list for Mom and Dad Lark Creek Walnut Creek serves lunch daily, brunch Sunday, cocktails, and dinner nightly, and private parties. Bay Area Kids


partyplanning 1 gum ball 1 yellow ring-shaped hard candy 1 roll fruit strawberry or other red chewy fruit snack 1 black licorice rope Square-shaped candy-coated gum chocolate sprinkles Heat oven to 3500 for shiny metal pans (or 3250 for dark or nonstick pans). Spray bottoms and sides of one (8-inch) and one (9-inch) round cake pan with baking spray with flour. Make cake as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Pour into pans. Bake as directed on box. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Use a serrated knife to cut 9-inch cake in half and cut hat as shown in diagram on Web site. Remaining half of 9-inch cake will form body of pirate. Cut 8-inch cake as shown in diagram. On tray, arrange cake pieces. Cut ears and nose

from small pieces of remaining cake; attach to cake with small amount of frosting. Cover; freeze 1 hour or until firm. Reserve two teaspoons dark chocolate frosting. Frost hat with remaining dark chocolate frost­ing. Mix 2/3 cup of the vanilla frosting with reserved chocolate frosting. With tinted vanilla frosting, frost head, ears and nose of pirate. Add mint patty for eye patch, marshmallow slice and gum ball for eye, and ring-shaped candy for earring. Frost body with remaining 1/3 cup white frost­ing. Cut fruit snack into shapes for shirt stripes, mouth and strap for eye patch; place on cake. Cut licorice to fit hat. Add gum for teeth and chocolate decors for whiskers. Store loosely covered at room temperature. BAK

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Family Matters

Don’t freak out over a breakout The latest E. coli outbreak is traced to raw cookie dough. That’s pretty unlikely, scientists say, but these bugs know how to find a new home. By the end of June, more than seventy people had gotten sick from eating refrigerated cookie dough tainted with the nasty strain of E. coli 0157 that you’d usually get from eating beef. The FDA is good about getting on the horn once an outbreak is detected—and the companies, Nestle Toll House in this case, get orders to pull their products off the shelves. However, the food supply chain is a complex beast. In January, salmonella was found in a vast array of peanut butter products, from crackers to chicken satay. Hundreds of people, schools, and other food buyers, took the hit from contamination found in one plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America. In this country, our scientists are sharp as bloodhounds on the trail as soon as the reports of food poisoning come in, and the FDA is no nonsense. The problem in each of these cases isn’t one bad apple spoiling the entire barrel. The FDA is like an overstretched parent with too many toddlers running around— and we know how clean their hands are. To the government’s credit, inspectors find many batches of contaminated food before they get on the shelves. More outbreaks have made the news in part because our public health system is better at detecting and tracing them to the source. No lying about your diet to these scientists; the victims of the cookie dough outbreak said they had eaten it raw. The underlying problem, though, is that our food supply is as global as the Internet. With so many cooks, it’s a wonder the broth isn’t spoiled more often. It’s impossible to get our risk of food poisoning down to zero, says Dr. Craig Hedberg, a public health expert from the University of Minnesota. So what should parents do, short of being psychic when Junior grabs that bad batch of cookies off the shelf? Follow directions, wash your hands, and cook foods thoroughly; that’s Dr. Hedberg’s advice. Those who got sick from cookie dough had eaten it raw, and the packages have warnings against this risky behavior. That wouldn’t have saved the hundreds who took ill or even died from the tainted peanut butter, though. Here’s where you have some choice to either keep up good practices at home and let the pros sweat the rest, or do a bit of sleuthing into how our food is processed, and a lot of convincing to get our kids to eat more wholesome foods. The third choice is to try some fist shaking and e-mail activism to encourage our elected officials to improve food safety laws. We could use more food inspections (and more inspectors) as well as better coordination of the agencies that watch over the toddlers of food production. That’s what the country needs—better childcare, better foodcare, and echoing Michael Pollan’s latest book, Grandma’s good ol’ common sense. Li Miao Lovett

August/September 09 | East Bay



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Mackenzie Chase MacKenzie Chase P hotography Photography

Modern Lifestyle P hotography www.MackenzieChaseP Bay Area Kids


the clean plate club

dining guide

lark creek, walnut creek Photo Christina Fabbri

A rotating list of kid-friendly dining destinations in the East Bay. For a more complete list, go online to This issue we focuse on the TriValley area: Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. Have a favorite familyfriendly dining spot? Send your review to and we might print it in our next issue.


34 table talk

lark creek 1360 Locust St., Walnut Creek (925) 256-1234


Bay Area Kids

Welcome young foodies. We—my wife, two-year-old son and I—had recently come to Lark Creek Walnut Creek for lunch. One of our favorite restaurants, this was our first time going there with a little one, so expectations were open, though apprehensive. Not because of the food, but because as a parent of a young child, you don’t want to be sitting in a nice restaurant ready to eat when your toddler decides to have a meltdown. In the end, however, we needn’t had worried. Shown to our table (booths are available as well), we were immediately given crayons and a children’s menu with a fun coloring image that kept him entertained. Even from an adult’s perspective, Lark Creek’s kids menu looked yummy—from perusing the menu items, it was apparent that kids were not only welcome, but special consideration was given to the young patrons in putting together the selections. Menu offerings included “pasta without green stuff,” “sandwiches without crust,” and “bug juice” (a blend of juices sure to please any child). More common selections like fresh whole breast breaded chicken nuggets were also available (with an amazing honey dip), which we opted for, along with a macaroni and cheese side dish from the regular menu, with a glass of milk to help him wash it all down. I ordered the shrimp poor boy sandwich that included pickled jalapenos and a spicy dressing, my wife ordered the tamale pancake, piled high with shredded barbecue chicken, avocado salad, and tortilla strips. Service was prompt, and attention was given to both us and our son. It’s Lark Creek’s attention to detail, no matter how small, that sets them apart as a family dining destination. This was best evident when our son’s glass of milk arrived: the beverage came in a wide, low-cut glass that wasn’t going to wobble or topple over due to overactive elbows, and in the glass was a wide, short straw, the perfect size for small children. So though a small gesture, it shows that someone at Lark Creek valued having children at their establishment enough to put the effort into offering these straws. It’s that thoughtfulness—coupled with fabulous food— that will bring us back for more.

Danville Rising Loafer 340 Hartz Ave., (925) 838-8800, It’s taken very little advertising and plenty of excellent reviews to bring the breakfast crowds to the door of this unpretentious and totally charming café. Feels–like-you’re-one-of-the-family service and big portions of really good food are a consistent draw along with a light and healthy menu that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived. Plenty of healthy favorites for the little ones too: 9-grain pancakes, low-fat French toast, oatmeal, and yogurt and fruit. Marcello’s 515 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 838-8144, Lunch Tues–Fri, dinner Tues–Sun. Full bar, private room. When your inner American Idol star is yearning for a chance to perform, head to Marcello’s where the piano bar is almost always open for auditions. While the entertainment value may be questionable—no one is turned away—the food can usually be counted on to satisfy. A grilled salmon filet wrapped around halibut and scallops was tender and moist while the artichoke ravioli special was something to come back for. The kids feasted on traditional spaghetti and meatballs and Caesar salad—and cleaned their plates. Pasta Gondola 664 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 820-1144, Mon-Thurs 11:00am–9:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am-9:30pm, Sun 11:00am9:00pm. Don’t be fooled by the childfriendly atmosphere—this is no home for overgrown rodents and their cardboard crust pizza pies. A pocket full of quarters is a small price to pay for an evening of family time and family-style Italian fare that would stand alone without all the bells and whistles of the flashing kid distractions. The traditional pasta dishes are portioned big enough for two, the

Sobrino de Botin in Madrid, Spain, is the oldest restaurant still in existence, opened in 1725.

calzone is always satisfying, but a salad constructed from the forty item salad bar can be a meal, and a work of art. Pete’s Brass Rail and Car Wash 201 Hartz Ave. (925) 820-8281, Mon–Thu 11:00am-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am10:00pm, Sun 11:00am-8:30pm. Though we’ve tried on more than one occasion, we’ve never found anyone to clean the car while we dine at Pete’s. In fact, we’ve never even been able to find Pete. This reality blow is greatly softened by the burgers and fries and beer—twenty different taps last time we checked. Plenty for kids to choose from—PB&J, grilled cheese and our favorite—hot dogs. Top one with the homemade chili, a little cheese and a few onions. The citrus chicken salad is big enough for two, the homemade citrus vinaigrette is not too sweet. The Crown 331 Hartz Ave. (925) 8552185, Open daily, 11:30 until late. Full bar, outdoor dining, private room. Fish and chips are a popular and obvious choice at this British pub-style local favorite, but don’t overlook the burgers, especially on Tuesdays when a half-pound of high quality beef with fries is only $6. The Caesar salad has quite a following, even among the mini-Brits—it wins out every time over the ‘mushy peas’ children’s menu option. Thursday nights bring the all-American innovation “Beer Pong” to the otherwise family friendly atmosphere.

“Call before my first birthday for a fRee dental exam!”

Pediatric Dentistry Donald C. Schmitt DDS, and Randall R. Wiley DDS Inc.

Infant exams and parent education Preventive services Digital radiography ConCord 2879 Willow Pass Rd. (925) 685-0513

danville 300 El Cerro Blvd. (925) 837-8218

Dublin Hana Japan Steak House 7298 San Ramon Rd., (925) 829-7491, www. (location in Berkeley too). Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30am– 2:00pm; Dinner: Mon–Thu 5:00–10.00pm, Fri 5:00–11.00pm, Sat 4:00–11:00pm, Sun 4:00–9.30pm Get ready for the sing alongs, because joining in a chorus or two of “Happy Birthday” is a requisite part of the fun. A favorite celebration destination for kids and adults, Hana Japan is all about the presentation, and who doesn’t love a “volcano of onions” and attempting to catch the appetizer shrimp as they come flying from the chef. Dinner comes with salad, soup, rice and vegetables. It’s warm, crowded and unbelievably popular with the valley crowd who make Hana Japan part of their birthday tradition. Reservations are strongly recommended.

August/September 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


diningguide Matsu Sushi 4930 Dublin Blvd., Suite 800, (925) 833-3966, www. Beer, wine. lunch, dinner daily. Mon-Sun, 11:30am–10:00pm. Located a few steps and around the corner from the Regal Theater, the restaurant is as cheery and clean as it is efficient. Sushi comes in all those popular, funny name varieties; you’ll have to search the extra-long menu for your favorite combination of flavors; we enjoyed the Rainbow, Spicy Aloha, and Cherry Blossom rolls before we headed out to the movies and some popcorn. And at $8.50, their children’s plate combination of tempura, chicken yakitori, gyoza, soup, and rice just might be the best value in the Valley. Red Tractor Café 4920 Dublin Blvd., (925) 828-8300, www. Open daily 9:00am-9:00pm. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily. Dinner for breakfast is a kid favorite, and the Red Tractor Café offers their fluffy pancakes and waffles from open to close. Served up with spiced apples and real whipped cream, the deluxe waffles give the chocolate chip pancakes real competition in the popularity contest. Those looking for more substantial options find plenty of down-home choices—the BLT sandwich is reliably good while the Farmhouse Platters will ensure you leave with leftovers. On a menu filled with comfort foods, the chicken Caesar salad is a good choice for those couting their carbs (dressing on the side, please).

Livermore Campo di Bocce 175 E. Vineyard Ave., (925) 249-9800, www. Bocce courts open 9:00am–close, Restaurant 11:00am–close. Our last trip to Bocce involved a girl’s night out, but there are plenty of reasons to bring the kids for a little friendly


Bay Area Kids

competition. In the end, everyone one is a winner when the cioppino is so good and garlicky—those who say the pasta carbonara is the real champion are wrong—while the light cream and pancetta sauce is wonderful, it just can’t compete with one and a half pounds of seafood in a full to overflowing the bowl.

Thur 4:30pm–8:00pm, Fri–Sat 4:30pm–9:00pm. Mom, Dad, look what we found: a kid-friendly restaurant with chicken strips and a nice wine list. While little gourmands color the paper-topped table, more advanced palates can enjoy the garlicky goodness of scoozzi bread, the spicy Absolut! Prawns or the prosciutto-stuffed chicken California ‘Cordon-Blu’. Reward good behavior with an ice cream sundae—and keep the Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake all to yourself.

Sansar 2220 First St. Livermore, (925) 606-6191,, Wine, beer. Open daily, 11:00am–3:00pm for lunch, 4:30pm–9:30pm for dinner. Sansar’s daily lunch buffet is an excellent way to open your Gay Nineties Pizza 286 child’s world to the flavors Main St., (925) 846-2520, e and spices found in gayninetiespizza. r o find m onpopular Indian dishes. com. Open daily at s Favorites include the review w w. 11:00am.Long betw chicken tikka masala, line a maga- fore Pleasanton’s s tandoori mixed grill Main Street became BAKid com and vegetable samosas. the restaurant row we zine. Garlic naan bread comes know and love, Gay Ninehot from the clay oven—when ties Pizza was serving slices the dipping sauces arrive, go of pizza pie to residents who really ahead and ask for more, you’ll had very few other choices. Fifty need it. years and plenty of options later, you’ll find the award winning pizza Simply Fondue 2300 First St., still has them lined up and out the Suite 110, (925) 337-8581, www. door waiting for a table. The Suncrets, they say, are the handmade Thurs 5:00–10:00pm, Fri-Sat sauces and sourdough crusts… 5:00–11:00pm. Whether it’s a and a specialty pizza that has been first date, third date or twentyknown to induce labor for overdue fifth wedding anniversary, there’s mamas-to-be. Walls full of memosomething intimate about all the rabilia make the time till you’re dipping, swirling, and sharing that seated fly by. Be sure to glance goes on over a silky pot of melted in the mirror before you leave...the swiss cheese. Little ones may be permanent “Boo” is said to have overwhelmed by the lengthy dinbeen etched by a ghostly hand. ner process, but the eight and up crowd will go wild for any of the Stacey’s Cafe 310 Main St., thirteen chocolate fondue options: (925) 461-3113, www.staceyscafe. we recommend Chocolate Bliss— com. Sun–Thurs 11:30am–9pm, it’s simply delicious. Fri–Sat until 10 PM. If there were an award for Best Restaurant to Pleasanton Eat at Alone and Without a Book, Stacey’s would be installing extra Girasole Grill 3180 Santa Rita shelves to hold the trophies. The Rd., (925) 484-1001, www. ironic, sarcastic and fairly irreverent Lunch, Mon-Fri menu is such good reading mate11:00am–2:00pm; Dinner, Sunrial that it is easy to forget it serves

a purpose. When the very courteous waiters catch us unprepared, again, we can always rely on the crab crusted ono filet to absolutely satisfy. Stacey’s also wins for Best Kid’s Menu, with choices from the simple cheddar cheese and crackers to grilled salmon fillet with red skin mashed potatoes and broccoli. Substitutions/changes/special requests are always welcome.

San Ramon Zachary’s Chicago Pizza 3110 Crow Canyon Pl., (925) 244-1222, locations in Oakland and Berkeley too, SunThurs 11:00am–9:00pm, Fri–Sat 11:00am–9:30pm. For twenty-five years Zachary has had them lined up out the door and down the street in Oakland and Berkeley. With the opening of their newest pizzeria in San Ramon, the drive got shorter, but the lines are just as long. San Ramon is the one Zach’s that accepts reservations You should know it is just as delicious ordered half-baked and finished at home…but if it’s atmosphere you want, order when you walk in the door and things almost always work out. Nineteen toppings, thin or stuffed crust, pesto or good and garlicky tomato sauce mean you can spend your waiting time wondering if you ordered the right pizza, and guaranteeing you’ll be back to try a different combination next time. BAK We try to keep restaurant information as current as possible. However, menu items, hours, pricing, and other details can change without notice, so call first.

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August/September 09 | East Bay

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diary of a suburban queen

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38 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

According to my calendar, my younger son Shane makes the kindergarten cut this year. Watching him play tag with the kindergartners in his brother’s class last year, he towered over a good chunk of them thanks to gigantic genes from his parents. But, was he really ready? Unfortunately, everyone who I mentioned my dilemma to believed they knew too: Fellow parents from the trenches, people at the sports park and the playground, and even my own family bombarded me with cautionary tales of starting Shane too soon … or too late. It was a surreal flashback to my pregnancy days hearing birth horror stories from perfect strangers. My husband pointed out all the money we’d save by starting him. My mother told me to follow my gut. We longsuffering mommies and daddies have suffered through these decisions since the dawn of time. Soccer moms shared stories of their own babies getting teased in class for playing in a younger sports division than their classmates. Then there were those studies about boys lagging behind in development and benefiting from that extra year of preschool lurking in the back of my mind. A preschool teacher (not Shane’s) urged me to start him now because he could always repeat the grade. A kindergarten teacher begged me to keep him in preschool another year so he wouldn’t be discouraged by the demanding curriculum. And man, is it demanding. I had the advantage of slogging through Bobby’s kindergarten year in the midst of this decision. As each homework packet felt heavier and the sight word books became more complicated, I asked myself how I would manage to get Shane through a year of this when he claimed he was “too scared” to draw a triangle. My stress mounted as the window of kindergarten registration slowly creaked shut and I still had no decision. During our parent-teacher conference, Shane’s teacher presented his shaky letters and numbers on worksheets, showing he was a bit behind his peers. “Five months is a long time for him to make progress,” she said with the neutrality of Switzerland. “But is he ready?” I asked again. “He could be by then. You can always register him to hold his spot, then decide in June before preschool graduation.”

So I left the conference more baffled than when I came in. I expected a definite answer, not that hazy gray area that seems to define so much of parenthood’s major decisions. Shane’s teacher had been teaching close to twenty years. Why couldn’t she just tell me what to do?

“I picked up the kindergarten registration pack at my son’s future school and felt like a fraud.” Shane’s doctor agreed with her to a point about registering with the option to back out of kindergarten at the last minute. Then he added: “Any time a parent has even a little doubt, combined with that late birthday and his gender, I always advise to hold them back unless they absolutely have to start him because of work schedules or finances.” I picked up the kindergarten registration pack at my son’s future school and felt like a fraud. It’s a popular school in town and families are known to request transfers from neighboring schools. I was taking someone’s spot that I knew deep down I wouldn’t use this year. The appointment penciled in my planner, I scanned the pile of paperwork. Yet I couldn’t bring the pen to paper as I watched Shane’s hesitant grip on his fat crayon as he scribbled on a tractor coloring page. I picked up the phone and kissed those thousands of dollars of savings goodbye for another year … “He’s just not ready.” The weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t want to be in flux the rest of the school year. He seems content to stay at his preschool another year, only complaining once about missing the pizza party with the graduating pre-k class. I admit I still have moments of slight panic. Am I holding him back, not giving him enough credit? But I’m sticking to my instinct, just as I’ve done for other parenting zingers that stumped me in the past. At least when registration looms next year, I’ll have the benefit of certainty. BAK

Kindergarten is German for “Children’s Garden.”

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Bay Area Kids  

Aug/Sept issue of Bay Area Kids magazine, the premier lifestyle magazine for East Bay parents